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5th Generation (2015) Ham Radio Install

TheSauce

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City, State
New York, NY
Year, Model & Trim Level
2015
Greetings Forum!

I just picked up a 2015, and I'm happy with it, but I'm not at all that sure how to wire this thing up with a two way radio. In the absence of a dedicated thread, I'm hoping to get some advice, and perhaps this thread can serve as reference for future 2015 installs. I'll also update the thread with pictures before/after.

Now, I've spent 2 days going over this forum and other sites seeking info on installing a Yaesu FT8800R in a 2015 Explorer and I haven't found much.

So here are the areas, my thoughts, and challenges:

Remote Head Location

At first glance, ideal remote head locations seem pretty sparse. I've consider over head, under the visor; while there seems to be enough room with limited affect of visor usage, the mic cable will be a pest.

http://i.imgur.com/OBMiDWb.jpg

The dash center console doesn't offer much room, nor does the usb/power bay forward the shifter. The space does allow the remote head to fit flush, but only if you don't want to plug in the mic. So, nogo there either. Placing the remote head off to the side will block the usb and 12v access, and also prevent anyone with large hands from working the left side of the radio.

http://i.imgur.com/cUHa36S.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/SPtqSYC.jpg

Left of the center console seems do-able; just affix it with 3M adhesive or a custom bracket, but this is likely to get in the way if you are a larger person, and the likelihood of spilling a beverage on the radio is very high.

http://i.imgur.com/zUaT97r.jpg

Placing the radio vertically on the left side of the dash console also seems do-able, with minimal obstruction for your right leg. I can see that it may get in the way if you're picking your leg up or shuffling around in your seat.

http://i.imgur.com/D2Md1KV.jpg

Inside of the center console storage seems do-able. Not sure how I'd get the wiring in there, but I'm sure there's a way. This is ideal because its completely stealthy and out of the way. There is some risk involved since the radio is not really usable while driving, sans the use of the mic controls.

http://i.imgur.com/2U8no9L.jpg

Putting the radio on the left side of the dash, under the headlamp control is possible, but won't work well for right-hand talkers.

http://i.imgur.com/I8rzLaU.jpg

It is looking like a goose-neck or similar mount off the driver or passenger seat bolt, but I'm not all that thrilled about the visibility or interference with passenger comfort/space.

There is also the option of the glove box shelf, but that seems kind of far away for reaching and viewing the display

http://i.imgur.com/NGE7IF9.jpg

So with regards to remote head location; which one might be recommended?

Have I considered all options or is there another location that's not obvious?

Power Through Firewall

I've looked the driver and passenger well over and over and can't locate a firewall pass through hole or plug. Likewise, from the engine compartment, it doesn't look like there a easy way to pass the power through.

I would also like to put in an amp/subwoofer in the rear, so knowing this would help me there eventually as well.

I've very reluctant to drilling holes into the firewall. Is there an existing pass through wire bundle or boot I could tap?

Unit Location

It looks like both driver and passenger seat floor have ample room to mount the radio unit. This will probably be very easy, but does anyone have any tips or alternative location to suggest?

Ext Speaker Location

I'm thinking that I will mount this speaker in the driver well under the steering column. This should put the speaker close enough to hear at reasonable volume and keep it out of sight and out of the way. I read that the speaker could also do well under the seat. What do you think?

Antenna Mount / Location

I've all but convinced myself to drill the hole and put in a flush NMO mount rear of the backseat moon roof. The model I have has that material that allows you to cover both front and rear moon roof.

I am assuming this material is rolled up on some device rear of the back glass and that the space behind it (towards the back of the vehicle) is suitable for access and drilling. Is this correct to assume?

Alternatively, I could put something on the hood (yuck) or on the rack with some grounding issues. I am not sure the back liftgate will allow for a mount, but I may be wrong. Any insights here would be greatly appreciated.

--

Thanks for any advice in advance!

Cheers,
Mike
 
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rizzjc

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Ok, wow, that's a lot of info. I don't have a newer explorer, but I do have an FT-8800 in my Ford Focus. If it can fit in there, it can fit in an explorer. I put a gooseneck mount on the passenger seat bolt, and the radio sits over the right side of the center console. It's tight, but I even have a 5-speed, and can still shift. Radio is mounted to the floorboard under the passenger side dash. Mic just sits in the cup holder, until I figure out a place to mount it. I have no external speaker, but probably need to add one as done people are tough to hear. My wife complains about it, but it's really not that bad, and this is my commuter car, so 90% of the time I'm the only one in it.
 

TheSauce

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2015
Thanks for the reply! Do you remember the model of the mount that you use?
 

rizzjc

Scubajoe - Radio Mod
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I don't. I got it from Amazon, so I'd have to look back I'm my account. The Lido mounts are probably the best ones, but I found this and it was a lot cheaper. If you don't mind spending the money, I'd try the Lido. I think it might be sturdier. This one is ok, but the pivot on the top that the faceplate attaches to moves too easily. I'd rather have it be stronger. I'm not sure about the length difference, but I could use another inch or so for better clearance.
 

logullo

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Wonder how your install went

This weekend I'll be headed down the same path you were on when you started this thread. Wonder how it turned out... where did you finally mount the head?
 

OV1Aviator

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2014 Explorer Sport
Mike,

What did you end up doing? I have a 2015 Explorer Sport and have the same questions you had.

Thanks,

Gary K5GLB
 

jmrdv

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Mike, How did you eventually end up> I just got my 2016 explorer and am about to install my Tm-V71a Kenwood. I'm open to any ideas.

I had hoped to install the unit itself under the 3rd seats but there is no room there. I'm wondering if I can remove the seat cushions since I have zero use for 3rd row seats while the extra space would be really nice

John
 

JakeBlues232

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I just bought a 2016, too, and am looking mainly for a route from the battery through the firewall. Have you guys come up with anything yet?
 

RonRN18

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2013 Ford Explorer LTD
It has been a couple years since this was written and looking to find follow-up. I have a 2013 Ford Explorer (4WD Limited) and contemplating installing a two-way radio in it. While I'm a ham (WE6BB), the radio is actually a commercial VHF (Part 90), Kenwood TK-7360H with optional GPS installed. I'm a Search and Rescue communications volunteer and we are about to start using FleetSync II with GPS and I want to set up my vehicle as a mobile test-bed for the technology. I've been looking all over for where to install the radio itself and at the moment, I'm looking at installing it on the passenger's side center console cover. I'm thinking for the antenna, of a Larsen GPS with NMO Mount and placing it between the 2nd row moonroof and the vehicle's original antenna. I have no idea what nasty things to expect with placing the antenna there. I was hoping to learn from someone that has installed a 2-way in a 5th generation Explorer. I am also needing to know where to run power to the battery and where the best place to tap for ignition sense is located. I haven't yet received the wife's "go-ahead" with the project but trying to make sure it goes as painlessly as possible once I get her approval.

Greetings Forum!

I just picked up a 2015, and I'm happy with it, but I'm not at all that sure how to wire this thing up with a two way radio. In the absence of a dedicated thread, I'm hoping to get some advice, and perhaps this thread can serve as reference for future 2015 installs. I'll also update the thread with pictures before/after.

Now, I've spent 2 days going over this forum and other sites seeking info on installing a Yaesu FT8800R in a 2015 Explorer and I haven't found much.

So here are the areas, my thoughts, and challenges:

Remote Head Location

At first glance, ideal remote head locations seem pretty sparse. I've consider over head, under the visor; while there seems to be enough room with limited affect of visor usage, the mic cable will be a pest.

http://i.imgur.com/OBMiDWb.jpg

The dash center console doesn't offer much room, nor does the usb/power bay forward the shifter. The space does allow the remote head to fit flush, but only if you don't want to plug in the mic. So, nogo there either. Placing the remote head off to the side will block the usb and 12v access, and also prevent anyone with large hands from working the left side of the radio.

http://i.imgur.com/cUHa36S.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/SPtqSYC.jpg

Left of the center console seems do-able; just affix it with 3M adhesive or a custom bracket, but this is likely to get in the way if you are a larger person, and the likelihood of spilling a beverage on the radio is very high.

http://i.imgur.com/zUaT97r.jpg

Placing the radio vertically on the left side of the dash console also seems do-able, with minimal obstruction for your right leg. I can see that it may get in the way if you're picking your leg up or shuffling around in your seat.

http://i.imgur.com/D2Md1KV.jpg

Inside of the center console storage seems do-able. Not sure how I'd get the wiring in there, but I'm sure there's a way. This is ideal because its completely stealthy and out of the way. There is some risk involved since the radio is not really usable while driving, sans the use of the mic controls.

http://i.imgur.com/2U8no9L.jpg

Putting the radio on the left side of the dash, under the headlamp control is possible, but won't work well for right-hand talkers.

http://i.imgur.com/I8rzLaU.jpg

It is looking like a goose-neck or similar mount off the driver or passenger seat bolt, but I'm not all that thrilled about the visibility or interference with passenger comfort/space.

There is also the option of the glove box shelf, but that seems kind of far away for reaching and viewing the display

http://i.imgur.com/NGE7IF9.jpg

So with regards to remote head location; which one might be recommended?

Have I considered all options or is there another location that's not obvious?

Power Through Firewall

I've looked the driver and passenger well over and over and can't locate a firewall pass through hole or plug. Likewise, from the engine compartment, it doesn't look like there a easy way to pass the power through.

I would also like to put in an amp/subwoofer in the rear, so knowing this would help me there eventually as well.

I've very reluctant to drilling holes into the firewall. Is there an existing pass through wire bundle or boot I could tap?

Unit Location

It looks like both driver and passenger seat floor have ample room to mount the radio unit. This will probably be very easy, but does anyone have any tips or alternative location to suggest?

Ext Speaker Location

I'm thinking that I will mount this speaker in the driver well under the steering column. This should put the speaker close enough to hear at reasonable volume and keep it out of sight and out of the way. I read that the speaker could also do well under the seat. What do you think?

Antenna Mount / Location

I've all but convinced myself to drill the hole and put in a flush NMO mount rear of the backseat moon roof. The model I have has that material that allows you to cover both front and rear moon roof.

I am assuming this material is rolled up on some device rear of the back glass and that the space behind it (towards the back of the vehicle) is suitable for access and drilling. Is this correct to assume?

Alternatively, I could put something on the hood (yuck) or on the rack with some grounding issues. I am not sure the back liftgate will allow for a mount, but I may be wrong. Any insights here would be greatly appreciated.

--

Thanks for any advice in advance!

Cheers,
Mike
 

Bobs2018Explorer

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KD6ANY
I know that these posts were placed some time ago, but I thought I'd share my own experiences with installing a trunk-mounted Motorola PM1500 VHF 2-Way Radio in my own 2018 Explorer XLT, in the hope that it helps anyone else considering doing a similar project. I do volunteer work with our local fire departments, and am also a ham radio operator; hence my wanting to use commercial-grade radio equipment.

The first thing I discovered was that there didn't appear to be any pass-thru in the firewall, to run the hot lead from the battery back to the radio, nor to power the separate control head. Because the transverse-mounted engine is so closely located against the firewall, I was reluctant to even try to drill any pass-thru holes, nor could I seem to find any existing cables or similar items passing-thru the firewall that I might also squeeze a heavy power lead through. Instead, I ultimately ended-up running my hot lead all the way from the rear cargo area to the battery by running it in the sill cable troughs until I got to the driver's position; then drilled a hole and ran it down underneath this area. Once that wire was hanging down below the car, I then fished it up through the LF fender well, and up into the engine compartment. While not an ideal way to get battery power to an accessory such as this, at least the only exposed part of the wire is a piece about 6" long, where it drops below and then heads up over the inside of the wheel well. (It is of course, fused, and encased in convoluted tubing and grommets, for chafing protection).

I was able to mount the control head and mic just in front of the driver's seat, using a modified version of a base plate for a police computer pole mount. I also mounted the actual radio unit in the rear cargo area, using a Setina PIU equipment mounting tray that fits over the spare tire well.

Lastly, I mounted a standard VHF NMO-mount antenna on the roof, but only fairly close to the rear end of the roof's sheet metal. This was because I found it VERY difficult to even begin to force the one-piece headliner downward, so I forced it down and drilled my antenna hole where I could at least barely get to it; not a problem, though, as VSWR is still low and within acceptable limits for a 100-watt radio.

The bottom line is that running hot leads, installing rooftop antennas, and the physical mounting of radios and/or mics can be a daunting task on these particular vehicles... so be prepared to use your creativity, all while also testing your patience!
 
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Bobs2018Explorer

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(I'm still trying to figure-out how to edit my posting above to add-in some photos...)
 

rizzjc

Scubajoe - Radio Mod
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'97 AWD V8 XLT
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N1LVN
If you upload to your album, then scroll down under the photo, you can copy links to either link to the photo, or embed it:

 
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