Ham Radio Antennas for Apartments

May 31, 2015
Ham Radio In Ham And Amateur

The Issues

A full-size antenna for HF (except for the 10m band) is not feasible for apartments due to the space required. An apartment antenna should have the following characteristics:
  • Compact Size: This is the most obvious requirement of apartment antennas. As an apartment dwelling amateur radio operator, you want to keep a relatively low profile in order to minimize complaints from neighbors and the landlord/management. Except for the very highest HF bands like 10m, a full-size antenna would be conspicuous and even intrude into common areas and other people's property.
  • Multiband: Due to limitations in storage space and an aversion to overloading my home with stuff, I prefer multiband antennas. Of course, if your only transceiver is a singleband transceiver, then a singleband antenna would make more sense.
  • Easy to set up and take down: If you are on the ground floor or neighbors can easily see your balcony/patio, you want to remove your antenna when you are not operating. If your antenna is always visible, this presents a security risk (on the ground floor) AND increases the chances that neighbors and/or the landlord/management will object.
  • Cost: I want to operate HF that offers the most bands for the least cost. In other words, I want the most bang for the buck.
  • Popular Apartment Antenna Ideas That Didn't Work For Me

  • There may not be trees in the right locations.
  • You need two wires, not one, because a random wire antenna needs a ground plane to act as the second half of the antenna. And no, the two wires cannot be taped together. (Have you seen a dipole with the two halves taped together?)
  • Too difficult to set up and take down: Setting up a wire antenna requires shooting it into the air with a slingshot or other device. This can take several minutes. Likewise, it also takes too long to take the antenna down.
  • Too conspicuous: The process of setting up the antenna and taking it down could attract the attention of people. Also, the antenna isn't confined to your own property; it likely would intrude into common areas. If you live on the ground floor, the antenna could also get in the way of people walking by.
  • Coax Length: You might need VERY long coax to try this idea. Since my apartment points away from the parking lot, I would need a few HUNDRED feet of coax.
  • Conspicuous: This would also be a VERY conspicuous setup. The coax would likely get in the way of people walking by (unless you are parked directly in front of your apartment and there is no sidewalk between your car and the apartment). Also, your antenna and the coax would be easy to spot. In some cases, the coax would cross part of the parking lot, and people would have to drive over it.
  • Source: www.iw5edi.com
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