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internal or external Pilot aware antennas for a skyranger


Cross Country Pilot
With the CAA grant for EC devices, I'm planning to get a Pilot aware unit for my sky ranger. Internal antennas are easier to fit but would external make a big difference in signal in a rag and tube aircraft like the sky ranger given that you can position them more ideally? How do you go about safely making a hole in the covering for the antenna to go through?

Dave Morton

Cross Country Pilot
Although this is purely guess work, would burning a hole with a soldering iron be ok?, reasoning behind this is that the edges of the hole will be "sealed" to a degree and prevent any material fraying that may occur


Cross Country Pilot
Yes, that's the one idea I'd thought about but wondered if it would be a strong enough edge. Perhaps glueing an extra layer on first then burning the hole through would add some reinforcement


Cross Country Pilot
The external antennas require a ground plane fitting, so you need to factor this into their location. I'm possibly going to use the very end of the windscreen behind the pilot and passenger heads with ground plane fitted as adhesive silver foil in the 20cm x 20cm squares recommended.

You might find that fitting internal antennas is easier, maybe they could go just forward of the door pillar below the dash? However, will this warn about approaching aircraft from in front, your biggest risk?

Remember that the engine is a huge metal lump and will give you massive obscuration forward if you hide the antennas under the dash, or place the PilotAware there with the antennas attached to it.

I'd be wary about making soldering iron holes in the fabric of any type, as it is often tensioned by both lacing and application of heat, and disturbing this would be a big mistake IMV.

One for Flylight Engineering. They're superb people and will tell you what's what.


Cross Country Pilot
Had a reply back from Flylight as follows

You can fix a ground plane directly to the fuselage fabric - just make sure there aren’t any sharp edges / corners that can chafe - some double sided tape is a good idea to stop relative movement. You can cut holes in the fabric using a sharp knife (don’t slip!) or melt a hole with a soldering iron.

Paul Dewhurst"

I'm thinking that you'd want the ground plane on the inside of the fabric, secured with double-sided tape and the antenna mounted through it all with the nut on the indie holding it all together. Soldering iron to make a clean hole seems to be the accepted way of doing it after all :)