Mobile HF

I've long wanted to update my aging Kenwood G707A radio to an all-mode HF rig, but the time was never right. Finally got it done! Components are as follows:

Radio:  ICOM 7100
Tuner: TennTronix Turbo Tuner
Antennas: Front of the truck - Comet 2X4SRB, back Tarheel Antenna Little Tarheel II

I chose the Icom over a Kenwood because it would do all modes all bands . The Kenwood would not do 2m/70cm and one radio in the vehicle was quite enough thank you.

The vehicle in went into is a 2012 Ford F150 SuperCrew....this presented a number of challenges.

I had to decide where to place the main unit, where to mount the controller head (and its not a nice flat head) and where to place the antennas.

First, the antennas. The Dual Band Comet 2x4SRB was already in place from the previous radio so I saw no need to move it (front drivers side, Diamond trunk lip mount 2/3 of the way up the hood).  The Tarheel II I had never encountered before. I chose the MT-7 Corner Bed mount for the antenna. It comes with a 3/8" stud mount which matches the antenna and is SO239 on the bottom. Because of the way the bed is constructed, I bought longer bolts for the cab facing end and bolted it all the way through the lip there. One bolt was replaced by a lag screw as it was not quite into the bed post hole and I couldn't get behind it. Worked just fine.

MT-7 Mount and Little Tarheel II

Little Tarheel II Mounted on an MT-7 Corner Bed Mount.

Little TarHeel II antenna on MT-7 Mount

Little Tarheel II antenna on MT-7 Corner mount

The next challenge was to run the cabling for the Tarheel II and its motor. Passing the cables into the truck cab is not hard. There is a grommet in the end of the bed that pops out and opposite it is a cab vent that has plenty wide enough openings to run just about anything you want. The trouble is getting to it from the cab side.  This is a pain until you know the trick.  The back of the seats in a SuperCrew will fold down, but its not obvious. There are several sites with videos on how to do this - but basically you remove the head rest and slightly fold up the bottom of the seat. This allows you to get your fat hands behind the middle of the seat. You will encounter a latch the very top of it is a little silver latch release that when flipped up releases the seat back. Its not particularly hard to move (as long as the lower seat is up a bit) and the seat will pop loose of the latch. Lower the seat bottom slightly and all will fold forward together. This exposes the rear cab insulation, which pops off of the molding easily and exposes the vent.  I ran the cabling through the vent and around the base of the seat mounts to the drivers side. There I slit the carpet with a razor blade and passed the cables under it. I did have to remove the molding at the bottom of the cab at the drivers side door.  Since I had decided to place the radio under the driver's side seat, I slit the carpet right under the back of the driver's seat and passed the cables up.

The main unit is small enough to fit under the driver's side and still get fair ventilation. With the ICOM 7100 and a Turbo Tuner, there is no need for extra control or RF jumpers. Just the main feed to the antennas and the motor control wire supplied with the Tarheel. That is less garbage to try and hide.  The TurboTuner fits nicely to one side of the radio and can be heard from the driver's seat. (It chirps morse status codes).

I won't get into fishing the front (Comet 2x4SRB ) to the main unit except to say that there is a rubber grommet through the firewall up to the left of the brake pedal. Using a fish tape, you can make a slit in that grommet and run the wires up into the engine compartment.  The carpet is easy to get loose and the only trick to running the wire under the drivers seat is to come under the seat from the outside (left) of the seat. There is a bigger opening in the seat mount that makes it easier to get the wires in there. Same for the power wiring (which is not nearly long enough and will have to be extended to the battery). Be sure to use a same size or larger gauge wire when extending.

ICOM 7100 main unit under the drivers seat. Not perfect, but not bad.

The last major challenge is to fish the control wire for the controller up the dash and then mount the controller.  While you are running power and antenna out the front is a good time to run the control wire. The cable supplied with the radio is plenty long enough to go from the driver's seat to the top of the dash. The fun is getting it there. Run the cable under the carpet to right where the center of the dash meets the floor of the cab.  At the top of the dash, there is a little tray (which for most folks is nothing more than a crap catcher). The rubber mat inside of it pops out and there are two screws holding it in place. Remove and save those. Using a fish tape, you can then pull the cable up through the dash to this location. Not super hard, but a little bit of a pain. There is a notch in the rear of the opening that fits the cable nicely. It will be necessary however to notch the plastic tray you have removed for the cable. I used a dremel motor and it took all of 2 minutes. I did choose to add a steel backing plate to the tray to reinforce my mounting point.  

Now the choice of a mount....decisions decisions.... Ram Mounts makes mounts for anything you can dream up. And their products are so modular you can mix and match. It so happens that under the controller head is a 1/4x24 standard camera tripod mount hole. Aha.  Ram Mounts has a nice little wizard at their site for camera mounts .....I needed to get the controller far enough forward to be used safely when driving, high enough to keep the eyes on the road but not block anything. And I wanted it to be able to swing to the passenger side when I was not driving so I could use it.  Came up a 1/4" ball mount for a camera, an 11" fully articulated arm and a 1" ball mount for the base. All have locking levers and the unit can be positioned at will. Very nice and easy to mount the whole thing. I kept the plastic tray out, added the steel backing plate, bolted that all together and then bolted the ball mount to it, assembled the rest and it was perfect!

Ram Mount components

Ram Mount components for Controller mounting

Drivers side view mount

Driver's side view of the mount

Driver's Driver's seat view of the mount

Passenger View of the mount

Passenger Side view of the mount

That pretty much wraps up the major challenges with the install. Except that the microphone cord that comes with the radio is too short and Icom does not sell an extension. What.The.Hell. Fortunately the microphone uses a standard 8 wire RJ45 modular plug, same as networking gear. You can get a CAT 5E network cable (I used a nice soft rubber flexible one) which is also, 8 wire straight through. Pick up a RJ45 Female to Female Coupler and you are in business. Hell I got mine at Staples.....

Comet 2x4SRB on front

Comet 2X4SRB mounted in Front

Both Antennas

View of both antennas mounted.

Hope this was helpful and gives you some guidance to your install.  73's!