Out With The Old, In with the New

Van arrives at K-Comm ready for today's out patient surgery.I wish to thank all of those readers who have expressed their concerns over the loss of my van last Sunday to the engine fire. 

The old van now has a new home in a junkyard somewhere in Texas, and I now have a new(er) van sitting in my driveway with seriously less mileage and years than the old van had on it.  

The new van is a late model Chrysler Town & Country mini-van with a factory installed alarm, dark limo tinted windows, sliding doors on both sides, and more option packages than I’m normally used to having.  At first, I was concerned about the black exterior causing the van to be too hot, but actually, it hasn’t been any hotter than my old van got on a summer day. Guess that’s why I always put that window shade in the front  windshield when not driving.  Those shades really work!

I sent out tweets and emails to various groups and individuals asking for input / suggestions on the best way to install the antenna in this type of vehicle. 

Several reasonable suggestions were received and considered. 

  • I looked at putting a mount on the rear hatch door, suchas the Comet CP-5NMO mount, but this model van has a solid glass window all the way edge to edge on the back hatch, with no metal frame around the glass to clamp the mount.  
  • I briefly considered using the roof mount option, but after my previous bad experience with the last 2 vans (leaky roofs after hitting tree limbs and parking garages), I ruled that method out as well. 
  • I thought about using a mag mount with the coax run thru the side sliding door, but I still needed to get the power run thru the firewall, and I wanted a more permanent install, not a temp install like a SAG Van. 
  • So in the end, I decided on the option of putting the lip mount on the front hood, over on the driver’s side, in the same place my old van had its antenna.

I had originally planned to perform the install myself.

Mel tries out his circus contortionis act under the dash, trying to find a good spot for the cable to fit thru

I consider myself to be technically proficient with a crimpers, wire cutters and a soldering iron, but I found getting up under the dash to find that magic spot to punch a hole thru the firewall to run the coax and power cord was too much of strain for me.  You gotta be fairly skinny to fit up under the dash, and able to perform contortions that you would normally only see in a circus act.  (see photo on right)

So instead, I hired Mel @ the K-Comm Ham Store (aka The Candy Store) install my ham radio into the new van, and took some photos during the process to share.  (See photos at end of this posting.)

The total install process took about 2 hours from start to finish, and the inside temperature in the back garage room was nearly 100 degrees by the time we were done.   Mel did the install, with some assist by Tim, and I held the light when he needed that third hand, and then used my camera when he didn’t need that third hand.    After we were done, Mel got out his video camera to narrate what he did for the install, and plans to put that video on YouTube.com.

If anyone needs their radio / antenna installed with the coax / power cords thru the firewall, I highly recommend contacting K-Comm to get it done.

So here are some photos from the process to share.


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