|Alpha Delta DX-EE
Many Amateur radio ops now find themselves in a neighbourhood, downsizing to a condo or moving to an assisted living complex that is ham radio antenna unfriendly. I have lived in many antenna challenged, HOA and condo rules that outlaw antennas. But I have always managed to get on the air using HF and enjoy the hobby. Over the next few posts, I am going to share how I accepted the antenna challenge and kept the HOA hounds or condo cops from having their heads spin backwards. Today let's look at a situation that involves home HOA hounds or townhouse condo cops.
In the neighbourhoods I have moved to I always get a copy of the rules. (HOAs and condos have more pleasant words than rules) But let me start by saying I am not against having common understandings (rules) as it can control some funny things that can pop up in uncontrolled neighbourhoods or condos. In most of the rules I have read regarding antennas, it boils down to you can't have them due to safety, how they look and the size. The way I see it is if it's safe, no one see's it and it's small then we are good to go with an antenna!
The first big hurdle is out of sight, as with amateur radio an HF antenna can be a tough one. For 16 years I lived in a townhouse which was not antenna friendly. I found we had a very large attic and then the next challenge was what to put up there for HF operations. What I tried was 2 mobile whips configured into a dipole. This had a very narrow bandwidth and only a single band as I could not set up more than one due to space and interaction. A band change meant getting up in the attic and doing the whip change. That idea was deleted due to attic heat in the summer and just getting up and down from the attic.
|Electric fence stand-offs
My goal was a multiband antenna that was small and could be left in the attic and forgot about. I committed to a dipole antenna from Alpha Delta the DX-EE model. This was a 10-40m antenna that was 40 feet long. Now my attic is nowhere close to being 40 feet long but I ended up installing it in a "Z" configuration. To secure the antenna in the "Z" configuration I used electric fence standoffs. Also, I added a 1:1 choke balun at the antenna feed point. This antenna served me without issue for years and it was out of the elements from the weather, out of sight and got me on the air. As a sidebar, I only transmitted at QRP levels as I did not want to have any issues with those on either side of us in the townhouse.
Some of the challenges were:
The antenna had a narrow bandwidth on 40m but the Elecraft K3 tuner looked after that. As well using the Elecraft K3 tuner I was able to also use the WARC bands as well.
I picked up very bad band noise from a Plasma TV but that was fixed with an MFJ noise-cancelling unit.
Getting the coax from the attic to the radio room. The room was on the second floor and I ended up putting the coax in the wall and out in the radio room.
Securing the antenna for a "Z" configuration. As mentioned I used electric fence stand-offs.
Getting the best bang for each watt of power meant CW and not SSB. That began my journey of re-learning CW. Also fast forward to now there is also the digital modes you can use.
The next post (part 2) will be dealing with my condo apartment antenna challenges.