TheLongWayHome

HAM "shack" setup for your RV

12 posts in this topic

So, I'm new to RVing and plan to go full-time in the Spring of 2018. Right now trying to finalize the plan on an RV. It will probably be a customer Toy Hauler. I am a HAM (Extra) and mostly use phone and digital modes (not format generally, think DMR, D-Star, Wires-X) UHF/VHF and HF, so need to have a "quiet space".  What special setup have you done to operator your station and any special HAM shack recommendations? Pictures would help!

Will come back to the HF antenna challenges later!

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I full time and am a ham (General) also.  I use the digital modes and have zero interest in HF due not only to antenna limitations in the RF, but poor propagation right now.  If I live long enough for the cycle to change I may revisit HF, but not for now.

I work DStar, DMR (limited), and C4FM.  My equipment is:

2 DStar hot spots (battery or 120v capable) on raspberry pi"s, 2 ICOM ID51A+

1 TYT MD380

1 Yaesu FT1DR

1 Verizon Jetpack

1 RAV power supply

1 Open Spot

I pretty well have the digital modes covered but spend most of my time on DStar or C4FM.  I'm not a big fan of DMR.

 

Ed

KM4STL, 3101156

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On 7/23/2017 at 5:01 AM, edatlanta said:

I full time and am a ham (General) also.  I use the digital modes and have zero interest in HF due not only to antenna limitations in the RF, but poor propagation right now.  If I live long enough for the cycle to change I may revisit HF, but not for now.

Ed

KM4STL, 3101156

 

Ed,

Thanks for you input. Will try to use a screwdriver antenna on HF. Ground planes are always a challenge on fiberglass RVs.

Are there any other HAMs out there? I thought Escapees had a HAM BOF, but it does not appear to be very active. Worth joining?

Gerry

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We are Michigan snowbirds.  We travel in a class A (motor home).  

I have enjoyed limited success with a screwdriver antenna.  The best result to date has been hose-clamping it to a metal campground electrical service "substation" box.  It was not noticed by anyone and I think the grounding was very good.  I have not had any success with the antenna attached to the motor home.  I may try to clamp the antenna to a ground rod sometime.

My next antenna will be a dipole supported by a fiberglass "stick" that is twenty-five feet tall and fastened to the rig's ladder.  Maybe twenty-meters will work well for us.  We are headed for Arizona next winter.

Camping in Florida was disappointing.  The campgrounds there did not allow anything in their trees.  Nothing.  

While traveling to our cottage in Canada I have enjoyed some success with a very low-hung seventy-five meter dipole.  Maybe it was NVIS?  Maybe something otherwise.  And again for Field Day the low-lying dipole for seventy-five worked well enough.

I wish you well getting a shack that works for you.

de Bill, NA8M

 

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6 hours ago, TheLongWayHome said:

Are there any other HAMs out there? I thought Escapees had a HAM BOF, but it does not appear to be very active. Worth joining?

Gerry

There are lots of hams here, but as you noticed, not very active on the forum.  Face to face gatherings such as Escapade and Quartzfest are much different.

Back to the original question, we also had a toy hauler.  I put a desk in the garage for computers and radio gear.  My best antenna setup was a Hustler 6-BTV on a homemade tilt over.  It was easy up - easy down and performed well on our aluminum 5th wheel.  As previously mentioned, fiberglass is more of a challenge.

73 es Safe Travels...

 

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7 hours ago, TheLongWayHome said:

 

Ed,

Thanks for you input. Will try to use a screwdriver antenna on HF. Ground planes are always a challenge on fiberglass RVs.

Are there any other HAMs out there? I thought Escapees had a HAM BOF, but it does not appear to be very active. Worth joining?

Gerry

I monitor Reflector 30C on DStar and on C4FM FCS2 Room 90 or FCS2 Room 1.

If I'm not on one of these I'm napping - Retired You Know!

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43 minutes ago, k4rs said:

Back to the original question, we also had a toy hauler.  I put a desk in the garage for computers and radio gear.  My best antenna setup was a Hustler 6-BTV on a homemade tilt over.  It was easy up - easy down and performed well on our aluminum 5th wheel.  As previously mentioned, fiberglass is more of a challenge.

73 es Safe Travels...

 

Thanks K4RS for your feedback. Have heard good things about the Hustler, but as you said probably not on fiberglass.  Do you get any hassle (or discouragements) deploying it in regular RV parks, like NA8M above? Also curious on the size of you garage and it you put any other "dirty" hobbies - bikes, ATV, etc in the garage? Have had some concern expressed about mixing clean and dirty hobbies or usages in the garage.

Have you thought of using DMR, D-STAR or C4FM to reach out further, as an alternative to HF?

73s  AB0GF

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I use a portable W4OP loop antenna since I am into HW CW QRPp, so do most of my operating from a picnic table when traveling. I can open up only one or two repeaters from our current location in central FL and none of them are digital. I am not going to buy a digital radio until I can actually use it. ;-)

Dave - KU9L

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22 hours ago, TheLongWayHome said:

Thanks K4RS for your feedback. Have heard good things about the Hustler, but as you said probably not on fiberglass.  Do you get any hassle (or discouragements) deploying it in regular RV parks, like NA8M above? Also curious on the size of you garage and it you put any other "dirty" hobbies - bikes, ATV, etc in the garage? Have had some concern expressed about mixing clean and dirty hobbies or usages in the garage.

Have you thought of using DMR, D-STAR or C4FM to reach out further, as an alternative to HF?

73s  AB0GF

Our garage was 11 feet long.  In the front, next to the dividing wall, we had a washing machine and chest freezer.  Along the driver side wall was my desk and a food pantry.  We also had several storage boxes that got moved around.  It was very crowded with the motorcycles loaded but quite roomy with them unloaded.  Our motorcycles never "marked their territory", so really not a problem with mess.

When I first got the Hustler I ground mounted it.  I moved it to the RV when a campground manager worried about someone tripping over the radials.  After that nobody ever complained.

Last year we downsized to a 27 foot conventional trailer that we use to travel in the summer (4 to 5 months) and do not have room for HF.  We currently have a 2 Meter / 70 CM System Fusion (C4FM), a DV dongle for D-Star, and Echolink while we are traveling.

73 es Safe Travels...

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I'm having a trailer custom built so it was the perfect time to design in a HAM Shack. I had them put them run three runs of coax to the roof and two more to the rear bumper. On the roof I had them put an 8' x 8' piece of sheet metal for a ground plane. In the middle of that I will put a Tarheel screwdriver on a folding mount. I will also put a 2m 70cm antenna. The third coax run is for a 40m dipole. The two coax runs to the rear bumper will feed a vertical on the ladder and a tripod mounted portable antenna.

I'm looking forward to getting it all up and running.

73

Steve

KJ4YGY

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6 minutes ago, sdixon747 said:

I'm having a trailer custom built so it was the perfect time to design in a HAM Shack. I had them put them run three runs of coax to the roof and two more to the rear bumper. On the roof I had them put an 8' x 8' piece of sheet metal for a ground plane. In the middle of that I will put a Tarheel screwdriver on a folding mount. I will also put a 2m 70cm antenna. The third coax run is for a 40m dipole. The two coax runs to the rear bumper will feed a vertical on the ladder and a tripod mounted portable antenna.

I'm looking forward to getting it all up and running.

73

Steve

KJ4YGY

Thanks Steve,

I'm going to be all over your rig's "big reveal" at Hutch :lol:. Got to see all the new toys and ideas from Marsha, Jack and David!! Also read you "Spend  My Money" thread from last November, last night!!! Trying to pursue many of the same ideas in a 5th wheel. Currently in discussions with NH, but Cole in gun-shy on "new" stuff (e.g. LiFePo4, mini-splits, etc.). Have started looking a SC. We will not finalize the decision (RV, HDT) until November. Getting lots of input ideas from a lots of experienced people.

Back to the HAM Shank - 8' x 8'!! Will be curious of the bonding to the roof and see how well if works. I believe you also have a whole pile of solar up there? I little jigsaw puzzle?  I could argue that the Hi-Q screwdriver is a better antenna (may start a religious war here), but I do like the Tarhill tilt-up mount. Have an acquaintance that has used a Hi-Q 6-160 on his commercial big rig for 4+ years and loves it. Hopefully you will get a chance to use it before or at Hutch (and with the blessing of the solar cycle).

Sounds like you have lots of antenna options thought through. I will look to see what ideas I can "appropriate". You might also consider a grounding stud on the hitch (frame attached) as another option. Will have to experiment with grounding, but maybe others here have experience with grounding their rig frame apart from the pedestal or while boondocking.

I will also be looking to see what I can put on the truck - maybe on the drom box (lower, smaller one) that will stay below the other truck "obstacle feeler" antennas. Also have some off-road 2M/70 cm antennas that can take abuse (to a degree). They don't do well with garage doors - as Jack would say "Ask me how I know?"

Gerry

73s AB0GF

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Gerry

I probably won't have my antennas on at Hutch'. I won't pick up the trailer until a couple weeks before the rally and the antennas are not high on the priority list for getting the new unit set up. I'm glad I had all the coax runs done during construction as well as the sheet metal in the roof. I talked to the folks at Tarheel when I was at the Dayton Hamvention and told them my plans. They are the ones that said to put the 8' x 8' metal in the roof. My roof is plywood with a fiberglass cap. The sheet metal is sandwiched in between. There is no physical connection with the sheet metal to any other metal on the frame or to the antenna. The ground plane is all through capacitance coupling. Only the back 9' or so of the roof has anything sticking up like satelite dish and other antennas. The front 37' is flat, clean roof for solar panels to be added soon.

New Horizons builds a high quality unit, but if you really want an "outside the box" thinking, custom trailer, Space Craft is the way to go. I'll show you all my "unusual" features in Hutch'.

73

Steve

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