Indoor VHF antennas vary based on band and mode. VHF bands are difficult because the frequencies above 144 MHz are usually “line of sight”; meaning hills, trees, buildings, and whatever else there is between you and the receiving station has an affect of the antennas performance. The good part is that indoor VHF antennas are MUCH smaller than their HF counterparts.
Licensees on the Rise
These days you can buy a hand-held transceiver for less than $100 bucks! Between that and the fact that we are nearing the peak of a solar cycle, there has been an increase of new hams.
Most newly licensed hams (Amateur Radio Operators) start out with simple equipment and need only to be able to connect with a local repeater. In most urban areas there are plenty of repeaters that you can use with nothing more than an HT with its rubber duck antenna.
As you move further out though, you will probably need further help by using an indoor VHF antenna. In those cases a simple twin-lead J-Pole antenna will greatly enhance your success. Also, if you plan on using any kind of mobile or base station in your home, you will definitely need to use some kind of an external antenna.
What I use for VHF antennas
Repeaters are great for the new ham, but I prefer simplex operation (communicating directly without the aid of a repeater) with the FM modes. I also do most of my VHF work using SSB and CW. In my case, I live west of the urban sprawl so I need help being heard on 2 meters. Luckily, my apartment is oriented in a way that gives me good “line of sight” towards my target stations. In live in a corner apartment and my exterior walls are on the east and south sides of the building.
2 Meter FM
For basic FM use, I built an indoor VHF Delta Loop that I have in a window that faces east south east. The Delta loop gives a slight bit of gain over a basic J-Pole so I am usually able to have reliable communications with stations in the area on 146.55 MHz.
I use a Yaesu FT-8900 Dual Band mobile rig for basic repeater and FM simplex communication. It gives me up to 50 watts output on 2 meters and works quite well with the delta loop antenna. I don’t do much with UHF so I haven’t built anything for that band yet.
2 Meter Weak Signal
For weak signal work (SSB and CW), I use a home built 2 meter Moxon antenna. The Moxon design is a directional, horizontally polarized antenna that provides between 6db -9db of gain.
The antenna sits in a spare room with an eastern exposure and sits on a camera tripod so that it can be rotated. I’ve made several contacts with it that were more than 100 miles away using a Kenwood TS-700A running only 10 watts.
I use it regularly to join in on our local VHF Sideband net and have regular scheduled QSO’s with a friend on 144.220 MHz. I have also found that it even provides gain when aiming it through the building for directions to the north and west and for better signals south of me I simply move it into a room on the south side of my apartment.