Install of ball mount and HF whips on 2005 Expedition

Picked up a RADIO TRUK at great discount this month, and the modifications have already begun. Here’s a short tour through the install of a Hustler ball mount on an ’05 Expedition.

This was a particularly tricky install. I assumed that everything would be easy because hey, it’s a big dumb domestic right? W R O N G. Everything is double paneled with inside and outside sheet metal, and to add complexity to it, I got drill-shy because I learned that the Expedition has REAR HVAC – not just ducts, a compressor and everything – in the passenger rear cargo area under the trim.

It took some planning and exploratory hole drilling (eek), but we got the ball mount solidly on, ground straps in place, and a couple of Hamsticks for 40 and 20 tuned up nicely.

The lowest I was able to get the SWR was 2:1 on both bands, which is actually a good thing – it shows that they’re sitting around 25 ohms, the expected impedance of a shortened vertical, and that my ground losses were pretty low. To resolve this, I built a 2.25:1 unun and put it in line right behind the coax jack. Lowest SWR on 40m is now 1.3:1 and lowest on 20m is 1.1 – splendid! Bandwidth is ‘narrower’ but that indicates increased efficiency.

I took a quick spin last night listening to 40m at sundown and was very impressed with the low noise level of the truck (I may bond a bit more and see if I can get it down even more) and with the signal strength. Easy S9 to S9+20 signals – with the 20db attenuator on – just driving around the foothills of West Denver.