It is a 2010 F250 lariat crew cab short bed with the 6.4L Power Stroke Diesel engine. Of course its 4×4 also.
My mobile installation includes my regular FT-857D for now. It does everything – VHF/UHF/HF all modes.
The antennas for my installation right now are a dual band whip with a lip mount on the hood and a 102″ whip with an LDG Z-11Pro tuner for HF. I had the lip mount on the top of one of my back doors in my old truck. That was problematic. I fought pinched coax issues and it was just a pain in the butt. So I decided to put the antenna on the hood. It is a lower profile as well – if I am going to need to park in a parking garage I can take the HF antenna off and still have my normal VHF/UHF comms. The drawback is lower efficiency. For daily driving it won’t be an issue at all. I can hit my usual repeater on 5 watts all day long as it is.
The HF side of things will need some work. I have the antenna hooked up and running but this is where most of my effort from now on will be spent. The reasoning is I have a lot of grounding work to do. Based on running HF in my last truck I learned how much of a difference grounding makes in a mobile installation (also referred to as “bonding”). The single most important ground I found, going towards reducing RFI from the vehicle running, is the exhaust pipe to the frame. The reason is that the ground towards the rear of the truck will cut off the radiation properties of the exhaust pipe. If you think about it – the rubber isolators to keep the pipe “quiet” make nice RF insulators. The length of the exhaust pipe also makes a GREAT radiator of any RF generated at the engine (injectors, spark plugs, coils, motors, etc). Grounding the pipe kills the radiation. The second most important grounds (plural) are the cab and bed together, hood (if it doesn’t already have good grounding) to cab, and all of that to the frame. This will kill ground loops and give you a solid RF ground. An issue a lot of people have with mobile installs is that the RF from the radio starts to play havoc with the computers on the vehicle. The other issue is RF can get back in to the radio. When you ground everything well you improve the performance of the radio system enormously.
OK – on to the installation. The first thing I will say is that everything I have done so far has been 100 times EASIER than in my 2003 Chevy Silverado. For those of you who are a bit fearful of poking holes in a brand new vehicle – this installation has made NOT A SINGLE HOLE. All of my wires have been run through existing openings. Even better – the only parts I have had to remove for the installation are access panels to factory wiring channels. In my last truck I did a lot of work pulling out the rear seat and running wires under the carpet/insulation. No need here in the Super Duty. Everything is easy to access for the most part. The hardest part – figuring out how to do it!
My first step was to put on my dual band antenna. Here are a few pictures of what I am dealing with:
The mount has been adjusted to keep the antenna vertical, or close to it. The adjustments in the mount are detented so I can’t get it precisely where I want it. I ended up with a bit of forward lean. I figured the antenna would go back to vertical when on the road so that wasn’t too bad.
The coax is run back towards the firewall right under the black plastic where the windshield wipers are. I took out one screw to give me the space I needed to route the coax/connector through. Then I ran the coax down the door jam (on the OUTSIDE of the hinges – towards the front of the truck, not the cab). This is not the ideal way to do this, but it works for now. The better route would be to get the coax through the firewall as I routed the power cable (later down the page).
Once the coax was past the hinges I ran it on the outside of the weather stripping until I got to the separation between the weather stripping. As you can see the factory wiring channel is exposed.
I like the design of the weather stripping Ford has used. It is really robust. It slides over top a crease in the sheet metal and is a very solid hold.
This is what everything looks like all said and done. The coax is run all the way to the rear behind the seat to plug in to the rig.
Here you can see, somewhat, the radio under the back seat. Its a real trick getting it in and out. I am glad the FT-857D is as skinny as it is! Otherwise it would be a no-go for sure. The black flat thingy in the front is the FoldFlat Storage plate. When the seat is up you can fold this out and it makes a nice hard flat floor for carrying something like a TV box or a dresser.
Edit: I figured I would mention this also. You may note that the radio is not bolted in. I don’t have the hard mount installed, and likely will not (in the near future anyway). The reason is that I use the FT-857D SO much. It is my grab-and-go radio. If I permanently install it in the truck it would take me as long to get it out as it will to put it in. I don’t have it grounded yet, but that is coming as with the other grounding I am going to do on the truck itself. Having the remote cables and mount for the face plate (a clip-in style) is as far as my permanent installation is going to get.
I may get another rig for the truck at some point. Maybe an IC-7000, I like the IF-DSP and color screen. Then again, I already know the FT-857D really well from operating one for so long. It would make having a do-everything grab-n’-go radio MUCH easier. I have a go-kit for this FT-857D (Pelican case) that has been used maybe 3 times since I made it because I always have to tear the rig out of the truck to use it.
I actually did the hard-wired power after I put the antennas on, but I’ll toss it in the middle here.
The power wires are 10 gauge stranded (from Lowes). I ran them down the drivers side wiring channel from the firewall to the back of the cab.
The positive side passes through a 50 amp circuit breaker. I have been using these in all of my mobile installs and they work pretty well. I have had a couple of them go bad, though. They are supposed to be water proof but I think the under-the-hood environment takes its toll after a few years. This was one of the good ones I had left. The negative lead is straight to the battery. After all, if it grounds out it goes to the same place anyway – the truck is a standard negative ground chassis.
There are actually two batteries in this beast – one on each side. This one is on the drivers side.
The wires go back up towards the firewall to the following pass-through.
I tried to get them through the boot but it is just too tight for this size of wire. Plus, the boot is real hard to get to. I can’t reach it other than my finger tips from under the hood unless I start removing stuff. The engine compartment is JAM PACKED. They didn’t waste any space in this at all. That being said – some more major engine work with the 6.4L diesel requires the cab to be removed for just this reason – you physically can’t reach everything.
The wires are resting against the plastic “clip”, not the metal. Even if the insulation is worn through the positive wire won’t ground out unless it contacts the negative wire next to it (I doubt that could happen, and I would say wearing through the wires to begin with is a slim chance as there isn’t anywhere for the wires to rub/move – tight fit). I will keep an eye on it though.
The pannel here is to the left of the emergency brake. The power cable is just routed through and on in to the wiring channel. Again, everything in this truck is SO easy to get in to!
This is the rear channel. The front one was shown earlier (with the coax for the dual bander passing through the split weather stripping in the center). If you look close around the seat belt anchor you can see the rest of the wire coiled up. Click on the picture to enlarge it.
OK, so moving on to the HF side of things – at least what I have now.
Here is the mount. It is nothing special - just a piece of wood cut from a 2×4, aluminum bar, and a 3/8″x24 mount (the hard mount with a bolt, not an SO-239). The wire hooks in to it with a ring terminal on the bottom then it is all sealed up with my favorite stuff – Plasti-Dip!
The lead to the antenna is just a solder blob on the end of the wire press-fit in the center pin of the Antenna SO-239 on the tuner. Nothing fancy and it works. Bannana plugs also work. At the house I use an old PL-259 and a short piece of 14g solid wire with a spade connector on it for connecting random wires. It is the best method I’ve come up with, I was just lazy here and re-used an earlier experiment (this whole antenna set up).
The coax and power lead can be see going back to the cab.
This is the vent that the wires go to behind the passenger side rear seat. The liner was a pain to get off – it is held in with a couple of the push clips. They take a lot of work to get out. Be careful – it is possible to break them.
Here is a better shot. The motor there is the drive for the rear window.
The PL-259 was a trick to work through the vent opening. I managed to do it. There is plenty of room but the cable and connector come in sideways to the back of the cab so you have to bend it 90deg to fit through the opening. The string helps out with that – note it is wrapped around the center pin too, not just the part right against the jacket.
There is a slot in the liner right next to the vent so I just poked the wires through. Pretty nice! You can see one of the push pin type clips to the upper left of the latch looking thing against the liner (the round thing). The latch is an access panel for a car seat anchor. There are 3 of the anchors and each one has a clip/pin near it.
On to the normal, non-torn up INSIDE!
Click on the picture to enlarge it. The FT-857D is wired in to the sound system in the truck. I have an audio cable from the headphone jack (with a toroid choke to keep RF out) to the AUX port on the dash. If you take a look at the touch screen the bar on the bottom right (white with a blue-ish tint) is the input meter. Its the same thing on any kind of input audio device – keep the bars from peaking and the audio is nice and clean. Once the bars peak the input is over-driven and the audio gets distorted.
I believe there is a constant level audio port on the accessory plug on the back of the FT-857D for digital modes. I will dig up the manual and see if I can hard-wire that in to the truck. That way I don’t have to deal with the audio cable how I have it here, as well as not have to worry about where the volume knob is on the rig.
There is also a speed compensated audio control. This is nice – no need to touch the knobs going down the road! The only drawback is when my phone rings – it cuts out all audio sources and turns in to my phone. It is great for hands-free operation but if I am in the middle of a conversation on the radio it drops the radio audio.
Note the use of the existing screw for mounting. No holes drilled (in the truck, yet…)
The metal mount I used needs to be adjusted or replaced entirely. Having the display angled like that is hard to see. This definitely needs some improvement.
This truck is a real dream. I had the opportunity to get it and it was too good to pass up. My fuel mileage (again, its a diesel) has been around 16mpg so far (3.55 gears). This is with a non-broken in engine. I expected to be around 13-14mpg so I am more than happy with the performance thus far. My highway mileage is closer to 18mpg but daily driving I’ve been around 16. Not too bad for a truck thats over 8500lbs. Once I hit 5-10,000 miles the engine will start to pick up a few mpg . All the parts have to be merried together nice – piston rings seated in the cylinders, etc.
That about wrapps it up! Stay tuned for more improvements/adjustments as I make them.