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Autocom Location


AndyS

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I put mine under the passenger seat. I do not have center locking and all the other things that take up space under there.

 

Bill

 

Bill! Long time no see. :wave:

 

Mikko

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Man, I had to go dig this thing out of the BMWST archives. Here's what I did with mine, my XM Radio and my V-1. You don't have to add the bike-to-bike radio if you don't want. And you'll probably modify what I've done to fit what you need. But I've had Autocoms up on an aftermarket dash, under the seat, in the rear cowling, you name it. Once I mounted in in the tankbag, it has been there for about 9 years. Continues to work perfectly.

 

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A little more than a year ago, I posted on this website about the Electrification Of My Tankbag. In that thread, I showed the end results of a project to incorporate my Autocom, V-1, XM Radio and bike-to-bike radio all into a tankbag, with room to spare.

 

Since then, I’ve gotten dozens of requests for details on how to build such a system and, of course, more photos to go with the descriptions. First, I’m not a very good photographer (as you can see), and that plus too much work, plus aging parents and their medical needs, blah blah blah. In any case, I didn’t get around to it until recently.

 

Actually, what happened was that I FINALLY!!!!!!!!! decided to upgrade from my tried and true Autocom Pro-M1, which has served me faithfully for 7 years and 90,000 miles, to a new 2007 Autocom Active Rider. When I got the Active Rider home, and saw how much smaller it was than the Pro-M1, I knew I could build an even smaller box than the one that had housed the Pro and all of its electronics.

 

This also made it possible for me to go to an even smaller Big Mak tankbag. It’s not that the Big Mak Explorer was too big, but with the XM Radio mounted atop it, my view of the tach and the speedo were partially obscured. Going to the Big Mak SS bag would help bring everything down more than two inches, which would be ideal. So I ordered one from Big Mak with a few extra D-rings and straps on it, and without the elastic over the main zipper (cost a bit more, but it worked out perfectly). And wouldn’t this be the ideal time to take a few pix and at least attempt to show what the steps were in the build process. So, here goes. Captions are ABOVE the related photo.

 

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My first stop was at the hobby store for some wood. A small 6” x 12” piece of 3/32 birch plywood and some 3/8” square dowel strips and some 3/8x1/2 rectangular strips (pine, I believe). The narrower strips would be glued on as a reinforcing perimeter and the bigger strips would be cut to make the stand-off posts. Total investment so far, about $8.

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Some time with a jigsaw, a bit of sanding, some glue and a bunch of inexpensive Harbor Freight pinch clamps and I had the perimeter pieces secured to the plates. The plates themselves measure 5.5” x 4.5”. The standoffs would be about 2-3/4” so the whole thing (see below) stands about 3” high without the radar detector on top. Once the reinforcing strips were secure, I used a silver dollar as a guide and penciled in some corner radii. Some careful work on the belt sander and the corners were smoothed out. I was careful 7 out of 8 times. The lower left corner in this picture has a bit of a taper leading into the radius. I get so anal sometimes that I almost threw it all out and started over, but the hobby shop was closed and I couldn’t get any more thin birch plywood. So I made that the bottom plate and stuck that corner facing the front of the tankbag, where I don’t have to look at it.

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After finishing the upper and lower plates, I laid my Autocom and all the other pieces into the lower plate by hand and, seeing to it that there was room in the rear corners, I marked them for the stand-offs. Up front, I wanted the stand-offs to serve as a support for the new Autocom Active-Plus unit, locking it in between the right standoff and the “lip” created by the reinforcing wood strips on the upper and lower plates. I marked the location of the forward standoffs. Holes were drilled in the center of each marking and then the upper and lower outside surfaces of the plates were countersunk so the stand-off screws would be flush.

 

The Autocom unit would be the tallest item inside the “box” so I added 1/8” to its height to make up for the small strip of Velcro that the unit would rest on. Then I cut my standoffs a little longer than that, finishing them down to the correct height on the sanding wheel of the belt sander. I marked the center of each end and drilled them undersize so the wood screws would bite.

 

Before assembly, I sanded everything, blew it off with the air hose, then brushed on some MinWax stain. In this case, I used a Blonde Oak, which is pretty light and really doesn’t highlight the grain as much as I’d like. I’ll probably build another one of these in the future and I’ve got some old Cherry Wood stain that does a much better job. In any case, I let the stain penetrate for about 90 seconds, wiped it off with cheesecloth, then let it dry. Once that was done, I sprayed all the pieces with MinWax Satin Finish Polyurethane sealer. Two coats did the trick.

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While the wood was drying from its staining and sealing, I tackled the electronics. I like the Centech Fuse Box, but small as it is, it’s still too big for the space I had, so I built a homemade fused buss from a 5-fuse block available from my local Pep Boys. Before I go any further, I have to give Sean Daly credit for this idea. He showed me how to make these a couple years back.

 

Basically what you’re looking at is two things. A fused power buss on the right and a grounding block on the left. Both are mounted to a delrin plate for compactness and ease of handling. I’ll describe each individually.

 

The fused power buss starts out as a 5-fuse connection block from Pep Boys. Each side has a set of fuse clips that are held in place by a thin fiberglass rod that runs the length of the block underneath. Pushing out either of these fiberglass rods will cause the clips on that side to fall out the top of the block. So that’s what I did to one side of the clips.

 

Next I turned it belly-up and chucked it up in a Sherline table-top hobby mill that I have at home, left over from my days of making specialty parts for my R/C cars back when I raced them. A few passes with an end mill and I’d created a trough large enough to get the head of a soldering iron down in there.

 

Now I replaced the fuse clips on that side and instead of re-inserting the fiberglass rod, I replaced it with a piece of Romex electrical wire. I went back into the trough I’d created and was able to solder the Romex wire to each of the fuse clips, transforming one side of the fuse block from individual contacts into a single, solid buss. I made sure to leave a few inches of Romex sticking out one side so I could solder a male spade connector onto it. Power now comes into the one side of the fused buss and goes out the other side wherever I’ve inserted a fuse to complete the connection. I used 2-amp fuses BTW.

 

The grounding block comes from Radio Shack. Actually, it’s simply a connector block and it comes as a strip of 5. For my purposes, I cut two off the end and used those because they had nice little mounting holes that let me bolt the block onto the delrin base.

 

Each set of screws is a connection. But Radio Shack also sells a strip of forked plates to connect the connectors to each other. Cut two of them off the strip as I did, slide them under adjacent screws on one side, and suddenly all four screws are on the same circuit. Connect the power ground to any one of these screws and the whole thing becomes a grounding block.

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Since I’m also running a V-1 and an XM Radio, and since both of these are bike powered, I needed one isolated lead for each of them. Autocom’s isolated leads (part #1314) work great, but they have long wires on them, often necessary to reach from where the Autocom is located on peoples’ bikes to where each accessory is. I didn’t need wires this long so I shortened the wires to mere inches. One of these I shortened at the printed-circuit board (it’s only 3 wires, as you can see). The other I shortened by cutting off the lengths I didn’t want and soldering new 3.5mil stereo male plugs on the ends of the wires. Neither way is particularly easy, especially if you have thick hands/fingers, as the wires are small and not easy to handle. Even with a special ultra-narrow needle tip on my soldering iron. I needed another trip to Harbor Freight for one of their swivel fluorescent lights with the large magnifying glass (any excuse to buy tools, right?!!) in order to finish the job. It doesn’t help that at my age, my close-up vision is starting to blur a bit, too.

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Here’s my new Active-Plus. As you can see, I’ve installed the hardwire kit and already shortened the wires and installed the connectors necessary to hook up to the fused power buss and the grounding block.

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Partially assembled. Here’s the Active-Plus in place along with the power buss. Both are attached at the bottom with Velcro. Behind the Autocom unit you can see the first of the isolators in place. The bottom isolator is attached to the base plate with Velcro and to the Autocom with double-sided tape. The second isolator will be positioned above the first one and attached the same way. . .Velcro on the bottom and tape up against the Autocom.

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To power the XM, you need to keep the cigar plug because the XM radio is a 6V unit and the plug contains an internal 12V-6V reducer. That’s fine, but what I needed was space, and I didn’t want to connect it to a female cigar socket, then take my power leads off of that. So I took the male cigar plug apart, unsoldered all the contact stuff that sticks out the nose end, and soldered in a set of pos/neg leads. I put the appropriate connectors on these leads.

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Next, I installed the cigar plug onto the underside of the upper lid, using 3M Dual-Lok. The trick was in getting the wires connected to the power buss, THEN putting the lid on the box. The cigar plug itself weighs very little, so having it “hang” from above is not going to be a problem. Besides, the gap between it and the isolators is so small that it isn’t enough for it to come off. I did it this way the last time and it worked just fine.

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Here is the box with all its internals in place and a jumble of wires coming out the back. The wires with the 4-pronged plug is the lead to the power buss. The plug is another thing left over from my R/C car days. These are called Dean’s Plugs (available from most hobby stores) and they are gold-plated. They resist rusting and corrosion and they have excellent friction tension so they don’t come apart easily. I wired the positive to two of the prongs and the neg to the other two. I put the matching female plug on the end of the Powerlet Tank Bag Power Kit that I used to deliver juice to the bag. The other wires are the power lead to the XM, the isolated lead to the XM, and the isolated lead to the radar detector. The cylindrical block is the power splitter for the V-1.

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Here I’ve installed the V-1, the remote audio adapter and the power splitter. There’s a remote visual which will mount atop the tankbag in a later photo. Yes, having the V-1 inside the tankbag virtually eliminates any Laser protection. My experience with my stepsons, both of whom are LEO’s, is that if you get a Laser warning, pull over. You’re it. Other than that, I’ve found no difference with the V-1. It tells me the direction and quantity of the radar sources, just like it did back when I had it up on my RCU shelf. No reduction in range (that I can discern) either.

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To install the Powerlet PTB-006 Tank Bag Electrification Kit, you need to cut a hole in the tank bag. In my case, I’ve found it easier and cleaner to simply burn a hole in it. For this I went to Home Depot and bought a coupler for 5/8” copper water pipe (about 85-cents). This coupler happens to be the identical diameter as the inside ring of the PTB-006. The one on the left is stock. The one on the right has been run up against a grinder wheel in order to chamfer a sharp edge onto one end.

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Having marked the bag with where I wanted the main hole, and cautious that neither it nor the four mounting holes on the circumference would cut through a seam or stitching, I crammed a 2x4 into the tankbag, with one end positioned precisely behind where the hole was to be.

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Then I got the ol’ Benzomatic torch out and, gripping the sharpened pipe coupler with a pair of long pliers, I brought it up to a nice, glowing red. I then proceeded to burn through the tank bag and all of its layers of Cordura and sidewall stiffeners, in about 1/2-second. I pushed the hot coupler through the material quickly. I felt it bottom out against the 2x4 on the inside of the bag, and I removed it. Do it too slowly and you’ll get flame, I guarantee it (DAMHIK). I prefer this way of making holes because they come out rounder than trying to burn them with a soldering iron. And because you don’t ruin a good soldering iron tip in the process. The smaller hole on the lower left of the picture was made using a “bushing” also found in the Home Depot copper pipe section. That hole will be used to route the power wire and the isolated lead out and up to the XM radio, as well as lead to the V-1’s remote visual. On my bike, I’ve retained the option of broadcasting bike-to-bike using either VOX or PTT. However, since the PTT switch has to be hard-mounted on my bike, the lead to that switch has a plug on it. That’s the yellow plug you’ll see in one of the photos below.

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Autocom’s interface lead for the Kenwood FRS/GMRS radio is coiled and too long for my purposes. So I took it and cut off the coils, repositioning the plug to this much shorter length. I was able to do this because the cable I had was 7 years old. In those days, you could peel back the rubber cover from the plug, remove the semi-circular metal clips that encompass the plug’s pins, and unsolder everything. The new cables have their rubber covers molded onto the wires for greater reliability. So if you plan on shortening a lead, my suggestion is to send it in to Autocom USA and have them do it. They’ve got new plugs and the experience. Shortening this lead took me nearly an hour, and I used to solder on PC boards all the time. There are tiny, tiny connections inside (plus capacitors, etc).

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Once I got the wiring at the front of the bag tidied up, here’s how it looks. The metal plate at the top came from Home Depot. I think it's some sort of multi-purpose carpentry joint plate. I put two 90-degree bends in it, bought a second Map Case (Space Case) stiffener from Big Mak in order to give it some extra rigidity and shoved the extra stiffener in there. Then I drilled and pop-riveted the bracket in place from underneath.

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Atop the metal bracket is one of Hoon Hardware’s Roady Holders for my XM Radio. I got the one with no offset so that it centers up perfectly. On the underside of the bracket, I located the V-1’s remote visual using 3M Dual-Lok.

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To secure the assembly inside the tankbag, I used some Velcro on the bottom of the lower box plate. Here, you can see how the shortened lead to the FRS radio helps keep things clean and uncluttered. You can also see how much space is left over. I carry my 70-oz CamelBak in this space along with sliding a spare shield (in its protective covering) along the rear perimeter of the bag. To help support the weight of the bladder, I’ve added the aluminum platen to the Big Mak tankbag base.

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From the side, the FRS radio is clearly visible. It clips OVER the zipper. This is the reason why, when I asked Big Mak for some custom modifications to their SS bag I was ordering, I requested that they not install the stretchy material that normally covers the zippers.

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Now I can see my instrumentation clearly. Before, with the larger bag and the larger box inside, I was blocking the lower right and lower left quadrants of the speedo and tach respectively. It wasn’t a big issue, but now it’s absolutely no longer an issue, plus I still have a great view of my XM Radio and the V-1’s remote visual display.

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Well, that pretty much sums up the steps I used in the building of this tankbag-mounted electronics system. I apologize to those who had asked for step-by-step instructions, as it’s taken me way too long to respond with these. I appreciate your patience.

 

This system is relatively neat and tidy. My total expenditure, apart from 15 hours of my labor, was about $50 for the wood, stain, lacquer, PTB-006, and the parts I used to make the fused power buss. I hope the pictures are clear enough that if anyone wants to follow them, they can do it. The only difference is that they’ll probably have to go with something like the Centech fuse block unless they have access to a mill. It will take up a little more space, but if you measure and plan carefully, you’ll be able to make something like this (or even nicer) to house all your electronics. If anyone has questions, feel free to ask below.

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Mine is in the tank bag with all the other add-on electronics. I used to mount under the plastic. But over time cables would go bad from bends or heat or whatever and seemed like I was routinely having to replace cables. Now with everything in the tank bag all the cables and power for stuff is in one place and cables no longer go bad.

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Under the driver's seat on the left hand side between the frame and Tupperware. I wanted to ensure it was easily accessible when needed.

 

On pervious RTs I buried it out of the way and came to regret doing such a neat tucked away installation!

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  • 2 weeks later...

My unit was installed by an ex-Autocom UK employee (EffBee might remember Sam Wray).

He has seen the moisture thrown up in the tail-cone area during foul weather on other bikes. So mine is mounted under the rider seat with all the 3.5mm sockets on the underside so that water cannot seep down the cables and into the sockets. Bad connections are caused by wear as the 3.5mm plugs rotate in their sockets so all the plugs are cable-tied onto the unit such that they cannot move. The unit is powered via the Autocom direct battery connection lead (cable 2437) to reduce electrical noise.

I have a radio unit that feeds into the Autocom via a wired connection (cable 2273) number using Posi-taps on the speaker cables.

Even with the direct battery connection there is some hum when using highly sensitive in-ear monitors. This was cured by choosing a less sensitive input.

 

Hope this helps someone.......

 

John

 

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