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My Antenna Setup

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SCPD

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My antenna setup is not anything special. I live in a condo where I consider myself very lucky to be able to put anything on the roof at all. I was able to reach a compromise with the homeowner association board after presenting my case to the membership at large. When I finally get my amateur radio general license I would like to install a 24 foot vertical HF multi-band, however, that is going to take some effort as to additional board and town approval. In the meantime I'm planning to place a screwdriver type HF antenna outside for HF work.

I've yet to remodel my radio station that will consist of new shelving, an automatic backup power supply and the installation of a multicoupler to run three scanners from the one scanner antenna of the three on the roof. When that work is done I will start another thread about it.

Many people around the country have an impression of California being beaches, Disneyland and freeways. Snow is not in their mind when thinking of the state. However, California has one of the three major mountain ranges in the continental U.S., the Sierra Nevada, with the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains being the other. The Sierra holds many of the all time records for snowfall and as a result contains many world known ski resorts such as Squaw Valley, Alpine Meadows, Heavenly and Mammoth Mountain. Water from the Sierra is used to irrigate California's Central Valley, where half the nation's fruits and vegetables are grown as well as many products not grown in the quantities they are here anywhere else in the world such as almonds, raisins, and others. Without water from the Sierra Nevada this would not be possible.

It is the latter I live near. This thread is really about the setting my station and the antennas are in.

This first shot shows my scanner antenna, the higher of the two. It is a Diamond I purchased in 1990 and it is amplified at the antenna itself, with an interior control. The second antenna is a run of the mill Larsen 2m/440 mobile. This and the following pictures are taken on March 26, 2011.

The second picture show a wider view of the roof.

The third is the front of the fourplex condo building I live in from the street side.

The fourth is of the front of the condo with the antennas poking up through the snow.

The fifth is our front porch with a half serious, half humorous sign posted.

That is all for now. I have to get ready for work and will post the "spring" shots of the same setup.
 
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gewecke

Completely Banned for the Greater Good
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You must have a golden tongue to say the least, lol!
To persuade a HOA to do anything in favor of the tenant is damn close to a landmark case.
I salute you!! :twisted:

73,
n9zas
 

EC-7

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Saginaw Co. Michigan
Oh my gosh! Look at those horrible antennas on your roof. What are you doing, talking to other planets with those huge, ugly things?? Now the value of my condo has gone down thousands of dollars. I cant believe I have to (go out of my way) to stare at those monstrosities every day. We should fine you for every day that they have been up and threaten to evict you and take possession of your condo because you modified the outside look of your unit.

Sorry, just had to b*tch like an old condo grouch.
Congrats on getting it past them!
PLEASE WRITE SOMETHING and document it, send it in to the ARRL or any HAM /Scaner operator on how you did it. There are thousands of people who can not have something as simple as that. You should be very happy.
 

SCPD

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What did you say to the board to persuade them? Did you get signatures of homeowners?
Mammoth Lakes is a slightly remote town. I've lived in far more isolated places courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service. However, we can have snowstorms intense enough that it becomes difficult to get around town with a 4WD chained up. The road out of town can be closed for a day or more. When visitors are stuck in town, up to 35,000 of them in peak use periods, things can get interesting. The central switch can become overloaded enough that you don't get a dial tone when lifting your landline. The cell system can become so overloaded you can't call out unless, like a phone call lottery, you manage to hit an infrequent opening. The power can go down for the entire town for periods of 24 hours plus. Road closures and power outages occur in above average snowfall years and sometimes in drought years as well due to the high winds in town, sometimes up to 60 mph and every once in a while 70 mph. Blowing snow will then make closing the highways, or having the CHP do round robins for several hours or more, necessary.

It can snow enough in a short period of time that only a few streets are plowed. I'm lucky to live across the street from the hospital so plowing is on the short list for priority. Even then we might have only one narrow path down the middle of the road. I've seen it snow 60 " in 12 hours. Yes a snowfall rate of 5" per hour over a 12 hour period. I've observed snowfall rates of 8" per hour for an hour or two.

The town has a wildfire hazard as much of the town borders National Forest land with continuous forest from town down to Devils Postpile National Monument.

With that in mind I presented this to the owners: if you allow me to put up antennas I will become your communications operator during times when communications systems have either failed or are jammed up as mentioned above. I will be able to relay messages to the outside world because when all else fails HF ham radios always work. I offered this to the homeowners of our condo complex and no one else. Our complex only has 40 units and people know each other in the complex and in town, as it is a bit small at 7,000 people.

Many of the other owners know of my emergency management experience and skill with radios so they know my offer is solid. There are enough small emergencies in town, mostly of the winter storm variety, that a lot of people understand emergency preparedness. Road closures are frequent enough that people understand how a larger incident could affect town.

Our complex, by consensus, has allowed some individuality for each condo unit with in some conditions. The sign near out front door is allowed even though the CC&R's prohibit same. It is a short leash with a tiny bit of slack.

Since we all know each other, especially those of us that have been in town and/or lived in Mono County for 20-30 years, we can deal with issues in our complex rationally. No one takes advantage of being given an inch and taking a mile.

No silver tongue required. The nature of the town, its location and people are huge influences.
 
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W2NJS

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Years ago I was able to install rooftop antennas on the co-op building I lived in in NYC. To do so I applied to the Board, told them I was a ham, told them what was involved (2 long runs of Belden 8214 from the 2nd floor to the 16th floor), etc. They said okay as long as I got a $1 million liability insurance policy and named the Association as an additional insured. One call to Liberty Mutual and I was in business, and that's all there was to it. I ran a 3db gain 2M vertical and a 75M Z-shaped longwire for eight years until we moved out of town.
 

SCPD

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Pictures of my antenna installation with less snow taken on May 29, 2011. Most of the winter long snow has melted with the exception of a small patch below the windows. We had a little 4" storm the night before. The roof faces north so snow stays longer than our south facing units.

The first three are self explanatory. The last shot is taken looking south. My reception of repeaters to the north is quite good. I receive a 800 MHz Caltrans repeater located 60 air miles away almost full quieting. There are two 8,000+ passes in between. The path parallels the crest of the Sierra and these passes are located on relatively small ridges. Reception of 800 MHz is better in the winter than in the summer. I've hypothesized that snow reflects shorter wavelengths better than longer. The elevation of the highest peak in the shot is 10,500 feet. It is not on the crest of the Sierra. The snow from the bottom slope up is the winter long pack with the latest 4" storm on top. We live across the street of the Mammoth hospital/medical complex.
 
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Nice looking setup! I would not want to be stuck in town with 35,000 tourists, winter or otherwise. Still, that is some beautiful scenery. Have any pictures of your shack?
 

SCPD

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The last set of pictures taken on June 25, 2011. The first shot is the scanner antenna. The mount utilizes pipe hangers and quite a few long lag bolts with the lower portion drilled into 2 x 6" studs. Sixty mile per hour winds hit this rooftop nearly every winter and I did not want any movement in the mounts. The homeowners association board asked me to look into liability insurance for this installation. I checked with two insurance agencies in town and they said they don't have policies for antennas as they have never received a claim, this from Farmer's and State Farm. They also wanted me to have a licensed contractor throw holy water on the installation. I told them local contractors don't know anything about antennas. After passing this along to the board they told me to go ahead. The elevation of the peak in the background is 12,182 feet.

The next shot shows the mount that I will install a screwdriver type HF antenna on. It will be a mobile type design to minimize visual intrusion. The cables are located underneath the fascia board to minimize sun exposure, reduce visual intrusion, and protect them from roof snow shoveling damage. They are painted the color of the surrounding building material and I've wondered if paint over the cable might protect it from UV, which is a big factor at 7,850 feet. The entrance into the building is PVC electric conduit and passes through to an interior closet.

The next shot is taken just north of east. These are the White Mountains and are the first mountain range east of the Pacific or Sierra Nevada Crest. The highest point is White Mountain Peak located just in view near the roof of the building across the street. The elevation of the peak is 14,246 feet, just 249 feet lower than Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the continental U.S. The Owens Valley is located between the Whites and the Sierra. The elevation of this valley is 4,000 feet making it 10,246 feet deep, one of the deepest valleys in the lower 48.

The next shot is taken just east of south. The highest point in the picture is located at the right of center. It is Bloody Mountain, elevation 12,246 and is part of the "reflector" I spoke of in my last post. The reason for its name is the reddish color it displays at sunrise and sunset and is caused by a localized high iron content in the granite. This mountain had a small glacier on it until 2007. Its size had been relatively stable until the 1990's and had been declining since. The other glaciers in the Sierra have declined enough for me to see the difference in the 30 years I've lived here.

The next picture is taken directly west to Mammoth Mountain, elevation 11,053 feet. The crest of the Sierra is on top with passes on each side of only 9,300 feet forming a curious gap in the Sierra. Mammoth Pass is behind the trees on the left. This pass allows me to hear the Sierra National Forest's Shuteye Peak repeater, which is used for most of the northern portion of the Forest. I can also pick up a couple of repeaters west of Coalinga, California on occasion. One be on the CERS or California Emergency Radio System. I received radio traffic of a number of OES (Office of Emergency Services) management people responding code 3 on I-5 shortly after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989, the quake that interrupted the world series.

Mammoth Mountain is one of the largest ski areas in the U.S. both in terms of skiable acres and annual ticket sales. Many of the ski area's upper runs are shown in this last shot. The rocky area near the right center is the upper station of one of two gondolas. People ski down through the rock outcroppings. The upper station is the location of the ski area's trunked radio system, two repeaters on Southern California Edison's Smartzone trunked system, a repeater for the Inyo National Forest, a Mammoth PD repeater and an amateur 2 meter repeater (146.73 100.0 pl). Applications for additional radio users are not accepted so that the mountain will not turn into a major electronic site. It is difficult for repeaters to be located there anyway as frequency use has to encompass the transmit and receiving area of the mountain, which includes much of the California Central Valley and out as far west as Paso Robles. I keyed up the Forest Service repeater on a mobile while traveling to a fire as I drove on U.S. 101 south of Paso Robles. I could key up this repeater on a handheld from downtown Fresno and speak to dispatch full quieting.

The amateur repeater has fairly good coverage to the west and I've conversed with truckers on I-5 and U.S. 99. I have conversations with the person working the lookout on Shuteye Peak from time to time.

I use LMR-400 coax. I had 9913 some years ago and it was tough to use as it is hard to bend around corners and placing connectors on it is very difficult. Having to carve down the outer layer so it fit into the connectors takes a great deal of time. I've replaced my coax about 4 times in the 23 years I've lived in this condo and installing 9913 and I would be very reluctant to change it out very often. I used to have the coax laying on the roof in previous installations. I'm hoping that placing it below the fascia will protect it from moisture better and that painting it will protect it from UV to the point that perhaps replacement might be less frequent.

That's it for the geography lesson and antenna installation lesson for today!
 
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SCPD

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The pictures for my last post did not load, so they follow here.

I forgot to mention that in the second shot at or past the extreme left is the north terminus of the White Mountains. Line of sight just north of that terminus is a repeater on Cory Peak in Nevada. There is a small mountain range in between with an elevation of about 9,500 feet at a distance of about 10 miles in between Cory Peak and my antennas. I can pick up VHF from Cory full quieting at a distance of 70 miles and work a 2m repeater there as well. I can also pick up a Nevada Division of Forestry repeater northeast of of Tonopah, Nevada about half quieting that has the White Mountains in between. I can't pick up the statewide trunked system of Nevada's from that repeater and that is something I would really like to do. That would probably require an antenna that the homeowners association would not accept.

The point in showing the surrounding terrain is even with significant mountain topography and distances the installation of rooftop antennas using quality coax can bring some good results.

A career with the U.S. Forest Service gave me the opportunity to live in three states in four different locations on four National Forests. I may have pictures of previous antenna installations in those other locations. If so I will post them on new threads.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my installation here and for your comments.
 
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LowbandGuy

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Nice antenna set up, no need for a tower. I think it would be really neat being a scanning hobbyist/Amateur Radio operator to live where you do to pick up those distant locations. Do you have pictures of your shack?
 

1150RT-P

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Nice. I used to live in ML - miss it greatly (even though I had terrible cabin fever when i lived there).
 

SCPD

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Nice antenna set up, no need for a tower. I think it would be really neat being a scanning hobbyist/Amateur Radio operator to live where you do to pick up those distant locations. Do you have pictures of your shack?
I don't have any pictures of my shack. It needs some serious remodeling so I will post when I'm finished.

When I lived in New Mexico my reception area extended more than 100 mile to the north. Albuquerque was about 70-75 miles away and I could pick up PD mobile units on VHF-Hi. This with a marginal quality Radio Shack 3 band scanner antenna and marginal quality coax as I didn't know the difference quality cox made at that time. I could receive the Santa Fe National Forest at a distance of nearly 150 miles and occasionally the Carson National Forest some distance beyond that. I had just purchased a Bearcat 210 with only 10 channels. If I had a scanner with more channels who knows what I would have picked up as I wanted to hear my regular frequencies all the time, not leaving me any channels to search around much at all.

The sunspot maximum of circa 1980 was a strong one and the skip was incredible. On early morning I picked an ambulance from Portland, Maine on lowband VHF. The base unit at a hospital boomed in and the mobile unit came in nearly as strong on another frequency. Simplex traffic from nearly 3,000 miles. I picked up the L.A. City Fire Department and the L.A. County Sheriff's Department almost every night.

The town I lived in was on the edge of some wonderfully remote country. I lived 2 miles outside a town that although small, did not meet the criteria for being remote. Any town that has a post office and where you can buy milk and lettuce is not remote!
 

ScanWI

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Great install, I'm glad to see you were able to come to an agreement with the HOA. My Fiancé is from Northern, CA and I have found that I really enjoy it out there. It is not what I thought it would be like.
 
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