What’s your handle?

For many years I’ve owned a Nissan X-Trail, in fact two, initially a petrol sport and then a diesel. I had an Icom IC-706 with a remote head unit installed. This was used mainly when stationary, with various roof mounted vertical antennas. These ranged from a 40m or 80m mono-band vertical to a tri-band vertical for 6m, 2m and 70cms. The X-Trail had two roof rails that ran the length of the roof. Each had two positions where a roof-rack or bars could be fitted. These were secured using bolts that screwed into the metal brackets that appeared to be welded to the metal roof. This made for a very easy method of fixing an aluminium plate directly to the metal bracket. Any vertical antenna had a robust, well earthed fixing point.

Original bracket used on the X-trail

Last year I changed my vehicle to a Skoda Yeti. I decided that I would not have a permanent radio fitted to this car but still have a mounting point for a vertical antenna that could be used when the vehicle is parked. The obvious solution was to do the same as I had done with the X-Trail. I checked at the time of purchase that the Yeti roof-rails had fixings to secure a roof-rack / bars but I’d not paid attention to the actual profile of the integral roof-rails.

When I came to make a template for the bracket I soon discovered that the surface that this would bolt to was neither horizontal nor vertical! To mount an antenna that was to stand vertical would require some clever metal bending. Given that I was planning to use 1/8th thick aluminium sheet this was not going to be an easy job… at least not with the limited workshop facilities available to me.

Now I’m not one to throw away items that I think may come in handy one day. I’d given up on trying to bend the aluminium sheet. So after much head-scratching and searching in the garage for something that might do the job. I came across an old patio door handle…

There was something about the shape of the extuded aluminium that caught my eye. The angle of the two faces looked just about right… could this be made into a suitable mounting bracket?

I removed the hardwood handle and offered the aluminium bracket up to the Yeti and the angle was just right. So after a few measurements and carefully scribed lines I set to with a hacksaw. I basically cut the handle in half and then cut off the part that the wooden handle attached to.

This left me with the following shaped bracket.

 

After some further measurements and checks the holes were drilled for the antenna base and the roof-rail mounting bolts. The Yeti roof-rails have “captive-nuts” that are pressed into the alloy rail. These protrude slightly which meant that the new bracket would not fit nice and flush to the rail. To overcome this I made a thin filler plate with over-size holes that would fit between the rail and the new bracket.

The following two photos show the bracket and filler plate after they were spray-painted to match the Yeti roof-rails. Note that some of the metal was masked off so that an earth connection was maintained.

 

The bracket was fixed using two 6mm stainless-steel bolts and star-washers. The coax runs along the roof gully and down the side of the rear C-pillar all the way down to bumper level where it then enters the boot space through the standard Skoda provided grommet for caravan wiring.

This has resulted in a neat installation that has worked well with the tri-band VHF / UHF vertical antenna and single band 80m and 40m verticals. The 80m and 40m aerials are only attached and used when the vehicle is stationary as I consider them to be too large to be attached to the vehicle when it is moving.

 

Disclaimer:

This installation does not use the roof-rail fixings as intended by the manufacturer. It’s possible that attaching an antenna in this way could result in damage to the vehicle or  the bracket and antenna breaking away from the vehicle. The size of antenna and whether being mobile or not will certainly impact this risk. Should you decide to adopt any ideas similar to what is described here you need to satisfy yourself that your installation is safe and not contravening any local laws etc.

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