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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm one of three Caliber owners within these forums that I know of. I haven't yet put amateur radio in my caliber but I'd like to start this thread for those of us interested in doing so and for those of us who have done it. Hopefully, we'll share installation ideas and pictures of our radio and APRS installations. I have this dream of putting a radio within the dash cubby.

Don Smith
KK5DON
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Re: Calbier Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Installations

Rats. Misspelled 'Caliber' in the thread title. Don't see an option where the author of the thread can delete it (before replies are attached) and start over. Just will have to endure the embarassment.
 

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Re: Calbier Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Installations

There have been a number of Ham radio installation bulletins released by Chrysler over the years. Check with your service department and ask them to print out the latest one they can find.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Caliber Ham Radio Installation Complete

Finished!

Bought a new Yaesu FT-7800R dual-band mobile radio. Got it for $249.99 with a free optional separation kit. Great radio. Receives DC to daylight. :)

I put the main unit under the front passenger seat. The faceplate, or head, of the radio, with its mounting bracket attached, fits perfectly within the cubby. Nice and snug. No need to attach it permantly.

The radio comes with a small plastic backplate that attaches to the back of the head when you want to separate it from the main radio. This is very nice in that if you wanted to use the faceplate but had no cubby, the backplate can attach to any flat surface by adhesive, screws, or velco and you just snap the head into it.

I pulled the center console bezel off and drilled a half inch hole into the top of the cubby at the very back and centered. That way, when I go to trade the Caliber you can't see a hole after the ham radio is pulled.

I routed the separation cable through the top of that hole and brought it out of the cubby. I then put a cassette adaptor into my RAK radio and ran it's wire over the front bottom edge of the radio and then under the bezel. I routed the cables out the back end of the center console on the console's right side. It was easy to dress the wires under the right bottom edge of the console and snake them back and then under the right front passenger seat.

Mounted the antenna on the liftgate (see attached photo). The idea came from Wes Tremblay, VE3LVK. Nice idea!

OK. That took care of everything except power. I wanted a connection directly to the battery. That meant going through the firewall. No easy feat!

After a lot of searching I found a path through the firewall.

Actually, I MADE a path through the firewall!

Looking from inside the car I could see where the steering control rod ran through. The carpeting below and the insulation above meet there and it's easy to see through the large hole between the two. The hole around the steering control rod is formed on it's top side by the insulation and on its bottom side by the carpeting.

You can see that there's a bell shape on the outside firewall. Looking from under the hood it's easy to see that bell shape coming out to provide a mating point with the rubber boot that surrounds the steering control rod as that rod goes into the power steering pump.

I just put a hand drill down under the hood and put a hole in the top of that bell. Not exactly the dead-center top, but a little off to the side so that the drill could go in straight. There's plenty of room for a hole because the wall of the bell is well away from the steering control rod.

Once I punched the pilot hole I got back in the car and looked out (I was outside so there was plenty of source light from the other side) and could easily and clearly see the hole at about the 1 o'clock position from the steering control rod. I then enlarged the whole a little to get the ham radio power wires through. I had disassembled the wires at their fuses to make them smaller to go through the hole easier.

Once through the firewall I reassembled the wires, attached the wires directly to battery, dressed the wires and closed the hood.

Under the steering wheel inside the car it was easy to route those wires in that break between the carpeting and the insulation above and trace the wires in back of the center console.

From there, I snugged the wires up under the right edge of the center console, then between the left side of the front passenger seat and the armrest console and then under the seat to the radio. It was just barely long enough!

Finally, I bought a cellphone hanger that sticks to the bezel on which to hang my mic. Because the bezel is metal it'll be easy to remove the hanger when it comes time to trade.

Also, the head (faceplate) can be easily pulled from the cubby and hidden. I left slack in the separation cable for that. Pull the head, unplug the separation cable, grab the mic off it's hanger and hide them.

It seemd to be a good idea to have the radio audio punched into the cars sound system. Good, full sound. But, although the radio will operate fulltime (being connected directly to the battery), you can't hear it unless the ignition is on. May come up with a better solution later.
 

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Nice job, it looks real good. I especially like how you set it up to come over the car's speakers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks, .38. I have to say it would be hard to find a better sounding 2-meter ham radio rig! :0 I find I have to turn down the bass because on my car with MusicGate the pops when signals are begin and end create quite a pop in the car.
 

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that's pretty good bro! My father is a ham, N1BVV, I've wanted to become one but busy with other stuff, plus, i've got a cell phone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
But cellphones are no FUN!

Did you know, for example, that you can use software and the Internet to connect to repeaters all over the world and get on the air? I had some Boy Scouts over recently and we connected to a repeater in a town in England and got on the air there. Talked to a fellow to told the Scouts that there's was the town were The Full Monty was made. Later connected to a repeater in Germany. It was exciting for them. I can using an HT (handi-talkie) and command a local repeater to link to repeaters all over the world as well. Australia, for example. I'm sitting in my back hard with a little hand-held chatting with someone driving around in Sydney. You can do all this with the lowest, no code license called the Technician. My wife just got her Technician two weeks ago after just reading the license manual a few nights before going to bed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Here's a side note to my ham radio installation: I noticed some things about the Caliber that impressed me. Lot's of good grounding. Keeps the DC voltage "quiet". Lessons the possibility of a ground loop.

Also noticed that there's TWO radiator fans up front! How cool!
 

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donsmith said:
But cellphones are no FUN!

Did you know, for example, that you can use software and the Internet to connect to repeaters all over the world and get on the air? I had some Boy Scouts over recently and we connected to a repeater in a town in England and got on the air there. Talked to a fellow to told the Scouts that there's was the town were The Full Monty was made. Later connected to a repeater in Germany. It was exciting for them. I can using an HT (handi-talkie) and command a local repeater to link to repeaters all over the world as well. Australia, for example. I'm sitting in my back hard with a little hand-held chatting with someone driving around in Sydney. You can do all this with the lowest, no code license called the Technician. My wife just got her Technician two weeks ago after just reading the license manual a few nights before going to bed.
Pretty neat to be able to do that with a HT! I would love to get a rig to hook up to the powerbook while out to sea, but i think it's only like 1200 baud, just enough for short emails. Don't think the Navy would appreciate it either, hehe.
 

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donsmith said:
But cellphones are no FUN!

Did you know, for example, that you can use software and the Internet to connect to repeaters all over the world and get on the air? I had some Boy Scouts over recently and we connected to a repeater in a town in England and got on the air there. Talked to a fellow to told the Scouts that there's was the town were The Full Monty was made. Later connected to a repeater in Germany. It was exciting for them. I can using an HT (handi-talkie) and command a local repeater to link to repeaters all over the world as well. Australia, for example. I'm sitting in my back hard with a little hand-held chatting with someone driving around in Sydney. You can do all this with the lowest, no code license called the Technician. My wife just got her Technician two weeks ago after just reading the license manual a few nights before going to bed.
What I find amusing is that I was able make phone calls with a 2 meter HT and an autopatch to a repeater - back in the early to the mid 1970s!

Of course, that was long before cell phones, cordless phones, computers, etc.

At the time, CB radios were the craze. I recall one time I was walking in my home town in the downtown business district with a 2 meter HT, and a guy was sitting in a parking space. He looked at me as I walked by, saw the radio, assumed it was a CB walkie talkie, and asked "Hey, good buddy, what all channels do you have in that so we can talk a bit as you keep going?".

Being the "ham" (2 different meanings at once) that I was at the time, and the "joker" that I still am, I told the guy that it wasn't a CB - it was a portable telephone.

He looked at me like I was completely crazy at first, then said that there was no such thing.

So I told him I'd prove it.

There was a phone booth nearby. I told him to go to the phone, tell me the number, and I'd call him. He got out - figuring he would humor me and call my bluff - and indeed gave me the phone number, then stood in the booth. I walked a short distance, accessed the repeater with the autopatch, and the phone rang.

He picked it up real slow, then acted like he just entered the Twilight Zone when I asked him if he believed me now.

I just walked away, although he did follow me for a short distance while begging where he could get one of those "portable phones".

I had the impression that he wouldn't be willing to do all the required FCC procedure and testing if I had told him, so I just ignored him.

He's now probably in an old folks home - or insane asylum - babbling about how he met a guy with a "cell phone" over 30 years ago. :eek: :p
 

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haha, my father was doing that for the longest time if he needed to tell mom he was going to be late, or needed roadside assistance. In fact, to this day, he still has better reception with the 2 meter rig than his cell phone at the house.

then there was the light you would touch to turn it on, my father could do it while sitting in the driveway in the car, tuned to a certain freq and a click of the mic and it would turn on/off. good times.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
While you can hook a radio directly to a computer (Mac or PC) to do digital modes, you only need an Internet connection to do what I described above. As for operating on digital modes where you hook a radio directly to the computer you have several choices: PSK31, Packet, Amtor and even slow-scan TV (and more modes I haven't mentioned).

PSK31 is getting very popular. No, it's not high speed data for transferring binary files, but it's fast typing speed communications over HF frequencies that bounce around the world. You see a "waterfall" display of all the stations transmitting PSK31 and you just click where you want to transmit next. No need to tune the radio.

I also used to enjoy Packet. A digital mode that uses packets of data addressed like Internet data packets. Even uses IP addresses. Every transmission is perfect copy because of the use of checksums.

Did you also know you can do area fast-scan television with a Technician license? Monitor a Amateur TV repeater to see guys taking turns talking on-camera and showing videos. It's like YouTube.com of the air!

I also have dabbled in APRS. That's where I hook a cheap GPS unit to a two-meter rig and mount them in my car. I could see the location of all other APRS-equipped hams displayed on my GPS screen. Also, my wife (or anyone else) could call up a page on the Internet and see my location on a map and see a history of my location, direction and speed. If I'm in motion you would see my current speed and direction of travel.

Amateur radio these days is far more than just talking on the radio.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Harley said:
What I find amusing is that I was able make phone calls with a 2 meter HT and an autopatch to a repeater - back in the early to the mid 1970s!

Of course, that was long before cell phones, cordless phones, computers, etc.

At the time, CB radios were the craze. I recall one time I was walking in my home town in the downtown business district with a 2 meter HT, and a guy was sitting in a parking space. He looked at me as I walked by, saw the radio, assumed it was a CB walkie talkie, and asked "Hey, good buddy, what all channels do you have in that so we can talk a bit as you keep going?".

Being the "ham" (2 different meanings at once) that I was at the time, and the "joker" that I still am, I told the guy that it wasn't a CB - it was a portable telephone.

He looked at me like I was completely crazy at first, then said that there was no such thing.

So I told him I'd prove it.

There was a phone booth nearby. I told him to go to the phone, tell me the number, and I'd call him. He got out - figuring he would humor me and call my bluff - and indeed gave me the phone number, then stood in the booth. I walked a short distance, accessed the repeater with the autopatch, and the phone rang.

He picked it up real slow, then acted like he just entered the Twilight Zone when I asked him if he believed me now.

I just walked away, although he did follow me for a short distance while begging where he could get one of those "portable phones".

I had the impression that he wouldn't be willing to do all the required FCC procedure and testing if I had told him, so I just ignored him.

He's now probably in an old folks home - or insane asylum - babbling about how he met a guy with a "cell phone" over 30 years ago. :eek: :p
That's a great story. I used to tease the CB'ers as well. They'd tell me what techniques they used to get their "swars" up! If I had the patience I would explain that it was S.W.R., which meant "Standing Wave Ratio" and the higher the reading the more power was being reflected back into the radio and not going out over the air. It was a bad thing to get the needle higher. Do that for long, I would explain, and you'll smoke your radio. Of course, all they heard was "Blah, blah, blah, smoke your radio."

I once lived in Orlando, Florida. The town of Sanford is just north of there. There was a popular CB'er in Sanford whose handle was "Pegleg". Every CB'er knew Pegleg and his wife and knew that they had no telephone. Well, one day a couple of the buddies heard Pegleg's wife get on the CB and say "Someone call an ambulance. I just stabbed Pegleg." Well, instead of calling an ambulance, the CB buddies went to see for themselves. Yep, there was Pegleg laying in a pool of blood. By that time, ole' Pegleg had gone to that Big 10-20 in the sky.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
An addendum to my radio installation - I decided it wasn't a good thing to patch the two-meter audio into the car's sound system and bought a communications speaker and put it with the body of the radio under the front passenger seat. It seems to be loud enough in that location. If I find it isn't at highway speeds I'll locate the speaker on the handle above the driver's side read door.

Also, I discovered that when I pulled the mic to my face it would pull the head unit out of the cubby. I solved this easily by buying a packet of small, thin rubber stick-on feet at Radio Shack. I put two rubber feet on the bottom of the head unit at each end. That made it more snug in the cubby and the feet sat behind the bezel lip over the black cubby form. The head unit will no longer pull out of the cubby but can still be easily removed for hiding.
 

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KI4IKW here, I had my Icom V8000 in my Camery, Wife won't let me put it in the new Caliber :( I'm going to see about purchasing a beater SUV to mount all my equipment in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Aeroceream, you mean after seeing the pictures of how nice my radio looks in the Caliber your wife can still object? Man! I'd get another wife! :) I mean, think about your priorities! :0

Wellcome to this thread KI4IKW.

de KK5DON
 

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donsmith said:
Aeroceream, you mean after seeing the pictures of how nice my radio looks in the Caliber your wife can still object? Man! I'd get another wife! :) I mean, think about your priorities! :0

Wellcome to this thread KI4IKW.

de KK5DON
Well It's not a total lost cause, I bought her the car for her Birthday, she really wanted it, the Camry was my car but used it for a trade, now that she has started to work we need to get another car. That's where I can purchase my next car around my needs :)
 

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To bad I found this forum a little too late! I've been searching for days with no luck at all. Luckily I managed to install my Yaesu FT-8800 with a dual band Maxrad antenna. The way it worked is that I installed the antenna with an NMO mount on-top of the spoiler, right in the center then I followed the Third brake stop-light route and when I figured out I was already inside the cab.

The Power cords where routed following an A/C access on the firewall on the passengers side which led me to the lower glove compartment taking advantage of the unique feature of the Caliber's beverage cooling compartment. Right behind the glove compartment there's an access to run the antenna and power cables... NEAT!

Where did I put the face plate? I was considering that free space in the console, but after running the data cable with RJ25 connectors I found a small spot right under the car 12V outlet. It fitted snuggly! Now I'm enjoying my rig again, which by the way it was installed in my Isuzu Rodeo.

73's to all!

WP4AA
Caguas, Puerto Rico
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
WP4AA - We require PICTURES! :)

I'm very curious about that route for power you described. Sounds better than my solution.

KK5DON
 
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