NMO. The term strikes fear in the hearts of new car owners…

Maybe it’s because I drive older cars that I don’t make payments on anymore, or maybe it’s because I’m not afraid to tinker, and definitely add in that I’m a little crazy. However you slice it, I like NMO mounts for antenna systems. I like that they have a good ground plane. I like that I can change antennas easily. I like that I don’t have to worry about pinching mag mount wires in door jambs. I just think they are the best option. I’ve heard good, sound arguments that drilling a hole in your roof doesn’t even void your warranty or have any negative repercussions when you go to return your leased vehicle. Read the fine print, though, before you do so. As I mentioned, I own older cars, and I don’t have to deal with such contracts. Something else to seriously consider with a newer vehicle is side air bags. With my old cars, I don’t have to deal with them either, but modern cars have many wires, sensors, and airbags that you really don’t want to interfere with, or inadvertently trigger when you are routing antenna wires!

OK, still with me? Here’s how I spent one morning of my Christmas vacation. (Photos below)

  1. Measure, measure, measure! Not only to make sure your hole is centered, but also to confirm what’s underneath where you’re drilling. I pulled down a dome light, and drilled a hole near there. I also pushed a block of wood up through the dome light hole to make sure I didn’t drill through the headliner.
  2. OK, drill away! Use the correct size bit mentioned in the instructions. I used a step drill, and that worked very well.
  3. Feed the wire in from the top. If you drilled the right size hole, the connector won’t fit from below.
  4. Tighten everything up. I used needle nose pliers to hold the center connector while tightening the outer nut.
  5. Install a weather cap, or an antenna, depending on your situation.

I picked up an inexpensive tram nmo antenna on Amazon and it works OK, but the beauty of the nmo connector is that I can easily swap out the antenna for a better one when budgets permit. I typically park in my garage, and there isn’t much room to spare through the door, so when the antenna is up, I can’t pull in the garage. Make sure you come up with a way to remind yourself that the antenna is up there. In my case, when I mount the antenna for a road trip, I pull the garage door remote off my visor and put it out of reach. That way, when I come home exhausted and absentmindedly try to pull in the garage, the lack of a remote reminds me to stop and remove the antenna. I’ve also put an nmo mount on my compact car, and the tram 1181 fits easily in the garage.

Have fun out there, and remember that I’m not responsible if you drill a hole in your roof and everything blows up. Be a responsible adult and make wise choices, OK?

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