2-way radios and intercom systems can be a very useful tool while off-road riding. In order for them to perform at their best, they must be installed properly. Below, Rugged Radios has gathered some useful information to help with the process of installing a 2-way radio and intercom system.
- Mount your radio so it is protected from the elements, especially water!
- Find a location where it will be easy to reach by the driver or passenger.
- Keep your radio away from high heat sources.
Pro-Tip: Rugged has several radio-only mounting solutions such as part # MT-IDM-RM60
- Route radio power cables away from audio, intercom and antenna coax cables.
- Route power cables away from heat sources and in a manner that will protect them from chaffing and pinching.
- Connect Positive AND GROUND directly to the battery. Avoid connecting positive cables to a bus bar or fuse panel, and grounding on the chassis. Either of these can create what’s called a Ground Loop and cause noise on 2-way transmit or in intercom (if equipped) systems.
Pro-Tip: Rugged part # POWER-CORD-Y allows you to use the radio power cable to power both the radio and intercom for a cleaner installation.
- Mount the antenna as high as possible. Generally speaking, the roof of a vehicle is the best location to mount an antenna.
- Mount on a flat metal surface (such as a car roof) if possible. This creates a ground plane which promotes good transmit and receive range.
- Mount the antenna vertically. While it may look cool, leaning the antenna to the rear of the car will have an adverse effect on radio range in transmit and receive.
- Do what works for you! If maximum range is not required, mounting the antenna below the roof line can protect the antenna from tree branch damage. Doing this is OK, just keep in mind you will lose some level of range.
Pro-Tip: If you want to mount the antenna on a roll bar, Rugged has several antenna bar mount solutions such as part # ANT-MT-H-1.75 (Antenna mount for a 1.75” bar)
- Route the coax cable away from power and ground cables.
- Route the coax cable away from audio cables.
- Route the coax cable away from intercom cables, engine wire harnesses, LED lights….
Seeing a theme here? Keeping the coax cable away from other cables is critical. Rugged generally runs the coax cable along the roll cage and down the pillars independent from other cables to avoid RF (Radio Frequency) interference.
- If your antenna cable is longer than you need, route it the long way to avoid coiling it.
Pro-Tip: If your cable is too long and you’d like to shorten it, Rugged sells all of the tools necessary to properly shorten the antenna cable and install a new connector. Part # ANT-COAX-CRIMP-KIT
While an intercom system adds many more features to a communication system, it’s installation is actually quite simple. All the basic radio installation guidelines apply here, too.
- Find a mounting location that will protect the intercom (especially connectors) from the elements.
- Mount it near the radio, if possible. Your Rugged Mobile radio and intercom are both pre-wired to connect to each other for a perfect interface.
Power / Ground Cables
Follow the same power and ground cable guidelines covered in the radio installation.
Pro-Tip: Rugged part # PH-MS allows you to use the radio power cable to also power the intercom. It also provides a pre-wired in-dash switch for intercom and radio power.
Headset cable routing
- Route the cable away from the antenna coax cable.
- Keep cables away from heat sources, pinch points and abrasions.
- Route cables away from power and ground cables.
- Be sure to verify you are connected to the correct port on the intercom. The driver, co-driver and crew ports all have position-specific functions. Swapped connections can cause problems with radio transmit and phone calls through the intercom.
Helpful Tech Tip Videos
If you find yourself running into any issues at all, Rugged Radios is always ready to help. We have a knowledgeable sales staff and tech department ready to take your call. We are open Monday – Friday 8am-5pm (PT) and can be reached at (888) 541-7223