Apartment Rig Setup Advice

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DougWare

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I'm in an apartment, and I would like to setup a rig (using a mobile radio/power supply) with an antenna on my balcony. I'll probably set this up after getting a mobile unit in my car, currently I'm just using a portable with limited range. I'd like to stick with 2m and 70cm for now.

Can anyone give me some suggestions on setup, gotchas, and what I need to do to setup an economical way of setting up my first shack in my spare bedroom?

I want to do this right, without causing interference with my neighbors.

Thanks for the suggestions and advice!

Doug
 

n5ims

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Something easy might be good (easy to setup, low profile, and not too expensive), especially if you stick to a standard dual-band VHF/UHF radio as you indicate. When you get the mobile radio for your car, get two (one for the car and one for the appartment), or simply install the mobile unit so it's easy to remove and use that single radio for both.

For the antenna, get a set of metal shelves for the balcony. Put some plants (or whatever else you like and will help to hide the antenna) on all but the top shelf and stick a mag mount with a dual-band ham antenna on the top shelf with some very small plants away from the antenna. The metal shelving will act as a ground plane so don't use plastic shelving. 1/4 wave on 2 meters is about 19" so make sure your shelf is at least that long.

The plants will help to hide the antenna from view (folks will think the shelves are simply for the plants and the antenna is probably something for a vine to climb on). While it'll work best on higher floors, it should be good even on the first floor.
 

reedeb

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I live on the gound floor and I use my dual band hooked to a auto battery on a trickle charger My antenna is a DB mag mnt in a cookie sheet on a stand in my room by the window. I live in Dallas nedar the Garland Richardson corner and xan pick up and sometimes chat on a ft Worth repeater as well as a Waxahatchee reptr.
 

KB0VWG

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Antenna Install

If you have a metal guard rail around your balcony you could clamp an antenna to that possibly, But that also might be to noticeable.
Michael
73's
 

ST-Bob

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Arrow makes a neat dual-band J-pole antenna which does not normally need or benefit from a ground plane. It's relatively cheap and works pretty darned well in my opinion. Clamp that to your balcony railing. It's only about 5 feet tall overall and has a built-in clamping mechanism.
 

gewecke

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A diamond x50a is 5' 6" long, white in color and with a flag flapping from the top no one will be the wiser! :wink:

73,
n9zas
 

KF5EYR

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Arrow makes a neat dual-band J-pole antenna which does not normally need or benefit from a ground plane. It's relatively cheap and works pretty darned well in my opinion. Clamp that to your balcony railing. It's only about 5 feet tall overall and has a built-in clamping mechanism.
I second the Arrow J-Pole. I live in apartment complex on the side of a steep hill. I poured some concrete in a large flower pot and sunk a 4 foot piece of 1½" PVC in it for a mast. Clamped the J-Pole to it. I, too, live on the first floor. The antennae is actually below the surrounding ground level. I have no trouble at all hitting any repeater in a 50 mile radius. Unless you have a very unusual set of circumstances, I think you would be happy with an Arrow. I think they are around $39.00.
 

DougWare

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I appreciate all the advice! The J pole sounds lie a great idea. The ground plane sounds like a good idea as well.

What power should I limit myself to as a max to keep from interfering with people's electronics and speakers?

Doug
 

KF5EYR

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I appreciate all the advice! The J pole sounds lie a great idea. The ground plane sounds like a good idea as well.

What power should I limit myself to as a max to keep from interfering with people's electronics and speakers?

Doug
I have used whatever power I needed to get the job done and never have had a complaint. My coax runs from my radio table out the wall of the apartment. Occasionally, I get a hum through my stereo speakers when transmitting on high power. But, never a word from the neighbors.
 

gewecke

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I appreciate all the advice! The J pole sounds lie a great idea. The ground plane sounds like a good idea as well.

What power should I limit myself to as a max to keep from interfering with people's electronics and speakers?

Doug
I used anything from 5 to 50 watts, with no problems but then most of the tenants had cable or sat tv.

73,
n9zas
 

John_S

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A lot of this depends on whether or not you're on the top floor. If this is the case, you probably won't cause any problems. The trick is to have your antenna radiating above your location and your neighbors. Out on the balcony, if you use an omnidirectional / vertical, you'll may experience RF getting into the mic or the radio itself. In this case, you may want to look at a small beam to keep the RF away. Otherwise, all you can do is turn the power down...not a happy prospect. I've lived in the present apartment for a few years and had a couple of rigs set up. I live on the top floor and have a fire escape right outside where the radios are. Couple of heavy duty U-bolts and a 10' piece of mast are what I mount the tri band vertical to. Also had a 22' vertical out there at one point. If you are stuck down a few floors and there are several equally tall buildings nearby, you'll probably have some issues with reflection / multipath, although with the small beam approach, this can be minimized or even taken advantage of. Also, working in FM mode is a little easier on getting into unwanted places...it's SSB and AM that are more likely to cause an issue.
 
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