I was asked the question: ‘what antenna would you recommend for use on typical hotel/apartment/condo balcony?’
Here are the replies:
For a portable I have two wires that are center loaded. Each wire consists of two-8ft-6in wires with a center coil consisting of 20 turns of wire on a 1-1/12 in PVC pipe form about 3 inches long. It is fed with 300 ohm line and a tuner.
For your balcony you can hang one out the balcony and lay the other on the floor, hang it as a vertical dipole if you can get it to the upper balcony, or even string or snake it out on the floor of the room (both legs).
It tunes up nice on 40M and 20M. Quite versatile and compact to carry.
For portable operation, I use 2 (Hamstick) Mobile Antennas with an adapter to configure them as a loaded dipole.
Mine are for 40M. This setup with an ATU allows me to work 40 & 20 Meters.
I use a Camera Tripod for support.
I have used this setup in Motels/Hotels with my SW-40+, SST-40 or OHR Explorer for 20M.
I usually place the tripod on top of the Bureau (Dresser?)..
I’m sure this same method can be used for a balcony.
Rick – WA8RXI Taylor, MI. USA
Is light weight, portable and takes up no room! That’s right, a dipole! There are all kinds of trick ways of putting it up, both inside and outside. The best is what ever you can get away with! I have taken a closet pole out for a center mast and run the antenna wily nilly up down , back and forth and it works with some kind of cheap tuner! Open wire feeders OF COURSE! 450 ohm is best, but 300 ohm will surely work and at qrp levels even RG-174U in a pinch. Center insulator, a large shirt button, end insulator, a small sleeve button. what holds it up, well, mono filament fishing line is fine but string will work in a pinch. If you must throw it over a roof or something poke a hole through a tennis ball and use that! also works great if high in a hotel and must drop out a window. Much better than a lag bolt or large NUT that will swing and break a window at worst or bang and rattle in the wind on some poor soles window below you!
These tricks have worked in Hawaii, Florida and Ecuador for me. If I have room I carry a backpackers fishing pole that collapses to one foot long and extends to around 8 feet long. Great for casting fishing line through TREES and even can substitute for a center mast on a balcony!
The only reasonable balcony mount antenna is a either an end fed wire or some sort of mobile antenna. The end fed wire is the simpplest but is dependent upon a support at the far end. I do not condone just dropping a wire out of a window.
Almost any mobile antenna works in this application and someone makes a screw on mount that will hold it on a balcony rail. I have seen and used Outbackers and others.
A good ground makes up the system. It can be as easy as 5 or 7 wire rotator cable trimmed for each band or a 15 or 20 foot piece of wire and a ground tuner. In either case it can be run around the baseboard.
The best I have found for convenience is a Hustler Resonator set. I have a set of resonators for 15m, 20m & 40m that can either be run separately on the base whip or run altogether (similar to a Spider Antenna – only MUCH cheaper) with a $6.00 three-resonator adapter plate. If you mount three bands on the one base “stick” remember to tune up the lowest frequency resonator first and work your way upwards through the other resonators in order of increasing frequency.
The base “stick” is about 48″ long and the resonators average about 18″ to 24″ apiece with their little tuning whips. You will need a standard 3/8″-24 threaded mount (I use the mag mount from the car) to keep the antenna assembly vertical and the connector to feed it with coax.
Since it is basically a 1/4 wave vertical you have to either work it against a ground plane (believe it or not, a regular $3.00 “Space Blanket” with the aluminized side face down works pretty well as the surface resistance of the aluminized size is REALLY low – just a few ohms per inch) or if your balcony is up a bit you can dangle down a counterpoise suitable for the lowest frequency you are working. If you have a steel railing on the balcony that’ll probably provide enough of a counterpoise.
I purchased my set of Hustler resonators, the base “stick” and adapter plate from Texas Towers for about $100.00 for the whole show. So it turned out pretty inexpensive for a compact 3-band antenna. Of course it makes an excellent mobile antenna too!
Hope that helps “balcony operators” out there. 🙂
The B&W model AP-10 that covers 40 through 2 meters is made to order for balconys.
Mine fits in a med sized suitcase and lays flat in a plastic ZipLock bag about 8X10 inches and about 2.5 inches thick. Has everything in the bag including counterpoise.
73 Bill WJ5O
Read an article a while back describing a hamstick mount for balcony use. Hamsticks are those fiberglass poles for mobile HFing with wire wound ’round them and a stainless steel whip at the top. Basically this fellow took a metal electrical box and mounted a standard mobile antenna mount on it, and attached radials to it. Then, he put the box in a flowerpot, with the radials coming out the sides of the flowerpot. Finally, the filled the flowerpot with cement, making sure the mobile mount (but not the electrical box) was exposed and level.
Hamsticks here are about $20 US, so it’s bit on the high side if you are wanting to go multiband.
I suppose this mount would also work with any mobile HF antenna available, so if you ever do any mobiling you might already have a suitable antenna!
72/73 Chris AA9HD
I use an Outbacker TriSplit, which breaks up into three two-foot sections and tucks nicely into a small vinyl case. It covers all the HF bands quite nicely.
The problem is that you need a ground plane, of course. I’ve used a scrap piece of sheet metal (mine came from my uncle’s air conditioning business), but that is fairly heavy and cumbersome, at least for someone my size. It does work well, though.
72/73, Caity KU4QD
I have used a Buddistick (HB and CB versions), with great success and the antenna fits inside a carry on suitcase.
It does need a counterpoise of course and the mini coil makes it great fro 20-10m
I also use a inside loop fed with twinled
72/73, John VE3IPS
I have been using my 20m shorty dipole as published in Sprat with great success.
My thanks to the above for their input. I hope it is of use to fellow amateurs.