Mesh Groundplane on roof?

Discussion in 'RV Operating and Camping' started by KC0LDH, Jan 23, 2018.

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  1. KC0LDH

    KC0LDH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I am new to RVing so to say. I loved it as a kid, and now I am Dad, and getting family into RVing for the upcoming season. I purchases a used RV travel trailer for our first try. It was cheap enough to learn on so to say...

    Being that it is used, I have the "opportunity" to do some improvements. One of the items needed is a new coating on the roof (another new item to learn), and fixing/replacing a couple of Vents and covers. So, If i have to do any roof Maintenance, Sealing, etc, My thoughts were to improve it along the way. It is a EPDM roof with an aluminum sided trailer. 32' TT

    I am thinking about integrating a ground plane onto the roof before I re-seal it. The intention being that I make the roof look as close as practical to the roof of a car for a ground plane. I was thinking Aluminum Screen material laid over the roof, and fastened down, then painted/sealed up. On the other hand, I can replace the entire roof with an aluminum one for about $600(parts) and a case of beer with some friends, but this seems to be another debate all by itself.

    I intend on using 20/15/10m verticals, 2m/440 during my leisure time. Being that the RV is 32' long, maybe 40m.
    Antenna is not purchased, I have an inventory of the following: TH3 elements as vertical, ATAS (not sold on its capabilities), 102" whips, various mounts, VHF/UHF etc.

    I am fairly handy with a soldering Iron, Welder, and Brazing. I'm not afraid of welding heavy gauge aluminum for custom solutions. I would prefer to have resonant antennas, with a band switch but could be convinced otherwise.

    Should I consider making a ground plane part of the project, IF yes, how, OR should I give up and figure out how to make a temporary, or portable setup?
  2. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Antenna ground planes on fabric and composite aircraft are typically made with foil on the underside of the fabric. Foils of various widths, materials, and with/without conductive adhesives are available from the usual parts houses. Aircraft Spruce is an aviation supplier.

    Diagram from FAA manual:

    Example from Dynon Avionics:
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
    WA7PRC, KC8VWM and K7TRF like this.
  3. K7TRF

    K7TRF Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    That should work fine, but the adhesive foil described above is likely easier and should lead to a cleaner installation. Get some of this stuff or something similar:

    If you criss cross multiple layers of tape as shown in the photo above make sure there's good electrical connection between the conductive surface of each strip of foil. That could be as simple as scaping some of the adhesive off of each foil strip where they overlap and clamping all the layers tight with your connector or antenna stud mount or something more elaborate but make sure all the copper foil strips make good electrical contact to one another.
  4. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Foils are available with conductive adhesive!
    WA7PRC, KC8VWM, NX6ED and 1 other person like this.
  5. KC0LDH

    KC0LDH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Is there a product, or trade name that you would suggest?

    I also have not finalized the antenna choice, for 2m/70cm this seems like a great solution. It's the HF bands, 20m or possibly 40m that makes me lean towards covering the whole roof.
  6. KA1IJA

    KA1IJA Ham Member QRZ Page

    One disadvantage to covering the whole roof is you lose some cell phone signals and some wifi. Technomads have a write up on the issues they had with an all aluminum airstream.
  7. N4KP

    N4KP Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you want to secure or seal an EDPM roof use Eterna Bond Tape . I use the 3 or 4 inch wide to seal all seams on the roof.

    I use the rv battery as a ps. This cuts out any hash and I use the trailer frame as a ground plane .
    I have been an rver for over 40 years and find that an endfed hf antenna is very useful also a bumper mount vertical with a telescoping mast works well
    That's my 2 cents .
    hope this helps
  8. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018

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