Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Easy and cheap antenna weatherproofing picture guide

Works for less than $1 total, total time 15 minutes, survives any weather including red alert hurricane level.



Problem


Equipment is outdoors, therefore exposed to elements. Electricity and water do not mix.

Buy quality tape from builders providers or commercial places, if parking lot got vans or trucks with name and numbers on the side, patrons' pants sport more than six pockets and you get a VAT receipt, you're at the right place.

Three keys to success besides quality tape:

1. Start way below connector with two full circles around coax,
2. Work you way up with tape overlapping at least 1/3 over previous turn,
3. Pull tape gently during each turn to ensure a tight fit.

Do not try to save tape, cheaper to do it once right.

Example: FlightAware antenna


Would require N-male connector, which costs money, delivery takes time, etc.

Required: any coax with firm center conductor, tape.

Here's the antenna, we'll be working here. Center of coax goes into hole in the middle, braid comes around outer part. Principle is the same with F-type connectors, or SMA connectors, but they're much smaller, consequently harder to work with, barndoor vs gynecologist.



Prepared coax good to go below. Cut off 50 mm / 2 inches of outer insulation saving braid, then leave 10mm of center conductor sticking out, fold that in half. Barrier is a piece of electrical tape, prevents center and braid touching:



Combine with antenna, insert center of coax into hole, leave wires sticking out:



Carefully fold braid and anything which is not the center on grooves:


Start taping, way over actual connection, minimum two full pulled turns:



Finish up by going way below the lowest part, the more the better. I normally take coax coming out from bottom to antenna above to take strain / weight / pull off from connector:


In daily use


FlightAware antenna used for comparisons for over a year uses trick above; Jetvision antenna featured in recent comparison same story - I can afford connectors, but I simply can't allow equipment failures.
Does the job? Yes, if done correctly. Included excessive amount of images above as it's easy and reliable, as long as tape starts well above connector and ends well below bottom part of connection.

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