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Posted: 3/15/2009 7:19:51 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/22/2009 2:02:56 PM EDT by 6530]
Over the last couple of weeks, mostly working from 11pm - 3am when everyone in the house was asleep, I installed a Yaesu FT-857 in my 1999 Acura TL. It went as smoothly as I could have expected for a first attempt.

I only have a few pics of the install from my cell phone:


In this photo I've already run the cabling under the dash and am working it under the carpet to the rear of the car. I enclosed all cabling in 1/2" split loom.


Same cabling, different view.


Rear seat removed. I ran the cables up under the trim on the driver's side (can't quite see) and into the trunk.


From the trunk looking into the rear of the car. In this one I hadn't yet run the cabling, but it came in on the left (driver's side) of the photo along the trunk floor with the cable that's already there. The cable you see is for the trunk-mounted CD changer.

Finished product:


Radio in trunk. There's a perfectly-sized little alcove into which the radio just fits. You can see the radio uses a common ground with the trunk lid. I used a QD connector (Faston 1/4" tab) on the ground (red cable with yellow connector in the middle) so that when I pull the radio to reprogram it I don't have to disconnect any grounds.



RF grounding on driver's side. It's hidden by the trunk lid trim panel, but the blue wires are grounded to the lid using a ring terminal & self-tapping screw with external tooth star washer. I had almost a full spool of THHN 22AWG wire handy, so I used 3 strands with 10-12AWG ring terminals and external tooth star washers. Theoretically you should use braided strap, but I didn't have any when I did the work.


RF grounding on passenger side of trunk lid.


RF grounding under hood, driver's side. You can see the fused power wiring direct from the battery (I fused both + and - leads). I did the whole install using Anderson PowerPoles. I need to secure the bottom PP assembly with a cable tie the way I did the top one.


RF grounding under hood, passenger side.



Exhaust RF grounding. I used a cheap battery ground strap from Advance Auto, but will replace with better material when it arrives. This ground reduced HF background noise by the most significant amount.


HF antenna. This is a Yaesu ATAS-120 on a Diamond K400C mount.



Separate VHF/UHF antenna. This is a Comet SBB-5 also on a Diamond K400C mount, but NMO.


Both antennas.



Head unit, ready for ARFCOM1 (7.213).


Speaker & mic. I'm going to mount the speaker somewhere under the dash - what you see is temporary until I figure where to mount and maybe a speaker upgrade.


Mount tilted out the way so I can shift the transmission. This is a Lido LM300 and there's some play in the neck, but it worked out fine since I needed the ability to move the head out of the way to shift. When the mount is in its "normal" position I can reach all the controls with my arm on the console and can operate mostly by feel.

I still have some more work to do (ground the exhaust in a couple more places, ground the engine block, permanently install the speaker, mount the mic), but the unit works great on both HF (mostly 40m) and VHF, UHF. The one thing I would have done had I thought about it is run a speaker extension from the radio to under the dash. The 857 has a speaker jack in the head unit, but it would have been cleaner to run from the radio itself. Lesson learned, I guess.

I have also learned to love Mouser Electronics. I can find just about anything I need, the prices are reasonable, and the shipping is FAST. Plus they correct problems promptly when they arise.

If you see me around the Jacksonville, FL area I'm usually on the St Augustine repeater (145.210) or one of the Jax repeaters (146.700 or 146.760).
Link Posted: 3/15/2009 3:20:25 PM EDT
Why ground the exhaust pipe?
Link Posted: 3/15/2009 3:35:05 PM EDT
Good looking install.

The pictures of the head unit remind me of Wall-E.
Link Posted: 3/15/2009 4:06:38 PM EDT
Good looking install - grounding the exhaust system helps drop the noise levels significantly on some vehicles.
Link Posted: 3/16/2009 6:13:49 AM EDT
Sweet, J.

I just got some unexpected funds and was looking at the 857 again. I still need to send my 718 back to Icom, though. If it's not worth fixing I'll be looking for a new base rig instead. Now that I know you're on 210 I might try to get you there. I had to dump 700. I just couldn't stomach the same drivel day in and day out.
Link Posted: 3/16/2009 4:14:52 PM EDT
Originally Posted By buckmaw:
Why ground the exhaust pipe?


It's mostly insulated, and is a good source for interference. With all the rubber hangers, and mounts, the ground there isn't very good. It's one of the main places you'll want to ground, from what i've heard. I grounded mine.....

K0BG is a great source for moble install info.

http://www.k0bg.com/bonding.html
Link Posted: 3/16/2009 5:38:36 PM EDT
Yesterday I relocated the speaker under the dash, so it's gone from the console. Posting this thread got me motivated to move it.

This is probably no big deal to the experienced hams, but over the last few weeks on 40 meters I've talked to stations in Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, the Carolinas, Florida, and a few other locations. The longest distance QSO I heard was between one station in Las Vegas and another in Milan. That's pretty cool...

Originally Posted By buckmaw:
Why ground the exhaust pipe?

RFI. As BigSoundRacing has already pointed out, the exhaust is a prime source of RF interference. It's got a DC ground to the chassis (working backwards, from the exhaust pipe to the converter to the drop pipe to the manifold to the head to the chassis), but none of that really serves as an RF ground since there's too much resistance. I've only grounded the exhaust in one spot and I plan to do at least 2 more; just the one I've done so far dropped the noise level from S9 to about an S4, so hopefully a couple more will make more difference - though probably with diminishing returns. It's almost impossible to get rid of all RFI, but bonding the hood, trunk, & exhaust usually gets rid of most of it. Bonding the doors provides a better image plane.

The two other most common sources of RFI are electric fuel pumps and spark plugs (coil over plug assemblies). They can sometimes be attenuated using caps and/or copper foil tape. I'll do these if I need to, but that's not clear yet.

One thing to keep in mind is that many unibody vehicles have what amount to subframes that are isolated from the unibody to provide a smoother ride (e.g. the suspension is isolated from the body), so you have to bond to the unibody, not the subframe.

Originally Posted By JaxShooter:
Sweet, J.

I just got some unexpected funds and was looking at the 857 again. I still need to send my 718 back to Icom, though. If it's not worth fixing I'll be looking for a new base rig instead. Now that I know you're on 210 I might try to get you there. I had to dump 700. I just couldn't stomach the same drivel day in and day out.

Thanks. I hear you about the 700 repeater. I try to stay off 700 during the day since there's one station that talks constantly (I'm sure you know who I mean ). The 210 is down some in power so you may not be able to Rx from Jax, but the 760 machine works for me if it works for you. We can meet in person if you want to check out the install.

Originally Posted By NAM:
It's mostly insulated, and is a good source for interference. With all the rubber hangers, and mounts, the ground there isn't very good. It's one of the main places you'll want to ground, from what i've heard. I grounded mine.....

K0BG is a great source for mobile install info.

http://www.k0bg.com/bonding.html

Alan (K0BG) is the mack daddy of installing mobile ham radios. He's got the single most comprehensive source of information on that site and responds quickly to emails sent directly to him with questions. He's a bit dismissive of anything less than a 100% solution, but in general he'll point you in the right direction. In my case I went with the ATAS since (1) I had one that came with the 857 I bought as a package deal & I didn't want to spend any more money, (2) it's flexible in terms of multiband coverage (40/20/15/10/VHF/UHF), (3) it tunes automatically if used with the 857, and (4) it's easily mountable using a Diamond K400C. He clearly wasn't keen on the ATAS in his emails (consistent with his posts on eHam) and offered some alternative solutions. Maybe as I develop more sophistication with respect to ham radio I'll be ready to take the next step, but meanwhile I'm still new and have limitations in terms of antenna height, etc.
Link Posted: 3/16/2009 6:06:35 PM EDT
Originally Posted By 6530:
Thanks. I hear you about the 700 repeater. I try to stay off 700 during the day since there's one station that talks constantly (I'm sure you know who I mean ). The 210 is down some in power so you may not be able to Rx from Jax, but the 760 machine works for me if it works for you. We can meet in person if you want to check out the install.

Wouldn't start with a 'W' would it?

Actually I get 210 all over Jax. I forget how many watts it's putting out but it's got great coverage due to its height. Maybe I should flip over to 76 more often. I wouldn't mind seeing the finished install. I'll hit you offline.

Link Posted: 3/16/2009 6:13:24 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/16/2009 6:21:55 PM EDT by 6530]

Originally Posted By JaxShooter:
Wouldn't start with a 'W' would it?

Um, yes, it would .

ETA: I'm glad I'm not the only one who does this: . I make a special effort to stay off that repeater...
Link Posted: 3/16/2009 6:27:01 PM EDT
Originally Posted By 6530:
In my case I went with the ATAS since (1) I had one that came with the 857 I bought as a package deal & I didn't want to spend any more money, (2) it's flexible in terms of multiband coverage (40/20/15/10/VHF/UHF), (3) it tunes automatically if used with the 857, and (4) it's easily mountable using a Diamond K400C. He clearly wasn't keen on the ATAS in his emails (consistent with his posts on eHam) and offered some alternative solutions. Maybe as I develop more sophistication with respect to ham radio I'll be ready to take the next step, but meanwhile I'm still new and have limitations in terms of antenna height, etc.


I was looking into that and several other multiband antennas. The price was killer.

I ended up going with multiple hamsticks, and QD mounts. It's more of a pain, but not that bad. 90% of the time i'm on 20m during the day and 75M at night. But i also picked up a 40M just incase. And for 10M, i use a 102" whip. I took a PVC tube, painted it (nonmetallic paint) and mounted it to my luggage rack. I keep the spare antennas in there. Works great so far.
Link Posted: 3/17/2009 4:59:08 PM EDT

Originally Posted By NAM:
Originally Posted By 6530:
In my case I went with the ATAS since (1) I had one that came with the 857 I bought as a package deal & I didn't want to spend any more money, (2) it's flexible in terms of multiband coverage (40/20/15/10/VHF/UHF), (3) it tunes automatically if used with the 857, and (4) it's easily mountable using a Diamond K400C. He clearly wasn't keen on the ATAS in his emails (consistent with his posts on eHam) and offered some alternative solutions. Maybe as I develop more sophistication with respect to ham radio I'll be ready to take the next step, but meanwhile I'm still new and have limitations in terms of antenna height, etc.


I was looking into that and several other multiband antennas. The price was killer.

I ended up going with multiple hamsticks, and QD mounts. It's more of a pain, but not that bad. 90% of the time i'm on 20m during the day and 75M at night. But i also picked up a 40M just incase. And for 10M, i use a 102" whip. I took a PVC tube, painted it (nonmetallic paint) and mounted it to my luggage rack. I keep the spare antennas in there. Works great so far.

The ATAS units are pretty expensive new but you can pick up a used one (100, 120, & 120A) on QTH pretty regularly for around $200. Having said that, you can get a lot of Hamsticks for $200. I figured I had it, so I should at least try it. So far it's worked out OK.

I'm thinking about painting my ATAS whip black - what paint did you use?
Link Posted: 3/17/2009 5:19:39 PM EDT
I'm curious. Where'd you find the combo? I've heard of people selling the 857 with the ATAS but I have yet to find it myself. Of course, I ask this but I really have my eye on the Little Tarheel. It's a larger investment though.
Link Posted: 3/17/2009 5:47:04 PM EDT

Originally Posted By JaxShooter:
I'm curious. Where'd you find the combo? I've heard of people selling the 857 with the ATAS but I have yet to find it myself.

I was poking around QTH one day and came across a guy selling a like new FT-857D, ATAS 120, RT Systems programming software & cable, separation kit, Yaesu FP-1023 switching power supply (a rebranded Samlex SEC-1223), an SGC SG-239 autotuner, a Nifty manual, various extra cables, and a bunch of other stuff for $875 . I looked up his call & he turned out to be a local Jax guy. I went the next day & picked it up .

It turned out that he had bubba-ized one of the rear terminals on the power supply, but I called Samlex and they sent me a couple of replacement terminals for $20. I spent about 10 minutes replacing it.

Originally Posted By JaxShooter:
Of course, I ask this but I really have my eye on the Little Tarheel. It's a larger investment though.

Those are nice, but $$$. They had a display at the Orlando Hamfest but I didn't spend much time checking them out. I've also had a couple of recommendations for the Scorpion 680s HF antenna, but that's also $$$. I'm just not that sophisticated yet - plus I have to fit my car into the garage. I'm just going to work with the ATAS for now and as my skills develop I'm sure I'll want something else.
Link Posted: 3/22/2009 2:01:25 PM EDT
I made a few changes over the last few days.


Grounded the antenna mount.


Bonded all 4 doors to the chassis using stranded wire. This is the driver's door.


Mounted the speaker and reran the wiring - now I can use the cupholder. I didn't realize the car was so dusty until I saw this photo...


Speaker mounted under the dash. In the back you can make out the split loom with the wiring running to the radio in the trunk.


Bonded the block to the chassis. You can see the silver-colored braid attached to an unused boss on the engine.


Close-up of the block bonding. I used the same bolt as the battery's chassis ground.


Wider photo of the engine bonding. 140,000 miles creates a lot of grime...

I also grounded the exhaust in another couple of places. Doing all this has gotten the noise level on HF down to almost zero S-units - I wish the bands themselves weren't so noisy.
Link Posted: 3/22/2009 4:14:57 PM EDT


Great pics! If you don't mind, I plan on using your thread as a reference for when I do my car.


Link Posted: 3/29/2009 1:13:46 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ChinoUSMC:


Great pics! If you don't mind, I plan on using your thread as a reference for when I do my car.



Fee free. If you need more detail or would find more photos useful, let me know.
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