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Amateur Radio Antennas - For discussion of all amateur band designed antennas and related accoutrements. This includes base, handheld, mobile and repeater usage. For commercial antennas on the amateur bands please use Commercial Radio Antennas below.

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Old 02-06-2018, 10:01 PM
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Default Looking for mobile antenna advice - selection and mounting.

I'm a noob and finally got my first radio for Christmas. I will be using a Kenwood TM-D710GA on a 2017 Toyota Tundra. I have no idea what type of antenna to get and was hoping you can help me pick one.

Usage: I'm not interested in HF. I would like to maybe explore hitting repeaters in the area (San Diego - north county). I would like to be able to listen to emergency traffic (police, fire, etc.) for fun and lastly, for safety when I'm off roading/camping.

Mounting: I hate the thought of a wire hanging over my roof line so I'm open to drilling a hole in the roof to hard mount the antenna. Based on research here I have been told its the best place to mount an antenna. The downside is that it would have to be small given the truck size. Option B would be to mount it on the top of the truck bed rail. I would prefer to mount it behind the rear window to try and hide it. For the same reason, I prefer not to mount it on the outside body of the truck. Note: I have a Tonneau cover so inside the bed is not an option. My least favorite place to mount it would be the hood lip opposite the factory radio antenna, but if you guys tell me that's my best option I'll go that route.

Below are the antenna's I am looking at based on my research here and online reviews. Which one of these would you recommend? Do you have a better option? FYI, the size off the antenna would dictate the mounting I go with (e.g. roof or side **rail).

Maybe a stupid question, but is there an antenna out there that gives you access to all standard (not HF) frequencies without needed to switch antenna's If not which have the most range - what are the downsides of following this approach - reduced range? I'm asking because I'm so new I don't know what want right now. I'm worried I will commit to a specific frequency/range and then find out I need to buy another antenna.

Antenna's I'm considering:

Nagoya TB-320As

Diamond NR770HB 144/440 MHz Dual-Band

Larsen NMO2/70B VHF/UHF

Comet SBB-5NMO VHF/UHF

Diamond NR770HA Dual-Band

Tram 1180 NMO VHF Dual-Band 114-148 & UHF 430-450 MHz

Comet CA-2X4SRNMO 144/446 MHz

BROWNING BR-180 Dual-Band

Lastly, from reading threads here, I learned that the coax used from the antenna to unit is very important. What is a good quality cable you would recommend?

Thank you! KI6PKI 73
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Old 02-07-2018, 2:06 PM
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Go with the Larsen NMO2/70B VHF/UHF and Larsen mount/cable. Professional grade stuff.
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Old 02-07-2018, 2:21 PM
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I have used the Comet SBB-5 for over a decade without an issue. I use a trunk lip mount and it includes a pigtail to get into the trunk. From there, I've used RG-8X to run from the trunk to the front.
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Old 02-07-2018, 2:28 PM
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I've been using the Comet SBB-5 for a while and I'm happy. Mine is a UHF mount on a roof rack crossbar so I'm sure I'm losing a little but in reality, I've been very happy. The NMO would be the way to go.
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Old 02-07-2018, 3:33 PM
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Can't go wrong with Larsen!
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Old 02-07-2018, 4:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmdrwill View Post
Go with the Larsen NMO2/70B VHF/UHF and Larsen mount/cable. Professional grade stuff.
The problem is this antenna is 34.5 inches tall. If I install it on my truck roof it wouldn't last long
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Old 02-07-2018, 4:03 PM
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This is an easy answer, if you want to do it right.

The Larsen NMO mount in the dead center of the cab roof is going to work best. Anything else is a compromise. There's a reason why public safety vehicles mount their primary antennas in this place. The NMO is the industry standard mobile antenna mount. If you are going to drill a hole in the roof of your truck, then put the right mount up there. The NMO will give you the widest choice of antennas, which may be important as your interest in the hobby changes. Stick with Larsen, MaxRad, Laird, etc. brands.

Do NOT mount it on the bed rail directly behind the cab. The proximity of the cab to the antenna will reflect RF and raise the SWR and the radiation pattern of the antenna will be awful. You will be disappointed if you attempt to mount it there. It might "look" better, but the performance will downright suck.

As for antennas….
The Larsen brand is a known good performer. I've got 30 year old Larsen antennas that are still going strong, even with tree branch strikes, low parking garages, etc.
Don't spend good money on a nice radio then put up a cheap antenna. New hobbyists often overlook the importance of antennas and proper mounting. Cutting corners here will impact performance.

The Larsen NMO-2/70 is a know good performer. It's a solid antenna produced by a company that has been making professional antennas for decades. They stand behind their products.
If overhead clearance is a concern, Larsen makes a NMO-2/70SH version which is about 20 inches tall and will work well.

Skip the hobby/Chinese brand antennas.

Don't jump into antenna purchases blindly. Some will tell you that it's all about the gain figures. Gain is a way of focusing the radiation pattern of the antenna to force more signal towards the horizon. This might work well out on the plains, but here in California most of the repeaters and stuff you want to listen to are up on the mountain tops. Lower gain antennas work better in these sorts of environments. I'm in Northern California and I use quarter wave antennas for nearly everything.
Lower gain antennas usually have wider usable bandwidth which can work in your favor, also.

A properly installed NMO mount will outlast your truck. They won't leak and they won't lower trade in value. It will work better than anything else. A high quality antenna will last just as long. And, as anybody that has been in the industry a while will tell you, the antenna is the most important part of your setup. Don't get distracted by fancy packaging or false claims. Put the money into a proper antenna and mount and you'll be happy.
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Old 02-07-2018, 4:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by belvdr View Post
I have used the Comet SBB-5 for over a decade without an issue. I use a trunk lip mount and it includes a pigtail to get into the trunk. From there, I've used RG-8X to run from the trunk to the front.
Same thing with the comet. It looks like a great antenna, but I would need to install it on the hood then because it would be too high for the roof at 38 inches.
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Old 02-07-2018, 4:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noblewill View Post
Lastly, from reading threads here, I learned that the coax used from the antenna to unit is very important. What is a good quality cable you would recommend?
The NMO mounts will usually come with the coax installed. RG-58 is just fine for mobile amateur radio use.

The trick is to use just the amount of cable you need. Don't leave excess cable tucked away. Run the cable to your radio and leave a few inches slack. Cut it to length and install a proper connector.
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Old 02-07-2018, 4:49 PM
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Good afternoon and welcome to the hobby.

You are off to a great start because you are willing to drill a hole in new sheet metal. If your truck is a 2 door standard cab, install your first antenna mount as close to the middle of the roof as you can bear. (A short cab may look odd if the antenna is too far forward.) Use a good quality Larsen or other commercial mount of the NMO type. This will allow you to easily switch out antennas as needed. Later, you can squeeze in a second mount for UHF/800 a few inches from the trailing edge of the roof.
With your NMO platform on the roof, you can try various bought or borrowed antennas to decide what works the best for you.

For urban use, my favorite is the Diamond NR72BNMO. It's only 14" tall, so it can fly in some parking structures. On top of your full size truck, it will "see" over most of the traffic nearby, enabling you to chat with your walkie talkie buddies on simplex. Hilltop repeaters will likely be within easy reach also.

Out in the country, I use various Larsen antennas in the NMO150 series. These single band, base loaded antennas serve well for VHF simplex work on amateur and commercial frequencies such as the off-road "race" channels. Their NMO27 serves well for CB use. Off-road, the base loaded design keeps the vibrating mass low while the slender whip section slips through low hanging branches.

You can "rain" cap your NMO mount when you would like to draw less attention from those who might envy your equipment.

Two of two Comet branded antennas I own have failed (mechanically) in service.
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Old 02-07-2018, 6:45 PM
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About 19 inches. Larsen NMO2/70SH or Comtelco A-1531 work well on top, and have springs so they just bend over if they encounter something. Both are commercial grade.
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Old 02-07-2018, 7:20 PM
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Go with the Larsen NMO270B
.....
And the supplied rg58 is perfectly fine
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Old 02-08-2018, 7:42 AM
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Take a look at the Larson 2/70SH i have this antenna on my F150 Ford Pickup its only 19 inches long works very well......
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Old 02-08-2018, 2:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kb5zcs View Post
Take a look at the Larson 2/70SH i have this antenna on my F150 Ford Pickup its only 19 inches long works very well......
Did you mount yours on the roof of your F150?
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Old 02-08-2018, 2:18 PM
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Thank you for all the great information. How much reception would I lose if I mounted the antenna on the front left hood lip as opposed to the roof? I'm starting to get cold feet about putting it in the middle of the roof because of its such prime real estate (FYI, I have a crew max). I was thinking, what if I want to install a roof rack later? Also, I like the idea of the short Larsen (NMO2/70SH), but based on others comments it appears the original longer version of this antenna (NMO2/70B) significantly outperforms the short version. So now I'm thinking is it better to go with the long version mounted on my hood or the short version mounted on my roof.
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Old 02-08-2018, 2:19 PM
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Got it thank you.
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Old 02-08-2018, 2:37 PM
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Thanks. I like the idea of the spring. I'm now trying to decide between the NMO2/70SH on the roof or the NMO2/70B on the hood lip.
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Old 02-08-2018, 2:45 PM
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Thanks for the info. would the Larsen NR72BNMO or NMO2/70SH have the same capabilities as the NMO150 series you mentioned? I'm leaning to one of these with a Larsen NMO mount based on everyone's feedback. Although I like the side of the Diamond NR72BNMO you mentioned for roof mount.

FY, I have a Crew Max (large rear doors). Should I still mount it in the center of the cab if I go with roof mount?
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Old 02-08-2018, 3:04 PM
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I've used the Comet CA-2X4SRNMO 144/446 MHz antenna on a mag mount for a couple years with no problems. I now have it in the house and use it as my omnidirectional antenna for the mobile/base. The specs are what attracted me to it. It is a 5/8 wave on 2 meters providing 3.8 dB gain and a 5/8 wave on 440 MHz providing 6.2 dB gain. VSWR 1.5 : 1 or less.
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Old 02-08-2018, 8:22 PM
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Have your checked Eham? eHam.net Reviews - Antennas: VHF/UHF+ Omnidirectional: verticals, mobile, etc I prefer my Comet CA-2x4SR to my Larsen NMO150. I use it on my scanner too. I have a high van and have no problems. I mag mount it a little toward the passenger side so I can go through drive-throughs. I've knocked it over a few times but it's still ok.
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Last edited by scanmanmi; 02-08-2018 at 8:40 PM..
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