MFJ-1622 Apartment antenna worth trying? Any other ideas?

Discussion in 'Antennas, Feedlines, Towers & Rotors' started by KC9SYJ, Aug 16, 2010.

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  1. KC9SYJ

    KC9SYJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Going to give it all to you up front. My HT is leaving me with wanting more, I am considering a mobile 2m Yaesu FT-2900 for mobile use,
    but I don't want to be limited with VHF only. I want to get on the HF bands
    with either a Yaesu FT-450 or Yaesu FT-950(both HF+6m rigs),but I have a dilemma with antennas. I can put up an outdoor antenna,but according to the rental agreement,it cannot extend above the ceing/roof line or below ground level. That leaves me with one possible viable option. MFJ's MFJ -1622
    apartment antenna that can be used indoors or outdoors. A dipole's out of the question as well as a tall vertical multi-band antenna such as Comet's CHA-250B. Anything outdoors has to be clamped to something,...NOT permantly attached. Can't drill,tap,or saw into anything,either. The MFJ-1622 covers 40m to 2m,but neither the FT-450 or the FT-950 have 2m,...they only go up to 6m!

    After reading a bit more on this antenna,I would almost have to use it indoors as you have to move a tap on the coil to tune to a different band,...sounds like a real pain in the butt,.. and sounds like it's only drawback. I need an online elmer here as I am not getting any assistance on this matter from anyone in my local club,...very disheartening,but I don't want to leave the hobby already as I am just getting started. Any other ideas besides the MFJ-1622? I really need some help here. I would try echolink,but my computer is not trustworthy enough right now to install any such program. Thanks to anyone who can help me out here!
    I had better inform you that my apartment complex is on a single level, upstairs levels at all!
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2010
  2. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    The MFJ-1622 is the same as the B&W AP-1 and a zillion other antennas that preceded it going back to the early 1960s. It's a terrible antenna, good in a pinch for a portable hotel room operation or something, but not a good overall solution.

    On the popular bands like 20m and 40m it's 20-30 dB "down" from a dipole.

    What works better is the MFJ Super Hi-Q Loop antennas. There are a few models, and one covers 10 MHz through 21 MHz. That's the one to get: It's incredibly efficient, only a few dB down from a dipole, and will really let you make contacts. It's just a 36" diameter loop which can be installed in an attic or on a balcony, and can be hung from an overhead hook with a string.

    You'll be positively amazed at how well these work.

    Follow the instructions carefully.
  3. W9PSK

    W9PSK Ham Member QRZ Page

    If you don't have $400 to spend on Steve's suggestion, look into making a hamstick dipole. You will at least be a be able to use it on 40 and 20. You can get all the parts from MFJ for a total cost of around $60 plus shipping. You can build a stand for it out of PVC.
    KX4CC likes this.
  4. KC9SYJ

    KC9SYJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Suggestions much appreciated,but how about this antenna?

    I want you to know that I fully appreciate the assistance and suggestions you have given me,a new ham. I just happened to be thumbing through my MFJ catalog and ran across an antenna that just might fit into what my rental agreement might allow. It is the MFJ-1795 vertical that can be hid behind tress,fences,bushes,etc,and is only 7 to 10 feet tall. It covers 40,20,15,and 10 meters. There is a WARC version that covers 12,17,30,and 60 meters called the MFJ-1795W,...both only $169.95! It can be used permanent or portable operation. Maybe not what we are looking for as far as really getting it up in the air,but if it falls within what my rental agreement will allow heightwise and at least gets me on the air with 40,20,15,and 10 meter coverage at least, what more could I ask? It would have to be ground mounted using
    the MFJ-1904 Ground Coupled antenna base. Those other antenna suggestions you gave will also be considered,too.
  5. K0SPN

    K0SPN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have had the 1622 for several years.
    I don't really have anything to compare it to, but I will say that it does work and you can make contacts with it. Though that could be said about a lot of things.

    I originally installed it mostly as the instructions say, except that I cut one counterpoise wire for each band and just ran them down the building I lived in; a second floor apartment.

    When I moved, I went a bit different to try and improve performance a bit, as you can see in the picture I've attached.
    So now it's basically a center loaded antenna on a car mirror mount with two counterpoise wires for each band, though they do wind around the deck and some of them overlap, which isn't the best, but what I've got.
    I did have to shorten the whip a bit since the upstairs deck won't allow enough room to extend it fully, but only about 6-8 inches or so.
    The lower piece is a Hustler (I believe) mast that is the standard 3/8 thread and is about 3 feet long. You could easily go to a hardware store and just buy the regular all-thread rod and make your own.
    The bucket is the standard 5 gallon job with sand in the bottom to keep it from tipping over.

    The other improvement I made is for tapping the coil.
    Originally, I adjusted the tap with a 259B analyzer then marked the proper spots with a Sharpie. After weather exposure it gets hard to see the marks, and it's always hard to see them in the dark regardless.
    So I bought the coil taps and wire that are used on the Buddipole. They aren't too expensive and make band changes very quick and easy.
    The only problem with this is that adding the tap points changes the tuning of the coil, so I had to redo that with the 259B. The down side was that I couldn't get 40m to tune anymore. Needs a longer coil with more inductance now.
    I only did 10m, 15m, 20m, and 30m but could add a couple more since I have two more clips, but I haven't tried and I'd have to retune all the bands below what I already added.

    I somewhat recently added a ground screen to attempt to further improve performance. I posted here asking opinions about what I might gain from this and got reasonable answers that I expected. See it at:
    I did my best to take objective measurements before and after to see any changes, but propagation is always variable.
    From my observations, I did get increased performance for receive at least based on my ability to receive more close-in stations on the bands I've checked. For the $7 or so for a standard door screen roll (4'x8'), I think it was a worthwhile improvement.

    Obviously your situation is different than mine, so your experience would probably be different.
    If you could use a short pipe (12" or so) in the ground and a mount like mine, and have proper radials ground mounted, you could have decent performance.
    Making it a center loaded job like mine would increase performance still, since it is more efficient than base loading.

    Honestly, the cost is a bit high considering what you actually get. There really isn't much to them.
    It's basically just a couple PVC caps and a short PVC pipe, a couple bolts, and the coil.
    It would be fairly easy to make one of these yourself, and probably for less money, provided you can wind the coil, which shouldn't be too hard.
    I'm thinking of winding a new longer coil myself, I just need to find something to use for the form. (A smaller bucket too so I can fully extend the whip)
    If you're interested, I can snap some more pictures and give you more details of size and construction.

    Sorry, this got a bit long, but I hope it helps.

    I got curious and checked the MFJ site since I don't know that gear, and I really don't think that the mount is worth the money. You should be able to put something together for less than $20 really. The antennas may be okay, but the mount is not worth $100.
    You being new to the hobby, you may not know that MFJ can be a mixed bag of quality, from what I've heard.
    I only have the 259B, the 1622, and a 100W dummy load and have not had issues with them, but other's have had different experiences with their products.
    Just something to be aware of.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2010
  6. KC9SYJ

    KC9SYJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Taking an antenna such as the 1622 and doing the things you suggest to improve the performance a bit is going to be a bit of a challenge for me and here is the reason;...I have never messed with building antennas before so
    this is all new stuff to me. I'm sure I could probably do it,but it may take me a while,...say a whole day. Why? I tend to work a bit slow with things I am not familiar with,or accustomed to doing on a daily basis. Now I find myself running into another obstacle,...getting my feedline into my apartment as I cannot drill holes,saw,or tap on anything. The screens in my windows do not move up and down the way the windows do and to place one of those MFJ 4602 feedline panels under a window is going to be next to impossible because I know darn well the apartment complex management will not be happy with my removing screens,and they would be unhappy even more if I were to cut a hole in the screen just to get my feedline in. I think I have ran into an 'antenna unfriendly' complex,and they don't seem to keen on ham radio operators,either from the way they are acting. I say that because the manager told me that I may be putting her job on the line if she lets me put up such anantenna because they really DO NOT allow any transmitting antennas of ANY kind to be put up,yet they will allow a satellite dish up.
    Yet,you see very few,if any,satellite dishes sitting around. I think it's going to come down to my having to move to another place that is "antenna friendly"before I can put up ANYTHING. So guess what that means,...I am stuck being limited to my HT for now and/or go mobile,but who the heck would want to sit in their vehicle in sub zero weather in the winter just to work some HF? I don't know if I can work my way around this or not. I am not doubting the fact of disguising an antenna to look like something else,but the challenge now is getting the feedline in. Until I can come up with some kind of solution to this dilemma,I'll take that time to study for my upgrade to General Class.

    This is just a little bit off the topic,but can you tell me what RTS and UTC mean? I have an idea,but not very clear on it. I see these when I go into my logbook but have no clue what the heck they mean,so I leave them blank for now.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2010
  7. K0SPN

    K0SPN Ham Member QRZ Page

    They have to allow satellite dishes because of a rule called OTARD, Over The Air Reception Device.
    It's an FCC rule that says apartments, condos, homeowner association, etc. can't disallow TV reception devices to be set up outside.
    Only affects TV antennas/satellite dishes.

    You need to check and see what your lease actually says about "transmitting antennas", and anything else, for that matter.
    My lease says I am not allows to "install" antennas without approval.
    As you can see from my picture, I used a bucket for the HF, and a piece of plywood with feedthroughs for the coax.
    I did have to remove the screen, but it was designed to be removable, so all I have to do is just pop it back in when I move out.
    I also have a 2m antenna on a bracket attached to the railing with C clamps, and a 6m dipole that is hanging from a planter hook that a previous tenant installed.
    I take "install" to mean permanent fixtures, drilling holes, etc., so I feel I have followed the terms of the lease as nothing is permanent and there are no holes drilled anywhere in the building, nor screws/lag bolts used to attach anything.
    I have not heard from anyone about interference, no one from the staff has made any mention about the 3 antennas I have on my deck, so since I have been here two years, I don't feel that anything will ever be said.

    Again, check your lease for the wording used. Don't just take her word for it.
    I have a feeling that it does not say you can't have "transmitting antennas" specifically, but probably a more broad term like my lease, in which case, you may be able to put something up.
    If your window screens are meant to be removable, then why would the landlord be upset? As long as you don't break the screen, it would be fine.
    You would want a stick or something to lock the window down with the feedthrough in it so no one could enter your place. You can also get small screens that are adjustable and meant to fit in windows without screens, to keep bugs out. I use one myself.

    RTS, I'm not positive, but I'm guessing you actually mean RST, which is Readability, Strength, Tone, which is the signal report, e.g. 599.
    Tone is meant for CW, and some people use RSQ(uality) for digital modes.
    R & S are used for all modes; voice would be just 59, 37, etc.

    UTC is Universal Coordinated Time, also known as GMT.
    It's the time in Greenwich, England.
    I'm in Central US timezone, so I'm UTC -6, or UTC -5 in DST.

    These should have been covered in your study material for the Tech test.
  8. W1GUH

    W1GUH Ham Member QRZ Page

    "Anything outdoors has to be clamped to something,...NOT permantly attached. Can't drill,tap,or saw into anything,either. "

    Here's a nifty solution to that:


    Picked up one at a hamfest last year for either $8 or $10.

    'PSK mentioned a hamstick dipole, and that might do it for you, too. I'm sure that super-dooper MFJ Hi-Q loop will do a good job -- especially if you can null out the most objectionable noise -- but does come with a hefty price tag.

    Just in case hamstick dipoles are new to you, here's the mount that makes it happen:


    Not endorsing either of those as the specific "best." These are available in a variety of generic models, as are hamsticks.

    The good thing about a hamstick dipole is you can mount one the hamsticks on your car for a very servicable HF mobile rig!

    Now there's a nice way to get out from under your dense population noise, go mobile! Get your radio out in the sticks and away from a lot of the noise sources. Find a nice place to park and have fun!!! That's especially nice when you're camping with the rig on the picnic table & a comfy chair.

    Because of my QTH's impossible noise, I can't operate fixed. Mobile is my only viable choice.
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