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Old 03-23-2016, 02:41 PM   #1
Rivet Master
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Sioux Falls , South Dakota
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 856
Radios in an Airstream

I understand that an Airstream is a big Faraday cage. I also understand that holes in them are to be avoided, but doors and windows seem to be necessities. How to I best get antenna(s) and radio(s) connected, given that the radio is going to be inside and the antenna outside? Since I can use only one radio at a time, I'm wondering if a bulkhead connector such as would work. Obviously I'd have to pick a spot that didn't have structural or electrical components between the skins, and caulking would be a must. I'm looking primarily at 2 meters, but I'm wanting to expand my horizons to HF.

The coach we're looking at is late 90's/early 2000's 34' with front salon. Where would be a good source of 12vdc power? I believe that the inverter and batteries are under the front couch, but I don't know for sure.

David Lininger, kb0zke
AIR 54240
Heartland mpg 181 (sold)
1993 Foretravel U300 (for sale)
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Old 03-23-2016, 02:51 PM   #2
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2002 30' Classic S/O
Melbourne Beach , Florida
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 2,742
I just installed a CB radio (supposedly used on Caravans, but this one didn't) in my 2002 30' Classic. The batteries are under the front sofa, accessible from the outside through two separate doors. The converter is under the sofa on the road side, behind the storage drawer front that extends all the way across the sofa. I got power from one of the circuit breakers on the converter. There is a hole at the front center of the floor where the trailer umbilical comes in. I mounted a CB antenna under one of the locknuts on the roadside segment protector and ran the coax in through the hole in the floor. I brought the power and coax to the curbside sofa arm and hooked the radio up there.

Ideally a 2m antenna would be up on the roof. I know people have used the refrigerator vent stack to bring a feedline down, run it under the trailer and it could come in through the hole in the front of the floor. I plan to do something like that for an HF screwdriver antenna with a lift and lay mount along with a 2m antenna.



"You cannot reason someone out of a position they have not been reasoned into"

Al, K5TAN and Missy, N4RGO
2002 Classic 30 Slideout
S/OS #004
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Old 03-26-2016, 11:55 AM   #3
Rivet Master
2015 30' Classic
Pleasanton , California
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 675
I ran a cable from my operating position (dinette table) to the back of the fridge. When I operate I simply open the access door on the exterior of the trailer, uncoil the wire and connect it to the base of my antenna (Buddypole).

For power I made a cable terminated with a Powerpole connector on one end and connected to where the 12 V enters my inverter (under my dinette seat). When I'm not using it, I simply coil up the cable and store it under the dinette.

No holes, no mess.
Al, K6IV
2015 30' Classic, "Chez Nu"
2014 RAM 2500 w/Cummins Diesel
ProPride Hitch, 400 W Solar
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Old 03-26-2016, 08:23 PM   #4
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2010 30' Classic
Vintage Kin Owner
South of the river , Minnesota
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 4,129
At one point I was going to build an antenna pass through for a 2.4GHz cell phone antenna, but my needs changed and I never installed it.

I had settled on installing a 1/8" thick aluminum plate, about 4"x8", in the outside wall below the couch. It is heavy enough to support the bulkhead connectors you mention. I was going to include a lightening arrester as well.

I would recommend using N connectors rather than the "UHF" ones. The N connectors are better sealed against weather, and have less insertion loss. You can get away with a lot at 2 meters that is too lossy at higher frequencies but still.
To learn to see below the surface, you must adjust your altitude
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Old 03-26-2016, 09:10 PM   #5
Rivet Master
2016 30' Classic
Erie , Colorado
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David, same as K6IV, from the dinette over to the backside of the fridge and then use the compartment door as a connection point. I use a Buddy Pole. Works great.
2015 Classic
2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD Duramax
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Old 03-27-2016, 04:53 PM   #6
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2007 30' Classic S/O
Chino Hills , California
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 28
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On my 2007 30so, I have cell phone, xmradio, and wi-fi booster antennas coming out along side the trailer's am/fm radio antenna - separate holes with standard roof antenna mount. I have 8, rg-58 cables running in conduit from the 12V converter location, 4 rg-58's with lightning arresters on the right A-frame, 4 rg-58 in the left rear outside storage with lightning arresters (grounded to frame) for HF, VHF, and UHF and use converters as required. For the last, I currently only use the UHF/VHF antenna on top of a flag pole, and a Yagi cellular if needed, in the front, and a random wire w/tuner off one of the rear connecters (wire shot over a tree or other handy structure for HF. I plan on adding a 30', 6m - 160m antenna cantilevered on the read right of the trailer that lays down along the trailer about where the awning would be if it had one on that side. Now I need to think about a satellite data feed to place somewhere for the Internet...
Jennifer & Kent Behrends
Artemis' Chariot - 2007 Classic 30so
Blue Ox - 2004 F350 6.0l Diesel, Manual, 4x4
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Old 03-27-2016, 06:59 PM   #7
Ernie & Madaline #3570
2010 30' Classic
Westford , Massachusetts
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 44
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HF & 2/70 & cb & scanner antennas

Have 4 antennas mounted on roof of our 30 ft Classic. 3 are NMOs on air shield that was reinforced with aluminum strips and a couple rivits.

The HF is a Tarheel M100 that is using the motorized lift and lay mount also by Tarheel.

All coax runs come down refridgerator vent then through floor of fridge outside compartment over wheel well and under dinette. Access to wheel well was front seat next to fridge.

Radios are mounted on a new shelf in credenza. Scanner does wx alerts and is new bearcat zipcode driven.
73s Ernie -N1AEW
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Old 03-28-2016, 12:58 AM   #8
Rivet Master

2007 22' International CCD
Corona , California
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 4,266
Radios in an Airstream

Do you use an automatic tuner with the Tarheel, or just manually adjust it? I'm still trying to decide if an auto tune setup is worth the complexity added.

Our radio is
Punted on the desk in the rear of the AS. We won't talk about the fun getting the cables from the FT-857 main unit to the remote head😄

Rich, KE4GNK

Sent from my pocket Internet using Airstream Forums

'The Silver HamShack' (2007 International 22FB CCD 75th Aniversary model)
Multiple Yaesu Ham Radios inside and many antennae sprouting from roof, ProPride hitch
2012 shortbed crewcab 4x4 Toyota Taco TV with more antennae on it
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