Effective communications while on the road is important to a radio operator, which is why there are so many mobile radios on the market today. However, as newer vehicles become more compact, the installation of a full-featured mobile radio is becoming more of a challenge. Large RVs or trucks usually offer more room to install a mobile unit without too much trouble, but many modern sedans and small compact cars offer little room and few options for adding another device to the dash. If you want to put a mobile radio in your car, but space on or under the dash is very limited or almost non-existent, what can you do?
Fortunately, there are options, and they are not only sensible, they are often more affordable, as well.
The most obvious choice, of course, is to find a mobile radio that is small enough to fit within the confines of your vehicle. This is easier said than done, since the radio needs to be large enough to provide the range, wattage and full feature set most radio operators generally expect from a typical mobile transceiver. Mobile radios come in different sizes, but even the smaller models may still be too big to mount in some newer vehicles. However, there is now one radio that may resolve the issue for many mobile users - the Leixen VV-898.
The Leixen VV-898 is an ultra-compact dual band UHF/VHF radio that can fit inside almost any small vehicle. It's tiny, about the size of a handheld, and is very lightweight compared to other mobiles, which also makes it easier to mount. It's so small and light weight, it may even be possible to mount the VV-898 with hook-and-loop strips if necessary, although the included lightweight mounting bracket is recommended. (we haven't yet tried to use hook-and-loop to mount it, so we don't currently recommend it). It includes many features found on most standard mobile radios, plus one or two that aren't, such as the ability to change frequencies wirelessly.
The VV-898 uses a standard SO-239 (UHF female) antenna connector for easy compatibility with many dual band mobile radio antennas and is powered with the standard 12 volts provided by most vehicles. It operates on up to 10 watts of transmit power. Of course, 10W is considerably lower than your standard 40w to 50w mobile radio, however it is still sufficient to reach local repeaters in many cities and suburban areas across the US, and is double the wattage of the typical amateur or business handheld radio. Considering the increased popularity of using handheld radios as mobile transceivers in vehicles today, the VV-898 is a definite upgrade.
The best part is the price. At around $150 MSRP, The VV-898 costs considerably less than other mobile radios and is comparable to the cost of a decent handheld.
If size matters but wattage is critical, another option is to find a full size mobile radio that can operate from the dash but install somewhere else. Some radio manufacturers, aware of the space issue in modern vehicles, are now using this method as a primary solution. An increasing number of mobile two way radios are now manufactured with a detachable front panel. The chassis of the radio can be discreetly installed somewhere else in the vehicle, such as under the dash or under a seat where there is more room, and the front panel can be mounted on the front of the dash or anywhere else more convenient for the driver.
The Wouxun KG-UV920P-A and KG-UV950P offer this option and go even further, providing not one, but two front panel mounting plates, one angled and one straight. Both models also include an extension cable so the radio can connect to the front panel from almost anywhere inside the vehicle. Some Icom and Vertex business mobile radios offer such an option as well. This split installation allows you to find more space to mount your radio more securely and still be within your reach while driving.
Whether you choose a tiny transceiver or a unit that can be split in two, there are ways to effectively install a mobile two way radio into a vehicle with very limited available space. We're always searching for more options. Any other ideas? Post a comment below!