Trick Learned to Align Jammer Sensors Heads

Maz3

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I've read and viewed many techniques people have used to align jammer sensor heads to point straight, including making sophisticated jigs, gluing rulers together, using lasers etc., and if they work for you all the better as that's all that matters. I'm amazed how many people align their sensors "by eye", even some "professional" installers I've spoken with don't use any form of measuring for alignment - when the alignment is checked the sensors are never straight in my experience.

I found during my recent install of six sensors on my vehicle that ensuring the sensors were level was as easy as using the level, but the alignment caused me some thinking. I thought I would share a simple jig I came up with, which may be obvious or already know to some, but it may benefit others not having to reinvent the wheel. I believe it's the easiest technique I've seen for a single system install, and the sensor install can be done without the need for a second set of hands. The following looks like a lot of complicated steps, but in reality I think it's very straight forward; I just tried to be detailed so there are no questions required. In fact, it took me longer to write this up then it did to build the jig and start aligning heads.

The foundation of this jig is based on all vehicles (less custom or vehicle damage) being symmetrical, and any two points each side of centre across the vehicle's width will be the same in all aspects. As such a level straight edge will be perfectly parallel the front/rear of the vehicle when touching these two symmetrical points.

Required Tools:

1) Straight edge wide enough to touch two symmetrical points of the vehicle either side of centre; a yardstick for example;
2) Masking tape to use as a marking surface on the straight edge, and also to line the edges of the straight edge to protect your paint;
3) Square, smaller size is just fine and easier to handle;
4) Business card and/or any object that has square corners and sides - a contrasting colour allows the best precision;
5) Small level; and
6) Pen or pencil to mark the straight edge with thin lines; i.e. Sharpie felt pen are too thick, and will not allow as much precision in the alignment of the sensors.

Jig Construction (Example Photo Attached):
1) Run masking tape around the outer edge of your straight edge so it will not damage the paint on your vehicle. A wood straight edge probably doesn't need this, but I would strongly recommend it if using a metal straight edge;
2) Cover one side of the straight edge with masking tape, which you will be drawing lines on with your pen/pencil. This step is not required if you are not worried about marking up your straight edge;
3) Using your square mark a series (I found three lines at each sensor location worked well, and the line spacing is not critical) perpendicular lines on the wide masking taped side of your straight edge;
4) Using your square mark at least one (a couple more provides some flexibility if required) line running the length of the masked straight edge; and
5) Check your work, pat yourself on the back then have a whiskey or other favourite beverage, and chill. ☺

The completed jig should look similar to this - you may have more or less lines depending on your particular vehicle and number of sensors. Again, the line spacing is not critical:
Completed Jig.jpg

Jig Operation (Example Photos Attached):
1) Rough-in each sensor mounting; e.g. lightly attached with body panel tape so they can be moved around while in place, or mount the sensor brackets if using those;
2) The straight edge will be utilized across the width of vehicle in the area of your sensors, marked lines facing up;
3) Place the level on the side of the straight edge with the lines, within your line of sight for the sensor you're about to adjust;
4) Maintaining the straight edge level side-to-side, hold it up to the sensors until the straight edge touches two symmetrical points on the vehicle, either side of centre;
5) Using your business card, or other object with square corners that can reach the sensor face, align the sensor face with card edge, and the card with any of the lines on the masking tape;
6) Once everything is aligned on a level straight edge, secure the sensor in place as it is now pointing perfectly straight forward/backward, and check your work;
7) Move to your next sensor and repeat; and
8) Once all sensors are aligned, have another drink while you assess if I'm an idiot or a genius - your call. :laugh:

Photo example of aligning the straight edge across the front of the vehicle, keeping the straight edge level, aligning the sensor to the card, and the card to the straight edge lines:
Jig in Use.jpg


Close up of the same sensor being aligned:
Jig in Use Close up.jpg

I hope this technique is of benefit to some, and now it's my turn for a drink . I've checked my work, but I know once I post this I'll discover: bad grammar; spelling mistakes; use of the wrong to, too, or two; or there, they're and their; so please forgive - I've been drinking :drinking:😂
 

V1Jake

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Good stuff, thanks for sharing how you worked out getting the heads aligned
 

SilenceDogoodNinja

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I build a mount to align my head by using a long ruler, tape and a protractor to figure out straight with the right angles. You have some great ideas in here I better consider to check my installs again. Thanks for sharing.
 

nicholat

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I would double check your level, those that come with ALP have been known not to be accurate. You check a Level by placing it on a level surface and then flipping it upside down. It should read the same. My car and I believe most have a V shape, so any kind of jig would need to have a large cutout in center to get the straight line close to the sensor
 

Maz3

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I would double check your level, those that come with ALP have been known not to be accurate. You check a Level by placing it on a level surface and then flipping it upside down. It should read the same. My car and I believe most have a V shape, so any kind of jig would need to have a large cutout in center to get the straight line close to the sensor
I checked it against two other construction levels to be sure as you're right, the little levels are not always accurate. a three levels agreed with each other.

Excellent reminder though for those of us that use these little bubble levels - thanks.
 

Maz3

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Yes basically the same. The difference that I think is important is using the level on the straight edge to help ensure the straight edge touches the same two symmetrical points, and therefore the straight edge will be as parallel as possible. On my vehicle I found even a small difference off level caused the straight edge to be out of parallel.

Aligning the straight edge by eye may work just fine though, more so depending on the vehicle. I'm a tad precise (a polite version of the word :laugh:) and may have made the process more complicated than required for some, but it's verifiable for other likeminded "precise" people. ;)

In my research I noted some were using the straight edge across just the sensors, and aligning the sensor faces to the straight edge. I believe that technique will ensure the sensors are pointed the same direction, but not necessarily straight ahead/behind. If one sensor is mounted ahead or behind the other, they will point in the same direction but off axis to the vehicle.
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My car and I believe most have a V shape, so any kind of jig would need to have a large cutout in center to get the straight line close to the sensor
I had a similar issue with the V shape for a couple of my sensors, so I used the jig on the backside of the grill using the same procedure.

For those situations that have an obstacle in the way, like a the infamous grill mounted Mazda adaptive cruise control that so many of the RD community love ;) that would be a time to use a square object vs the business card to gain the distance from the straight edge to the sensor face.

My jig clearly doesn't cover every situation for sure, but I hope it will work for others, or at least give others a concept to consider in addressing their particular situations.
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Using the tripod really takes away from the true full experience though... I mean, where in that set-up is the opportunity to swear and jump around as you have two hands free?!?! I mean, really? 😂

Seriously, the tripod would make it much easier for sure. In particular, you wouldn't have to wait to finish each stage to have that drink! You can stop at any point in the procedure for one, heck two, with a tripod. :cheerleader:
 
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gwing

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I had to prop up the outer edges with wood while the sugru dried. That was really frustrating!?!?
 

Maz3

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I had to prop up the outer edges with wood while the sugru dried. That was really frustrating!?!?
I hadn't heard of Sugru until seeing it mentioned in the forums here, so I thought I'd give it a try in my last install. However, it didn't work for me as it set-up kind of crumbly which I've heard other's complain about if it's too old. Mine was well before the expiry date...

I went back to an old standby of mine when needing to match to dissimilar shaped surfaces. I use J-B Weld's Putty Sticks - not the two tubes of their epoxy as it's too runny, but the kind that looks like a tubular piece of plasticine clay. You can mold it to any shape you want and it will hold that shape while if sets fully; J-B Weld Putty

In the case of mounting sensors, I don't want the putty to adhere to the sensor or the car body incase I need to remove/change the set-up. I cover the car body/grille location where I'm going to mount the sensor and the sensor with masking tape, so the putty won't adhere to either just to the tape. With a wad putty I press the sensor into place which forces the putty to take the shape to match both the sensor and the car body to each other - use only as much as required to keep it looking tight.

You get about five minutes of time to adjust everything into place, level etc. before the putty sets. It will hold the sensor in place without much assistance while it sets. After it's firm to the touch, I gently pull it all apart and remove the masking tape, then let the putty set-up fully.

Once it's set-up I hand sand any extra putty off (sands very easy) or sand to make minor adjustments for leveling etc., and then flat black spray paint any portions of the putty that will be exposed to view simply for cosmetics - don't paint the mating surfaces though.

Once the paint has dried I use two sided car body tape to adhere the putty to the car, and the sensor to the putty - I don't press the sensor in hard at this point, just enough to stay in place. Check the level and alignment, pull it apart/adjust it in place if required, until it is the way you want it, then press the sensor in hard and you're done.

Once done the assembly stays in place, but it can be removed with a panel trim removal pry tool if required - I don't use a flathead screw driver or the like as I think there is a higher risk of marring something.

One package of the putty is plenty to install all of the sensors, and enough left over for mistakes/redo's. This process is only for mounting the sensor without using the metal sensor mounting brackets - those I screw into place if I'm using them.
 
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Gunney57

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These two tools have paid for themselves in convenience and accuracy during the ALP install.

View attachment 143500View attachment 143501

Starrett 134 2"x3" Cross test level and plumb
Digital protractor (smaller the better)
A toolmaker friend has that 134 cross level and it is a handy tool for sure. I thought I would get my own and scared myself looking up the price! I'll bet China has done an affordable knockoff by now.
 

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