How to get on the air from an apartment or HOA property

A recent conversation with a ham returning to the area led to the discussion of HF Radio and living in an apartment or an HOA (Home Owner Association).  These living situations can pose a challenge for amateur radio enthusiasts due to space limitations and rules. However, there are still several good antenna options available for HF operations some of this may be permanent and may be temporarily setup on a per use basis.  Products and manufacturers mentioned in this areticle are not recommendations, just easy to find examples of that type of antenna.

Magnetic Loop Antennas:

These antennas are compact and can be placed indoors on a table or shelf. They are most effective on higher bands like 20 meters and above. Examples can be found at Chameleon Antennas, AlexLoop, and others using a simple internet search. These can be relatively inexpensive, homebrew, or extravagantly expensive.  They are easy to set up. However, they are not as efficient as other antenna types and may not be suitable for all bands, as well as may have power limitations.

End-Fed Half-Wave Antennas:

These antennas are a good compromise between size and performance. They can be hung from a balcony or window (perhaps covertly) and can be used on multiple bands with a tuner. They are more efficient than magnetic loops and can be used on lower bands like 40 meters and below. However, they require more setup and may not be allowed in all apartment buildings.

Vertical Antennas:

These antennas are more challenging to install in an apartment, but they can offer good performance on all bands. They can be mounted on a balcony railing or on a roof, if permission is granted. Image of Vertical Antenna for Amateur RadioOpens in a new window Vertical Antenna for Amateur Radio They are the most efficient antenna type for HF operations. However, they are also the most visible and may not be allowed in all apartment buildings.

Mobile Antennas:  

Many HOA dwellers and apartment dwellers choose to use mobile antennas on their vehicle.  Some run coax to the vehicle mounted antenna.  There are also some situations of using mobile antennas mounted to balcony rails or other mounting options and adding radials/counterpoises on balconies to good effect.

Indoor antennas:

There are a few small antennas that can be used indoors, but they will generally have lower performance than the options listed above.  Others have placed dipoles along the wall/ceiling line for some of the shorter wavelength hf bands.

Portable antennas:

There are a number of portable antennas that can be used for HF operations, but they are typically only suitable for temporary use.

Important Considerations:

Before installing any antenna, it is important to check your apartment building's rules and regulations. Some buildings may have restrictions on antenna use. It is also important to be mindful of your neighbors and to choose an antenna that will not cause interference with their electronic devices. Finally, it is important to remember that no antenna is perfect, and you may need to experiment with different options to find one that works best for you. I hope this helps!


It gets back to put RF into some wire, or metal pole and try to make contacts.  You will be amazed the contacts you can make!




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