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Thread: Installing New Antenna On Existing Fabric

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    Chandler, AZ
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    Default Installing New Antenna On Existing Fabric

    The current antenna on my Kitfox is poorly put together and needs replacing. I bought a Rami AV-10 to install in the spot just behind the turtledeck, and had some questions. The current antenna just terminates at a bolt (see photos) and has a nut on the inside of the fuselage that holds it in place. The new one has a BNC connector and will get secured to the fuselage via 4 bolts. I've never modified fabric before and had some questions:


    1. The center hole that the current antenna goes through needs to be widened to allow for the male BNC connector on the antenna to mate with the female connector on the coax. I know you can't just drill through that area as it may tear open the fabric, so what would be the best way to drill a larger hole through the fabric and the steel underneath? It currently has some kind of cardboard "grommet" as a protective measure from chafing against the antenna and that will also have to be widened or replaced (see photo).
    2. For putting holes through the fabric for the mounting bolts of the antenna, can I just use a soldering iron to punch a hole through? Or is there a better way to do it? Will it also need that "grommet" to prevent the fabric from tearing over time? I worry that a hole will spread over time if it's not reinforced somehow.


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    av10draw.jpg

  2. #2
    Senior Member efwd's Avatar
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    Jun 2015
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    Yorba Linda, CA
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    Default Re: Installing New Antenna On Existing Fabric

    I have a cutting punch set I got at Harbor Freight. Cut the fabric and drill through the metal. I have the same antenna you aim to install. For me, a solder iron did the work but I have Oratex so Im not sure how it will fare on yours but I can't think of why it wouldn't. It is still Polyester.
    Eddie Forward
    Flying
    SS7, 912iS, Garmin G3X

  3. #3
    Senior Member Dave S's Avatar
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    Default Re: Installing New Antenna On Existing Fabric

    Eddie has got it..Second that...In building our S7 (polyfiber fabric), I used a sharp pointed soldering iron for penetrating and cutting the holes in the fabric for the com antenna and transponder monopole (also the drain holes all over the aircraft). More recently, adding ADS, the same method was used to cut the antenna hole in the bottom of the aircraft for the uAvionix antenna (same type of connection and dimension as the others).

    The soldering iron sort of smooths and seals the fabric at the edge of the hole which prevents any unraveling.
    Dave S
    Kitfox 7 Trigear (Flying since 2009)
    912ULS Warp Drive

    St Paul, MN

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    Chandler, AZ
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    Default Re: Installing New Antenna On Existing Fabric

    Does the temperature of the solder iron matter? Or should I get it super hot to ensure it melts the edges and prevents fraying?

    And how do I enlarge the existing hole? That one is a bit too big for the iron unless I just go around the edges in a circle pattern. It also has that paper (not sure if it's paper, but it has the same texture) grommet sealing the edges so that has to be removed somehow.

    I'd like to get this right in one shot since fixing a mistake could be very time consuming and costly.

  5. #5
    Senior Member jiott's Avatar
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    Jun 2010
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    Default Re: Installing New Antenna On Existing Fabric

    Just go around the edge in a circular pattern with the iron. Any imperfection will be covered by the antenna mounting base. Make sure the hole you make in the fabric FIRST is large enough so that the metal drill bit will not grab the edge of the fabric hole and start pulling threads.
    Jim Ott
    Portland, OR
    Kitfox SS7 flying
    Rotax 912ULS

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