Stealth antennas: Hiding your VHF antenna from curious eyes

At one time there weren’t restrictions or rules on antennas. If you wanted to get on the air, you went outside and strung up a bunch of wire. Maybe you were lucky enough to install a tower in your backyard for a vertical or beam. Before the days of cable television, TV towers were commonplace, so the average ham didn’t really stand out. But in the last 20 years the tide has turned. New housing developments were built around conformity. Neighbors and developers, forever concerned about property values, enacted rules written into the homeowner’s deeds that limits how a property looks and what can be installed or erected. These Home Owner’s Association rules offer significant challenges to hams living with them.

“ Stealth antennas begin with camouflage.  ”

Of course moving may be out of the question, but you still want to be on the air. How do you put up an antenna and still keep the peace with the spouse, neighbors, and HOA’s? You could work within the system, and the ARRL has a great book about antenna zoning that may be of value. But unless you are contemplating a tower and multiple antennas, it may be easier to put up a couple of stealth antennas and beg forgiveness rather than ask permission. Here are some stealth antenna ideas collected by fellow J-Pole antenna users.

Bruce-Bennett-J-Pole-Olympia

It’s great to see an antenna up in the air, but in a restrictive community this mounting situation may be out of place.

Stealth antennas begin with camouflage.  

In researching the subject, the common rule provided is to create an antenna that does not look out of place. a common recommendation is to blend it into the architectural elements of the house, or landscape elements of the property. A bright, shiny J-Pole may catch attention, but one obscured by painting will be less noticeable. Painting your antenna flat black, architectural brown, or OD green will help it blend into the natural surroundings. Pick a color that works with your house and surroundings and give the antenna a coat of paint.

Mounting location makes a difference

An antenna on a 30 foot mast gleaming in the sunlight is sure to attract attention. But will a short mast off the deck, behind the storage shed, tucked in by a tree or bird feeder attract prying eyes? As long as the location is unobtrusive and not easily viewable from the road, you’ll probably get away with installing the antenna there.

Hiding in plain sight

Two great locations come to mind with hiding the antenna in plain sight. One is to ‘plant’ the antenna in a pot with landscape rock to support it and run some plastic vine and flowers up the antenna. The antenna could live on your deck or balcony without a second glance. In fact the flowerpot makes a great base for the balcony mounted antenna. It’s movable, so you can leave the pot near the wall when not in use and move it out when you need to. Another potential option would be a quick release bracket on the railing, much like a flagpole, so the antenna can be deployed when you will be transmitting and tucked away when not in use.

j-pole, satellite dish, dtv mountSatellite DTV dishes are a common sight on most homes and are exempt from most HOA restrictions. Use the dish’s mounting bracket to install an antenna just above it. Make sure to paint the antenna the same color as the dish to help it blend.

Finally if all else fails, the attic may make a good location for installing an antenna. Newer houses tend to have taller rooflines and if you attic space allows you to stand, you could most likely install a vertical antenna in it. Since the neighbors and spouse can’t complain about what they can’t see, this may be the best location in a restrictive environment.

I hope these suggestions give you ideas on mounting location for your antennas. I’m in no ways an expert in HOA rules and restrictive covenants, but I do know from research that a sensible installation that blends will not likely attract attention. If you have any further suggestions or experience on how you hid your antennas, please leave a comment below.