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Kilgore

Badlands
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Hi fellow Hams. Two years ago I took delivery of a Badlands and almost immediately was struck with the 7 speed manual death rattle. Decided to wait until Ford sorted things out before installing any ham gear. 7k miles since Ford performed the fix, the tyranny is silent, and the install has begun.

My first HF mobile install was 1976. The rig was a Kenwood TS-520 in a 1972 Datsun Pickup with hustler whips and resonators for antennas. Several compromises were made, like eliminating the ability to carry a passenger..........

My last install was a yaesu FT-891 and Diamond SD-330 screwdriver in a Jeep. That install served me well over 100k miles without a failure and great performance. The 891 will get a full once-over and firmware update on the bench and move over to the Bronco. The 330 will be recycled in a different truck.

The Diamond SD-330 still works great, but has been upgraded to a Hi-Q antenna. The big driver for this change is the ability to handle more power. The 330 is limited to 200 watts, the Hi-Q is rated at 1.5Kw. Although the install will not initially include the amplifier, it will be designed to accept the amp later.

This post will document the full install project in steps. The first step is where to mount the freaking antenna!! Ford didn't do us any favors here. No steel roof, no rear bumper mount if you have lane change sensors, and of course a thin aluminum body.

The Hi-Q is a big, heavy antenna with lots of wind resistance and mass mounted high. If your not familiar with one, go here for a peek;

https://www.hiqantennas.com/gallery/

After a lot of poking around, the only place that makes sense was the tailgate. It's designed to handle a heavy spare tire, and has accessible hinges that can be utilized as load bearing points.

After a rabbit trail of building a plate to capture the tire mount and hinges, I found this on Amazon:

Advanced Accessory Concepts Bronco 21+ Tailgate Reinforcement https://a.co/d/bwnWw7Z

Perfect starting point, and the price was right considering the time and materials I would avoid. The first test fit went well. What became evident almost immediately was the tailgate is not vertical. This causes the plate to have a 3.5 degree tilt forward at the top. Normally not an issue, but with a tall antenna, it looks really bad.

Next was the mount itself. My preference for strong, high power handling antenna mounts is the Breedlove Puck:

https://breedlovemounts.com/store/ols/products/high-power-puck

Have used them in many installs and never a failure, even at full legal limit. In this case, the mount would be mounted on a length of 2 inch aluminum tube, so the mounting ring was machined to have a slight interference fit to the tube. Final mounting was by heating the ring to expand it over the tube. After cooling, three locking TIG welds were performed between the ring and tube. Photos below.

The tube was secured to the plate with some angle stock and aluminum tubing clamps. Before drilling the final mounting holes for the Tubing clamps, the antenna was temporarily installed and made vertical. See photo.

The last photo is the completed mechanical install. Also installed is the breakover fitting for the whip. Its also a Breedlove product and recycled from the former Jeep install. Very useful in parking structures!! At this point the overall height is 13 feet. The whip will be trimmed down to give 12.5 feet where I am comfortable.

No grounding or bonding has been done yet. That will be in the second installment.

73, Bob
WB6AGE

Ford Bronco Hi-Q HF Antenna & FT-891 Install on a 2 Door Bronco IMG_20240103_120145_639


Ford Bronco Hi-Q HF Antenna & FT-891 Install on a 2 Door Bronco IMG_20231125_124226_940


Ford Bronco Hi-Q HF Antenna & FT-891 Install on a 2 Door Bronco IMG_20231125_124200_043


Ford Bronco Hi-Q HF Antenna & FT-891 Install on a 2 Door Bronco IMG_20231125_114428_306
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AttackGuy64

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You hams are crazy with your antennas. More power to you, sir. GMRS suits me just fine.
 

Lcubed

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that's a serious antenna installation.

i'm sure if i had one mounted, i'd rip the garage door off that same afternoon!
 

Bruno

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Honestly interested - What do you do with that? Talk to truck drivers? Listen to police and military?
Is it a hobby? or do you get some actionable info like tornado chacing or volunteer fire fighting?

Sorry I dont know the difference between all that radio stuff: Hamm vs GRMS etc. etc
THANKS!



stryker_gmrs-vs-ham-radio_Tuning-1024x870.jpg
 

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Az_Squatch_Bronco

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no hamming and driving...
 

Jdyount

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Cool install for sure, I guess if you're going out by yourself a lot this make sense. Long distance, going to be able to get someone for help.

As to the everyday use and practicality, I don't think you're going to find many trail group partners to communicate with via Ham. GMRS is the way to go out on the trails for groups. So inexpensive and easy.
 

AttackGuy64

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Honestly interested - What do you do with that? Talk to truck drivers? Listen to police and military?
Is it a hobby? or do you get some actionable info like tornado chacing or volunteer fire fighting?

Sorry I dont know the difference between all that radio stuff: Hamm vs GRMS etc. etc
THANKS!



Ford Bronco Hi-Q HF Antenna & FT-891 Install on a 2 Door Bronco stryker_gmrs-vs-ham-radio_Tuning-1024x870
Bonus points for use of a Notarubicon video.
 

Squatch

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Mr. Trout, great (but crazy) install!

How's it travel down the road? A ton of wind noise?
 

604Bronco

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BeerRunner

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What happens if you key the mic and someone holds onto it at the same time? ⚡?
 

Sea Monkey

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I only do CB/GMRS on the road, but I do enjoy seeing a quality HAM band setup (which this is). I'll be watching (and taking notes) for the next installment to see how you manage your grounding. I've often thought the tailgate would be a better place for an 11 meter antenna than the front fender, so I may copy some of your rig. Thanks for sharing. Nice work!

73
KZ4KNR
 

C1 Ret

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Dang. I have antenna envy!! Thanks for the post.

73
KI7UQS
 

C1 Ret

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Honestly interested - What do you do with that? Talk to truck drivers? Listen to police and military?
Is it a hobby? or do you get some actionable info like tornado chacing or volunteer fire fighting?

Sorry I dont know the difference between all that radio stuff: Hamm vs GRMS etc. etc
THANKS!



Ford Bronco Hi-Q HF Antenna & FT-891 Install on a 2 Door Bronco stryker_gmrs-vs-ham-radio_Tuning-1024x870
With a proper Dual Band HAM Radio and the proper licensing, you can talk on both GMRS frequencies and HAM frequencies. That said, neither will allow transmission on CB frequencies, although I am sure it has been done.

One difference is that GMRS only requires that you pay a fee for a license (no test required)...and yes, fellow off roaders.....you DO need a license to operate GMRS. Only a few GMRS frequencies allow higher wattage, which does limit your ability to reach out. Additionally, GMRS repeaters are rare and normally only found in urban settings. Not so good for us adventure seekers.

For using a HAM, you will need to take a license test for either Technician, General or Advanced. Most everything you would really need is covered under the Technician license. This access allows you to use 2 meter VHF, UHF (think GMRS) as well as 6 meter and 10 meter. With a fifty watt rig, you can cover some good distances depending on terrain. Additionally, many areas have HAM clubs that operate repeater systems which you can access with a VHF HAM, even if you are not a member of their club. The repeaters are maintained as a public service. To put that in perspective, I live in and off road around the mountains near Reno. With one click of the microphone, I can transmit pretty much everywhere around northern Nevada and Tahoe, and there are always dedicated HAM operators listening that can relay an emergency to local responders, or even to off road recovery groups. That is a safety umbrella worth the effort to get a HAM license.
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