How To Install A Mobile HAM Radio In Your Car: Ultimate Guide

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If radio communication piques your interest, mobile ham radio is your best bet!

You know how amazing ham radios are in offering outstanding entertainment features along with quality communication. Needless to say, these also serve as an excellent protective tool to get you out of emergencies.

Unlike ‘fixed’ models, mobile radios are portable. If you spend extended hours driving vehicles, you can install one in your car. During hours off, you can carry the radio wherever you go to stay up to date with news and other updates.

I am sure that you might have found the best mobile ham radio by now. Now the big question comes: How to install a mobile ham radio in your car?

Don’t get carried away by the thought. We are here to help you with this – our simple and straightforward guide will help you rightly!

Where Do You Mount A HAM Radio In A Car?

Before starting with the installation, the first step is to plan the mounting location. The mounting site should have the following features

  1. It should facilitate convenient communication
  2. It should prevent unwanted interference
  3. Moreover, it must not interfere with the safety of the driver.

Most modern-day transceivers are compact, thus, making them easier to install. However, the small-sized ham radios for the car may still pose a problem for vehicles with limited space.

Inspect your vehicle for spaces available. The choices are endless!

In doing so, you also need to consider whether you can easily plug in the microphone or need an extension for it.

You will also need to look for space to assist an external speaker if there is a need for one.

Some users recommend the fold-down, middle seat as a mounting location. If nobody occupies the position, you will have no problem installing it there.

If you drive a modern vehicle, avoid the airbags at all costs. Drilling a hole through one can be quite dangerous. In this case, the only remaining options are the console and dashboard.

Another important tip is to make sure that you install the mobile ham radio in a manner that it does not distract the driver. Operators having to take their eyes off the road to use the transceiver can be quite risky!

Steps to Install a Mobile Ham Radio

Once you have identified the mounting spot, next, you need to secure it properly. You cannot just throw the car ham radio on the dashboard and expect it to do fine. In case of a crash, any loose equipment can pose a threat to the driver and passengers.

Most devices come with installation brackets and other accessories to assist secure installation. Use them to secure the rig against damage.

If it requires drilling, make sure the other side of the panel is clear and away from airbags. Also, stay clear of wiring and other essential components.

1. Mobile HAM Radio Wiring

To connect your car ham radio to a power supply, you need a gauge wire. For a 50-watt device, you need a ten gauge wire. On the other hand, for an Icom 706, Yaesu FT-100, or any other 100-watt rig, you need an 8-gauge cable.

This wiring is typically inexpensive and runs from the rig to the battery. You can find heavy-duty cables, connectors, and holders at any store that sells car radio accessories.

During installation, secure the cables to avoid interference with the vehicle operation. Most importantly, ensure that the power wires are at least 12-inches away from the car’s Engine Control Unit.

2. Getting the Right HAM Radio Antenna

With the power sorted, you need to figure out the antenna and its positioning. As with most CB Radios, your safest bet is mounting the antenna on the vehicle roof. Make sure it is centrally placed on the roof or deck lid.

If you opt for a magnetic mount antenna, avoid extending the coax between the door frame and the door. Instead, use the trunk lid for it as the chafing will be less.

During installation, a crucial point to remember is to place the antenna away from the engine compartment!

Now before you start using the radio, you need to check the grounding. Your car ham radio body should be grounded or in contact with the nearest metal part of the vehicle.

A mirror-mount antenna needs a similar ground strap. Run it from the antenna’s base to any well-grounded spot on the vehicle body.

Surprisingly, bumpers and luggage racks are some of the worst antenna grounding planes!

3. Final Touches!

After completing all the steps, scan for final details. At this point, you will need to secure all cables and connectors. Ensure the microphone is located at a convenient spot. It is especially important so that you don’t have to take your eyes off the road while driving.

Lastly, always remember to operate the radio safely, with your eyes on the road. And, before making any customizations to the radio or car, always consult dealers or manufacturers.