MFJ 1622 apartment antenna or Hamstick Dipole?

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by KD8HJR, Sep 4, 2011.

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  1. KD8HJR

    KD8HJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I live in an apartment and I am looking to get back into HF. I will have a radio soon so it's time to look into possible antennas. I'm stuck between two...

    To explain the situation, I'm on the second story of an apartment complex and I am not allowed to have anything on my balcony except for chairs, plants and a barbeque grill. (per rental agreement) All of my windows face the parking lot, so there is no room to run a wire to anything (such as a tree), So whichever antenna I get will have to be used INSIDE the apartment, more than likely about ten feet from where the radio will sit. (so RF safety is a definite concern). I WILL have an antenna tuner.

    So for the MFJ 1622 Apartment Antenna. It's a vertical that is advertised as being able to be attached to a bookshelf, dresser, ect. (which is the exact setup I would have to use). It has an ungodly amount of counterpoise wire which would have to be ran along the floor and adjusted to change bands, and it sounds like a big pain. Reading reviews, other than the pain of changing bands and the obvious db loss of both the antenna and the fact that it will be indoors, it seems like an antenna that will simply work. (which is what I am going to have to settle on)

    The other antenna would be a Hamstick dipole also sold by MFJ. This is simply a mount that holds two Hamsticks in a "dipole" setup. These have great reviews, and I think it would be A LOT easier to setup and use, but here's my question to you. I am planning to use 40 and 20 meter. The other bands would be a nice bonus, but those are the two I NEED to have. Can I use a 40 meter Hamstick dipole along with the antenna tuner to make this antenna usable on 20 meters? The answer to this will be the difference between me getting a pain to use MFJ 1622 or the put up and enjoy Hamstick dipole.

    My only other question would be the regarding any RF situation I might be faced with by using either of these antennas within ten feet of the transmitter with no real way of grounding. Either antenna would be placed in a fashion where they could not be touched while transmitting of course, I'm just curious about the close distance while transmitting.

    I look forward to your responses.

  2. AD1E

    AD1E Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have HOA issues and I am thinking of one of these Pricey, but it looks interesting. Standard one runs on 10, 12, 15, 17, and 20. They have another one for other bands including 40.


  3. AD1E

    AD1E Ham Member QRZ Page

    How many story's is you building?
  4. KD5LPB

    KD5LPB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have the 1622 and it is absolutely HORRID. The only contacts I have made on it are through PSK31, and those were with the antenna outside. I have been pretty discouraged about apartment operating and decided to put my radio in the car. I went out and bought a hamstick/lip mount and within ten minutes I worked Mexico City on 20 meters running 5 watts.

    I don't know how well a hamstick dipole works, but I am wanting to try one out. I do know that the standard hamstick setup is running circles around the 1622 antenna.
  5. KD8HJR

    KD8HJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    My apartment is two stories, and I am on the second. The building is set up with six apartments on the bottom, six on the top, and I am in the middle apartment. So I have an apartment on either side of me as well as one behind me.

    Great info on the 1622, KD5LPB, I appreciate it! That's pretty much what I was figuring. Most of the good reviews on the antenna were setups outside with better conditions than my own. I definitely understand the downfalls I face by running such a compact antenna as well as running it indoors, but I'm hoping I can simply find something that works. I don't expect it to work well, just work. Running it in my vehicle would be an inconvenience at best, so I really need something to run inside. I'm definitely leaning towards trying the hamstick dipole. I have a feeling they are absolutely limited to monoband use, so I will probably be forced to buy a pair of 40m as well as a pair of 20m sticks. Gets me back to the problem of having to change the antenna around to change bands, but hopefully it will outperform the 1622. Thanks again

    Maybe I'll win the lottery and can buy a 400 dollar multiband loop to cure my antenna dilemma :) Wish me luck
  6. KD8HJR

    KD8HJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    What are your thoughts as to the antenna being so close to the transmitter? Any worries of health hazards or radio issues associated with RF, or perfectly safe as long as I don't make contact with the antenna while transmitting? What about stray RF from the setup not being grounded?
  7. KG4NEL

    KG4NEL Ham Member QRZ Page

    Get some big plants and hide a screwdriver in the foliage? :D
  8. KD5LPB

    KD5LPB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Is there any possibility of buying some magnet wire from Radio Shack (it's around ~$8 for a few rolls if I remember correctly) and stringing it across the parking lot to a tree or some other sturdy object? I did this for a long time at my last apartment and it worked very well. It's almost invisible unless you're looking for it. I had friends look for it and nobody could ever see it.
  9. KD5LPB

    KD5LPB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was pretty close to the wire antenna I just posted about, and suffered no problems. I do, however, recall a nasty RF burn from the 1622. I can't remember what exactly happened, though.
  10. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The MFJ1622 isn't a new idea: B&W has had the same design on the market for nearly 50 years. MFJ just made it a bit cheaper.;)

    It works mostly when you can clamp it to an aluminum window frame with the whip "outside" the building. Since it's quite small and unobtrusive, that would probably work in most apartment setups as nobody would really see it.

    If your landlord provides you with free television service, then this would not apply...BUT if not, he cannot prohibit you from putting a TV antenna on your balcony, patio or windowsill as that would be prohibited (for him to not permit this) under Federal law in the U.S. (under the OTARD rule).

    You can make lots of antennas look like a TV antenna.:eek:

    Indoors, better than the MFJ1622 would be one of their "loop tuner" setups. I've tried them and they work better, especially indoors. Look them up, there are several models and none are expensive -- BUT you CANNOT use a regular antenna tuner with any of those loops. It takes a "loop tuner," which is a special design.

    Regarding radiation hazard, at 100W you'd almost have to be touching the antenna to be outside the safe radiation limits on HF. I went through the FCC calculations hundreds of times and at 100W, you can be within a couple of feet of any kind of "no gain" antenna and fall within the safe "controlled" limits. I wouldn't think about this at all. Of course RFI to appliances (stereos, telephones, whatever) is a completely different matter and has to be handled on a case by case basis, if you have such problems.

    Edit: Forgot about the Hamstick dipole issue. 40m Hamstick dipole will not work on 20m, and 20m Hamstick dipole will not work on 20m. It doesn't matter what kind of tuner you have, the results are dismal trying to do this.
  11. KD5LPB

    KD5LPB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Agreed on the Hamstick not working with other bands. I've got the 20M version and it just will not work on any other band, period.

    If you do go with the 1622, you ought to think about getting a $20 camera tripod from Wal-Mart and setting it up as shown so you can use it in the field!

    I can't figure out why it keeps rotating the image.
  12. KD8HJR

    KD8HJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am confident that getting an antenna outside just isn't an option. The parking lot is quite large with absolutely nothing on the other side to connect an antenna to except for two telephone poles (I went outside to look haha) and they are on opposite ends of the parking lot, I would estimate about 50 and 60 feet away from my windows and/or balcony. The screens in my windows are not removable, and my balcony is quite small, about 6 by 5 and 8 feet tall, maybe big enough for the dreaded 1622, not much else. I feel better about the RF thing now, so I think I'm going to give the Hamstick Dipole a shot. There are some great reviews on on both the Hamstick and the Hamstick dipole setup. If I remember right, the overall rating was 4.6/5... not bad for a 30 dollar antenna. (and the reviews are 10 pages!!)

    Thank you all for your help! :) :) :)
  13. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hamstick dipole don't work other bands because they're very narrowband networks and it's impossible to "push" such a design outside where it's really resonant and achieve any kind of reasonable results.

    The camera stand idea is good, and of course will work better if you can sit that in a window and let the whip stick out the window, with the tripod inside. When I tested this, it always worked fairly well if I just clamped the whip to an aluminum window frame with the whip "outside," and very poorly any other way, unless the whole thing was outside.
  14. KD5LPB

    KD5LPB Ham Member QRZ Page

    No problem. Do keep in mind though, as was previously stated, you'll probably have to buy two Hamsticks for each band you wish to operate on. I'm sure the dipole will be great though. Let me know how it works out as I want to try it.
  15. KD8HJR

    KD8HJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    MFJ sells their version, the "HF Stick" which looks identical (same design and length) for $15 each instead of the $30 Hamsticks. I think I will buy a set of these instead. I can get a set of 40m sticks, a set of 20m sticks as well as the $20 dipole mount for 80 bucks. How can you possibly go wrong? (unless it doesn't work at all)
  16. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I've tried indoor antennas hundreds of times, and results vary a lot, mostly based on height above ground and the construction of the building.

    If the building is "stucco" or something, forget it. If everything is just "wood," without any foil-backed aluminum insulation, or stucco, or cement, or bricks, it can work quite well.

    A great example was when I was operating portable from the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim about five years ago. There was a DXpedition going on in the Maldives and with an indoor (hotel) antenna, even though we were up 19 stories above ground (about 200 feet) I just plain couldn't hear them. It was my youngest daughter's birthday and we were there for the weekend, so no chance to go home and work it. So, I had to try to give it a shot from the hotel if I could.

    No matter what I set up inside the room, zero.

    But, the room had a balcony! With sliding glass doors for access, and tables and chairs out there.

    I tried a loop (MFJ) on the balcony and experimented with orientation, and found the DX. Weak, but potentially workable.

    Called about 10-12 times (CW) and got through, with the FT-857D on a 14AH gel cell battery. Wheee!

    10,000 mile contact from a hotel.

    But it didn't work "inside." It worked "outside," and the difference was about ten feet, but night and day in terms of performance.
  17. KD5LPB

    KD5LPB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Another thing that I've done with decent results - rain gutter antenna. Is there a metal gutter near your window/balcony? Consider loading that as an antenna.
  18. KD8HJR

    KD8HJR Ham Member QRZ Page

    The inside walls are drywall with new paint, the outside is vinyl siding (checked to make sure it wasn't aluminum) but I wouldn't have a clue what's in between.
    I pulled out my lease agreement and it clearly states that no aerials/antennas are to be mounted, temporarily or permanently, outside the apartment. Doesn't say anything about antennas inside, so hopefully I don't tear up my neighbors stuff with the RF and cause a problem haha I've had a lot of problems with neighbors in the past due to RF, this will be my first attempt at it in an apartment however...
  19. W8ZNX

    W8ZNX Ham Member QRZ Page

    hello OM

    this may be disjointed
    ac power out in the dark
    lap top is low on bat pwr

    oy oy oy

    here is what i would do

    at first
    stick with 100 watts

    get a first class manual antenna tuner

    start playing with small small gage wire

    get sneaky

    think like a old style 1940s spy

    you need to put out a signal

    but not get caught

    two ways to go at it
    not get caught

    or try to suck up to the right person

    i would test the waters

    start with a super or manintenance person

    are the gutters and down spouts plastic or metal

    you can hide lots of wire inside a plastic gutter and downspout system

    know ops that have hooked to the metal downspout gutter system
    not first class but sometimes it works
    all it takes is a few feet of wire and a sheet metal screw

    can you get in the attic

    can you get on the roof

    can you bribe somebody

    to let you use the roof

    do not dismiss the bribe idea
    this is how thousands of hams
    that lived in apartments
    in the NE got up a good roof top antenna
    got on the air

    note lots of rules are simply cover their ass bs
    sometimes if you get to know the right people
    the rules will not apply to you

    all it took was getting in good with the super
    nothing like a full size 40 meter dipole
    on top of a 14 story apartment building

    know a op in portland or
    lives in a high rise apt bld
    all it took is becoming friends with the super
    then he had a full size dipole on top of a 18 story building

    can you put up a false tv receive dish that is really a ham antenna
    think of the feed line as a antenna

    worst comes to worst
    start playing with inside wire antennas

    mind sunspot cycle is bust
    but knew a op that had two 3 el wire yagis
    taped up inside his NYC 25th floor apartment

    play around do not give up

    and yes they are all second rate antennas
    but any
    antenna is better than no antenna

    just skip wasting hard cash on do all small wonder antennas

    that do no better than 25 ft of wire with a good tuner

    if all fails
    try mobile / portable work

    and start looking for another place to live when the lease runs out

    don't give up

    yours truly
    dit dit
  20. WA4OTD

    WA4OTD XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    What band do you want to get on Randy? 40M and 20M?
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