Part 4 Lets look at some condo antennas

At our old condo the loop loops like a covered piece of furniture.
Good afternoon everyone, it's time to have a look at getting on the air from a condo. I have been living in a condo for about 6 years now and really have only had one antenna BUT I have tried some that really did not work at all and some that did a so so job. Operating from a condo does have it's challenges:
- most likely you are in a highly populated area with other large condo's around you.
- very small foot print for an antenna.
- In some cases the condo unit is small which limits your space for the ham radio "stuff".

Well now that I have you listing your radio on QRZ.COM for sale lets look at some of the advantages of being in a condo.
- In most cases you are high up as for me in one condo I was 60 feet up and in this one I am 160 feet up.
- Your balcony as most are made of metal make a good ground plane for some antennas.
- Your ham skills are challenged with regards to antennas, power output and mode of operation.
OK the last two points above I was really stretching for some positives but for sure height is in most cases a major advantage.

In this post lets look at some antennas that may work from a balcony. The antenna I use as you may already know if you are a regular reader of my blog is the MFJ 1788 mag loop. Now I have had many comments as well as emails saying that the mag loop is pricey. It's very true it is and most mag loops are not cheap as I also have the Chameleaon CHA P loop 2.0 mag loop for portable op's which also is a pricey antenna. I did save my pennies and spent some coin on the MFJ 1788 and not to turn this post into a review of MFJ but quality is not noted on the Eham review site with regards to most MFJ products. I did have a small issue with my loop but I repaired it and since that time (6 years ago) the loop has given me no issues at all. In no way am I saying that the mag loops are the only way to go.
A very unique looking antenna that is great for balcony operation is the Isotron antennas  these antennas get a very decent review on Eham and I know of a ham who uses one and has had great success with it. These antennas are small, no ground plain needed and they can be purchased as mono band or multi band. Also they really don't look like an antenna. With antenna when you want to use it you put it out and when done take it in. In the present condo I am in this is how I use my MFJ loop it's only out when I am using it.
The loop at our new location 
Another antenna worth mentioning is the new Elecraft AX1 for 20/17/15m and rumors are they may be extending the band coverage soon.  It comes with a 13 foot radial wire and has a max output of 30 watts.
Depending on the size of your balcony a wire antenna dipole antenna can be used. When we were looking at condos some balcony's were huge and could support a homemade wire dipole antenna. Two antennas I have tried that did not seem to work for me is a mono whip antenna mounted vertically  with pre-cut radials...did not work at all. I also could not get the MFJ 1788 to work horizontally at my new place I had to mount it vertically. I also tried mono whip antennas in a dipole configuration and it did work but way to large for the balcony.
In my next post I am going to talk about what modes of operation I found to work best for me and how it opened a new door for me in ham radio...........oh and by the way from my condo setup as I was writing this post I was able to make contact with IK4UPB on 20m.
Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

9 Responses to “Part 4 Lets look at some condo antennas”

  • Ron W0EAX:

    Very Enlighting Article Mike

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Ron I am glad that you enjoyed the article.

  • Bob Giraud W2STF:

    As a 100 percent disabled VET this may be an answer for me in the near future. I cant do any more climbing. Please Keep these articles coming.

    Thank you,


  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good morning Bob, I want to start off by thanking you for your service in Vietnam and it was nice to read that in 2014 your Combat Service Citation was received. Thanks for taking the time to read the post and I’m glad you are enjoying it. The plan is to come out with the next part this weekend.
    73 Bob

  • thomas pallan:

    Hi Bob,

    TY for taking the time to post and experiment. Some would wallow in depression and isolate.

    I am a practician M.D. with Multiple Sclerosis that is getting worse, I am 68 y/o.
    Severe leg pain and memory loss.
    As it continues and worsens, I read stories like yours and it gives me hope.
    Ty again for your service and help.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good morning Thomas, thanks for taking the time to read the comments of others and for your encouraging words.

  • Pete ZS1PT:

    Hi Mike

    Great articles. Any chance of sending me Parts 1 & 2, as I can’t seem to find them?

    73 de ZS1PT

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Sorry Pete just saw your question but I will send you the first 2 posts not a problem at all.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Pete I did go to QRZ.COM thinking your email address was there but it is not. For me to send it to you can you send me an email at ve3wdm at hotmail dot com
    This way I can email you the link to the missing part 1 and 2.

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