HF Antennas on RV's, Travel Trailers & 5th Wheels
I do a lot of camping and have a 31' travel trailer. Right now I use a G5RV when I'm able to hang it in trees however sometimes it's not easy to do this and would like to get different ideas on what kind permently mounted antennas other hams use on their RV's, campers, ect. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance
Well, I have a Tarheel Antenna's Screwdriver mounted on a tripod that opens up to 7' radials, the antenna is good for 10-80 m and works quite well. There are also mounts available to attach it to a ladder or on top of the trailer with a fold down.
There was a write up in QST where a ham modified a MFJ 1775 antenna and uses it for 2 to 40 meters. He has it mounted on a small mast. The elements fold flat against the boom for travel.
Richard L. Ray
Member ARRL, ARRL Diamond Club, Accredited Volunteer Examiner
Chattanooga Amateur Radio Club, Sons of Confederate Veterans
"Never ask a man what kind of computer he drives. If it's a Mac, he'll tell you. If not, why embarrass him?" Tom Clancy
We have a 32' fifth wheel and I am wrestling with the same issue. For overnight stops or short stays the hassle of putting up an antenna requiring fiberglass poles and such often just doesn't seem worth the effort after a long day on the road.
I suspect a foldover screwdriver mounted atop the ladder would be ok - just watch out for the power lines since 10' of trailer plus 8' of antenna puts you in the power line danger zone. I have encountered some rather low hanging power lines in some RV parks.
I have been using a Par End-Fed 10/20/40. Its not 'permanent' but easily deployed as a vertical with a fiberglass pole or horizontal along the length of the camper.
One risk with any permanently mounted wire antenna is that of snagging tree limbs in the RV park. Be sure that the antenna mount points if ripped off don't unduly damage your trailer. I am considering using 'velcro' type attachments on the fiberglass end caps.
There was a QST article describing a fold over magnetic loop antenna that a fellow installed permanently on his trailer. Before field day I talked with a fellow parked in Yellowstone who had built a permanently mounted mag loop on his trailer and that included remote tuning motors. Sounded like he put a lot of work into the construction.
Several of our ham RV'ing friends use screwdrivers or 8' whips with a remote antenna tuner permanently mounted on the roof access ladder. The tuner serves well with the whip or random long wire if location permits.
One of the guys has his screwdriver mounted from the receiver hitch on the rear of his trailer. I don't know how well it works in this low mount position but it eliminates the need to remove while traveling and avoids power line contact.
Member 'Good Sam' Hammin' Sams RV Club - K0HSC
Lots of good ideas here. Think about a telescoping mast mounted to one corner of the trailer. Use it to support some sort of wire antenna, perhaps a tuned feeder inverted-V. Many other possibilities come to mind, antennas that would br MUCH more efficient than a permanently mounted mobile antenna. Have fun!
Our 32' motor home has a rather massive trailer hitch assembly across under the rear bumper. I drilled and tapped a couple of holes in the face of that and installed a galvanized "L" bracket (construction hardware from Home Depot) and painted it to match the coach. On this I mounted a feedthru adaptor (Radio Shack 21-961) which accepts the standard antenna 3/8"-24 thread on top and a PL-259 at the bottom. I made my own antenna elements out of 1/2" copper pipe with brass plugs turned to fit, threaded or tapped with 3/8-24 threads and soldered in the ends of the pipes. The bottom section is about 8 feet long and just reaches above the coach roof. It stays in place all the time. At the top of this is a quick disconnect (Hustler QD-2) I braced it to the safety rail and ladder with two pieces of 3/8" thick Plexiglas. Then the loading coil with the top section above it goes on. My top section is also 1/2" pipe and is about 5 feet long. It has an end cap soldered on to keep water out. This dimension was chosen to fit a storage compartment when on the road. The pipes are painted to match the coach and the whole assembly is mounted where it's easily accessible from the ladder for installing and removing. If you have, or know someone who has, a metal lathe you can turn some brass slugs to mount in the ends of some Schedule 40 PVC and tap it to 3/8-24 and roll your own loading coils for your favorite band. Obviously an antenna analyzer like the MFJ-259B is just about a necessity to put the coil on frequency. This setup has worked great for me for about 8 years. Of course, these dimensions dictate stationary operation, but it's a lot easier than trying to string up a wire. Besides, I have no desire to transmit in motion--driving that beast is a full time job.
I have some photos I can e-mail if you like.
Last edited by K7RQ; 09-18-2009 at 05:13 AM.