Concealed DSS J-Pole - Hidden Outside Antenna
For several months I contemplated how to install an effective 2 meter antenna on my house. You see, I live in one of the many neighborhoods that have discriminating "covenant" rules against outside antennas. I considered sticking one out the window (horizontal), hidden in a PVC pipe "flagpole" and even running 80+ feet of coax to my parked motorcycle. While these ideas may have worked, each has it's drawbacks. I had to get more imaginative.
Outside antenna in a covenant restriction community
We are permitted to have outside satellite dish (DSS) antennas. Looking around the neighborhood I see satellite dishes everywhere. They are on roof tops, sides of houses, some even elevated on tripods and steel masts. Well, I happened to have an unused dish screwed on the side of my back porch. The idea came to me - install the dish on a steel pole, and mount a 2-meter J-pole antenna with it? The antenna will be outside at a higher elevation, and at least partially hidden by the dish.
I used a 10 ft. galvanized steel pole, 4 clamps and 2 wall brackets. I mounted the antenna and DSS dish on the steel mast, bolted the brackets to my back porch and swung the whole thing in the air. The dish is pointed in approximately the same direction as everyone else's so it looks "normal". After tossing the coax through a window I was all set!
The idea here is to have my antenna high in the air, in free space, with the dish mounted close by for concealment. To the untrained eye this should hopefully look like just another dish installation. If anyone asks me about the dish, I'll just tell them "the dish guy put that there, what do I know about antennas?". ;)
Above is a picture of my old antenna - an 18" poodle tail model, which was unceremoniously stuck to my window air conditioner. Performance was negligible, especially when the trees sprouted leaves. I could just barely hit the local repeaters, and simplex was impossible.
Below is a picture of the DSS J-Pole from about 20 feet away. I painted the J-Pole flat black primer to be as inconspicuous as possible. The satellite dish sticks out quite prominently, advertising it's portrayed intention. The old dinky antenna was about 1 foot below and to the right of the array (not pictured).
Here is a close-up picture of the DSS J-Pole. I used hardline coax since I got a good deal on it. The connection is "flooded" with non-conductive dielectric silicon compound to exclude air and moisture. The outside of the connection is coated with several layers of "liquid tape" insulating coating. The dish is real, and could be aligned & wired for actual use.
I installed this antenna on Monday, August 23, 2004 and it stood until I moved/separated in 2008. I still have the antenna and hope to reuse it someday.
08/25/04: Steve Uhrig WA3SWS:
Good work! Your signal into .775 is perfect, which is important because we need you. Remember, you're federally licensed, you've demonstrated your technical competence to get licensed, and are a FEMA/DHS approved member of RACES in what ultimately could be life-critical local, state or federal disaster communications. What homeowner's association would want to challenge that?
08/26/04: DOD (Dear Old Dad):
OK, I read your article. You failed to mention the most important part...Does it work, and what kind of performance do you get (if it works).
David Stansbury: It works great! I can hit the local repeaters full quieting, and simplex 6 miles away reports my signal increased from S-2 to nearly full scale, using 2 watts output. The antenna was tuned before installation and SWR tests less than 1.2 to 1 across the 2 meter ham band.
08/26/04: Scott N3FJP:
Outstanding job Dave! Ingenuity, creativity and innovation are what Amateur Radio is all about!