After having a 2011 Jeep Patriot
for only about a year and a half, I found a good deal on a 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4 as the 2014 models were starting to hit the lots at the end of February. This was an especially good deal since the dealership bought out the rest of my lease. The Patriot was a really good and fun vehicle to drive, but I wanted something a little bigger with more power and modern amenities.
I've had various radios and scanners installed in my vehicles for several years now, so the time I went without that noise in my car between late February and May drove me crazy. If you're wondering what amateur radio is, there's a good thread on Expedition Portal
and off-roaders may find it especially useful.
Kenwood TM-D710A VHF/UHF mobile radio
: Previously, I was using an Icom ID-800H radio for voice and a Motorola Radius VHF radio with the Argent Data OpenTracker USB
for APRS. Space in the new vehicle is at a premium and the only reason I was using two separate radios were so I could have both D-STAR and APRS capability, so I decided to axe one. Well, D-STAR got the axe in the mobile and I stayed with APRS. The only logical solution was to use a D710 (which I had utilized in my Impala
), and that radio gives me everything but D-STAR. I think it's a good trade-off, especially with the D710's control head and APRS functionality.
Uniden BCD996T digital scanner with RH96 control head
: Used to monitor anything that's legal, including local, state, federal, military, FRS/GMRS, or commercial. Uniden stopped manufacturing the RH96 a few years ago. ScannerMaster bought out the remaining stock, and unfortunately the price for these units has really skyrocketed since I purchased this unit.
Argent Data Systems GM-1 GPS
: This 5-volt GPS is split between the radio and the scanner, providing the location for APRS and to make use of the BCD996T's location-based scanning capability, locking and unlocking systems as I move around.
RAM POD I No-Drill Single Socket Mount with Diamond Base RAM-B-316-1-238U
: There aren't a lot of mounting options for radios in the WK2, even for control heads. I am curious to see if the Dodge Durango radio consoles would fit the WK2 as some websites showed they were interchangeable, but I settled on using this RAM mount and AMPS-compatible diamond plate to mount the control heads. The control heads are actually attached to the RAM mount by stacking the control head OEM brackets together and then bolting those to the RAM diamond plate. It works out great because the control head faces turn out to be pretty flush with each other. The RAM mount can be sturdy, it just can't be too unbalanced otherwise it does wobble a little bit. It seems to do ok on city streets and rural roads with the weight that I have on it but I wouldn't put more weight on it than it already has. The malleable rod isn't actually very malleable, but it's bendable enough that you can make it go where you want to go. Don't go too crazy bending it otherwise you might spend a lot of time and energy trying to straighten it out (but it's good that it's rigid). I can't seem to get it balanced again after my passenger scooted the seat up too far and moved the rod. The only other issue that I had with the rod is that it tipped to the right every time I turned left. This was resolved by using a zip tie and a tie mount glued to the console trim. Not ideal, but it works. I didn't choose the "no-drill" mount option for any particular reason other than it's out of the way and I can still use slush mats in the winter. Not many complaints from passengers, but it's vulnerable to be bumped by passengers especially when pulling a drink out of the cup holders.
Everything is tied to the battery via a Havis ChargeGuard CG-X-100
on automatic detection mode. The ChargeGuard senses the AC ripple voltage produced by the alternator and then turns the equipment on when the voltage has stabilized. It also turns the equipment off after a specified amount of time after the AC ripple voltage has stopped. The length of time is determined by dip switches, which I have set to 15 minutes so there's enough time to squeeze out another APRS packet or listen to the radios without needing to idle. I put the ChargeGuard in the glove compartment for easy access. The ChargeGuard has an emergency button that will allow the equipment to be operated for an additional 15 minutes after the initial 15 minutes has expired.
For antennas, I'm using a Laird TRA7603 760-870 MHz Phantom
antenna in white on the mounted using a Chevy Tahoe bracket on the driver's side fender connected to the scanner; Diamond NR72BNMO
VHF/UHF antenna on the roof for the radio; and a Laird QWB430 430-450 MHz
black quarter-wave antenna on the roof. The UHF antenna is currently just a placeholder in case I need to throw in an extra radio in the future and change the antenna (such as a 900 MHz ISM-band antenna for Motorola DTR
radios that I use with non-licensed friends and family). I put the scanner antenna on the fender to avoid the problems I've had in the past with the radio overloading the scanner and eventually blowing out the front end. The Phantom antenna works well, but it's obviously not as good as the Laird B8065CN 806-866 MHz 5dB antenna
I was previously using. The Diamond antenna works well for its size. I'm limited on antenna height as my work parking ramp has a clearance of 7'2" (if I'm remembering correctly). With the Diamond antenna, I have about two inches of clearance.
For speakers I am using two Motorola HSN4039
13-watt speakers, one for the radio and another for the scanner.
Some other notes... there are two cubbies below the front seats. The AGM battery is in the passenger's side cubby, but the driver's side cubby is empty. There is definitely not enough airflow in these cubbies to mount the transmitters, but the cubbie cover is convenient to mount the transmitters on. I was able to bolt all of my transmitters onto the cover, so if needed I can disconnect all of the cables and pull it out. A warning, though: the electric seats and seat warmers don't leave much clearance under there. There are pass-throughs in the firewall in the WK2, which I used to bring the coax for the fender antenna into the cabin as well as electric. I found them behind the pedals, and they're on both the driver's and passengers side. The roof stiffeners can make it a little difficult to mount antennas -- basically anywhere between the embossed stamps on the roof is ok to mount an antenna. The flat sections are where the roof stiffeners are. Also, in terms of RFI, I was dreading that I would have the same RFI issues that plagued the Durango, but so far that doesn't seem to be the case.