What Would You Do? Antenna ideas anyone?

We purchased our condo before I got back into ham radio. Like most in Orlando, we have antenna restrictions. I can put up portable or temporary antennas but cannot mount anything to the building permanently. I’d love to be able to get on the air without all the hassles of dragging gear to the porch, setting up an antenna and then tearing it all down again. It takes so much time to setup and tear down that it turns a few minutes of operating into a long process.

Here’s the layout I have to work with at the QTH…

The front yard
The front yard view... I am next door down from the blue car
backyard view
Preferred antenna site is the backyard

The buildings run north and south and these photos are shot facing due north. My condo is ground floor, second from the south end of the building. Yes, that is a big electrical transformer box and a major underground feeder line runs to it from the north.

I’ve used my Buddistick with some success but it doesn’t like being so close to the buildings and the swr is higher than when it is out in the open. I also have run a doublet inverted vee fed with twinlead but the north south orientation is not very favorable from my Florida QTH and sends most of my rf into the two buildings. My W3EDP works fairly well as an inverted L with my 20′ Jackite pole and I’ve used end fed halfwaves as slopers and inverted vees but again the directivity is not favorably oriented. I have a 3 foot magnetic loop propped against the wall but it is not working as well as I’d like yet. (i.e. the outdoor antennas work LOTS better so far)

Thought I’d ask ya’ll for some input.

Any outrageous ideas or thoughts for  me? Send me a comment and let me know.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.


  1. says


    I’ve found my 20 meter C-Pole to be a great antenna for picnic table / QRP expeditions. See http://w0vlz.blogspot.com/2010/05/c-pole-antenna-for-qrpxpeditions.html Mine takes less than 20 minutes to set up and breaks down to a package about 5′ long. See my other blog entries for reports on times I’ve used it.

    If you could get away with a 18′ flag pole you might just run the loop up the flag pole when you want to get on the air rather than support it with two crappie poles.

    Niel – W0VLZ

  2. kmack says

    This might be a good bet. Looks like setup and tear down is simple, though I do like multiband options. I need to study this one out a bit but sure appreciate the input!
    Kelly K4UPG

  3. says

    I’ve always thought I’d use my MFJ magnetic loop mounted on a tripod stand in a situation like that. Possibly one of those TW Adventurers though you’d still have the setup / teardown problem. The loop would be small enough you could probably store it as-is. Setup would simply be a matter of unfolding the tripod legs and unrolling the feeder.

  4. kmack says

    Hi Julian,
    Yes, that’s the route I was going with my 3 ft diameter loop, but have not got the right capacitor for it yet. Think I may try a trombone with remote tuning but have not gotten to it yet. Thanks for the input, it is helping me confirm direction. The more input I get the better. :-)
    Kelly K4UPG

  5. says

    When RVing, I use a TrensWorld Backpacker antenna. Easy to set up, I can have my 100w station on the air, in under 8 minutes from storage. And if you get the one with the remote control, you have a multi-band antenna that works well, even for QRP. The antenna is about 8 foot tall, on a stable quadripod. I’ve never had any problems with wind and never even considered guying it. You could only partially dismantle it for storage, thus making setup time even shorter (if you have the room to store it like that. The carry bag is a little bulky, but protects the antenna quite well. I’ve made my share of DX with that antenna, even in very unfavorable conditions (crowded campgrounds etc.). Compared to my Cushcraft MA5B, I’ll take the latter any day, but I can’t take it with me… So this is a compromise antenna but it may do the job for you in your QTH.

    Amir K9CHP

  6. kmack says

    Thanks for the idea Amir! I will have to check that antenna out… new one for me. Sounds interesting though. Looks like you have a nice blog there too!
    Kelly K4UPG

  7. kmack says

    Pretty clever. I had not seen this one, but some of the other flowerpot versions were not so well done. Thanks John!

    Kelly K4UPG

  8. says


    That palm tree looks promising. Any chance of running a thin wire up the side and laying down some (thin wire) radials?

    Also, will your Condo association allow you to plant a flag pole? (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge!)

    Larry w2LJ

  9. says

    Hi Kelly,
    I too live in a townhouse and antennas are for sure a no no. The “condo cops” seem to be always out and on the prowl. What I did was two things, I don’t know if you have access to an attic? If you do I was able to put up a 20m dipole I only transmit 5 watts but that is loads to get my signal out. The other antenna is the SideKick from High Sierra. It is mounted out by my deck at ground level and is only out during contests. Yes it does take time to set up and take down antennas. I was surprised how fast you can get over time and practice. Mine is out and setup in under 5 minutes.
    Hope this helped some what.

  10. kmack says

    Hi Mike! Great ideas and encouragement. Thanks for taking time to write a comment! No direct access to attic since we are ground floor, but considering asking the owner above us if I could explore that option. I think a 20m dipole would work well up there. Too hot this time of year for attic work, so that will be a fall/winter project for sure.

    Kelly K4UPG

  11. kmack says

    Hi Larry… that poor palm is dying as the ground back there is way too wet and rots the roots. We lost another one recently. I do use it to bungee cord strap my Jackite pole to, but it is positioned about 40+ ft from my porch. so not quite a viable solution.

    No flag poles… doggone it. I think I could do a flower pot though. :-)

    Kelly K4UPG

  12. says

    Is that metal spouting? If you can load that up, it should work better than any shortened/loaded antenna you can buy. You could temporarily throw a ground counterpoise in the yard to get a better signal or run one through the house and connect it to the plumbing.

  13. says


    I have used 30 gage wire from my porch to a light pole. You have a palm that could be used. Antenna wire out the top of porch to palm. End insulated with short length of clear fishing line. I used the Unun from a 43ft. vertical. My new location is like that now and I tune it with my AH-4. You might have lots of QRN from AC box. Good luck and be stealth about it.

    Kyle N4NSS

  14. says

    I use an Isotron antenna “bungee corded” to the bedpost in a spare room here. It’s a single band antenna but highly portable. When living in an apartment building, several years ago, I would bungee cord it to the stair railing on the third floor balcony. It works surprisingly well for its size.

    You’re going to be criticized by most of the “antenna experts” when using this antenna but I’ve found it to be a very good “restricted area antenna”. I live in a horrible radio spot here in a valley at 600 ft elevation. I have an eleven story apartment building next door too. I’ve worked 30+ DX stations in the last few years (I only transmit 10 watts max and mostly 5 watts CW) with the 20 meter antenna. I earned my “1000 miles per watt award” with a contact to Bulgaria recently. I’ve made hundreds and hundreds of contacts with it.

    Despite all the criticism, I stand by the antenna when it comes to “transmitting in a tight spot”. It’s simple to use and quite effective, even with QRP power. I like it.

  15. kmack says

    Thanks for the input on this one. I’ve wondered how users liked that Isotron. Looks like modern art too! :-)

    People made fun of the aluminum foil on the rabbit ears too, but it worked well, eh? Hope to work you on the air soon.

    Kelly K4UPG PB #173

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