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2021 Chevy Colorado Mobile Radios/Installation

Discussion in 'Mobile Radio' started by AA4BA, May 9, 2021.

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  1. AA4BA

    AA4BA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Have had mobile radios HF/VHF/UHF plus business radios & custom stereo equipment in past four trucks but none have any touch screens, electronic everything plus pile of onboard computers/ECMs like this new Colorado. Last seven trucks were all Mopars but Fiat is fast ruining the Dodge/Chrysler lines. Were supposed to re-release the Dakota's in 2019/2020/2021 and now say will be a re-badged Fiat in 2024 with 480 pound cargo capacity but only in South America & Europe. So after a lifetime of only buying Mopar trucks ordered a GM for first time since my 1972 Chevelle in high school.

    Have a few options for this truck and for HF radios have a Kenwood TS-480 sitting unused and now two Icom 7100s new in box one has sat almost two years with no home as work and home shack have more radios than I can use. Have a Yaesu FT 8900R 70cm/2/6/10 meter quad band mobile sitting in box unused but have my eyes on an Icom 5100 dual band D-Star. Trying to consider best configuration, the 7100 "shack in a box" which would cover my HF needs as well as VHF/UHF D-Star then use the Yaesu 8900 quad band to have ability to monitor enough bands and talk about anywhere want. Will also be installing a 150 watt business band radio (Land Mobile)

    What has me waffling is had the Kenwood TS-480 installed in a 1500 Ram 4WD for a couple years and worked South America, Europe, Asia and Australia along with New Zealand and chatted almost weekly with a station in Tasmania on a 20 meter hamstick. Like my Kenwood boat anchors to modern solid state shack radios the 480 mobile talks and always got great signal reports. If use the Kenwood HF then will for sure install an Icom 5100 to handle my VHF/UHF/D-Star needs. My biggest concern is RFI issues with the radios and boatload of electronics in the new Chevy Colorado Long Box 4WD WT.

    It has power everything, WiFi hotspot, dash/cab/backup cameras, "parking assist", towing package added a feature that almost takes over the truck and centers ball on hitch under tongue of trailer, Bluetooth, USB ports, two touch screens and more. First truck I purchased with OBD and an ECM smoked the ECM three times in under a year before figured out had HF antenna too close to ECM and if turned amplifier on to make contact then ragchewed anymore than a couple minutes truck died in the road and had to go back to the dealer.

    With all the onboard electronics such as computer controlled 8 speed automatic transmission, traction control computer turning locking rear differential, 4WD on/off plus applying brakes and power to each wheel as it feels necessary to keep truck planted I am sensing I could burn this truck down if installation is not spot on. For now have decided to not install my 500 watt solid state amplifier as worried key down when truck is trying to shift gears in combination with engaging traction control and 500 watts may cause some confusion for truck, especially if just pressed a button to send three PSK 31 macros on 30 meters while talking on my 150 watt VHF business radio. Newest truck I own is a 2007 with no touch screens or even 1/4 of the electronic systems the new Colorado forces the buyer into.

    Plan is to install a quality 70cm/2 meter dual band antenna, Comet/Diamond 70cm/2/6/10 meter Quad Band and a screwdriver. Due to tight spaces drive regularly (basically live in my truck three or four days per week working) looking at either the Baby Tarhill or Little Tarhill II for my HF stick as reason removed my Icom 706 from current work truck was got sick of stopping the truck and swapping hamsticks if wanted to change bands. Put a Texas Bug Catcher with Icom external tuner on truck but with 12.5' height from rear bumper was breaking the mast or upper fiberglass section monthly and replacing the metal shop on top almost weekly. Cannot have anything resembling a big antenna survive the way I work my trucks.

    Deposit and order for build was accepted by GM from my local Chevy dealer officially nine days ago with estimated build time of eight to twelve weeks. All the dash cams and even ballistic door liners, ballistic window tint, bed liner, rail caps, toolbox, skid plates, every WeatherTech accessory installed by dealer along with cold air box, cat back exhaust upgrade and RackBack headache rack with three antenna mounts installed by dealer just leaving me radios to install.

    It's an extended cab with back seats nobody over the age of eight could ride in so removing the rear seats, cup holders, etc and building a box to house ham radios, stereo amplifiers, subwoofers plus a hidden compartment with police style auto lock/unlock rifle rack for my truck rifle. My bigger trucks get similar box under rear seat and smaller trucks rear of cab get a custom box that makes installation of electronics much more elegant and attractive covered to match vehicle trim, hide all equipment and wiring. Also having to figure out how to get subwoofer preamp outputs from a truck that has no traditional stereo, just links to a Bluetooth device to input audio which sure I will have. Truck will also have a Wilson Cell Phone Booster which locates cell antenna outside and boosts power from 1/3 watt allowed in handheld phone to full five watts. When working in fringe/no coverage areas being able to call clients on phone is a huge benefit.

    Have installed multiple towers (American Tower Dealer), do subcontract cell tower maintenance and upgrades for Ma Bell as well as emergency power systems. Repair radar, hack marine radars into ground or air systems, can work on a myriad of electronics but this new truck has me concerned will burn up some expensive factory system. Ordered the biggest alternator and dual batteries from factory to not starve anything for power but just have a nagging feeling something is going to go awry. Plan to bond cab and bed to frame along with hood and front fenders getting ground straps to frame. Who has loaded a late model vehicle with lots of radio equipment and what tips do you have for someone leaping 15 years forward in truck technology and mixing in multiple radios?
  2. AA5LS

    AA5LS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Welcome to the new world of operating with a computer controlled vehicle. I worked in GM dealerships for 40 years and watched and learned as the vehicles went computer controlled on almost everything in them. I also have operated hf mobile for 45 years. Love retirement.

    I first suggest to down load the GM bodybuilders electrical manual on your vehicle and give it a study. Also K0BG webb site is required reading.

    I own a 2017 GMC 2500HD that is totally controlled by the body control module computer. When I first installed hf rig it would set off a code for the antilock brakes and disable the cruise control on 40 meters. After extensive bonding/grounding of the body and antenna, eliminating the rf ground loop on the coax to the antenna and properly matching the feed line to the hf antenna at the antenna, cured my problems.

    I run a FT450 Yeasu for hf and it does well on receive, I do not experience computer noises in the receiver.

    Some suggestions on installation:
    New vehicles measure the current used from the battery and the body control module tells the alternator how much to charge to replace the current used. Make sure you wire your equipment so this is measured by the module. This is explained by K0BG.

    Do not install antennas near headlights or taillights. The lights are turned on and off by a computer signal sent to a module at the light that controls them. RF will ingress into the computer buss(land) and affect the body control module or other modules on the buss. I mounted my hf antenna on the bed rail about on third back from the cab, bonded it to the bed.

    I am concerned about rf ingress to the new vehicles with electric power assist steering. I have not been able to visit with any one that has installed hf on a gm vehicle with electric power assist steering, I had a 2014 1500 with it, but I only had vhf/uhf in it. My 2500HD stills has hydraulic power assist.

    If I can be of help feel free to contact me,

    Les Stewart AA5LS
    PS get too much junk mail, drop a dime and call my cell 405 567 7011
    N2AMM, US7IGN, K0ACS and 1 other person like this.
  3. AA4BA

    AA4BA Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    New truck ordered has "parking assist", "electronic power assist steering", "Lane & Vehicle Proximity Alerts" plus a "Trailering" feature that works in combination with the parking assist and backup camera to almost automate centering ball on trailer hitch under the tongue of trailer. I tried to order it without all of this but when i added the bigger engine and 4WD Chevrolet added three "packages" with a half dozen features per package of which most I would rather not have as know how to back up and use mirrors.

    I am waiting for truck to ship before buy some of my mounts as do not want to mount my Little Tarhill II a few inches from a major computer. Plan to bond bed, cab, fenders and hood to frame with braided/tinned ground straps. Will also be adding a pair of 10" subwoofers in custom box (removing rear seats) and box will also "hide radio bodies, amplifiers for stereo, and will have a hidden compartment to carry my truck rifle. This is always an extra layer as my trucks get all speakers replaced, minimum of two top quality stereo amplifiers, Wilson Cell Phone booster with external antenna to give me a full five watt cell phone and more. Will not have to add some systems have done in past as has GPS built into the touch screen.

    Truck has traction control with electronic locking rear differential plus all wheel drive and will apply power to wheels it thinks needs power, brakes to others then try to drive truck where it thinks I am trying to go. I have been to racing school and avoided many accidents purposely sliding my vehicle or even spinning it so impact happens to rear instead of front. Its full of airbags and wondering if may set one of those bombs off? My 2007 Ram, 2001 Cummins diesel and 2007 Hemi removed the air bags and have in box at work because I only wear seat belts at highway speeds. Bet I have to wear the belts in this new GM and it will shut down if try removing the air bags. Had Fiat not purchased Chrysler would have re-released the Dakota by now and be dealing with Mopars newest crap. My 91 or 93 Dakota (93 is still my daily driver) only have a basic ECM but had to build a type of Faraday Cage to keep RF out of them.

    Already have a 390 amp aftermarket alternator (painted to match the truck, not my idea but manufacturer assumes its going in show vehicles so request vehicle color on order) that have read a lot about and have been put in many of the Colorado VVT V6 engine equipped trucks with no issues. Considering adding the Kenwood 480 (have a 100 watt and the 2000 watt model available to use), Icom 5100, either a PLMR or 6 through 12 meter radio with 11 meters unlocked plus minimum of two stereo amplifiers and may put my 5000 watt solid state mobile HF amplifier going to need some watts. Will download manual you suggested and already have the real deal service manual on order.

    Want to try and locate every computer i can, assume the 8 speed automatic will have its own computer, the traction control some form of ECM/computer, then engine, brakes and more. Friend has a new Corvette and it has supposedly twenty different computer control modules including one for each wheel. As I run ground straps, power wires, coax, etc plan is to look for all these modules (since ordered the full skid plate package sure will be hard to see without a map) and do my best to shield each one as best I can and tie the shielding into common ground on the frame. have a complete steel, sheet metal, aluminum fabrication shop with CNC and manual machine equipment. Have stick/MIG/TIG/spool gun welders set up for a myriad of metals and if take my time believe I can build attractive cages to at least keep HF and VHF frequencies out of as many "modules" as possible. Would hate to key down the HF rig and truck think I have left my lane, about to rear end someone or worse yet try to parallel park itself at 70 mph.

    I am assuming the worst going into this. I came close to buying a 2011 Dodge Dakota and having it gone through but figure to chase all gremlins in even a clean ten year old truck would cost what will pay for a new truck. Soon as the Colorado arrives my favorite 1993 Dakota goes into the suspension shop as has original tie rods and ball joints. Plan to have front end totally rebuilt plus all new frame and body bushings installed along with even new spindles for front end and rear brakes converted to disk, rebuilt front and rear axles/differentials last winter. Then will have a Mopar V6 crate motor with small super charger installed,, interior redone, redo my radios in it then when happy it will go to paint shop, when done the new Colorado goes in the garage and will be back driving my 93 Dakota. Then the 97 Ram 4WD gets the same treatment as it has over 450,000 miles and the 93 Dakota has almost 400,000. Do like I have been and split my work based on what doing between those two another decade or so years and when pull the Colorado out of storage it will be old technology but I always need spare trucks and trucks set up for specific jobs. Have put off a new truck way too long waiting on re-release of the Dakota and not going to happen with Fiat. Just did the 50,000 mile service on the Hemi truck and spark plugs were $485, trying not to put miles on it.
  4. WS9K

    WS9K Ham Member QRZ Page

    did you ever receive your colorado and how does she work with the TS-480 ?

    I love my TS-480HX and have run it in my last 4 vehicles

    pics on my QRZ page

    the colorado looks like a nice truck

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