Today’s task was to install a UHF radio in Ripley ready for our upcoming trip.
I’ve been putting it off for a while now because….well because I have an electronic DIY aptitude only marginally higher than a jellyfish.
I had done some online research and watched a few YouTube videos and it didn’t seem too difficult in theory.
There are basically two ways to wire in a UHF radio. Both have their pros and cons:
- Wired directly to the battery.
- Wired to an accessory such as the cigarette lighter (or into the fuse box)
Wiring direct to the battery means you can use the radio even when the engine is switched off (which could be useful in an emergency). But the risk is that you will forget to turn it off and end up draining the vehicle battery.
Having it wired to an accessory ensures it turns off when you remove the keys. But if someone without the key needs to use it urgently…they are screwed.
After some thought I decided to go with the first option.
My biggest concern was passing the wiring from the battery and the aerial cable through the engine firewall and into the cabin. I had already located the grommet that is used to facilitate this in the back of the engine bay, but it was incredibly difficult to access.
I read nightmare scenarios where people have had to remove endless layers of dashboard panels to finally access it.
Turns out I needn’t have stressed.
It also turns out that Ripley’s vehicle battery is not located in her engine bay, but under the floor in front of the passenger seat.
Yup… after 2 years, I had absolutely no idea where Ripley’s heart was located.
It was a relatively simple task to connect the positive and negative wires of the UHF to the battery (and I am now the proud owner of a wire-stripping connector-crimping tool thingy).
I mounted the antenna on Ripley’s Bullbar and ran the cable in through the front grill where I cable-tied it out of harm’s way and then looped it down underneath and back up next to the battery box and into the cabin.
Imagine my surprise when I turned the radio on…..and it worked!
No explosions. No blue smoke.
Just some truck driver arguing with his wife.
I immediately celebrated my elevation above the domain of jellyfish… and began planning a total re-wire and installation of an inverter and new solar panels and perhaps some flashing strobe lights for those rainy disco nights.