eHam.net - Amateur Radio (Ham Radio) Community

Call Search
     

New to Ham Radio?
My Profile

Community
Articles
Forums
News
Reviews
Friends Remembered
Strays
Survey Question

Operating
Contesting
DX Cluster Spots
Propagation

Resources
Calendar
Classifieds
Ham Exams
Ham Links
List Archives
News Articles
Product Reviews
QSL Managers

Site Info
eHam Help (FAQ)
Support the site
The eHam Team
Advertising Info
Vision Statement
About eHam.net



[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount

Joe Tomasone (AB2M) on September 8, 2011
View comments about this article!

A Quick, Simple, Inexpensive Trailer Hitch Antenna Mast

Being passionate about emergency communications, I am always looking for ways to extend and improve my mobile/portable emcomm capabilities.However, I also like to be creative and to concoct solutions from items that are easily obtainable in most areas and less expensive than commercially made counterparts.

Some time ago, I had constructed a J-pole antenna supported by a section of PVC following the design of W2IK, but adding my own twist - adding a threaded connection end to the bottom of the PVC that allowed it to be screwed into another (empty) piece of PVC .This second piece of PVC is then inserted into the top of a telescoping pool pole, making a quick and efficient mast system.

The problem, however, was finding a suitable base.I originally constructed one out of black pipe - but it was rather pricey, very heavy, and prone to rust.I soon realized that there were very few instances in which I would need to place that antenna someplace where my vehicle could not go - and so, I decided to mount it to the trailer hitch.

The only pre-made option I found was a flagpole bracket intended for RVers However, it was not available in local stores, meaning it would need to be shipped.I don't have anything against shipping, but if I need a solution NOW (say, in an emergency), I don't want to have to wait (or be unable to get a shipment - like at an EOC during a disaster).This project includes everything you need (sans antenna and coax) and can be constructed with one visit to Lowe's and about 10 minutes of assembly.

To construct this mount, you will need the following (available at Lowe's):

3/4" Dia. x 36" L Threaded Rod (item #44678, $10.18)
(4) 3/4" Stainless Steel Flat Washers (Item #137697, 2/pack, 2 packs, $5.00)
(4) 3/4"-10 Stainless Steel Hex Nuts (Item #137647, 2/pack, 2 packs, $7.08)
(4) Rubber Grommets 1-1/8 x 23/32 x 5/16 (Item #139378, $5.08)
Aqua EZ 3-Piece 4'-12' Telescopic Pole (Item #102924, $17.98)

Total: $45.32

And, if you don't already have a ball mount that can be used, you'll need one.My hitch receiver is 2", so I used:

2" Drop Interlock Draw Bar (Item #109674, $19.98)

Total: $65.30

Assembly:

1.Thread two nuts and two washers on to one end of the threaded rod, far enough up to be able to insert the rod into the ball mount and add the other two washers and screws.(Note: I inverted the ball mount so that the mount rises upwards instead of dropping down.)

2.Insert the rod into the ball mount.

3. Insert one of the rubber grommets around the threaded rod and inside the hole on the ball mount.

4. Add the other two washers and nuts.Tighten all nuts.(Note: Lowe's did not have lock washers large enough to fit this size rod, but since this is a temporary mount that will be assembled every time, I did not bother trying to find any someplace else).

5.Add the remaining 3 rubber grommets over the threaded rod at spaced intervals.They will help dampen any movement of the pool pole.Optionally, you can epoxy these in place.

6.Insert the completed hitch assembly into your receiver and secure with lock pin.

7.Remove the handle from the bottom of the pool pole.

8.Mount your antenna to the top section of the pool pole.For the antenna above, I simply insert the "empty" PVC inside the top section and the threaded connector sits on top of the pool pole's top section, leaving the actual antenna above the pool pole.

9.Slide the bottom of the pool pole over the threaded rod and grommets.

10. Extend the pool pole sections

11.I sprayed some plasti-kote on the assembly both for aesthetics and to help prevent rust.Obviously, you don't want to go crazy on the bottom half of the assembly if you plan on removing the rod from the ball mount (either for disassembly or to use it with a ball).

12.3/4" was the largest threaded rod that Lowe's carried.I would have preferred to use 1" (as that is the size of the bolt hole on the ball mount), but I decided that this was a good compromise between complete suitability and easy availability.The grommets help to dampen the sway, which even when I purposely shake the mast (pool pole) is not great.

Here's a photo of the completed mast with the antenna.

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
RE: A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount  
by MAGNUM257 on September 8, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Sounds like a nice project, didn't you take pictures while you were building it?
 
A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount  
by KB2DHG on September 8, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
We need pictures!
 
RE: A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount  
by KE7FD on September 8, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
If any metal parts of this are either aluminum or zinc plated (the threaded rod?), it will have a very limited lifespan depending where used. In areas where salt is used on the road, expect less than one year of service at most. Something sitting that close to the pavement is doomed when made from the wrong materials. Stainless steel and other resiliant metals should only be considered. Marine quality fixtures are probably best. Zinc and aluminum should NEVER be used on any mobile instaltion (IMHO + personal experience). That being said however, kudos for finding a better mouse trap.

Oh: Pictures?

Glen - KE7FD
 
RE: A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount  
by KG4RUL on September 8, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I see five pictures with enough detail to build the project.
 
RE: A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount  
by W9PMZ on September 8, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
There is even a cheaper route that I have used...

Go to Hi-Q's website and purchase some GQD wafers. It includes a bolt ($15) and some washers. Get some nylon spacers and some large stainless washers.

Place the wafers either side of the trailer hitch and feed the bolt through with a spacer to keep it centered. You may need a large stainless washer to keep the wafer from going concave due to most trailer hitches being punched and not drilled.

Then place a 3/8 x 24 adapter on top the bolt and tighten. Works great, used it all the time for Hustler Antennas. You can also use the GQD (disconnect) to take off and on easily (but adds more cost). DOn't forget that the bolt is where you have to attach the coax with a lug.

I know this will inflame the "you can't use the trailer hitch" crowd... But is does work and when I have used it and received good reports on 40M.

73,

Carl - W9PMZ
 
A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount  
by KD4EXS on September 8, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
If my memory is working correctly, I seem to recall that 3/4" iron water pipe as well as rigid conduit is 1" OD. You could use washers and conduit nuts to mount it. If the threads are too short, just ask them to add some threads to whatever length nipple you buy with their threading machine. Keep in mind that water pipe has tapered threads to prevent leaks whereas conduit threads are straight so the fittings can butt togeather. If it were me, I would use rigid conduit.
 
A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount  
by KD4EXS on September 8, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Tractor Supply stocks 1" and larger threaded rod. You might want to check there too.
 
RE: A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount  
by K5FH on September 9, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
KG4RUL:

"I see five pictures with enough detail to build the project."

Where?
 
Antenna Mount Pictures  
by K7GLM on September 9, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I see 'em. Plain as day and crystal clear.
 
RE: Antenna Mount Pictures  
by VE4DLA on September 9, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I see them too.
 
RE: Antenna Mount Pictures  
by K5FH on September 9, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Been having problems with my ISP...problem is probably on my end.
 
RE: Antenna Mount Pictures  
by W0FM on September 9, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
I cannot see the pictures with Internet Explorer, but switched to Firefox and there they are!

Terry, WFM
 
RE: Antenna Mount Pictures  
by KE7FD on September 9, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Right... Internet Exploder foils us once again. Firefox allows us to see the pictures.

OK, pictures #3 & #4; zinc plated rod: Rust Magnet. The precautions you've taken to keep the weather and salt away from the rod may work in some areas but no one should get the idea to use this as a mobile antenna without understanding what winter weather/road conditions does to plated, threaded iron rod. I was going to go-off on why such a tall antenna (pictures #5) would interfere with migratory birds and LEO satellites, but clearly, you're using this as a stationary mast and not a mobile antenna.

So, KUDOS! bet it screams.
Glen - KE7FD
 
A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount  
by N6JSX on September 10, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Interesting, but how is the rear SUV hatch doors opened?

I have a 2002 Honda CRV (w/rear door) and put my homemade made my mount on the rear spare tire mount.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/RDF-USA/files/Antennas/Misc/

I'm now looking to update my SUV (all but the RAV w/to small an engine) have gone to rear door "hatches" having no spare tire mount. I've lost this antenna mounting capability or get pushed into a high cost Pick-up where I can find real metal in the bed/bumper.

I've seen swing away hitch mounts but it is a hassle to pin/unpin these swings for hatch/door use and I do not trust a consistent ground at the swing hinges. Bumpers are almost all plastic limiting access to real vehicle structure metal.

Our antenna mounting options are getting fewer and fewer every new model year due to MPG aerodynamics needed. Even today finding a space in the SUV dash/console to mount a remote face radio is almost impossible.
 
A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount  
by KD2E on September 10, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
internet explorer (latest) no pictures
Chrome.....nice pics!!

Great idea...I've always wanted either this or a
drive on plate bracket thing for a portable
antenna mount. A high school buddy of mine made one
in metal shop years ago. Worked great as a portable
antenna support...and will work for vehicles that don't have hitches on the back also!!
 
RE: A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount  
by AB2M on September 10, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Glen: I concur on the rust potential, but I guess I didn't make quite clear that this is meant for temporary operating. I do NOT plan to leave this mounted any longer than I am stationary and using the antenna. After that, it gets removed and stored indoors (or in the vehicle as needed). I may eventually plasti-kote the entire threaded rod; I'm just a little concerned that it would blend into the black vehicle too much and be a potential hazard. Maybe I am being too paranoid?

73, Joe
 
RE: A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount  
by AB2M on September 10, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
@N6JSX: Good catch - the liftgate cannot be opened while the mount is in place - however, the liftgate glass does open, making contents somewhat accessible. Of course, contents can be accessed through the rear passenger doors as well. It's a small tradeoff for the convenience of the mount. And again, let me stress that this is a TEMPORARY mount, not meant to be permanently installed!

As a practical matter, I would (re)move anything in the very back before installing the mount and blocking the liftgate - most notably my emergency batteries, which fit in a tray just in front of the liftgate.

@K2DE: I've seen various iterations of the "drive-on" bracket and was always concerned about the amount of sway inherent in the ones I've seen. Maybe your buddy made a better mousetrap?
 
RE: A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount  
by KE7FD on September 11, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Hey Joe, nice project article. I think the paranoid assesment is on the readers mostly. We make lots of assumptions including any part of the project is left intact year round. As a temporary install it really does make for an excellent solution as a portable station/grab-n-go kit soluion.

Glen
 
A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount  
by KA4ETV on September 14, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
Nice work!
 
RE: A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount  
by AAR2VZ on October 14, 2011 Mail this to a friend!
GREETINGS, AN OFTEN OVERLOOKED POTENTIAL MOUNTING POINT IS THE EVER PRESENT TOW HOOKS. IF THEY'RE NOT WELDED ON, A SIMPLE TURN OF THE WRENCH OPENS UP A RELATIVELY EASY ANSWER. A NICE PIECE OF 5/16, 3/8, OR IF YOU'RE INTO OVERKILL, 1/2 FLAT STOCK, WITH A LITTLE BENDING MIGHT BE YOUR ANSWER. THE SOURCE WOULD BE ANY MACHINE SHOP. THE FOOT OR SO LENGTH YOU'LL BE LOOKING FOR IS NORMALLY REFFERED TO AS A "CUT OFF", THIS IS WHAT'S LEFT AFTER THE JOB WAS COMPLETED.

GOOD LUCK, I HOPE MY VERBAGE HELPS YOU OUT.
HANG IN THERE, 73, MIKE, N2JUN
 
Email Subscription
You are not subscribed to discussions on this article.

Subscribe!
My Subscriptions
Subscriptions Help

Related News & Articles
How I Saved On My Tower
The 'Wadetenna' for HF Pedestrian Mobile
DXE-ATSA-1 Works on 160 Meters


Other Antennas Articles
The 'Wadetenna' for HF Pedestrian Mobile
DXE-ATSA-1 Works on 160 Meters