It was time to unpack the radio and find a spot for it in the TJ.
I did a quick inventory of the Uniden's box to ensure everything was there.
The Uniden Pro 510XL CB radio should support your off-road needs quite well. I'll get more into the specifics of the radio in the performance review section. But for the installation, it was good to see a radio that was sized appropriately for use in the non-spacious TJ. The dimensions are 4-1/2"W x 6-3/4"D x 1-3/8"H. This makes a a pretty good size for the TJ. Not so small that the internal speaker is worthless and not so big that you can't find a suitable spot for mounting.
Since this installation was to support a product review, I
decided to try and make it as easy as possible. Along with that, I was
trying to not leave mounting holes in the center console, dash, etc. Given
the low weight of the radio, just 25 ounces, I opted to secure it in place using
some strong cable ties and a small plywood mounting plate.
The overhead spreaders on my TBT sports cage are about a foot
apart. From a 3/8" thick piece of scrap plywood, I cut a piece 13" wide by
about half as deep. 3/4" in from each corner, I drilled a 5/16" hole that
would provide the attachment hole for the cable ties. Two more holes
centered on the plywood panel and secured in place with a couple of 1/4"x20
screws with Nyloc nuts finished the radio's mounting plate.
The plan was to rest the plywood panel on top of the spreader
bars and secure the panel in place using the cable ties.
With the radio's mounting bracket firmly attached to the plywood and the radio mated to the bracket, I slipped the entire thing into position and used four cable ties, one at each corner, to secure the plywood base to the spreader bars. With the padding on the bars, the plywood snuggled down into the dense foam making for a vibration free mounting setup. When this photo was taken, the microphone was just resting on the lip of the spreader bar padding.
While it was my intension to make this a very temporary mounting solution, I see no reason not to use it for a permanent installation. Without the other two radios mounted at the front end of the spreaders, there would be ample room for the plywood panel to be secured there and used for regular CB communications full time.
The Uniden's power cable was connected to a temporary power tap I have in the rear of the TJ. (A number of various projects that have been installed and removed over the years have required power and so the power connector always remains behind for the next piece of 12 volt equipment.) The Uniden's manual provides guidance on connecting the radio to vehicle power.
Now that the radio was in position, it was time to attach the RF
connector to the antenna coax cable. Having come from a ham radio
background for 30 some years, I've attached many, many RF connectors to RF
transmission line. The PL-259 connector supplied by FireStik in the
antenna mount kit wouldn't have been my first choice, but given that the average
off-roader is not an accomplished RF connector kind of person, I believe it
makes for a reliable enough connector that just about anyone can install.
Start by unscrewing the shell from the RF connector body and
sliding the shell over the coax cable as shown above. You should have
above 1/4" of copper braid folded back over the coax cable's black outer
Carefully place the RF connector over the end of the coax cable
and ensure the center conductor of the coax cable feeds into the center
conductor pin. It is very important that the center conductor of the coax
enters the bottom of the center conductor pin. If it does not, carefully
remove the RF connector, straighten the cable's center conductor, and do it
Screw the body clockwise until the center conductor is even or slightly protruding from the center conductor pin, as shown above.
Solder the center conductor of the coax cable to the pin using a soldering iron. YOU MUST make this solder connection. Flow the solder evenly (and smoothly) at the end of center conductor pin, joining together the wire and center conductor pin. Leaving the wire unsoldered will result is sporadic operation and can result in damage to the radio's RF transmitter.
Screw the outer shell of the RF connector onto the body of the connector. Your PL-259 connector is assembled and ready to be attached to the connector on the rear of the Uniden radio.
As I mentioned in the antenna mount
write-up, the antenna cable had been brought into the Jeep cab via the
oval shaped rubber grommet located on the firewall above the gas pedal. I
routed the coax cable under the dash and along the driver's side kick plate
where another wire bundle runs from the dash to the rear of the vehicle.
Where the TJ's roll bar attaches adjacent to the driver's seat, I routed the
coax cable up along the bar (under the zippered factory padding) and towards the
center of the roof. I had to remove and then reattach some of my add-on
roll bar padding but that wasn't all that difficult (cable ties are a very handy
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