Do you drill?

Dec 9, 2003
Colorado Springs, CO
I think it's neat to see different chase vehicles because I like to see how everyone sets things up differently, especially their radio equipment since I am a ham.

Most hams know that the "ultimate" antenna performance comes with a good groundplane which is achieve by drilling the hole in your roof and installing an NMO mount. This style is more efficient than mag-mounts, and much more efficient than lip-mounts, rack mounts and others.

My question is this, how many of you bite the bullet and have your antennas installed through the roof? Do you do this for your other equipments' antennas as well?

I haven't been able to bring myself to take that leap, and not because I'm afraid of leaks, resale, etc, but because I'm constantly putting kayaks and other cargo on top of my vehicle. I have a mag-mounted antenna for 2m/440 so I can move it out of the way as needed while still be able to use it when I travel. The scanner and CB antennas are cheap thru-glass mounts for the same reason, to keep them out of the way.

Anyway, just curious...Do you drill?

I probably should drill. Its not like I'm dragging the price down on my '89 Tracer. But for a few reasons I haven't. One is that I simply don't have the tools or technical knowledge to do that kind of work on my car although I'm sure its well within my capability. Another is that my gear works good enough without it. I have my 2m/220/440 antenna mounted on the lip of my hatchback. Its in a great spot, in the far corner nice and high, and it works well. So until I started really building an antenna farm my roof will stay untouched.
I've not really had the will to do any drilling as of yet...I've got everything on the interior done up with velcro because I dont generally have any of it in the car unless I'm chasing, and dont want anything to be permanent in there. All of my antennas are mag-mounted to the trunk on my car, and that seems to be working just fine.
Mag-mount for several reasons:
1- Alright it will scratch the paint if knocked off, but how many times have you gone under a low tree branch or even worse some of the height restriction barriers at car parks- scratched paint but antenna intact.
2- I haven't the courage to take out the roof lining -it appears to be a moulded one piece affair, and if I break it, trying to get another one or even sucessfully getting it back in place could be a major problem.
3- still trying to sort out a new mount for my HF/VHF on the spare wheel mount at the back.

SUV's have some advantages - most younger hooligans are not quite tall enough to reach up onto the roof to rip the antenna off.

Intenally have drilled the dash as req'd- checked with local dealer that there were no wiring looms where I needed the holes. :)
I've not had a reason to drill as of yet. My antenna is mounted on the bed of my truck, and has a fold-down provision. My anemometer would be more prone to hit something; that or my lightbar.
I have a SUV and I agree with the statement that it's high enough as to not be very noticable as a mag mount.

My mag mount 2m/440 has served me very very well over the years, and so I have had no reason to drill. I think the small increase in output or range or gain that might be... well.. gained would be offset by the chance something might go wrong.

I dont' drill. The first reason is the overhead object issue...if I'm going to be going in a low-clearance area (or if I'm going to have my car in a high-crime area), its nice to be able to completely stow my antenna. Also, I don't always chase in my car...sometimes other people drive. Since I'm currently the only ham in my posse, being able to bring my equipment to any car is a bonus.

Absolutely, every antenna gets a permanent mount. I try not to use solid type antennas but rather whips in case they do hit anything. Then again, I drill anything in the vehicle I deem necessary to install whatever I am trying to put it. Not really concered about ultimate resale value as by the time I am done with it as a chase vehicle, it's beat to hell and worn out anyway and really don't have a lot of value left to it.

With that in mind, I never lose an antenna (expect once a long time ago....a mag mount), everything stays in it's proper place throughout the vehicle and for me just makes an overall more organized and enjoyable chase.
If you had asked me a year ago I would have likely said heck no and proceeded to explain how mounting to a rack was better. Once David Drummond started workin on my Tahoe I got last April he very quickly convinced me that drilling a 3/4in hole for the ham antenna was a must. I was a bit reluctant at first but then it dawned on me that hell, I am driving, into storms trying to nail me with greater than golf ball sized hail and I am worred about a small hole that can be plugged......that is IF my vehicle even makes it to being resold!! I also have to say that I get much better range on that thing; one day David and I had a 20+ mile range simplex both in our vehicles , both on our mobiles with drilled antennas.......and this was with some buildings in the way. As for my other antennas I have them mounted to my rack because they require a stronger mount. I just recently invested in some very nice mounts which pivot so that they can be layed down inside my rack when not in use. Unfor before I found the mounts i wanted it was to Wilson trucker cellular antenna had already fallen victim to my tree and required replacing. Hearing the stalk of that antenna snapping is not a pretty sound!!

Graham Butler, WX5SVR
As most hams will tell you, there is little to no value lost on resale because of the hole from your antenna. I haven't personally experienced that yet. My in-laws, on the other hand, have no less than two antennas on their vehicles because of cellular and business band radios they use on the farm in E. CO. They have never had a loss in resale value because of theirs either.

I do like the idea of having a permanent mount and have kicked it around for the last two years, but I have to figure out how to do it and still be able to use my roof rack. I could go to the forward of the vehicle, but the Liberty has a sun roof. Glass mount anyone, LOL?

I haven't drilled into the truck as yet for antennas. I have done the radio and video mounts though as well as a jotto desk. Everything else is mag mount. Not on the camper shell? Yeah, it's swiss cheese. The weather sensors are mounted on a telescoping mast on the back of the shell. I used 1/2 bolts on it and braced them against the framework of the shell. I also have a wilson cell antenna in the center of the shell. Again it's braced against the frame work of the shell and a large piece of plywood that's mounted on the inside roof of the shell.

All the wires are currently coming through the back window of the truck. I found an inflatable boot to go between the cab and shell windows. Works out pretty well and doesn't let in too much cold air in the winter. I do need to re-route my power wires though. I just haven't found a good place to punch the firewall though.
I have two lip-mounts for my VHF and UHF antennas on the trunk of my Impala. I should have drilled them in, but for now, I'm not gonna spend the money for the gain that I really don't need. I live in some of the flatest parts of the country. If I can't see the repeater tower then something is wrong. ;)
Mag-mounts work just fine for me. The only drilling I've done is in the dash of my car to install in-vehicle mounts and radios. I haven't had the need to do any body drilling outside. Any antennas not mag-mountable are installed on the luggage bars up top. I bought semi-mirror mounted antennas and mounted them on the bars. No drilling required.
Like David I hard mount everything in my truck. I have 6 antennas drilled into my roof plus a couple "phased" tv antennas. I have to wash the truck myself since I cant drive through but weel worth the price. I also hard wire everything in the truck. No cigarette lighter plugs (except cell phone). I had a company here mount everything. I have no wires showing. It is a very professional looking setup including aftermarket center consoles (police console).

I use to use magnetic mounts and always had less reception, had them blow off a few times in wind or hitting a low branch and they leave rust marks if left too long. always hard mount.

I will have my truck at the convention in Denver if anybody wants to look inside and see how I set it up.
I have 5 small holes drilled into the back of the cab of my Ranger for the L mount my Diamond SG-7900A is mounted on. A mag mount won't work for a 62" antenna.
I have 4 3/8" holes drillen into the rear bumper for the High Sierra screwdriver antenna. That one is 12.5' fully extended.
I believe the truck had 8 miles on the odomoter when I mounted them, but I'm kinda hardcore when it comes to my hobbies.

I have whacked just about any overhead obstruction you can think of, the antennas still function flawlessly three years later!
I drill, cut, weld, modify, fabricate, and anything else necessary. Of course, my truck is a dedicated vehicle, not the family car (my wife would KILL me).
I move my radios around a lot and change the config so I choose not to drill. I built a rack that holds everything and allows me to change things.

The biggest reason I do not drill for permanent mounting of aerials on the roof is that I photograph lightning. Sometimes, in constant-lightning environments out in the desert especially, I remove all the aerials before doing the photography. In the Plains, usually the aerials stay on the whole time but still, they are long and pointed and sometimes the vehicles are in exposed areas and at least I know I can take them down if I want to...