This how to guide is brought to you by 4x4 Camping and Adventures.
UHF radios are a versatile communication accessory for use in any vehicle, but are almost universally accepted as essential equipment in 4WD vehicles, trucks, and campervans that are going to be used off-road or away from anywhere normal cellular coverage isn’t available. They allow communication with other vehicles in a convoy or group, to get updates on trail conditions from fellow track users, and also allow the user to request aid via dedicated channels in the case of emergencies.
Using a UHF radio requires that the user familiarise themselves with the appropriate channels to use, but installing one ready for proper use is a relatively simple task that makes for a fun afternoon project. Thanks to this handy video from 4x4 Camping and Adventure, you can get your UHF install done quickly and painlessly - requiring only basic 12v wiring knowledge and a couple of common tools
Before you begin
The install isn’t going to be all that difficult, but before starting, it’s worthwhile to figure out whether you want to be able to use your radio when the vehicle is switched off, or if you only want the unit powered up when you turn on accessory power. This will determine whether you should be wiring the UHF unit up to battery power or an accessory output.
Either way, the Ridge Ryder UHF unit used in this review only has a few wires you need to worry about, and they are handily colour coded for easy installation. The unit comes with mounting hardware and a fair length of wire, giving you a lot of flexibility as to where you mount it - pair it with an antenna and once they are mounted and wired up, you’re good to go.
Step 1 - choosing your mounting location
Before you strip any wires, drill any holes or modify any interior consoles, it is critical that you choose a convenient and safe mounting point for the UHF control unit. Check your leg clearance in your natural driving position so that you won’t be kicking the unit or impeding your driving comfort and safe access to controls.
One other thing to note is that the lighting on your unit might be quite bright, so try not to pick a mounting spot where the lights may be distracting or blinding. Once a good spot is chosen - in this case on the side of the transmission selector console in the driver’s footwell - mount the included bracket with two screws and clip the UHF unit into the bracket.
Step 2 - mounting the remote
The Ridge Ryder UHF unit used in this guide comes with a second bracket that holds the hand piece/remote in a secure location - it should be mounted safely out of the way when you aren’t using it so that it won’t interfere with your indicators, gear selector or any other controls. At the same time, it’s important to ensure that it’s easy to access when you need it - especially incase of an emergency, and that the handpiece can be removed from its mounting bracket without banging into stuff.
Once you’ve picked a good spot, and checked that there are no cables or anything that you might accidentally drill into, screw the bracket to your chosen location with the included hardware. You can adjust the tension on the clip by gently bending the centre prong in order to get the right level of grip on your hand piece and prevent it from rattling or coming loose as you drive over rough terrain.
Step 3 - Mount the aerial, and run the aerial cable
Make sure that wherever you choose to mount your aerial bracket, it is out of harm’s way, and won’t impede any of your vehicle’s components from functioning properly. Make sure that if you mount your aerial bracket so that it sits above your quarter panel, that your bonnet can still open and close without a hitch.
Carefully mount your aerial, with the supplied hardware, and then run the cable through a grommet in your firewall, making sure that you keep it away from any moving parts or excess heat. Finally, connect the aerial cable up to the unit.
Step 4. Wiring up the unit
While this isn’t shown in the video, it is fairly easy to wire the unit in with minimal risk. First things first, disconnect the negative terminal on your battery (or batteries) then find a suitably clean, rust free earth point for the negative lead on the wiring that is attached to your unit and secure it in place. As mentioned earlier on, depending upon how you want your unit to function, you may need to find a suitable accessory wire to tap into. If that is the case, then carefully attach the power lead on the unit to your chosen wire - and insulate it correctly.
Otherwise, if you’d prefer to have your UHF radio function even when your vehicle is off, you can run your power cable either directly to your battery positive terminal, or find another suitable power wire to tap into. Either way, it is a good idea to wire in an additional fuse of the appropriate rating, just to be safe.
If you wire your unit to your battery, make sure that you keep your wires away from any moving parts or hot bits, and use a length of cable ducting or sheath to keep it tidy and out of harm’s way. You might also prefer to run your negative/earth lead all the way out to your battery while you’re at it - making for a clean and easy installation.
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