Balcony Antenna... Kinda

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bhoglan

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Greetings!

I just got my BC996P2 and I'd immediately like to upgrade the antenna.
I'm in an apartment on the ground floor, geologically close to the ridge of a valley. Outside my apartment, on my patio I have access to the exposed underside of my upstairs neighbor's patio.
Keep in mind that per my lease I can't erect any aerials and technically I shouldn't have any external antennas.

Now, back to the exposed patio... I've got roughly 12 feet of rafters to work with, 4 in all. On one end I have a wall, on the other it's open, except for a vertical support in the corner. Essentially, sides A and B have walls, C and D are open.

I saw an item such as https://smile.amazon.com/Scanner-Am...sSteel-Discone/dp/B0065KNFLK?sa-no-redirect=1 - Now, I don't really have a good conception of the dimensions of the antenna. My aims are to receive my county-wide 850~ frequencies along with some 140's and 460's. I'd prefer to stay somewhat agnostic with my frequencies though.
Could I mount such an antenna upside-down under their patio and keep it somewhat low-key? What penalties would I see from an upside-down or sideways installation?

Aside from this, do you have a better recommendation for a low-key scanner antenna for an apartment with my aforementioned criteria?

Thanks!
Brian
 

toastycookies

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Greetings!

Keep in mind that per my lease I can't erect any aerials and technically I shouldn't have any external antennas.
You are allowed to put up a dish or tv antenna per federal .gov.

You could use a log periodic tv antenna rotated 90degrees for vertical polarization (if you want a directional antenna).

here's a couple of those:

https://www.amazon.com/Winegard-HD8200U-Platinum-Antenna-High-Def/dp/B001DFS4BI/

https://www.amazon.com/ViewTV-Outdoor-Amplified-Antenna-Rotation/dp/B017JEF126/

or some kind of omni antenna like:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01J17ZKN4/ref=psdc_1065854_t3_B01CTY6VW0


you may or may not want the amp/filter.


Anyways, you do have options that your landlord has to allow.



Q: If I live in a condominium or an apartment building, does this rule apply to me?

A: The rule applies to antenna users who live in a multiple dwelling unit building, such as a condominium or apartment building, if the antenna user has an exclusive use area in which to install the antenna. "Exclusive use" means an area of the property that only you, and persons you permit, may enter and use to the exclusion of other residents. For example, your condominium or apartment may include a balcony, terrace, deck or patio that only you can use, and the rule applies to these areas. The rule does not apply to common areas, such as the roof, the hallways, the walkways or the exterior walls of a condominium or apartment building. Restrictions on antennas installed in these common areas are not covered by the Commission's rule. For example, the rule would not apply to restrictions that prevent drilling through the exterior wall of a condominium or rental unit and thus restrictions may prohibit installation that requires such drilling.


https://www.fcc.gov/media/over-air-reception-devices-rule
 

bhoglan

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Thanks for the info. Those antennae are a little gaudy, even fit me. But, thanks for the FCC quote. I can quite easily put a big 'ol discone on my patio and everyone else can screw themselves.
Normally I'd be much more agreeable and passive with management, but they've recently changed hands several times and lost any personal touch.
 

toastycookies

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Thanks for the info. Those antennae are a little gaudy, even fit me. But, thanks for the FCC quote. I can quite easily put a big 'ol discone on my patio and everyone else can screw themselves.
Normally I'd be much more agreeable and passive with management, but they've recently changed hands several times and lost any personal touch.
Go for the discone, it should work a lot better than the included whip on the back. Some decent coax, shorter is better, and as always height is king. (i know you don't have too much to work with being on ground floor)
 

marksmith

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Unless you get the antenna significantly higher, or much more outside of any metallic surfaces, it is not going to make much of a difference from the back of set antenna for the 996.

Have you tried just lowering the antenna itself? At full extension it is not tuned for 800mz.

Other things like just situating the radio in a slightly different location, or near a window can have a huge impact with 800mz systems.

There are also some cheap window mounted 800mz antennas that might improve on the standard antenna, but again, very slight location changes can have a big effect.

Mark
536/436/WS1095/HP1/HP2/996T/996XT/996P2/396XT/325P2/PSR800/15X/others
 

bhoglan

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I have the scanner on my desk just inside my sliding-glass door. I hadn't thought about shortening the antenna for 800...

As for a window design, I saw one earlier that was essentially a flat X that I could see placing flat on the window. I think it was designed for wideband. I'll have to see if I can find that again. Construction-wise, I'm in a multi-floor, multi-tenant, wood-framed building. The sliding door frame is metal but aside from nails/screws/wiring, everything else should be non-metallic.

What are your thoughts on those antennas that are a wire held up by two suction cups?
 

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marksmith

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I have the scanner on my desk just inside my sliding-glass door. I hadn't thought about shortening the antenna for 800...

As for a window design, I saw one earlier that was essentially a flat X that I could see placing flat on the window. I think it was designed for wideband. I'll have to see if I can find that again. Construction-wise, I'm in a multi-floor, multi-tenant, wood-framed building. The sliding door frame is metal but aside from nails/screws/wiring, everything else should be non-metallic.

What are your thoughts on those antennas that are a wire held up by two suction cups?
The wire and suction cups models are ok but not great for 800.

However, they make one that is only about 4-5 inches long, with two sided tape, and specifically for 700-900 mz reception (thus the short length) with a 6-10 foot cable with BNC connector on the end. They run around $20-30 from places like Scannermaster.

I have had very good 800mz results from that type antenna, as long as it is placed vertically on the window.

Just like other 800mz antennas, moving it a foot or so one way or the other can result in very significant difference in reception for any particular system.

Mark
536/436/WS1095/HP1/HP2/996T/996XT/996P2/396XT/325P2/PSR800/15X/others
 

bhoglan

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So I guess maybe I was thinking a little incorrectly last night.

The systems to which I'm listening (Washington. King/Pierce/Kitsap counties along with state agencies) are *mostly* on the 800mHz King County shared trunked system. I can hear that system pretty well since they've got towers growing out of the grass down here. I've got some other stations I like to listen to that are VHF and some in UHF. The farthest from me would be some of the VHF stations.

So in short, I think I'm looking for something that would provide good gain on the VHF while not hindering the 800's. I'm not sure if that makes much sense.

Also, with these discones, (please don't laugh, I'm still pretty new at this and not well versed at reading the antenna graphs) does it make a difference if I was to mount it from the rafters above me so it would be hanging upside down? I'm still very undecided on antenna type, mounting, etc, etc so I'm just thinking through all my options.

Thanks all for your time and advice so far!
 

marksmith

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That is a different question. I thought you were trying for better 800mz reception.

One thing you will find is that when you try to get an antenna that gives you lots of bands, then you will get none of them particularly well. All band antennas by definition are a giant compromise in some bands.

The best vhf low antenna is a 50 or 60 inch whip antenna. The best length for vhf high is probably the length of the stock 996 antenna fully raised. For UHF band, it's probably about half raised, and for 800, almost fully lowered as far as it goes.

So, based on this, the best all band antenna includes some antenna elements of these sizes (ignore vhf low due to practical purposes). But in general, it will still be best on one band and less than optimal in all others.

My recommendation : the antenna that came with it, fully raised, for best vhf high, and not bad for strong UHF and 800mz reception.

Mark
536/436/WS1095/HP1/HP2/996T/996XT/996P2/396XT/325P2/PSR800/15X/others
 

bhoglan

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Fair enough. Sorry for being unclear. Geographically, I'm in a pretty crappy spot. Local elevation-wise, I'm in a horrific spot (my apartment is sub-level relative to the parking lot above me). I think I'm trying to polish something of a turd here. The advantage I have, though, is that several of the VHF and UHF stations I'm looking for are north of me, of which I have a relatively clear line of sight.

All in all, you'd stay with the stock whip in my case though? After looking them back up, the VHF I'm looking at are 155 and the UHF hang out in the. Oh hell. Apparently I'm just full of crap all around. I thought the second freq I was looking for was in the 460s, but apparently it's at 817 (WNIC341) So I guess my 155 is kinda a fringe case. Boy, I really should've done some homework before I got on here and started flapping my face around.
 

marksmith

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No problem. That's how things are learned.

If I understand your situation correctly, you don't have a lot of choices.

I would probably try the Spectrum Force 800 mz antenna (mini window antenna 01-541850) for $17.95 with BNC connector. scannermaster.com

It's a pretty good antenna from 400-890mz and does ok on 400ms UHF. It does passable 155mz if the signals are strong or repeater output.

Other than that, the standard back of set antenna is a good choice. You can spend a lot of money in your case and not do much better. (Unless someone will let you run cable up to the roof)

Mark
536/436/WS1095/HP1/HP2/996T/996XT/996P2/396XT/325P2/PSR800/15X/others
 

bhoglan

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Perfect. I think your advice is exactly what I was looking for. Aside from doing some late-night Macgyver stuff (in which I'm sure to fall from the roof of the third floor, not looking myself, but severely injuring myself to the point of wishing for the former) I don't see any way I can get anything higher than ground level.

It sounds like I can take my limited chances with a relatively expensive external antenna that may or may not help my reception, or keep working with length and positioning permutations from my stock whip.

My longer term plan for this unit is to have the wiring, antenna, and mount in my SUV so I can easily disconnect the base antenna, power, and USB and really bring it along for the ride. For that side of things I'm thinking about coopting my useless OnStar antenna which should be more or less tuned for my uses.
 
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