How to Mount a Ham Radio Antenna on an Urban Rooftop

If you live in a city it can be tricky to use a big ham radio antenna, but Becky Stern's guide explains the process.

Cameron Coward
14 days agoCommunication

Ham radio, or amateur radio, has been a hobby almost as long as radio itself has existed, and it remains popular today. The communication itself is only part of the appeal of ham radio. You can, after all, quite easily use a telephone or the internet to talk to people anywhere on Earth. But ham radio is fun because it lets you use cool equipment and learn about interesting operating principles. If you live in an urban environment it can be tricky to use a big antenna, but Becky Stern has a tutorial explaining how you can mount one on an apartment building rooftop.

Before you do anything else, you need to check your local laws and ordinances in order to determine if you’re even allowed to do this. Ham radio is subject FCC (Federal Communications Commission) regulations in the United States, and every country has their own rules. Assuming you’re complying with your local laws, you’ll also need to get permission from the building’s owner to mount your antenna on the roof. Hopefully they’ll be accommodating, but there are many reasons why the property owner may not want you messing around with equipment up on the roof.

Both Stern and her friend David mounted antennas on their roofs, so you can see how to handle a couple of different scenarios. At David’s place they had to mount the antenna themselves. At Stern's place they were able to take advantage of an old unused analog TV antenna pole. Aside from mounting the antenna, the rest of the process is pretty much identical. You’ll setup the antenna and run a coax cable down to your apartment. It is incredibly important that you use a lightning arrestor and ground everything properly in order to avoid potentially dangerous lightning strikes. Those won’t just damage your equipment — they could kill someone or cause serious property damage. After triple checking that everything is wired safely, you can connect your radio and enjoy the expanded range!

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