101Firedog's fire dog: ARCA9 - Toyota FJ Cruiser Forum
Member Build Ups Section for members to post their FJ buildups.

 65Likes
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 69 (permalink) Old 03-25-2017, 10:02 PM Thread Starter
Forum Veteran
 
101Firedog's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Texas
Posts: 400
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 142 Post(s)
Garage
(Thread Starter)
101Firedog's fire dog: ARCA9



Arcanine is a bright orange fire-type Pokemon. My FJ is bright and orange... I call it the "Chihuahuan desert camouflage kit," as red dirt desert is where I love to go.

I'm much handier with electronics than I am with automotive mechanics, so most of what I've done to my FJ so far is small and fiddly.

Some modifications may be more in-depth than others, and will have a link to a post that describes it in full, with photos of the process. The rest are in a list at the bottom of the first post.

========================================
=====
===== Trail Runs & Journeys
=====
========================================


ARCA9 posts dashcam videos to YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAy...Urj95rSYes4pnw. Some highlights:

========================================
=====
===== CB Radio (full details)
=====
========================================




The first real modification I did after getting ARCA9 - rip out the (surprisingly nice) stock stereo head and add a Cobra 18WXSTII radio. The cobra is a convenient 1-DIN form-factor (standard "single" dashboard slot size), has a built-in front-facing speaker (perfect for in-dash installation) but moreover it has a "scan" feature that other radios in its class don't. If you only ever use the CB when you know who you plan to talk to (such as at an ORV event, or for work), then that's not important but if, like me, you like to listen as you travel across the country's interstates, "scan" is a must-have.

Antennae-wise, I went with a 4' FireStik but ended up building my own adequately-grounded, adjustable-angle roof-rack mount, operated by just a thumb screw (using key parts from the Comet RS-660U mount. Now, I can have it fully flat when I'm driving around town and may have to enter a parking garage, I can have it partway up when off-roading through low trees, and I can have it the full 11ft or so above ground when cruising down the highway.

========================================
=====
===== Passenger Power Outlet(s) (full details)
=====
========================================




Yes there are two working 120V AC outlets and two 2.4A fast-charging USB ports in my dashboard

========================================
=====
===== Cabin Wiring Harnesses (full details)
=====
========================================




The prospect of wiring up a dimmable backlit switch with a separate "on" indicator was daunting... and I'd been in my dashboard console before, so I knew how tiny the wires were and how there was never any slack when you wanted it, and how they were all bundled inside tape or a cable guard. So, when I went in the first time, I went in with a plan: I'd build a simple, snap-on / snap-off harness for these center console illuminated switches so that in the future I'd be able to assemble & prepare a switch from the comfort of my home and then just click it into place inside the dashboard.

I applied the same technique to my cabin fuse box, but for a different goal - I was running out of live, un-used circuits to tap into! Now I have plenty of easily-accessible, snap-together connectors for powering peripherals.

========================================
=====
===== The Electric Upgrade (full details)
=====
========================================




The Big Five cables, a deep-cycle Odyssey 31M-PC2150 battery, a fuse box just for my accessories and a boost to the alternator's voltage.


========================================
=====
===== ToyTec BOSS 3" Suspension Lift (full details)
=====
========================================




Front: 2.5" BOSS coilovers w/ remote reservoirs
Also Front: Total Chaos urethane upper control arms
Rear: 2.5" BOSS shocks + standard springs

========================================
=====
===== Wider Wheels & All-Terrain Tires (full details)
=====
========================================




Thanks to FJ Fender Flaps and the ToyTec BOSS lift, I fit these wide tires without even coming close to rubbing on the body mount.

BFGoodrich LT305/65R17 (32.6") tires on ProComp 17x8" 0-offset wheels.

========================================
=====
===== LED Headlight and Taillight Upgrade (full details)
=====
========================================




Taillights went in with no real issues, but the headlights required a lot of blood, sweat, tears, solder, and after-after-market parts!

========================================
=====
===== Off-Road Lights
=====
========================================




Rigid makes great lights but their wiring instructions aren't really the best approach. I wired my 4 lights the right way, which gave me the ability to snap-in up to 4 more without having to run any cables!

========================================
=====
===== Magnuson Supercharger (2010+) (full details)
=====
========================================




We're supercharged, baby! A color-matched supercharger for the 2010+ V6 engine from what I think was Magnuson's first production run.

Later supercharger-related modifications include:



Illuminated, dimmable boost gauge




Oil catch can



========================================
=====
===== Hood Scoop / Vent (part 1, part 2)
=====
========================================




I made my fake hood scoop/vent real. As a bonus, I also increased the airflow, did away with the need for "one-time-use" plastic clips, and retained the original plastic insert so I can block off the space I cut out, if I want.

========================================
=====
===== Off-Road Garage Snorkel (full details)
=====
========================================




Gotta get that clean, cool, dry air when wheeling through adverse conditions! The infamous Kazakhstani through-the-fender snorkel looks rather sleek, nestled up against the A-pillar.

========================================
=====
===== Drifta Storage Drawers (full details)
=====
========================================




A gorgeous, custom-built, perfectly-fitting set of storage drawers from Australia. Now all my tools & gear are secured, rattle-free, and out-of-the way!
Hey, is that a refrigerator, too? Yes, on a built-in flush slide! The fridge has its own post; see below.

========================================
=====
===== Refrigerator & Rear Auxiliary Battery (full details)
=====
========================================




An electric refrigerator/freezer with a dedicated auxiliary battery and charging system overbuilt to keep my stuff cold in the Texas heat and support future rear electronics.

========================================
=====
===== Miscellaneous 4-Wheeling Improvements
=====
========================================


  1. Hi-Lift Jack & roof-rack mount
  2. All-Pro APEX Rock Sliders
  3. Front & Rear bumpers + winch
  4. Set of BudBuilt Skid Plates)
  5. Tool-less .5" suspension lift
  6. Trailworx Rear Link Skid Plates
  7. Off-Road-Ready Tow Connector
  8. Upgraded Engine Radiator Hoses
  9. All-Pro Sway Bar Links
  10. 130A 4Runner Alternator
  11. High-Performance, All-Aluminum, "Race" Radiator
  12. URD Mark3 3" Stainless Steel Catback Exhaust

========================================
=====
===== Miscellaneous Simple Improvements
=====
========================================

  1. Tuffy Lockable Center Console
  2. Fire Extinguisher Mounted in Trunk
  3. "Zombie Response Vehicle" Label
  4. Capacitive Dashcam
  5. TrailToys EZ-View (integrated blind-spot) Mirrors
  6. Trail Toys magnetic transfer-case drain plug
  7. Contract-free wireless WiFi hotspot with unlimited data
  8. Rago "Modular Storage Panel" trunk mount point

(archive link)
BOBTAILFJ, FJFool, cliffy and 2 others like this.

Last edited by 101Firedog; 06-08-2019 at 05:10 PM. Reason: Added links to oil catch can
101Firedog is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 69 (permalink) Old 03-25-2017, 11:56 PM
Forum Veteran
 
ToyRig's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 399
Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 87 Post(s)
Re: 101Firedog's fire dog: ARCA9

Nice looking rig you got there
ToyRig is offline  
post #3 of 69 (permalink) Old 03-26-2017, 03:40 AM
MOAB SUPERSTAR
 
debFJVT's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: The Green Mountains
Posts: 5,218
Mentioned: 206 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2088 Post(s)
Garage
Lifetime Supporting Member
Re: 101Firedog's fire dog: ARCA9

Great start! Really like your adjustable roof-mounted antenna...would like to see details on how you grounded it



Member of the Month November 2016

TLCA# 25170

Last edited by debFJVT; 03-26-2017 at 03:42 AM.
debFJVT is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #4 of 69 (permalink) Old 04-01-2017, 11:11 PM Thread Starter
Forum Veteran
 
101Firedog's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Texas
Posts: 400
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 142 Post(s)
Garage
(Thread Starter)
CB Radio Installation

========================================
=====
===== CB Radio
=====
========================================


The Radio



Cobra 18WXSTII - a 1-DIN CB with a built-in, front-facing speaker and the ability to scan all 40 standard channels. It's one of the few radios in its size and price class that have a scan, and I like to eavesdrop as I road trip around the country's highways - for me, there's something romantic about the two-way radio culture, and the CB install was motivated by that much more than its utility in off-roading. I have the same CB unit in a front-wheel-drive sedan than I own, too.

The Install

In the dashboard, looking stock! I did really like the stock FJ stereo head but I like "stock" and "sleeper" modifications much more, so in the dash it goes. I got some dumb brand-name 1-DIN stereo head to maintain my music capabilities. The CB was mounted on the bottom so the mic cord wouldn't drape over the stereo controls.

The Stereo

The stock FJ stereo head has tactile buttons, in different shapes and locations, for accessing its various functions. Every. Single. Aftermarket stereo I could find has a "menu + selector" interface, where the screen shows your current function, and you use buttons to navigate through menus and select what you want. There are some physical buttons, too, but they are low-profile and do different things depending on what "mode" the stereo's in. This is a terrible design for an automotive accessory because you have to look at the screen to use a "menu+selector" stereo, whereas with the stock FJ stereo you could memorize the location and feel of the buttons, and operate the radio without having to look. If anyone knows of a good 1-DIN, full-featured aftermarket stereo that isn't a "menu + selector," please let me know...

My FJ had an "Aux Input" panel in the center dashboard, with a USB port and a 3.5mm ("headphone") audio port. The guy who put the stereo head in (I was in a hurry that day and didn't want to rip the car apart myself... :/) said that it wasn't possible to use the headphone jack with an aftermarket stereo head - presumably because the 5 wires (?) for the audio jack ran into a mysterious bundle of wires in the dashboard and came out in some part of the FJ that didn't make it into aftermarket stereo harnesses.

Well that's quittin' talk, so I cut one end off a 3.5mm audio cable and soldered myself a nice little connector:



It's much nicer than the photo maybe lets on... the connections are all soldered and covered in heat-shrink tubing, and the molex connector lets me easily swap out the dashboard panel or the audio cable in the future. There were 5 total wires coming out of the audio jack, and experimentation led me to determine that there was a ground, a left, a right, and a "center" or "left+right" channel and another ground. I'm not sure what you'd use that for - maybe if your stereo head didn't support stereo sound? In any case, I left those wires out of my harness...

The Mic

An AStatic 636L. They come well-recommended but aren't expensive. They're a noticeable improvement over the stock Cobra mic.

The Antenna

A four foot FireStik II. The traditional mount point is off the rear hinge, which will give you enough coverage to chat with other vehicles at an ORV event, but still stay low enough that you don't bang it on the ceilings of garages. I like to CB on the highways, though, so a mediocre transmit capacity wasn't going to do. I decided to put the antenna on the roof rack, putting my antenna roughly 7 to 12 feet off the ground! Obviously I wouldn't be able to enter any parking garage like that, nor pass through areas with low trees. The antenna would have to be able to be moved out of the way for such occasions.

On my sedan, I used a spring-loaded fold-down connector like this:

.

But this wasn't a sedan, it was my FJ! Could I do better? I searched around for fold-down roof-rack antenna mounts and found the Comet RS-660U:



I could work with that! The important thing was its custom grooved thumbscrew piece - a simple flick of the thumb allowed the mount point to rotate around the axis of the screw in fixed intervals, meaning I could lock the antenna fully up, fully down, or anywhere in-between. I threw away most of the mounting hardware, flipped what remained upside-down, and bolted it to a steel plate from a local hardware store. I then bolted the plate in-between two pipe clamps (I would come back and order these specific clamps again and again, for mounting stuff to the stock FJ roof rack) and attached them to the roof rack. It worked exactly as intended:



The tricky part was calibrating the CB. The roof rack doesn't really connect to any metal on the FJ, and it doesn't offer much of a ground plane... and the pipe clamps use rubber, so they aren't in any kind of contact with the roof rack, anyway!

The solution was a braided grounding strap usually used in vehicle electrical systems. The braids (versus traditional stranded wires, or a solid cable) give much more surface area for the RF to flow over, making it better at conducting RF ground (or at least so says the Internet). Trial-and-error revealed that I needed to use the shortest strap possible, which meant putting the antenna mount as far forward a possible. With decent washers on both ends of the strap - one end is pictured above, the other is under one of the roof rack's mounting bolts - I managed a 1.5 SWR on both channel 1 and 40. Not perfect, but definitely good enough, considering how not-groundy my antenna situation was! Just in case that wasn't clear: The braided grounding strap runs to a roof-rack mounting bolt, which - at the tip of the bolt - is in contact with the roof of the FJ and that's how the radio gets to the ground plane of the FJ's roof.



Speaking of calibrating, rather than connecting the antenna cable directly to the back of the radio, I ran a 3' heavy-duty, shielded jumper cable from the CB, through the mess of other wires and sharp things (and presumably sources of EM/RF interference) to right under the steering column, near the interior fuse-box. There, I used a male-to-male connector to connect to the antenna's cable. This means when I want to connect a SWR meter (or if I want to swap antennae), I can reach under the dash and disconnect the antenna from the CB by hand in just a few seconds:



The antenna cable runs through my dashboard up through the driver's A-Pillar, then out the corner of the door onto the roof:



I'm thrilled with the antenna mount - it articulates fast enough that I can roll around town with the antenna all the way up because I can flip it down for entering garages so quickly - 10 seconds, tops, that I have to remain stopped outside a garage.

Mmmm! Look at that nice tall transmit mast....



(archive link)
ZerosFJ and FJFool like this.

Last edited by 101Firedog; 04-27-2019 at 03:58 PM.
101Firedog is offline  
post #5 of 69 (permalink) Old 04-02-2017, 12:23 PM Thread Starter
Forum Veteran
 
101Firedog's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Texas
Posts: 400
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 142 Post(s)
Garage
(Thread Starter)
Passenger Power Outlets

========================================
=====
===== Passenger Power Outlet(s)
=====
========================================


I like road-trips, especially with passengers! But the passengers have a lot less fun if their electronic devices run out of battery. The FJ's stock single 12v car outlet, (if you're lucky) center-console USB port, and (if you have the option package) trunk A/C outlet (capped at 100 watts) are maybe enough for a limited passenger load-out with not-too-many and just-the-right electronics.

But most of the time that's just not enough power options.

Back Seat Power

Easy-peasy, I attached a power strip under the rear passenger seat, plugged into the inverter outlet in the trunk:



Its form-factor is low enough that it doesn't get in the way of the seat folding up, or of passenger feat. Now with a push of the "Inverter" button up front, I can provide my rear passengers with 5 120V A/C Edison outlets and 2 "smart/fast-charge" USB outlets that'll charge at up to 2.4A:



Passenger Power

This is the one I'm most proud of! The trunk inverter was already used to power the rear passengers; who would power the front? I've already got dibs on the dashboard USB port (my iPod) and the dashboard 12V outlet (powering my "GPS" (cell phone)).

My original solution was just to mount an off-the-shelf car inverter in the passenger compartment - 2 120V A/C outlets for them, and 2 USB ports to be shared - one for the driver, and one for the passenger:



There were several problems with this, though:
  1. It was bulky, and you couldn't put the passenger seat all the way forward without bumping it.
  2. The FJ's console is very slick, and mounting tape didn't play nicely
  3. There was only one outlet per person.
  4. The in-dash outlet is (as you can barely see in the photo) wired for and fused for 120W max across all accessories.
  5. Texas heat plus #2 kept resulting in me returning to the parked FJ to find the inverter on the floor

Could I do better? Yes!

The plan was as follows:
  1. Mount a 120V A/C wall outlet in the FJ's plastic near the front passenger seat
  2. Stick the inverter somewhere inside the front dashboard nearby, and use it to power that outlet
  3. Run power from the battery into the driver's-side of the cabin, through a relay located near the fuse box, and then on to the inverter on the passenger side (this means that the long cable run would be 12V DC, not 120V AC)
  4. Use the highest-gauge cabling and largest fuses I could get away with, so I'd be able to install a larger inverter in the future if I wanted, without having to re-wire everything.


(Schematic diagram created at digikey.com/schemeit)

So, I disassembled my inverter:



And added molex connectors to the important bits, and to a 120V A/C outlet I found that also included 2 USB ports:



Later on, after looking up the rated capacities for the molex connectors I was using, I decided to re-do all of the 12V DC connectors with XT-60 connectors (soldered-and-heat-shrink'd), instead of crimp+e-tape'd molex:



Careful measuring was done, and then with the help of a Dremel rotary tool, I cut a hole under the passenger-side air conditioning vent for the outlet and the inverter's switch:




That was by far the most nerve-wracking part. Only slightly less was the cutting I had to do on the non-detachable plastic to get it to go back in place with the outlet added:



The outlet is affixed to the FJ dashboard with nylon nuts, bolts, and washers which I colored black with a Sharpie marker.

Why nylon? Because in a normal AC outlet, the chassis is grounded... however, 120V AC ground is very much not 12V DC car battery ground, and if a 120V AC accessory shorted out and was running to this outlet's "ground," I absolutely do not want that going to the negative terminal of my battery - so I took care to ensure that every metal part of the outlet was touching only plastic. More immediately, those screws are in contact with the outlet's AC "ground," and if there was a short, the passenger could get shocked by touching them. No good! Non-conductive nylon screws prevent this.

Why color them black with a sharpie? Because it was darn near impossible to find black nylon bolts, washers, and nuts in the size I needed.

With the outlet in place, I looked for a mounting point for the inverter. Turns out there's a little ledge to the right of the glovebox that was exactly the right size for my inverter. I wedged it in there then put a screw through the FJ's plastic into one of the frame holes of the inverter that used to hold is black plastic shell on:



Turns out 12-gauge wire was the biggest I could use (limited by the XT-60 connectors). Approximately 10 feet of 12-gauge should be good for up to 40 amps. This happened to be exactly the maximum wattage my inverter was rated for (480 Watts) and the maximum rated amperage of the relay I had (Max 40A to guarantee a disconnect). So, I won't be installing a larger inverter without having to re-wire things after all. I did try a run with 10-gauge (which would be good for 100A / 1200W) but I didn't want to have to wait to order new connectors (XT-90s would work) and re-solder everything. I wasn't planning on running a hair dryer or microwave or anything...

Per a recommendation on the internet, I twisted the power + ground lines together so they wouldn't come apart and get tangled inside my dashboard as easily. Here they are (the twisty cables on the right) running through the firewall from the engine compartment into the cabin fuse box:



I really love Fastronix' 40A/60A relay + socket; I've got 2 total in my FJ so far and will probably continue to use them for all wiring work that needs a relay. I switched the relay on a spare "on when the car's on" circuit from the cabin fuse box, taped over and secured the "normally closed" lead, and tucked the whole mess off to the right of the fuse box door, all invisible and out-of-the way except for the power lead.



Closed everything back up and it worked! I later decided I wasn't happy with the inverter's original switch, so I upgraded to a larger, amber-colored, illuminated switch. Now it's glaringly obvious if the outlet's active - this is good for the passenger (so they are sure they're actually charging their devices), and good for me (so I know that the outlet's off when not in use):



(archive link)
BOBTAILFJ likes this.

Last edited by 101Firedog; 04-27-2019 at 04:00 PM.
101Firedog is offline  
post #6 of 69 (permalink) Old 04-02-2017, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
Forum Veteran
 
101Firedog's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Texas
Posts: 400
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 142 Post(s)
Garage
(Thread Starter)
Cabin Wiring Harnesses

========================================
=====
===== Cabin Wiring Harnesses
=====
========================================


Working with the little-bitty wires inside the dashboard is hard - they're small, they've got no slack, and they vanish into the dark and come out who-knows-where. There are two places where I decided I was done dealing with this: the cabin fuse box and the center console button panel.

I, in the comfort of my own home, soldered up some wiring harnesses that I would splice into the FJ's wiring which would leave me with friendly Molex connectors for all my current and future wiring needs - so whenever I went to add an accessory or a switch, I could construct, solder, and heat-shrink it at home and then just snap it into place. No crimp connectors, no electrical tape, no hurting my fingers trying to manage a messy fusebox with add-a-circuits connected to add-a-circuits.

Accessory Power Harness(es)



I made two of these:



This one is the "on when the car's on, off when the car's off" harness. There's another that's always-on. You can see the tips are labeled - I wrote with sharpie and wrapped clear scotch tape around them to prevent smudging. Now, if I need power that's on when the car's on, I just grab one of these guys and connect something to it. For example, I removed 3 (net 2) add-a-circuits and converted my dashcam, off-road-lights, and passenger inverter to this:



It looks kind of messy when I pull out all ... I think I have five things? But at least I can pull them out to look at / work with!



And look how clean and crisp my fuse box is when they're all tucked away:



NOTE: daisy-chaining things after a fuse can be bad if you do it irresponsibly! In my case, all of the things I'm connecting to these harnesses are either negligible-draw items (like the "memory" power for my CB - not the actual radio itself), or just used to toggle a relay - I'm not actually powering anything significant off any of these harnesses. I fused them with the smallest fuses I had on-hand: 2A and 3A. If you look back at the picture of my fuse box you can see that the CB's power has its own dedicated add-a-circuit and fuse and is not on one of these harnesses. The other items - off-road lights and my inverter - are powered off relays directly from the battery and their current draws don't run through these harnesses.

Console Switch Illumination Harness

If you're lucky and have blank switches with real harnesses connected to them in your center button console, and you can find the other end of those harnesses and they're near where you need them, great! But if not, you're going to have to find at least
  1. Illumination Power
  2. Dimmable Ground*
  3. Accessory Power Input

and run wires from those things to your switch. What a hassle! So, I made this:



The idea is that I'll cut the wires that feed one of the existing dashboard switches and splice in the harness. Then, I'll take that switch's harness (which is removable, because its wires were cut!) inside and add a 4-pin Molex connector that connects the right things. Then, I'll plug everything back in but now I will have two additional 4-pin Molex connectors, on all the correct circuits for illumination, waiting for me for when I want to add more switches. When I do, I'll wire the new switch's illumination leads up to the right places on a 4-pin Molex connector, and then I can just snap it in place!

After some fiddling with a multimeter and my TRAC/VSC switch's leads, I figured out the following purposes:
  1. White/Black: Ground
  2. White/Green: Dimmable Ground
  3. Green: Power
  4. Red/Black: Switched Output

"Dimmable Ground" is how the FJ dims the cabin lights: instead of the dimmer gradually reducing the input voltage from maximum to zero, it increases the "dimmable ground" voltage from zero to maximum - at full dimmness, the "dimmable ground" voltage is equal to the illumination power voltage. At maximum brightness, the "dimmable ground" voltage is zero.

I decided I'd wire my harness like so:



Note that there isn't any accessory power there - that's because this is just a illumination harness. The actual power that switches switch will come from who-knows-where - Maybe the fuse box, maybe directly from the battery - and go to who-knows-where. It doesn't make sense to bind those cables to the harness.

For example, when wiring the switch for my off-road lights, I only needed one illumination power lead and the dimmable ground to make it light properly. I added a molex connector for the input/output power that the switch will control and now my harness had snap-in connectors on all ends. Illumination connector is on the left, switched input/output is on the right.



I spliced my harness into my TRAC/VSC switch because it was on the edge of my button panel and I could easily reach to disconnect its harness and mess with it.



A butane-operated soldering iron was purchased for this undertaking and let me tell you - it's heavenly being able to make proper connections anywhere in the vehicle! I love that thing and I've been using it left and right ever since. I needed this because I couldn't get a wall-operated soldering station near enough to the FJ to solder a molex connector onto the wires that come out of the FJ's dashboard and originally ran to the TRAC/VSC switch - and I couldn't take them inside because those are not removable (that's the problem I set out to solve!) But after those four arduous solder connections, I will never have to contort myself or my tools to make a connection for a dashboard console switch again!

Aaaand it worked beautifully:



(archive link)
ZerosFJ and slymoan like this.

Last edited by 101Firedog; 04-27-2019 at 04:00 PM.
101Firedog is offline  
post #7 of 69 (permalink) Old 05-13-2017, 03:44 PM Thread Starter
Forum Veteran
 
101Firedog's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Texas
Posts: 400
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 142 Post(s)
Garage
(Thread Starter)
The Electric Upgrade

========================================
=====
===== The Electric Upgrade
=====
========================================


As I mentioned, I'm much handier with electrical things than mechanical (for now) so many of my modifications involve wiring.

At some point, I realized I should really give the base electrical system on which I'm relying some TLC. So, let's upgrade to a deep-cycle battery, Do a "big 3" starter + alternator + ground wire upgrade to larger gauges, and add a fuse box just for my accessories.

The Battery



An Optima 31M-PC2150. Some guy over on MyFJCruiser.com did the math and that is apparently the best value battery for the FJ Cruiser in terms of energy you can fit in the stock location.

It's spec'd to provide 1150 cold cranking amps and pulse up to 2150 amps, with a 205-minute reserve capacity (meaning it can put out 25A for 205 minutes before it'll be "empty.")

On top of that, it's a deep-cycle battery meaning that it can be deeply discharged (say, by keeping the lights on at night while working/camping, running a refrigerator overnight, or pulling heavy loads with an electric winch) without damaging the battery. This isn't the case with normal "starting" car batteries.

Plus, it's got four terminals - I can run all the core/stock stuff off one set, and tap into the others for my own accessories!

Unfortunately, the stock FJ battery terminal connectors, being L-shaped to hang over the edge of the stock battery, would not fit on the Odyssey. Furthermore, its larger size placed the terminals farther to the front of the vehicle than the stock terminals, meaning the stock wires weren't long enough anyway.

Pop Quiz: How do you add length to critical high-current power cables? Answer: You get new cables.

Using this battery would require all-new power cables... might as well upgrade them, too, right?

The Big Five

The "Big 3 Upgrade" usually refers to increasing the wire size of the following cables in a vehicle:
  1. Battery (-) to Frame/Chassis (grounding)
  2. Frame/Chassis to Engine Block (grounding)
  3. Alternator (+) to Battery (+) (power)

Not one for half-measures, I also had my eye on upgrading
  1. Battery (+) to Starter (power)
  2. Alternator (-) to Frame/Chassis (grounding)

I frequently drive my FJ in a state of ~85% together-ness to the local hardware or home-improvement stores while in the middle of electric or interior upgrades... but that would not be a possibility here, so I tried very hard to plan out the upgrade before starting, to ensure that I would have every piece necessary! The most crucial information I needed to know was https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/foru...ml#post8365113 - see that thread for pictures + answers.

For grins, here's the list of parts:
  1. 31M-PC2150 battery
  2. Class 31 battery tray
  3. NVX "Big 3" Upgrade Kit
  4. 5' 4-gauge welding cable, red
  5. 4x 4-gauge copper crimp ring terminals - flat & bendable
  6. 2x 0-gauge set-screw terminals
  7. Set KnuKonceptz ABSOLUTELY AMAZING battery block terminals (see below)
  8. 2x 3/8" Rubber Stud Terminal Covers
  9. 5/8" split wire loom - for 0-gauge cables
  10. 1/2" split wire loom - for 4-gauge cables
  11. 3/8" split wire loom - for 8-gauge cables & (re-)bundling stock wire harnesses
  12. Black zip ties!
  13. 8" J-Hook
  14. 10" J-Hook

Let's take a moment to talk about the battery terminals: "KnuKonceptz Ultimate Positive and Negative Battery Terminal Pair with OEM Top Post Adapter." Just go look at 'em:


  1. Square
  2. Set-screw terminals for 0, 4, and 8-gauge wires
  3. Side-facing threaded hole can either take ring-terminals or be a "normal" battery post for attaching your stock wiring harness. That doesn't work in the FJ... but it does provide a great place to connect a jumper cable!

I watched
of
and read lots of threads about accessing the core electrical components of the FJ.

In the end, I decided I could probably do it myself if I had a solid 3 days where I wouldn't need to drive anywhere. But, the 2017 Lone Star Toyota Jamboree was approaching and I did not have 3 days... so for the battery + wires, I sweet-talked one of the techs at my mechanic into heading up the project.

I brought all the parts, drew pictures of what I wanted, measured as much as I could ahead-of-time, and crossed my fingers. I told him they could do whatever they wanted with the "accessory" wires currently on my battery's screw terminal, but leave the winch cables alone. They got it done in less than one business day:



Coming off the positive terminal from top to bottom, we have 0-gauge to the starter, 4-gauge to the fuse box, and my pre-existing accessory power leads bundled up inside a protective split loom.

Coming off the negative terminal from top to bottom, we have a 0-gauge to the starter and a 4-gauge to the chassis.

In the top right, next to the stock fuse box is a 0-gauge ground from the alternator to the chassis.

With the hard work done in a timely fashion, I was technically ready - electrically - for the Jamboree and could take my time tidying it up.

The Fuse Box



A Blue Sea Systems box. They come highly-reviewed and with free 2-day Amazon Prime shipping

I decided to mount it on top of the lid of the existing fuse box. Lucky for me, the 6-circuit box's mounting holes mostly didn't overlap with any important information printed inside:





The box says it can handle 100A total, up to 30 per circuit, and should be fused at 125A upstream. I'd be using the 8-gauge set-screw mount off the positive battery block to power the fuse block, so I went looking for an inline 125A fuse + holder. Turns out those are really hard to find - I've got one on back-order currently that's expected to ship in a month. In the interim, I went with a 100A inline fuse + holder as I don't have the block maxed out yet, anyway:



Beautiful!

I'll tie the fuse holder down once the "real" one arrives. Accessing the stock fuse box is a a bit of a pain now but still possible without tools: When I unscrew one end of the inline fuse holder, I can pop out that side of its connection, cutting power to the fuse block and allowing me to flip the lid up and to the back of the FJ. Hopefully I don't have to go into the stock fusebox much anymore, since all of my accessories will be on the external block.

I connected my winch's cables to the 2nd set of battery terminals and added a protective rubber cover to the positive side.

Also note the big gold lug coming off the side of the positive battery terminal now, where my accessories were formerly connected. That's for connecting a clamp if I'm going to jump someone else's vehicle.

I put a narrower-diameter washer between the battery terminal and the post, forming a small lip that the second rubber cover (they came in a pack of 2) fits snugly over:



Charging the Battery

That Odyssey battery runs at a little higher voltage than a "normal" car battery - or at least higher than the stock FJ battery. The stock FJ alternator outputs a voltage suitable for charging the stock battery, but it's a bit too low to charge the Odyssey all the way. Specifically, the Odyssey requires 14.1 to 15 volts to charge, and my FJ's alternator usually output 13.4 to 13.8.

Fortunately, the FJ's alternator tries to sense the battery's voltage and output an appropriately-higher voltage to charge it... and the circuit that does this runs through a fuse in the stock fuse box! If a bit of resistance were added to that circuit, the alternator could be tricked into operating at a slightly higher voltage...

I learned this from a post on this very forum: Alternator Voltage?.

Not one for blindly trusting folks on the internet, I used my ScanTool OBDLink LX Bluetooth OBDII reader (I chose that particular model because it will shut itself off if the battery voltage drops too low, preventing it from discharging the battery if left connected - which I do. I leave it in my OBDII port permanently so I can always pull up my statistics when I'm in or near my FJ) to collect all the voltage information I could in a dashboard in the Torque android app and kept an eye on it for a month. I also periodically checked my battery's voltage with a voltmeter directly across its terminals, when the FJ was not running.

While driving, I would sometimes see 14.1 or 14.2 volts, but never for very long. And sure enough, the battery's "resting" voltage dropped little-by-little, over the course of a month, indicating that it was not able to be fully re-charged by the lower voltages of the FJ's alternator.

I ordered the $50 special handmade-in-Australia device from the thread linked above (I'd actually ordered it a while ago, but it took around a month to arrive), popped it into the slot in the stock fuse box, and BAM - my alternator now outputs 14.1 to 14.5 volts while driving, happily charging the Odyssey.



The "Alternator Voltage" thread contains ideas and instructions for making your own, for less than the cost to buy + ship from 'Straya, but it's such an elegant, simple solution that I don't regret the money spent.

(archive link)
Solid E, ZerosFJ, debFJVT and 2 others like this.

Last edited by 101Firedog; 04-27-2019 at 04:15 PM.
101Firedog is offline  
post #8 of 69 (permalink) Old 05-13-2017, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
Forum Veteran
 
101Firedog's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Texas
Posts: 400
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 142 Post(s)
Garage
(Thread Starter)
Hi-Lift Jack

========================================
=====
===== Hi-Lift Jack
=====
========================================


Everyone's gotta have a Hi-Lift Jack, right? Right. I couldn't find any well-reviewed jack covers that were reported to survive the Texas heat, and I didn't really want to put the jack on the front of the vehicle - where it would get filthydirty, block my view, and decapitate me in a highway accident - nor in the rear, where it'd block visibility (just kidding we all know there's no rear visibility) and get in the way of the door.

What about on the roof? Away from road grime, away from mud and dirt, not blocking any visibility, and not going to decapitate me if it comes loose in a collision!



I didn't want to spend a bajillion dollars on a custom-made jack mount, so I got a(nother) trusty set of pipe clamps, a bolt, two washers, a lock washer, a lock nut, and a wing nut (times two) and built my own. It worked very well, holding the jack through the pin holes in its main shaft... except it didn't quite fit at first. A little percussive coercion on the bolts (I smacked them upwards with a wrench) gave enough clearance for an easy but snug fit of the jack. Here's a closeup:



Speaking of the jack, the model I got had its red handle held into the black base by a single cotter pin which protruded out through a hole in the base and prevented the handle from sliding out. Pull the cotter pin out and the handle could easily be removed.



It was a tiny cotter pin, and not weatherproof. It snapped off the first time I tried to use the jack. The jack was still serviceable (and the handle was held in place by the rubber brace when stored on the roof) but I definitely wanted to fix it.

So, I drilled a hole in the other side of the handle and its sleeve on the base for a 1/4" hitch pin:



Now the handle is extra-secure but also more-easily removed!

(archive link)

Last edited by 101Firedog; 04-27-2019 at 04:16 PM.
101Firedog is offline  
post #9 of 69 (permalink) Old 05-13-2017, 09:52 PM Thread Starter
Forum Veteran
 
101Firedog's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Texas
Posts: 400
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 142 Post(s)
Garage
(Thread Starter)
APEX Rock Sliders

========================================
=====
===== All-Pro APEX Rock Sliders
=====
========================================




After the 2016 Lone Star Toyota Jamboree, these turned up for sale, un-painted. I don't have powdercoating tools but I've successfully painted PVC before - how hard could metal be?

I chose Rustoleum self-etching primer and Rustoleum textured black paint, then turned my patio into a paint studio:



and after too many ounces of mineral oil, painter's rags, strips of sandpaper, cans of paint and primer, and elbow grease, I swore to myself that I'd never plan to paint something on my patio ever again. I'll order with powdercoating if possible, and I'll go find a real garage or yard to paint in if I can't.

The APEX sliders came with little stand-offs to move the brake lines up and away from the slider's supports. I found that they didn't quite move the brake lines off of the sharp metal edges, so I wrapped my brake line in some 3/4" (I think...) protective split wiring loom:



There is more discussion of these standoffs over here: https://www.fjcruiserforums.com/foru...n-sliders.html

All done and lookin' awesome:



(archive link)
FJFool likes this.

Last edited by 101Firedog; 04-27-2019 at 04:16 PM.
101Firedog is offline  
post #10 of 69 (permalink) Old 05-13-2017, 11:14 PM
Forum Master
 
BOBTAILFJ's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Vancouver WA
Posts: 1,373
Mentioned: 17 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 339 Post(s)
Garage
Re: 101Firedog's fire dog: ARCA9

Quote:
101Firedog previously said: View Post


Arcanine is a bright orange fire-type Pokemon. My FJ is bright and orange... I call it the "Chihuahuan desert camouflage kit," as red dirt desert is where I love to go.

I'm much handier with electronics than I am with automotive mechanics, so most of what I've done to my FJ so far is small and fiddly.

Some modifications may be more in-depth than others, and will have a link to a post that describes it in full, with photos of the process. The rest are in a list at the bottom of the first post.

========================================
=====
===== CB Radio (full details)
=====
========================================




The first real modification I did after getting ARCA9 - rip out the (surprisingly nice) stock stereo head and add a Cobra 18WXSTII radio. The cobra is a convenient 1-DIN form-factor (standard "single" dashboard slot size), has a built-in front-facing speaker (perfect for in-dash installation) but moreover it has a "scan" feature that other radios in its class don't. If you only ever use the CB when you know who you plan to talk to (such as at an ORV event, or for work), then that's not important but if, like me, you like to listen as you travel across the country's interstates, "scan" is a must-have.

Antennae-wise, I went with a 4' FireStik but ended up building my own adequately-grounded, adjustable-angle roof-rack mount, operated by just a thumb screw (using key parts from the Comet RS-660U mount. Now, I can have it fully flat when I'm driving around town and may have to enter a parking garage, I can have it partway up when off-roading through low trees, and I can have it the full 11ft or so above ground when cruising down the highway.

========================================
=====
===== Passenger Power Outlet(s) (full details)
=====
========================================




Yes there are two working 120V AC outlets and two 2.4A fast-charging USB ports in my dashboard

========================================
=====
===== Cabin Wiring Harnesses (full details)
=====
========================================




The prospect of wiring up a dimmable backlit switch with a separate "on" indicator was daunting... and I'd been in my dashboard console before, so I knew how tiny the wires were and how there was never any slack when you wanted it, and how they were all bundled inside tape or a cable guard. So, when I went in the first time, I went in with a plan: I'd build a simple, snap-on / snap-off harness for these center console illuminated switches so that in the future I'd be able to assemble & prepare a switch from the comfort of my home and then just click it into place inside the dashboard.

I applied the same technique to my cabin fuse box, but for a different goal - I was running out of live, un-used circuits to tap into! Now I have plenty of easily-accessible, snap-together connectors for powering peripherals.

========================================
=====
===== The Electric Upgrade (full details)
=====
========================================




The Big Five cables, a deep-cycle Odyssey 31M-PC2150 battery, a fuse box just for my accessories and a boost to the alternator's voltage.

========================================
=====
===== Off-Road Lights
=====
========================================




Dear Rigid: You make great lights but your wiring instructions aren't really the best approach. I wired my 4 lights the right way, which gave me the ability to snap-in up to 4 more without having to run any cables except from a snap-in connector near the battery to where I actually want the lights.

========================================
=====
===== Miscellaneous 4-Wheeling Improvements
=====
========================================


Coming soon: Separate posts with details

  1. Hi-Lift Jack & roof-rack mount
  2. All-Pro APEX Rock Sliders
  3. Front & Rear bumpers + winch
  4. Set of BudBuilt Skid Plates)

========================================
=====
===== Miscellaneous Simple Improvements
=====
========================================


Coming soon: Separate posts with details

  1. Tuffy Lockable Center Console
  2. Fire Extinguisher Mounted in Trunk
  3. "Zombie Response Vehicle" Label
  4. Capacitive Dashcam
  5. TrailToys EZ-View (integrated blind-spot) Mirrors
  6. Contract-free wireless WiFi hotspot with unlimited data
Wow! You are a regular Tesla Edison!
Nice job!


NWFJCC #2007-14
TLCA #18092

FJ CRUISER (Hammer of the Honky Tonk Gods)

2008 FJ Cruiser (Trigger) Born 07/07
1996 T100 SR5 (Crimson Floyd)) Born 06/96 Totaled 11/01/2018
1986 Hilux 4x4 Longbed (Gutless Wonder) SOLD
1976 FJ40 SOLD (Ol'76)
BOBTAILFJ is offline  
Reply

  Toyota FJ Cruiser Forum > Toyota FJ Cruiser Discussion > Member Build Ups

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the Toyota FJ Cruiser Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in











Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page
Display Modes
Linear Mode Linear Mode



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome