Welcome to the new FlexRadio Community! Please review the new Community Rules and other important new Community information on the Message Board.
If you are having a problem, please check the Help Center for known solutions.
Need technical support from FlexRadio? It's as simple as Creating a HelpDesk ticket.

Affordable antenna endpoint auto tuner for gutters

Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
edited July 2019 in SmartSDR for Windows
Hi, I'm in HOA restricted neighborhood and attempting to use gutters as my antenna. I have about 30 feet of rg8x coax feeding directly to a gutter downspout endpoint through an RF choke created by 3 turns of the coax through a ferrite to reduce CMC. The coax is not grounded currently and I see RF triggering my capacitance touch lights in my wife's cabinets. Grounding the coax shield near the gutter feed point seems to reduce the coax radiation, but it drives the SWR through the roof. With the coax ungrounded at antenna side (only on the rig end) the SWR is readily tuned using the built in tuner of the 6700, but I don't seem to be getting much power transfer to the gutters. I'm thinking I need an auto tuner at the antenna feed point, terminating the coax into the tuner, instead of using the 7300 auto tuner. So my questions are: 1) am I on the right track moving the point of tuning close to the antenna? 2) the SGR 230 tuner sounds great but it's pricey. Is there a less costly good enough auto tuner alternative for this application? Thanks Rick KG5PJB

Completed · Last Updated

«1

Answers

  • KF4HRKF4HR Member ✭✭
    edited February 2017
    I've found radiating elements don't work very well when they are laid up against an object (like a house).  Regardless of the antenna type, they work best when they're high and in the open.  My suggestion is to go with either a flag pole vertical, or a very thin gage end-feed long wire.  If cost is a major issue, use an inexpensive manual antenna tuner.
  • KevinKevin Member
    edited July 2019
    The Flex's tuner is pretty darn good. Gutters are pretty darn bad. I could suggest a whole bunch of possibilities but it's hard to tell what works with the restrictions you have.

    Is there any chance of running good copper out of sight of HOA COPS? Something you could hide along corners and edges of your home? If I were to tackle the issue you are having I think I would aim for something like an end-fed antenna or random wire with a decent counterpoise.

    But - as others will be sure to confirm - you will have to deal with issues of RF floating around with an unbalanced antenna. I use The Wireman 8232 or 8332 kit. I think it helps a lot. I place these where my antenna cables enter the home and at the feedpoint if practical.

    Good luck and good experimenting.

    73,
    Kevin K4VD
  • George Molnar, KF2TGeorge Molnar, KF2T Member ✭✭✭
    edited February 2019
    Rick, KF4HR is right about proximity. Even a little distance can make a big improvement. If that's not possible, yes, a tuner at the feedpoint is absolutely the right move. Sink a ground rod there, too (at least). I use an MFJ remote auto tuner. Believe it or not, it has been a stelllar performer for several years now. Get the highest power rating you can - even with low power, there can be some serious voltages and currents involved. Oh, and since gutters aren't designed for carrying current, they are probably not soundly electrically connected. If you can swing it, clear the paint and add star washers or anything that will help make a good solid electrical connection. Elsewise, you're looking at a short radiator and possible contact rectification and RFI.
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited February 2017
    Yes I can run an end fed long wire or coax fed dipole under the eaves of the house or perhaps over the roof. Problem in the attic is aluminum backed radiant barriers - not sure that will absorb or reflect RF since they're unlikely to be resonant.

    I could try a thin long wire in open space and see what happens. Not sure I want a flagpole in my yard...

    Hoping the latest HOA legislation passes to provide more options as ours has a "no antenna" provision.
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Thanks George. Will look into the MFJ tuners and interconnecting the gutters.
  • Lee - N2LEELee - N2LEE Member
    edited February 2017
    Good luck with fixing the touch light problem. I think you will find its a common problem with touch lights and even though my ant is 70 ft in the air, I still make our go off and on every time I transmit.

    So my point is working your gutter ant will help your signal but I doubt any change you make will solve the touch light problem.
  • edited February 2017
    Get a good antenna analyer. Then see what is going in after grounding the coax again, which you probably want. The higher swr may actually represent improvement. See what is based on radiation resistance (which you usually want to be high) and reactance (which you want to be low plus or minus getting your 50 ohm match at the rig.) And yes, make sure the gutters are well connected so that breezes don't change your antenna. You may want to do this even if you deploy some other antenna because the gutters may couple with it if you must hide it under the eaves in whole or in part. There is a thriving literature on this. Consult it.
  • Bob K8RCBob K8RC Old Guy Member ✭✭
    edited February 2017
    Something you also need to do is write to your Senators in support of the Amateur Radio Parity Act. Start here: https://arrl.rallycongress.net/ctas/urge-senate-to-support-amateur-radio-parity-act
  • KM6CQ - DanKM6CQ - Dan Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
    Make sure you get it right. We had one of those lamps 30 years ago by my wifes side of the bed. I had the NCX5 really glowing at 1 am in the morning, headphones on, 40 meter CW just having a great time. The door flew open, it was the YL. She was not romantic, or understanding.

    Dan
  • Dan -- KC4GODan -- KC4GO Member
    edited March 2018
    SGC-237 used at my friends house same application.
  • KD3VK KenKD3VK Ken Member ✭✭
    edited February 2019

    Same handicap here and am using a gutter system with some encouraging success.  I use a typical 1:1 choke balun (dipole style with dipole leads on top and SO-239 coax connector on bottom) and carefully make good connections onto gutter.  I am fortunate that the gutter across the rear of the home is a single-run type (no seam) gutter split in two pieces at about the 60/40% point, where the balun is installed.  This 'might' be considered to be a Off Center Fed Dipole?  Single story house, so gutters are only about 10' above ground.  I currently have the downspouts isolated electrically and haven't yet tested including them. 

    Testing the horizonal gutter arrangement with Flex using the SWRPlotter6k.exe application from Ray Andrews K9DUR (look elsewhere on community for link) I was surprised to get 'workable' matches on most bands.  Of course you situation will be completely different, but I get:
    <2:1 across 12 & 20m
    2.7:1 across 40m
    <2.7:1 across most of 10m
    <3.5:1 across 17m
    3.0:1 across 30m
    4.0 to 2.9:1 across 15m
    3.0 to 3.7:1 across 6m
    7.3 to 5:1 across 80m
    (Forget about 160m!)

    The Flex6700 tuner is able to tune my 'gutter'antenna fine without a bigger tuner, or one at the antenna.  I have made good contacts with this system, even in contests.  Howerever, I did experience RFI once into the home alarm system power supply when trying 40m. (Like Dan, it was the XYL who pointed it out when she was trying to sleep!  I had the headphones on.) No action taken yet to filter out this issue.

    I only use a single common ground point at the Flex6700, but it needs to be improved with better wire & ground rods.  I am interested in removing the plastic adapter insulating/isolating the down spouts to see what changes.

    I am in the process of getting a 43' S9 Vertical (drab green fiberglass pole; LDG now sells it, the needed 4:1 balun and even a base located tuner) or maybe even the HyGain AV-680 vertical (painted w/camo colors) approved (hidden behind house and behind tree). 

    So, don't be discouraged because you CAN do amazing stuff in some situations with just the gutters.

  • edited February 2017
    Gutter antennas will work however not very well. We need more info about your house and property setup. I recommend to all with restrictions to use an inverted L . Using a 2 wires at 68 feet one along the ground and one up to the top of an eve then across the roof. Both wires go to a 4:1 balun to coax to radio. It is very simple and effective. Don't buy all the stuff you see out there just get as much wire up you can.
  • Ross - K9COXRoss - K9COX Member ✭✭
    edited June 2017
    I have a SGC230 for sale if you decide to go that way
  • ErnestErnest Member
    edited February 2017
    Rick,
    Here is what I did on a condo we owned in southern California.
    I purchased a used Tarheel 100A that was reasonably priced. And placed it 4 or 5 feet front the building wall on top of a 8 feet 3/4 inch pipe and grounded it to the condo water supply to the house. I ran the antenna motor control cables and the coax through PVC pipe painted the same color as the walls. And of course waited for the neighbors to leave for work and tacked the PVC pipes to look like a "pro" job. 
    I got await for more than a year with it no question from the HOA.
    I presently live in another HOA and CC&R home in Amelia Island, Florida. However, I handle this one differently. I went around and met the HOA officers and   board members; specially those that lived nearby my home. I became acquainted with most and made sure they knew about my hobby and invited them for lunch at the golf course and occasional home.
    After several months I approached them individually about installing a Hy-Gain 18HT vertical and without hesitations they all have agree to my installation. I convinced then how vital and helpful that can be in an emergency situation. 






  • Andy MastersAndy Masters Member
    edited September 2016
    I have similar HOA restrictions. I chose a MyAntennas.com 117 ft long wire with 9:1 Balun and mounted it on side of brick about 4 inches off face of brick using small lag screws. I have some shrubbery to cover feed point. It goes up 18 feet turns horizontal for 30 feet then goes through some trees in backyard. Neighbors have not noticed. I work 160-6 meters on it. Not setting world on fire but talking. Same issue though with cabinet lights. I use to CMC's one at tuner (palstar HF auto) and one at feed. Have 6 random length radials trenched in after dark. Next step to add 66 foot radial under house as a RF ground. Good luck. NU5O
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Thanks. ive been told to put a 1k to 3k ohm resister and 100 mh inductor in the touch light wire near the controller. Those components came in so will give it a try.
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Already done
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Yeah. The lights flashing still amuse her for now... It's the buzzing sound in her gun safe that gets her tweaked up!
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Good to know. Thx!
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Thanks. Will try adding the balun.
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Great idea. Thanks!
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Sounds like a good plan.
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited July 2019
    How do you determine which ratio of balun required with the long wire? Using antenna analyzer or what?
  • KevinKevin Member
    edited December 2016
    What's buzzing in the gun safe? You have to be careful with ray guns and RFI! ;)
  • Michael CosloMichael Coslo Member
    edited September 2016
    Look for RFI from the touch lamp as well, either turned on or not. Those lamps are notorious for that.
  • George Molnar, KF2TGeorge Molnar, KF2T Member ✭✭✭
    edited February 2019
    Biggest benefit from the balun is the common-mode choking. Impedance transformation with this kind of antenna is likely to be pretty unpredictable, and low SWR may really be indicating high losses.
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Great advice. Thanks Larry.
  • Rick - W5FCXRick - W5FCX Member ✭✭
    edited December 2016
    Lol. Yeah she corrected me. The gun safe was beeping, like it does when you press the buttons. It's like a ghost is trying to get into the gun safe :)
  • KevinKevin Member
    edited December 2016
    Actually, the proper term in this case might be a current choke (or UNUN?) as nothing is really balanced in what we are talking about here. I use The Wireman 8232 or 8332 kit. It works quite well with my OCF and my end-fed antennas under 100 watts. On the OCF I have one at the shack entrance and antenna feedpoint. The end-fed feedpoint is right outside my window so I just use one choke for this.

    My other antenna uses 600 ohm ladder line. That requires a BALUN and I use a 1:1 DX Engineering for that.

    Of all the good answers you are getting here the one thing you'll need to keep in mind... what works for one may wildly fail for another. You will require some tweaking and experimenting to get things just right for you. A decent antenna analyzer will make this task easier and actually turns out to be a whole lot of fun checking potential antennas out.
  • Norm - W7CKNorm - W7CK Member ✭✭
    edited February 2017

    With 117' of wire, you can forgo the 9:1 balun and expensive manufactured end fed wire antenna.  Instead, invest and use a small MFJ-929 (or similar) auto-tuner.  If it needs to be outside, you can place it inside an enclosure or mount it under the eves.  You can also feed the power to it over the coax via a voltage injector.  If placed on the ground feed it against a good ground or set of radials otherwise use a long counterpoise if under the eves and it will do great.

    Try to shape your end fed wire into an inverted L if you can. Use very thin wire such as #26 vinyl covered stealth antenna wire.   I use 112' total from the back of my 5th wheel camper.  I have a fiberglass pole that takes it vertically to about 38 feet then the rest is strung out as horizontal as I can get it.  Sometimes it comes all the way down to within 6-8 feet of the ground.  I feed it against the frame of the 5th wheel and when practical I add a couple radials off the back.  Works great 160m through 20m.   Although it will tune on all of the HF bands just fine, I've never really used it above 20m. 

    To limit the noise as much as possible, try to keep your antenna as far away from your house as you can.   You won't believe how much quieter it gets the farther away from your house you get.  While you may not be able to use a fiberglass push up pole, try to place the wire as high as you can.  Through trees, shrubs, etc.  Some folks have used standoffs and mounted their wire to their fence.  Not great, but it works.  I've used #26 copper clad steel wire that has a very thin black vinyl jacket over it.  From about 50 feet away, it is nearly impossible to see. 

    Another antenna to try is the ZS6BKW.  Try building it and placing the center at the apex of your roof, just below or out from the peak of the eves.  Run the ends wherever you can.  I've run them down parallel to the roof line just off the gable trying to stay as far away from it as you can get.  This is nearly impossible to see.  The ladder line can be painted to match the exterior of your house.  The ladder line on a ZS6BKW is a matching section and not really a radiator.  You can run it wherever you need to as long as you stay a couple inches from any metal.  Under the gable is just fine.  This is a simple antenna to build and will get you on the air on 80, 40, 20, 17, 12, 10 and 6m. Most of those bands do not require a tuner.  The internal tuner of the Flex will work just fine on the bands that don't already have a low SWR.  Its also a very quiet antenna. Built with number 26 wire and it will be nearly impossible to see.  Solder the antenna wire directly to the ladder line and forget using a center insulator.  The ends can be tied directly to a very thin black string and tied off.  If you feel you must use an insulator, cut a couple 3-4" pieces of black plastic clothes hanger.  Drill some small holes at each end and you have a very light and small and inconspicuous insulator.  I've run 500 watts through this type of antenna for several years without any issues at all.

    At one time, I mounted a small auto-tuner under my patio roof.  The coax came in through the attic to the shack and the painted ladder line went across the underside of the patio roof for a couple feet, around the edge and across the top of the roof to the center line of the house.  It then ran straight up to the apex of the roof.  Antenna wires paralleled the roof line from the peak to the lower edges.   I had 2 sets of small standoffs.  During the day, the wires were terminated close to the house, at night, I moved them away from the house in into the open to get a little better performance.   Not the greatest, but it worked fairly well and this is with a single story home where the apex is only about 18' up.   A two story home would work even better.

    That black number 26 antenna wire is really hard to see.  Especially if there are trees or something in the background but even in the open with sky as the background, it is nearly impossible to see unless you know exactly what your looking for.

    Nearly every antenna is a compromise especially when you have to hide them.  With a little ingenuity you can build a fairly efficient, quiet and stealthy antenna.

    Norm - W7CK

Leave a Comment

Rich Text Editor. To edit a paragraph's style, hit tab to get to the paragraph menu. From there you will be able to pick one style. Nothing defaults to paragraph. An inline formatting menu will show up when you select text. Hit tab to get into that menu. Some elements, such as rich link embeds, images, loading indicators, and error messages may get inserted into the editor. You may navigate to these using the arrow keys inside of the editor and delete them with the delete or backspace key.