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Is it feasible to replace car radio antenna with 2m/70cm antenna?

Discussion in 'Mobile Radio Systems' started by K5LNX, Sep 17, 2012.

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  1. K5LNX

    K5LNX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Our Dodge Grand Caravan has a standard radio antenna on the front, passenger side of the hood, but I'm planning to install an FT7900 soon and was curious if it'd be feasible to replace the stock radio antenna with a 2m/70cm antenna instead then somehow split the antenna between the car stereo and FT7900? Granted the antenna might not be designed to receive AM and FM, but given the things I've seen some cars use as antennas (coat hangers and so forth) I can't help but wonder if a good ham antenna would be sufficient to pick-up local AM/FM frequencies well enough. Honestly though I generally keep the radio on SiriumsXM or CD's anyway.

    Or even if I replaced the car antenna with a 2m/70cm antenna only for the ham radio and using something like this http://goo.gl/d8pIQ for the car antenna hidden under the hood or dash. I'd rather not drill holes in the roof and I hate the idea of two antennas on the hood, so this seems like a feasible option, in theory anyway :) Any suggestions or thoughts?

    Thanks -- Sam
     
  2. K0BG

    K0BG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yes. There is a company that makes replacement antennas that exactly match the stock antenna. They're called covert antennas, and they're sold by: http://www.sti-co.com However, you'd better sit down before you look at the price!

    You're much better off with an angle bracket off the hood seam, with a Larsen NMO2/70BK, and any replacement one.
     
  3. K5LNX

    K5LNX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I looked at sti-co.com, and yeah they're pricey. I'm not looking for stealth antennas per say, just the simplest and cleanest install I can find that doesn't involve drilling holes in the body. I ran across the MNO2/70 antenna yesterday and might go with that with an angle bracket on the driver side of the hood, but just to verify if I run this at 50 Watts would this cause any problems to the instruments in the vehicle or the occupants? I wouldn't guess so since these antennas seem to be common, but just need to ask. Unfortuantely the local club repeaters are about 35-40 miles away so I'll probably have to run the radio at a higher wattage if not the full 50 Watts.

    Thanks,

    Sam
     
  4. K5LNX

    K5LNX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I did more looking at the mag mount antenna I have now, which is a 2m/6m MFJ-1728 antenna, so I guess I will need a new antenna eventually since my FM7900 works 2m/70cm. But for now just to get at least 2m going can someone comment from these pictures or maybe from experience whether or not the antenna can be removed from the mag mount and work with an NMO bracket instead? The base looks like the MFJ-333BM base, which is NMO, but I wanted to see if someone knows for sure. I've contacted MFJ to ask them, but I'm not sure how quickly they reply. Here are some pics of the antenna and mount:

    2012-09-18_12-19-58_216.jpg 2012-09-18_12-20-08_472.jpg

    Also here's a pic of the side of the hood compartment where I'd like to mount a bracket, so any suggestions on a bracket that'll fit this? From this I don't think an L-Bracket would work, but I did find the Firestik SS18N which is made for a Dodge Ram truck if someone knows whether or not this similar to the 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan I'm installing into:

    2012-09-18_12-20-42_864.jpg


    Thanks for any input or suggestions.

    Take care ..
    Sam
     
  5. N7WR

    N7WR Subscriber QRZ Page

    The MFJ antenna will fit an NMO mount. From looking at the pictures I don't see why you couldn't use an L bracket. You might have to bend it slightly to make the antenna vertical but it should fit quite well
     
  6. VE7DQ

    VE7DQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    There were NMO angle brackets specifically made for the sloping hood on the Caravan. You may find them at a Larsen or Maxrad source. I have just such a bracket on my 'shoebox'.
     
  7. K5LNX

    K5LNX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks guys ... I did find a variety of Larsen and Maxrad hood mounts on http://www.theantennafarm.com with good pictures of each installed, so I'll go through there and see which ones seem to match my hood layout. VE7DQ, I haven't found any specific to the 2011 Caravan, but one of these might work with alittle bending as N7WR suggested.

    Thanks -- Sam
     
  8. N0UYR

    N0UYR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm going to have to put my plug in for "just drill the hole". I've done it in the past and keep telling myself I'm going to replace the clamp on brackets I've got now (one of these days). This is the most solid and trouble free method in the long run. If you sell the car, just put a cheap cell antenna on it, or glue something that looks like an XM or GPS puck over the hole. A mobile TV antenna might be a good seller too. Put it toward the back center and you'll never notice it after a while.
     
  9. K5LNX

    K5LNX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Honestly I don't mind going this route some day and installing an NMO Mount on the roof, but for now I'm more or less just looking to get the radio setup as quickly as possible. Also I'm afraid pulling down the headliner in our Grand Caravan will be harder then most other installs because we have a console in the ceiling that runs from behind the driver seats all the way to the rear, and I have no idea how easy/hard it would be to pull this thing down or even pull it away from the roof far enough to not damage it from the drill and feed the coax through. This is a stock picture I found, but ours looks very similar to this:

    2011-Dodge-Grand-Caravan-dvd-player.jpg

    There unfortunately isn't any dome light or anything else I can see that would make this a simple install going through the roof.

    Also another reason is I've been inactive for a LONG time, and I guess I want to prove to myself that I'll stick to the hobby long enough to necessitate installing this permanently into the vehicle. I plan on getting into the local club and getting involved with ARES and Skywarn, plus I've already renewed with ARRL, but if I stick to it for say 3 or 4 months then for sure the permanent roof mount will be a must.

    Take care --

    Sam
     
  10. K5LNX

    K5LNX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hmm, here's something interesting, I was searching the PDF manual I found online for the 2012 Dodge Grand Caravan, which is virtually identical to our 2011 model, and it has this on page 3 before anything else which makes me think they really wanted it to be seen:
    I've never seen a vehicle manual list something like this specifically, so I guess from this I should nix the idea of mounting the antenna on the hood area. So for now I'll use the mag mount to get started and maybe in a few months if I'm still going strong I'll check on an NMO mount on the roof.

    Sam
     
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