RV HAM shack

Discussion in 'On the Road' started by KG7YTS, Nov 22, 2016.

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  1. KG7YTS

    KG7YTS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello, I am 16 but when I graduate I am planning on buying an RV to live in so I don't have to rent an apartment for 3 months past the length of EMT training in Mesa, AZ. I know RV parks go by the month. So my question is have any HAMs had problems with setting up HF antennas in RV parks, if so what? Also could you send pictures of how your radios are installed in your RVs(and Travel Trailers). Anything helps, thx.
  2. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Generally, as long as you don't mount something to the ground or property there isn't a problem...just mount the antenna(s) on the RV. A ladder on the back helps. :)

    I went full time RV all over the West for over 20 years and never had a problem with antennas, as far as the RV parks go.

    Sounds like you have a good plan. :)
  3. KD0CAC

    KD0CAC Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am a fulltime RVer , an 85 Airstream 32' and only be in one RV park and I figure I'm lucky to get HF antennas up .
    For many reasons , the space you will normally get is too small to get a antenna up and if all else fails & it falls , with such limited space , it would probably hit other peoples stuff - another RV , someone car or truck , equipment belonging to the park , power lines etc.
    Then you get into idiot thinking which is a large majority of the population - it looks bad , what is that = it must scary etc.
    All that is aside from what affects you will have on those nearby , even with VHF / UHF .
    But it never hurts to ask , this place is different than many and when I asked , the caretaker said " when we get a complaint , we see what to do " a rare common sense thinking .
    Answered 1st , posted 2nd .
    So a good example of possibilities .
    I use Rohn masts for 2 HF antennas a Butternut HV-9 with CPK kit or counterpoise and a Cushcraft R-7 , both mast only up about 20' , one is strapped to the bumper of the Airstream and the other is tied to a pipe in ground , both are guyed back to my trailer .
    After multiple storms that took down trees all around me taking out other RV's , cars , trucks and even the power panel - where the over power lines come down to a 5' x 10' panel with about 10 meters on it and then go underground for the RV .
    I call myself lucky , they haven't said to remove , but I do do a lot of repairs for the park & guests , so that helps .
    If like mentioned you put vary simple mast mounted on your RV , you odds should be better .
    But there are so many variables , there is not going to be 1 answer .
    Call ahead & ask .
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2016
  4. KG7YTS

    KG7YTS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ok thanks. I actually found an antenna, the Alpha EZ military antenna that can mount on the rv ladder no problem. It would also be great for camping.
  5. KC4NJX

    KC4NJX Ham Member QRZ Page

    greetings from possum creek rv park here in soddy daisy tn, im a full time rv er here, live in a 5th wheel going on my 3rd year this jan, first thing i did is talk to the management, explain my hobby, the benefits in emergency situations and communications, since my manager is a emt he understands coms. i have a g5rv, 2 mtr anr 70cm verticals, the only restrictions i have is it can not be permanent, planing to install a 160 inverted L and by the way i pay 2400.00 a year, (200 a month) 73s good luck, kc4njx,
  6. WA4SIX

    WA4SIX Ham Member QRZ Page

    While a bit expensive, a "Screwdriver antenna" would fit the bill nicely. It would allow many bands & is rather compact. It would need to be an aluminum bodied RV to work properly.

  7. KW4EK

    KW4EK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Another potential option would be to go for a vertical using a telescoping mast (perhaps a 35-43 ft. mast, extended about 32 ft., for a good 40m match and tuner for other bands) with a wire run up the center and hinged to the roof or side of the RV coupled to an antenna tuner to match it to the various bands (and/or you may manually adjust height to further optimize the antenna for a band if you wish). The main advantage being that you only need the vertical space to setup and no horizontal lot space. It will help, however, if you have a sheet metal roof to provide a counterpoint to the antenna otherwise you may wish to add counterpoise wires or copper foil tape to serve that purpose.

    But there are always options if you are prepared to accept using a compromise antenna, so do not allow the fact that you must make some compromises dissuade you.

    I have never RV'd myself but know other operators whom have. Based upon their comments you will likely need to shutoff your inverter and other loads and run the radio equipment directly off the batteries to eliminate RFI from the inverter and other onboard electronics and equipment unless you wish to out a fair bit of effort into quieting those loads (unless you get lucky and have an RFI quiet vehicle on HF). How much noise justifies such will depend heavily upon the amount of noise producers that are also surrounding you, you may be fine in a park if the noise levels are S5, but want to shut everything down if you are in a quiet area with nearly S0 noise levels so that you may benefit from the added receive sensitivity.
  8. N7ZAL

    N7ZAL Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've used the ladder and also the luggage rack on top without any problems. I've attached a mast to the side of the ladder rack and it sat on top of the sewer hose bumper. I used MFJ mounts for the luggage rack. I do take antennas down when under way.

    I've used the Hustler triband vertical on the roof rack and an MFJ rotatable mini dipole on the ladder mast and also a dipole sloper from the rear antennas mast. All worked fine.

    Never had a noise problem from converters/inverters on at least 3 different RV's and one just used the 12VDC with a direct run from the batteries.

    I've also used a Honda EU2000 generator and again...no noise problems. Used a cheap Champion generator at one time and it worked fine...but certainly not recommended.

    I've used RV with metal and rubber roofs and the antennas worked basically the same.
    KG7YTS likes this.
  9. KD2IAT

    KD2IAT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've owned RV's for over 40 years. Most of them today don't have an inverter, but they do have a convertor. Big difference. For RV purposes, a convertor uses 110vac (or 220vac in the bigger rigs) to produce 12vdc to operate most of the on board systems like lighting, etc. RV appliances use 12vdc and/or propane in most cases, although the water heaters and fridges can use 110vac, too. RV's can run exclusively on 12vdc and propane when needed. Lighting, refrigerator, water heater, and furnace all have either 12vdc/110vac modes or exclusively 12vdc in the case of most RV furnaces. The convertors also act as battery chargers keeping the coach battery (or batteries) charged up.

    An inverter, on the other hand, takes 12vdc and produces 110vac. This is handy when you're camping without electrical hookups, but it's not particularly efficient and is a big draw on the battery. And it's kinda silly to run an inverter when you're rig is shore lined to 110 or 220.

    For someone who is living in an RV in an RV park, there will be 110vac (or 220 vac) at each site, and the RV's run great off that for long periods of time. There's no need for an inverter in that situation. But a convertor is essential. Most modern convertors don't produce any significant amount of RFI. In all the RV forums I frequent, none of the hams have even mentioned RFI issues in their rigs.

    My fifth wheeler is 36' long, and the best place for a radio is at the far end from the battery box. If I were in an RV park with electrical hookups, I would not power my radios from the onboard 12vdc system. Instead, I'd use a regular 110vac power supply just like I would at home. That avoids voltage drop issues based on a long run of wire from the radio to the battery.
  10. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I live in a house, but I own an RV and it has a little ham shack in it...

    You wanted pictures so here's what I did.


    The rig is a Kenwood TS-480 which is perfect for an RV setup because you can move the control head wherever you want it to be anywhere inside the RV. You can even take the TS-480 control head outside and operate at the picnic table if you want too.

    The "body" of the TS-480 is installed on the wall under the sink area and is wired to the main RV battery system. The coax for the antennas goes outside through the same hole as the RV electrical hookup cord does.

    For VHF operation, I mounted a 100 watt Motorola Maratrac in the same hidden way under the cabinet space and the control head, speaker and microphone is mounted directly to the wall and doing this means the radio doesn't take up any valuable table / surface space inside the RV.


    Antenna is a portable rotatable dipole that is mounted on a folding tripod on the roof of the RV and secured with parachute cord to the surrounding rail and / ladder etc.


    The mast pole is lightweight aluminum tubing and it's in sections of approx 5' long each. They are attached together which gets the rotatable dipole antenna around 20 feet above the RV roof. The RV itself is over 10 feet high so this gets my antenna a total of 30 feet in the air.

    The photo below is not the dipole antenna I normally use, but it shows the mast and tripod arrangement on the RV roof.

    Note how the guy lines are securing the pole to the roof rack.


    The portable dipole I use is this one..

    It's homebrew and was made from painters extension poles. It covers everything from 6 to 20 meters. For 40 and 80 meters I just suspend a wire inverted V from the top of the pole and and use a tent pegs to secure the ends of the antenna in the ground in front and rear of the RV.


    This entire antenna arrangement fits inside the RV bathroom while travelling and is easily deployed when the RV is parked.

    I have put up this antenna on the roof of my RV in many parks and never heard one single complaint. Primarily because it's all attached to the roof of the RV itself, so there's not much anyone can really say anyways.. :)
    K4KPT, KG7YTS, KD2IAT and 1 other person like this.
  11. KD2IAT

    KD2IAT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just some further info since the OP is planning to live in an RV. Every RV owner should have some basic electrical testing equipment. Nothing fancy and nothing complex, but these items will give you enough information to know if you're getting decent power to the power post at the camp site. They're also essential for troubleshooting the 110vac portions of the RV's electrical system.

    First is a simple pair of plug-in circuit testers. You need two of them, one for regular circuits and one for GFCI circuits. The test button on a GFCI outlet is fine for that outlet, but in RV's they tend to piggyback other outlets on a GFCI one. The only way to test those downstream outlets is with the GFCI version of the tester. You buy them in the electrical depart of most any hardware store or home improvement center. Here they are:


    The red tester is the one for ground fault. On the other side is a button for checking proper tripping when a ground fault occurs. Both testers have labels on them showing that the circuit problem is depending on the combination of lights that come on when the tester is plugged in. $10 to $15 for the both of them.

    The multimeter is the other item that every RV owner should have. It can check voltages, both AC and DC in all ranges that would be found in an RV. And it it's continuity tester as well. I know you're all hams and that I should assume that all of you know all about simple multimeters and how to use them. But, as I've discovered since I got my ticket in 2014, there's an awful lot of disinformation and lack of basic knowledge in the ham community. Please don't be offended if you already know this stuff.
  12. AD5MB

    AD5MB Ham Member QRZ Page

    if you put a ladder on the back, strap a lawn chair to it. kids will climb any ladder they encounter

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