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   Home   Help Search  
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Author Topic: Motel / Hotel HF  (Read 853 times)

Posts: 24

« on: February 19, 2008, 01:30:39 PM »


Gentleman I have a training session that is going to take me out of town for about a week and I am going to be stuck a lot in a motel room late afternoon and nights.

I recently constructed a 5/8 wave J-pole from 450 ohm ladder line, so my vhf needs are met.

My question is to all who have had to work hf from inside a motel/hotel room. I do not know if I will be on a floor above grade level with a balcony or just a room with four walls.

Here is what I have at my disposal. HF rig will be a Yaesu FT-897D, switching power supply, and an MFJ-993 Intellitunter. I have plenty of wire, to include some additional 450 ohm ladder line. I homebrewed a slinky dipole this weekend using 4 of the metal slinkies, while it may work somewhat this is as we know not an optimal arrangement, won't work great and terrible hard to handle and stretch out.

I had thought about a long wire ran from the tuner since it has the ability for that, but I need to be able to work at least 14mhz to 3.60mhz. Don't I need a really good ground to work against in this configeration ? Never used a long wire before, but looks like getting a good groung inside a motel room might be a challage if possible at all.

What have you fellows used and what would be some of my best options given the equipment that I have? All help with this is greatly apprciated.


James - W0PPD

Posts: 1042

« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2008, 02:04:15 PM »

I think you are on the right track thinking long-wire.

I'm going to suggest you add to that, some sort of counterpoise for the tuner to work against.  If you could scrounge up a chunk of 6 conductor flat cable you could make a 6-bander - cut one wire for each band of operation.  You could also use individual wires.  These get strung around the baseboard in the room, the long wire out the window.  Don't bother with ladder line but use very thin insulated wire.

Velcro ties make quick and easy lighweight hangers for attaching to railings and the like...

You might check your tuner manual to see if it suggests a minimum length for a random wire if you really have to get to 80 meters.

Another alternative might be a hamstick on the car, run coax into motel room or operate from your car.  If you only used the stick while stable, any mag mount would do - and you could add a counterpoise to the mount to improve it's match.


Posts: 21764

« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2008, 02:55:29 PM »

If you're serious about operating and have a choice about the accommodations, there are many hotels and motels that are *WAAAAAY* more ham-friendly than others.  I'd pick one of those.

For example, hams visiting Orange County, CA (huge tourist destination): I recommend the Disneyland Hotel, which are three high-rises right inside the Disneyland complex.

Reason: The rooms have balconies with real sliding glass doors that open up, and chairs & tables on the balconies.  Pick an upper room floor and you're over 100' above the ground with a great view in 2-3 directions (blocked in one).  An antenna *outside* the room is absolutely guaranteed to work better than one inside, and generate/receive less RFI as well.

My other favorites are drive-up motels where you can get a first floor room and park the car right outside the room.  Use the rig powered by the car (even the cigar lighter-like ACCESSORY outlets can often handle 20A intermittently, and about 10A continuously), stick a large mag mount antenna on the center of the roof, run a 50' length of RG8X into the room, and you're all set!  I've done this too many times to count, mostly with rental cars.

Works much better than any sort of "in room" antenna.


Posts: 9930

« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2008, 04:50:16 PM »

set up your car with a screwdriver, and go play in the car or else riun a coax into the room..

Posts: 6642

« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2008, 04:52:22 AM »

Random wire with a tuner is the most versatile arrangement for portable HF operations.
And after seeing the gauge wire connected to the cigarette lighter plug, I do not recommend drawing more than 10 amps from it... at any time!


Posts: 24

« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2008, 06:25:53 AM »

I would assume at this point I need a conterpoise wire of the 1/4 wave length varity for each band to work against, would this be correct ?

What would be a good source for a ground connection point inside the average motel room, or will the 1/4 wave wires, hooked to the tuner ground be adaquate ?

I have no option for using the vehicle as it is a City owned vehicle and other then switching out my vhf nmo mount antenna for vhf work on the trip, the switching power supply and equipment as described are what I have to use from inside the motel room.

I don't think the city would be to happy if I installed my High Sierra motorized antenna on the patrol car.

Any other ideas to maximize the "Random Wire" antenna setup inside the motel room would be helpful, I am assuming worse case option on the room, since the city will take care of the arrangements, I have no choice in what they  decide or where they decide to put me up.

Thanks to all that have responded and looks like I might just end up playing with a "Random Wire Antenna" this weekend to work out the bugs before hand.



Posts: 74

« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2008, 07:18:58 AM »

I have spent many nights in hotels with HF rigs - QRP and 100w. Stretching out a dipole on top of a 6' hedge is better than hanging 1/2 a dipole out the window. Plus, many hotel windows do not open. I have had good luck operating from a rental car using a Super Antenna vertical in the parking lot. I power the rig from the cigarette lighter or clip onto the battery. Many hotels have an S9+ noise level. I guess because of the TV's, networks, door locks, etc. About 50% of hotels are impossible to operate from. Moving to the parking lot solves the problem. For VHF/UHF - an HT with a rubber duck antenna works fine. Pre-program the HT for your area of operation. I use the HT as a mobile rig with a speaker/mic and a mag mount antenna. The mag mount also works in the room if needed.

Posts: 887

« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2008, 08:25:52 AM »

When I was in Edmonton for 2 weeks, I hit up the local bars and Tim Hortons.  When I got tired of drinking and doughnuts (which is sacrilegious in Canada) I broke out the laptop and watched a whole season of 24.

Hauling around HF equipment in an airport isn't fun (for me, going through customs wouldn't have been worth it).  I guess if you're traveling by car, it wouldn't be so bad.

A friend of mine swears by buddy poles.  He's been running qrp CW in his apartment for years on them.

Posts: 1146

« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2008, 08:56:49 AM »

One of my motivations for setting up mobile in my truck was to operate while traveling and staying in motels or hotels.  My first real use was the Java One conference in San Francisco in 2005 where I stayed at the downtown Hilton.  In the evening, I would take the pickup out and drive to some nice location such as Seacliff or Golden Gate park and operate.  I had two DX qsos while at Seacliff and that was on my old antenna (before my Hi-Q) which was just a CB whip and an SGC tuner.

So, each trip to Java One has been the same.  Only, this year it will be a bit more expensive for me if I go at all.  I don't have a big corporate giant paying my expenses this year and the total cost of the conference and a week in SF will buy a new TenTec Orion II.  So, I am not sure what will win out -- of course, the conference is a business expense and therefore comes right off the top on my taxable income.

Posts: 538

« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2008, 05:55:13 PM » another option may be to try a Par End-Fedz antenna. These are very convenient and half way decent performing mono-band antennas. There is even a model for 40-20-10m albeit at low power (25 watts). I've used these in the past when traveling and they're great due to their simplicity, ease of use, and results. Yeah, they are compromise antennas, but you're going to be operating under compromising conditions anyway.

Harry WE1X
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