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Old 08-14-2011, 8:29 AM
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Default Austin Spectra Scanner Antenna

After hearing a lot of hoopla from a couple of friends of mine, I decided to finally go out and buy one of these antennas. I can safely say almost a year later, I am glad that I did.
The Austin Spectra is a little less than three feet tall, and mounts on your vehicle via an NMO (New Motorola) Mount. The bottom of the antenna has a spring in case the antenna strikes a branch or brush as you're driving along.
The antenna is a loaded antenna to provide optimum reception from 30 MHz to 960 MHz. Austin calls the antenna design a patented SPECTRA dual cavity design for 450 and 800 MHz, and an offset fed antenna for low and hi band VHF.
I have the antenna mounted on a Diamond K400CNMO mount. Make sure your trunk lid or SUV door is bonded to the body of the car, or use a drill through mount or low band will be marginal. My SUV door is bonded to the car.
Scanner in the car is the Radio Shack Pro-197. I had previously used a small all band magnet mount antenna for the scanner. I switched to the Spectra and..

What a difference. New York State Police are on a base/mobile system, and receiving the cars can be difficult at best. I have been able to hear NYSP mobile units fifteen miles away with no problem. Performance on VHF has improved dramatically as well. Putnam County, NY uses different towers for dispatch. I am on the eastern side of the county, and have no problem hearing just about any mobile unit on the east side. Reception of west side dispatched is a little rough, but bearable.
I used this antenna on my cross country trip in September of 2010. The antenna performed quite well on the South Dakota VHF TRS System, with no drops in service through the state. Reception on 700/800 MHz in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio was again good, with no service drops.

There is one caveat with this antenna. The contact on the bottom of the antenna is somewhat delicate, and can be easily crushed. I own two of these antennas, and so far, no problem as the NMO mounts fit well. I suggest when mounting the antenna, tune your scanner to a NOAA station, and stop twisting when you get reception.

Bottom line, while this antenna is pricey ($79 at rfwiz.com, $99 and scannermaster,com), if you are a serious scanner hobbyist, this antenna is definitely for you.
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Old 08-14-2011, 12:05 PM
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Have had mine for maybe two-three years now and it is a excellent product! I agree, the contact has the potential to break off if if you're not careful with it, so far so good. Mounted with a NMO L mount on my Milan.
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Old 08-14-2011, 11:26 PM
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I had one for a few years until it go stolen off the car. it worked great. The low band reception was excellent and at the time lots of fire departments operated on low band.

I currently have on my van, the Larsen NMO-150/450/800 which works quite well and it does quite well on low band stuff. There are still some users on low band locally and I do catch some DX from time to time with it.

I also have the Laird ABSCAN at home on my air conditioner and it works surprisingly well, it's head and shoulders above the vhf quarter wave mag mount it replaced.

Glad you like the Austin.
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Old 08-15-2011, 5:32 PM
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I have to agree with all on this one. I've been using the Spectra for over four years now and have changed it over when replacing my vehicles. The performance on all bands that I monitor is great(I'm
using a BCD396T) and I feel that it's well worth the money.

I'm using the trunk lip mount since drilling a hole in the trunk of a lease vehicle is a no-no when you're
taking the vehicle back at lease end and if there is some loss of reception using this mounting type, I cannot detect it. One thing that I am sure of is...using a scanner in the car with the rubber ducky type of antenna is like throwing your money away. The antenna (whichever type you prefer) mounted on the outside of the car is the only way to go.

Russell
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Old 08-20-2011, 2:49 PM
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Have My Spectra running with my Homepatrol, wont use any other mobile Antenna anymore,
the center connector is prone to breaking so be careful, i let scannermaster know as well and if anyone has that issue tell them so maybe austin can fix it
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Old 08-20-2011, 2:59 PM
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I went out to do some DX listening last night. I started with my Spectra, then switched over to a Comet SBB-7-NMO on the same mount. The Spectra is good, picking up NYPD Citywide channels from 200 miles away, but the SBB-7 started pulling in stuff from Southern NJ, as well as NYPD Precinct channels. I've always been a fan of the Spectra, but it does lack a bit.
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Old 08-20-2011, 8:01 PM
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The gain on the Comet drops off outside the ham bands and I surprised it works that much better than the Spectra on public service freqs. The Spectra does the opposite, its much better at 160/500MHz than 146/440Mhz.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Citywide173 View Post
I went out to do some DX listening last night. I started with my Spectra, then switched over to a Comet SBB-7-NMO on the same mount. The Spectra is good, picking up NYPD Citywide channels from 200 miles away, but the SBB-7 started pulling in stuff from Southern NJ, as well as NYPD Precinct channels. I've always been a fan of the Spectra, but it does lack a bit.
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Old 08-22-2011, 8:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N2MWE View Post
After hearing a lot of hoopla from a couple of friends of mine, I decided to finally go out and buy one of these antennas. I can safely say almost a year later, I am glad that I did.
The Austin Spectra is a little less than three feet tall, and mounts on your vehicle via an NMO (New Motorola) Mount. The bottom of the antenna has a spring in case the antenna strikes a branch or brush as you're driving along.
The antenna is a loaded antenna to provide optimum reception from 30 MHz to 960 MHz. Austin calls the antenna design a patented SPECTRA dual cavity design for 450 and 800 MHz, and an offset fed antenna for low and hi band VHF.
I have the antenna mounted on a Diamond K400CNMO mount. Make sure your trunk lid or SUV door is bonded to the body of the car, or use a drill through mount or low band will be marginal. My SUV door is bonded to the car.
Scanner in the car is the Radio Shack Pro-197. I had previously used a small all band magnet mount antenna for the scanner. I switched to the Spectra and..

What a difference. New York State Police are on a base/mobile system, and receiving the cars can be difficult at best. I have been able to hear NYSP mobile units fifteen miles away with no problem. Performance on VHF has improved dramatically as well. Putnam County, NY uses different towers for dispatch. I am on the eastern side of the county, and have no problem hearing just about any mobile unit on the east side. Reception of west side dispatched is a little rough, but bearable.
I used this antenna on my cross country trip in September of 2010. The antenna performed quite well on the South Dakota VHF TRS System, with no drops in service through the state. Reception on 700/800 MHz in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio was again good, with no service drops.

There is one caveat with this antenna. The contact on the bottom of the antenna is somewhat delicate, and can be easily crushed. I own two of these antennas, and so far, no problem as the NMO mounts fit well. I suggest when mounting the antenna, tune your scanner to a NOAA station, and stop twisting when you get reception.

Bottom line, while this antenna is pricey ($79 at rfwiz.com, $99 and scannermaster,com), if you are a serious scanner hobbyist, this antenna is definitely for you.
Thanks for your input on this antenna-now I am interested in one for my truck. Is this the only "mobile scanner antenna" Austin has?
If not, could you give the model# or part# so I can hit up Ham Radio Outlet to see if they carry it?
Thanks
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Old 08-22-2011, 10:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ridgescan View Post
Thanks for your input on this antenna-now I am interested in one for my truck. Is this the only "mobile scanner antenna" Austin has?
If not, could you give the model# or part# so I can hit up Ham Radio Outlet to see if they carry it?
Thanks
ummmmmm......"Spectra"

Ham Radio Outlet | AUSTIN SPECTRA | MULTIBAND MOBILE SCANNER ANTENNA
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Old 08-23-2011, 12:26 AM
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Thanks!
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Old 09-10-2011, 3:08 AM
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Anybody tried listening to aircraft or milair on one of these? Is it useable at all for this? I noticed it skips both aircraft bands when reading the specificaions.

thanks!
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Old 09-10-2011, 5:29 AM
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I've had one, used it on 3 or 4 different scanners - and it works surprisingly well on civil air, probably as a harmonic on one of its resonant bands. Haven't had much luck with milair, but I'm not around a lot during the day, so my experience is kinda limited. However I have gotten a few flights coming into Andrews since moving recently, and I have heard Huntress on 260.9 a couple of times, so it does work...best regards..Mike
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Old 09-10-2011, 7:28 AM
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Default Another dealer

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Old 09-18-2011, 1:27 PM
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Thumbs up Spectra on Aircraft bands

Quote:
Originally Posted by Uplink View Post
Anybody tried listening to aircraft or milair on one of these? Is it useable at all for this? I noticed it skips both aircraft bands when reading the specificaions.

thanks!
Oh yes, the Spectra is fine on the aircraft band as I listen to it going and coming from work (I fuel aircraft at KBDL).

Since I spend very little time monitoring milair, I really cannot attest to the Spectra's performance on that band, but someone on RR that does monitor milair will probably weigh in with an answer for you.

I am very pleased with the Spectra as I have used it for about 5 years now, and in several vehicles, using a trunk lip NMO so I won't have to drill holes in the car. Great antenna and I wouldn't use anything else.

Russell
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Old 11-09-2011, 12:30 PM
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Thumbs up Agreed...

I just installed this antenna on my Tundra using the drill-through mount sold by Scannermaster and am very happy with it. I live in the Boston area and pick up Police & Fire west of Worcester easily.... Seems durable. Well worth the $120 (incl. mount).
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Old 11-12-2011, 2:15 PM
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225-400MHz performance with the Spectra seems good. I'm just trying to figure out why the combination of a Spectra & Uniden BC-996XT's Quick Call feature would not pick up analog 800MHz handheld radio transmissions from about 25' away in a low RF environment.
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Old 01-06-2012, 9:32 PM
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I bought one directly from Dick Austin at a Grove Comm Expo in Atlanta back in the 90's. Comparing it to the dual band larsen I had been using, the Austin blew it away. Had some trouble though with the thin tab on the bottom where it screwed onto the mount. I wish I knew what happened to it. I sure could use it.
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Old 01-07-2012, 3:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_gain View Post
I bought one directly from Dick Austin at a Grove Comm Expo in Atlanta back in the 90's. Comparing it to the dual band larsen I had been using, the Austin blew it away. Had some trouble though with the thin tab on the bottom where it screwed onto the mount. I wish I knew what happened to it. I sure could use it.
I bought mine in a similar way from another member of the Austin family (Dick"s wife Barbara) when I made a call to their factory in New Hampshire and asked if I could buy from them in person. She said yes and gave me directions to get there, so the next day I made the trip to N.H. and got a personal tour of the place, met and chatted with all the employees, and purchased both the Spectra and the Ferret. I have used the Spectra ever since, but the Ferret has been in storage due to us selling the house and moving into an apartment. It has never been used so I must be keeping it for sentimental value or something. Anyways, the Austin people are nice folks and easy to deal with and it was a great experience visiting them.

Russell
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Old 01-24-2012, 1:19 PM
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i have a uniden bc796 digital scanner. when in the house hooked up to an outside antenna i receive good digital broadcasts but when i put it in my pickup it cuts down on the reception quite abit. any suggestions on what antenna i should use in my pickup? thanks jim
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Old 01-24-2012, 1:32 PM
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Jim:

I am so pleased with the reception (both analog and digital) on my BCD396T using a trunk mount
Spectra that it's the one antenna that I don't hesitate to recommend to someone like you that asks
for a recommendation. This antenna really does it for me!

You did say that" when you put the 796 in your pickup, it cuts down on the reception quite abit."
Do you mean that you're using a rubber duckie in the pickup? If you are, then you're really losing
out in the quality of reception....so, again I would definitely put something on the outside of the pick-
up, and I am sticking with the Spectra. I'm sure you'll like it. IMHO!

Russell
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