A Work in Progress
This post documents the installation of an Escort 9500ci RADAR detector in my 2005 Corvette. Although the work is not yet complete, I've made enough progress for a substantial report. The installation thus far has been very challenging and time-consuming, but it has also been a very rewarding experience.
The first problem I encountered was how to mount the front RADAR receiver module. Behind the grille of the C6 is a flat shelf which is an ideal mounting surface. The problem is, it sits about an inch lower than the bottom of the grille opening:
If you put the RADAR antenna on the Escort-supplied bracket and place it on this shelf, the antenna can barely peek out through the bottom edge of the opening:
To compensate for this, I built a small platform out of some 1" aluminum angle stock and the Escort-supplied bracket to raise the base of the RADAR antenna (many thanks to category4 for the inspiration):
Here's what it looks like from the bottom, with the red mounting tape attached:
I painted everything (except the bottom surface where the mounting tape would be affixed) in Krylon Camouflage Black before putting it together. Before painting, I washed the aluminum parts with some dish soap and a Scotch-Brite pad to get rid of all the grease/oil on the surface and allow the paint to adhere better.
I also cleaned the "shelf" area behind the grille, first with dishwashing soap and water, and then with denatured alcohol so that the mounting tape would have the cleanest possible surface to which to adhere. I then attached the completed assembly to the "shelf" behind the grille with the mounting tape. I then levelled it using a small bubble level.
I used a couple of small stick-on ziptie anchors to keep the wire from flying around in the wind. They do say "indoor/outdoor" use on the package, so we'll see how well they hold up. And yes, I clipped off the ends of the zipties after the photo was taken.
There is a convenient hole at the top of the behind-the-grille cavity which is just large enough to fit the inline connector through; it's also safely away from hot parts like the radiator. Once inside the engine compartment, I enclosed the wire inside some 1/2" split-loom plastic tubing, both for aesthetics and protection.
Zipties were used to anchor the split-loom to a factory wiring harness. This keeps the wiring away from potential problems like getting pinched in the hood support piston shown in the photograph. I was able to squeeze the split-loom underneath the battery tray and route it to the firewall, where it's invisible amongst all the factory split-loom.
Although there is a large grommet in this area which many people have used successfully to route wires into the cabin, I chose to drill a new hole for the wiring. The firewall is made of fiberglas-reinforced plastic and is very easy to drill through.
The Escort-supplied grommet provides a good seal.
Slipping the wire into the wire loom completes the under-hood routing.
The wire emerges into the footwell area on the passenger side of the car. This is where a fuse box, a relay panel, and the amplifier for the stereo reside, and makes an ideal place to home-run all the wiring for the 9500ci. My Valentine One hardwire also terminates in this area. There is a space at the bottom of the well, just beneath the factory amp, where I plan to place the 9500ci interface module as well as my HUD-One.
At the back of the car, I installed the rear LIDAR jammer head on the license plate bolts and ran the wire up through an existing opening into the (hollow) tail piece. The license plate frame is the chrome dealer advertising plate that came with the car, which I painted flat black using the same Krylon Camouflage paint that I used on the RADAR antenna mounting pieces. I painted the license plate frame months ago and installed it on the car in order to test how well the Krylon paint would hold up to the elements; so far it has done well, with no noticeable peeling or chipping. From a distance, the LIDAR jammer head is barely noticeable against the black frame.
Then I removed one of the taillights and drilled a hole to route the wire into the rear hatch area.
Once again I used the Escort-supplied grommet to seal the hole and ziptied the wiring to a nearby factory harness.
I installed the GPS antenna on top of the passenger side wheel well, as far outboard as I could get it, using the 3M mounting tape.
In this location there are only a couple of plastic body panels between the antenna and the sky. Before locking it down I did some tests to make sure I wasn't screwing myself, and the performance in this location was indistinguishable from using the Escort-supplied bracket suction-cupped onto the windsheild.
In order to route the wiring forward I removed the three trim pieces surrounding the passenger side door frame, as well as the "halo" cover and the passenger side rear speaker cover. The little push-pins that hold these pieces on can be a ***** to remove; I snapped the head off one and a second one flew off someplace and is MIA. I recommend swinging by the hardware sore and picking up some spares before you start your install.
With the trim pieces off, it's a straightforward matter to route the wires. As before, I followed the factory wiring harness and ziptied the new wires to it.
You'll notice I did not install the ZR4 jammer heads. The problem I ran into is that the underside of the C6 nose piece, though flat, is not level - both sides slope downward in a slight V-shape. Simply attaching the Escort-supplied brackets to the underside of the nose would leave the jammer heads slightly out of level. I decided to defer the front jammer head installation to a later date. Eventually I hope to come up with a solution which will allow me to mount LI heads, as well.
Other things on the to-do list: I still have to find a permanent mounting solution for the 9500ci's speaker. I also have to tear the center console apart to run the wiring for my auxiliary mute button and the control module (which will be mounted in the ashtray behind a flip-down door).