…wh7da mobile…

So, I’ve had this Yaesu 857D sitting around for almost five years and decided to finally install it in the truck. I wanted a clean install that can easily goes back to the factory look without much fuss. I wanted to minimize the permanent alterations.

I also wanted to use my stock antenna or fit a stock looking 2m antenna where my radio antenna was. The antenna part of the project turned out to be an unsuccessful adventure and I’m now running with a magmount until I tackle that project again.

The radio: Yaesu FT-857D

The truck: 2009 Dodge Ram 1500

Accessories: BlueCat bluetooth CAT port dongle and a West Mountain Radio Rigrunner

As with any radio installation project, first you have to get behind the dash:

Getting behind the dash

Getting behind the dash

We initially pulled the stock radio to get to the antenna so we could see what it tuned up at and determine if there was any way to mess around with using the stock antenna. As you’ll see from the pictures below, it was not a viable option. It tuned up on 103Mhz and was routed with 75 ohm coax. Some options in the future are to pull out the 75 ohm coax and run 50 ohm up to the antenna. I’m also looking at fitting a Larson 2m antenna in the stock antenna base. We’ll see. For now, I’ve put that part of the project on hold in order to get the radio mounted and working.

Does that look like a normal american vehicle antenna connection? Turns out it’s not.

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The late model Dodge antenna adapter doesn’t fit my late model Dodge. After digging around in the back room with the radio install guys at Best Buy, we found that the correct adapter for my late model Dodge truck was a VW/BMW/European adapter cable. Figures.

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When we checked the antenna, it tuned up on 103, which is not what I need – but exactly what I was expecting. In the 145/146 range it had over a 3:1 SWR. Not even close enough to mess with. And, we found the stock antenna coax was 75 ohm.


This is the adapter dongle we made using the adapter cable. Simply cut off the stock antenna connector and put on a 239.


Enough about what didn’t work. Let’s look at the radio head install.

For this, I like the gooseneck head mount my dad had in his Dodge. It kept the radio head low and out of sight (and out of the sun) while still easily accessible and easy to use. With the BlueCat dongle, I won’t need to fuss with the radio while I’m driving anyway – but more about that later.

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The gooseneck is a simple to mount item I got from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00FW5LTUI/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

You simply loosen one of your seat bolts and slip the mount in, then re-tighten the seat bolt. My seat bolt was mounted horizontal, so the gooseneck comes out forward then goes up, but it’s not in the way. Most seats should have a bolt that goes down into the floor which makes a slightly cleaner looking install.


I took the mount adapter off the top of the gooseneck thing, and modified the plastic corrugated tube to run the head cable in and out cleanly without chafing on the edge of the tube. I used little grommets to protect the cable.

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I like the way this looks with the short run of head cable coming out near the top of the gooseneck, while most of the cable is hidden inside the corrugated tube.

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For the radio, I knew I wanted to mount it under the passenger seat. The stock jack used to be there until it collapsed under the weight of the truck last year. I now have a bottle jack I keep in the back. Much safer and easier to use. The stock scissors jack was braced by a little spool looking button thinger that screwed into the floor.

Here is the hole left when you take the little spool looking button thinger out.


And here is what the little spool looking button thinger looks like in the radio bracket – and then screwed back into the floor. This makes for a successful, convenient, and no alteration radio mount. Worked out perfect.

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Now with the radio:


Then with the Rigrunner:

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All this gets hidden behind the stock kickplate. Sorry, I don’t have a picture of that. The Rigrunner is attached securely with a couple cable ties through the carpet. Small holes that you’ll never see once it’s removed.

The power to the Rigrunner is run from the battery with a 20 amp fuse on each lead.


We routed the wires through a large boot already in the firewall. Poked a small hole with a screwdriver and fed the wires through. It is an unrecoverable alteration, but a minor one. For the Dodge Ram, there is a boot on the inside and a boot on the outside, so you’ll be going through two boots and have to be EXTREMELY careful to not nick or cut any other wires.


Finally, I wanted a power switch to turn the Rigrunner on and off. I mounted an LED lit switch in the dash. This is also an unrecoverable alteration, but a useful one. Who doesn’t need an extra switch for something? Right?!

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And that’s my install. Pretty clean.

Future projects include a permanent option for a 2m antenna, as well as a removable bed-stake mounted 20m for HF operation. Looking forward to that. I’ve had my General ticket for … well, a long time – and I’ve not yet used my HF privileges.

Many thanks to Larry Narikawa – N0OQA – for his expertise, advice, and assistance!

As for the BlueCat – that thing is amazing. It used the CAT port and gives you bluetooth accessibility to your radio. The guys who maintain the RepeaterBook have an app that works with the BlueCat. It uses your location and the repeater information in their database to present you a list of repeater options, starting with the closest. With the app running on your phone, you simply touch which repeater you want to use and it automatically sets the radio with offset, PL tone, etc. Everything you need. Amazing. I went down the list, setting each repeater into memory, and can now just scan the local repeaters.


When I’m traveling, it updates based on my location. No matter where I’m at, I can see a list of the local repeaters and only have to touch the one I want to use on my phone. It instantly programs the radio.

Here is a link to more information about the software: http://www.zbm2.com/bluecat.html

Here is a link to the UK site where I bought the BlueCat: http://www.hamradio.co.uk/accessories-general-bluecat-radio-interface/adonis/bluecat-repeater-controller-for-yaesu-pd-4899.php

Overall, it was a successful install so far. Unfortunately, the repeaters here are mostly quiet. Not a lot of activity. Not like the Hawaii repeaters. You could always find someone on the Diamondhead repeater. I do miss that, but am finally trying to get involved in some radio activity here in Minnesota.



1 comment so far

  1. …Field Day… | WH7DA on

    […] A couple months ago I *finally* installed my Yaesu FT-857D mobile radio in my 2009 Dodge Ram 1500. You can see some info on how I did that here: /wh7da-mobile/ […]

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