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W1JL
12-10-2007, 04:33 PM
I'm trying to find someone to properly (professionally) install an NMO mount and feedline in my car. I'd provide the antenna and for the moment it's just for an HT, so no power cables and no mounting hardware for a mobile unit.

I've found one place, locally, that seems to specialize in this sort of thing, but they told me I'd be looking at $60/hour for roughly 2 hours labor plus whatever the mount and feedline might cost.

This seems like an awful lot to me. I was hoping to be closer to $100 for the whole operation, materials included. Could it really take more than an hour to put a hole in the roof and shimmy a line down under the dash?

What have your experiences been?

Thanks.

KB1PKX.

K7JEM
12-10-2007, 04:58 PM
Thats a little high. The mounts cost the dealer about $7.50 each, and the connector is a couple of bucks.

All that is required is to drill a single 3/4 inch hole through the roof, usually over or near a dome light, then route the cable under the headliner, then down the doorpost area, then under the carpet and over to wherever you want it to go.

Whole procedure should take half an hour, certainly no more than an hour.

What kind of vehicle you talking about, where will the antenna be mounted, and where does the coax need to go?

Normally, this isn't too big of deal, but some installs can be a bear. Maybe thats the issue.

Joe

K9STH
12-10-2007, 05:05 PM
Many two-way radio shops have gone to a 2 hour minimum charge. $60 per hour is actually pretty cheap these days. Now charging a 2 hour minimum for things like replacing a fuse (which takes less than 5 minutes normally) is a "bit" much. But, such has been the "norm" for a couple of decades.

I know that at least one Dallas, Texas, area shop has been charging over $100 an hour for quite some time and they have a 2 hour minimum. That plus $1.00 per mile for jobs away from their shop and travel time.

Installing an NMO mount can take anywhere from about 30 minutes to well over an hour depending on the particular vehicle. It isn't the cost of the mount but the labor required to install it.

Glen, K9STH

W1JL
12-10-2007, 05:05 PM
It's a '97 Buick Regal. The mount would go roughly in the center of the roof, though I understand in some cases you might need to avoid internal wiring (or dome lights).

Then I assume the feedline would be fed to one of the passenger side posts and down to the floor. Then it could come out from anywhere under the dash. I don't spend a lot of time on the floor, so it doesn't have to be pretty. And anything is better than the magmount I have now.

KB1PKX.

W1JL
12-10-2007, 05:12 PM
Glen, I guess I wouldn't mind paying the 2 hour minimum labor rate if they included the materials. But if I have to spend $40 - $50 for a mount and feedline on top of their $120 labor I'm up to $170 and don't even have an antenna yet. I start to wonder if I ought to just stick with the magmount. And maybe I should. . .

It would be tough to convince me that someone who does this for a living with all the right tools could take more than 45 minutes on this job. I could do it with a jackknife in less time than that. It wouldn't be pretty, but I don't charge $60 an hour, either.

Josh, KB1PKX.

K7JEM
12-10-2007, 05:33 PM
You could go out and buy all the tools needed (which is only a 3/4 inch hole saw designed for antennas, and some sort of variable speed drill) and do the job yourself, if you have any sort of mechanical aptitude.

Or find a stereo shop that is used to routing cables, etc. They would charge less. Or a good CB shop.

Find out who the tech or installer is at a local radio shop, or a radio tech for a local gov't or railroad, etc. Offer them a moonlight job to put the antenna in.

To most of these people $50 for drilling a hole and a half hour of work will look pretty good.

Joe

K9STH
12-10-2007, 05:42 PM
You could use one of the Larsen "L" mounts and install it yourself. Those are made to go in the groove of the trunk or hood. Although not quite as good as a roof mount they do work very well. Those install with 2 or 3 sheetmetal screws.

I use that type of mount on my vehicles and have done so for several decades. They definitely are MUCH better than a magnetic mount since they make a positive connection to the body of the vehicle.

Unless the installation company gives a "package deal" for installations you are not going to get the installation for just the labor charge. That is just not good business practice.

Glen, K9STH

K7JEM
12-10-2007, 05:43 PM
NMO mount and cable. (http://www.tessco.com/products/displayProductInfo.do?sku=362768&eventPage=1)

Hole saw. (http://www.tessco.com/products/displayProductInfo.do?sku=14023&eventGroup=4&eventPage=1)

Other than these, all that is needed is a 3/8 variable speed drill and a connector for the RG-58.

And a wrench to tighten the connector, and some time to do the job.

Joe

K9STH
12-10-2007, 05:54 PM
Joe:

You forgot the "pull tape" unless he wants to completely remove the headliner. Depending on the vehicle pulling the headliner can be a real headache.

http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Glen, K9STH

K7JEM
12-10-2007, 06:07 PM
Quote[/b] (K9STH @ Dec. 10 2007,10:54)]Joe:

You forgot the "pull tape" unless he wants to completely remove the headliner. Depending on the vehicle pulling the headliner can be a real headache.

http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Glen, K9STH
On most newer vehicles, this isn't a problem. You can usually shove the coax into the mounting hole from the outside, and reach your hand, or a wire coat hanger, under the headliner to grab the cable.

It is best to survey how this will be done. Usually, if you remove the dome lamp (if it has one) you can fish the cable through on its own, or with the help of a stiff wire. It's only a couple of feet.

That is the hard part. The rest will be pretty easy.

The biggest problem is actually determining where to put the hole so that you won't have a brace, or a double wall directly below the mount. You only want a single surface, and then access to that point from the door post, under the headliner.

Joe

AB8XE
12-10-2007, 06:07 PM
Using a Greenlee chassis punch would be greatly preferred to the hole saw method. Nobody, unless they actually have tried the same operation on an '97 Regal, can accurately depict how long it is going to take. Any local Hams willing to help you out?

K7JEM
12-10-2007, 06:12 PM
Quote[/b] (AB8XE @ Dec. 10 2007,11:07)]Using a Greenlee chassis punch would be greatly preferred to the hole saw method. Nobody, unless they actually have tried the same operation on an '97 Regal, can accurately depict how long it is going to take. Any local Hams willing to help you out?
Professional two way techs do not use a chassis punch for a couple of reasons. There are special hole saws designed to do exactly this job, much easier and better.

Joe

W1JL
12-10-2007, 06:13 PM
Quote[/b] (AB8XE @ Dec. 10 2007,11:07)]Using a Greenlee chassis punch would be greatly preferred to the hole saw method. Nobody, unless they actually have tried the same operation on an '97 Regal, can accurately depict how long it is going to take. Any local Hams willing to help you out?
I'm in the process of eliciting suggestions from the locals, but most are using magmounts or lip mounts of some sort and are happy enough.

I mainly just wanted to get an idea of what other folks had paid for the same service to see if what I was quoted was reasonable - since at first glance it didn't seem to be.

Josh, KB1PKX.

K7JEM
12-10-2007, 06:24 PM
Quote[/b] (KB1PKX @ Dec. 10 2007,11:13)]I'm in the process of eliciting suggestions from the locals, but most are using magmounts or lip mounts of some sort and are happy enough.

I mainly just wanted to get an idea of what other folks had paid for the same service to see if what I was quoted was reasonable - since at first glance it didn't seem to be.

Josh, KB1PKX.
It's not reasonable. The hourly charge may be appropriate, but no-one will take two hours on this job.

It might only take 15 minutes, at least to get the coax to the bottom of the doorpost. You could route it the rest of the way.

Very worst case would be an hour.

Do it yourself, and learn something. Or get a group of hams together and do it as a learning experience.

Spend 15 minutes analyzing the best way to route the cable under the headliner. It might be best to go to the side post, or maybe to the front. Either one will work, you will typically have 17' of coax to play with.

The mounts are "blind side" installation, which means they mount from the outside of the vehicle, you don't need physical access to the underside of the roof. This makes install much quicker and easier.

Joe

W1VT
12-10-2007, 06:29 PM
How professional does the shop need to be? Shops that install cell phones often have the proper equipment and expertise to handle drilling holes in roofs for ham gear, without the price of a professional two way radio shop. They may even be more familiar with your car, unless you drive a Crown Victoria (popular car used by the police.)

N2RJ
12-10-2007, 06:31 PM
I am surprised you don't have a friend who can do it for free for you.

On my first car, my friend who worked at the local Motorola shop sold me a NMO mount and 19" whip and installed it for free.

K7JEM
12-10-2007, 06:41 PM
Quote[/b] (N2RJ @ Dec. 10 2007,11:31)]I am surprised you don't have a friend who can do it for free for you.

On my first car, my friend who worked at the local Motorola shop sold me a NMO mount and 19" whip and installed it for free.
Thats the ticket.

A friendly shop would even allow it to be done there, but even if it wasn't, you could do it anywhere else.

Putting in a mount doesn't require a shop, just an area where it's not raining or snowing.

Joe

W1JL
12-10-2007, 06:45 PM
If I can't find a pro who'll do it for a lot less, I'll just invest in the hole saw and do it myself. Maybe I can get another guy or two to pitch in and we can have a mobile antenna party. Plus, we can practice on the other car(s) first and then do mine http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Josh, KB1PKX.

WA2ZDY
12-10-2007, 08:05 PM
Quote[/b] (KB1PKX @ Dec. 10 2007,13:12)]#But if I have to spend $40 - $50 for a mount and feedline on top of their $120 labor I'm up to $170 and don't even have an antenna yet. #
Larsen NMO mounts are nowhere near that expensive. # If you buy an antenna as a kit, it'll include the mount and coax and come out even cheaper.

The only mounts I've paid to have installed were in my Ford Ranger about four years ago after I was no longer able to do the work myself. # Cost me $60 for two roof mounts at a local stereo shop. # It can't hurt to ask around those places, many of the better ones can handle the job.

The Greenlee punch is fine as long as one has access to both sides of the surface and in fact is how I did trunk mounts. #For a job where the headliner is not being removed, the Greenlee won't do.

Having your antenna PROPERLY mounted is worth having done correctly. # If it costs you (and it shouldn't cost $120,) such is the price of doing it right.

Oh, and be sure to invest in a good antenna. Larsen is at the top of the list with Maxrad and Antennex right behind. The Larsen will last you 20-30 years if you don't smack it into trees and overhangs often. The "amateur grade" antennas (I won't mention names but you've seen them in the ham rags) are garbage in comparison and cost just as much or more.

WA7KKP
12-10-2007, 08:36 PM
Quote[/b] (KB1PKX @ Dec. 10 2007,09:33)][edited]
they told me I'd be looking at $60/hour for roughly 2 hours labor plus whatever the mount and feedline might cost.

This seems like an awful lot to me. #I was hoping to be closer to $100 for the whole operation, materials included. #Could it really take more than an hour to put a hole in the roof and shimmy a line down under the dash?

KB1PKX.
Welcome to the real world of two-way radio, and economics 101. These guys know where to drill and NOT to drill -- do you?

I've always installed my own antenna mounts and radios . . . and with a little caution and a lot of common sense, I've never had problems.

In your case, I'd probably just get a mag mount and give up.

Gary WA7KKP

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