Thursday, 7 April 2016

Ham radio install in a 2015 Nissan Rogue

I bought a new car recently. It's taken me over a month to work out how to install my ham radio gear into it. Finally I discovered a few websites and chat forums where guys were installing high end stereo equipment into their vehicles. I got much advice from them. The below details my adventures.

All my radio's can be remote mounted. This means that the actual radio can be separated from the control head by means of a control cable. I've taken to installing my radio's in the back of the car with the control heads on the dashboard.

Far at the back of the car in the trunk area is an access panel that leads to the spare wheel. There's also a tray that runs the width of the car. It's just deep enough to place all my radio gear into.

So now that the radio's are secured how do they get connected to the control heads in the front of the vehicle? That had me stumped for a while. Then I noticed these wires arriving from the back seat side of the car. Look closely and you'll see them either side of the hinge straps that hold the trunk floor in place. Where do they come from?

I was able to remove the seat cushion from the back seat. It's held on by just 2 clips. Can you see that cable loom at the bottom that vanishes under the seat back cushion?

Back to the spare wheel well. Remove the wheel jack and tools from the bin they are in and you'll see a square hole. In the hole is another cable loom. Remove the 3 Philips head screws that hold the tool bin in place to reveal the whole loom. It goes to the rear light cluster.

I inserted a cable fish into the gap that the cable loom used to get from the back seat to the trunk. I attached all my various wires (power, control, microphone, speaker and some spares) and pulled them all through from the trunk to the back seat. Carefully remove the plastic strip that's right at the door threshold to reveal another cable loom. The loom goes along the door sill, past the seat belt anchor and into the front. Remove the front door cover to expose more loom. I used the existing cable anchors to hold my new cables.

Having pulled all my cables from the back to the front I put the back seat and trunk back together again. The cables will be fed into the dashboard and installed into the control heads, microphones and speakers. Power also needs to be connected to the battery so a path through the firewall is required.

The usual way through a firewall is to find the vehicle's cable loom and piggy-back through the same hole. Good luck with that!! An inspection of the underside of the dashboard does not reveal any obvious candidates and neither does the engine bay. I was able to trace the engine hood release cable to the driver's side of the firewall but could not find it on the engine side. That's when I went back to the Nissan chat forum. Turns out that you have to remove the wheel and the fairing!!!

A closer look inside the wheel arch, behind the fairing reveals some useful grommets and even a spare one! Woohoo!! Where's my cable fish?

So now I had to find a tidy path from the cable tunnel along the door sill, up underneath the dashboard and out of the hole I found. Removing the plastic panel next to the door revealed a huge loom. I followed it and it led me to the hole I'm going to use.  Incidentally, the heavy duty red and blue wires in the picture are switched 12V and constant 12V from the car battery going to and from the ignition. You could tap in there if you wanted a switched source. Max current is 40 Amps as dictated by a fuse at the battery terminal.

So with my cable fish (is it a fish or a snake? I have always heard it that you snake a cable with a fish?) inserted through my hole from the wheel arch side, I pulled the power cables through to the engine side. Then I found a path from the wheel to the engine and popped out right by the battery.

 Connection to the battery was made with two fused 30 Amp pigtails; one fuse for the positive battery terminal and the other for the negative battery terminal. I also connected the engine block to the battery directly as well as the body work to the battery directly. All connections were made with #10 wire and waterproof crimp-n-shrink connectors.

Continued in part #2


  1. This is an awesome installation guide! I have been searching for a while on how to install a Ham radio and just happened to come across your blog. Thank you for taking the time to include photos in your guide as they make the instructions much clearer. I can't wait to get started on my own installation!

    Paul @ Viva Nissan

  2. I neglected to take pictures of the antenna install but it's very easy. If you want to drill holes in the roof you have 3 possible choices for easy drilling. Pull out the drivers dome light and put an NMO mount right there then thread the coax between the roof liner and the roof proper all the way to to the back where you can then thread it behind the wall panel down into the spare wheel well. Alternatively you can drill an NMO connector into either of the rear corners of the roof and then come down the wall as before. I used all 3 options and even went so far as to use a combined NMO mount and GPS antenna that I found on ebay. I use it on the front for APRS.

    I've not found any suitable place for my HF antenna though. I tried the magmount thing but its not reliable.

  3. Thank you for taking the time to share this. I found it very helpful for learning how to get wires through the firewall to the battery.