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totally new to installing

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WQAJ741

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Hey guys I have been using radios for a while but I have never tried to install a radio. The radio I have is a RELM RM45. It is too powerful to be powered for TX through my 12v cig lighter. They RELM rep. said that I had to wire it directly to my battery. Some people say it's easier than it sounds, but I am imagining it to be rather difficult. Is it really as simple as connecting the red wire to the red terminal and black to the black terminal? I don't want to cause my car any problems or the radio....any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks guys. PS the car is a 2003 toyota 4runner.
 

KJ4NFP

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True Satisfaction...

There is a saying: "He who cuts his own wood is twice warmed". I'm here to tell you that there is no delight and satisfaction like keying up a radio you've just finished installing yourself. It's great. What I'm going to share is my two cent, but they are many others I'm sure with a wealth of experience to supplement.

Wire your red power lead straight from the battery with a fuse as close to the battery as you can get (be sure to use the recommended fuse as per the manufacturer. Grounding is so very very important. Be sure you ground your black wire to the chassis of the vehicle. Ultimately you want the least resistive path from your grounding point to the negative terminal of the battery. If your radio has a remote control head, try to ground the head on the same chassis point as the radio deck. This being a commercial radio, there should be an option (it may require some software activation) to "switch" the radio on and off with the ignition. You will need to find an ignition switch fuse location, install a fuse tap, fuse your own ignition wire to the radio or control head. If for some reason you cannot switch it through the radio, using the same ignition wire you just created, install a relay between the red power lead and the radio interrupting power when the vehicle turns off. I'm a huge fan of NMO (thru-hole) mounts. Mount your antenna and be sure to tune it, using an SWR meter to check for reflection.

I don't think I missed anything, if I did someone else chime in. Good luck!!

KJ4NFP
 

mmckenna

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To keep it simple, YES, it is that easy.

Your radio should have come with a power cord. If it didn't, get one that is correct for your radio.
The hardest part is routing the cable from the inside of the vehicle to the battery. Some vehicles it is very easy, some not so much. You can usually pop the hood and start looking around on the firewall (behind the engine) there will often be a number of feed through points on the fire wall where wiring and control cables will pass through. If you can find one of these, you can sometimes sneak the wire through there. Others, you may need to make a very careful incision on the rubber seal and run the wire through there. It won't be super easy, but it isn't rocket science. Just go slow, double check everything and get some help if you need it.

Best thing to do is work in a well lit garage. Pop the hood on your 4 runner and start looking. When you find a likely area, check on the inside under the dash board. If you can see both ends of the feed through, you are in good shape. If you can't, it's going to take some work. Often you can use a piece of coat hanger that has been bent over on the end as a probe. Make sure there are no sharp points on it, so you don't damage anything. You can use that to fish the wire through.

If you absolutely cannot find an existing place to route your wiring through, you may need to drill. This might be the point where you'd want to get a shop to do it. Even some stereo and alarm shops could likely handle this. You can certainly do it yourself, just make sure you know whats on both sides before you start drilling.

What you REALLY need to be careful of is how you route the wire. If you pass through the firewall, you MUST use a rubber grommet of some type. If you don't, the wire insulation can get worn away on the sharp edge of the hole and you will have a short circuit from the positive lead to ground. If you are lucky, this will just blow the fuse. If you are not lucky, you can start a fire. Also, NEVER run power wiring through the door. Never.

Once you have the cable run, route the inside portion to your radio. Be careful in how you route it. Don't run it under carpeting, or anywhere it can get pinched or damaged. If you need to, use ty-wraps to secure the wiring under the dash board and up to the radio. If the wiring is exposed anywhere, use some split loom tubing to cover it up. It protects it and makes it look nice. Once that part it done, move to the engine compartment. Route the wire to the battery location being very careful not to get the wires near anything that gets hot, or moves. Be careful around hood hinges also. Use the split loom tubing to cover and protect the wiring under the hood. Once you have the wire at the battery, you are just about ready to go. Make sure the radio is unplugged and you pull the fuse out of the holder on the radio power lead. Connect the RED wire to the positive post on the battery. Use a good crimp on connector that is designed for the task. The fuse holder should be close to this connection point, within 6 to 12 inches is good. You want the fuse close to the source to protect the wiring run. If you put it too far away from the battery, any damage to the wiring between the battery and the fuse will likely cause a fire.

The black lead should be connected to a body ground. You should be able to find an existing wiring ground point near the battery. If you can't find one, you can use a self tapping sheet metal screw with a star type washer. Drill a hole smaller than the screw. You will want the star washer between the wiring connector and the sheet metal. Tighten down the screw to secure everything.

When you are done, double check everything, make sure it's all secure and not going to get damaged by any moving or hot parts. If you can, use a multi meter to check for short circuits on the positive lead by doing a continuity check from the radio end to a good ground inside the cab. If there isn't an issue, you can go ahead and insert the fuse on the radio power lead near the battery. Go back inside the cab and confirm you have 12 volts (you may actually see something between 12.5 volts and 13.8 or so) Make sure the positive is really positive and the negative is really negative. If you are confident it's correct, go ahead and hook up the radio. Always hook up your antenna first. Then hook up your power. It should power up. If it doesn't, go back and check all your connections. Check the fuse and make sure it is OK.

You ain't done yet!
Every now and then, check the battery connection and the grounding point. If there is ANY sign of corrosion, clean it. If it is loose, fix it. Keep a close eye open for any damage to the wire. Do the same with your antenna lead. If you are using a permanent mount antenna, periodically pull the antenna off and check the mount. I have seen a lot of neglected antenna mounts in my day, and they can cause all kinds of problems.

Take pride in a job well done!
 
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mmckenna

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If you are really savvy with this stuff, you can also do the following:
After you have crimped the connector at the battery end, you can use a little bit of solder to make a really good connection. Not a lot, just a little bit on the end where the bare wire pokes out a bit. The crimp makes a pretty good mechanical connection, but the solder will really help the electrical connection. It also helps keep corrosion out. If you like, follow up with some heat shrink tubing around the connector. This provides some strain relief and helps seal things up a bit more. Some choose to eliminate the heat shrink since it can hid corrosion. Your choice.

I always like to label all my connections. Not so much because I forget what they are for, but more if someone else is working on the vehicle, they will understand exactly what the wires are for. Prevents confusion down the road.
 

WQAJ741

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Thanks for the help guys, I think, based off of your input, I should be able to handle this. You both broke it down simple enough for me to understand. I will keep you posted. Thanks again!
 
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