Ray installs a NMO antenna mount on Stuart Gorsky's (K9STU) 2006 Honda Element
Stuart's Choice For A Mobile Radio - Yaesu 8800r
I have always wanted to drill a hole and mount an antenna in the center of my roof in order to take advantage of the many benefits provided but like many "hams", I have always been very apprehensive in doing so. The reasons for not drilling a hole in the roof of my vehicle are well know to all. The value of the vehicle will be diminished on trade-in and water will leak in through the hole in the roof. Others worry that a permanently mounted antenna advertises the presence of electronics making you a target of theft.
All of the reasons listed above for not drilling a hole in your vehicle roof seem valid but lets take the time to discuss them. What follows is my OPINION and not proven fact so don't come back to me at a later date and complain to me that you lost money in trade in value because of this article...
If your are leasing a car forget it! End of discussion. There will be no drilling of holes for you! If you purchase an expensive Jaguar, Lexus, Mercedes, Porsche or any other vehicle of this kind, drilling a hole is not something I would do. For these cars I would purchase a good quality hatch back or trunk lip antenna mount along with a "Diamond NR Series" mobile antenna. The "Diamond NR Series" antennas that I have used are top of the line in workmanship with great "ears" and transmit range. The "NR" series of antennas are advertised as being ground independent and in my experience I find that placement of the these antennas is far less critical than other antennas that I have used. As a note, no matter how hard I try, when using a magnet mount antenna I always find a way to scratch the paint.
Lets go back and address some of the issues listed above for not drilling a hole in your vehicle. I have done lots of volunteer Emergency Communications with the Los Angeles County Sheriffs Department as well as other organizations and in my travels I have met many of the professionals that install the complicated radio systems found in the modern police car. What I find from these professionals is that they drill holes and mount antennas in there own vehicles just like they do on police cars. When asked about trade in value of their vehicles the consistent answer is that when they go to trade in there vehicle, they put on a "cap" to cover the hole and never does a car salesman bring it up. How about the roof leaking during a rain storm or car wash? Modern NMO or UHF mounts manufactured by Motorola, Larsen, Diamond or Comet are first rate and when installed by a professional or experienced and competent individual they do not leak. As a regular practice I check my SWR in my vehicle every two years but baring any premature hardware failures I plan on replacing the cable and mount at the ten year mark. Finally, worrying that a permanently mounted antenna advertises the presence of electronics making you a target of theft is not something that overly bothers me. I make sure I have a very low insurance deductible on auto break in and theft and when I find myself in a bad area I remove the removable head from my Yaesu 8800r and take it with me.
The decision was made to put the "Diamond NMO" mount in the center of my Honda Elements roof at its highest point. Next, in order to make room for running the coax and dropping the headliner, we removed the rubber molding along with roof and side panels. Measurements were taken to determine the precise point where the hole was to be cut and a box with a pre-cut drilling hole in it was taped to the roof. The box had a two fold mission, (1) to precisely mark the spot to drill and (2) to keep any metal filings kicked up by the drill bit from scratching the paint that surrounds the drilling area. Next, from the inside of the truck we put a large piece of wood between the roof and head liner so the drill bit would not penetrate too far and ruin the headliner.
Antenna: Larsen 2/70 NMO Collinear Antenna. SWR Test: 2 meters 1.1 to 1.3 thruout the band. 70 Centimeters 1.1 to 1.2 thruout the band.
UPDATE: The other guy was driving a huge Chevy Suburban when he ran a solid red light and totaled out my Honda Element. He just missed hitting my passenger side door where my girlfriend Wendy (W6NDY) was sitting. Thank God! Anyways, my Honda Element was a total loss but when tested my antenna still had a low SWR.