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There are all kinds of projects and modifications that we do to our Jeeps. Some involve tires and wheels, suspension lifts, axle upgrades.....the list goes on an on. One popular group mods fall in to the electrical category. Off-road lights, power inverters, wiring in a CB radio, adding a 12V on board air system, aux winch controller.....the list here goes on and on as well.
Some folks do electrical projects very well and some need all the help they can get. I want to think I fall somewhere in the middle. My electronics training in the Navy provided me with all the knowledge I need for the typical Jeep electrical project. I always ensure my connections are electrically reliable but I don't always do a good job of cable routing and switch placement. I keep my cables away from wear points and hot spots but that doesn't mean they are dressed off as they should be. While my electrical projects work well, they usually are not that great looking. On top of this, my 10 year old TJ as seen electrical mod on top of electrical mod during its lifetime.....and some of these are a little cluttered to say the least.
Then along comes the sPOD and now the Source from John at 4x4sPOD.com. If you are an electrical newbie, this two piece control unit and power center will put you on the road in minimal time and you'll greatly reduce the possibility of trail failures and worse yet, electrical fires. If you are more like me, then you'll feel right at home with these two units because the sPOD and Source are high quality assemblies that will simply your wiring projects and provide you with the reliability and functionality you demand.
Being active in several TJ on-line forums, I have read about the sPOD since it first hit the market. Every time you saw a thread about it, quality and customer service were two topics that were always in the discussion. I guess I should clarify a little....that would be high quality and excellent customer service. Now that I have one in front of me, I totally agree that the sheet metal work is nothing short of amazing, in my opinion. One of John's specialties is precision sheet metal design and manufacturing. (yes, I've exchanged a few e-mail with him) Every piece of the sPOD I looked at confirmed this without question. The other half, the wiring, leaves nothing to be desired. Insulated terminals, abrasion guard on the cable assembly, waterproof connectors.....you don't find these in Radio Shack (so don't go looking for them). The sPOD and Source are made for the TJ owner who wants a professional/custom installation at an affordable price.
If you are just starting to build up your TJ, the sPOD and Source are an excellent investment right off the bat. You'll be able to connect those various electrical projects very easily.....and you will keep the clutter to a minimum. If you are like me, with an accumulation of 10 years of electrical add-ons, the sPOD and Source are still an excellent investment. The term "Spring House Cleaning" comes to mind for me.....and that is exactly what I am doing. The sPOD and Source are going in to my TJ and a pile of relays, wiring, and switches are coming out. For me, it will greatly simplify the existing "wire harness thing" that has grown under the hood over the years. My legacy wiring projects (and Lady) will be getting a face lift, tummy tuck, liposuction, botox injections, boob job, and all that other stuff at the same time! How can I go wrong?
OK.....enough intro and background information....time to get this installation on the road. This write-up is being done in two parts. The first section covers the sPOD installation. The second section concludes with The Source install.
Note that this install was done in my '98 TJ. Over the years, some of the TJ's interior changed a bit. Newer TJs have plastic molding on the windshield frame. Please note that my installation will differ slightly from yours if you have a '03 or newer TJ. The installation instructions that ship with your sPOD will provide the information you need for your TJ.
Meet sPOD. The heart of the sPOD is a switch panel that can be configured with a variety of switches and even a pressure gauge (for monitoring your on-board air system). The sPOD switch panel mounts into a header that is attached to the upper windshield frame on your TJ. The sPOD is available for TJs from '97 through '06. Early models (such as my '98) require a relocation bracket (which is included) for the sun visors (more on that later).
The sPOD shown above has the newer Contura III rocker switches installed in it. At first glance, they are similar to the rocker switches supplied by ARB for controlling their air lockers. I really like them and am glad to see that John is offering them.
If you flip the sPOD switch panel over, you see a top notch wiring harness using right angle insulated terminal connectors. The wires are bundled into a pig-tail cable assembly that terminates in a waterproof multi-pin connector. This connector is then attached to a longer control cable which will find its way through a hole in the firewall and plug into the Source power center (under the hood).
Here is the engine compartment end of the control cable.
The connector terminals that control each relay are labeled....nice attention to
I can't keep talking about the Source without at least showing you a photo of it. The Source power center mounts under the TJ's hood. Under that totally cool anodized aluminum cover (I still haven't figured out how John got that photo wrapped all around the cover) are 6 power relays, protection diodes, and fuses. There is a terminal strip for the control cable coming from the sPOD and there is an output terminal strip that provides you with a + and - power connection for each of the 6 circuits. The main power leads for the Source are protected by a resetting 50 amp circuit breaker and complete with heat shrink covered terminals for attaching to the battery. You'll see much more of the Source when I get to that part of the installation.
Let me say here that John's color printed installation instructions that shipped with the sPOD and Source are top notch. It was a genuine pleasure to use first generation documentation. (If more manufacturers shipped quality documentation instead of those 17th generation photocopies, it might put this web site out of business! LOL) The instructions are specific to your year vehicle so don't worry about skipping non-applicable steps....they are all applicable.
Mounting hardware and other needed items are provided in heavy plastic bags that are heat sealed to keep the contents where they belong. No sandwich baggies to split apart and spill their contents during shipping. (what, you haven't gotten a kit where the parts are "bundled" in a Ziplock bag.....you MUST be a new to the aftermarket scene)