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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Greetings,

This thread will detail modifications done to my 2019 F-150 XLT Special Edition. I am an amateur radio operator, so most of this thread will focus on Ham Radio equipment and accessories. But first let us start with the truck:

It's a ruby red 2019 F-150 XLT SuperCrew with the 3.5EB engine, 4WD, Special Edition, and Max Trailer Tow packages. It also has the tailgate step, blind spot sensors, and rear parking radar.



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I will update as I install more equipment.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
My plan to install the radio equipment behind the rear seats. In order to do this, I needed to have easy access to that area. BuiltRight Industries makes a rear seat release kit that adds a strap to the latch behind the rear driver's seat, making it easy to fold down: https://www.builtrightind.com/products/builtright-industries-f-150-rear-seat-release.

Installation is quite simple following their YouTube video instructions. I ran into no major problems. Only issue is that I can't seem to get the latch to catch and lock the seat in place in any position except when the seat bottom is nearly folded up. Not really a concern since the only time other than installation I'd be getting back there is to reprogram the radios. Here are some photos of the installation process for reference:


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Rear seat folded down.

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Latch plate removed

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BuiltRight bracket and latch plate

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Final installation

Hope this helps anyone considering this mod.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I will be drilling holes, but not for the antennas. My garage is pretty low clearance and the FM antenna already hits the door as I pull in. Therefore the ham antennas will go on a front fender bracket that uses existing bolts as well as a Breedlove stake pocket mount in the rear. Holes will be drilled in some out-of-sight trim paneling for mounting components and routing wires. Sorry to disappoint lol
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
The radio system won't work without power, so my first step was installing a power distribution system. Initially I am installing 2 dual band radios (1 for fusion, 1 for DMR), but I plan to add 220MHz, HF, and CB eventually, as well as an audio control system to run them all from one mic. So this power system is over-engineered to allow for future upgrades. It uses a secondary 70AH AGM battery in the bed connected to the truck battery via a Hellroaring BIC-95150B. 6ga wire fused for 70A is used for the battery interconnects. There will eventually be 2 distribution buses for all the equipment fused at 40A each and fed with 10ga wire. Currently only 1 bus is installed. Pictures of the install follow:
IMG_20191127_172625.jpg Each battery uses the 6ga 70A fuse harnesses pictured here as well as the smaller 10ga 40A harness shown below them. Eventually this small harness will be used for a voltage sense wire for a power management system I am developing. It also is useful for connecting a battery tender when the vehicle isn't being used for a while.

IMG_20191127_174322.jpg IMG_20191127_174301.jpg Here are the connections of the fuse harnesses to the positive and negative terminals of the truck battery. Conveniently, there is a bolt on the battery terminal harnesses you can use to attach the ring terminals (1/4 in) to the harnesses. Disconnecting the battery was not required for this installation, saving a lot of headache resetting the radio presets, fuel trims, etc... It is important to follow the directions on K0BG's website (KØBG.COM) regarding connecting the ground terminal "in front of" the battery monitoring system (BMS) sensor, so the truck sees the radio load as part of the truck load and can properly track the truck battery state of charge. In the F-150, the BMS sensor is the module seen to the left of the terminal where the wiring harnesses are attached. Since the harnesses are attached on top of the sensor, current can flow through it and be accounted for by the truck.
IMG_20191127_195511.jpg IMG_20191127_163146.jpg The picture at the left shows the wiring harnesses as they are routed off the truck battery. They go from there to the top of the fuse box where the BIC isolator is mounted as shown in the right picture. The two large terminals are for the battery positive terminals, and the 3 small ones are for ground, override, and status LED connections. In this current setup, only the ground connection is used. The harnesses connect to the cable leading to the rear of the truck via 70A Anderson Power Pole connections. The cable is routed across the top of the hood over the engine to the driver's side of the engine bay to be routed through the firewall grommet. I realize there is a grommet on the passenger side as well, but it requires fishing behind the glovebox and climate control blower, and I didn't have the time or patience for that. The power cable routing is shown below.
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The cable enters the cab through the firewall grommet, behind the trim panel where the hood latch release resides (removed in this picture). It then goes through the wiring tray underneath the door kick panels. From there it goes behind the C pillar trim and behind the soundproofing/carpet stuff on the back wall of the cab. When routing back here make sure to avoid blocking the cab vents that are back there. There is a convenient hole in the soundproofing that lets me fish the cables out to where the distribution bus will go.

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To be continued...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The battery in the bed of the truck is secured using ratchet straps around the tie down point in the front driver's side corner. I cut a hole through the bedrug I have installed and cut through the oval plastic piece at the front of the bed to bring wires into the bed. Cab entry is accomplished through a small grommet located on the driver side of the rear cab wall. The rear battery is connected to the large bus bars which also connect to the leads coming off the battery isolator.
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As I mentioned, right now I'm only using one distribution bus. The second image shows the main power buses at left which are connected with 10ga wire to the APO3 (APO3: Automatic Power Off 3 - APRS World, LLC) which automatically turns on the power to the rigrunner when the truck turns on and delays 20 minutes before powering off after you shut down the truck. Note that the APO3 and my BIC both use voltage to sense whether or not the truck is on. The problem is, the BMS on the truck will turn the alternator voltage down if the battery is fully charged, sometimes as low as 12.6V. This is normal behavior (confirmed with a ford tech at my local dealer) and saves gas as well as preserves battery life. Unfortunately it also confuses the BIC and APO into thinking the truck is off when I'm happily driving down the highway. A workaround is to turn on the headlights- the current draw always raises the alternator to 13.4V or more. As I develop this system more I will use a fuse tap to find a circuit that is switched on and off with the ignition and use that to control both the isolator and switching of my power bus. Anyone have any suggestions as to which circuit to tap/anyone done this before?
In any case, after the APO3 I used a rigrunner to distribute power. Each radio gets a connection and one more goes to the 14ga wire running to the powered speaker along side the center console. That's the conclusion to my current power system. I'd love to hear comments or suggestions for future development. Stay tuned for the radio installs themselves later...
 

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You need to disable the BMS entirely, either by unplugging the current sensor or by killing it with Forscan. When you have an isolated battery, where capacity "appears" and "disappears" from what the alternators/BCM is expecting, the BMS gets totally confused and doesn't know what to do.

Having upfit quite a few F150s and other vehicles with BMS, the first thing I do is kill it if I'm adding a second battery.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
You need to disable the BMS entirely, either by unplugging the current sensor or by killing it with Forscan. When you have an isolated battery, where capacity "appears" and "disappears" from what the alternators/BCM is expecting, the BMS gets totally confused and doesn't know what to do.

Having upfit quite a few F150s and other vehicles with BMS, the first thing I do is kill it if I'm adding a second battery.
I'm curious now. What are the consequences of the appearing/disappearing battery to the BMS. When it's confused what does it do and how does that negatively affect the truck. On the other hand, what are the consequences of disabling the BMS via Forscan and/or unplugging the current sensor? It seems like both leaving BMS and disabling could each have some significant consequences. Might make people re-think secondary batteries.
 

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I'm curious now. What are the consequences of the appearing/disappearing battery to the BMS. When it's confused what does it do and how does that negatively affect the truck. On the other hand, what are the consequences of disabling the BMS via Forscan and/or unplugging the current sensor? It seems like both leaving BMS and disabling could each have some significant consequences. Might make people re-think secondary batteries.
Think about it. The BMS starts with some basic assumptions based on the battery type programmed into it. It's expecting a ~60Ah battery, either flooded or AGM (and yes, there are different charge profiles for both). Suddenly, your combiner closes, and now you've got 120Ah of battery capacity... but the BMS doesn't know that. So, it's controlling the charge algorithm expecting to see certain voltage changes over time as the battery charges... but that doesn't happen because there's twice the battery out there. Quickly, the BMS figures out that something's wrong, and its confidence in the battery state of charge goes to zero.

With the BMS disabled, the alternator functions as alternators have for decades. The "big" losses are a minuscule reduction in fuel economy (my truck currently shows 11.2MPG on the LOM, so fuel economy isn't really my primary concern) and the loss of the ability for the BCM to disable the alternator during periods of WOT, reducing performance by some minuscule amount.

The sad rumor is that, in 2021, disabling the BMS will now set a CEL (probably emissions crap). So, in the next gen of trucks, this discussion may change again.
 

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Been a hot minute since I updated this. Next is the mounting of the radios. If it wasn't clear from the previous post on power distribution, I fashioned a mounting shelf for holding all this equipment under the seats out of MDF and some angle brackets. The shelf has a step under the rear seat and a step up which goes to the area behind the rear seat. It is attached to the truck using nuts that fit on the bolts that sick up from the truck floor back there. Mounting equipment is as simple as putting screws through the brackets into the MDF. This lets me re-arrange equipment as the project expands without having to re-drill or re-use holes drilled through the truck itself while still providing secure attachment. Close up of the lower shelf is seen below. Second pic shows the radios attached to said shelf.
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My current set up includes an CS-800D DMR dual-band and a FTM-400XDR Fusion dual-band. The radios were mounted front-to-front which I found provided best access to the data/programming ports on the backs of the radios with minimal linear spaced used. The control head cables connect to the front sides of the radios. There's enough room between them to access the FTM-400's SD Card port which is my primary method of programming the radio. Speaker and mic cables are routed up the drivers side wiring channel and fished under the seat, where they emerge through a existing flap in the carpet. It then is routed under the center console to a small panel which I removed from the front of the little channel thing in the console. I put an external speaker and the adapter for the Yaesu mic in the channel.
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Control head cables were routed in the passenger side channel through the carpet flap under the passenger seat then under the console. From there the cables were pushed up behind the climate controls and nav system. Control heads were secured to the center storage tray using a bracket from Built Right Industries. This required drilling 4 holes for the mounting screws and a very large hole for the control cables. The cables were pushed through a firewall pass-thru grommet for protection, and to prevent foreign objects from falling behind the stereo system. RAM mounts round out the control head installation. The FTM-400 is secured using a bracket found on thingiverse while the CS-800 was mounted using a RAM ball and an extra faceplate bracket.

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Stay tuned for the antenna mounting, then I'll finally be caught up with what's in the truck. Until I add more....
 
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