New truck means new radio install!

My faithful old 2011 Tundra pickup truck, as great as it was, was starting to require frequent repairs. I got a great trade-in offer for it, so I got a new Dodge 1500 Crew Cab. A new truck means time to install a new radio! My good friends Rusty KG4HIR, Randall KN4FYG, and Steven KN4RVU offered their expertise, time and sweat to help me install the radio. They’ve all had experience with mobile radio installation, but this was my first time.

In my Tundra, I had an Icom ID-5100A, and I had a Kenwood TM-D170GA in my shack. It seemed like a no-brainer to mount the Kenwood radio in the new truck to take advantage of the APRS capabilities, which are not really needed in the shack. So, the ID-5100A from my old truck was moved into the shack, and the TM-D710GA was designated for the new truck.

New Ram 1500 pickup with dual band antenna installed on a fender mount.

Rusty gave me some good advice, which is to get used to the layout of the new truck before deciding how and where to mount the radio. I did not want to drill too many holes in the new truck, so I decided to go with a fender mount for the antenna. I got an antenna mount, specifically designed for the Ram 1500, from Valley Enterprises. The main unit of the radio is mounted with a bracket under a back seat. After some research, I chose a center dash mount from ProClips, and an extension plate with magnetic puck from Lido Radio for the head unit. The dash mount is very sturdy and well designed. The magnetic puck on the extension plate is very convenient for the microphone.

The install went very well. It was a hot and humid morning, but the awesome install crew got the job done in about 3 hours. All of the truck parts went back in place, with no extra or missing pieces, and the radio powered right up. The way everything is mounted makes it very easy to install a new radio, if that’s ever necessary.

The radio had previously been programmed for use in the shack, but we were able to verify that it was transmitting and receiving. Later, I reprogrammed the radio and adjusted all of the settings for mobile use. I also did some test drives to see how the radio performed with the local repeaters, and simplex with a few friends. It seems to perform as good as I would expect with a fender-mounted antenna. I also have it transmitting APRS beacons as N4MI-9.

I am very pleased with the radio and how it is installed! It’s great to be on the air again while I’m rolling.

The power and antenna cables came through the firewall with some gentle persuasion, through an existing hole where other wires were routed from the cabin to the engine compartment.
Did you know that the center entertainment console just pops out of place with a good tug? It’s held in place with two clips. It’s an uneasy feeling when pulling it loose! The cable from the radio to the remote head unit is routed behind the entertainment console.
The main radio unit is mounted under a back seat. It’s mounted with the rear of the unit facing toward the cabin to improve airflow and allow easier access to the plugs and cables. I leave a programming cable plugged in.
The drivers side fender mount came from Valley Enterprises. I am using a Comet CA-2X4SR dual band antenna, which is compact and very broad band across 2M and 70cm.
Final installation of the head unit. The cable comes in behind the entertainment console. I used a ProClips mount center dash mount designed specifically for a Ram 1500, along with a Lido extension plate for the head unit and a magnetic puck for the microphone.
The CA-2X4SR is either a great dummy load, or a well tuned antenna!
You can follow my tracks on as N4MI-9