I would like to have an antenna outside for 2 meter VHF use but I do not want it to be expensive and I won't be allowed to put it up if it stands out too much. Does anyone know a good antenna to buy or build for this purpose.
I just put up a fairly hidden vertical dipole for NOAA Weather Radio, but the concept is the same.
I used a SO-239 socket and some solid wire from household Romex. That way the connection to the radio is by coax.
In my case, I soldered the vertical component directly upward, then soldered two downward components to the screw holes.
To hang it, I put a loop in the top of the driven element so I can hang it on a drywall screw.
If you don't have a SO-239 connector on hand, you can solder it directly to the coax.
----EDIT: If you want more than just a "wire" - take a look at this cool 2D groundplane for 2M that K7PEH put in the comments: 2M Ground Plane TNX
Options: Build one or Buy one
Assumptions: This is a home base station
Buy one: Example: this J-Pole from Arrow Antennas. http://www.arrowantennas.com/osj/j-pole.html runs for about $50
There is a gentleman here in Utah that makes them as well, and he charges $20
Make one: There are plenty of plans out there to make them. Such as: http://www.alpharubicon.com/elect/jpolejaden.htm
I recommend using RG-8X, RG-8U, RG-213 or LMR400 coax if you are doing a longer run. This will help prevent loss.
Stick with SO-239 connectors on the antenna, so that way your PL-259 connectors will work well with the antenna.
If you switch to an HT that uses an SMA or BNC connector, you can get adapters for cheap.
Visual Appeal: The 2m JPole isn't large, and can be easily painted to match it's surrounding environment. Mine is painted, and it works great!
Used to use a black DIAMOND NR-770HB on top of a sky blue broomstick (literally).
Barely visible from some meters away. The steel version will be more visible when new but maybe less after some time outside.
With this antenna I worked once a Corsica repeater from Barcelona (580 km / 360 Miles away) with a 4W HT.
If you have a tree or an eave where you can hang it, I highly recommend the N9TAX slim-jim.
I've been using one for years in the woods; I throw a line over a branch as high as I can get it in one of the trees I hang my hammock from, and I occasionally end up in random places where I'm maybe not technically supposed to be camping (I practice leave-no-trace, of course) and my antenna 20' in a tree has never gotten me spotted that I know of.
When my mom got her license, I talked her into one, which wasn't hard as it's about the cheapest worthwhile antenna I've found at under $25, and she's had great success with it hanging under the peak of the (non-metallic) carport roof.
There are methods to mount it to a mast or pole, but they are sub-optimal and usually not very inconspicuous. If you have a place you can hang it, though, it's very low-key, especially in a leafed out tree or against a dark wall.