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Author Topic: Apartment Balcony Antenna ideas.....  (Read 72422 times)

Posts: 1

« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2015, 11:13:00 PM »

I have almost the same situation on the 21st floor of a high rise except my railing is cast iron. Have tried many things over the past few years. Started with a Buddipole, but it can be a pain to tune since you can not use the published lengths because of all the metal around. A  1 meter diameter magnetic loop on a tripod is good for high bands (20, 17, 15), but very inefficient on 40.

The most convenient and stealth configuration I have found is a dipole (cut for 20 meters) made of speaker wire (or any other insulated wire). I run it along the balcony rail but it does not make electrical contact. There is a 4:1 balun at the feedpoint of the dipole (I use a switchable 4:1 or 1:1, but it is 4:1 most of the time.) I then use an autotuner to get the SWR below 2:1. Since I am using low power (25 watts or less), I use an Elecraft T1 autotuner. I place the tuner close to the balun to avoid high SWR on the feedline going into the apartment. It can be remotely tuned. I have also used the tuners on my rigs if I am operating higher than 25 watss. Some rig tuners can not handle the high SWR. My K2 tuner works fine, but my TS-480 has problems. This is not the best antenna solution, but it is stealth and I do get contacts and good reception.

However, the very best antenna I have found has been previously mentioned: a Hustler mobile with an resonator for the band you are working. I use a clamp base attached to the balcony rail (no radials required in my case). I use a horizontal orientation, perpendicular to the balcony. The antenna is very stiff, so it does not bend and sway in the wind like the portable whips do. The mount has an adjustment feature, so that I can swing it to a vertical position and quickly change resonators when I change bands. I have resonators for 40 thru 10. They all work very well. The only draw back is that it is visible and my building has rules against things sticking out from the balcony. So I only use this antenna in the evening or early mornings. No one has complained yet.

good luck.
Bill, WA5DSS

Posts: 3030

« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2015, 08:54:21 AM »

Hi Bill. Was that clamp base with "adjustment feature" commercially made?  I mostly used a single Hustler whip/resonator sticking out perpendicular to my apartment building. I tried a dipole arrangement with two of them but that was far more cumbersome and didn't seem to work better than the one whip. I supported that dipole out a few feet from the building (and metal railing)  and parallel to it. Obviously not ideal. 

In my final years in the hi rise I pretty much settled on the single hustler whip as about the best compromise, considering DX performance, ability to change bands/resonators, stealthiness and safety.

How do you find DXing from the 21st floor? Can you post a photo of your building?

Posts: 2

« Reply #17 on: July 31, 2015, 06:35:21 AM »

I suggest the AlexLoop Mag Loop. Only rated for QRP, but will work fine on 40 - 10 meters.

Posts: 1

« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2015, 07:06:39 PM »

Consider what I use to operate portable from hotel/motel rooms with metal balconies: an Outbacker Outreach 500 or an Outbacker Perth-Plus 80-10m vertical, on a "jaws" clamp mount. This arrangement is highly portable, can be set up and taken down in a couple of minutes, and has worked well for me using my Yaesu FT-900c/AT xcvr, a compact AC switching power supply, and 25' of high quality RG8/X coax. This mount uses the metal in the balcony railing as the counterpoise, and can be purchased for $35 from High Sierra [see the web]. Outbacker antennas are not cheap, but the same basic approach could be used with any single band or screwdriver style multi-band antenna [whip + coil + mast + clamp mount]...

Posts: 109

« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2015, 03:28:39 PM »

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...


Dave in Toronto

For indoor RX you can't go wrong with a Wellbrook 1530 or 330 active loop.
A passive Magloop will work as well, but needs retuning on QSY.

If you can get it on the outside wall you may consider a PA0RDT E-field probe, but that will not work well indoors.

Active or passive loop inside.
E-field probe or loop outside.

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