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Author Topic: Apartment dwelling ham newbie with questions  (Read 34461 times)

Posts: 1621

« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2014, 04:28:28 PM »

If you live 2/3rds  of the way up a small mountain your terrain profile might help your signal tremendously if the slope is in the right directions. I would get a topographic map and a copy of YT from the ARRL antenna book and do some terrain analysis. It  may well be that  the terrain slope can make your  antenna selection options a lot easier. If you do get terrain height gain you could have a good signal on HF. We all know that height and line of site to the horizon  helps VHF and UHF but its the  boost on HF that can also be just as impressive.

 Before deciding on the antenna do the analysis, you might able to get a free lunch courtesy of mother nature. I choose my  holiday locations like this. I choose an
hotel or guest apartment on top of a  hill with good views. My xyl always agrees with my choices, little does she know that I have chosen the location for portable radio more than the views. The right slope can make simple antennas work  very well. The only caveat about high antennas and mountains is that ground conductivity  is not all that great.  What this means is that using verticals can be a  challenger or that they dont work that great. I had an experience like this  on 80 meters where even 120 radials on a full size vertical  would not work on top of a mountain. A low dipole beat the crap out of the vertical on dx paths because of the ground loss despite the excellent location and terrain advantage.


Posts: 582


« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2014, 04:48:48 AM »

The Alpha Loop antenna looks like a pretty good fit for your situation.  Combine that with a low power radio such as a Elecraft KX3 or similar and you're good to go.  If you use it indoors make sure to raise the metal blinds first.  Or replace blinds with plastic ones.

CW Academy Advisor (Level II)

Posts: 8

« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2014, 11:49:48 PM »

Thanks, everyone.  I'd respond point by point, but to be honest I'm rather dazed and confused by the jargon.  It's going to take a few days to look that all up so I know what you said.  Well worth the effort, though.  I went through each link you all posted, though, and it's a treasure trove of info.  I appreciate it.

W6UV: We have a car, but I'm almost never able to use it due to medical issues.  I'm more or less a shut-in. 

ZENKI: I didn't understand the jargon in your post very well, but I get the overall idea.  I would have no idea how to do terrain analysis, but maybe I can figure it out.  The deck looks out into a fairly flat area, but straight back behind the deck (and through a bedroom, a bathroom, a hallway and a garage) is the top of the "mountain".  It IS a mountain, but tiny.  We're talking maybe 1200 feet.  But the view from up here is rather vast, taking in all of Issaquah, Bellevue and even Seattle in the distance, with the Olympic Mountains right behind her.  I'm hoping all that wide-openness will help.  Still, all of that is not in line of sight from this apartment.  I have a lot to learn, but I'll understand the jargon soon enough.

LA9XNA: That PDF is fantastic.  Thanks for that.

Posts: 17

« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2014, 01:21:49 PM »


Hi.  I'm Deej59, the one who started this thread.  I am now licensed and working on getting on the air.  Thought I'd let you know what direction I went after all the excellent suggestions you gave me here a few months ago.

First, I bought a Yaesu FT-950.  I spent a lot of time reading about transceivers, and that's the one I really fell in love with.  Might be a lot of radio for a clueless newbie, but I'll get there. 

Second, I bought an MFJ Alpha Loop antenna (30-10 meters), and then for 6 and 2 meters I got an MFJ-1622 that I will mount on the windowsill behind me, looking right at the top of the mountain, which, I'm told, has several repeaters.  For 2 meters I'll just attach the feed line to my little Baofeng (sp) UV5RB handi-talkie. 

As far as accessories, so far I've bought the wrong power supply, suggested by the guy who scammed me when I (thought I) bought an Icom 737 from a fraud using the name Charles Clements in the classifieds here on eHam.  It was a lousy first buying experience in the ham world, but I am now an uber-suspicious buyer, so if I answer your add you will understand why I ask for ten references and a blood sample.  I have to wait until payday to get the proper power supply, which will wipe out the last of my ham budget. I sold a beloved bass guitar to finance all this.  Oh, and I just bought a Yaesu SP-102 external speaker for it on Ebay.  Slightly dented case near the back, but otherwise okay, and $88 bucks with shipping.  Not bad.  I'm using my iPad in the shack, too, so I got a stand for it. 

So that's how it has all shaken out, so far.  Thanks to everyone who offered advice.  I am still nowhere near clear on most of the important things I need to know to make this hobby work for me, but I'll get there.  If anyone is willing to offer help to a guy who learns a little slower than most, please contact me.  I need all the help I can get. 

Here's the station in larval form, with no power supply and a fake panadapter image on the computer.  Spartan, but growing.


Posts: 229

« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2014, 04:58:46 PM »

Looks like your shack is ready for action! you mentioned the "MFJ Alpha Loop". Did you mean the MFJ-1786 30m-10m magloop? That's what I use for the upper bands with good results. The other component you might find very useful is one of the SGC Auto-Couplers, such as the SG-239, or 237. Look on ebay. there was a nice 239 yesterday, built into a weatherproof enclosure with a bias-tee setup and all for a really good price. This would allow you to auto-tune any length of wire 9' or longer. Coupled with one of the 16' telescopic stainless steel whips, and some counterpoise wire around the railing, and you'd be FB for the lower bands, considering the restrictions.


Posts: 17

« Reply #20 on: August 22, 2014, 06:59:11 PM »

Thanks for the advice.  I didn't copy some of the jargon, but I'll try to Google it out.  Being "FB for the lower bands", in particular, has me a bit lost.  The rest I get, I think.

This will sound very bad, but I actually mixed up which antennae I ended up going with.  Alpha is the name of the company.  It's a 10-40 loop.  MFJ is the one I nearly went with.  Believe me when I tell you this whole hobby has my brain scrambled at this point, but I swear I'm going to figure it all out. 

Here's the link to the antenna. .  I checked reviews, here and a few other places, and it seemed to be a decent option for about $100 less than the MFJ 1786, plus it gives me one more band, which is a big plus considering the lack of space for a lot of antennas here. 

Big disappointment today when an auction for a power supply (Yaesu FP-1030A) was taken down on E-Bay.  Trying to find one that won't break the bank.  Or one that's compatible, but I have no idea how to figure that out.  I Googled "Power Supplies compatible with Yaesu FT-950", but that didn't work.  So I guess it's more hurry up and wait for a while, but I'm getting there.

Posts: 17

« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2014, 11:03:04 PM »

PS - Figured out that I don't need that power supply.  For some reason I thought the 950 needed a specific one.  I have an Astron RS20A that will do nicely.

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