Ham/CB Radio in place of phone? - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

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#1 Old 04-02-2016
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Ham/CB Radio in place of phone?

My '98 R170 has the phone control panel at the bottom of the dash, but I don't use the phone and don't plan to. I'm a licensed amateur radio operator (KK4HIP) and am debating putting a CB or 2-meter radio in the spot where the phone panel is currently.

My concerns:
1. Size of unit-- I would need to find a radio that fits the hole.
2. Powering -- probably would bleed power from the hookup that originally ran the phone.
3. Antenna placement -- this is the big one. Maybe a wire antenna on the inside edge of the windshield? I don't want to mess up the lines of the vehicle by having a large antenna outside.
4. Cost -- I'd prefer not to spend more than 2-300 USD getting this set up.

Has anyone attempted anything like this before? Any tips or advice?
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#2 Old 04-02-2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riehl View Post
Has anyone attempted anything like this before? Any tips or advice?
I would love to install a 'stealth' 2-m xcvr someday, but have nothing to offer at this point..... except interest in others' ideas.

Good luck & 73,
Horace
W4GFM
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#3 Old 05-25-2016
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I've been running a CB in my SLK on longer road trips for years now, and can advise on the following:

Size: Is this "phone control" in the spot next to the ashtray, where other models just have a little cubby? If so, I couldn't find any CB radio that would fit in that spot back when I was doing my research. The problem is depth, there's not much room behind there as it bottoms out on the top of the transmission tunnel. I mount a full-size radio with the standard bracket alongside the center console on the passenger side, and take the radio out when I'm not using it, which is 99% of the time.

Power: Unless you enjoy hearing ignition noise over your radio, run a wire straight to the battery + terminal and don't power anything else with that wire. Even the dedicated wire I ran to the fuse block was noisy. That gets old fast.

Antenna: The ideal setup is mounted through a hole in the center of the trunklid. Conveniently, SLKs with the Tele-Aid system have a GPS puck antenna mounted in a hole in the center of the trunklid. Because of the utter uselessness of that system, it can be removed and a 3/8" thru-hole NMO mount can be easily put in its place. On that mount, you can swap in whatever NMO based antenna suits the radio/frequencies you're using at the time. Whenever you're not Cannonballing, the antenna screws right off and in two seconds you can put a rain cap on the mount and nobody's the wiser. An NMO lip mount on the front or side edge of the trunk lid would still work pretty well too, if you don't have the hole in the trunklid; I also use a lip mount for yet another antenna.

Cost: Your $200-300 budget should be ample. NMO mount: $15-20, comes with 16-17' of cable, which is enough. PL-259 connector, which you'll need to crimp or solder yourself after fishing the wire through the trunklid and car, $5. Antenna: Laird, Larsen, or Maxrad 27MHz NMO mount, $40-60. Radio: Lots of options in the $50-150 range. I started with a Uniden PRO-520, which I fried when tinkering with it. Then a Cobra 19 DX IV, which I didn't like much because of the choppy squelch. Then a Galaxy 979, which is great and has SSB, but an annoying bright blue display. Then a Cobra 29 LX, which is also pretty good and doesn't look like a prop from a 1970s trucker movie. Uniden makes some nice looking radios these days too. Maybe throw in a decent mic to replace the stock one for another $25-50.
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#4 Old 05-25-2016
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There are lots of CB units with separate tiny control face which you could basically literally stick anywhere. The control face with the Mike connects to the actual radio via Bluetooth or something and you could mount the radio bit in the boot whereit's easier to connect your antenna.

Cheers

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#5 Old 06-30-2016
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Hi From N1KVL

For about 3 years I have been doing the same search for a 2mtr that will fit somewhere in this tight little car. like bradthemad said about the antenna " it can be removed and a 3/8" thru-hole NMO mount can be easily put in its place. On that mount, you can swap in whatever NMO based antenna suits the radio/frequencies you're using at the time." the antenna is no problem if you have the hole if not you can still drill one just be sure that the wire doesn't bind when you go topless.

As for a radio I'm at a loss I can't find one small enough. I was thinking about a HT and just put it in the rear part of the console, but I dont like the idea of modifying it for The mic.

I will follow this thread to see if anyone else has an idea

73
Panama Tom
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#6 Old 09-23-2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PanamaTom View Post
For about 3 years I have been doing the same search for a 2mtr that will fit somewhere in this tight little car. like bradthemad said about the antenna " it can be removed and a 3/8" thru-hole NMO mount can be easily put in its place. On that mount, you can swap in whatever NMO based antenna suits the radio/frequencies you're using at the time." the antenna is no problem if you have the hole if not you can still drill one just be sure that the wire doesn't bind when you go topless.

As for a radio I'm at a loss I can't find one small enough. I was thinking about a HT and just put it in the rear part of the console, but I dont like the idea of modifying it for The mic.

I will follow this thread to see if anyone else has an idea

73
Panama Tom
N1KVL
Mine actually didn't have the external antenna, it's the '98 with the original antenna still in the bumper. Might be fun to install an external :P
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#7 Old 09-23-2016
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Quote:
Originally Posted by riehl View Post
I'm a licensed amateur radio operator (KK4HIP) and am debating putting a CB or 2-meter radio in the spot where the phone panel is currently.

My concerns:
1. Size of unit-- I would need to find a radio that fits the hole.

Personally I would go with a 2M with a detachable face. Then you can put the body of the radio pretty much anywhere.


Quote:
Originally Posted by riehl View Post
2. Powering -- probably would bleed power from the hookup that originally ran the phone.

Direct wire straight to the battery with fuses in both pos and neg wires. An appropriate length of RG-8 is good. Center conductor would be pos and shield wire is neg.
Just don't forget to turn the radio off. (voice of experience)


Quote:
Originally Posted by riehl View Post
3. Antenna placement -- this is the big one. Maybe a wire antenna on the inside edge of the windshield? I don't want to mess up the lines of the vehicle by having a large antenna outside.

There is no way you could put a wire antenna there for a CB. It would be WAY too short. A 1/4 wave length CB antenna is about 9 ft long.
As for a 2M antenna, I think there's too many metal things in the area to radiate a good signal. Also the wire would be horizontal. You would not have good send or receive off either end of it. Better is a vertical detachable lip mount about mid-way back on either side of the trunk lid.


Quote:
Originally Posted by riehl View Post
4. Cost -- I'd prefer not to spend more than 2-300 USD getting this set up.

Shop around on some of the ham radio web sites for used radios. But remember, a detachable faceplate is easier to find a place to mount than the whole radio.

Quote:
Originally Posted by riehl View Post
Has anyone attempted anything like this before? Any tips or advice?

I've put several ham radios in various vehicles I've owned. As soon as detachable faceplate radios came out that's all I've used.


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#8 Old 09-24-2016
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Antennas..... I've been entertaining the idea of experimenting with the stock whip as a 2m antenna, with a T/R switch at the base to isolate everything else when the transceiver is in use. Goofy idea?

73,
Horace
W4GFM
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#9 Old 09-24-2016
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Found an acceptable solution

As I said in an earlier post I was looking for a setup for my SLK.

I found a2mtr/440 radio that fits comfortably in the compartment next to the ashtray. It's a Leixen VV 898 and a Comet ss460sb which is 46 cm tall. It fits great and I only had to ease out the trunk hole a little. I haven't installed the cable because the Vario roof has a code that I can't find but the radio works with a cig plug with no noise at all.

Good Luck Everybody.

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#10 Old 09-25-2016
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Originally Posted by HUWhitaker View Post
Antennas..... I've been entertaining the idea of experimenting with the stock whip as a 2m antenna, with a T/R switch at the base to isolate everything else when the transceiver is in use. Goofy idea?

73,
Horace
W4GFM


1/4 wave for 144Mhz is about 19.5 inches. How resonant do you think the stock whip will be? Does the stock whip have a ground plane needed for transmitting?
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#11 Old 09-25-2016
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Originally Posted by dedgar View Post
1/4 wave for 144Mhz is about 19.5 inches. How resonant do you think the stock whip will be? Does the stock whip have a ground plane needed for transmitting?
Yep... it might be 'goofy'. The key word here is experimenting. Initially off the vehicle. The ground plane, along with other aspects, will be far from optimum. I've always gotten a kick out of loading up bed springs, gutters & downspouts, and random pieces of wire. As long as it doesn't damage the rig or vehicle electronics.... and I can get enough out to hit a repeater or two. There are too many other immediate projects, so this will most likely be a retirement experiment.

_ _ . . . . . . _ _

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#12 Old 09-25-2016
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Cool 2 Meter or Icom 706mkiig HF Op's

I've put several ham radios in various vehicles I've owned. As soon as detachable faceplate radios came out that's all I've used.


N7VRZ

Adding to N7VRZ's wonderful comments, I guess I'll throw my 2 cents in from KM2U.

First of all, here is a link to my installation on my Toyota Tacoma, yes, it's not a Mercedes, but it some may find it helpful anyway.

See:

Trying to install a 2 Meter only radio could probably be done on your budget of $300. If it were me, I would use either a lip mounted Comet antenna, or possibly fabricate a Wire J Pole antenna. I've seen these made from TV Antenna wire. See: http://www.work-sat.com/Antennas_files/FONG-DBJ2.pdf

If you could up your budget a little, I would buy a used Icom 706MKIIG radio and a Tarheel Antenna. See: http://www.tarheelantennas.com/baby_tarheel

This would allow you to remotely mount the radio in the trunk and control it using the radio head loosely mounted in the vehicle. You could use something like a fabricated bean-bag to lay between the seats with the control head velcro-ed to it. You would have 2 Meter op's as well as the full HF Band with the exception of 80 and 160 Meters. Trust me . . . when you make that first long distance contact, you'll be hooked on HF, but you'll still have 2 meters as well for local repeater Op's. If you go this route, you will need to add two things in addition to the Tarheel antenna. You will still need a 2 Meter Lip Mount Antenna and you will want to add several bonding straps to your vehicle as I did to my Toyota Truck. These bonding straps are necessary when operating Mobile in the HF Bands, but are NOT NEEDED for 2 Meter only Op's. The reason is, when operating in the HF Bands, you need to "Capacitively Couple" your vehicle to the ground it travels over for your antenna to radiate. Picture this schematic in your mind to help you understand this. Draw on a piece of paper a small square and label it car. Then draw the symbol for a capacitor and connect it to the car. Then draw the symbol for a ground and connect it to the other end of the capacitor. That in a nutshell is what I mean when I say Capacitive Coupling, it's as though you are dragging a capacitor from your car to the ground you are travelling over.

In 2 Meter Op's, your vehicle is sufficient to act as a ground plane to radiate the signal, this is not true at HF Frequencies. So, by using bonding straps as I've done in the video, it allows all your body components (doors, hoods, etc.) to become "One" increasing the area for the RF Signal to reflect from. Your entire car then capacitively couples with the ground and your RF efficiently exits the tip of your antenna.

Because this capacitive coupling occurs and is dependant upon what surface you are travelling over, you will sometimes need to retune your antenna to maintain a low SWR ie; such as when driving over pavement then turning on to a dirt road. Yes . . . I know your question was in regard to just a 2 meter radio install, but I thought I would suggest a world to you within Amateur Radio that might provide sooooooooooooooo much more enjoyment as well as motivate you to upgrade to a General
I should mention, I've worked Australia from my Mobile setup. Fell free to hit me up with any questions you may have and please enjoy the video.
Michael
KM2U
That's Kink Mike 2 You
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Last edited by Michael H.; 09-25-2016 at 12:05 PM. Reason: Adding Link
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#13 Old 12-10-2016
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Ham Radio transceiver in 2010 SLK

For my 2010 SLK (R171), I purchased a BTech UV-2501+220 tri-band transceiver (144, 220, 440) (Amazon) and use a windshield suction mount with magnet on other end to hold the mounting bracket of the radio and mount it between the driver side pillar and dome of instrument panel. Fits perfectly. Wired to the fuse panel nearby in left side of instrument panel. No noise. For antenna, I use a Lewong Low Profile Phantom Antenna SL16/UHF-J/M U/V 144/430MHz 80W 2.15/3dBi (Amazon) mounted inside the car between the seats atop the back vertical console. (Doesn't cover 220 but I don't use 220 anyway). That console is topped with an easily removable tweeter housing and has sufficient room to drill for the antenna mount. I used thick foil glued to the inside of the housing and grounded, for ground plane. Not much size but works. the 3.5" tall stub is white but looks fine. And works fine. there are more and more of these used on the trunk or roof of police cars, avoiding the nuisance of the mast. I routed the antenna cable down through the inside of the rear vertical console, across behind the seat, then under the driver door sill and up through the inside of the kick panel and left side of dash to the radio. It is completely hidden until it comes out at the base of the left windshield pillar. Standing wave is good and works well.
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