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Looking for a lot of advice: CB and GMRS install in a Wrangler

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JK_Willys_18

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Hello. I have a Jeep Wrangler JK. I currently have a CB installed with the current configuration:
I've been mostly okay with it's performance on trails, but when I'm on the road, I have to be less than a mile away from others before we can have a conversation.

Additionally, a lot of the off-road community is shifting over to GMRS and I'd like to run both as efficiently as possible.

I've been eyeing the new Midland MXT275 MicroMobile, and would likely pair it with their MXTA26 6 dB Gain Antenna.

Additionally, I've been toying with the idea of re-doing the CB install, and running the antenna to the hood area, and getting a taller (4ft) Firestik to match. Additionally getting rid of that 12v adapter and running power straight to the battery.

Questions!

1) If I mount the GMRS antenna on driver's side, and the CB antenna on the passenger side, is that far enough away from each other to prevent problems? Do I need to also calculate in the proximity to the FM radio antenna?

1b?) I've also read about guys removing the hood bumpers and instaling antennas here. I don't think I can fit a GMRS antenna here, can I? if I could, are these two close if I put CB in one, and GMRS in the other?

The mounts I'm looking at are fender/under hood mounts. I'd have to drill it out to 3/4" for the GMRS NMO type mount.

2) While this is used recreationally, I appreciate using quality parts / accessories. Are there better or recommended coax cables other than the Firering or the Midland NMO cables I should look at?

In fact, broader, are these antennas recommended, or even the mounts?
 

JK_Willys_18

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I did find this guy installing the 3 dB gain "Ghost" antenna on his hood where the hood-bumpers go. Not sure how it fits, or if he drilled out the hood.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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5,275
Hello. I have a Jeep Wrangler JK. I currently have a CB installed with the current configuration:
I've been mostly okay with it's performance on trails, but when I'm on the road, I have to be less than a mile away from others before we can have a conversation.

Additionally, a lot of the off-road community is shifting over to GMRS and I'd like to run both as efficiently as possible.

I've been eyeing the new Midland MXT275 MicroMobile, and would likely pair it with their MXTA26 6 dB Gain Antenna.

Additionally, I've been toying with the idea of re-doing the CB install, and running the antenna to the hood area, and getting a taller (4ft) Firestik to match. Additionally getting rid of that 12v adapter and running power straight to the battery.

Questions!

1) If I mount the GMRS antenna on driver's side, and the CB antenna on the passenger side, is that far enough away from each other to prevent problems? Do I need to also calculate in the proximity to the FM radio antenna?

1b?) I've also read about guys removing the hood bumpers and instaling antennas here. I don't think I can fit a GMRS antenna here, can I? if I could, are these two close if I put CB in one, and GMRS in the other?

The mounts I'm looking at are fender/under hood mounts. I'd have to drill it out to 3/4" for the GMRS NMO type mount.

2) While this is used recreationally, I appreciate using quality parts / accessories. Are there better or recommended coax cables other than the Firering or the Midland NMO cables I should look at?

In fact, broader, are these antennas recommended, or even the mounts?
1) Yes the GMRS and CB are far enough away. For the GMRS, why not install a 5/8 wave elevated no-ground plane antenna on a post above the tire mount and get the center of radiation above the roofline?

1b) I am in a market for a Jeep and because they have no steel roof, I am having second thoughts because having good radio communications is important to me.

2) There are commercial NMO cables that use teflon jackets and they are more durable and better shielded (less loss)

The Midland GMRS radios have a big flaw. They are narrowband radios and therefore will never perform to full GMRS standards. There are older, good quality Kenwood radios that are both FCC Part 90 and Part 95 that have wideband capability. In fact you can have narrow and wideband channels and use what suits you at the moment.

Your CB coverage reeks of either vehicle noise or high VSWR. You should check those out. Also, you can use that power adaptor cable to switch a relay and use then power directly from the battery. Radio ground should always be to body sheet-metal/chassis, not the battery negative terminal, despite what "experts" will tell you.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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I did find this guy installing the 3 dB gain "Ghost" antenna on his hood where the hood-bumpers go. Not sure how it fits, or if he drilled out the hood.
Well, it may look good, but it will perform crappy. Then as soon as you loan your jeep to someone they will decide the windshield needs to fold down and "craaaack".
 

mmckenna

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Hello. I have a Jeep Wrangler JK. I currently have a CB installed with the current configuration:
I've been mostly okay with it's performance on trails, but when I'm on the road, I have to be less than a mile away from others before we can have a conversation.

Additionally, a lot of the off-road community is shifting over to GMRS and I'd like to run both as efficiently as possible.

I've been eyeing the new Midland MXT275 MicroMobile, and would likely pair it with their MXTA26 6 dB Gain Antenna.

Additionally, I've been toying with the idea of re-doing the CB install, and running the antenna to the hood area, and getting a taller (4ft) Firestik to match. Additionally getting rid of that 12v adapter and running power straight to the battery.

Questions!

1) If I mount the GMRS antenna on driver's side, and the CB antenna on the passenger side, is that far enough away from each other to prevent problems? Do I need to also calculate in the proximity to the FM radio antenna?
Yes, that's far enough away.
As for the FM radio antenna, that will likely be an issue with GMRS. When you transmit with the GMRS radio, it's going to overload the FM radio. Likely won't damage anything, but will blank out the FM radio reception while transmitting on GMRS. Ideally, you do want separation between the antennas, not only to prevent desensitization of the FM radio, but to also prevent it changing the radiation pattern of the UHF/GMRS antenna.

I'd recommend putting the CB antenna on the same side of the Jeep as the FM antenna. CB is going to be running 4 watts or less, and less likely to cause desensitization of the FM radio. Move the CB antenna away from the FM antenna, too. Putting it closer to the front of the hood will help.

1b?) I've also read about guys removing the hood bumpers and instaling antennas here. I don't think I can fit a GMRS antenna here, can I? if I could, are these two close if I put CB in one, and GMRS in the other?
I suspect that would work, however….
1. Putting a transmit antenna that close to the passengers is not ideal. CB, being 4 watts, isn't a big issue, but the higher power used by the UHF/GMRS radio would require some additional spacing. It's not the end of the world, not going to give you cancer, but ideally you want it farther away.
2. It's not uncommon to have metallic film in some window tinting. If your windshield has any tinting at all, it my reflect a lot of signal and create more issues.
3. Consider clearance when you open the hood.
4. Coax on the underside of the hood will be exposed to a lot of heat. Likely not an issue, but again, not ideal.

The mounts I'm looking at are fender/under hood mounts. I'd have to drill it out to 3/4" for the GMRS NMO type mount.
You can get mounts like that with the 3/4" hole in them already.

Issue is see is that having a UHF antenna down that low is going to impact performance. For UHF, you want the antenna up high and in the clear for best performance. Sticking it down at hood level is going to impact performance. Issue is, with a Jeep, there are not a lot of options. Some have mounted 1/2 wave UHF antenna off the top of the windshield with a 90º bracket. The 1/2 wave antenna will deal with the lack of ideal ground plane a whole lot better than the other options. But then you have to deal with coaxial cable routing, etc. Catch 22 situation. Jeeps are hard (not impossible) to properly install antennas on.

2) While this is used recreationally, I appreciate using quality parts / accessories. Are there better or recommended coax cables other than the Firering or the Midland NMO cables I should look at?

In fact, broader, are these antennas recommended, or even the mounts?
Here's what I'd suggest:
The Midland GMRS radios are OK, not great, but OK. You can do better, but it's a bit difficult to do right. Most of us that use GMRS (I did for a long time) used repurposed UHF commercial radios. Better radio, more options, more durable. Midlands are sort of low tier radios, not much better than the cheap walkie-talkies. Yeah, they have more power, but they also have some drawbacks. Technical stuff I won't dive into right now.
A good commercial radio that has the -required- FCC Part 95 certifications, will work better and allow you to program them up exactly as you want.
But then you are adding a complexity of having to program the radio correctly. Programming commercial radios is not something for the newcomer.
I'd say try the Midland and see how it works. If that is what all your buddies are running, it might be a good approach.

I'd skip the Midland brand NMO mounts. Likely they are relabeling Chinese crap products. You can do better.
For the NMO mount, use this:
Larsen makes high quality antennas and mounts. That's what they do. I've been running Larsen for 30 years, no issues.
Since these NMO mounts are designed to go through the roof of the vehicle where the cable connection point is inside, you need to take some precautions if you are mounting it off a hood bracket. Where the coaxial cable enters the mount, slide a piece of marine grade heat shrink tubing over it. Heat it up to shrink it around the point where it attaches. This will keep water out. Water and copper will corrode, and if you use the exposed NMO mounts, you will eventually have a failure.

That NMO mount has no connector on the end. You want to cut the cable to the exact length you need to run from the antenna mount to the back of your radio, with a few inches of slack. No more, no less. All coaxial cable has some amount of loss, and bundling up all your excess coaxial cable is just a waste and will impact performance. You'll need to install a connector, but likely you can find someone locally that can assist.

Again, I'd recommend not putting the antenna down at hood level. It's going to impact performance. But, since you may not have any other options, here are some mounts that will work:
If you can do the windshield frame mount, you can use one of these:

As for the antenna,

Again, stick with the name brand stuff. Larsen is a proven performer and stands behind their products. Laird is another good name.
Avoid Tram, Browning, Comet, and Diamond. Those are all hobby grade antennas and not what you want hanging off a trail rig. You may save a few bucks in the short term, but you'll be replacing those in short order. Tram and Browning are specifically Chinese made knock off antennas. You've no doubt put a lot of work into setting up your Jeep with high quality durable components. Don't cut corners when it gets to the communications.

As for CB….
The Firesticks are good, but heavy antennas. One option you may want to consider is to go with a similar Larsen CB antenna. It'll use the same NMO mount. The whips are very flexible and will stand up to a lot of abuse. I'm still using the same Larsen CB antenna I purchased 30 years ago.
 

mmckenna

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I did find this guy installing the 3 dB gain "Ghost" antenna on his hood where the hood-bumpers go. Not sure how it fits, or if he drilled out the hood.
Those compact antennas don't perform as well as a standard antenna. If your goal is to get the most range you can out of your GMRS set up, that's not the way to do it. Might look cool, might be low profile, but performance will suffer.
 

mmckenna

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Your CB coverage reeks of either vehicle noise or high VSWR. You should check those out. Also, you can use that power adaptor cable to switch a relay and use then power directly from the battery. Radio ground should always be to body sheet-metal/chassis, not the battery negative terminal, despite what "experts" will tell you.
I concur.

Power your CB and GMRS radio directly off the battery. Positive lead for the radios goes direct to the positive battery post with a fuse at the battery. Negative gets grounded to the vehicle chassis. Do NOT tap into existing wiring. There's a lot of noise that can be picked up by tapping into wiring under the dash. No professional installer would do that.
If you have to have the radios turn on/off with the ignition, that adapter cable would be fine for powering a relay. But keep the power coming from the battery directly.

Getting your CB antenna tuned correctly will help performance, but that can be difficult to do on a Jeep. The FireRings, if not installed correctly, can short the connection at the antenna and result in poor performance. Location can be an issue, too. Down behind the vehicle is not the best place.
 

JK_Willys_18

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Wow, thank you all for the replies. I'm working, but slowly digging through this info on breaks! I have two tops for my Jeep, I run the hard top during late fall and winter, and swap to my soft top in the spring. I'm not sure if that changes anything.

I did find this mount which attaches to the rear 3rd brake light. I'd have to measure, but that would get at least one of my antennas higher than the hood line. If I went with something like this, from reading the above comments it would be more important to have the GMRS higher. Would the height difference be more valuable than the additional length of cabling I'd have to use to get it back and up there?

I also found this NMO mount that would get it up another few (3-4?) inches from the hood/fender area. But this would also get it a lot closer to the FM antenna. (for the record, I don't generally USE the fm antenna that much). Also, it would be parallel to the A-pillar. Is that going to cause problems?
 

XWIDGETX

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I would have to agree with re purposing a commercial radio like: KENWOOD TK-8102 H-1 UHF 450-490 MHZ 45 WATTS 4 CHANNLES | eBay. I have bought 3 of these from this guy and programmed them myself for GMRS with free "CHIRP" software and a cheap $9 programming cable. You will get the near max legal power and versatility, such as programming for custom GMRS repeaters,,, The Midland radios,, well are just 15 watt low end products that Walmart sells. Also as far as antennas you can use a NMO Mag mount with a 1/4 wave whip that needs No Tuning (Plug N Play). And it is a good idea to seperate antennas as much as possible, CB radios antennas can wreak havoc on nearby electronics, A nine foot whip mounted to a rear corner mount up as high as you can get it works best with about 17ft of 50 ohm dual shielded RG8 or LMR400 works Great, use a "Quality" SWR meter, Put CB on channel 21 or your favorite channel and clip very small increments of length of antenna off until SWR comes down to "0" or at least below 1 watt reflected. Nearby buldings and people standing next to antenna will mess with readings. A Wilson 1000 or Lil Wil Mag mount works great as well, and tunes up the same way.
 

JK_Willys_18

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I would have to agree with re purposing a commercial radio like: KENWOOD TK-8102 H-1 UHF 450-490 MHZ 45 WATTS 4 CHANNLES | eBay. I have bought 3 of these from this guy and programmed them myself for GMRS with free "CHIRP" software and a cheap $9 programming cable. You will get the near max legal power and versatility, such as programming for custom GMRS repeaters,,, The Midland radios,, well are just 15 watt low end products that Walmart sells. Also as far as antennas you can use a NMO Mag mount with a 1/4 wave whip that needs No Tuning (Plug N Play). And it is a good idea to seperate antennas as much as possible, CB radios antennas can wreak havoc on nearby electronics, A nine foot whip mounted to a rear corner mount up as high as you can get it works best with about 17ft of 50 ohm dual shielded RG8 or LMR400 works Great, use a "Quality" SWR meter, Put CB on channel 21 or your favorite channel and clip very small increments of length of antenna off until SWR comes down to "0" or at least below 1 watt reflected. Nearby buldings and people standing next to antenna will mess with readings. A Wilson 1000 or Lil Wil Mag mount works great as well, and tunes up the same way.
Do you know any of these surplus commercial radios that may be "smaller" form factor, or have a remote disply/controls? Real estate for mounting a larger radio in my 2-door JK is very lacking without making serious compromises elsewhere.
 

RFI-EMI-GUY

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Do you know any of these surplus commercial radios that may be "smaller" form factor, or have a remote disply/controls? Real estate for mounting a larger radio in my 2-door JK is very lacking without making serious compromises elsewhere.
[/QUOTE.]


Kenwood TK-880H V2.0 UHF (450-490MHz) Mobile Radio (LTR)
 

OhSixTJ

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How about this for your antenna mount? It’s much better than that one mounted to the 3rd brake light

 

mmckenna

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Wow, thank you all for the replies. I'm working, but slowly digging through this info on breaks! I have two tops for my Jeep, I run the hard top during late fall and winter, and swap to my soft top in the spring. I'm not sure if that changes anything.
Doesn't really help. If you were sticking with the hard top, there's ways you can mount antennas to them, adding a ground plane on the underside to help with performance. But if you swap back and forth with the soft top, it's not a good option.

I did find this mount which attaches to the rear 3rd brake light. I'd have to measure, but that would get at least one of my antennas higher than the hood line. If I went with something like this, from reading the above comments it would be more important to have the GMRS higher. Would the height difference be more valuable than the additional length of cabling I'd have to use to get it back and up there?
That would provide zero ground plane for the antenna. The Larsen UHF antenna I linked to above would work OK with that, however you'd need an NMO mount. Looking at the design, it appears to be a piece of aluminum angle stock with pre-drilled holes. The 3/8 x 24 mount in the photo would be fine for CB, but not for a decent UHF antenna. You'd have to drill it out to 3/4", or use one of the NMO mounts that will attach through a 3/8 hole.
The problem with those style mounts is that they are not designed to be mounted where the underside is exposed, and water will eventually get inside the coax and corrode it. You could spend a lot of time sealing it up, but you'd be better off with the NMO mount that I linked to in the original post. For that matter, you could cut/drill your own mount….

Having the antenna up high is good, but you'll need to be careful about low tree branches.

I also found this NMO mount that would get it up another few (3-4?) inches from the hood/fender area. But this would also get it a lot closer to the FM antenna. (for the record, I don't generally USE the fm antenna that much). Also, it would be parallel to the A-pillar. Is that going to cause problems?
Yep, and that's going to be an issue. Having the antenna that close to the A pillar is going to make it very difficult to tune properly. No point in going through this entire exercise if you are going to purposely degrade the antenna performance to make the install easier.
 

mmckenna

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I would have to agree with re purposing a commercial radio like: KENWOOD TK-8102 H-1 UHF 450-490 MHZ 45 WATTS 4 CHANNLES | eBay. I have bought 3 of these from this guy and programmed them myself for GMRS with free "CHIRP" software and a cheap $9 programming cable. You will get the near max legal power and versatility, such as programming for custom GMRS repeaters,,,
Yep, those have the necessary Part 95 certification. However, 2 groups of 4 channels can be a bit limiting. The TK-8150 would give you more channels and a bigger display.
A good option is the TK-8180 in the 450-490 split. It has 512 channel capacity (way more than you'll need) and the LCD display will give you up to 14 characters for channel naming. Add in the KRK-10 remote head kit, and only the control head needs to be mounted near the driver. The RF deck can be mounted elsewhere.

CB radios antennas can wreak havoc on nearby electronics, A nine foot whip mounted to a rear corner mount up as high as you can get it works best with about 17ft of 50 ohm dual shielded RG8 or LMR400 works Great, use a "Quality" SWR meter, Put CB on channel 21 or your favorite channel and clip very small increments of length of antenna off until SWR comes down to "0" or at least below 1 watt reflected. Nearby buldings and people standing next to antenna will mess with readings. A Wilson 1000 or Lil Wil Mag mount works great as well, and tunes up the same way.
The 102" whips are a good choice, if you don't mind that long an antenna hanging off your Jeep. You'll need a sturdy mount for it.

However, the "17ft" cable thing is an "old wives tale" that just won't die. Using specific lengths of cable will hide high SWR from the radio, but that's all it does, hide it. It will show good on an SWR meter, but the 1/2 wavelength of cable is simply canceling out the reflected power. And 17 feet isn't any good unless you take into account the velocity of propagation of the specific cable you are using.
Installing the antenna correctly, tuning it as it should be, is what you want to do. If you do all that correctly, the length of coaxial cable between the radio and the antenna is irrelevant.

A properly installed and tuned CB antenna with -just- the amount of cable needed to reach the radio is all you need.
 

mmckenna

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Do you know any of these surplus commercial radios that may be "smaller" form factor, or have a remote disply/controls? Real estate for mounting a larger radio in my 2-door JK is very lacking without making serious compromises elsewhere.
Kenwood TK-8180 with the KRK-10 remote head kit is what you want. The TK-8180 in the 450-520 split has the necessary Part 95 certification. The KRK-10 will allow you to mount the control head near the driver, and stick the RF deck anywhere it's safe and out of the way.
 

CaptDan

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How about this for your antenna mount? It’s much better than that one mounted to the 3rd brake light

I have used several of these for radios in Jeep Wranglers and have been very happy with them. Currently use on my 13 rubicon for a GMRs radios and has worked well for the last 7 years
 

jeepsandradios

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I have 2 jeeps currently (JK and JT) and on both have used the Rugged Ridge Antenna mount that replaces the AM/FM antenna. I run the 3' fire stick on both. It is OK, but not the best. For the application it works well.


As you said alot of Jeep folks are going GMRS, and Jeep Jamborie is now partnered with Midland. Next year all JJ events will be on GMRS. While the Midland isn't ideal for true GMRS guys, its what your going to see on the trail and at most JJ Events. I have the micro mobile in my JT and will most likely get one for the JK before long. I run an APX in the JK but too many times I am with folks with the Micro and have issues even running NB.

For the antenna on the JT I ran an NMO on my back rack. For the JK I used a standard quarterwave on an NMO on a small mount on my rear tub. It works really well. Was using it for our county trunking system before. I dont run a hard top or soft top so its easy for me. I do have a VHF ham antenna on the front left using a flat stainless plate with an NO mount. That may be another location for the UHF.

I used this mount - https://www.theantennafarm.com/catalog/laird-technologies-sbtb3400-3858 with this NMO - https://www.theantennafarm.com/catalog/larsen-nmokhfud-1125
 

JK_Willys_18

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As you said alot of Jeep folks are going GMRS, and Jeep Jamborie is now partnered with Midland. Next year all JJ events will be on GMRS. While the Midland isn't ideal for true GMRS guys, its what your going to see on the trail and at most JJ Events. I have the micro mobile in my JT and will most likely get one for the JK before long. I run an APX in the JK but too many times I am with folks with the Micro and have issues even running NB.
Well. This statement and one if my buddies may have made this decision for me. He got the MX275 ordered today.

I'd like to get a real radio running GMRS, but it sounds like I'll be having trouble if my friends are running these Midlands.

Broadly, is there anyway to get a Kenwood or Moto or Vertex to coordinate with the Midlands?
 

KD8HMJ

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there are 15 gmrs frequencies and they are simplex.if the guys in the club are running simplex youre fine.if they start using pl tones to make the channel more private i would need the list of possible pl tones and i can program them in as well. so you would have 15 simplex and then those frequencies would repeat with the pl tones included to give you 30 channels.
 
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