I'm really frustrated by the lack of instructions on where and when and how to install antennas. I understand that Zenith can't predict what equipment everybody wants to install but a basic guide to where and how to install an ELT, transponder and COM antenna would be nice. Without such a thing, I am stuck, stuck, stuck.

I was getting ready to rivet the fuse parts together when I realised that if I do that I can't easily get behind the baggage back to put things there. So I've been looking into where to put antennas and boxes but there are so many questions - where to locate them, how to install them, how to get at them for inspection when everything is finished etc etc. Maybe that doesn't matter, looks like lots of folks rivet them together without antennas - hard to tell. 

I'm a total beginner, relying on the manuals and the DVD and the kind folk here and at Zenith. I don't have the ability to just make something up like it seems everyone else has done in this area. Without some clear instruction I fear I am going to be stuck forever. It's too bad I am in BFE with no other home builders around.

So if anyone has some photos here that would be a good source of study for me, that would be great. I'm not up to anything fancy, just enough to be simple and to work.



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Comment by RANDY L HALLOCK on March 4, 2013 at 12:36am

Paul, I put my comm ant just aft of the top skylight centered on fuselage. I placed my ELT ant 2 feet aft of comm ant per instructions for ants, no closer than 2 feet apart. I put my GPS ant 2 feet aft of ELT ant. My transponder ant is on the belly just aft of the main gear, all ant centered on fuselage. I have a 40-42 waste and can barely get in the belly access panel. My only gripe about this build is the belly access panel should have been about 8" aft so anyone larger than Roger at the factory can stand up and work inside the fuselage.

Comment by Paul Sanders on February 24, 2013 at 1:51pm

Thanks all for your replies and support. I've done a lot more browsing on here of people's builds to get ideas and I'm feeling much better, or at least I can see that I keep going for quite some time before I really need to know what I am going to do.

I have ordered the Nuckolls book, too. Btw it is cheaper to buy from his website than Amazon (and he offers a PDF only version which is cheaper still).

Thanks again to everyone.


Comment by David Fitzgerald on February 23, 2013 at 11:20pm

I put all my antennas in after my plane was all together. I mounted my comm antenna on the top rear fuse as far back as I could reach while standing up thru the access opening in the bottom. I used the antenna mounted to my ELT and mounted it under the pass. seat. The transponder antenna below the center consol. The most difficult was the GPS antenna which I mounted forward baggage roof and routing the wires was a pain.

Comment by Louis W. Ott on February 22, 2013 at 11:38am

I'd suggest getting the book "AeroElectric Connection" by Bob Nuckolls. It has a lot of detailed information on all the electrical, instrumentation, and radio/antenna installation you'll eventually need. His web site is here. http://www.aeroelectric.com/

Get the book. http://www.amazon.com/AeroElectric-Connection-Bob-Nuckolls/dp/B0013...

Also, answers to others questions on this forum.


Comment by D Dixon on February 20, 2013 at 8:21pm
contact a local radio shop and ask advice. they are usually happy to advise. you will need them sooner or later and they will welcome the business...
you,ll meet new plane folks!
Comment by Bob Pustell on February 19, 2013 at 10:30pm

If you have two comm radios (a very nice luxury) put one antenna on the top. As pointed out already, it will survive crash situations better and maybe leave you with a functioning radio to talk to rescue folks. Put the other comm antenna on the bottom because when airborne, the bottom is where the ground radio stations you are talking to are located. When I flew big jets for a living, we used the radio with the comm antenna on the top for ground ops (talking to ramp control, getting clearances at the gate, etc) and the radio with the comm antenna on the bottom for talking with ATC enroute.

ELT antennas should be on the top so they will still (hopefully) send a signal after a crash. Transponder should be on the bottom -- you use it when you are airborne.

Any antenna needs a ground plane - a grounded metal surface to mount the antenna on. There are rules about how big it needs to be, depending on the freq range of the antenna. Basically, the bigger, the better. Also, antenna should not be mounted close to each other or they will interfere with each other, induce strange false signals, etc. Also, try not to block the antenna with metal structure (for instance, if you put a comm antenna right next to a gear leg on the bottom of the plane, there will be a blank area of reception and transmission in the area behind the gear leg from the antenna).

Finally, be sure the mounting area is physically strong enough. If the skin is thin there, rivet on a doubler to make the area strong enough to support the antenna. The force of wind at cruise power is strong, plus things vibrate a lot.

You can find rules for all these things, but common sense applies also. As pointed out already, look at a lot of other installations. Especially, look at certified aircraft installations - they need to honor all those rules about spaceing and doublers and stuff or they could not get certified. Have fun. Chill out. Learn stuff and build. Enjoy.

Comment by Bob McDonald on February 19, 2013 at 8:37pm
Look in my Can-Zac Spycam photo album on this site. I posted antenna mounting pictures and tips.
Comment by Normand Lambert on February 19, 2013 at 5:20pm
Transponder antenna should be under belly because radars look up for you plane .. Mine is under passenger seat easy access and close to xponder...
Radio antenna and ELT are on top of fuse ...in case of crash they wont be damaged and will continue xmitting. They are both centerlined over the bagage area for ease of access...
Easy ...KISS principle.
Comment by Mark Napier on February 19, 2013 at 4:59pm
The inspection cover won't give a good ground plane for the antenna.
Comment by Jesse Hartman on February 19, 2013 at 3:29pm

Why not mount the antenna in the center of an inspection cover.  That way you can always get to the back of it when needed. Also when I build or set up police cars and I need to pull wire I lay in some string or rope so after I install the cage or back seat I can tape the wires to the rope and pull them through.  I dont know........

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