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Install XM in your Truck
Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Pretty rough on those long drives out from the DC area to the Blue Ridge - need something to listen to.  So, rather than constantly search for a good radio station, I bought an XM radio.  This allows me to tune in the commercial free music choices that I enjoy and then cruise west without having to worry about moving out of range.  I went with XM because it had the largest subscriber base (and hopefully will stay in business) as well as the fact that my son had been a subscriber for several years and highly recommended it.

So... sucked it up and decided to pop a radio into my Ford Ranger.  I am told that the Ford Explorer has the same dashboard layout - so these instructions would work for that as well.  Here are the step by step instructions on how to do a "professional" looking installation.

First thing, you need one of these.  it inserts into the two holes on the radio as shown below and releases the radio for removal. Simple initial step is to install the mount.  I chose to put mine right in front of the cup holder on the broad, flat area between the driver and passenger.  Used two self tapping screws and it went right in.  I did check underneath and it looked like there were no transmission parts that the screws could mess with.
Slide the two thingys in until you hear a gentle click.  That releases the catches holding the unit.  Pull back on the thingys putting pressure to the outside to allow them to pull the radio.  It will slide out easily.  If it is hard (ie - does not come out), you probably pushed the thingys in to far and missed the catches or did not slide them in far enough. This is what the back of the radio looks like.  Release the wiring harness on the left by pressing the detent at the bottom.  Pull the antenna out (it is the wire coming in at the right)
Now you have to find the power and ground.  From my reading of the wiring diagram, the power comes in on a yellow wire with a black stripe.  To check, insert a probe in the back.

I grounded the other probe to the metal part of the aux power (or cigarette lighter) and checked the meter.  You should get something close to 12 volts.

The ground wire is the black one.  You should stick your probes in both and validate that the voltmeter reads close to 12.  The only reason to do the above, is that you know it is to ground - so you can put your black probe there while you search for the positive.

Another view of the important power wire - yellow and black on mine.   Get some of these connectors - you slide the existing wire in the outside channel and butt the new wire you are splicing to it in the inside.  Squeeze the metal connector - it slices thru the insulation but does not hurt the wire inside.  Then bend the blue tab over the top to lock it in place.
Shows both wires connected.  The ground wire is the black wire - it's on the same end as the positive.   I chose to use some cable ties to attach the FM modulator to the wire bundle at the right of the pedal.  I ran the wires underneath the cup holder to the where I screwed the mount into the floor.  It's easy to get the wires up to the radio from here as well.  Also, there is a nice space where you can connect the power adapter to the XM power adapter and just slide it in (kind of a hole).  You can see it to the right of the modulator in the picture above. 

I do not recommend wiring the radio direct to the car's power because the car is 12V and the radio is either 6V or 5V.  Let the power adapter that came with the radio handle the conversion.



And, here's the finished product - looks pretty nice.

You can see how I ran the wires back under the cup holder - you do not need to remove it to do that - the wires can be poked right under it.



 Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore

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