Technical Articles

Antennas for HOA Restricted Residences

We hear the question a lot: What are good antenna recommendations for use at my HOA restricted residence?

Even if you live in a neighborhood that has an HOA, you can have antennas that are very stealthy and usable for anything from local UHF/VHF contacts to working DX on HF. Are these antenna options as good as a giant tower with a beam? No, but they’ll get you on the air and work reasonably well.

Stealth and Camouflage

The HOA’s main concern about antennas is their visibility. Are they too tall? Do they stand out? In their eyes, antennas are the wrong color, visually distracting, and may disturb the ambience of the neighborhood. If they can be seen from the street, they’re usually not allowed.

For VHF or UHF antennas, the solution is fairly simple. Since these antennas are short, they can be mounted at the back of the house where they cannot be seen from the street. A Comet GP-1 base antenna, at just over 4 feet high, can be easily placed on the back side of a roof and give you good 2m/70cm coverage. If you have a satellite dish, clamp a J-pole or MFJ 1754 to the dish mounting pole or bracket. Most will assume it’s for TV reception.

Do you have some mature trees in the right locations? A wire can be used to make a dipole, inverted L, or end-fed antenna that will be virtually invisible to anyone on the street. Usually, the biggest problem is hiding the feed line to the antenna. If the feed line drops down the tree trunk, it can be painted to match the bark color and buried until it reaches the house. No trees? Run it across/around the roof or on top of a wooden fence.

Some good candidates for long wires include the Par EndFedz antennas.  Choose from single-band models or a multiband, like the EF-Quad. The Buckmaster line of wire antennas provides high performance with “plug-and-play” simplicity. 

The Ciro Mazzoni Magnetic Stealth Antenna is fast becoming a favorite among the HOA crowd.   Placement can range from your attic to your lanai or on a picnic table or grassy area.

Hide in Plain Sight

One of my favorites is the vertical flagpole antenna. HOAs will generally tolerate Old Glory or the flag of a local sports team, but they may impose some height restrictions. The classic Hustler BTV series verticals are an especially good choice. A 4BTV will fit nicely into 21.5 feet of thin wall PVC pipe and give you four-band operation. BTV antennas can also be camouflaged with paint and installed among trees. Here are some instructions for construction.

Another flagpole option is to run 12 or 14 gauge wire through the inside of the PVC and tune it using a remote tuner such as the Icom AH-4. To tune 80 meters, you’ll need 23 or more feet of wire. If you want to run more than 120 watts, check out the LDG RT-600. The tuner is placed at the base of the antenna, and can be hidden with shrubs or a fake plastic rock.

A screwdriver antenna, often used for mobile installations, can make a stealthy antenna planted in a rock garden or among shrubs. It can be tuned remotely for multiple band coverage. Mount it to a pipe driven into the ground and use the tallest radiator you can.

Remember that all vertical antennas work best with radials. At best, a single ground rod provides mediocre results. A dozen or so radials should work well, and they can be secured to the lawn with landscape staples. Give them several weeks and they’ll disappear into the turf.

They Only Come Out at Night

Outdoor antennas are always preferable, but some may be too large and easily seen–especially those for the lower bands. Many Hams in HOAs choose antennas that can be easily set up for night operation and taken down in the morning.

TW antennas are complete portable antenna packages that include all of the individual components to build a custom stealthy system. They have both multiband and single band models that are approximately 8 by 5 feet and are easy to set up and take down.

The mini dipole combines two single band mobile stick antennas into a rotating dipole that can be supported by a pole on a sturdy tripod. Typical wingspan is about 14 feet and it’s fairly light.  Elements can be switched out for different bands. There’s also a four-band octopus version that resembles a large umbrella.

Raising and lowering a standard-sized vertical antenna for night use can be a solution for working 80, 60, 40, or 30 meters. With the help of a tilt mount, they can be in the air or back on the ground in a matter of minutes. A few words of caution: Don’t add a mast between the tilt mount and the antenna–it will make the antenna unstable. Good candidates for a vertical include: Hustler 6BTV, Butternut HF6V, Cushcraft MA8040V, and Hy-Gain AV-14AVQ. Of course, add radials for best performance.

Last Resorts

If all else fails, there is nothing in any HOA rule book that restricts what you can install on your automobile or boat. A quick disconnect fitting or two will allow you to connect the HF antenna mounted on your car to a run of coax going inside the house to your radio room. It’s not the perfect solution, but it works.

Other HOA Antenna Ideas from OnAllBands

…As the Rotor Turns

There are great benefits to having a directional antenna. Living in an HOA does not necessarily exclude you from the excitement of “swinging your antenna around.” With enough attic space, many possibilities present themselves. Check out this OnAllBands story from Dino, KL0S, on installing a rotatable, horizontally polarized array of Yagis in the attic.

Hitch a Ride on a Satellite  

Great fun can be had by doing satellite work using the DUOSAT Handheld Antenna from EAntenna. Just go to your yard or driveway and use the portable antenna and a radio to make contacts in the U.S. and even work DX. Nothing has to be permanently mounted, although you could do that in an attic or as a non-descript egg beater antenna outside.

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