2m Transmitting from Apartment

Discussion in 'VHF/UHF - 50Mhz and Beyond' started by KJ7ODR, Jun 7, 2020.

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  1. KJ7ODR

    KJ7ODR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello everyone, I just recently got into this hobby and got my ty technician license a couple weeks ago. The rig I am using is a Yaesu HT (FT-70Dr) with 5 watt output. I don’t have any problems picking up transmissions from the local repeaters, but I am having a terrible time making it into the repeaters with reports saying that my volume is extremely low, or not clear enough to pick up on. I recently built a J-pole antenna with low (1:1.3) SWR on the frequencies I want to use, without considerable improvement.

    I live in an apartment in a fairly urban suburb with lots of buildings and trees around. I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions on how I could improve my signal to better hit the local repeaters?

    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
  2. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Welcome Theo!

    As a recently escaped townhome dweller, I can commiserate with you! There are a number of ways to try, which may vary in success depending on situation and repeater. In general three principles are: Antenna height, gain/directionality and power.

    -Have your antenna at the highest point of your apartment.
    -Many buildings now have aluminum faced insulation. Try near the window.
    -Build directional/gain antennas that are hand held and can be aimed. Follow dimensions and materials EXACTLY:
    =Cheap Yagi: https://www.wa5vjb.com/yagi-pdf/cheapyagi.pdf
    =The Repeater Eater 2-element quad, QST:

    -Buy commercial handhelds like the Elk antenna or Arrow Antenna


    -Buy a small 3 element general purpose yagi and mount it on a MFJ tripod. Manually point it as needed.
    A148-3s, new computer optimized. I have earlier version.

    MFJ Tripods

    You could always take the antenna and tripod portable for field operations!

    Power: MFJ/Mirage offers several VHF/UHF amplifiers that can be driven by an HT. Personally, I think the money would be better spent on a mobile rig with 50W output. You would also need a 12VDC power supply of about 10 Amps (get one bigger for later shack additions).

    Experiment, enjoy! bill
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
    KB0MNM likes this.
  3. N3AWS

    N3AWS Ham Member QRZ Page

    How far are you from the local repeaters? Have you programmed any required tones? Maybe a local ham can help you troubleshoot?

    73, N3AWS
  4. KJ7ODR

    KJ7ODR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the great suggestions Bill!

    I think I will try building a directional antenna, it looks like a fun project and might give me enough gain.

    Some of the closest repeaters are on a hill about 10 miles away but unfortunately I don't have a good line of sight.
  5. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Grab the radio and take a walk to a nearby park or open area and see if you have any better luck with the repeaters. See how your audio reports are and if they are improved.

    Welcome to hamateur radio!
    73 Pat K7KBN in Bremerton
    K6TEP likes this.
  6. WA9SVD

    WA9SVD Ham Member QRZ Page

    If he is experiencing low audio into a repeater, then the programming (i.e. offset ans CTCSS) ARE set properly. (Otherwise, the other stations would not hear him. (This is assuming [I know, BAD:( assumption] that the repeater(s) in question is/are using CTCSS. The question is whether he is just barely getting into the repeater (low audio, drop outs) caused by a marginal RF signal INTO the repeater, OR is it merely an audio problem. Oftentimes, a person can have (just barely) enough RF signal to trip a repeater, but the audio isn't sufficient.
  7. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    ^I agree.

    Clarify if your signal is so noisy it is just unreadable due to your signal being very weak, or if you're making the repeater(s) okay but your "audio" (modulation) is so low they just can't hear what you're saying.

    Big difference, there.

    If your signal is strong enough to not be mostly "noise" but they just can't hear your modulation, that's very different from having a weak signal. I don't have your model HT, but "some" hand-helds I have owned were obviously intended to be used with "close talking," i.e., you 'll never have sufficient modulation unless you're speaking directly into the microphone in the hand-held, from maybe one inch away. With my Vertex stuff, they're all like that. If I back off another inch or so, the modulation drops like a rock and I'd have to scream to be heard.
    KB0MNM and N7EKU like this.
  8. KJ7ODR

    KJ7ODR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I forgot to mention, i'm using chirp to program the HT and have imported all the tone and offset information from repeaterbook, so I am fairly sure that part is correct.

    Its not clear to me if its low modulation or noise, I was told that i'm "just not clear enough to pick up on". I will ask for a signal report.

    I have got another cheap (Baofeng) HT, If I listen into the repeater while transmitting, I can see that the repeater is re-transmitting but seems to be basically silent. Although I am not sure if this a valid test, of if the one HT is just washing out the other.

    Thanks for the ideas.
  9. WR2E

    WR2E Ham Member QRZ Page

    Probably not a valid test. The Baofeng is probably being 'de-sensed'.
    AI7PM likes this.
  10. W9WQA

    W9WQA Ham Member QRZ Page

    i had a home brew ant, so239 and 5 pieces of wire, you know. hang it outside on a string..
    in a tree, it'l get you out...
    once had a metal window bracket with so239 and 19 inch wire.
    hams find a way... get the signal outside...

    i also built stacked 5's but they had to be on roof !! my friend 50 miles away,2 clicks on my rotor and he lost me, very tight...

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