Installing NMO antenna mounts in a van

I recently purchased a van and wanted to add some NMO antenna mounts to the roof for use with my amateur radios. I spent some time deciding where I wanted them to be placed since it requires drilling holes.

It’s likely that I’ll add an electric fan to the roof later for ventilation, so I reserved an adequate amount of space for that close to the rear doors. I’m blogging about vanlife in general over on my lifestyle and travel blog at but things specific to amateur radio and technology will still be posted here at

Ford Transit Connect amateur radio vanlife
Ford Transit Connect amateur radio vanlife

I used a square of blue painter’s tape to mark the spots inside and then with the help of a friend who is also an amateur radio operator the holes were marked with a drill punch and then drilled into the roof.

A tool was used to de-burr them and then the NMO mount was placed into each hole and tightened. A small amount of sealant was used to ward off water intrusion.

Ford Transit Connect amateur radio vanlife
Ford Transit Connect amateur radio vanlife

My van now has 2 NMO mounts on the roof, one towards the front and one towards the rear that I can use for antennas. In order to keep the connectors clean from the outside elements I went ahead and installed two antennas I had laying around at home. A Tram bottom coil loaded antenna for 6 meters and also a Tram bottom coil loaded antenna for 10 meters.

Ford Transit Connect amateur radio vanlife
Ford Transit Connect amateur radio vanlife

The more likely configuration will be to have either the 6m or 10m antenna installed on one of the mounts, and a dual or tri-band VHF/UHF antenna on the other one but this was something I could do really quickly using antennas I wasn’t already using somewhere else.

Ford Transit Connect amateur radio vanlife
Ford Transit Connect amateur radio vanlife

These NMO mounts came with coax cable attached but no coax connectors installed on the end of the cable. I will be working on getting connectors installed soon.

Ford Transit Connect amateur radio vanlife
Ford Transit Connect amateur radio vanlife

The Grand Tour premieres on Amazon Prime


Those British car guys who used to be on a popular show on a television network are now on what’s going to be a popular automotive themed show on Amazon Prime, called The Grand Tour.

If you liked their old show, you will find the new Amazon Prime hosted show to pretty much use the same formula, with a few new tweaks to make it more portable to different studio locations, and to appeal to an international audience.

I watched the premiere episode today, which was the first day that it was available.  I was not disappointed although I would not categorize myself as someone who is a fanatic about the show or it’s hosts.  It’s simply a good show about automobiles that incorporates humor, and some great photography and soundtrack.

Even if you never saw the old show, this is a great added benefit to what an Amazon Prime membership offers.  That was recently sweetened by the addition of Twitch Prime to the Amazon Prime benefits, which allows for viewing of broadcasters who stream video game play, as well as some other creative topics including music, cooking, and painting.  I continue to be a FAN of the great value of this service and recommend it to others.



ODB2 interfaces and the Torque app on Android

OBD Scan BT adapter
OBD 2 Scan BT adapter

Did you ever wish your car had a gauge or readout that’s missing?  Do you want to be able to see and diagnose problems?  Using an OBD2 or OBD-II interface and an application on your phone or tablet might just be something you would like to try.

These adapters are available on eBay, Amazon, and a couple of other places for not that much money, and typically come in either Bluetooth or WiFi models.  I bought one of each.  I use the WiFi one with an older tablet that only supports WiFi, and the Bluetooth one with my newer Nexus Android devices.

Bluetooth pairing is pretty straight forward.  If the phone or tablet you plan on using with your OBD 2 interface has Bluetooth, you could use an adapter that uses that for connecting.  One benefit of this is that if your device also has a cellular data and/or WiFi connection, it can still be connected to the internet at the same time for other tasks.

OBD 2 WiFi adapter
OBD II WiFi Interface

If your device ONLY has a WiFi connection, they make similar OBD 2 interfaces that connect using WiFi.  The WiFi must be setup with an SSID that the interface broadcasts on, and that your phone or tablet connects to.  This can get confusing if you are trying to use it around other networks that your device is already setup to auto connect to.  It also means that you will likely lose connection to things on the internet, since your device will see a WiFi connection to the OBD 2 interface and by default to to use that, and it won’t work for any data other than that from your car.

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