The reverse beacon network is KILLING ME!!!!!

The loop horizontal and nothing. 
In my last post I wrote about how my Alexloop was just not getting out in the condo, I was checking the Reverse Beacon Network as I called CQ at 5 watts from my condo and there was ZERO spots! Well from that post I received lots of great suggestions on how to get VE3WDM's signal from the antenna to the world. So here is what I tried........I mounted the Alexloop in the horizontal position in the condo and it netted no spots on the Reverse Beacon Network. I then put the Alexloop on the balcony seeing that we are 60 feet in the air I felt this was a sure thing. The last option for me was to place an antenna on the balcony as it was open season to the condo cops.  I placed (in the cover of darkness) the Alexloop on the balcony and called CQ on 20m and 40m and then check the Reverse Beacon Network. To my surprise there were no spots and now I am really stumped and frustrated. The Alexloop is out in the open 60 feet in the air and no spots what the heck is going those dam condo cops have ham radio jammers!!!!!! Up to this point I have only use the RBN to check for spots but there is also WSPR and I have had some bloggers suggest I use this. At this point I am not able to get WSPR up and running as there seems to be some software issues. My goal now is to sort out the issues and give WSPR a go both with the Alexloop in the condo and out on the balcony. This coming weekend I hope to get on the air with WSPR and give that a go! Im really not frustrated I see this as a challenge, for me to get ham radio on the air from a condo will but only  help others in the same situation as me get on the air.

Mike Weir, VE9KK, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Brunswick, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

13 Responses to “The reverse beacon network is KILLING ME!!!!!”

  • Todd KD0TLS:

    I’ve never been spotted on the RBN, and I wouldn’t use the lack of a spot as a definitive test of your station, but that’s just me. It seems obvious, but why not just set up a sked? You have a great platform here to reach a lot of hams. Unfortunately, I can’t help you out with that myself, but there’s got to be hundreds that could.

    The cover of darkness is the condo-bound ham’s best friend. It’s allowed me to mount a 10M “hamstick”, a 15M loaded dipole, various larger V/U mobile whips, a 70cm Yagi, and a 1.25M Yagi. Of course, it also limits you to night-time propagation conditions for exterior antennae.

    You’ve mentioned that you don’t like VHF FM, but have you tried hitting a local repeater from inside your place? If you can do okay with an HT from indoors, that would be a fairly positive indication that the problem isn’t the building itself acting as an RF shield. If the building itself is an effective RF barrier, then it’s clear that you are limited to 180 degrees azimuth at best, and that could also explain the lack of a spot. The skimmers could be in your blind spot.

    I’ve found remarkably little constructive advice from other hams on this type of operation. It’s either “string up a dipole” or “move somewhere else”. We’re kind of on our own with this, which is unfortunate because demographic and legal trends don’t support the traditional model going into the future. Everything that I learn from my experiences as a condo-bound ham goes on my blog, and those posts are some of the most popular because there are a lot of hams struggling with a similar situation.

    You’re a pioneer. It’s not supposed to be easy.

  • Mike G4KXQ:

    How about using a web SDR station to see if you can hear your signal around the world

  • john mann KK4ITN:

    Stand in front of the ole red white and blue and say what our founders said.

  • Paul KE5WMA:

    Any difference between mounting horizontal and vertical?
    Some low-E windows use a metallic coating to block IR waves, and acts as a rather good RF shield

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Very nice to hear from you again Todd, I’m not at all going to give up and yes getting a skid is a great idea but I am also going to try more balcony work… the cover of darkness of coarse. It’s great now that the winter is here as it gets dark very early.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Mike that is something I have never thought of as of yet and it’s a fantastic idea for sure. This evening as I sip some nectar of the gods I will wind up the Mac and see what SDR stations I can come across and bookmark them.
    Mike thanks for an idea that just never occurred to me.

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    John that is what I’m going to do but how about “oh say can you hear the signal from my loop on the air I’m cranking 5 watts in the dawns early light!

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Paul, I have tried the Alexloop in both positions and I am starting to think that the windows are indeed the low E type windows and thank goodness I have a balcony to play with as well. My next adventure is to explore the balcony as I am 6 stories up and that should help me out…..I just have to get the right antenna.

  • Ernest Gregoire, AA1IK:

    Desperate times call for desperate measures. You may have to take the loop out to a local park or into the open countryside. Run the coax out the window of the car, (so you can stay warm) and operate from there.

    Just a thought!


    De AA1IK

    Ernest Gregoire

    PS. I’ve done this myself BTW!

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good evening Ernest, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I have done that in the past and it works great but this time I am going to over come the condo problem and make ham radio work!!

  • Dave WB7OBG:

    Can you operate while a friend is walking around outside with a small swl receiver tuned to your transmit frequency?

  • Mike VE3WDM:

    Good morning Dave, at this point no I’m not able too. I’m now thinking that the concrete walls are shutting me down. So now I’m now looking at a very low profile antenna for the balcony.

  • John MW1CFN:

    The RBN is not a very user-friendly, intuitive system. I would put all effort into getting WSPR up and running. A properly-tuned loop with 5W out should easily generate countless spots on WSPR, and I’m sure that’s what you will find. WSPR does much better, in a much clearer way, that which the RBN aimed to do.

    WSPR is a stable piece of software, so you shouldn’t really have much trouble installing and getting going.

Leave a Comment

Subscribe FREE to's
Amateur Radio Newsletter
News, Opinion, Giveaways & More!

Join over 7,000 subscribers!
We never share your e-mail address.

Also available via RSS feed, Twitter, and Facebook.

Subscribe FREE to's
Amateur Radio Newsletter

We never share your e-mail address.

Do you like to write?
Interesting project to share?
Helpful tips and ideas for other hams?

Submit an article and we will review it for publication on!

Have a ham radio product or service?
Consider advertising on our site.

Are you a reporter covering ham radio?
Find ham radio experts for your story.

How to Set Up a Ham Radio Blog
Get started in less than 15 minutes!

  • Matt W1MST, Managing Editor

Sign up for our free
Amateur Radio Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address: