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Author Topic: Antenna Issue in NYC Co-op  (Read 1650 times)
KB2IKA
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« on: November 14, 2007, 07:27:26 AM »

My daughter recently saw a demonstration of amateur radio at the NY Hall of Science and became fascinated by the entire concept of worldwide communications and because of this she sparked my interest in actually getting on the air.  I passed my novice many years ago, but did nothing with it.  Currently working on Tech/General and Extra and plan to take the tests on Dec 1.  (26 years in the electronics industry and already have all my commercial licenses).  

My question is this:  Our building forbids permanently mounted antennas of ANY kind.  Stealth and temporary antennas are somewhat allowed, as long as 1) they cannot be seen and 2) they do not cause interference.  I do have a terrace where it would be possible to "plant" an antenna, but I am not sure what to use, since practical experience at this point is not existent.  

Would a screwdriver antenna with a short whip be a viable option?  

I am 56 feet above MSL, so I have the height, just need a workable "stealthy" solution.

Thanks for any help you all can give.

73 de Ed
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N3BIF
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2007, 09:13:01 AM »

 Lets start with bands of interest.
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KB2IKA
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« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2007, 10:24:36 AM »

I am mainly looking at working HF.  2M/70cm, not a problem as an antenna that small can easily be hidden behind a planter.  (I currently use a Wilson cellular repeater that has a patch antenna which has been epoxied to a planter and painted green to match the plastic, works great and is totally undetectable)
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2007, 11:41:22 AM »

This looks like a really good possibility for you:

http://www.hamcq.com/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=91

Dennis KG4RUl
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AB2KT
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2007, 10:03:45 PM »

In your situation it's a lot harder to receive a decent signal than to transmit one. Noise is a huge problem in the city. You can always boost your transmit power to get out. Suppressing noise on receive is not so simple, especially when you have such a variety of nearby sources -- AC wiring, tracklight switching supplies, above all automobile ignitions packed together in heavy traffic...

I've operated HF portable from a number of European cities. The biggest enemy is the public transportation system. Trams generate a *lot* of hash. It's pretty hopeless. NYC is manageable by comparison.

You can probably get by with some pretty small antennas if you're prepared to work hard on the receive part. DSP will certainly help. Maybe you'll need something more like an active noise canceller. You might also get good results from a smallish magnetic loop, or a separate RX loop antenna with a preamp.

In any case, you deserve a lot of credit for wanting to work HF from a city QTH. A big city is one of the most adverse RF environments known to humankind.

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WB2WIK
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« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2007, 10:06:45 AM »

?Antenna Issue in NYC Co-op  Reply  
by KB2IKA on November 14, 2007  Mail this to a friend!  
I am 56 feet above MSL, so I have the height, just need a workable "stealthy" solution.<

::56' ASL is "height?"  I'm 857' ASL and I don't have any "height" that would make my location any better than being right at sea level.  On HF, height above sea level means virtually nothing: It's height above surrounding obstacles that matters, and in NYC I suspect there are many surrounding obstacles.  Unfortunately, some of those probably do generate RF noise as others have pointed out.

Give us more details about the building.  Forget the "rules" for the time being: How tall is the building, how many stories, do you have any roof access?

I've had many friends in NYC in buildings of all shapes, sizes and ages (from 100+ year old Brownstones to modern skyscrapers) who found a way to install antennas on their roofs.  This was possible because those installations *did* meet the same criteria you described: (1) Being invisible to everyone (because nobody lives on the roof, you can't see the roof from the street, and you can't see it from any units or balconies, either); and (2) No "interference" generated.  In fact, generation of interference (RFI) is MUCH less likely when antennas are on a roof than if they're on a balcony, since on the roof they're farther away from everybody and all appliances inside the building, and many times the roofs act as great shields because they're metallic lined.  In fact, many NYC rooftops are all metal (aluminum, copper or galvanized steel) with weatherproof insulation applied over that.  It's a great shield which effectively prevents RF from radiating downwards into the building.

WB2WIK/6
 
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KT8K
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« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2007, 10:15:28 AM »

How tall a tree can you get away with "planting" on the terrace?  
The tallest vertical tube possible, or a BTV-type vertical, decorated with paint and plastic leaves so it looks like a tall, skinny tree, might work.  Plant a suitable short mast-pipe securely in a pot (pour in buckets of cement, which you can hand mix, then cover with enough dirt to support some plants).  Then mount the heavily-decorated antenna onto it (if straight tubing, insulate it from the support mast with a strong fiberglass rod or similar).  Then stretch thin radial wires around the terrace, tucked under edges, into grooves in pavement, etc.  Since you are far off the ground, cut them to resonant lengths.  They can be drooped over the edge, though  you might want to pull them up and coil them under plant cover when not operating.  Feed the system with an autotuner hidden in the vertical-support pot or just behind it (a BTV-type vertical won't require this), and route some RG8x inside to connect to it.  That should work *very* well.

As for the noise, I wouldn't depend purely on DSP.  Possibly you could get one of those noise-cancelling receive boxes that uses a second, small antenna as a noise pickup.  I know MFJ makes one, but I haven't tried it.  (I bought one, but noise levels at my in-town house have been much lower than I expected.)

Except under the closest inspection I think you can get away with such a camoflaged setup, and it will do very well for you.
Best rx & 73 de kt8k - Tim
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KB2IKA
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« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2007, 11:44:26 AM »

Forgetting the rules for a moment.  The building is a post war 10 story brick/steel construction with the standard NYC flat roof and elevator penthouse.  No antennas or even access to the roof by residents are permitted.  Even the DBS satellite dishes are forbidden anywhere on the property.  We have had a few people use a  satellite dish on their terrace without any incidents, until someone went and did something very stupid, they attached the dish to the terrace railing with tie wraps, which did not hold under a heavy wind, and the obvious result happened, the dish fell down and took out a residents car window parked in the lot.  So now even the few dishes that were on the property have been removed.

I took home a spectrum analyzer from my office and did a quick test, noise wise, not to bad.  I did pick up some very strong, clearly digital signals, most likely subharmonics from nearby PC's but nothing that bad.  

The suggestions and information that you all have provided has been a wealth of information to me.  I think that I have some direction as to where I am going to go with this.  I need to purchase a good HF radio, and I am thinking the ICOM IC-756PRO III and the High Sierra antenna that was recommended in a post above.  The terrace has a floor to ceiling height of 11 feet, so I may have to improvise with the tripod, or make a different type of mount, and hopefully this will be a good combination to get on the air, and to encourage my daughter to join the ranks.

Thanks all,

Ed.
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2007, 01:26:45 PM »

KB2IKA: You have more rights than you might know about.

The management of a Co-op have absolutely zero legal grounds for prohibiting DBS dish antennas, that's Federally preempted by CFR 47 1.4000, the OTARD rule, which applies in all counties and all 50 States.  Housing management and authorities must allow residents to install DBS dish antennas (up to 1m or 39" in diameter) whether they want to allow this or not.  Of course, installations should be "safe," and the satellite TV service providers ALL perform dish installations which are safe and they have the liability for maintaining their safety.  Dish installation is normally "free" when you order new service.

The Federal ruling is here:

http://www.fcc.gov/mb/facts/otard.html

Nobody can overrule or mess with that.

Then, regarding "roof access," you probably have more rights than you know on this issue also.  There are really only two types of cooperative housing in America, Market Rate co-ops and Limited Equity co-ops.  In either case, all residents have certain rights regarding community property and portioned ownership of property, including such things as roof access.  Don't believe me?  I can recommend a great lawyer local to you who will make a believer out of you.

I've lived there and been through this.  There's no way a property manager in a co-op can just make up rules, and even if such Rules and Regulations are published and signed for during the course of co-op purchase or rental agreements, they aren't binding unless they're legal.

WB2WIK/6
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KB2IKA
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« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2007, 07:20:48 AM »

WB2WIK,

This is great information.  I was aware of the satellite ruling, as I used that once before in bringing a successful suit against the town of Brookhaven when they told me I had to take down my 4m 'C' band dish back in the early 90's.  I was able to win that case, plus damages.  I am not so sure that the Coop will be as easy a target, the Occupancy Agreement is pretty clear on the restrictions placed on ALL types of antennas, so there is no discrimination regarding one type of antenna over another.  I am going to check with the managing agents to see just how "up" they are on the rules regarding antennas, and see just how far I can go with this.  The "landmark" status of the building, plus the occupancy agreement may prove to be an daunting challenge, but it never hurts to ask.

The members of the "board" are all very good friends of mine, so it might be possible to convince them that an antenna on the roof would not cause anyone any type of problems.  

They, the "board" does owe me a number of favors, as I was able to review the programming for their environmental control systems and decreased the building fuel consumption from 140 gallons per hour to 33 gallons per hour during the heating season, so this might be just the "payback" that would make me happy.

Thanks,

Ed
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2007, 08:03:54 AM »

Hello Ed,

You wouldn't have used the FCC OTARD ruling to fight a case for a 4m dish in the early nineties, because this ruling is from October 1996 and doesn't actually apply to 4m dishes.  It does apply to OTARD devices which include 1m dishes for DBS service as well as ordinary VHF-UHF television antennas intended to receive direct broadcasts: Neither may be prohibited by landlords, building management, tenancy agreements, covenants or anyone/anything else.  It doesn't matter what they may stipulate or what you signed, it's overruled by this fairly recent Federal legislation.

Every time a homeowner or tenant has brought suit against a homeowner association, landlord or other property management to claim his right to an outdoor television antenna or 1m DBS dish antenna, he's won.  In several well known cases, the homeowner or tenant not only won their right to install or keep the antenna, but he's been awarded court costs and legal fees as well.

However, that ruling does not apply to amateur radio antennas!

You didn't say if you are an owner or tenant in the co-op.  If you're an owner, you own a portion of the entire building including a portion of the roof.  You cannot be denied roof access as required for inspections, maintenance or repairs.  The roof likely contains stuff you actually "own," like vent pipes for bathrooms and kitchen, possibly an air conditioning unit, and so forth.  You cannot be denied access to inspect, maintain and repair such items.

If you are owed a favor anyway, that's a great start.

I'd *STRONGLY* recommend exercising that favor right now, before it gets too cold or snow falls, to get an antenna installed on the roof.  It will not only work far better than on a balcony but it will also -- GUARANTEED -- cause less interference.  Probably "no" interference if you position and install it well.

Good luck!

Steve WB2WIK/6
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AB2RC
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« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2007, 08:21:12 AM »

-- I am 56 feet above MSL, so I have the height, just need a workable "stealthy" solution.<

-- ::56' ASL is "height?" I'm 857' ASL and I don't have any "height" that would make my


I think that MSL = Manhattan Street Level, meaning that his balcony is 56' above the street, which might be a good start for a vhf vertical or groundplane
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2007, 10:21:53 AM »

>RE: Antenna Issue in NYC Co-op  Reply  
by AB2RC on November 16, 2007  Mail this to a friend!  
-- I am 56 feet above MSL, so I have the height, just need a workable "stealthy" solution.<

-- ::56' ASL is "height?" I'm 857' ASL and I don't have any "height" that would make my


I think that MSL = Manhattan Street Level, meaning that his balcony is 56' above the street, which might be a good start for a vhf vertical or groundplane<

::Could be, but I'll bet it's not so good, actually.  He's in a 10-story building which is likely 100' high; and Manhattan has hundreds, maybe thousands, of buildings taller than that.  I've operated from the rooftop of the United Nations building, 200'+ high above the East River, and that location was "so-so."  Not terrible, but certainly not very good, and not nearly as good as just operating "from home" in New Jersey where I lived at the time. Problem is that area just has too many tall buildings!

WB2WIK/6

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KF7CG
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« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2007, 11:36:31 AM »

Hey fellows. The MSL term is used a lot in the geographical realm. It means Mean Sea Level which is the mean of the sea water heights at hich, low, high-high, low-low, and the other various water heights of sea level.

Unless you live somewhere with strange tidal conditions, the difference between sea level at any given time and Mean Sea Level is at most a few feet. This of course isn't true in the Bay of Fundy and some other special locations.
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #14 on: November 16, 2007, 05:09:00 PM »

"The "landmark" status of the building" - I think this may be the fly in the ointment.  The FCC ruling makes exceptions to the requirement for situations like this.
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