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Author Topic: Need advice on DXing from condos  (Read 10990 times)
K9YNF
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Posts: 30




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« on: March 09, 2012, 09:36:59 AM »

Hi!

I am a 65 year-old DXCC and IOTA Honor Roller and live in a 1500 sq ft ranch home on a 2/3 acre Wisconsin hilltop. FYI, my rig is a K3, Alpha 99 amp and a 20/17 meter 4-square. I love SSB and PSK-31 DXing and should have Digital DXCC this year. I don't operate much CW.

In my future may be a condo. Two types. A ranch condo (duplex on one level) and a possible high-rise condo maybe 3 or 4 stories high (OK, a low-rise, Hi!).

The ranch condo could be in a HOA complex of ranch condos or out by itself. The high-rise could be in or near a downtown area, possibly overlooking Lake Michigan (boy, I wish it was salt water!). I would ideally want to be on the top floor.

Anyway, what I visualize right now for antennas would be this:

For ranch condo (with CC&Rs): stealth high-end (Hi-Q) flat black screwdriver hidden in the bushes.

For high-rise (unsure about CC&Rs but probably): high-end screwdriver on the balcony or roof; hex beam on 10 foot rooftop tower; SteppIR 3 or 4-element beam on 10 foot rooftop tower; or rooftop vertical with elevated radials.

I would like to run full power when needed on SSB but might go with the Elecraft 500-watt amp instead. PSK-31 DXing would be at 40-50 watts max.

Would the height advantage of the high-rise outweigh any possible city noise (motors, neon signs, etc.) problems, assuming I could get written permission ahead of time?

If the high-rise is for folks over 55, would I encounter possible electrical noise from motorized cart trickle chargers or other medical devices?

OR, should I invest in a high-end mobile station (using the K3 and maybe a 500-watt mobile amp and the Hi-Q screwdriver) for my 2010 Subaru Outback and run that in the driveway at the ranch condo, with quick-disconnect coax and AC from the garage?

The only other DXing option seems to be full remote-control from some site out of town, which has its own logistical and technical challenges. Elecraft has just rolled out its K0/K3 and Remote-Rig package which would get the job done nicely. Remote antenna would hopefully be a tower and beam.

I have the time to plan for this eventuality and don't want any buyer's remorse.

What say you? Anyone have any photos of their similar installations? I'm looking for pros and cons of these options and any and all creative solutions.

Thanks,

Wayne, K9YNF










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ONAIR
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Posts: 1744




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« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2012, 10:28:24 AM »

Hi!

I am a 65 year-old DXCC and IOTA Honor Roller and live in a 1500 sq ft ranch home on a 2/3 acre Wisconsin hilltop. FYI, my rig is a K3, Alpha 99 amp and a 20/17 meter 4-square. I love SSB and PSK-31 DXing and should have Digital DXCC this year. I don't operate much CW.

In my future may be a condo. Two types. A ranch condo (duplex on one level) and a possible high-rise condo maybe 3 or 4 stories high (OK, a low-rise, Hi!).

The ranch condo could be in a HOA complex of ranch condos or out by itself. The high-rise could be in or near a downtown area, possibly overlooking Lake Michigan (boy, I wish it was salt water!). I would ideally want to be on the top floor.

Anyway, what I visualize right now for antennas would be this:

For ranch condo (with CC&Rs): stealth high-end (Hi-Q) flat black screwdriver hidden in the bushes.

For high-rise (unsure about CC&Rs but probably): high-end screwdriver on the balcony or roof; hex beam on 10 foot rooftop tower; SteppIR 3 or 4-element beam on 10 foot rooftop tower; or rooftop vertical with elevated radials.

I would like to run full power when needed on SSB but might go with the Elecraft 500-watt amp instead. PSK-31 DXing would be at 40-50 watts max.

Would the height advantage of the high-rise outweigh any possible city noise (motors, neon signs, etc.) problems, assuming I could get written permission ahead of time?

If the high-rise is for folks over 55, would I encounter possible electrical noise from motorized cart trickle chargers or other medical devices?

OR, should I invest in a high-end mobile station (using the K3 and maybe a 500-watt mobile amp and the Hi-Q screwdriver) for my 2010 Subaru Outback and run that in the driveway at the ranch condo, with quick-disconnect coax and AC from the garage?

The only other DXing option seems to be full remote-control from some site out of town, which has its own logistical and technical challenges. Elecraft has just rolled out its K0/K3 and Remote-Rig package which would get the job done nicely. Remote antenna would hopefully be a tower and beam.

I have the time to plan for this eventuality and don't want any buyer's remorse.

What say you? Anyone have any photos of their similar installations? I'm looking for pros and cons of these options and any and all creative solutions.

Thanks,

Wayne, K9YNF











  The only advice I can give you is to avoid HOAs if at all possible.  Some HOAs have restrictions on any Ham transmitting antennas or operation, so even if you go stealth, you may run into issues if you are discovered.  If you must go into a HOA community, then remote operation will probably be your best option.
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WX7G
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Posts: 6133




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« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2012, 11:22:51 AM »

I operate from an HOA neighborhood using a screw driver antenna. Running 600 watts on CW I work the world on 160-10 meters.

For stealth the screwdriver lives inside a 4" x 4" hollow vinyl fence post with a bird house at the top. For daytime operation on the 20 meters and above a 3' whip is attached. For more punch I use a 6' or 9' whip. Even with the 6' whip I work Europe from Utah on 80 meters. For busting pileups on 80 and 40 meters a 24' whip is attached. That gives a radiation efficiency of 50% on 80 meters and 80% on 40 meters. The ground consists of 90 radials covering a 25' x 50' yard.

I work 160 meters, where the antenna efficiency is 10%, and do well enough with Europe worked several times.

The RF noise environment is higher than out in the country (I checked it with my mobile setup) but is low enough to DX even on the low bands. With the 1200 watt amp I have had no RFI complaints.

So yes, one can still DX even on the low bands from an HOA situation.
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N6MV
Member

Posts: 1




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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2012, 07:55:49 PM »

Wayne,

Look at my E-ham review of the MFJ 1786 Hi Q Loop- as well as the other 5/5 E-ham reviews of this Hi Q Loop from other hams, for I now have restrictive CC&R's and this loop works great, beyond all expectations, being only a few feet off the ground. You can place it outside, in your attic or on a balcony - and you  will be surprised as to how well it works.

Look at the URL's mentioned in my E-ham review and also look up K8NDS on QRZ. com and the URL's on his website as well as his You Tube Clip on Hi Q Magnetic Loop Antennas. No question about, with a Hi Q Loop you can reside in an HOA common interest community or a Condo with either an attic or a balcony - and work the World on HF.

Am now in the process of building a 40 -80 M Hi Q loop using copper - for less resistive loss- along with a vacuum variable capacitor that has much higher capacity that an air variable capacitor, as well as having a much higher working voltage( viz. 15- to- 25KV)  - which can handle a KW without arcing over.

73's, Jim (N6MV)
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KC9TNH
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Posts: 304




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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2012, 05:12:50 AM »

If the high-rise is for folks over 55, would I encounter possible electrical noise from motorized cart trickle chargers or other medical devices?
Wayne, that is a great question not seen often. I don't live in such a place but can tell you that semi-portable oxygenators can be troublesome if the pulse noise is getting onto the AC at all. My wife is still living pretty normally but is out/about on portable and then on a "feedline" (hihi) at home from the oxygenator.

Such a pulse noise is VERY frequency specific in my experience, but may occur at multiple locations. As example, I first noticed it dead-on 14.300 when listening to MMSN, a kc either side was quiet. There are a couple of other places (1 on 40 & 1 on 15 I think) where I notice it. It's nothing that can't be worked through, just something that comes & goes as the machine repressurizes the feedline, and doesn't affect xmit; 'course if your goal  is weak-signal DX such things may be an issue. Specifics can probably get more in-depth in the RFI forum areas; it's an ankle-biter nothing more, but if you live in a multi-person dwelling with poorly engineered AC distribution and a bunch of mongo-industro-grade switching power supplies around it could be different. In such a situation I think one would want to look into how the place is lighted as well and if such things as flourescent units are changed regularly before their obnoxious components start scratching the air as they go bad.

Good luck!  Looked at your QTH pic on qrz.com - what a great place for antennas!
73 Smiley
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73
Wes -KC9TNH
"Don't get treed by a chihuahua." - Pete
WX7G
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Posts: 6133




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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2012, 05:55:29 AM »

Wayne, what bands do you want to DX on? If 20 meters and above all of the screwdriver antennas are essentially equal. Mount one in the backyard with a couple dozen 12' (or longer and more) radials, a whip for a total length of 8' and you're on the air. I'd run the legal limit. And the using the mobile on the car, as you say, is a good option with good radiation efficiency. You can run a coax into the home shack where the legal limit amp lives.

40 and 80 meters take a bit more for a pile-up busting signal. I described above how I do this with a ground mounted screwdriver.

The 24' "whip" consists of of two 6' Hustler mast extensions and a 3' extension. On top of this is a 9' whip making the "whip" 24' long. The Hustler extension is 1/2" almost solid aluminum but the bottom 6' is too bendy. To stiffen the bottom section a 6' length of 5/8" aluminum tubing is slipped over it (DX Engineering stocks this tubing).

Mobile you can get away from RFI, run an ALS-500 amp and your Hi-Q antenna. You can park and put on longer whips for better performance.

« Last Edit: March 16, 2012, 07:45:36 AM by WX7G » Logged
K9YNF
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Posts: 30




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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2012, 11:56:39 AM »

I really appreciate the suggestions so far. As I have said, I have the opportunity to get this right way in advance.

How about commenting on the low-rise condo scenario, possibly in a downtown environment. Which of my roof-top antenna choices would you choose, and why/why not? Again, I'm looking for low-angle DX, most likely using 10-20 meters. Thanks!
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WX7G
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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2012, 03:02:17 PM »

For the roof top high rise you say:

For high-rise (unsure about CC&Rs but probably): high-end screwdriver on the balcony or roof; hex beam on 10 foot rooftop tower; SteppIR 3 or 4-element beam on 10 foot rooftop tower; or rooftop vertical with elevated radials.

Since you are looking for 20-10 meters the SteppIR is the winner followed by the hex beam. Next comes the rooftop vertical with two radials per band and then the screwdriver. Signal-wire the vertical and the screwdriver are a toss up. The screwdriver has the advantage of needing no pruning. Set it up and tune it from the shack.

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N2CTZ
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Posts: 8


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« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2012, 12:16:57 PM »

its better to move then to go anywhere with a hoa or condo.forget about operating except mobile
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alan
W5DC
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Posts: 146


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« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2012, 12:29:23 PM »

I live in a townhouse with an hoa.  They require their permission for antennas which I got for one antenna  which is a wire short vertical set including an inverted L for 80.  I can't put radials in the ground so I use a single elevated radial.  The main impediment to dxing here is interference from TV sets.  I have one neighbor with a plasma set who also has a bad attitude, part of her generally lousy personality.

http://vibrotek.com/w5dc/w5dcant.html

73, Dunc, W5DC
« Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 12:48:54 PM by W5DC » Logged
W5DC
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Posts: 146


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« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2012, 12:40:54 PM »

A PS.  TVI is not a problem.  I have a K3 and a KPA500 amp and I and my neighbors all have cable.  

Some plasma set manufacturers will repair or replace the bad sets under warranty but that doesn't help if the neighbor won't co-operate.


Dunc, W5DC
« Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 01:47:51 PM by W5DC » Logged
AG6WT
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Posts: 457




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« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2012, 02:00:35 PM »

I would get a condo where the buildings are single story and allow you to park a large van (or better yet an RV) next to your home. Put your station in the vehicle and mount a screwdriver on it. Run the appropriate power and ethernet cables to the vehicle. You can operate your rig from the comfort of your home.  Get a K3/0.  If the noise levels are too high when trying to get a rare one, it would be very easy for you to drive to a nice quiet hilltop.

Almost all communities have HOAs. Even if they give you permission to put up antennas and operate, it doesn't mean they won't turn on you later down the road. Most CC&Rs place restrictions on outdoor antennas on the home or about the property. I think few ever mention anything about antennas on your vehicle. Usually the vehicle restrictions focus on things like "don't park on the grass, don't put it on cinder blocks, don't bring your boat trailer, etc.". Worst case you can put the antenna on a hinged mount a prop it up when operating.
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W4FID
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Posts: 133




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« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2012, 01:15:24 PM »

buy one on the east side of the 28th floor on the beach at St. Augustine and use a 20M mobile whip dipole.
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KK4GGL
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Posts: 321




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« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2012, 05:32:03 AM »

buy one on the east side of the 28th floor on the beach at St. Augustine and use a 20M mobile whip dipole.


... except we don't have 28 floor condos :-)
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73,
Rick KK4GGL
K9YNF
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Posts: 30




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« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2012, 11:57:14 AM »

Thanks so far for all the great advice on this topic. Does anyone have any more detailed digital photos of your condo rooftop installations, elevated patio installations, or stealth balcony installations for HF DXing?

Thanks,

Wayne, K9YNF
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