Icom IC-2730A Dual Band Ham Radio – Discrete Install for Communication Options for the 5th Gen 4Runner
Being able to communicate while off-roading is a must for any 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner owner, however, there are very few options to mounting when it comes to radios.
Depending on the options you go with, you are either stuck with a bulky box somewhere in plain view that you cannot remove or making extreme modifications to fit pieces in other locations. With the ICOM-2730a, you have multiple solutions to mount hardware, not only in a discrete way but also in a way that can be easily removed.
Why Install A Radio?
Some of you may wonder why you should install a hardwired radio vs. your handheld. In all honesty, it’s a matter of personal preference; however, a hardwired radio will provide stronger wattage, meaning your signal will be much stronger and allow you to pick up others much further away from you—something that a handheld radio cannot do.
One thing I noticed while using my small handheld radio was that while it did work in small groups…when groups were a little larger, (like around 10 people) if I was in the rear, I could not hear the leader clearly. This can be an issue if someone were to break down who may not have a radio to communicate. You may also miss hearing things on the road such as obstacles due to dust blocking part of your vision.
Most importantly though, you will have a much greater range with a hardwired radio. That means for things like weather announcements and emergency lines, you are more likely to hear important updates or get help if necessary.
Parts For Install
- ICOM-2730a: Check Price
- ICOM MBA-5: Check Price
- External Speaker: Check Price
- (2) 3” L Brackets
- Double-sided adhesive tape
- Heavy Duty Velcro Tape
- Drill & bits
- Wiring Tools
- Ring Connectors
- Plastic Trim Tools
Step 1. Remove Transmission Channel Cover
Important Note: Before you get started, I should put a disclaimer out that I often wheel my vehicle and it gets filthy. My 4Runner gets used quite often so don’t get too disgusted by the dirt and dust on it. Normally I get it detailed every Winter, but this year, it didn’t happen.
In order to wire this cleanly, I wanted to route the wiring in places it wouldn’t easily be seen. I knew I’d have to go through the transmission channel area in order to do so, as I would be mounting the faceplate in the lower cubby of the center dash. This area is never used for anything of mine, and as far as I’m concerned, it is practically useless (until now that is).
Let’s get started!
If you have a Trail/Off-Road or TRD Pro, you will need to remove both the 4×4 knob and shifter nob. It’s as simple as anything else you screw on. Twist to the left to loosen and remove; twist to the right to tighten and secure on. This process will be the same for SR5 models, however, the 4×4 knob will not need to be removed or touched.
Once those are removed, it’s as simple as grabbing the corners and pulling up and away from the transmission channel. They all use snaps that will pop loose while doing this. If for some reason you are having a hard time doing this, you can remove the driver’s side cup holder and then get your hand under to pop loose the cover.
Once the cover is up you will have wire connections that need to be unclipped. For Trail/Off-Road and Pro models, you will have one, just in front of the passenger side cup holder that controls the heated seats. If you have an SR5 you will have this clip plus an additional one for the electronic 4×4 knob. After this is done you are free to put it aside.
Step 2. Remove Center Dash Pieces
Once the transmission channel cover is removed, you have five total pieces left to remove. Basically, everything below the stereo will be removed in order to complete this process. Really only one is truly needed to be removed, however, you cannot remove it without removing the other.
To begin you want to pull away from the side panels that go from the transmission cover up to the air control knobs. This works the same way as the transmission cover. You want to grab with a good grip and pull towards you. This can be a bit harder as there isn’t a ton of areas to grip, but it will pop off.
After those two pieces are removed, you should see two Phillips heads. You will want to remove both of those and set them aside.
Next, you will want to remove the air control part of the center dash. Be careful when removing this as it has a wire connected in the back, as well as a clip to keep it in place. Both of these will be removed. Neither is hard, you just don’t want to damage the clip.
Step 3. Remove Lower Cubby
Removing the lower cubby isn’t technical, but you must remove the lower long clip piece first. If you do not remove this, you will not be able to remove the entire cubby system, which includes the USB and 12V power.
The cubby system also has two connections in the back that you need to remove in order to fully remove it from the center dash. Unlike the other items that simply come out, this one sits in at a somewhat angle. While it isn’t tricky to remove, you do want to take your time.
You want to pull in an upwards direction while also pulling towards you to remove this. A little strength was needed on my end, but it did eventually pop out. Just try to have some control so you don’t put any stress on the wiring behind it.
Step 4. Drill Hole
This is the only modification needed that is permanent. In order to get the wiring from the brain of the radio to the faceplate, you need a way for the wire to access the back of the faceplate. As mentioned earlier, the wire will feed through the transmission tunnel into the rear of the cubby.
On the ICOM-2730a, the connection for the faceplate to the brain is located on the back right side if you are looking at the faceplate from behind. I drilled my hole dead center of the lower cubby, but you don’t necessarily need to do this. I chose this way in case I upgraded in the future to another radio or ICOM that may have the connection somewhere else on the faceplate.
You should be able to drill through this with no issue as the plastic is very thin. In fact, even if you don’t have a drill, you could more than likely do this with a razor plate or something with a point. Just be sure to test the wire to ensure it can make it through.
Step 5. Install Magnet Mount
While there are multiple options for the faceplate such as a dedicated mount or window suction mount, I chose the magnet mount so I could easily have it somewhere while off-roading. There is zero chance of it falling off or breaking loose, but it also takes up little to no space and allows for various positions to be mounted.
The other reason I liked it is because I am able to remove it whenever I am out of the vehicle. While off-roading and camping, you don’t need to worry about thieves breaking into your vehicle. However, unless you have a private garage for your vehicle, odds are you are parking it somewhere where criminals can easily see it with a flashlight.
With the magnet mount, you simply pop it off the mount and unplug the faceplate. That’s it, you’re done. Take it with you, leave it in your home, whatever you want to do—it’s out of sight and guaranteed to not be a money sign to thieves.
The magnet mount is a simple install. The magnets screw into the back of the faceplate and stick to a small metal bracket with grooves in it for the circular magnet.
Step 6. Measure Brackets
For all the pieces that you removed, you want the lower section that was removed last. This is where the radio faceplate is going to be mounted. You can choose how you want to mount this. Ultimately I don’t see any reason why using a self tapper or bolt wouldn’t work, but I decided I wanted to stick with the adhesive mount style. As long as you are using an industrial-style kind, you will be more than fine.
I bought two 3” L brackets for this mounting solution. One thing that you will likely need to do is shorten the bracket a bit for the radio to mount. I had to shave off roughly 1-1/2” to where I felt it looked nice. Before that, the bracket came close to hitting the bottom of the cubby.
The next thing you want to do is decide how far out you want the radio to stick. This is a matter of personal preference, but keep in mind that the microphone attaches on the right side when facing the faceplate. You want to keep enough room on the right to be able to connect the mic.
Because I wanted mine to sit centered rather than off-center, I left mine hanging out just a tad bit to be able to fit the mic. If it were off-center, you may be able to sit it more flush than mine is, but with my OCD that would drive me insane.
Keep in mind that you might need to bend your brackets upward so you can see the faceplate better, however, the brackets I bought already had a nice curve to them that allowed me to not have to deal with this.
Step 7. Mount Brackets
Once you trim and test fit your brackets with the faceplate to see where you like everything to sit, mount the L bracket however you like. This might be with the adhesive like I used, or perhaps you want to use a self tapper. Whatever you choose is more than fine.
Before installing the second L bracket be sure to ensure you have just the right amount of space for the magnetic bracket. That way it fits nice and snug, rather than being too long or too short.
Next, continue by adding the adhesive to the front side of the L bracket and mount the magnetic bracket to them. Be sure to give the adhesive a bit of time to work before putting the magnetic faceplate on. The magnets are strong and if enough bonding hasn’t happened, it could pull it off.
Don’t forget you want the side facing the magnets to be the one with a slight lip. The circular magnets fit into this slight groove easily.
Step 8. Choose Brain Position
When it comes to mounting the brain, you technically can mount it wherever you want. The most popular position is under the passenger seat. I couldn’t do that as I have the OEM Audio Plus amp under the passenger seat. I also wouldn’t have done that due to the further length needed to reach the battery.
It doesn’t necessarily matter what angle you place the brain at, however, make sure the fan isn’t blocked and it can breathe. I placed mine with the fan facing the driver side of the vehicle so I’d have a little more room for power going to the battery, but also mounting the antenna out the window frame.
Once you finalize where you want it to sit, place the hook side of the velcro on the brain bottom. If you are unsure of which is the hook and loop, the hook is the rough side where the loop side is soft. The hook will attach to the carpeting of the 4Runner with no issue and stay in place on any trail you venture down.
Step 9. Wiring The Faceplate
Once the position is in place for the brain, you will want to run your wiring from where the faceplate will be to the frame. I did this before plugging into the brain to give myself more flexibility with the wire. I simply ran it to where the cubby sits down my own path where nothing clips in, down the driver side of the transmission channel, and then slightly pushed the plastic trim out to allow the wire to come out.
I have the wire coming out near the seat belt clip as this keeps it disguised the most and honestly should never be seen by anyone who isn’t actually looking for something to find.
Be sure to give yourself some wiggle room with the wire in the event the brain does come loose or the vehicle flexes. You don’t need much, but a little bit of slack in the line will go a long way. Not to mention, it won’t get in the way of anything.
If you purchased the external speaker, you may want to run the wiring through the channel to your preferred place at this time. I left mine under the driver’s seat as it is more than loud enough to hear, but you may prefer elsewhere.
Step 10. Put It Back Together
With everything finished wiring-wise, you can simply put everything back together in the reverse order it was taken out.
- the cubby;
- the clip that holds the cubby in place;
- the air controller;
- the 2 side panels;
- and the transmission channel cover and knobs
Don’t forget to clip any power wires back into place. These would be for the USB and 12v on the cubby, the air controller, as well as the heated seats and electronic knob if applicable.
Step 11. Attach To Battery
First, you want to pop off the plastic at the bottom of the door frame to expose the wiring channel. To remove this, you can either squeezer your fingers under it and lift up or use a plastic trim tool to remove it. Whichever you use is up to you, but a little force is necessary.
Once this is removed, you can also go ahead and remove the panel that covers the wiring just below the OBD port. There is one screw that holds this in and can be found just to the left and somewhat behind the footrest.
Next, route wiring through the firewall
Now is the fun part. Getting the wiring through the firewall. Unlike most applications that have two wires with nothing attached to them, the wires for the radio have two fuses at one end and a clip at the other to attach to the brain. You will need to do either two things in order to get this done.
The easiest is to pull out the two wires from the clip that connects to the brain and run them through the firewall grommet. Otherwise, you’re going to need to extend the wires through the firewall, leaving the fuses not close to the battery (which you want).
I have the worst luck with this and it took me nearly 2 hours to get it through. I do already have an sPod wire, as well as reverse lights running through my firewall so that was a problem on its own. However, if you have the right tools, you can make your job a lot easier. Don’t keep forgetting to buy a wire puller tool like I do.
You will need to crimp on ring connectors for the battery terminals as they aren’t supplied in this kit. After this is done, you are finished and ready to test out the radio.
The last thing to do is put back all the plastic removed for the wiring job, and tidy up any wiring that you might have loose. Because ICOM and the external speaker I chose included lengthy wiring for all vehicle applications, I took a zip tie to keep everything in order. As mentioned before, I did leave a little bit of room for movement, barring there was any.
If you choose not to use the mounting bracket for the speaker as I did, you can simply add the hook to the bottom of the speaker and connect it to the floor. I have mine sitting underneath my driver’s seat facing forward.
Don’t forget to connect the mic to the radio to be able to talk and also plug in the numbers of the channel you want. I also decided to mount my microphone underneath the airbag indicator for the passenger seat. I used both the hook and loop to be able to velcro it there, and I have no doubt it’ll work just fine.
While this seems like a lengthy install it isn’t, and can honestly be done in a couple of hours. It took me about 3 hours total to complete everything, and a good half of that was dealing with the grommet in the firewall. Had I had a nice wire pulling tool, it likely would have taken me a matter of minutes.
Because the cubby hole at the bottom was useless, I was happy to finally be able to find something to make use of it, and it honestly is a perfect spot. The cup holder can still be used without issue, the screen can be easily read, and the majority of chunky things, such as the brain and speaker, are all out of sight.
What’s even more impressive is that this has no effect on the seat moving forward and backward. There is a big enough gap between the floor and items that they don’t get caught on anything.
Please keep in mind that you need a license to operate this radio, though you don’t need one to buy it.
Great write up Kiel! I’m looking to get the same radio, and was wondering what you did about the connection of the controller. I’m assuming the controller has to be connected to the brain and not the faceplate, so did you have to run an extension through your center console to have your controller mount right next to the faceplate like you have it? Thanks for the help in advance! Just want to make sure I have all of the parts in order before I get started on the install.
Intrigued by the “magnetic mount” brackets to mount the control head. I have the same radio in my Tacoma and also in my Frontler… In Frontier I put head on radio and am using as a “whole unit.” CN you post or reply with more on the magnet parts please?
I’m not the radio police, but you need to mention the Icom2730a is an amateur band radio and an amateur radio license is required to transmit in the USA. It’s not a CB and it won’t transmit on GMRS or MURS frequencies.
My 2730a is mounted in a similar fashion to yours, but I used an AMPS clamshell cell phone mount which allows some articulation of the control head angle. The radio chassis is mounted on plywood, under the driver’s seat with an external speaker facing forward and powered directly from the battery via a relay.
I’m using a magnetic NMO mount with a Larsen NMO2/70 antenna or a 19″ whip when I’m citybound. I would like to install an NMO through the roof mount, but I haven’t found good information how to route the antenna cable so it doesn’t interfere with the side curtain air bags.
I have a Icom 5100 to install. I am curious how you decided to route and mount your external antenna? Thanks for the article.
I haven’t done a hard mount yet, just because I’m not sure if I want to drill a hole in the roof or not. For now I’ve just been running the antenna wire under the carpeting and under the rear plate in the vehicle, and then running it out between the hatch and have it on a magnetic mount on the roof.
Hi, I have an Icom 2730a as well in my 4runner. I was wondering if you think the external speaker facing forward under the driver’s seat makes a big difference to being able to hear the radio vs just the internal speaker? Thanks!
Definitely does, 100%. I ended up moving mine in front of the center console, but behind the controls for the heated seats. I found if on washboard roads it can muffle out the speaker a little bit. But admittedly I don’t have the best hearing.