A mystery at the new QTH

Things are coming along
The boxes are slowly getting unpacked and things put away, the roll top ham radio shack is taking shape as well. I found I had a lot more gear than there was room for in the condo and may have to shed more gear! At this point there has been some bumps in the radio setup but all seems to be slowly coming together. I can't believe all the cables that are involved in having the radio talk to various hardware components. There has been one major mystery I am not as of yet to solve.....I have setup the Alexloop and added the K3 to the mix. I was able to get a great SWR and surprisingly a low to moderate noise level...BUT.....I was calling CQ on different bands with 5 watts but was not once spotted on the Reverse Beacon network. Hmmmm I then went "simple" I hooked up the KX3 to the Alexloop and again calling CQ at 5 watts was not spotted at all on the Reverse Beacon network????? I have tried to move the Alexloop closer to the window and the balcony door, the only thing that happened was the SWR was very hard to adjust on the Alexloop. I then move the loop about 4 feet from the balcony door and the SWR was great but no spots?
My setup is a stealth operation and really can't put the Alexloop on the balcony but I am 6 stories up and back in the townhouse I did have the Alexloop inside and it did very well so at this point I am stumped.
Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

16 Responses to “A mystery at the new QTH”

  • Ve6ccl Rob in Calgary:

    Is building concrete?
    I get best results with mobile wip pocked out through balcony rail at about 30degrees with countepoise using IC 703
    73 ROB

  • Todd KD0TLS:

    What kind of RF ground did you have before at the townhouse? Since you’re six stories up, a decent RF ground is pretty much impossible to do with ‘stealth’.

    The issue with the Alexloop on the balcony might be smaller than you think. To a non-ham, it doesn’t look “antenna-like”. You could always cover it with a sheet or cardboard box. I put an upside-down plastic flowerpot over my UHF whip, and nobody questions that. The HOA believed my story that my loaded 15M dipole was a clothes-line, too. Unfortunately, they prohibit clothes-lines.

    If your RX noise situation is good, as you say, then you’re ahead of most condo-bound hams.

  • Paul, W3FIS:

    I do “stealth” antennas with #26 magnet wire. From 5′ away, you simply cannot see it.

    73 /paul W3FIS

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Rob, and greetings from Toronto unfortunately I am not able to have ANY antennas on the balcony……well those that snoopy eyes can see anyway. Yes the building is solid concrete so I may have to resort to stealth on the balcony.
    Thanks for the input Rob and I will update the blog with the progress.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Hello Todd, It seems that this is the route I am going to have to take. I was thinking of the MFJ loop antenna and putting like a BBQ cover over it so that it looks like a BBQ which we are allow to have here! Or maybe patio table with a cover if anyone asks me. I want to make sure this type of setup will work before I put our the coin for the antenna.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Hi Paul, my problem is I just don’t have the balcony to may a wire antenna work for my on the HF bands. I do agree that #26 wire is stealth to most but I just can get the room for it.

  • GB KC5GB:

    OK, MIke – Here’s what worked for me in a similar situation. I use the MFJ loop anchored in a large plant pot(cement filled) which has placed in it a large plastic vine which curls about the loop…it’s my version of a ‘circular’ trellis. Add a few more plantings a you have a balcony garden. With the smaller capacitor on the Alex loop it’s even easier to ‘stealth’ it. BTW, I have ever noticed any directivity on the loop so doesn’t seem to matter how its oriented- also, never have had any RF problems.
    In any case, a lot better than indoors.

  • John, K0EBC:

    Mike, I live in a typical south western style house coated with stucco. The metal mesh under the cement makes a great farady shield. Putting the Alex loop on the balcony adorned with plastic flowers, leaves and a stuffed parrot wouldn’t be too far fetched.

    John K0EBC

  • john mann KK4ITN:

    We have a vacant 1 acre lot next store to my qth and it is for sale. North Carolina has great spring, summer and spring weather. Winters are mild and wet.
    BUT, no HOA’s. They tried to start one but were put in their place rather quick. Get out of there! Whats more important than HAM RADIO?

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening GB, thats a great idea and will call for some planning on my part to set up the cover for he antenna. If I go this route I would purchase the MFJ loop and save he Alexloop for portable op’s. Tis way I can tune the loop from the indoors and not have to play with the Alexloop tuning on the balcony. GB thanks for the great input and you have the creative juices flowing.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening John K0EBC, thanks for taking the time to give your input it seems to me that once I find the antenna that works on the balcony it’s then time to turn it into a “garden” to keep the condo cops at bay!

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Well KK4INT it’s not an option to high tail it out of here…..we have just moved in and paid the price so for me it’s time to break ground for those who also moved into a condo in the city to show that ham radio is alive and well. I was in a townhouse for years and was able to operate QRPp and get into Europe with only a tear drop of power from an antenna in the attic. So my goal is to not run from this challenge but to roll with it and show the ham radio world that living in a condo is not a problem but a new beginning.
    John thanks for stopping by and posting your input.

  • Todd KD0TLS:

    It sounds as if you’re on the right track.
    Remember that HOAs have three major concerns about antennae: lightning, the antenna blowing down and causing damage/injury, and interference with consumer electronics.
    Your alternatives pose none of those problems. The odds are that nobody will care as long as you make a token effort to conceal it and don’t rub their noses in it.
    Don’t forget the Tac-Tenna. There are probably a lot of hams who wouldn’t think that was an antenna at first glance. Just don’t stress over it; you’ve got options.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good morning Todd, thanks for getting back to me yes my idea is to be low profile and to keep it from raising any eyebrows. I have seen the Tac-Tenna on the net is the past and had another look at it today. It’s very well priced and the reviews are positive as well. I am still is the planning stages with the type of antenna Im going to use.

  • John KC2WEX:

    I was seven stories up and still had a small belcony. I took a crobar and opened up the floorboard, put my antenna in it, coax and all, sealed up the wire since the floorboard meshed together. After the repairs I was able to juggle the coax in without showing,because I went over the inside floorboard. made it into the wall useing a pl-259 in the wall. This was over 20 years ago. I bet you to this day, they probably think that it is an old cable tv run.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening John, well I have to say that is a bit out there for me to take apart the condo is out of the question. I am glade it worked for you. As for this QTH I am going to keep the hardwood floors in place and move more toward an stealth balcony antenna.

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