Kenwood TM-D710GA ham radio install (lots of pics)

sigsegv

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I've managed to install a Kenwood TM-D710GA in my Jeep and figured pictures of the install might help others.

My goals were:
  • As little permanent modification as possible, ideally no drilling holes in places where if removed, it would still be visible
  • Since I live in Seattle and it's crawling with homeless zombies that will steal anything that's not bolted down, the faceplate and microphone need to be easy to remove from sight
  • Don't mount things in places that compromise other aspects of the car (don't mount the radio body in a place that's uncomfortable for the passenger
  • Avoid having an antenna taller than the FM/AM radio antenna
I think I achieved them, mostly.

Ingredients:
  • Kenwood TM-D710GA
  • Diamond AZ507RSP antenna (27" long, spring mounted)
  • Comet CP-5M (SO-239 lip mount)

First thing up was figuring out where/how to put the antenna mount so I could easily route the cable into the cabin. The Comet CP-5M mount has 18" of really thin coax attached to the mount, for easy routing through weather seals and the like. I spent about 2 hours trying to find a way to pass it through the windshield gasket. Don't bother: 18" is not long enough to allow the hood to open with the mount attached. The best arrangement I could manage was one that would allow the hood to be propped up, but if opened further (say, rested on the windshield) it would have destroyed the cable or mount or hood, whichever failed first.

Then I saw somewhere on a thread here that automatic JLs have an easily accessible grommet where some clutch related apparatus would pass through. This is totally true, and thank you to whoever first figured this out and spread the word. Sorry manual JL owners, my install will not be that helpful to you.

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The grommet would be dead center in this picture - it's easily removed by twisting. It's already removed in this shot. It is a direct shot into the passenger compartment near where the top of the clutch would mount, if it existed.

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I drilled a 1/2" hole in the center of the grommet. The Comet mount has a PL-259 connector on it, but it can be disassembled to fit through a 7/16ths hole. The coaxial cable is very thin by comparison to this hole.

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Antenna mounted! Half done? I thought so, but not nearly.


I ordered a CoolTech Mic mount, received it, and realized the existing mounting holes won't work for a Kenwood mic mount. No worries, I have some titanium drill bits and it's not hardened tool steel. I drilled some holes in the right place and used the supplied bolts to attach. The CoolTech mount attaches easily, I didn't take any pictures of that part because it was easy and totally bolt-on.

Next: mounting the radio faceplate. I spent hours trying to figure out what to do. The TM-D710GA doesn't have an *enormous* faceplate, but it's not small either. I really wanted to mount it between the cupholders and the shifter, facing up. This won't work - you'll either block the cupholder or block the "manual" shifting gate for upshifts. Losing 1 out of 2 cupholders is unacceptable, I go on family vacations in this car.

Then I looked at the possibility of mounting it on top of the dash. This is still a possibility, but I haven't found a great way to do it that wouldn't involve drilling into the top of the dash.

I realized that the cigarette lighter is a perfect place to mount it. Only problem: not sure how.

An hour later with a belt sander and a 7/8" dowel and I have my improvised solution.
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Currently it's only held in with the machine screws that came with the mount, fitting tightly into holes I drilled in the dowel. I believe I'll want to 3d print something that's closer to exactly the right shape, but this will do for now. I'm not a whiz with a 3d printer so that'll be a good learning project. If anyone can find the exact dimensions of a cigarette lighter port I'd be grateful.

Next: mounting the radio body.
Maybe there's some way to bodge it under the driver's seat, but there's not too many options in the Wrangler.
Conveniently, there's a lot of space up where the clutch would go, it seems like the logical spot. (Sorry manual owners!)
This took HOURS AND HOURS of excruciating testing, while cramming myself into the driver's side footwell.
Eventually I found a spot where the mounting bracket would fit and allow the radio to sit out of the way of my feet.

Here it is, the results of hours of testing:
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There are two pre-drilled holes in whatever piece of aluminum that is it's mounted to. One self-tapping machine screw is plenty tough, it's a big hole and so it's a really beefy screw. You can also see the antenna cable and the passthrough into the engine compartment above.

Here's the screw that fit, to save you the time:
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Here's how it looks with the radio body mounted:
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Note two things: there are little tracks for the bottom screws. There is not enough clearance to insert the radio into those tracks. With the top two screws inserted (not totally tightened), you can pop the radio body on top of the mount and then the bottom screw hole lines up perfectly. Only 3 of 4 screws are in the radio, but I tightened the two facing the camera - it should be enough.

Next: power.

Rather than try to run power over to the passenger footwell, I ran it into the engine compartment through the grommet right next to the radio.

I cut a little shim out of an expired credit card to remove the two terminals from this connector so it would fit through the 1/2" hole in the grommet. The far side of the cables have big fuse holders - they aren't going to fit through the grommet.
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Ran the wires to the far side of the car, and connected the radio to Aux 1. I want the radio to turn on with the car, and this makes that possible. I also want the ability to easily run the radio with the car off, if I want to use it as a cross band repeater in an emergency. It's trivial to program the aux switches to stay on with the ignition off, if I so choose. This gets me the best of both worlds.
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Next up, ground.
Installed a ring terminal:
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Then picked what looked like a very solid ground:
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I routed the cables up above the engine compartment and across to the grommet I'm using for pass-through.


Okay! Now I rolled up all of the extra coax from the antenna mount (I didn't feel comfortable trimming it) and zip tied it waaaaay up in the driver's side footwell above the radio. Mount the radio body, now I've got a powered and antenna'd radio.

Time to run cables for the mic and faceplate.

For the mic, I used a cat6 cable as an extension. People say that on Kenwood radios this may make the clock line on the microphone cable used to read the keyboard bleed into the audio output. I'll see if that's the case over time, and try to work around if necessary.

You can feed a cable from the passenger side to driver's side here, under the center console:
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Here's the other side:
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I routed this cable underneath the carpet and to the radio.

I did the same with the cable for the faceplate. I jammed the excess cable into the space between the driver and passenger footwells because that's where I want the slack to be.

Here's what the mic looks like:
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And here's what the faceplate looks like:
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Install basically done!
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Now I've only got a couple things to work through.
  • The radio has serious problems getting a GPS lock mounted where it is. The faceplate needs more exposure to the sky, apparently. There's no provisions for an external GPS antenna, it only supports external GPS receivers.
  • I need to find cable mounting clips with 3m adhesive on them to do a better job of routing the cables where they come out of the carpet. If anyone knows of any, please share.


I hope this helps somebody!
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ormandj

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Very useful, and a great radio. I had one in my last vehicle prior to the TTRS. I'm just waiting to see what the new mobile radio Kenwood releases this year (rumors) is before I go down this path. Your write-up was extremely helpful; I don't want to under-seat mount as the heating ducts are down there for the passengers, the footwell mount for the driver is excellent, especially with the hole you've pointed out through the firewall. I'm a big fan of the antenna mounting location, too - it's about the best we're going to do on a Jeep. I'll definitely be back to this thread as soon as I make a radio decision, thank you again for the well-written documentation of your journey.

FWIW, I don't plan to mount my unit where you did (not sure where yet, last vehicle I used a gooseneck mount attached to the seat rail mounting bolt, but you could just measure the diameter of your dowel rod (assuming it fits firmly) and use that for your modeled piece. 3d prints aren't dimensionally accurate, in general (except SLA), as the material expands and contracts, but it should be good enough for your purposes. Just make sure to use something like PETG or even Nylon, as it has a little give and is tough, which is what you want for that mount style.

http://www.lidomounts.com/hamradiomounts.html are the mounts I used previously, in case it's helpful. You could also modify the cooltech mount to allow mounting the faceplate and mic as well, by creating a bracket. Not sure how it'd work without seeing one in person, but that'd be another option you could explore that would get the faceplate/gps up higher.
 

quester

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Like you, one of the first things I did was to install a Ham radio. In my case it was the Kenwood D700. I found a space behind the access panel under the steering wheel that was just large enough for the body of the radio (the D710 may be wider than the D700, so may not fit). I used velcro on the base and cable ties to secure it. Very secure and completely hidden (I didn't think to take pictures).

The radio head I mounted on the sloping edge of the hard top above the sun visor. Again, using velcro. I do like your cigarette lighter mount, though.

upload_2019-2-4_17-41-53.png


In my searches for ways to mount the antenna I found where someone had used the mounting bracket from a light kit from Rough Country (https://www.roughcountry.com/jeep-jl-led-lower-windshield-kit-70047c.html). You have to call to order it ($20'ish).

upload_2019-2-4_17-36-19.png


After drilling out the hole and attaching my antenna:

upload_2019-2-4_17-34-24.png
 

Socceref

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Like you, one of the first things I did was to install a Ham radio. In my case it was the Kenwood D700. I found a space behind the access panel under the steering wheel that was just large enough for the body of the radio (the D710 may be wider than the D700, so may not fit). I used velcro on the base and cable ties to secure it. Very secure and completely hidden (I didn't think to take pictures).

The radio head I mounted on the sloping edge of the hard top above the sun visor. Again, using velcro. I do like your cigarette lighter mount, though.

upload_2019-2-4_17-41-53.png


In my searches for ways to mount the antenna I found where someone had used the mounting bracket from a light kit from Rough Country (https://www.roughcountry.com/jeep-jl-led-lower-windshield-kit-70047c.html). You have to call to order it ($20'ish).

upload_2019-2-4_17-36-19.png


After drilling out the hole and attaching my antenna:

upload_2019-2-4_17-34-24.png
Like you, one of the first things I did was to install a Ham radio. In my case it was the Kenwood D700. I found a space behind the access panel under the steering wheel that was just large enough for the body of the radio (the D710 may be wider than the D700, so may not fit). I used velcro on the base and cable ties to secure it. Very secure and completely hidden (I didn't think to take pictures).

The radio head I mounted on the sloping edge of the hard top above the sun visor. Again, using velcro. I do like your cigarette lighter mount, though.

upload_2019-2-4_17-41-53.png


In my searches for ways to mount the antenna I found where someone had used the mounting bracket from a light kit from Rough Country (https://www.roughcountry.com/jeep-jl-led-lower-windshield-kit-70047c.html). You have to call to order it ($20'ish).

upload_2019-2-4_17-36-19.png


After drilling out the hole and attaching my antenna:

upload_2019-2-4_17-34-24.png
Brilliant antenna mount idea. Did you use a PL-259 connector? How did you route the cable running from the main body to the faceplate? Where do you move the faceplate if you take off the freedom top? Thank you for sharing your good ideas.
 

JonW

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With the front mount antenna, are you planning on never putting the winshield down?
 

quester

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Brilliant antenna mount idea. Did you use a PL-259 connector? How did you route the cable running from the main body to the faceplate? Where do you move the faceplate if you take off the freedom top? Thank you for sharing your good ideas.
Yes, PL-259 for the connector. The head wiring follows a gap at the top of the windshield and then down the left A-pillar. There's a strip of velcro just above the drivers side sun visor that will hold the head when the top is off - not very accessible with the visor up, but keeps it anchored and out of the way.
 

quester

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With the front mount antenna, are you planning on never putting the winshield down?
I don't expect I'll ever put the windshield down, but if I did I'd just remove the antenna from the mount and do without the radio.
 

2EURO

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Wow... thanks for this thread! I was looking to get this radio as well. Now I have some ideas as to where to mount. I do like the main radio mount near the footwell. Good idea!

As for the faceplate, that dowel was genius! However, looks like it impedes with the window controls? I was thinking of picking up the Vector offroad Full Dock.

Again, thanks for posting! I have ideas now!
 

jazzBox

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Ingredients:
  • Kenwood TM-D710GA
  • Diamond AZ507RSP antenna (27" long, spring mounted)
  • Comet CP-5M (SO-239 lip mount)

I hope this helps somebody!
I'm trying to find an antenna mount that will fit a 5/8" UHF cable assembly for a dual band antenna and am at a loss.

I have a 2019 JL

Do you recommend the Comet mount?

thanks.
 
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