Need a good indoor 2 meter band antenna.

dragon48

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I'm in a city apartment now without practical access to setup an outdoor antenna. I'm going to be moving most likely to an HOA community, so my outdoor options will again be limited. I'm not interested in going stealth and am not going to be fighting with anybody, so I'm looking at indoor options. This is for receiving only.

I'm particularly interested in picking up ISS SSTV images. I've picked up some bad-quality images and a few decent ones with a stock telescoping antenna. How much better can I do with a different indoor antenna? What's the best I can do? If that would be expensive, what are some cheaper options, that are still better than my setup?

Ty
 

kb5udf

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What type of dwelling, what type of roof, and can you get access to the attic if applicable?
 

cmdrwill

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You might try a mobile antenna on a metal file cabinet or a pie pan near window.
And why the metal filing cabinet or pie pan? Because a mobile antenna requires a ground plane. Two Meters would require at least 38
inches in diameter.
 

vagrant

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I have a fine dual band omni directional antenna on my roof about 25' above ground level. I have 75' of LMR-400 coaxial cable going to that antenna. I have received ISS SSTV signals on that antenna from different pass angles and the results were junk. Still, if I had to use a 2 meter antenna indoors I would use a Diamond X50A. Maybe a Tram 1480 if it will fit.

Now, for ISS SSTV signals that are sent every so often I use an Elk Log Periodic antenna. I go outside and aim the antenna in the direction of the ISS and once the signal is sent, I am easily able to focus right on it. The first few minutes before the pass I'm outside and double check my gear. I make sure the radio is on the correct frequency and set to record, or have whatever recording device ready and turned on. On a good pass I'll get two images since they changed it to PD120. It was less if at all when they used PD180 due to the timing, angle, etc. (Some of you already know this, but others will drop in via a search who don't.)

Yes, you will look like craZy guy aiming an antenna at the sky, but that's how it goes. Hell, I have had other amateurs look at me like I was craZy when I was working a satellite to make contacts. When someone asks you what you're doing, just tell them the truth. Also tell them that they can actually see the ISS overhead at dusk sometimes. Tell them that there are websites online that will even tell them when there is a good chance to see it. Even if they think you're craZy they may research it. When the realize the truth and finally see it in the sky for themselves...you're not the craZy guy anymore. They may even later say, "So...you said something about the ISS sending images?"

You can also build an inexpensive Yagi antenna. Just search for tape measure antenna. The results using that will exceed an indoor omni directional antenna all day, every day. Also, when you're using the handheld antenna and catch the signal, twist it slightly left and then right. You'll find the sweet spot. Anyways, you can practice by using it to monitor the ISS crossband repeater, or the APRS digipeater on the ISS if they're up and working. By the time we get another SSTV signal campaign, you'll be a pro...and the neighbors will be accustomed to your craZy ass waiving an antenna in the air like the rest of us.

Here are two captures using an Elk Log Periodic, but again that tape measure Yagi works too.

sstviss4.png SSTV2019080312.jpg
 

kb5udf

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And why the metal filing cabinet or pie pan? Because a mobile antenna requires a ground plane. Two Meters would require at least 38
inches in diameter.
because that's a compromise most can easily experiment with and with proper antenna selection, no ground plane is needed, just beneficial, such as a good 1/2 wave
 

jaspence

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I have been using a dual band mag mount on a steel strong box on a wire closet shelf for several years. I can hit several repeaters using 10 or 20 watts easily.
 

wa8pyr

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I'm in a city apartment now without practical access to setup an outdoor antenna. I'm going to be moving most likely to an HOA community, so my outdoor options will again be limited. I'm not interested in going stealth and am not going to be fighting with anybody, so I'm looking at indoor options. This is for receiving only.

I'm particularly interested in picking up ISS SSTV images. I've picked up some bad-quality images and a few decent ones with a stock telescoping antenna. How much better can I do with a different indoor antenna? What's the best I can do? If that would be expensive, what are some cheaper options, that are still better than my setup?
Try building a twin-lead J-Pole. They work fantastic.

 

vagrant

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- An omni antenna would be best for general scanning to RX signals around you. Most of the suggestions you are getting here are for that and not for the ISS SSTV signals.
- A Yagi antenna you would need to hold by hand, or some mechanism as you need to track the ISS as it moves across the sky. The boom on that Yagi is just over three feet long.
- A metal door is going to be very unfriendly to receiving a signal as you suspected in that direction.
- As to receiving a signal in your garage, much depends on what is above and around it. If part of your house is above the garage, and your neighbors are close by, your RX signals diminish significantly. You would be better served to go outside with a handheld radio and hold the radio so that the antenna is perpendicular to the ISS position. Stuff in your house may produce noise as well.

If you have a handheld radio, go outside and try that first using the rubber duck antenna. An improvement would be a 2m band telescoping antenna. Again, perpendicular angle to the ISS as it passes overhead. Take a listen on 145.825 MHz for APRS packets to test your RX.

I would have room in my garage for a Yagi like this:


Would this be a waste of time, because the door and roof would block too much signal?
 

vagrant

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@dragon48 Just a quick update. The ISS SSTV event this weekend is coming in loud and clear on my radio in the house using an omni on the roof. I don't know if they changed things for the SSTV at the station, but I do know I am using a different coax and antenna. I think the event is still going on tomorrow, or if I get a chance on the next pass tonight, I will head out using just a mono band telescoping antenna and see how well it receives. I guess I could try my log periodic indoors as well.
 

dragon48

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@dragon48 Just a quick update. The ISS SSTV event this weekend is coming in loud and clear on my radio in the house using an omni on the roof. I don't know if they changed things for the SSTV at the station, but I do know I am using a different coax and antenna. I think the event is still going on tomorrow, or if I get a chance on the next pass tonight, I will head out using just a mono band telescoping antenna and see how well it receives. I guess I could try my log periodic indoors as well.
Ty,

I heard about it and setup my radio this morning, although I don't understand how you are picking up anything, since according to:

ISS SSTV October 4-8 on 145.800 MHz FM - they aren't suppossed to start transmitting until 14:00 UTC 10/04, which if I'm converting correctly, will be 7:00 A.M. your time later this morning and 10:00 A.M. my time

For now, I'm just using a stock telescoping 6.7 inch telescoping antenna, with my radio just inside a window. I lack the ambition to figure out the direction and angle and move around during passes, so I'll get the best my current setup will offer. According to my ISS spotter app, there will be 7 visible passes in my area, during the time of the scheduled broadcasts, but most of them are lousy angles. My best chance of a good picture will be 10/06 11:47 UTC with 78 ° pass.

If I get any decent pictures, I'll post them. I have a feeling that I'll get a bunch of random bad pictures though. My best SSTV picture came in when I was away from the city.
 

vagrant

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While this pass was not overhead, it was good enough. I think it was about 45° to the west. I forgot to note it. :( No worries.

Telescoping 2m antenna in my backyard: (Not bad plus trees with leaves and neighbors house 35' away)
- Reasonably good enough result once I got the correct antenna angle. Which happened to be 90° on this particular pass.
- The initial part of the image result would be a bit wonky as you move the antenna about to find the correct angle (static). Still, the audio was pretty solid after finding the sweet spot.

Log periodic antenna inside the house: (Terrible and this antenna has directional gain, like a Yagi)
- Not too good with a wall in the way ( plus a tree with leaves and a neighbors house about 35' away )
- Very poor and then total loss with two walls in the way ( plus a tree with leaves and a neighbors house about 35' away )


Okay, your post came up as I wrote this...

1. There is an update in bold on that AMSAT page that notes transmissions commenced on October 3. (To the left of the picture) Trust me, it's sending images.
2. They note on that page to adjust for doppler shift. Avoid messing with changing the frequency until you're an old hand at this. It's like anything, the more your practice. For now, you will be busy moving the radio/antenna angle. I have never adjusted for that myself.
3. I didn't have a chance to try a stock rubber duck, or even an improved rubber duck. The damn BNC connector was too tight on the 2m antenna and I had to fish one off of another radio which only left the second image for the log periodic testing. Still, you should experiment. Even if you're at a window with a rubber duck, angle the radio side to side or even upside down. Angle it toward and away as well. Leave the squelch open and move it about at different angles until you hear it the strongest to find the sweet spot.

* This important point is for you and anyone else interested. You noted the ISS spotter app advised there will be 7 visible passes in your area. With radio we don't care about visible passes we would see with our eyes. That is for people who want to see the ISS when they go outside and look up at the sky.

Here is what you need to do:
1. Go to https://n2yo.com It will bring up the path for the ISS by default and it should automatically figure out where you area, based on your IP address. If it is incorrect, or not, you can create an account and set your exact location.
2. The next thing to do is click on the blue button on the right that says "10-Day predictions for Space Station".
3. On that page there is a blue button that will have the text "All Passes", click on that.
4. You will now see all of the passes the ISS will make that are reasonably near your location. This means whatever time of the day. Pick one that works for you, unless you don't mind getting up at/staying away until 11:47 UTC.

That page displays the start, maximum and end time. Even better, to the right you can click on "Map and details" which will tell you even more, like which window of the house you should be near as the map will display the path of the ISS.
 
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paulears

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If you have a glass window of the right size, you could use stick on burglar alarm silver tape and make a pretty decent vertical dipole that is not that obvious and they work quite well.
 

dragon48

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New York N.Y.
* This important point is for you and anyone else interested. You noted the ISS spotter app advised there will be 7 visible passes in your area. With radio we don't care about visible passes we would see with our eyes. That is for people who want to see the ISS when they go outside and look up at the sky.

Here is what you need to do:
1. Go to https://n2yo.com It will bring up the path for the ISS by default and it should automatically figure out where you area, based on your IP address. If it is incorrect, or not, you can create an account and set your exact location.
2. The next thing to do is click on the blue button on the right that says "10-Day predictions for Space Station".
3. On that page there is a blue button that will have the text "All Passes", click on that.
4. You will now see all of the passes the ISS will make that are reasonably near your location. This means whatever time of the day. Pick one that works for you, unless you don't mind getting up at/staying away until 11:47 UTC.

That page displays the start, maximum and end time. Even better, to the right you can click on "Map and details" which will tell you even more, like which window of the house you should be near as the map will display the path of the ISS.
Thanks for all the info in the detailed reply. I generally use the lazy man's approach to this. For the duration of the broadcasts, I leave my radio in one location and have it connected to a USB soundcard connected to my tablet. I leave MMSTV running in auto-mode, and it will save any images it is able to pick up and decode. I have this page running in a browser window, so I can tell when ISS is having a close pass: Current position of the ISS. My ISS Spotter iPhone app also shows a real-time map, along with how many miles away it is from my location.

Good information about the visible passes. I drilled down in the menu and the closest peak will be 267 miles, so, unless I'm misunderstanding something, I can't see how I'm going to pick up any of these passes. I'm going to take a look at https://n2yo.com and see if I can get any more helpful information. For these transmissions, I'm most likely not going to be moving my radio for better chances to pick up images. For working from home or playing around, right now, I only have one tablet, which is connected to a large screen (older non-smart TV) on a computer desk. I'm not going to move my office around for this. If I had the cords on-hand, I could get this done with one or two long 3.5 mm extenders, so I could keep my tablet in place. One of these days, I'm going to get a faster laptop for everyday use, and I'll be able to use this tablet separately to pick up ISS SSTV, and it will be easier to move it and my radio around.

I'll let you know if I pick up anything. Nothing so far.
 

dragon48

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New York N.Y.
My title speaks for itself. The last pass came within 47 miles of my location and in the direction the antenna is facing, and at a high angle, yet I didn't pick up anything. I indeed need a good indoor 2 meter band antenna. :)
 

vagrant

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I forgot to update. Yesterday I went outside with an improved rubber duck antenna about 13 inches and after trying various angles I was able to get a good copy on the signal. I immediately went inside near a window in the direction of the ISS and nothing. I opened the squelch and still extremely faint, but mostly nothing. The screen and blinds were in the way so...

I am not sure when you tried today, but I know there was a re-supply ship scheduled to dock with the ISS today. They probably stopped transmitting while that occurred. Unknown if they'll start again. You may not have missed it.

Honestly, you really need to go outside to get a good capture. Well, your antenna needs to be outdoors.
 
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