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Amatuer radio antenna on a Model X

Robert Sr

Crash Investigator
Jul 13, 2019
6
10
Cleveland, Ohio
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So, as I ordered and was about to take delivery of my Model X, the Tesla store was unhappy that I wanted to install an amateur radio antenna for VHF / UHF on the Model X. It was a difficult install, however with careful attention to the wiring in the center roof / spine area it is possible. The first photo is of the headliner pulled down. The second photo is looking up at the center / spine of the Model X where there is a small hole made larger with a Southwire drill bit. The third photo is the NMO antenna, using a 5/8 inch PL259 / NMO adjustable antenna mount. The mount is sealed inside of the spine with silicon seal and the NMO seals outside with an O ring, The forth photo is of the Kenwood radio, Cobra CB radio transmitter and Alpa-Delta coax switch mounted on a 1/4 inch piece of Plexiglas 15 1/8 inch by 10 inch. This fits TIGHTLY between the right front seat tracks. The fifth photo is the Kenwood VHF/UHF control head with the mic on the left side of the center console. It is powered from the center console 12VDC outlet which is fused at 15 amps.
 

Robert Sr

Crash Investigator
Jul 13, 2019
6
10
Cleveland, Ohio
The northern Ohio dealership stated that to there might be a warranty issue if I make any modifications to the model X. I told them to keep it! After a little discussion about the Federal Warranty Act of 1975 and a tweet, it no longer was an issue. Again, it was one of the more difficult up-fittings I've done, however total doable.
 

DCGOO

Active Member
Nov 24, 2015
1,794
1,052
Indianapolis, IN
I installed a Kenwood TM-V71A in my X, the radio is far back under the deck (5-passenger), along with a WiFi router and Linux computer. This is all powered from the brake controller power feed, which is has a 20-amp fuse and is always-on. The control head fits very nicely in the cubby with plenty of room. Easy for Tesla to remove the cubby to gain access to the two programming cables for the car.

I am going to have to study your antenna Installation though. How did you get through the glass on top? IOW, I don't understand how you got from the second photo, to the third.
 

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Robert Sr

Crash Investigator
Jul 13, 2019
6
10
Cleveland, Ohio
I installed a Kenwood TM-V71A in my X, the radio is far back under the deck (5-passenger), along with a WiFi router and Linux computer. This is all powered from the brake controller power feed, which is has a 20-amp fuse and is always-on. The control head fits very nicely in the cubby with plenty of room. Easy for Tesla to remove the cubby to gain access to the two programming cables for the car.

I am going to have to study your antenna Installation though. How did you get through the glass on top? IOW, I don't understand how you got from the second photo, to the third.

So DCGOO, I'm in the rear center of the Falcon doors, almost above the small rear interior LED dome lights. When I pulled down the head liner there is a slot for the retainer clip and a round hole to assist in the positioning of the headliner. I used a 1 1/4 reaming tool to enlarge the guide hole. I measured several times and drilled a 1/4 hole through the aluminum and then through the thick black plastic panel between the Falcon door hinge area. The antenna mount is a 2" long x 5/8" diameter NMO mount / PL259 thick roof from American Radio Supply. The inside is silicon sealed to the aluminum spine and the NMO O ring seals to the black outside plastic.
 

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DCGOO

Active Member
Nov 24, 2015
1,794
1,052
Indianapolis, IN
So DCGOO, I'm in the rear center of the Falcon doors, almost above the small rear interior LED dome lights. When I pulled down the head liner there is a slot for the retainer clip and a round hole to assist in the positioning of the headliner. I used a 1 1/4 reaming tool to enlarge the guide hole. I measured several times and drilled a 1/4 hole through the aluminum and then through the thick black plastic panel between the Falcon door hinge area. The antenna mount is a 2" long x 5/8" diameter NMO mount / PL259 thick roof from American Radio Supply. The inside is silicon sealed to the aluminum spine and the NMO O ring seals to the black outside plastic.

The key part I did not realize was the top, between the FWDs, is plastic. I assumed it was glass. Apparently there is enough aluminum underneath for an adequate ground plane? I will have to explore this further. The short antenna I am using today really sucks. I have a 19-inch whip I can use if I need more from the antenna. But that can easily run into interference with the FWD. Thanks and 73!
 

Robert Sr

Crash Investigator
Jul 13, 2019
6
10
Cleveland, Ohio
DCGOO, you are not that far from Cleveland and I up-fit public safety vehicles. Having an outside dual band antenna really is a must. If you want, I would be willing to assist. Of all the vehicles, Explorer, Charger, Tahoe, Crown Vic & Cadillac SRX, this was the most difficult, but fun at the same time!!
 
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DCGOO

Active Member
Nov 24, 2015
1,794
1,052
Indianapolis, IN
DCGOO, you are not that far from Cleveland and I up-fit public safety vehicles. Having an outside dual band antenna really is a must. If you want, I would be willing to assist. Of all the vehicles, Explorer, Charger, Tahoe, Crown Vic & Cadillac SRX, this was the most difficult, but fun at the same time!!

Sounds good. Watch for a PM.
 

Robert Sr

Crash Investigator
Jul 13, 2019
6
10
Cleveland, Ohio
So in the one photo, there is the Kenwood radio, the Cobra CB radio and a coax switch under the right passenger seat. This weekend I took the UHF / VHF dual band antenna off and put the Larsen 27 Mhz antenna on, switched the coax switch to the CB and installed the control head to the connect under the passenger seat. Off on a journey to Pittsburg and the CB worked great. Got one 18 wheeler to comment that he has NEVER seen a Tesla with an antenna on it! When I got back to Ohio, I reinstalled the dual band antenna, switched the coax switch and I'm back on the amateur bands. Supercharging in Cranberry Township PA was easy, 17 minutes later, a Starbucks and back on the road.
 

Watts_Up

Active Member
Mar 4, 2019
3,845
2,800
In a galaxy far, far away
The antenna mount is a 2" long x 5/8" diameter NMO mount / PL259 thick roof from American Radio Supply.
The inside is silicon sealed to the aluminum spine and the NMO O ring seals to the black outside plastic.

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Whoa! I would be a little bit scare making any hole into the roof...

I was considering using as a base a suction cup used in house construction to carry and hold glass windows during the installation.

This would not be as clean, especially because I would need to run the coaxial outside, but I might be able to drop it just behind into the hatch.

What I wonder is if there would a need to have a metallic ground surface connected to the antenna?

Thanks, 73, 88, and 161.



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DCGOO

Active Member
Nov 24, 2015
1,794
1,052
Indianapolis, IN
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Whoa! I would be a little bit scare making any hole into the roof...

I was considering using as a base a suction cup used in house construction to carry and hold glass windows during the installation.

This would not be as clean, especially because I would need to run the coaxial outside, but I might be able to drop it just behind into the hatch.

What I wonder is if there would a need to have a metallic ground surface connected to the antenna?

Thanks, 73, 88, and 161.



s-l1600.jpg


The steel spine of the car is just under the plastic top, and is actually what the antenna is mounted to. So the ground plane is already present. What I did not realize until Robert pointed it out was, the top of the car is not glass. Rather it is thick plastic that should be easy to drill through.
 

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