Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Ham radio and the condo life

Ham radio from a city condo.......I have been doing it for close to 7 years now and it does have it's challenges. I have had great success with some cool world wide contacts. In Canada it's tough to get into the housing market right out of the gate so many younger ham's are getting their foot into the market with condo living. Then those ham's who are retiring and want to downsize are considering condo life as well. I am here to say that in condo life there is also ham radio!! 

Before we talk about the nuts and bolts of condo ham radio lets deal with some of the basics. I have always found it avoids condo board letters if you read and understand the rules and guidelines of your particular condo. Yes get used to it if you are going to move into a condo there are rules and expectations. What does this have to do with ham radio.........well if you are seen as a respectful owner (or renter) of the condo board, residents and property it can go a long way. For example most condo guidelines (nice condo word for RULES) do not allow "permanent antennas" on the balcony. This rule is yes for Amateur radio antennas but I believe the condo is concerned about the mini satellite dishes springing up or HD antennas. Just one of many challenges a condo radio op has to creatively deal with. In my case I have the MFJ 1788 mag loop and in my newest condo (6 months now) the antenna is portable and it not  "permanently" mounted on the balcony. In my humble opinion having a low key antenna is important. Having whip antennas extending over the balcony or wires making their way down the side of the building just invites a letter from you know who from the office of your know where!!  Like it or not we are all human and once this happens you have the microscope on you.....not a very nice situation to be in.
In a condo your fellow "condo-ites" are very close to you and that means RFI on your part but also on their part as well with all the unfiltered electronics on the market today. The positive outcome to this is you will become very knowledgeable on dealing with RFI. Oh and a word of advise.....I have read this in the past "go see your neighbor and suggest installing filters on their electronics" Up here in the land of snow and proverbial "thank you" we always say to apparently to everything......there is no thank you response from someone you are asking to tamper with their electronics. Rigs these days have excellent filtering and that are some accessories you can purchase to knock out the worst of offender.
Well that is enough for posts to follow I am going to look at RFI, power output and no as a condo dweller you are not a QPRer for life...........nothing wrong with that either!! What antennas I have had that work, some of the better modes (not just digi either)  to work and last but not least what happens if your in a situation were absolutely operating is possible, well I am here to say that you will still be able to get on the air in you condo on HF working DX!
Stay tuned.        



PE4BAS, Bas said...

Considering the challenges you face I have respect the way you work DX. It is "easy" with large beam antennas or wires high up. But with a small magnetic loop from the balcony is just as difficult as a antenna in the attic (you experienced that as well). I still hope I meet you on air sometime. But I guess it will be like searching for a SMD resistor on the street, almost impossible. I wish I had a VE3WDM magnet ;-). Good luck, 73, Bas

VE9KK said...

Good morning Bas, thanks very much for your kind words. I guess it's all about being able to listen and (when operating QRP) that your 5 watts is worth the try. Surprisingly often than not you make it through and get the contact in the logbook. I sure would be cool to chat with you on air maybe FT8 fast contact or better yet a CW contact.
73 Bas and have a good week.