Original Project Date: February 2006
Project Summary: I show how I installed a permanent CB antenna and radio in the H2.
CB are a commonly used
to communicate with others on the trail. They’re fairly inexpensive and don’t require a license to use. Since I really only plan to use it recreationally, I opted for a lower priced all-in-one/handheld CB model from Midland, 75-822. I can wire this to the vehicle antenna most of the time. But if necessary remove it and use it with AA batteries and a with a removable stubby antenna if I need to use it outside of the truck.
Installing the Antenna and Coax
I started with the following parts:
- Midland 75-822 all-in-one handheld with the car adapter attached
- Firestik SS-J4 Jeep fender mount
- 3-foot Firestik Firefly antenna
- 9-foot Firestick MU8R9 coax
- Valor 203EZ foldover mount
This is where I planned to mount it right over the driver window on the roof rack rail. I wanted to be able to easily lower and raise it without getting out.
I scraped under lip of rails to get good ground with chassis. I tested this by measuring resistance between the grounding bolt in the back of the engine compartment and the scraped off portion of rail.
I opted to put the bolt head down and have the bolt threads pop up simply because it was easier fiddling with the washer, plate, lock nuts, nuts, etc this way given the size of my box wrench.
If you try this yourself, don’t tighten it down now. You’ll need a little play in order to add the antenna mounting stud.
Here’s a different angle where you can see the order of the hardware.
I opened up the marker light by removing the screw at the rear and pulling rear edge up and sliding from out of slot. See the tunnel toward the right edge of the plastic; the coax will go through here.
Next I pulled the gasket out, punctured it, and ran the coax through, but forgot to take a picture.
Underneath this hole is a second larger hole in the roof that you can feed the coax through. If you remove the door trim (which just sticks on) and pull down on the headliner you can see in there well enough to pull the end of the coax through with a needle-nose plier.
To route the cable down the pillar unto the instrument panel area, you need to remove the pillar trim by removing the handle over it.
To get the handle off work out the plugs in the handles. These aren’t covers for screws. They’re just the caps on the clips that hold the pull handle on. As others describe in the references threads, work around the edges carefully with a small flatblade screwdriver. Once they’re out enough, give them a firm pull and then they look like this:
Then pull the handle firmly to remove it.
For the curious, this is what the handle looks like once it’s removed.
I didn’t get pictures in between the headliner and the roof since it was too hard to get the light in there, hold it open and take the picture.
But once the coax is through the roof and pulled over to the sides, then it can be routed behind the pillar trim by pulling it out.
Pull this cover off the site of the instrument panel to access interior fuse box. Pull from bottom first. The top clips are hold pretty hard, but if you keep pulling it’ll come off.
If you keep feeding the coax down from the pillar, it comes out of a hole in the upper left part if the driver fuse box.
From that point, I routed it behind the dash, ziptied it along the rail that runs right behind the lower edge of the dash trim over toward the center console.
Back up top, I liberally applied sealant to the gasket where the coax went through, reseated it and screwed the marker light back on.
Then I mounted the stud to the mounting plate and the fire-ring connector to the stud. This is it from straight above.
Because of the way I oriented the bolts for the mounting plate, I found some nut caps I had lying around that just happened to cover the threaded end of the bolts to reduce the liklihood of snags.
Because the antenna is three feet long, it angled up quite a bit lying down on the front roof rack crossbar. So I slid them back.
Here it is with the antenna down.
And with the antenna up
Installing the Handset
Now for mounting the handset. It didn’t come with any provision to mount it on the dash. So I got a little white trashy.
I wanted a secure stud without having to remove the belt clip. I didn’t like the adhesive ones since they never stay on. So I took a small angle bracket and hammered it flat.
Then I cut it where the fold was, drilled a hole right near the bottom and attached a small pull I found in a junk box with a small bolt and nut.
Next I removed the belt clip from the handset, layered this makeshift stud bracket under it and screwed it back together.
Now for a hook on the dash. I tried to get it to hand with some heavy coat hanger but I just wasn’t talented enough to shape it right.
So instead I wandered the house looking for some raw material I could do something with.
Can you believe that there is an alternative use for these computer expansion slot bay covers that you just toss in a box when you add adapter cards to your computer?
There is. This is what I made with my dremmel and pliers.
And it mounts to the dash under one of the dash bolt heads like this.
This is the handset hanging on that hook. It’s an aluminum hook so can bend if you really pushed/pulled on it, but it’s pretty small and out of the way. And I filed the edges a bit so that it’s not rough on you if you drag your hand across.
If it doesn’t work out or if I come up with a better solution, I can simply remove it with no damage done to the dash.
Another unexpected, but nice feature is that since the clip holds the stud loosely, the CB handset can be flipped up to look at it without unhooking it.
And this is the view of it from a bit farther back.
After driving with the handset mounted this way for a while I was annoyed by the squeak of the metal stud on the metal hook. So I got some plastidip-like liquid brush on electrical tape and coated the metal parts of the mount.
Finishing the Install
If you do this yourself, either tune the SWR or have a radio shop do it for you. Make sure you tune it with the antenna up and with any gear on the roof that you plan to have up there when transmitting. If you change your gear regularly, get an SWR meter and a patch cable to insert it in between the antenna and the handset whenever you change the load. There’s a lot of good reading on line about how to tune the antenna. You might want to start with some of the tech articles at Firestik’s website.
The nice thing about the Firefly antenna, and some of the other Firestiks, is that you can electrically shorten or lengthen the antenna without cutting by using a thumbwheel in the tip of the antenna. I bet other manufacturers make similarly adjustable antennas, but I never researched the alternatives.
You can do a similar setup with dual antennas too as well as with shorter or longer antennas.
I’m pretty happy with this setup. It’s unobtrusive (i.e. doesn’t bang on my knee), but at the ready. I can pop up the antenna in a few seconds, even while driving. Shorter people might have a bit of a problem doing this.
Total cost was:
|CB Radio||~$85 at amazon.com|
|Antenna, coax, mount, foldover, SWR meter, patch coax||~$90 at walcottcb.com|
|My install time||1.5-2 hours|
|My research, ordering, material prep time||too much|
What would I do differently were I to do it again? I’d use a two thicker, two-foot antennas and mount them a little farther to the rear. The Firefly, where it’s mounted, it sticks up in the airflow over the front of the roof. Because it’s very thin it makes a high-pitched whistle that’s annoying at first, but which you can learn to ignore. Getting shorter ones, pairing them for better front back reception even though their shorter, and mounting them a tiny bit farther back would mostly eliminate this whistle, I think. I’d lost the ability to pop up both of them on my own while driving, but that’s not the end of the world.