Vehicle power distribution question

Just wondering how everyone handles the power distribution in their vehicles. I was thinking I just need to run a main line from my battery to inside the vehicle, then using a distribution terminal to hook any DC devices up to.

All I need power for right now is a ham radio and power inverter. Do I need something like this

http://www.mfjenterprises.com/products.php...prodid=MFJ-1117

or are there other options. Maybe just a basic barrier terminal?
 
Depending on the power of your radio, I would run TWO lines from the battery. One for the power inverter, one for the ham radio. Keeping them separate might keep some noise from the inverter out of your ham.

Likewise, keying up your ham full power (again, depending on the power rating) might pull down enough amps to cause problems with your inverter. Mobile hams use a lot of power and really should be run directly from the battery for best efficiency.

I run three lines back (from an aux battery). One for the power inverter, one for the ham radio, and one that goes to a fuse block to power everything else.

Fuse protect EVERYTHING.
 
I run a 4awg cable from the battery to a power distro block.. From this, I run my various radios. I also run another 6awg cable for my inverter... LOL and this is on top of a 2awg cable for my amplifier/subwoofers. I do run a 2 or 4awg cable from the negative terminal to the firewall to ensure an excellent ground. I do suggest you run a larger gauge cable from the negative terminal to the firewalll or a 'negative/ground' distro block, though there may be some interference issues with sharing a common ground (there shouldn't be, but real-life sometimes doesn't follow what should happen). I have a heavy-duty battery and a high-output alternator.
 
Originally posted by Sheila_Ward
Good point David. Of all the devices the inverter and radio should probably be separate. Thanks!

Plus, if you read your ham radio owners manual, all of the one's I have seen pretty much tell you to hook them up straight to the battery. :wink:

The setup I use has been implemented in 4 different vehicles, with stock alternators mind you, with zero problems.
 
Originally posted by David Drummond+--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(David Drummond)</div>
<!--QuoteBegin-Sheila_Ward
Good point David. Of all the devices the inverter and radio should probably be separate. Thanks!

Plus, if you read your ham radio owners manual, all of the one's I have seen pretty much tell you to hook them up straight to the battery. :wink:

The setup I use has been implemented in 4 different vehicles, with stock alternators mind you, with zero problems.[/b]

These things come with a manual? :lol:

Yea, I have a new chase vehicle this year so I want to do things better. My last vehicle my dad just hooked the radio into power under the dash. I had no problems with it but I know it is better to run directly to the battery. I also just plugged my inverter into the cig lighter, but in this vehicle power is cutoff to the cig lighter when the engine is off.

So I'm looking for the best option that won't deploy my air bags when I key the mic :wink:
 
I have yet to upgrade to such a fancy setup. My next chase vehicle, which will hopefully have no internal space, will definately have more thought into the powering of my equipment. Then again, I'm not running much more than 3 radios and a 600watt inverter.

As for my current setup, my HAM radio and 600 watt inverter are both directly wired to my battery (which I replaced this weekend when the original FINALLY died). The inverter is under my seat, which makes it very difficult to shut off manually. In my marvelous ingenuity (which I probably can't spell anyway), I rigged a switch below my steering column which controls the inverter. I can leave the inverter itself in the 'on' position, and use the switch I wired and installed under the steering column to turn it off and on, which is much easier to get to than having to reach under the passenger seat.

From the inverter, I plugged in a power strip so that the outlets were easier to reach. I don't EVER use all 6, in fact, I will normally only use 2, maybe a third if all I'm doing is charging equipment. Usually one runs the laptop, one the TV, and the other to my video camera(s). This year, I have extended batteries for both cameras, and those batteries are interchangable, so hopefully that should pretty well eliminate the need to charge those on the road.

The rest of my gear gets plugged into an $8 radio shack 3-cig adapter I attached to the side of the radio console. I plug in my Davis Weather Station, my CB, and my Police Scanner into that. My cell phone charges from the cig-plug that comes built into the car.

Simple setup, but on the limited space I do have to work with, it's easier for me.
 
One thing to be careful about using those mulitple cig lighter jacks, is to totally up the amperage of what your plugging in to them. Most vehicles, the circuit on the cigarette lighter is only rated at 3-5 amps. Going over that would naturally blow the fuse, and while at first thought you might just stick in a bigger fuse, you have to remember that the wire going to that is ALSO rated at a very low amperage, so putting a bigger fuse in is just asking for a fire.

You'd probably be ok running a scanner or cell phone charger, stuff like that. Anything that you can broadcast with is definitely going to pull more amps than that circuit is rated for. Check the little labels on every thing you plan on plugging in to that and total up the maximum amperage and make sure it's not over what that stock cigarette lighter outlet is rated for.

Of course, all of that is complicated a bit more on newer vehicles that have some of those "auxilary power outlets" that may or may not be rated for a higher amperage.

I usually have one those multiple outlets installed, but I wire it into the secondary electrical system with higher rated wire.
 
Just a note, since I always get a LOT of questions about how I did this or that on a vehicle, and since I am about to completely outfit a new chase van from scratch, we have decided to make a video about putting together a chase vehicle. Should answer a lot of questions and provide some insights. I might even post a few pics of the process as we go here.
 
Originally posted by Andrew Geil
That wasn't me. ;> I've made my submissions, but they've all involved potential fire hazards. ;)

I knew. :wink: Someone posted it a while back. I saw the link to my pics in my site logs. I dropped in and made a quick visit to clarify some things.
 
Originally posted by David Drummond
Just a note, since I always get a LOT of questions about how I did this or that on a vehicle, and since I am about to completely outfit a new chase van from scratch, we have decided to make a video about putting together a chase vehicle. Should answer a lot of questions and provide some insights. I might even post a few pics of the process as we go here.

That is a great idea! Since you've done this a few times I'm sure you've learned from a few mistakes :lol:
 
Originally posted by Sheila_Ward

That is a great idea! Since you've done this a few times I'm sure you've learned from a few mistakes :lol:

Yeah, I have refined the process quiet a bit. Found out things didn't work, or how something could work even better. A good part of it is just taking your time and doing things the right way. When I was on the fire dept I used to set up all of the new volunteers vehicles with lighting systems, and did some rework on some of the older trucks, updating the lighting on them to current standards. I enjoy the heck out of vehicle wiring! I get a real kick out of engineering something into an application that it wasn't originally designed for, getting it to work, and be useful.

Sad thing is I can't even look at a vehicle without sizing up it's potential as a chase vehicle. :lol:
 
Anderson Powerpoles

I have every piece of my amateur radio equipment setup for Anderson Powerpole Connectors in the shack & vehicle. These connectors have been adopted as the standard for ARES/RACES. If you configure your equipment with these connectors, you will be able to connect your rig to any ARES/RACES setup in the country - no adpapters or rewiring.
I have recently completed the assembly of my ARES/RACES portable station if you would liike to take a look at the connectors. Pics aren't the best, and the equipment is connected on the back of the unit where the outlet covers are, which protect the powerpole connections from damage.

www.freespiritmassage.net/N3QXX/ares_races.htm

Take care all & 73.

Christopher, N3QXX
 
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