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Author Topic: Downsizing to apartment  (Read 2687 times)

Posts: 1


« on: April 05, 2006, 10:53:20 AM »

For years I've been in a house and been happy with my 100W rig and vertical antenna.  This has now changed since I'm once again in an apartment.  I haven't approached my landlord about being a ham but given how he's cracked down on others in my quadplex over trivial things I'm not optimistic about a fixed outdoor antenna.

Not being overly entertained with the 2m/440 world, how can I get a decent HF setup in a first-floor apartment?  I have no access to pipes or grounded metal items of any other sort, so it'd have to be an actual antenna.  Inside antennas would raise the issue of RF exposure, so I'm figuring on a portable outside antenna like a Perth Plus or something of that ilk.

Does anyone have experience with dealing with this issue?  I can see myself spending a lot of time and a lot of money trying different ideas, so I'm definitely open to suggestions.

Edwin KS5D

Posts: 21836

« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2006, 01:55:12 PM »

One easy and inexpensive approach, if you can park your car outside and still have it close by to your door or window, is to install a good mobile antenna and run small coax (RG58/U or RG8X) from the car to the apartment, behind bushes and stuff to "hide" it.

Then, just operate "inside" using an antenna "outside," on your car.

Not a beam on a tower, but definitely better, and less likely to cause neighbor interference, than most indoor antennas for HF.

I got this down to an art when I used to travel a great deal and operate from motel rooms.  I'd find a parking space close to the room, run the coax from the trunk to the room via a window, set up inside, and be on the air inside of 10-15 minutes.  Beats watching TV or being bored.  I probably worked 100 countries using QRP-CW from places I've never lived...


Posts: 3238

« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2006, 01:55:24 PM »

You might consider the Force 12 Sigma 5 or GT-5 vertical dipoles, which cover 20 through 10 meters.  One is about 9 ft. tall, the other is about 12 ft.  Both are rather easily deployed on a temporary or portable basis, and really perform well.  My son uses the Sigma 5 in his antenna restricted community, and stores the antenna in the garage when he is not using it

Chuck  NI0C

Posts: 74

« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2006, 06:33:49 PM »


I too live in an apartment with restrictions.  I put up a Buddipole in either a dipole or vertical configuration -- have some fun -- and pull it down when I'm done for the day.  So far, no one's the wiser.  Another option is a PAC-12 vertical.  Both of these use a tripod and break down quickly and are stored in a small case.

I have my rig on a wheeled printer cart that I roll into a closet when the landlord conducts their "inspections".

Good luck and 73, -- Dale K6TTE

Posts: 1146

« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2006, 09:29:37 PM »

I know two hams who operate 80 meters (and higher bands) from their apartments.  Let me tell you how they do it.

Actually, the first ham has moved to a house but he had an end-fed wire antenna that went from the sliding glass door of his back deck (he was on the third (top) floor) to the roof top of the apartment building across the parking lot.  His only RF ground was the cold water pipes but I am thinking that in an apartment complex that is a really good ground plane.

The wire was small and virtually invisible from the parking lot.  I have no idea how he actually set it up.  I think he merely climbed onto the roof and hooked it up.  Everyone who saw him probably thought he was doing some approved repair work or something of that ilk.

The second ham is on a ground floor unit but lucky for him he is across from a hillside (that slopes down from the apartment complex) with a lot of large western maple and cedar trees.  Only a cement walkway separates his ground from the area of the trees.  He runs coax outside his window, down to the ground and it is partially buried under about an inch of dirt snaking over to a drainage pipe that runs under the cement walkway.  He runs the coax through the drainage pipe to get it onto the other side of the walkway so that he can get it into the trees.  He has wire in the trees about 20 feet up and maybe 100 feet long or so.  This is end-fed with coax which everyone will say is a lousy antenna but it does indeed work.  He is making contacts.

Posts: 105

« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2006, 09:52:23 PM »

You didn't mention if you had a balcony. If you do, try a Buddistick mounted on the railing. Pretty unobtrusive. Works well for a short antenna. Fill the balcony with tall plants close to the railing (distraction) and a table with center umbrella (if permitted). If you have a conventional up/down window, it may be able to be temporarily attached when you are on the air.  Talk to the Buddipole folks.  Your owner/manager might not notice or care. More likely looking for satellite dishes.  Keep power at 50/60 watts or less to minimize RFI/TVI. Don't even think about an indoor antenna. Let us know how you make out. Important info for we apartment dwellers. 73 es gl.

Posts: 191

« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2006, 06:37:47 AM »

If he is in a two-family wood structure with attic privleges, frequently nothing. But, if he is in a high-rise apartment complex, I know from experience that indoor antennas can be very inefficient. Better off with something like an MP1 or Buddipole clamped to a balcony railing or sticking out the window. Get beyond those construction materials.

Posts: 1

« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2006, 07:43:21 PM »

Trying to operate HF in an apartment or condo either works better than expected to it really sucks.  I have had good luck if I could put up a short antenna in a 2nd story attic.

When thinking about doing HF with indoor antennas its time to consider mobile or portable.  The sun spot cycle will peak in a few years and mobile hams will find unbelievable HF performance for at least 4 or 5 years.  With mobile you don't get the hassle of house qrm and massive interference to your neighbors.

A lot of new hams despair with their station performance now but they don't realize excellent conditions are around the corner.

Posts: 263


« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2006, 12:21:30 PM »

MObile is where it's at.  I'm making more contacts mobile than when I'm stuck in the crummy apartment shack.

Posts: 542

« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2006, 09:29:57 AM »

Edwin, I've used a Perth Plus with the ground coupled tripod they sell, and I love it.  I bought it for exactly the reason you are talking about.  In my apartment, I worked Japan, Hawaii, Alaska, the former Soviet Union, and of course tons of European stations (all VOICE), all with 100 Watts from an Icom 706MKIIG, and all from down in the hills of Southern Ohio.  It's a really great antenna - tune it once, and changing bands is REALLY quick with the tap lead.  It's a bit pricy - I paid over $400 for both antenna and tripod.  But it works well, is fairly small (about 6-7 feet total height), no tuner needed, band changes are easy, and it can be set up or taken down in just a few minutes.  I'd seriously consider it if I were you.
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