I promised myself when I was in the US Army (79-85) that I’d get my Ham license. I kept putting it off. I finally took and passed my Technician’s license test. Nailed it on the first try, only missed 2 of 35 questions. I was asked if I wanted to take the General test while was there, for free, but I didn’t feel right doing it, since I hadn’t studied for it yet. I plan to take and pass the General before the Fall.
Until then, I spent some time sorting out how I want to mount the new Yaesu FTM-400XDR (Ham) faceplate and the Wouxun KG-1000G (GMRS) faceplate. I don’t want my field of view blocked in any way, so I started looking for a seat rail bracket solution.
The first place I looked was at the RAM Mounts site. I’m a huge fan of their products, long lasting and durable. They make a really strong seat rail bracket (RAM-VB-196-SW2). I only saw pictures of it, but to be honest I’m not very impressed at the design. It attaches to the passenger seat rail bolts. I guess that makes sense, but the bar in between the bolts seems ready to tear into your passenger’s achilles heels. The top part of the bracket swings in different directions. Cool, but I want to move the whole thing out of the way when needed. The hunt continues. #sorryrammounts
Searching through some Ham forums, a lot of people recommended the Lido Radio Products’s L-Max-Deluxe. Ham Radio Outlet has them in stock, so I headed out to their New Castle, DE location. The design is so much better than RAM Mount’s product. It’s an arm with bicycle wheel style quick releases at the mid point and at the base. The top and bottom ends also had very hefty tension dials. The pivoting points had teeth, so there is no chance anything would slip. The base design is brilliant, giving you the ability to move the arm between vehicles.
I bought the L-Max-Deluxe and headed home. Once home I started to come up with the design for mounting the two radios (stacked on one plate) and the two microphones mounted side by side. I figured an upside down “T” design would work. So I ordered an extra plate designed for the Wouxun KG-1000G (has a 5/8″ hole for the faceplate to body cable). That plate would be oriented vertically, with the 5/8” hole at the top to accommodate the Wouxun face plate. The Yaesu face plate would be positioned beneath it. The bottom plate would be oriented horizontally, and would hold the two microphones side by side.
Once the parts came in, I confirmed it came with enough nuts and bolts to put it all together. But I knew i didnt have the right size bolts, since the two plates were probably not designed to be mounted to each other. I also noticed the four center holes on each plate were designed for counter sunk bolts, which the kit didn’t come with. I figured I’d take the whole kit to Home Depot and find the right length bolts and nylock nuts.
The folks at Home Depot were very helpful. I love that place! The staff helped me find the right size philips counter sunk screws and matching nylock nuts. We found sets of different length flat head bolts, and the countersunk bolts for attaching the two plates together. I spent roughly $12, and it was fun going through the exercise.
When I got home I put it all together. I planned well, since I had all that I needed, and a few left over nuts and bolts. The kit looks great, even with the four shiny bolts holding the two plates together. Maybe I’ll look for black counter sunk bolts later, or I’ll take a Sharpie to them.
The back of the kit has the quick mount/unmount plate that came with the bracket. It went onto the bracket smoothly, was secure, and came off without much effort. I drove around some rough roads, and was surprised how little the arm wiggled. I’m very happy with the setup. I plan to send a link to this blog post to Lido, so they can share with anyone else who wants to mount two faceplates on a heavy duty bracket.
Next I had t create a couple wire harnesses, so I could run the cables back to my LiFePO4 off grid power kit. I originally had one of the radios wired to the Jeep battery, but this makes so much more sense. Plenty of power, plenty of connections, and lots of power management for protection.
I ordered the 1/2″ PVC flame retardant sheathing from McMaster-Carr, thanks to a tip from the folks on JLWranglerForums. Removed the inline fuses, since the Blue Sea fuse block provides ATO/ATC fuse slots. Both radio bodies are in the passenger foot well area (for now – I plan to mount them both under the driver’s seat once I build a kit). It was easy to run the new wiring harnesses through my Goose Gear stealth full platform.
Once I connected the wires, I stuck a 15A fuse in both spots, and bingo, we’re powered up and super protected. It took some work, but was well worth it!
Next post will cover relocating my HAM and GMRS radios to under the driver’s seat.