Tony G's '18 Firecracker JLUR DD/Crawler Journal

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tonygiotta

tonygiotta

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As it turned out, the Voswitch panel and the medium length RAM arm included in the kit were a perfect fit! I used the speaker hole to help fish the communication cable for the control panel up from the passenger footwell and and along the A pillar.

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From there it went through the windshield seal, same way I had run the communication cable for the Voswitch panel.

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The control panel ends up sitting just in front of the dash top. Super easy to reach while driving, close enough to easily read the display, and doesn't block line of sight through the windshield.

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Looks like mission control in there at night... :LOL:

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And here's the green backlight option (and another spoiler)...

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Rico1111

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Really incredible! Just read this thread from the beginning and am completely impressed at the level of complexities you are able to tackle and overcome! Kudos on the build, it is quite impressive !! Thanks for sharing!! fantastic!
 

SlowPoke21

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Same. I just read it all as well. Very well done sir. Being an electrical/automation engineer by trade, I undoubtedly took notice to the wiring you did. Kudos. Great work.

Jeeps not bad either 😉
 

JanetsJLU

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As mentioned above, amazing work with the wiring.
 

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Superlative work, Tony. 👍


Blue Sea Systems

Thanks yet again to the marine industry,...

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I've used a few Blue Sea Systems parts on my motorcycles through the years. I wonder why the company doesn't cater to or at least advertise more aggressively (or perhaps at all) in that particular market. The robust build quality of their components, and their inherent water-resistant/waterproof specs, make them a natural fit in the equally robust ADV community. This is a constituency that isn't afraid to spend money on quality gear, either.
 
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tonygiotta

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Really incredible! Just read this thread from the beginning and am completely impressed at the level of complexities you are able to tackle and overcome! Kudos on the build, it is quite impressive !! Thanks for sharing!! fantastic!
Same. I just read it all as well. Very well done sir. Being an electrical/automation engineer by trade, I undoubtedly took notice to the wiring you did. Kudos. Great work.

Jeeps not bad either 😉
As mentioned above, amazing work with the wiring.
Superlative work, Tony. 👍
Wow, thanks for all the kind words folks! You must have had some time on your hands... :LOL:

In all seriousness though, glad you've enjoyed it thus far and hope the ideas inspire some Jeepers out there to tackle some similar projects on their own. Always happy to answer questions and provide guidance should anyone reading this thread be in need of assistance.
 

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Well. It inspired me enough to finally order some new shoes for mine this morning!
 
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I've used a few Blue Sea Systems parts on my motorcycles through the years. I wonder why the company doesn't cater to or at least advertise more aggressively (or perhaps at all) in that particular market. The robust build quality of their components, and their inherent water-resistant/waterproof specs, make them a natural fit in the equally robust ADV community. This is a constituency that isn't afraid to spend money on quality gear, either.
Agreed, I use their stuff on my motorcycles as well, though I'm more in the Iron Butt/cruiser camp than the ADV camp myself. They're really missing out on some sales opportunities for sure. Their stuff is just so well suited to use in inclement conditions.
 
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Well. It inspired me enough to finally order some new shoes for mine this morning!
Not an overly technical addition to your Jeep, but it's a good start! Glad I could be of assistance... lol
 

SlowPoke21

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Not an overly technical addition to your Jeep, but it's a good start! Glad I could be of assistance... lol
the technical aspect of it is explaining to the wife why a Jeep with 2000 miles NEEDS new wheels...

umm. All 5 are bent and the warranty won’t cover it???
 

JanetsJLU

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Wow, thanks for all the kind words folks! You must have had some time on your hands... :LOL:

Hey I’ve done wiring and hydraulics the quick way and the slow way.... after admiring your work

we all know whose got time on their hands here!!!!!
🤘🏼
 
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tonygiotta

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Hey I’ve done wiring and hydraulics the quick way and the slow way.... after admiring your work

we all know whose got time on their hands here!!!!!
🤘🏼
Yeah... got me on that one. This admittedly wasn't a weekend project over a few beers... :)
 
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Next up was mounting the radio itself. As mentioned earlier, I bought a radio with a separate control panel so I could hide the radio. No offense to those who (even with this model) choose to mount their radio in plain view, but the last thing I wanted was a big black box sitting on my dash, hanging from an overhead "CB bar", or even bolted to the side of my transmission tunnel. I briefly considered an under seat mount, but I was hoping to save that spot for the future addition of onboard air. I messed around with a few potential locations and settled on this spot in the passenger footwell:

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I first mocked it up and then sat in the passenger seat, and no matter how far I stretched out my legs, I couldn't (without really trying) kick the radio with my feet. Maybe if you were 7ft plus, but for the rest of us mere mortals, by the time you stretch your legs out that far your toes are pointing forward instead of up and they end up under the radio. This spot is also out of the elements with the top off and out of the view of thieving eyes. There's room for the trim panel to slide in and out next to it, the speaker points into the cabin, and the programming cable port is easy to get to as well. The downside however is that the mounting surface isn't flat. There's a soft plastic panel just above the carpet line that I'm assuming covers some sound deadening insulation or something. Another trip to ACE (love that place for odd hardware Items) and I found some nice metal standoffs to give the radio mounting bracket a little added height:

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Be very careful using this spot. There is a wiring harness mounting bracket in the engine compartment that is on the backside of the firewall in this location. Mine now has one more hole in It than the factory originally intended... I wanted to keep the carpet removable, so I notched it around the standoffs. This allows the carpet to slide out from under the bracket without having to loosen the bolts:

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With the mounting bracket in place, there's just enough room to get the bottom pair of screws on the sides of the radio to slide through the bracket slots, and ultimately drop the top pair of screws into the angle adjustment notches.

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This is where all the wiring is run. My antenna cable is the one that looks out of place, stretching diagonally across the black factory connector. I needed every inch of it to reach from here to my swing out tire carrier. The power and ground for the radio (with all their extra in-line fuses) run next to the radio and then along the bottom. They can be disconnected from the radio without removing the trim panel. I actually hooked up power for the radio to AUX 1, and the ground to the factory ground post pictured here. I was nervous about doing so since we're always told to go direct to the battery for best results, but I have zero electrical noise issues with it wired this way and am often complimented by the Ham net operators on the strength and full quieting of my signal. Using the AUX switch allows me to switch my radio between battery switched and ignition switched as my needs dictate. All the wiring for my air compressor is also in this picture. No compressor yet, but figured I'd knock out the pre-wiring while I had the panel off.

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The bundle of extra com wiring under the radio in the above picture was cleaned up too. I've got Cat5/6 cable crimpers from some previous wiring projects, so I just cut the cable to length and made myself a new connector. This is the first time I had worked with com cable that actually had one of the internal wire strands individually shielded. The shielding gets unbraided and then twisted into a "wire" to make up the 8th wire strand in the connector.

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For the time being, my hand mic was relegated to the cupholder, or alternatively hung from my phone mount. I wanted to see how I actually ended up using this radio while driving before deciding on a permanent mounting location for the mic.
 

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Following along, I'm very jealous of your electrical knowledge/skills. My weakest area by far.
 
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Last piece of the Ham puzzle (for now). Antenna install. I had chosen to go with a NMO mount as I liked the wide base, easy antenna removal, and (from what I had seen) better integral grounding characteristics. You may recall from earlier in the thread, I had already run the antenna coax along with all the other wiring under the passenger side trim, ultimately popping out of the tailgate. I had stuffed an extra loop of coax inside the tailgate in order to be able to reach various potential mounting spots.

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The Poison Spyder tire carrier has pairs of threaded mounting bosses all over it. In past conversations I had had with their customer service, I was told they'd be releasing an antenna mount accessory in Q1-2020. I got tired of waiting and decided to come up with my own solution. Guess it's a good thing I did seeing as it's Q1-2021 at this point and still nothing. I used some scrap cardboard and mocked up a few different options.

1.
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2.
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3.
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Fortunately, measurements revealed that the top of the swing arm sits at exactly a 45 degree angle in relation to level ground. This would make fabrication of a bracket easier as it would be a 45-45-90 right triangle.

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I decided to go with mounting option number 2 above. In this position, the base of the antenna is above the (metal) tailgate which I was hoping would help with 360 degree reception/propagation of radio signals. I'm also thinking down the road I may find a use for the lower pair of bosses for mounting some other type of accessory.

I first tried bending a bracket out of a single piece of 1/8" flat strip steel, but that went horribly wrong. I just couldn't get the corners tight enough, and could not get the angles symmetrical enough to get it to mount flat on the swing arm. With help from a local Jeeping buddy (who has access to a sheetmetal brake at work) we with came up with a bracket that was made out of some much thinner sheetmetal, but was bent into a "U" channel for increased rigidity. The bent "U" channel was trimmed to the proper size/angle and then welded onto a flat strip so it could be bolted to the swing arm. Here's the final result.

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This was only supposed to be a temporary solution to get me by for an upcoming Jeeping trip, but it very well may end up being permanent. Unless of course Poison Spyder comes up with something better one of these days. It is very sturdy, looks pretty good, and provides for great reception/transmission in this location (without the use of any additional means of grounding). I've now used everything from a UHF/VHF shorty to a CB whip on this mount with great results. :like:
 

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