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.
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.
[pq] Stealth antennas begin with camouflage. [/pq]
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.
Satellite 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.
I am considering the 2 meter slim jim. When painting to camouflage, not for restrictions but to keep Cooper thieves away, is there any kind of paint to avoid? Will any spray paint work or are some kinds/brands that are better or ones to avoid?
I grew up in Waukesha, but now live in north Louisiana. It gets hot here, but I don’t miss the winters in Wisconsin. Studying for my Extra exam the local club is giving on June 6.
When painting the antennas, I recommend either a clear lacquer or non-metallic spray enamel. The Krylon Fusion line of spray paints are a good choice, although any high quality spray paint will work well. More info on painting can be found here: http://www.jpole-antenna.com/2011/01/04/painting-the-j-pole-antenna/
really frustrated.. New ham here. thinking about buying your dual band J Pole antenna.. Looking everywhere for how to mount instructions. All I ever see is how to build a jpole. Can you direct me to an article about where and how to mount. Some questions I have:
PVC pipe or metal pipe best?
How to run coax into house?
Can I strap pole to metal carport supports?
Lots of great questions here, I’m going to direct you to a few resources that can help you out. Many of your questions have been answered in previous blog posts, so you’ll be able to mine a lot of information by going backwards through my blog. But please check out my list of Frequently asked questions, as it will direct you to the posts that answer many of your quesitions:
Also, the ARRL’s Technical Information Service holds a wealth of information for the new and experienced ham alike, especially in regards to setting up a station.
I hope this helps you out, if you need any further help, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.