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Overhead CB/Ham radio install

Written by  Chuck Davis
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This method of install will take about six to eight hours to complete, so make sure you have plenty of time. You will need basic tools and help from the feminine persuasion if available (I’ll explain that detail later). Wear hospital type gloves when working around the headliner to keep it clean. As each component is removed, use painters tape to wrap the threads to secure the bolt or screw to the component (Fig 1). If you’re going to paint the radio mounting bracket, it’s best to do that several days before you start the install.

 

Read all instructions before you start!

 

Tools:
Ratchet, 3/8” drive
Extension, 3/8” drive
10mm, 3/8” drive deep socket
Philips #2 screw driver
Small blade screw driver
Wire cutters
Crimp tool
Side cutter pliers
Hand drill (use a drill press if available)
Assorted Drill bits
Soldering iron
Plastic container for parts
Sharpie permanent marker
Razor knife
Needle

Supplies:
Painters tape
Electrical tape
Duct tape
Shrink tubing
Crimp connectors
Soldering flux
Solder
Zip ties
Plastic bushing (Available at many hardware stores)
Hospital gloves
Inserts nuts, (1/4” – 20) (available at Home Depot, Lowes, and hardware stores)
Epoxy
Permatex silicone adhesive or equivalent (Automotive stores)
Wood block (use maple if available, size to be determined)

1) Measure the radio bracket length and add one inch. That will be the length of your wood block. Find the thickness of the wood block by attaching the radio bracket to the radio. Place painters tape on the headliner where the radio will be mounted (Fig. 2). Now hold the radio to the headliner where you want it located. Allow enough room behind the radio for wiring and proper function of the sun visors. Using a sharpie permanent marker, mark the painter’s tape showing the location of the radio mounting bracket. Now separate the radio from the mounting bracket. Again hold the mounting bracket to the headliner and mark the mounting holes. Place a long needle or equivalent on one of the locations you marked for a hole and push it through the tape and headliner until it touches the metal roof (fig. 3). Holding the needle at the headliner withdraw the needle and measure it (Fig. 4). Now subtract 3/16th” from your measurement and that’s the thickness of your wood block. The width is not critical; 2.5 inches will work well. I know this seems like a lot to go through to get dimensions for a wood block, but if the thickness dimension is off you’ll risk distorting the headliner!

2) Now center the mounting bracket on the wood block and mark the location for each hole to be drilled (Fig 5). Using the package instructions that came with your insert nuts, drill appropriately sized holes through the wood block. Apply epoxy to the to insert nuts and screw them into the wood block (Fig. 6, 7).

3) Drill 5/16” holes in the headliner where previously marked in step (1) (Fig. 8). Use gentle pressure on the drill as the headliner has a foam core. As soon as the drill penetrates the headliner stop the drill and pull it from the headliner.

4) Remove all cosmetic bolt covers on the handholds, rear view mirror, and door latch covers (Fig. 9) using a small blade screw driver. Wrap the screw driver blade with a layer of electrical tape to protect the plastic from scratches (Fig. 10). Using a 10mm socket, remove the bolts under each cover (Fig 11). After the A-pillar handholds are removed, remove the A-pillar garnish. Disengage two fasteners by pulling the A-pillar garnish inward. (Fig 12)

 


 

5) Remove both sun visors and rear view mirror using a #2 Philips screwdriver.

6) Partially remove the rubber seal on both doors so it does not interfere with the headliner. To remove the rubber seal start in the middle of the door (Fig. 13).

7) Remove the sun visor hooks by turning them 90 degrees clockwise and gently pulling down.

8) The headliner is now loose! DO NOT PUSH or Pull the headliner down any more than necessary! Here’s where the female comes in handy. Her feminine arms are much better for the task at hand. Have her place the wood block between the headliner and the roof while you start the bolts through the bracket/headliner and thread them into the wood block. You may have some small kinks in the headliner at the back by the half door. They will disappear within a few days. Cut a stick to fit between the CB/Ham radio bracket and the center console (Fig. 14). Place a small towel under the stick; Test fit the stick and then remove it. Now apply the silicone adhesive to the top of the wood block. Again have your feminine counterpart do this, as she will be neater than you will and her arms are better suited for this task. You may be wondering why you should apply the silicone adhesive after you attached the wood block to the headliner. Because attaching the wood block to the headliner can be time consuming and silicone skins over rapidly! Install the sun visor hooks. The sun visor hooks precisely locate the headliner, which will position the wood block. Now place the stick between the consoled and the bracket. Use cloth under the stick to apply firm pressure to the bracket. Now do something special with your feminine counterpart, she earned it! After several hours you can remove the stick and mounting bracket bolts. Remove the sun visor hooks as you did in step (7). Do not mount the radio at this time!

9) Now you’ll get the wiring done. This is something you should do ONLY if you understand basic electricity! If you don’t have this basic knowledge, get help with this part of the installation. I recommend connecting the positive side of the radio to an aftermarket fuse block. The next choice would be a backup battery. The last choice would be the main battery. There are other locations such as the FJ’s fuse block, but if an electrical problem shows up down the road, Toyota could decline warranty coverage. Use grommets when routing wires through sheet metal such as the firewall. A good place to run wires through the firewall is on the passenger side (Fig. 15). This location works well when a second battery is installed. Use quality crimp connectors and shrink tubing on all wire connections. This will save you a lot of grief down the road!

10) This step applies to those who are permanently installing a CB antenna using the Bandi mounting bracket. Time to run the Coax, RG-58 is good but RG-8X is better! The dB. loss of RG-8X is one third that of RG-58 and the difference in cost is only a few bucks. When routing the coax be absolutely certain it will not interfere with the side curtain air bags! Start by removing the driver’s side rear cargo panel. Now drill an appropriate size hole for the coax grommet in the rear door (fig. 16). There are two layers of sheet metal separated by about 3/16”; you will need to drill through both layers. Use a small file to remove any sharp edges around the hole. Use touch-up paint on the bare metal; let dry and then install a grommet. Now detach the wire boot on the door and body (Fig 17). To remove the boot from the body open the jack compartment and reach behind the boot; disengage the clip at the bottom of the boot (Fig 18) Using window cleaner, 409, or equivalent, spray a towel then wipe it onto the coax for lubrication. Now feed the coax through the grommet. Looking through the large hole where the wire boot was attached to the door, continue feeding the coax until you can fish it through the hole for the wire boot. Lubricate the inside of the wire boot with the soap solution and feed the coax through the boot. Reattach the wire boot to the door and body. Using wire ties, secure the coax to the existing wiring harness. It will lead to the half door on the driver’s side and up to the headliner. Run the coax across the headliner to where the CB/Ham radio will be mounted. Using a razor knife, make a hole in the headliner behind the CB/Ham radio. This hole should be just large enough for the plastic bushing to fit into. Plastic bushing are available at many hardware stores (Fig 19). Feed the coax/electrical wires through the bushing. Secure the coax to the top of the headliner using duct tape. Replace the rear cargo panel.

11) All of the wiring should be complete before you continue. Now reinstall the sun visor hooks, front sun visors, rear view mirror. Reapply the door seals and then attach the door latch garnish and cosmetic bolt covers. Install the inside A-pillar garnish on both sides and then attach the handholds. Attach the side sun visor/handholds. Now cover the dash with a towel to protect it from solder splatter and solder the antenna plug to the coax as directed by the manufacture. Mount the CB/Ham radio bracket. Install the radio and connect the electrical wires to the CB/Ham radio. Connect the antenna wire to an Appropriate CB/Ham radio SWR (Standing Wave Ratio) meter. Follow the SWR meter instructions. Checking the SWR is important! If the SWR is high (>3:1) it can substantially reduce your effective range and damage your transmitter! Adjust the SWR via the CB antenna instructions. SWR is typically less than 2:1. If the SWR is higher than 2:1 and you can’t adjust it down via the antenna, check all coax and ground connections. After the SWR is set, disconnect the SWR meter and attach the antenna wire (coax) to the back of the CB/Ham radio.

12) Have fun with it!


Charles Davis is the founder of OffRoadSurvivalCamp.com. His love is to guide trips into areas seldom visited by the the general public. He also teaches photography on guided trips. Charles can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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