Ways for a 'no-antennas' ham to play radio

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by W7TCT, May 1, 2021 at 6:48 PM.

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  1. W7TCT

    W7TCT Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    While I admittedly replied somewhat blithely to Rob's (@VK4HAT) post about having all of his gear in boxes, it got me thinking of a topic to specifically address a common issue that seems to be growing.

    As folks seem to be more and more antenna constrained including no antennas at all (not even stealth), what are their options? Retirement homes, strict HOAs, and condo/apartment living may prevent any ham antenna* from being deployed.

    With backbones of the internet, wifi, bluetooth, and broadband, what can hams access to enjoy and enhance the service?

    Things like Echolink, RemoteHams, remote operation software to radio and antenna at a friend's house, digital modes such as DMR, C4FM, D-Star via a hotspot, and others come to mind.

    Thoughts? Would this be a good thread and resource for such a scenario?

    *I specifically call out ham antennas as our homes are now awash with antennas with phones, wifi, IoT, etc so "no-antennas" is very much an unrealistic expectation.

    N0TZU and VK4HAT like this.
  2. K0UO

    K0UO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Go Mobile or RVing

    73 from,
    The K0UO " Rhombic Antenna Farm"
    K8XG, KA4DPO, KB9BVN and 1 other person like this.
  3. KI4WCA

    KI4WCA Ham Member QRZ Page

    You are living the dream. I have wanted a Rhombic farm since I was a teen.
    I hope to work you soon!
    Echolink is pretty popular for exploring repeaters all over. I would build a small magnetic loop antenna and run low power
    with ft8 or cw or even ssb. I worked a man in a condo who was using an indoor small loop on 60 meters SSB a few states away
    from me. If the new cycle gets going QRP and a small loop indoors may become very entertaining!
    DMR is cool too I have heard. I currently use no digital modes but I know many who do...and they enjoy it.
    F8WBD, WA9FZB, KA4DPO and 1 other person like this.
  4. KA2RRK

    KA2RRK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yupperz, they even took the metal lever off of phones to dial.
    They were a good size that fit alligator clips very well. Although what happens shortly after that interfered with phones and TV's...

  5. W4NNF

    W4NNF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    You can have a lot of fun on DMR and D-Star with a hotspot. You can have nice ragchew sessions, join nets, do a lot of things. As much fun as that can be, though (and it got me through some boring days and nights when the bands weren't very active during the pandemic), most hams want a little more.

    If you have modest expectations, you can do a lot with a very modest antenna that can be used just about anywhere. Something like a small magnetic loop or one of MFJ's long-running balcony antennas. Or even some sort of a dipole indoors. Ideal? Again, no. But they will let you get on the air under almost any circumstances, and as solar activity increases just might freaking surprise you. ;)
  6. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page


    KA4DPO likes this.
  7. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    I can't really think of any situations where "no antennas at all, not even stealth" would be the case. Any conductive object that's relatively long will serve as an antenna. It generally works better if it's outside, but it can also work inside. If it doesn't work at all inside, that probably means that the building is shielding it. If that's the case, that probably means that there is some sort of conductive object between you and the outside, and the antenna possibilities of that conductive object should be explored.

    And even if no antennas at all, not even stealth, are allowed, there are probably some conductive objects outside. At the very least, in most situations, a TV antenna is allowed under the OTARD rules. Now, as someone will quickly point out, these rules do not allow you to put up an amateur radio antenna. You are only permitted to put up a TV antenna. After you put it up, you should hook it to your TV and watch it.

    However, you are not required to watch TV 24/7. Let's say you only watch TV one hour per day. You are NOT required to go outside and take down the TV antenna the other 23 hours. During that time, there is probably nothing stopping you from hooking your radio to that antenna and transmitting (or more precisely, hooking the radio to the transmission line, which would serve as an HF antenna).

    It's possible that your lease says that you are not allowed to transmit radio waves from your apartment. If that's the case, maybe you're out of luck. But that's very unlikely. So if someone's lease said "no antennas--not even stealth," this might be one option.
    KO4BCN, KC2SIZ and KA4DPO like this.
  8. W2AI

    W2AI QRZ Lifetime Member #240 Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    These are choices people make so they must accept the accompanying restrictions that go along with it if they desire to continue living there.
    N4CKC, WW0W, W5TTP and 3 others like this.
  9. W4IOA

    W4IOA Ham Member QRZ Page

    There is no perfect antenna system so most of us rely on imperfect systems. Hams like to bad mouth flagpole antennas but I certainly can make contacts in all modes if I want too, and even in the past 4 years I've made contacts half way around the world, on all continents on ssb, cw, and even the paint drying mode of ft8.
    Before that I've had a Marconi long wire, a 5 btv on the ground then elevated, gap titan, and a yagi 30' high. All are poopooed by the experts who say they're inefficient or too low.
    My only concern about a magnetic loop is the time taken in tuning. That's never been my favorite since I'm a bit impatient anyway.

    Moral of the story, if you want to play radio, there is always a way. And if your expectations are reasonable, you'll have fun.
    W7TCT and W2AI like this.
  10. K6CLS

    K6CLS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Web SDRs are a real improvement in RX for folks with high noise at the QTH.

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