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A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount

from Joe Tomasone, AB2M on February 20, 2017
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"Editor's Note: Due to the popularity of some of eHam's older articles, many of which you may not have read, the eHam.net team has decided to rerun some of the best articles that we have received since eHam's inception. These articles will be reprinted to add to the quality of eHam's content and in a show of appreciation to the authors of these articles." This article was originally published on: 09/08/2011





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 the 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 RV’ers. 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:
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A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount Reply
by VK4FFAB on February 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Nice article well done.
 
A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount Reply
by W4AJA on February 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Yes nice article. On the 3/4" vs 1" problem, you can search for "trailer ball bushings" on the internet and find spacers designed for using different ball sizes in the same mount. Simple metal collars of various sizes. My local auto parts store had a set.
 
Nice To See, Indeed…! Reply
by VE3CUI on February 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Very nice to see a hands-on tekkie project appear on this page…!

The utterings from the usual gutter-snipes will surely be abated with this one, because the subject of the article fails miserably to fall within the category of either sex, politics, or religion(!).

Nice, welcome change…and a tip of my hat to the author, too.
 
RE: Nice To See, Indeed…! Reply
by K9MHZ on February 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Just curious how it does when you drive. Do you need some kind of drag bracing, bungee, etc?
 
RE: Nice To See, Indeed…! Reply
by K9MHZ on February 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Went to Harbor Freight today for some nitrile gloves (awesome deal on those, BTW) and checked out the hitch hardware. Lots to choose from, for antenna ideas. 1" is the smallest hole diameter, so that must be standard for the smallest ball you can use (WDIK, learned something new).

Cool stuff.
 
RE: Nice To See, Indeed…! Reply
by KG4RUL on February 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Just curious how it does when you drive. Do you need some kind of drag bracing, bungee, etc?"

I can't believe, in my wildest dreams, that ANYONE would attempt to drive with this on their vehicle!
 
RE: Nice To See, Indeed…! Reply
by K9MHZ on February 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Telescoping, driving while retracted, maybe? I thought that was the whole idea.
 
A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount Reply
by KE4ZHN on February 21, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
This is a cool set up for portable use. One could take this same idea and apply it to portable HF operation by simply using a telescoping pole secured to the trailer hitch and using the pole for the apex of an inverted V. Just a thought.
 
A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount Reply
by KC8YXA on February 25, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I don't want to nit pick but hitches like that fit kinda loose how are you getting a good ground ?
 
A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount Reply
by KC8YXA on February 25, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I don't want to nit pick but hitches like that fit kinda loose how are you getting a good ground ?
 
RE: A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount Reply
by AD5TD on February 26, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
I have been mobile hammin' since 2003 and I have tried most mobile antenna systems and they all work to a point. The last install I did however, works much better than any other I have done and I figured out why. This time I used a Tarheel 100HP and I bolted it straight to the inside bed of my pick up by the back tail light. Not up behind the cab, not on a fold over trailer hitch mount, not on a bar welded to the frame. (tried them all before) I don't even need to run an amp anymore. You see, every install up till that one was mounted on some kind of "extension" of the frame or mounted to the trailer hitch like this one (OP) does. NONE of them worked as well as mounting the antenna DIRECTLY to the body of the truck and getting the antenna AWAY from the cab and the coil ABOVE the cab. IMHO, any time you mount an antenna with an extension where the base of the antenna is not directly mounted to the body, you just lose too much signal somehow JM2C.

Bill
 
RE: Nice To See, Indeed…! Reply
by AD5TD on February 26, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"RE: Nice To See, Indeed…! Reply
by KG4RUL on February 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Just curious how it does when you drive. Do you need some kind of drag bracing, bungee, etc?"

I can't believe, in my wildest dreams, that ANYONE would attempt to drive with this on their vehicle!"

When I put my full size whip (102") and a 12" extention for my "Cap Hat" and tune it to 75 meters, mine is 16'+ AGL and I drive 100 miles a day with it.
 
RE: Nice To See, Indeed…! Reply
by AD5TD on February 26, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"RE: Nice To See, Indeed…! Reply
by KG4RUL on February 20, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
"Just curious how it does when you drive. Do you need some kind of drag bracing, bungee, etc?"

I can't believe, in my wildest dreams, that ANYONE would attempt to drive with this on their vehicle!"

When I put my full size whip (102") and a 12" extention for my "Cap Hat" and tune it to 75 meters, mine is 16'+ AGL and I drive 100 miles a day with it.
 
RE: Nice To See, Indeed…! Reply
by K9MHZ on February 27, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
This has worked well for years, FWIW..........

https://www.polesandholders.com/product.php?productid=22&cat=2&page=1

(Disclaimer...no connection with the vendor whatsoever, other than being a satisfied customer.)
 
A Simple Trailer Hitch Antenna Mount Reply
by XE1GXG on March 4, 2017 Mail this to a friend!
Nice. I just got a small subcompact with a trailer hitch the former owner had used for pulling a motorcycle with. Your setup is going to be perfect with a few mods.
 
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