Home owner antenna woes

Home Owners Association and Body Corporate Woes. By Tony Boddy VK6DQ November 2020.

I have been lucky. Always had my own place or lived in places where I could put up antennas. There was never a Home Owner’s Association or a Body Corporate to put the mokkers on antennas for me. Mind you just for the hell of it I have used almost everything as an antenna just to prove it could be done. Almost anything will work, it is only the efficiency of the anything that is the limiting factor. My first Antenna was a Windom cut for 80 meters with a homebrew link tuner. Used that for years with different rigs, it worked well on all bands. Effectively it was a half wave on 80 meter flatop fed 14% off center with a single vertical feedline. It gave me horizontal polarization and a dose of vertical for ground waves for local contacts. When I came on air it was possible to work from New Zealand into GB and the USA on 80 meters and I also had contacts on other bands except 10 meters. By the time I found out that the 10 meter band segments crystals in my FT-200 were only soldered in on one side 10 meters was as dead as a maggot.

My mentor Phil ZL3RH always said to me that the most efficient antenna was a resonant length of wire. He was right of course. I remember doing some renovations on Phil’s house where I came across some strange connecting points on the ends of brass curtain rods that went all around the house and some very small holes drilled through the inner walls. When questioned Phil said “Ahhh! That was my 40 meter antenna”. Apparently in his early days there was a certain amount of anti-amateur sentiment amongst the neighbours. Not to be put off the air Phil had joined all of his brass curtain rails together with 1mm wire that went from room to room through the tiny holes in the walls. Resonant on 40 meters and so invisible to neighbours was the square horizontal loop antenna that kept him on air and out of sight.

Problem solved for Phil, perhaps ideas for modern day operations despite Home Owner’s Associations. Phil would hook a little Atlas 210x into the top fence wire on cockie’s properties with his link tuner whenever he travelled. The tuner would match into just about anything. Another colleague lived on the top floor in a block of flats. “No antennas” stymied him but his back balcony gave him access to waterpipes on the wall and a crocodile clip hooked him up to the metal guttering via my link tuner and he was on the air. Later with the right invisible coloured wire and a self-tapping screw into the gutter with his own tuner he was on air with no detection for about 7 years before he changed QTHs. Bazz was on air every night. No-one knew.

It is very strange, non-amateur Jo Bloe HOA members can put up the biggest and most ugly TV antenna and no-one says boo. But stick up an amateur antenna and they all have apoplexy. I have seen some really big TV antennas on fairly long poles with the hockey stick and elements bonded together to make amateur radio communication possible. Not a super-efficient antenna but good enough to fool the HOA gestapo and get on the air. Things like vhf/uhf antennas mounted in dummy stinkpipes work well as do single element vhf quads made from foil glued to a window pointing in the right direction that can often get you into a number of repeaters. A good one is an HF horizontal loop camouflaged by the shadow area on the bottom side of a line of roofing tiles makes a wonderful multibander with the right tuner. Pick the right coloured wire and forget linears and overdriving. No-one will know you are there.

One of my first antennas was a 65 foot long wire strung up under the eaves on the longest side of my house. I had it up for months before the neighbour lady noticed it. “That won’t interfere with my TV will it?” “No maam, it is a receive only antenna and I promise it will cause you no TVI whatsoever.” Apparently she did suffer from TVI, not from me though. As luck would have it I was away for a radio field exercise for the weekend. She was really a lovely old lady but she had a problem which must be caused by me because I was an amateur. “Oh no!” says my XYL, “My hubby is away for the weekend but what I will do is ask him if he will have a look and see what is bothering you when he comes back.” That was the end of that, she never did ask for help. Unfortunately there was a line of thought that any TVI would always be caused by an amateur. We got the blame for everything. There was one amateur who got put off the air by a lawyer neighbour who had heaps of dough and knew exactly how to cheat the system. In the end, even though there was no proven TVI, my colleague was put off the air because the lawyer could always hear “Radio Noise”. What is “Radio Noise” I ask. Apparently the lawyer convinced the council that the antenna was generating noise all by itself.

And the conclusion is that you can use almost anything as an antenna as long as you can match into it. The questionable things are; can the HOAS and the like recognize it as an antenna and how efficient will it be? Bearing that in mind, experiment, try the most unlikely, impossible things for an antenna. Sometimes the most obvious is the place they will never suspect. When you, do keep your signal clean, don’t run too much power and don’t tell anyone you are an Amateur.