Simple Antennas for the Amateur Radio Operator–a continuing series

Treating your home station as a mobile operation

Post #192

For amateur radio operators facing severe antenna restrictions, getting on the air can be quite a challenge.  I have several ham friends who live in CC&R and HOA situations and they tell me that putting a useful signal on the air without encountering the rath of housing committees is a major accomplishment.  Although my situation is not as serious as theirs, my small backyard, the proximity to neighbors, and noisy powerlines create another dimension of roadblocks to overcome.  Over the course of several years, I’ve been able to design and build simple verticals and loops that are easily concealable on my limited real estate.  Occasionally, I’ve used my mobile antenna system in my van (a low efficiency and low-q spirally-wound Hamstick used with a few radials) and my transceiver in the qth to grab signals on a busy afternoon.  I can use this hybrid mobile-home antenna system to get on the air quickly.  What if I installed one of my old mobile antennas on my metal roof, ran some radials, and attached the system to my old Swan 100-MX with some spare RG-8 or RG-6 ( with suitable connectors )?  I’d have a system that would work with a minimum of fuss and expense.  Why not treat your home station as a mobile station?  Thanks to Alan Applegate’s mobile amateur radio site (, I’ve been able to assemble a useful mobile station in my van using an old Yaesu FT-7 qrp rig and some Hamsticks .  I plan to get a more efficient Scorpion or Tarheel antenna system later, but, for now, the old Hamsticks will do until my finances improve.

A quick read of Alan’s site will give you all sorts of ideas that can be applied to your home situation.  Most of his antenna suggestions can be blended into your local environment because of their small size and easy of set up and break down.  Alan offers several useful paths to running your home as a mobile station:

1.  Use screwdriver  antennas from reputable manufacturers such as GS, Scorpion, and Tarheel.  You can mount these mobile antennas on a tripod and stick them into your backyard and control the raising and lowering of the antenna element from your shack.

2.  Spirally wound antennas such as the Hamstick can be used either as a single element monopole with radials or as a dipole with two Hamsticks and a dipole connector available from MFJ Enterprises.  I use a 40 and 20 meter Hamstick in my mobile operations.  Alan says this type of antenna, while useful, exhibits high losses and is inefficient.  But, if that’s all you have, make the most of the situation by using as many radials as you can.

3. Monoband antennas such as the Hustler, by New-Tronics Antenna Corporation, can be pressed into service if you weatherize the coils and strengthen the mast that comes with the antenna.  Again, like the Hamsticks, this type of mobile antenna is a bit inefficient and lossy.  However, I’ve had good results from an old Hustler mast with a 40 meter coil mounted on my garage roof.  I’ve attached two, 32-foot radial wires to the antenna, which improve performance over the conventional bumper mount.  Real metal bumpers are hard to find these days, so rather than tear up my van with a bumper mount and more metal bonding, I decided to reconfigure the metal roof of my garage as part of the antenna system.  As a stationary “mobile” antenna, the old Hustler system seems to work well.  As an added bonus, I can swivel the antenna down flat so it can’t be seen from the street.

4.  Bug-Cacther antennas from a variety of manufacturers offer another possibility for a backyard antenna intallation.  Alan’s article on this type of antenna is an enjoyable read with many useful tips.

Armed with this information, you may want to try an “in place” mobile antenna system.  The one I have on my garage roof does a good job for what it is.  Alan’s website is not only “dedicated to mobile amateur radio operators”, but is a useful research tool for those of us operating under often severe restrictions.  Just think of your amateur radio station as a mobile system without wheels.

You can be a part of this blogging community by signing up for our free e-mail subscription service or by tapping into the blog RSS feed.

Thank you for being part of our day!

Aloha es 73 de KH6JRM–BK29jx15  (Russ Roberts)

2 Responses

  1. Russ – Great blog. I just found your site and have added it to my reader. I look forward to your posts. 73, KD8PZO


    • Thanks for the kind words, Bill. I try to make a few articles a week, depending on my schedule. I can’t claim to have made any advancements in the “radio art”, but I have fun tinkering around with wire antennas and perhaps can help others with their antenna projects. Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii. Russ, KH6JRM


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: