I've been meaning to post this for a while. I decided to install a Kenwood TM-D710A and a Garmin GPSmap 276c in my truck. I spent a lot of time thinking about the setup before I installed it. I decided that the Icom IC706MkIIG is a nice radio and liked it's display
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I've been meaning to post this for a while. I decided to install a Kenwood TM-D710A and a Garmin GPSmap 276c in my truck. I spent a lot of time thinking about the setup before I installed it. I decided that the Icom IC706MkIIG is a nice radio and liked it's display. It looks most similar to the Defender's dash instruments and presents a factory-like appearance. Unfortunately, I required APRS for my truck and the Icom only has a single band, which meant that I could do APRS or I could talk, but not both at the same time. So, I decided to go with the Kenwood radio instead. The Garmin GPS was an easy decision: it is known to work well with the Kenwood radio and it's quite rugged.
The next problem to solve was the mount. It was imperative that no holes be drilled into my truck for the installation. None at all. I considered installing a DIN radio box in my cubby but the A/C controls were in the way. In the end, I decided to install the radio on top of the dashboard, covering up the cigar ashtray. Not wanting to drill, I decided on a custom mount, fabricated by Len of American Dirt Roads
. Mine is a custom variation of his standard "Dashboard multi-mount platform". The mount that he built me is wider that the normal version and has custom brackets for the radio. I sent him the factory bracket and he used them to pattern the custom radio mount. I requested that the mount be painted satin black, just like the Defender's roll cage. He did a beautiful job, even matching the ever-so-slightly dimpled feel of the stock paint. The radio and GPS both attach to the mount with quick-release and are easily removed for secure stowage within the Tuffy console.
The wiring was the hardest part. I ran fused power from the battery, under the truck, up and through the firewall to the dashboard instrument compartment. From there, I fished it through the lower left-hand corner of the cubby, behind the grey cubby plastic and out the hole where the cigar ashtray once lived. I had to build a custom harness to connect the radio's serial port (it has a built-in TNC) to the GPS. The Garmin cable was absolutely ridiculous and used wiring almost as thin as a human hair. I had to solder this to a three-conductor mini-plug and it wasn't fun at all. The radio's head unit connects to the radio body via a custom-wired piece of CAT5. I bought an extra-long cable and had to remove one of the ends of the cable to fish it back through. I made careful note of the pin-out and re-crimped another RJ45 connector onto the wiring once it was fished through.
The radio unit itself is mounted to the back of the Tuffy console with stainless steel bolts. No problems so far. I'd prefer not have to have the wiring coiled up in the bottom of the Tuffy but it's better than mounting the unit in the under-seat box where moisture could get into it.
I found a high-quality antenna that is of similar height to the Defender's radio antenna. I removed the radio antenna (never listen to AM/FM anyway) and replaced it with the 2m/70cm antenna.
The setup works great.
Pics are attached and here are some links for higher-quality versions:
The radio mount is positioned 15 degrees towards the driver. This puts it within hands' reach and reduces glare.
The GPS mount is adjustable and set to match the radio.
Since this photo was taken, I've changed the backlighting of the radio to green to match the Defender's dash.
Track the truck...