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Old 08-01-2020, 12:33 PM   #1
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Mounting a cellular antenna on the roof

Hi all

I'm not quite sure what forum to put this in. It's related to mounting a cellular antenna but it's not a technology question. Sorry if this is a bit of a long ramble.

New RVer here with a 2017 Minnie Winnie 31K. Among the many tasks we need to do before setting off with some cats is setting up good cellular data. I'm quite competent about the technical side of this but the thought of mounting an antenna and getting the cables in etc is almost keeping me awake at night. It's not the sort of thing I want to make a mess of and obviously want to drill the minimum number of holes.

I'd appreciate any comments and general sanity check on what I'm planning.

I have one of these Poynting "shark fin" type MIMO antennas that I want to mount on the roof. https://poynting.tech/antennas-and-a...nas/mimo-3-15/

Ideally, for performance, it needs to sit on a metal surface. With a fiberglass roof, this obviously means some sort of metal plate. According the manufacturer's instructions, the metal needs to be a minimum of 400 x 400 mm or about 16 x 16 in. Opinions vary on the necessity of it. It might not make a huge difference but, knowing what I do about antennas etc from being into ham radio, I'd like to provide that if I possibly can.

I've looked long and hard to find a good position. I think near the back on the left (i.e., not the ladder side) a couple of feet diagonally in from the corner. There's nothing else there, it's far away from the interfering A/C unit etc and I have a convenient DC power outlet for the router in the bedroom below.

It can mount two ways. One way is to have it sit over a central hole. It has a plastic spigot that goes through the hole with a nut on the inside. The cable goes vertically down through the spigot. I don't think I can realistically use this method. I don't want to have to deal with the space between the ceiling and the roof so any hole needs to come down into a cupboard.

The other way is to mount it on a flat surface with no hole. The cable goes horizontally out the back. Here's my plan. Please tell me of I'm suggesting something crazy here.

I get a sheet of galvanized steel. Probably this: https://www.amazon.com/M-D-Building-.../dp/B000IKM1Y0 It's 28 gauge or 1/64 inch thick which is thin enough to cut with tin snips. I'd cut it to 16 x 16 or maybe a little bigger. I would stick it down with 3M VHB.

The antenna has a magnetic mount option. They're six little "buttons" which are strong magnets. I'd use that to hold the antenna on the plate.

For the cable, I would drill a hole down into one of the cupboards at the back above the bed. I would follow what I saw in a video which is to mount a plastic box over a hole and have holes in the side of the box for a cable to go in and then down. That will give me the future opportunity to pass other cables in through the box without more holes in the roof.

Does that sound doable? I don't know how strong the VHB is and if it is likely to damage the roof. The antenna is quite light and when mounted pointing forward, it doesn't have much wind resistance.

Maybe a silly question. The salesperson mentioned the word "rubber" when talking about the roof but it is fiberglass isn't it?

Thanks
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Old 08-01-2020, 02:51 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tetranz View Post
Hi all

I'm not quite sure what forum to put this in. It's related to mounting a cellular antenna but it's not a technology question. Sorry if this is a bit of a long ramble.

New RVer here with a 2017 Minnie Winnie 31K. Among the many tasks we need to do before setting off with some cats is setting up good cellular data. I'm quite competent about the technical side of this but the thought of mounting an antenna and getting the cables in etc is almost keeping me awake at night. It's not the sort of thing I want to make a mess of and obviously want to drill the minimum number of holes.

I'd appreciate any comments and general sanity check on what I'm planning.

I have one of these Poynting "shark fin" type MIMO antennas that I want to mount on the roof. https://poynting.tech/antennas-and-a...nas/mimo-3-15/

Ideally, for performance, it needs to sit on a metal surface. With a fiberglass roof, this obviously means some sort of metal plate. According the manufacturer's instructions, the metal needs to be a minimum of 400 x 400 mm or about 16 x 16 in. Opinions vary on the necessity of it. It might not make a huge difference but, knowing what I do about antennas etc from being into ham radio, I'd like to provide that if I possibly can.

I've looked long and hard to find a good position. I think near the back on the left (i.e., not the ladder side) a couple of feet diagonally in from the corner. There's nothing else there, it's far away from the interfering A/C unit etc and I have a convenient DC power outlet for the router in the bedroom below.

It can mount two ways. One way is to have it sit over a central hole. It has a plastic spigot that goes through the hole with a nut on the inside. The cable goes vertically down through the spigot. I don't think I can realistically use this method. I don't want to have to deal with the space between the ceiling and the roof so any hole needs to come down into a cupboard.

The other way is to mount it on a flat surface with no hole. The cable goes horizontally out the back. Here's my plan. Please tell me of I'm suggesting something crazy here.

I get a sheet of galvanized steel. Probably this: https://www.amazon.com/M-D-Building-.../dp/B000IKM1Y0 It's 28 gauge or 1/64 inch thick which is thin enough to cut with tin snips. I'd cut it to 16 x 16 or maybe a little bigger. I would stick it down with 3M VHB.

The antenna has a magnetic mount option. They're six little "buttons" which are strong magnets. I'd use that to hold the antenna on the plate.

For the cable, I would drill a hole down into one of the cupboards at the back above the bed. I would follow what I saw in a video which is to mount a plastic box over a hole and have holes in the side of the box for a cable to go in and then down. That will give me the future opportunity to pass other cables in through the box without more holes in the roof.

Does that sound doable? I don't know how strong the VHB is and if it is likely to damage the roof. The antenna is quite light and when mounted pointing forward, it doesn't have much wind resistance.

Maybe a silly question. The salesperson mentioned the word "rubber" when talking about the roof but it is fiberglass isn't it?

Thanks
I mounted my RV cellular antenna right onto the top handle of the roof ladder that came stock on the back of our motorhome. I ran the coaxial cable for it across the roof and down the refrigerator vent on the roof. I held the coaxial cable down on the roof surface using 3 inch wide Eternabond tape.

I didn't want to drill any holes into the roof or exterior walls. However, our roof is fiberglass, so the Eternabond tape works very well to hold the cable down and will last for years and years.
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Old 08-01-2020, 03:16 PM   #3
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Your plan sounds very workable.

You might find some other pre-existing holes that would work, as well.

Some folks have run cables down besides an existing vent pipe. Lots of times in the back of a bathroom cabinet there will be a vent pipe running from the sink up to the roof for a plumbing vent. That gives you a chance to get the cable inside the RV easily and then go from the interior of that cabinet into an adjacent cabinet through a hole you'd drill in a wall. Lot's of RV cabinets in one room line up with cabinets in an adjacent room.

We had a class C once and I installed my cellular booster ant into the interior via the TV antenna hole. it was easy to remove the caulking around the King Jack antenna and run my wires and then reinstall the Antenna over the new cable.

On my current Class A, I have both a cell booster ant and a WiFi Ranger "booster" antenna (it's really an antenna with a wifi router that pairs with the indor router - it's not really a booster) on my roof.

I made the cabinets above the dashboard into my Tech cabinet and it was easy to drill through the fiberglass cap because there isn't any roof structure there. But most Class C MH don't have that option.

For a ground plane I bought a round steel "pizza pan separator" from amazon. It's a 12" round metal disk but they make them for bigger pizza's too, if you know what I mean.

Here's an 18" one, no cutting required:
https://www.amazon.com/American-Meta...dp/B003DAV41I/

I used simple NuFlex silicone caulking to hold down the pizza pan to the roof. It's not gone anywhere in 3 years. My magnet antenna sticks perfectly to the pan.
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Old 08-01-2020, 03:52 PM   #4
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Thanks creativepart, the pizza pan separator looks good. I was looking at baking pans but couldn't find a flat one without the edge. The pizza things all seem to be aluminum so the magnets won't work. It sounds like you have a rare steel one.

I haven't bought the magnetic mounting kit for the antenna yet but I do have the standard adhesive option. I think it would work well on a clean smooth metal surface so I'll probably go that way.

As for the technology, I'm kind of new to the cellular part of it. I know a lot of people have success with the cellular booster devices but I didn't like the idea of another cellular transmitter inside the coach and the possibility of feedback between them. It feels cleaner to me to have an external antenna to a box which is a transceiver and router. The other side of that is a normal local network with either Wi-Fi or ethernet cable. That doesn't help provide a good cellular signal inside but we don't really need that. If my somewhat expensive "unlimited" AT&T data plan from a reseller is any good, we can use Wi-Fi calling.
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Old 08-02-2020, 11:13 AM   #5
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Rather than use a box for cable entry, I used Winegard cable entry plates, like this. They come in 1-4 cable versions. I have taken mine up several times to add cables.


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Old 08-02-2020, 11:46 AM   #6
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VHB tape is very, very strong (140 lbs per square inch) and won't hurt your roof. It's foam cored so you can slice it off with something like a steel guitar string and then remove the adhesive with solvent. I'd use something like a 1" x 2" piece at each corner of the ground plane (or if round, every 90 degrees) and then cover the edges with Eternabond to keep water from getting underneath.

Personally, I'd opt for aluminum since the galvanized steel will rust over time. I'd adhere the antenna to the aluminum with VHB tape.

73, KJ6SVX
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Old 08-02-2020, 12:07 PM   #7
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Thanks SLOweather, that plate looks interesting although this antenna has quite a thick bundle of cables. That entry point may not be big enough. I only see a one cable version here https://winegard.com/industry/oil-an...e-entry-plates

I'm thinking something like this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WL7D9V6 but it will be a squeeze for one of those holes too. They can handle 12mm diameter which is barely enough. The cable is five thin coax cables twisted together with a sheath around them. Two for cellular, two for Wi-Fi and one for GPS. I could probably remove the sheath, untwist them and use both holes. Of course the connectors need to pass through the hole or be removed and reattached. A plate avoids that.

I was originally thinking of getting a waterproof electrical type box, buying the glands and making my own entry box. I might still do that. Then I can make it with one big gland, (I see them online up to 40mm) and add smaller ones when needed.
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Old 08-02-2020, 01:08 PM   #8
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When we did ours we mounted the antenna on the top of our ladder and used the refrigerator vent to gain access through the roof. If I were going to drill a hole in the roof I would install a metal junction box that could accommodate any additional cables I might want to install in the future. Junction boxes seem to be easy to install, easy to waterproof and add versatility. I have seen installations where people have mounted their antennas on the junction box lid.
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