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2014 Subaru Outback Mobile Radio Install – Ham Radio Q&A

2014 Subaru Outback Mobile Radio Install – Ham Radio Q&A

– Putting a mobile radio in your car? Well, here’s how I did mine. So please keep watching for more. (rocky music) Hi, I’m Michael, KB9VBR,
your host for Ham Radio Q&A. I’m on a mission to inspire and educate the amateur radio community, so if this is your first time watching, please consider hitting
that subscribe button. Well, I recently just
purchased a new to me car. After years and years of being second and even third in line
for the nice vehicle, it was finally my chance. So this meant that I
was able to put a radio back in the car, although, you know, I had radios in some of the other cars that I’ve driven, but when
the kids started driving, it became more and more difficult to keep the radio in the car, because I just didn’t know which vehicle I would be driving on a day to day basis. But that was no longer the case. Since taking ownership of
this 2014 Subaru Outback, I immediately made plans to
outfit it with a new radio. I could’ve put in one of my older radios that were in some of
the previous vehicles, but I decided that since
I have a newer car, and I was gonna do an
install from the ground up, I’m gonna put a new rig in there. So I stared doing my research online. I knew what I wanted for a radio. It had to be dual-band with a dual VFOs. It needed APRS support,
a really nice screen, cross-band repeat, compact design, and potentially,
something that had offered some kind of digital operation. Since every radio in this, with that, that fit these features
had a removable head, my plan was to put the radio body underneath the driver’s seat and the control head somewhere
around the dashboard. So, this narrowed my choices down to three different rigs:
the Kenwood TM-D710G, the Icom ID-5100a, and
the Yaesu FTM-400XDR. So which radio did I choose? Well, after a lot of discussion with users and poring over
specifications and reviews, I finally made my decision
on the Yaesu FTM-400XDR. And the reason is a few-fold. First, the radio had those dual VFOs, so I could run two bands at the same time, monitor one and operate on one. Just like the Kenwood, it
had very good APRS support, which was important to me. And also, the one thing that the radio had over the Kenwood is it gave you a really nice APRS interaction
right from the control panel. The Icom had APRS features, also, but the problem with those
is that you really need to be in range of a D-STAR system repeater in order for those APRS features to take effect with the Icom radio. Also, the FTM-400, I feel, had the nicest of the control screens that I saw. It has a very nice bright TFT LCD screen that’s easy to read an operate in the car, a touch-screen operation. The control head is a little bit smaller than some of the other radios, so the formed factor fit the dashboard of the Subaru very nicely. And digital support was
another nice option, although that wasn’t one
of the key deciding factors on why I selected the radios, but after using this
radio for a little bit, I really do enjoy the ease of the Yaesu System Fusion digital system. So enough about the radios. I wanna do some more videos in the future about this particular radio, but the choice of a particular radio, really, that decision is up to you, what your needs are, how it’s gonna fit, your operation styles and habits, and what you have to work
with inside your vehicle. All those are great rigs, and I would highly recommend
any of those three. This is just the one that I settled on. So, let’s take a look at the power and the antennas for
the mobile installation. So first let’s talk about power. It can be easy and convenient
to just run your radio off the cigarette or
accessory lighter in your car, but the only problem with that, is most of those accessory
ports are limited to about 10 amps of power,
so if you’re running a high-powered mobile
radio, like a 50-watt mobile or something like that, the current draw is gonna be too high
for that accessory port. So the best best to give
you the most reliable power connection for your radio is to run directly from the battery through
the firewall into the car. My power starts here at the battery. I have both a positive
and a negative power line connected right directly to the battery. Both sides are fused, and a 10-gauge wire
running from the battery through the firewall into the car. Now, you could probably get by
with a 12-gauge power cable, and usually, when you buy a mobile radio, they come with a length of
either 12 or 14 gauge wire, but I wanted to have extra power capacity in case I wanted to add a
second radio in the vehicle, so I chose 10-gauge
wire, which will give me enough capacity to
satisfy the current draw for two of those radios. Next up is getting your power cable through the firewall of the car. Now, different vehicles
have different holes and openings in the
firewall that you might be able to dig around and
find a grommet or hole or something that you can
snake some wire through. I’ve got a 2014 Subaru Outback, so with the 4th generation Subarus, there’s usually a grommet just to the left of the brake booster that’s unoccupied, and you can snake a cable through that. Now my car has a manual transmission, so that hole was filled
up with the components for the clutch booster. So I’m kind of stuck. What I ended up doing was,
there’s a nice big grommet right here that I was able to peel out, and the car’s electrical
system runs through that. There was plenty of space. I just sliced a little hole
into that rubber grommet, snaked the cable through,
tied everything down, the cable came up on the other side right over underneath the
dashboard by the glove box, and was able to kind of hide everything, clean it up along the console. All right, let’s go
over to the back of car and take a look at the antenna. Now there’s always trade-offs when it involves putting
antennas on your car. Our research tells us that the best place to stick the antenna is
drill a hole smack dab in the middle of the roof
and mount the antenna there. But since I got a roof rack, and I wanna be able to use that roof rack, I didn’t wanna deal with that. Plus, too, with these modern cars, you have to deal with
pulling the headliner and the side curtain
airbags are in the way, so I looked for a little bit easier route, and ended up mounting the
antenna under the lift gate. What I’m using here is a
Diamond K400SNMO mount. It’s a highly adjustable mount, so it can go into various
areas on the lift gate, on the hood, in the trunk, anywhere there’s a nice
lip for it to attach to. And connected to that,
I’m using the Comet SBB-5 dual-band antenna. The SBB-5 is a half-wave on two meters, and it’s a five-eighths wave
times two on 70 centimeters. So a nice medium gain antenna. It’s working well for me so far. I might upgrade to the SBB-7. It’s a little bit longer antenna, but this one tops out at
about six feet two inches, so I have no problem
getting into parking garages the way the antenna is mounted here. The Diamond K400S antenna
mount uses a RG316 cable. It’s really thin cable, so it makes it relatively easy to route that cable along underneath the plastic trim and
other components of the car. I found a video online on how to install a back-up camera in this car, and it gave me a lot of insights on how these trim pieces can come
off, what’s underneath here, and it made the installation
of the antenna mount a lot easier. So I was able to go
underneath the trim here through this rubber tube along the edge of the headliner, down the pillar, and along the edge of the cargo area to where the cable ended
up, to the radio main unit, which is located underneath
the driver’s seat. The radio itself is mounted
on a small piece of plywood, so it’s kind of free-floating
underneath the driver’s seat. I’ve done that with other radios, and it works pretty well for me. So I usually have no problem with that, and then I can slide it
in and out if I need to make any changes or adjustments, connect any cables or whatnot. So let’s move inside and take a look at the rest of the installation. The radio itself is
mounted to the dashboard using a PanaVise mobile device holder. I was able to pull this trim out and the mount screws on to, next to the climate control system, fits very nicely, and it’s out of the way of all of the knobs, so it
wasn’t that difficult to do. I looked at a different variety of clip and friction mounts for the control head, and I found that the PanaVise mount really fit my needs the best. I liked how it kind of screwed in and it was gonna be a
secure mounting point for the radio’s control head. Now, couple of things to think about if you’re mounting a radio in the car is to be really concerned about where the airbag zones are. So, off to the side and the steering wheel are not places you’re gonna
wanna install a radio, so be aware of that. If you put the radio up on the
center top of the dashboard, just realize that in an accident, that radio or that control head is gonna become a moving projectile, so the best is to kinda
keep it to the center and low as possible. That’s the safest place to
stick a radio control head in a car, away from the airbag zone. So moving forward, I still need to do a little bit of cable management. I’ve got some of these
little Command strips to help keep the wires in place, so I’m gonna see how well
they work in the car, if that’s a good solution or not. I don’t have the microphone
clipped or anything like that. I did, when I brought
the mic up into the car, I did take an RJ12 connector box and an extension cable, so I
have a nice long cable here, but I still need to do a mic clip, and I’m gonna try, maybe
those Command strips, too, to see if that works better. ‘Cause I don’t really wanna
drill a hole in the dash, not quite at this point yet. So a couple of things I need to do. Audio is a little bit
muffled with the speaker underneath the driver’s seat, so I need to install an external speaker, and I’m looking at different locations, maybe something down under my feet, by my feet or under my feet, that’s pointing upwards towards me will give me a lot better
volume than underneath my seat. Well, that’s pretty much it
with my mobile setup here. Pretty happy how it turned out. I’m still thinking I can
add a second radio to this. I’ve got room on the PanaVise mount here. I could probably extend this
for a second control head. Everything kind of stays out of the way of the passenger, so I’m happy with that. They’re still comfortable. And it seems to be
working quite well for me. Kinda happy there. I hope this gives you some insights on your own mobile radio install. Please consider that every vehicle and every radio’s gonna
be a little bit different, so you’re gonna kinda have to take your own spin on things,
but just kinda wanted to put this out here as best practices in installing a radio in your car. If you have any mobile
radio installation tips or suggestions, I’d love to hear them in the comments below. So please leave them behind. I’ll certainly respond to those. And also, for more ham radio
articles and information, be sure to check out my blog
at If you enjoyed this video, as always, give me that big thumbs’s up. I really appreciate that. Check out some of the other videos that are suggested alongside here, and don’t forget to hit
that subscribe button. Pressing subscribe will notify you when future videos are released. So I’m Michael, KB9VBR,
thanks for watching. Have a great day and 73. (rocky music)

38 comments on “2014 Subaru Outback Mobile Radio Install – Ham Radio Q&A

  1. Why a thumbs down YouTube should have a way to see who it is and how long they watched bet its a robot that just tags randomly anyway great videos and information keep up the good work and ignore the haters.

  2. Nice install, Michael. As I mentioned earlier, I installed the same rig in my 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee. After 100k miles, I felt it was OK to drill some holes for the mic clip and a speaker. The Yaesu speaker is a good choice … Clear and plenty loud. Main thing I did differently is opt for a mag mount on the roof. Easy enough to remove if I need to, but good performance and good garagability (I have an extra tall garage door).

  3. Thanks for the great video Michael. I have the same radio in a ‘15 Outback with Nav. My control head is in the cubby so that I can close the cubby for security when the car is parked. That trim piece removal method, who knew!

  4. Nice setup! When you were talking about an external speaker an idea came to mind. maybe it's possible to somehow connect the radio's audio output into the car's audio system? be interesting to see.

  5. Thanks for the great info Michael, been thinking about a rig in my ‘16 Outback. You’ve got some good ideas here. 73s, OM.

  6. Hi Michael. One thing I must stress in regards to mic placement when not using, make sure you don't put it in a cubby hole in the console. I did that and found the mic was keyed up, fortunately I noticed quickly and removed it from the cubby hole. Speaking of cubby holes I have one in my Traverse that I simply cut a piece of wood that would fit snug and mounted it to the back of the control head bracket (I'm using an FT7900) so when I feel I need to remove the control head from view I just unplug the cable, pull the head out and put it in the glove box. My external speaker sits on the console under the arm rest to give me good audio. Oh and as far as the radio under the drivers seat, make sure there aren't any heat vents for the back seat passengers located under the drivers or front passengers seats. The radio will not like the heat!
    Mark NØVUB

  7. I installed an Icom 2730 in my 04 Tacoma, and recently started using a Nite Ize Steelie to hold my mike to the dash. While they are spendy, they work well, and I can just grab and pull, rather than have to lift off of a hook, yet the magnet still holds strong enough for washboarded mountain roads.

  8. Thanks for this video. I put the install in my 2015 Subaru Outback on the backburner after thinking about the Eyesite system and airbags. Your video has inspired me to take another look. I will probably mount the antenna at the left hood/fender line. I also viewed this technique for console access

  9. Great video, I Just got an Ftm-400 and I installed it on my 2001 Jeep Wrangler. I did notice a bit of alternator noise. Anything I can do about that?

  10. Excellent installation, but I would use another 12 v Batter with Charger to operate when engine is off. As far as mounting a speaker, I would mount the speaker near the rear off the floor.

  11. Really enjoyed this video! I have a Subaru Outback 2016 that I've been holding off on putting a radio in, but after watching your video I think I'll give it a try!

  12. I'm about to do the same setup on my Subaru outback. My question is why did you go with the diamond mount versus the comet mount. What were you conclusions why it was a better application?

  13. Great video. Have a couple questions. Comet sbb5 vs. Diamond nr770hb, you opinion? What about the internal GPS device, I've heard others adding an external? _KD9MDX

  14. I ordered a yaesu ftm 400 but still on back ordered since November going to install my 2019 outback can’t wait to get it KC1JQX very nice video really enjoyed it thank you

  15. with the display down low, two concerns……. 1) Its more distracting to look down than higher 2) Does the GPS lock up okay down lower?

  16. Nice job! One recommendation… You might think about getting some black “Split Loom” to put your power and ground wire in under the hood. Makes the wiring look much more factory. Add a zip every 12-18”. You can buy it at almost any car audio shop. 👍

  17. Ok. I have the Panavise mount. There were two pieces, is the smaller one to remove the face plate? Trying to find some videos, but no joy… thanks.

  18. Great to the point video Michael. I have this same radio coming…..when they catch up on backorders. I would love to see some more examples on how you have the rig set up with regards to programming settings and frequencies. Side note… are somewhat local to me in central Wisconsin.

  19. A cautionary note on the Outback's electrical system… monitor the battery voltage as the charging system logic as programmed from the factory habitually undercharges the battery under certain driving conditions such as many shorter trips. Subaru has released a TSB 11-176-17 to reprogram the ECM to correct the issue. My '15 outback had a dead battery at less than 2 years old and the replacement battery now won't hold a charge over 12.3V which is very low. I'm replacing the damaged (and small) battery and getting the ECM update. The factory size battery on my 2.5L model was a group 26 which is very small. The battery area on my car will accommodate a group 24 standard lead-acid battery which provides a RC of 120-130 – a better option since I have a FTM-400 and a TS-480 wired in.

  20. Have you considered sliding a bracket in under the bolts that hold the gas struts to the frame on the hatch to get it up a bit higher?

  21. Thanks, Michael for this video just put a similar mount on my Crosstreck and went better than I thought it would.

  22. Thank you for the video and installation. I just got my licence a few weeks ago and wanted to mount a similar radio in my car. Have you explored adding a bluetooth connector to the main radio and projecting audio out to a bluetooth speaker? There are speakers on Amazon that retail for 15 bucks that are suction mounted so I was wondering whether that could be possible for a cleaner install of an external speaker.

  23. Do you have any issues with the floor heater vents with the radio being mounted right over the heat vent below the driver's seat?

  24. I hope you are planing an update video soon. Be very interested in knowing what you did with the mic and speaker.

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