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Unread 05-21-2013, 10:13 AM   #1
WeezyBlue
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2005 TJ Wrangler 
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Brunswick OH
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Dual Antennae on Tailgate

When I was researching on where and how to put dual antennas on my Jeep, I found several threads with basic info, but few with good pictures, and a lot of people confused or scared to drill holes without making it look like a hack job. Properly grounding the antenna seems to be a common issue, so I figured I would snap a few pics of my installation. Now, I'm no expert so you may find a few things in the following photos that may not be technically correct. By all means, point them out. I'm just sharing my experiences.

I tend to be long winded in my descriptions, so just glance at the pictures if you'd rather not read my life story...

First off, I just got my Amateur Radio Tech license, so I'm planning to install a 2 meter along side my CB. That said, I am trying to buy things one chunk at a time, as in total it's more expensive to do this than I had anticipated. In my previous TJ I mounted a Midland CB and a Firestik using a Teraflex behind the tail light bracket for under $100 total. Prices have gone up a since then, but with buying higher quality pieces and parts I have about $300 into this setup thus far, and I still need the 2m radio.

I purchased a Uniden Pro 520XL radio, Arizona Rocky Road overhead CB mount, and an ARR dual antenna mount. I bought a fairly cheap Truckspec coax for the CB, and a nice Larsen NMOKHFCXTHK thick mount and cable at the recommendation of Rick at ARR. For antennas I got a Wilson Flex-4 for the CB, and a Larsen NMO-150 for the 2 meter. Other small odds and ends include some 14 gauge wiring for the CB, heat shrink, rosin core solder, a soldering gun/iron, PL-259 connectors and right angle adapter, braided grounding strap, dielectric grease, some screws and drill bits, dremel and some sort of sanding attachment. I use paper sanding discs because they allow me to get into small areas and work more accurately and closely without worring about a solid disc blowing up in your face. The pl259 connectors were purchased at Radio Shack, the grounding strap I found at Napa.


This is what the mount looks like from the back side of the tailgate with antennas and cables installed. I sanded the mount to bare metal where the antennas mount to provide a good ground. The stud assembly for the CB antenna was provided by ARR. The mount bolts to the tail gate using the existing two top tire carrier bolts. On some TJs I believe there are 3 bolts, my 05 only has 2. In order to ground the mount to the tailgate I needed a steel to steel contact. Instead of sanding down the back of the bracket, both sides of the carrier, and the tail gate, I took a simpler approach. I sanded both side of the tire carrier bolt washers, the bottom of the head of the bolt, and the surface of the ARR mount where the washer sets. I then took a small wire brush to the threads on the bolts, and the inside of the holes where they thread. This way the bracket is grounded to the tailgate via bracket-washer-bolt-bolt hole-tailgate. I smothered all connections in dielectric grease to better conduct and prevent rust.


You can see I simply zip tied the cables to the uprights, then fed them towards the middle of the tire carrier where there is a hole you can feed them through, and along the 3rd brake light wiring. What I don't have a photo of is where they feed into the Jeep. I cut the connector off the end of the assembled CB coax and the Larsen coax comes without an end connector. I removed the grommet for the brake light wiring, and there was just enough room to feed the two coax and brake light wiring through the existing hole. Instead of enlarging the hole and getting a larger grommet, I just got the wires fed through and situated where I wanted them, and filled the entry hole with silicone.


The plastic cover inside the tailgate comes off by removing the single screw in the middle of it. I electrical taped the coax cables together for this part to keep a cleaner look. The bracket that provides electrical contact to the brake light is held on with 3 screws. I removed it and sanded the paint off the tailgate around the top screw hole, then screwed the bracket back in with the grounding strap behind it using the existing hardware, again smothered in dielectric grease. I aimed it directly up so the crimp connection on it would sit just past the plastic cover, as seen in later photos...


I ran the grounding strap along the coax cables to the tub, allowing just enough cable so that when the tail gate is opened fully they are lightly taught. The coax cables continue to the roll bar where they are run under the padding all the way to the front.


I sanded a bit of paint off under the carpet and drilled a hole to sink a screw. Again, I used dielectric grease. I had this rusty *** screw lying around. Not pretty, but you won't see it when you replace the carpet.


Tailgate open fully. I notched the carpet where the cables run in. It doesn't make much of a difference, but it helps the carpet sit a little flusher.


Using the dremel I carved a groove out of the top of the plastic cover to allow a spot for the coax cables to pass through. The flange on the grounding strap was just long and thin enough that I didn't bother trimming for it.


Plastic cover back on.


CB mounted in center until I get the 2m. Not sure if I will mount them one above the other or side by side when the time comes. You can see the other coax wrapped around the bar to the right.


There are 6 pre-drilled holes in the ARR mount, but the mounting bracket that came with the Uniden didn't match up with any of them, so I had to drill a new set of holes to mount it in the center. The ARR mount has a small hole drilled in the rear to run power wires and CB cables inside the mount. Rick from ARR provides a rubber grommet for the hole, and some power wires for the CB. I found the hole to be too small for the power cables and two coax, so I elongated it using the dremel. I just took the time to round off the hole really well with the dremel so as to not need a grommet. I tried installing the radio without the right angle adapter, but it just didn't fit and put unnecessary strain on my PL259 connector. I was already nervous about the integrity of my PL259 solder, but it checks out fine with an ohm meter. I will see how it holds up. With the right angle adapter, there is a couple millimeters between it and the plastic cover on the windshield. Rick suggests running the power cables out the passenger side of the mount, but I chose to run them out the driver's side for a few reasons. It keeps the power cables away from the coax lines, and when fed down through the windshield trim and behind the dash there is a convenient grommet above and beside the clutch pedal to route them through. From there you can run them along the top of the fire wall in the engine bay and to the battery. I connected both + and - leads to the battery. The wires Rick provides may reach if run through the passenger side, but are far too short if run the way I did. The run I did was about 12-15'.


This is how tall the finished set up is with the 4' antennae. It's pretty tall, but the antennae are very flexible and I wanted a good signal. They do hit at the Taco Bell drive through. They lean away from one another a bit, I may bend the bracket later to make them look more parallel. They're not nearly as bad as it looks in the photo, it was windy when I took it. The bracket was bent front to back though. I'm not sure if it shipped that way or was bent by me during handling, but the left antenna was leaning forward and the right was leaning back. I just grabbed the uprights and bent them parallel.

The only other issue I had with the ARR product was the bolts to mount the CB mount to the door surrounds/roll bar. The instructions and people I found online report being able to reuse their existing OEM door surround bolts to affix the mount, but mine were coming up short. Rick supplies a set of hex bolts for you to use alternatively, if you so choose. I chose to use these bolts, and I'm not sure if it was a mistake. They were threading quite tightly, and in my infinite wisdom I decided to just crank them all the way in. Upon removal I found the thread to be pretty messed up, as if they are threaded differently or are a different size from stock. They are holding solidly and can be screwed in and unscrewed fine, but I'm afraid trying to switch back to the factory bolts may render the thread in the roll bar unusable. I imagine I am now stuck with the hex bolts.

Using an SWR meter the Wilson antenna is throwing a 1.3:1 on channel 1, and a 1.7:1 on channel 40. I can't adjust the antenna any shorter than it is, but I'm ok with these numbers.

All in all I support the ARR products and for those that say the tailgate is difficult or impossible to get a good RF ground on... well, it's really not too bad at all.



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Unread 05-21-2013, 08:10 PM   #2
JPNinPA
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Looks clean. The rusty screw on the ground strap and the wires routed through the tailgate leads me to want to test the ground and SWR in a month. Take an ohm meter and measure resistance from the outer shield at the antenna to somewhere else on the body (not the ground strap) and you should read 2 ohms or less.
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Unread 05-22-2013, 03:46 AM   #3
1222
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Very nice and great write-up and pics but had to chuckle a bit though. After talking about how meticulous you were in assuring good grounds with the dremel and all, you used an old rusty screw for the ground strap inside your Jeep.
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Unread 05-22-2013, 10:00 AM   #4
WeezyBlue
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Ha, yeah you guys have both pointed that out as a potential issue. I figured since I sanded it down to metal on the tub, the grounding strap has teeth on it, and I coated it in dielectric grease, the screw wasn't going to make much of a difference, as it's holding the strap flush with the tub either way. But I'll replace it with a nice shiny screw next time I'm at the hardware store, it can't do anything but help.
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Unread 05-22-2013, 12:14 PM   #5
1222
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I myself wasnít questioning if it was making a good ground or not since you removed the paint, it was just the fact you did such a nice clean install everywhere and then used an ugly old rusty screw.

I do know what itís like though when youíre really busy into a project and thatís all you have at the moment and dropping everything and running to the store just isnít an option you care to choose.
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