Limitations of Going Stealth

By Jose B Rivera - N2LRB

October 10, 2014 - Having to go stealth is a positive thing in that you did not give up trying to get on the air. Like a muscle, coming up with ways to be on the airwaves, improve one’s signal all while going undetected, strengthens one’s knowledge and ability to stay on the air.  But going stealth is a compromise. A compromise that might slightly or severely limited your ability to ‘get out’. Here are some of the limitations you might have to accept until you buy your own parcel of land.

Hidden wire underneath roof wall cover.How far your signal gets out.

Many hams have had to bring their antennas inside their apartments/homes/condos. Some with great success and some with limited or no success. I have tried this approach but the metal in my apartment building absorbs the RF so that incoming signals have gone from a 20+ with an outdoor antenna on the roof to 2 inside my bedroom. Yes I can hear the louder hams out there, but they are sometimes just above the noise. The outgoing signal is also absorbed by the building. So my signal did not get out.

But for those who live in mostly wooden structure, and or have access to an attic, you have a good chance to be heard. Depending on your setup you may only get your signal out across a few thousand miles, or the whole world. Or you might be limited to just a few hundred miles.

The other approach is to use a smaller, less visible antenna. Smaller antennas are great if that if the only option you have. But their size limits their performance. And small antennas with coils are less efficient. Again, if they are the only remedy left to you, go for it. But remember, its a compromise.

When you can operate.

Having to go stealth means knowing when to operate. This is true if it means having to put something out of doors, or out a window. It means that in such a case you can not chase that DX or enter that contest if your landlord or neighbors are out and about where they might see your antenna. It might mean that you can only operate at night, and or during times of bad weather when no smart soul will be out and about.

The type of antenna you can use.

When it comes to stealth operation you will have to forego that tower, big or small mast, beams, quads or a vertical. You might just have to use wire. Very thin, almost invisible wire. The good new is that wire is not a bad alternative. Hiding it is especially gratifying. Every contact you make, is a raised middle finger to those who would stop you.Wire is easy to hide especially if you are lucky enough to have a lot of trees around. Even if you live above the second floor, if there is a tree that is your height or higher, you’ve got a great shot to attach wire to the tree and work the world.

The type of equipment you might purchase.

Yes, you can buy a $12,000 radio even if you have HOA restrictions, but you may not get the most use of its feature. I would not buy something that expensive if I was restricted. So you may have to ‘settle’ for a low to mid-range priced radio. Or you may choose to forego going stealth at home and buy something for portable use. Like the MFJ CW only one band transceivers or the old stanby the Yaesu FT-817.

Where you can operate.

Some folks are so restricted from putting out an antenna that they choose to work portable, out of doors or from some other location than your home. You might have a cabin in the woods, or a mobile station in your car, where no HOA can tell you what to do. Alternatively you can still operate from your home if you use your internet connect and remote hardware to operate a radio with antennas from another locaitons (a family home, friends home, or organization which you belong too.).  Operating remote is a great option. Your equipment is in your home and at a location where antennas are not a problem.

Advice.

Whatever you do, Don’t Give UP! You earned your privileges and no amount of restrictions by others should sway you from getting on the air. The more things you try, the closer you get to a great solution and the better your receive and transmit signals will be. First, do something to get on the air. Then try different things (antennas) until you get to the best solution possible given your situation and lastly improve on the best solution you have. Tweak, then tweak until you are more than happy with your signal.  Never give up, never give in. 73 from N2LRB

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