I need help! :-O
Okay, antenna experts.... I live in a townhouse, cant use the top floor window, and can't use wire antennas.
Have a nifty patio though.
I've narrowed it down, and I wanted to ask... which would be the best for working 10-40 ssb/psk?
The Chameleon Antenna,
Super Antennas Mp-1
or The Buddistick?
I'm mostly looking for dx, low radiation angle, etc, with *some* local work.
Thanks in advance!
Not enough information.
How big is the patio? Is there any roof or cover over it, or is it clear to the sky?
How far away can you get from the building?
What is the building made of? Just wood? Vinyl siding? Aluminum siding? Stucco? Cement? Brick?
Is there a fence or wall around the patio? If so, what's that made of?
Appears to be a multi-family dwelling? (I think I see four electrical meters on the wall.)
In any case, the Outbacker Outpost should probably bear some consideration:
It's a fairly tall vertical antenna but easy to change bands (easier than the Buddipole and many others), takes just a few seconds, and the supporting tripod becomes a counterpoise for the antenna by tightly coupling to the ground beneath it. The "ground" in your case can be the cement pad of the patio -- cement has about the same properties as earth, and of course there is earth beneath it.
It's also easy to set up and take down, or fold/tip over to make it less visible when not in use.
Another HF antenna that works remarkably well for its diminutive size, and also looks nothing like an antenna so you could probably just hang it up on the patio and leave it there, is the MFJ Super Hi-Q Loop antenna:
This is a serious DX antenna that's only about 3' in diameter. You normally hang it so it is vertically oriented, and when doing so, it is bi-directional kind of like a dipole but much, much smaller. It covers 30-20-17-15-12-10m but does not cover 40m, and you DO NOT need an antenna tuner for it: It has one built-in (it is a very sharply resonant antenna, and the tuning is done inside the antenna, remotely controlled from inside the ham shack). I have one of these I use for RV camping and it works better than anything else I've ever used for that application.
If you are on a budget - take a look at www.jackite.com fiberglass poles. The 31' model is available on EBAY for around $60. It telescopes out, you can put a wire inside it, take it down at night, bungee cord it to a post, etc - collapsed it is about 4' long and weighs a few pounds.
There are all kinds of designs you could home brew with it... Some people wind coils using the bottom as a form and make verticals for 80 and 160. I will not testify as to how well that works, and of course you need an adequate counterpoise. (I didn't know this about cement - thanks Steve).
You could turn the fiberglass pole into a portable vertical (almost the right length for 40 meters - just add some stiff wire at the top, or improvise a small coil of some kind at the base). It could support an inverted V (take down when not using). I've even supported a hamstick with it (mounted about 1/3 of the way down where the pole is more rigid, with 4 ground radials of appropriate length attached appropriately).
Even a single wire running down the inside, or loosely around the outside of the pole, tuned with an antenna tuner will work. You'll need some kind of ground/counterpoise. There are arguments from here to next week on what is and is not adequate. Even one ground radial that runs around the perimeter of your patio might work out surprisingly well. Noise might be a big issue for you looking at the proximity of your neighbors and the electric meters. Probably less of an issue on higher frequencies.
Put a flag or windsock on the top of the fiberglass pole/mast. You have a right to be patriotic.
Just some ideas on the cheap. You could do this for under $100 quite easily...
If you like the collapsing fiberglass pole idea, there are other companies online that make versions that extend out to 80+ feet, but they are pricey... Spiderbeam sells them and some other companies as well.
Last edited by AE2CS; 09-22-2010 at 06:13 PM.
Look at www.transworldantennas.com
They are not cheap but this is a good antenna, better than the MP-1 or Buddistick. No need for counterpoise, no tuning. It sets up in a couple of minutes is all of 8ft tall, stands well in high winds and stashes away neatly in its bag (golf club bag size). It is not a true portable antenna, meaning if you want to climb up a mountain, there are better choices, but I use it while RV'ing or at home when using my FT-817, it is the best I know of. I don't remember its power limitation, but you can easily use 100w. I would not use more anyhow in the environment you are describing. DX'ing? I've made quite a few contacts with Europe on 5w and more on 100w. FOld the arms and you could even make it look like a support for a fake plastic plant, so it can remain almost ready for use on your patio (unless you fear it "disappearing").
You've also got some pretty nice looking trees there. I know you said wire antennas were out, but if you are running barefoot you can get some thin, black or dark enameled wire and run it from those trees. It is very difficult to see.
There are also things like clotheslines, etc -
Not saying any of these are great choices, but usable, cheap, and stealthy.
Another thing I've seen hams do is invest in a good mobile antenna and mount it to their car - then run the coax into your shack and tuner...
Keep in mind that anything using traps and coils - particularly where they use small gauge wire - is probably not that efficient. Others can give you the details better than I can...
I think you can do a LOT better than purchasing most commercial options... with a few exceptions. And I would take word of mouth over manufacturer's claims to the highest degree!!! Also keep in mind that any antenna system is going to perform well to some extent if it is on top of a mountain somewhere! So keep in mind the frame of reference that other hams and manufacturer's claims are made from. I've heard almost unanimous praise for the MFJ but haven't tried it myself. I don't have that kind of dough! I've seen the outbacker setup at AES and I can attest it is a nicely made piece of equipment. I'd also trust Steve's opinion on the performance.
Last edited by AE2CS; 09-22-2010 at 06:59 PM.
Does anyone know anything about the chameleon vertical dipole?
Antenna in those trees is going to be the best option.
73 de Charles - KC8VWM
North American QRP CW Club #3159, SKCC# 5752
Unfortunately that's what I have to avoid.... the manager told me to take down my par end fed that was running from the side of my shed up into the tree, and she said that an antenna would have to be in the patio confines :-/
Originally Posted by KC8VWM