Mounting a HAM Radio in the Car

The car cup holder mount for HAM Radio headsThere are several large HAM Radio manufacturers.  The largest are Yaesu, ICOM and Kenwood.  There are also some secondary companies that make some nice options such as Wouxun, Cobra and Baofeng.  A lot of what we discuss in this article apply to the other brands as well.  Mounting options are plentiful.  Mounting configurations sometimes depend upon the radio.  Most handheld radios are used in marine or mobile environments.  The majority have a rear belt clip or knob that inserts into a belt clip.  The larger tabletop versions often have a detachable head.  That head typically can be mounted while the radio itself is stowed out of site.

First we will address handheld radios.  We find most handheld ICOM models use a rear belt clip.  You can use that belt clip to attach to many mounts that are made to support these radios.  Yaesu uses a combination of methods ranging from a mounting knob on the back to a belt clip and some have no rear clip at all.  The radios without a knob can often use a heavy duty mount made for a large mobile phone.  They key to purchasing one of these mounts will be the cradle depth as often the width is not a factor.  Select a radio that has a cradle depth no less than one inch and be sure the side arms are adjustable as you do not want the arms to press a button on the side of the radio.  It would be of little value to have a mount, for example, that presses a talk button all the time.

Mounting of a tabletop HAM Radio often necessitate removal of the remote head and then storing the unit itself elsewhere in the car.  The heads often requires integrating a mounting bracket for the head such as the ICOM MB-63 or Yaesu YK-8900.  You may need to drill some holes in the mounting plate to match a standard mounting pattern called AMPS (basic 4 hole rectangular design) as these are typically used to attach the mounting head to the mount itself.  You can read a very detailed article on the AMPS pattern here.

The most popular location to mount a HAM radio head is the floor and there are seat bolt mounts that will attach to the seat bolt of you car.  An 18-inch metal flexible gooseneck then places the head near console level.  Be sure the seat bolts are easily accessible before investing in one of these seat bolt mounts.  Attaching one of these mounts is a fairly easy task.  You will need a wrench or pliers.  Simply loosen the seat bolt, slide the claw at the end of the mount under the head of the seat bolt and tighten the bolt.  Be sure to wrench tighten the seat bolt or your mount will flop over.  The wrench tight part is real important so don’t forget to do that part.  Tightening with your hand will result in the dreaded flop.

Another popular location for a remote head is using a spare cup holder.  The photo that accompanies this article features the cup holder mount with a head on it.  These mounts include the AMPS plate common to most HAM Radio head holders.  The bottom expands and contracts to contour to most cup holder sizes.  These work well in traditional cup holders, not too well in cup holders that pull out of the dash.  You need a solid bottom for stability sake.  There mount stands about five inches from the top of the cup holder and has a gooseneck that can be bent to get the best angle.

Lastly, consider the suction cup mount which can attach to your windshield and place it right at eye level.  This mount also includes the usual AMPS plate for attaching to the head.  The mount can adjust at the middle and the head with full swivel capability.  Made of rigid plastic, the mount stays steady while driving.  This mount also comes with an adhesive dash disk for attaching to a dashboard.  If choosing a suction mount, be certain that it’s legal to place anything on your windshield as some states do not permit mounts to be placed on your windshield.  You can read more about that subject here.

Wherever you choose to mount your HAM radio, be sure to keep your eyes on the road.  This can be as distracting as texting so use caution when operating your radio at all times.