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Old 01-25-2019, 01:18 PM   #1
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Plenty of room under the dash cowl for techy stuff.

I was pleasantly surprised first that the dash cowl in our 2014 Sunstar was so easy to remove. I was also pleased at how easy the behind-the-dash access was, at least as far right as the radio.


Then, when I started to explore installing my go-to techie stuff, it got even better.


There's a steel strut across the width of the opening that has some chassis relays on it. There is enough room on it to mount some equipment that wants to be out of sight. And, there is enough room under the molded plastic cowl to house them.


Left to right, the chassis relays, the GlobalStar control box, an 8 circuit Buss fuse panel for a house battery circuit that I'll run this weekend to power the toys and 12 v and USB outlets, and the Kenwood D710 amateur radio base that runs APRS for us.


The P.O. or his minions were apparently under there a lot, too, for entertainment center and alarm installations and apparently tightened the cowl screws too much and broke most of the mounting holes. Next is to figure out how to attractive repair those.
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Old 01-25-2019, 03:27 PM   #2
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Those #[email protected]& minions! My 2002 Suncruiser is also has a lot of room under the dash along with some evidence of minion activity. The immediate PO owned and aircraft avionics installation and maintenance company so I don't think it was him.

I'm interested in what you do for an antenna and ground plane for your Kenwood and if you have plans for HF. I'm a ham as well (KJ6SVX) but haven't installed anything in my MH yet. Eventually I'd like to be set up for VHF/UHF and HF (probably my old Kenwood TS-440S). My biggest unknown is what to do for an HF antenna. I have an old screwdriver antenna that I might try. I'd like to be able to get on the air with minimal set-up.
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Old 01-25-2019, 03:58 PM   #3
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The antenna is a dual or triband no ground plane required Comet or Diamond mobile. I'll have to get a ladder to check it to be sure. It's on a UHF mount.

The mount is an new old Maldol Power mount I had on the shelf. I threw away the gutter clamp and drilled the plate to screw it to the top of the side of the moho on the driver side just back of the eyebrow. The coax and motor wire are in split loom up to the roof, where they go through a hole in the roof with the SiriusXM and GlobalStar phone antenna coax. The hole os weatherproofed with a Winegard 4 slot entry plate and a lot of butyl tape.



The mount rocker switch is on the left side of the dash.





The Maldol mount is apparently discontinued, but Diamond makes one that looks almost identical.




On our '88 31' Suncruiser, I mounted about a 6' long aluminum angle on the driver side just below the roof coping, and machined it for NMO mounts and an 18" scanner antenna on a 3/8" bolt. I drilled into the sidewall just aft of each antenna for the coax, which surfaced inside in a cabinet. They ran from there out the cabinet along the ceiling behind the upholstered fascia, down the jamb for the door, under the driver carpet to the dash. I had one for each of 2 amateur radios, and one for our first mobile phone, a VHF IMTS, and one for a second ICOM receiver.

No HF plans. I'm a lowly Technician Class.


If you need a VHF/UHF sized ground plane, screw down an appropriate sized galvanized plate on the roof and use a mag mount. I do that for the GlobalStar antenna, and the cell router and one GPS antenna.



73,
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Old 01-25-2019, 04:33 PM   #4
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Thanks, that Power Mount looks interesting. You should think about studying for your General, HF is fun. It's not that much more difficult than the technician exam, especially if you use Gordon (Gordo) West's book. I upgraded from General to Extra at Quartzfest 2014. I did it on a whim, bought a book from Gordo one day, crammed the rest of the day and took the test in the morning. Two of us failed by one question and they gave us a second shot. We both passed. It wasn't my finest hour but I only studied for eight hours and my Extra license is as good as anyone else's. I do need to bone up on digital tech, that was my weakest area. Ironically, due to a couple of "life curve balls", I haven't done much ham radio since.

If you've never gone to Quartzfest, it's a lot of fun and quite informative, not just on ham stuff but solar and other interesting topics. Plus it has a great ham swap. It coincides with the RV show in Quartzite which had more and better deals on equipment and the like than I see at our local shows:

http://www.winnieowners.com/forums/f...ml#post3830802
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Old 01-25-2019, 05:18 PM   #5
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Thanks for the encouragement. However, here's the thing. I already have too many time and money sink hobbies, and too many projects to finish, plus a wife, dog, house, RV, 95 year old mother, 81 year old MIL, and 10 acres to worry about. I rarely get on 2m or 440 voice anymore, and just run APRS.


Maybe in a year or 2...
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Old 01-25-2019, 06:38 PM   #6
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Thanks for the encouragement. However, here's the thing. I already have too many time and money sink hobbies, and too many projects to finish, plus a wife, dog, house, RV, 95 year old mother, 81 year old MIL, and 10 acres to worry about. I rarely get on 2m or 440 voice anymore, and just run APRS.


Maybe in a year or 2...
I'm with you on the projects, wife, dog, house, RV and 95 year old mother. I'm glad I don't have 20 acres at this point in my life. Those things pretty much add up to why I haven't been on the air or been involved in any of my other hobbies for several years. We haven't even made any long trips in the MH we bought in Nov 2018, just a handful of relatively local trips. The motorhome has been one project after another since we bought it but I'm almost done.
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Old 01-27-2019, 12:26 AM   #7
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Encouraged from SLO's report of easy dash access, today I opened up my VISTA dash to see if I could find an easy ACC power connection for my TPMS repeater so it would automatically come on when I start the motor. What I found was disappointing. They've change it radically with very little that's easily accessible under the dash cowling of the 2018 Vista 32YE. For those interested, below is a photo of what I found. There's very little wiring other than two harnesses to the instrument cluster, and a few relays that were disappointingly not labeled for their function. I put it all back together and looked for ACC power wires in the engine compartment for my TPMS repeater requirement.

To my surprise, in the engine compartment I found fairly quick, two wires that were not connected to anything, labeled windshield wiper ignition power, and ground to windshield wipers. It was the oddest thing ever, and I felt lucky. Is was though these wires were screaming "use me!" with the labels saying ACC power. Since the windshield wipers work fine, I decided to use these wires for my TPMS ACC power requirement after confirming the WW ACC power wire was in fact turned on with ignition key and not affected by the wiper controls. For those interested, these wires were located right under the brake master cylinder in the engine compartment.
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Old 01-27-2019, 06:08 AM   #8
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Note: Those wires are part of a Ford pigtail. Use the Ford wiring diagrams and the owner's manual for the chassis (link here) to determine which fuse feeds them.

On my coach (not a Winnie, but a Ford F-53), that pigtail was stuffed in the dash with nothing attached to it. I fished it out and have it in my box of unused parts. To this day, I have not traced the windshield wiper wiring to figure out exactly how the wipers work without the pigtail.
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Old 01-27-2019, 08:38 AM   #9
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One thing to keep in mind is that some 12V supplies are turned on and off via the ignition switch and some aren't.
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Old 01-27-2019, 10:42 AM   #10
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Speaking of ignition switch, I recently learned on the newer Ford F53 chassis the ignition switch doesn't control the starter directly, a computer does. It's unnecessary to hold the ignition switch until the motor starts. You can simply give it a quick key twist to engage the starting process, then let go before the motor starts. The starter motor will continue to turn over the motor until it starts. It's much like the push button key-less starters on modern cars, just briefly engage the starter, let go of the button and it cranks until it starts.
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Old 01-27-2019, 12:53 PM   #11
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One thing to keep in mind is that some 12V supplies are turned on and off via the ignition switch and some aren't.
I should have written "ignition/ACC switch"
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Old 01-31-2019, 03:07 AM   #12
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I'd love to get a "quick look" under the cowling - question is: how does one get the cowling? Pics if necessary - thanks.
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Old 01-31-2019, 12:16 PM   #13
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You may have a different design dash than I do.


Here's the cowl or cover in place:





Remove 8 screws and the cover comes off...


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Old 01-31-2019, 12:57 PM   #14
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Quote: "The P.O. or his minions were apparently under there a lot, too, for entertainment center and alarm installations and apparently tightened the cowl screws too much and broke most of the mounting holes. Next is to figure out how to attractive repair those."

I also have the 2014 - I think the cowling plastic breaks on every one - it is way too thin at the edges! I fixed it using 3/4 inch washers and new screws, all spray-painted with the exact color as the dash. It looks pretty good - my wife said factory like! I can send you a picture if this doesn't make sense.

I struck the new screws into a cardboard box for spraying, and gave it like 6 coats of paint.
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Old 01-31-2019, 12:59 PM   #15
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Great pictures of the cowling.

DOES ANYBODY reading this know how the plywood dash is attached?? And if it is removable?
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Old 01-31-2019, 03:54 PM   #16
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That makes sense. I've already painted screws. I'll look for some appropriate fender washers tomorrow. First of all< I have to fill in the screw holes that the minions stripped with some JB Kwik.
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Old 02-01-2019, 03:11 AM   #17
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SLO - thanks. Ours is a 2015 Sunstar so my guess is, looking at the pics, that the units are identical. When we are between trips, I'll give her a look see. Thanks
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Old 02-01-2019, 04:11 AM   #18
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I love the way the complete dash panel unit flips up on my Sightseer, giving total access to the back of the instrument panel and everything underneath. Makes troubleshooting, repair, rewiring, upgrading, etc. very easy.
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Old 04-05-2019, 03:32 PM   #19
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Thanks for all the information: I'm getting ready to install one or more ham radios and was looking for information on installation point access, wiring and antenna mounting. Found most of it here!

W7DKK
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Old 04-05-2019, 04:23 PM   #20
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Hi David,


You're welcome!
I guess I didn't add it here, but I ran a dedicated 25 amp/12VDC circuit with ground from an unused fuse location on the house 12v panel to the fuse block in the first photo, so the radios are powered by the house batteries instead of chassis batteries.


After exiting the cabinet where the house panel is, down the hole in the floor to the basement 120v outlet and through the wall, I went along the frame rail, behind or inside of the right front tire, up behind the coolant overflow tank, and through a penetration into the dash area above and to the left of the tranny fluid dipstick. There are a bunch of other split-loom clad wires going in there, and the hole is plenty big. I used some coat hanger wire to snake it in under the dash cover.


And I encased the wires ( I think I used 10 ga) in split loom from Harbor Freight.


73,


Chris KD6DSI
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