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Radio operation from inside a city building


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I'm waiting for my Technician ticket to be issued this week.  I live in a renovated 100 year old warehouse with southward facing views of Jersey City and downtown Manhattan.  I have no balcony or roof access, but I do have very high ceilings and 10 ft tall windows at about 160 ft above sea level.


Up until now, I've tinkered with HTs including a Yaesu FT-60r, a Wouxun KG-UV9D, and a Baofeng UV-82HP.  I've done the replacement antennas including a Diamond SRH77CA and others.   The Wouxun UV9D seems to have the best receive and transmit with the SRH77CA, at least on GMRS where I can legally transmit, from inside my apartment.  


My goal is to do HF/VHF/UHF from one or two radios.  In addition to my HTs, I'm thinking of these options:


1. Semi-portable -- Buy something like a Yaesu FT-897 (used) or FT-991 (new) that's not a full size base for living in a shoebox apartment.  I like the FT-897D because it has the option for built in power.  But maybe these are overkill because of my height and safety issues of running high power inside? If I get this, I'd have to rely on the Wouxun KG-UV9D HT for when I travel or something else.


2. Backpack portable -  Get something like the Yaesu FT-817 and figure out something for an antenna that doesn't drive my wife crazy ("honey, think of it as an art installation!").  This would be the kind of rig I could see myself taking on trips and setting up outside at my destination.  Would easily fit in my carry-on bag.  


3. Boost the power on an HT when I'm home - I guess I could get a linear amp for my Wouxun, but I think it could get tedious using the HT interface for working.  


4. Software defined radio - I keep seeing stuff about the Elecraft KX3.  SDRs are very interesting to me being a techie. 


5. Pay for a repeater rig / antenna on a skyscraper in Manhattan that I can control remotely.  Somehow I feel like this might be more than a $5K investment, which makes it less likely I'd spring for it. :)



Thanks in advance for your feedback!




P.S. - If using an HT with accessories solves some of my woes, I'd love recommendations on an antenna or amp, whatever might make it more formidable for repeaters.  I don't want to be that guy on an HT hitting a repeater that nobody wants to talk to.  

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They are as scarce as hen's teeth these days, but if you can find one the MAHA MH-A302 Docking Booster Power Amplifier is just dandy for HT's.


144/440 MHz

Input 1-5 watts

Output 30 watts

FM Mode only

13.8 volt


I bought mine about 13 years ago to go with my ADI AT-600 2m/70cm HT (which has now died an honorable death after years of yeoman service). I now use it to power and boost one of my UV-5Rv2+ HTs.



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I've got a MTVA amplifier hooked up to a AVA in a Jeep...


What that translates to...a 30-35 year old 10 dB amplifier from a MT1000 vehicular adapter hooked up to an Astro Saber Vehicular Adapter. Of course that's a VHF only setup. Mirage amps (MFJ Enterprises) sells a 2m/70cm HT amp (I don't actually remember the TA on amplifiers).


I want a KX3...but they aren't um...budget friendly. Look up Flex Radios. They have SDR radios that may finally have an IP interface for remote site use.

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So after reading your woes about space and such, I hear these questions daily here in Hawaii. Between the space limits and those bloody HOAs there comes unconventional solutions.


First off... If your looking for a go everywhere do anything radio, it is by far the Yaesu 857. HF -70cm and in a much smaller package than the 897. Not legal on GMRS, but hey... You can't have everything. Although I did easily modify mine for my MARS work and it has continuous TX and Rx from 1.0mhz to 500mhz. OHHH... And it does 100wats on HF and 50watts on VHF and 35 on UHF. Another nice thing is it's a very sturdy radio and is easily mounted mobile if needed. I even have a buddy who purchased a second control head, and just moves the radio body from his truck to the shack and plugs it into that head.


If your roof has metal rafters, youre kinda screwed on interior antennas. BUT people are having GREAT success with mag loop antennas in small spaces. If your rafters at not metal, you can string an end fed wire with match box through them and actually work a lot of stations.


As to V/U antennas, we do a lot of mag mounts on metal pizza pans around here. Mag mounts on fridges, even sticking them on the top of window AC units.


Power amps are great on HTs, but the receive seems to not be as good as a mobile. As to the 9D?? LOVE mine. GREAT radio! Too bad it is not 95 approved.


My station is actually mounted in a gator box. Reason being, we have to move like every three years, and it makes life SO much easier. I will also take my gator box to field days and scouting events. So it is TOTALLY portable.


There is no limit to what you can do. The only limit is money. But that's half lthe fun in this hobby, making stuff work on the cheap!






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  • 1 year later...

This may be useful and inexpensive to use within your building. If you want a repeater make sure the Surecom is a duplex controller. As for the duplexer the Chinese will tune it free of charge. Very inexpensive.for everything, not thousands of dollars . Elevation of the antenna is the most important issue along with length and make of the coax cable. Duplex controller $80,. Duplexer $80, Two Chinese walkie talkies $50, UHF antenna $50, cable and coax $60. Prices are approximate.

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