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Author Topic: Apartment Balcony Antenna ideas.....  (Read 72400 times)
COTTS
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« on: July 08, 2015, 01:44:06 PM »

My balcony is 19 floors up, facing south.  The railing is aluminum with glass panels.  The floor is concrete, undoubtedly with iron rebar connected to the frame of the building.  There is a balcony 9 feet above mine.

I am undoubtedly inside the Faraday cage of my building.

Radio is a Perseus SDR.  Interests are LW, MW and SW to 30 MHz...

Here's what I have tried:  clip a wire to the aluminum and run it to the radio.  Zero signal.  Railing is bolted to the balcony and is probably connected electrically to the rebar...  Good ground though.. see below.

Random wire taped to a fibreglass tent pole, poking outside the railing about 8 feet in mid air with seperate wire running to railing bolt for a ground.  Railing is a sort of counterpoise, I think...  Gets strong LW stations like local NDB's, MW reception is adequate but pretty much the entire SW spectrum is missing.

MFJ 1024 Remote active antenna.  I put the 6 foot whip outside the railing.  Astonishingly noisy device.,  Reception is not even as good as the random wire.  Basically a POS antenna. Is there something I can do to make it better?  What about removing its whip and attaching a longer wire?

Can some Apartment-bound Folks offer me some words of encouragement?  Antenna ideas? My radio works great at remote, outdoor locations with a 25 foot random wire antenna but I can't get out there very often...

Thanks,

Dave in Toronto
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WW7KE
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2015, 07:16:34 PM »

I would suggest posting this in the Antennas forum.  You'll get much more help there.
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He speaks fluent PSK31, in FT8...  One QSO with him earns you 5BDXCC...  His Wouff Hong has two Wouffs... Hiram Percy Maxim called HIM "The Old Man..."  He is... The Most Interesting Ham In The World!
K0OD
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2015, 09:22:31 PM »

Wow, that building sounds exactly like what I was relegated to operating from during 1977 to 1984. Mostly I used a Hustler mobile whip  attached with C-clamps to the sturdy metal railing visible here. But I tried a zillion other things over the years. The green inserts are glass. The balcony shown here is on about the 8th floor with a view of the dome of Saint Louis Cathedral. My apartment was on the 18th floor of that 23 story building. Solid concrete and rebar. Gorgeous high-rise, but stinkin' place to operate, even in the one direction where I had a clear shot. At least my building was fairly RF quiet.  

« Last Edit: July 08, 2015, 10:02:44 PM by K0OD » Logged
KAPT4560
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« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2015, 09:24:33 AM »

 There is much more RFI nowadays than 30 years ago. Even the Russian Woodpecker is gone. TV sets, wireless this and that, switching power supplies, computers, CFL lighting, you name it.
First is to find out the apartment owners policy of antennas on balconies. You may be able to hide or disguise a loop as there is little chance for unfurling a longwire or dipole without getting attention.
 Once when I was hospitalized around 30 years ago, I snuck a dangling longwire out of my room window for night-time AM DX listening (hospitals were a cacophony of electrical noises then and are much worse now).
 Active antennas aren't much use. Noise is amplified the same as the signal and may defeat a well-designed RF amplifier/AGC stage in the radio.
The pre-selector feature of the active antenna with the gain turned off may help.
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KJ4DGE
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« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2015, 05:17:31 AM »

I got good results with the B&W balcony antenna, it is currently being offered by MFJ as the MFJ-1622, identical to the B&W. Its speced to work 40-2 meters. It has no tuner but the counterpoise length puts it in the ballpark. It worked well for me in a hi-rise at 9 floors up.
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FLYBYNITE

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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2015, 11:49:22 PM »

Is there a tree within "throwing" or slingshot distance from your balcony? wink wink. Come to think, you are too high up for any tree!

I was on a 3rd floor unit, had a balcony south facing, I tied a bolt onto the end of 14 gauge speaker wire and did a heave-Ho to ... the rooftop of the building adjacent mine! The wire was clad in clear plastic-like, you know- speaker wire, and in sunlight it was almost invisible! so anyone who decided to look upwards toward my line could not see it easily. No one said a word to me or anyone about the "mystery wire".

There are SO many ideas for antenna on apartments- you are 19 whole stories up?? Being that high is no handicap-  That is a Gold Mine!

What about hanging a Slinky downward? Gosh the possibilities are endless. Gosh- even flying an antenna balloon comes to mind (joking, but just to get the idea of getting those creative juices flowing)

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K0OD
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2015, 07:16:04 AM »

Quote
There are SO many ideas for antenna on apartments- you are 19 whole stories up?? Being that high is no handicap-  That is a Gold Mine!

Nope. I had a nice balcony for years at 170' [see photo above] and nothing I tried on any HF band was competitive. On 10 meters, where some of my antennas were full sized, I concluded that I was too high. On 40/80 my shortened whips appeared to be too small to be competitive. I did best on 20, but not great.

What did work well was my 10-element 2-meter yagi mounted on the metal railing. I could hand rotate it 180 degrees.  It was a VHF yagi at 170' with just 15 feet of feedline. Still, stations with big arrays at say 70 feet did better than I in contests, even to the south where I had my best shot.

I presumed that proximity to the massive concrete/metal building was the problem. The only good thing about my balcony antenna farm was that experimenting was easy. BTW, I've known hams who had access to the roofs of such buildings and they didn't do well either in terms of transmitting or receiving. One ham neighbor had a multiband trap vertical on the roof of a nearby 25 story building.

My current suburban acre with several 70' trees is much better for DXing/contesting. Too bad I don't have walk-out access to the tree tops.
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COTTS
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« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2015, 05:32:23 PM »

Thanks for the feedback, guys.  My condo has very strict covenants about antennas on the balcony - none!  I have purchased a surf fishing rod 15 1/2 feet long. At night, so no one can see it,  I stick it out perpendicularly from the building between the panes of glass.  I get about 13 feet of it outside.  There is no way it can fall because the space between the glass panels is much smaller than the diameter of the handle of the rod.  I run a thin wire taped to the rod and use the railing as a ground/counterpoise.... Works not badly at night on LW and MW.  Still very little signal of any sort above about 2000 khz.....

I will post in the antennas forum as well.

Dave in Toronto
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K3ANG
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« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2015, 08:59:05 AM »

Nice balcony.  I would get duct tape, a roll of thin wire (insulated or bare ;It doesn't matter) and make a loop.  Use the tape to hold it in place.  Easy take up and take down.
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AB9TX
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« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2015, 02:04:24 PM »

Try running an (insulated) wire around the inside of your apartment. Corner to corner high as you can. Terminate both ends into a balun. Use a good auto tuner. LDJ comes to mind.

Listen first, see what you hear. Do not use more than 25 watts...

Have fun.







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K0OD
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« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2015, 08:32:38 AM »

Quote
Corner to corner high as you can. Terminate both ends into a balun. Use a good auto tuner. LDJ comes to mind.

He's already on the 19th floor. And he's going to use the antenna for receiving only. You want to get the wire outside if at all possible, or at least around the edge of a window. With my old apartment building, very little RF penetrated the concrete/rebar and the metal beams. Walls also contain wiring and plumbing.

I was on the south side of my 300 unit building. On two meters I could (barely) work stations to the north with my 10 element yagi by bouncing signals off nearby apartment buildings... like moon bounce or billiards. Once I tried snagging a northerly DX station by turning the beam INTO my balcony. The DX station disappeared and so did all band noise.  NO RF passed thru the building from the opposite side.

One advantage of such a massive structure was that I never had a TVI complaint. I did own a KW amp but didn't dare fire it up.
   
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WW7KE
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« Reply #11 on: July 21, 2015, 06:22:04 PM »

I lived on the 2nd floor of an all-stucco and chicken wire apartment building for several years.  One thing I found out was that an HF antenna worked better when moved further inside the apartment than when strung along the outside walls.  I'm guessing that was because it was further from the grounded chicken wire.

I strung a 20 foot wire inside my kitchen and dining room, and connected it to my receiver.  I used another 20 foot wire as a counterpoise.  As it was cut for the 25 meter BC band, it had its best performance on that band, but was usable on 31 thru 19 meters.  PSK31 and CW signals on 20 were quite audible -- SSB not so much, but the band wasn't totally dead either.  No tuner was used.
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K5TED
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« Reply #12 on: July 21, 2015, 07:09:59 PM »

Magnetic loop
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PITSWL
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« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2015, 08:29:18 AM »

http://www.hamuniverse.com/kl7jrindoorloop4010.html

I did something along the lines of what this gentlemen did with decent results.
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VE3OYJ
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« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2015, 02:46:00 AM »

If you have aluminum window frames, you can load them up using a tuner.
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