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800mhz and 20-176

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mrdinks

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Great place and a lot of info. I have been reading for weeks and have searched all the things I can search but just more confused. I have a few questions but will start with what I have.

I have had a scanner for 20 years and have carried a handheld for work for 20 years.
A few years back we went to an 800 digital trunked system. I got the wife (me actually) a new BCD996T scanner. I have been running it with the stock antenna for a week and can hear all my regular VHF / UHF channels plus I can pick up our 800mhz system that is 30 miles away. The signal is weak and hard to hear at times, I get about one bar at best.

Yesterday I went to Radio shack and the man behind the counter sold me a 20-176 antenna, a 50' RG-58 cable with PL-259 ends and a BNC adapter (stop laughing).

I got home and run the cable out the side of the house. It was getting late so I stuck a piece of 3' long pipe in the ground and mounted the antenna to it just so I could test it.

It pulls in some far away VHF signals great but I lost all my 800mhz (again stop laughing)

After doing alot of reading I know this is a mess but It made things worse so.
I know I need to raise the antenna and ground it.
I know I should have better cable, and I know its not the best antenna in the world but why is this setup worse than the factory indoor antenna.

I have heard talk about multiple antennas? can you hook to antennas to scanner?
Is it just a bad antenna? I have read a lot of posts about it and some have good luck and some just hate it. Again I am not looking for the best just a little better than the factory one

I know I can start over but I would like to start with the weak link and build until I can just slighly improve the 800mhz signal.

Lets have it, I have thick skin.
 

mrdinks

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I also read where someone trimmed a wire on the 20-176 antenna to make it work a little better with 800mhz? Can that work and if so how?
 

jack103

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Get rid of the RG-58 and replace it with RG-6 and use adapters on both ends you will see a huge difference.
 

W4KRR

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Your setup is worse than the factory whip due to all of your 800MHz signal being lost in the RG-58 coax cable. Like jack103 said, get some RG-6U cable and an F to BNC adapter for the scanner, and an F to SO-239 adapter for the antenna, and that should improve your reception.

You should also mount your antenna up a little higher. To start, get a couple of 10 foot sections of antenna mast from Radio Shack (or Home Depot, etc.) and put your antenna up there. Use a house bracket and attach it as high up on your house as you can get it. This, along with better coax cable, should help.

You can get a ground rod from places like Home Depot, and a grounding clamp for the base of the mast to ground it.

I would not recommend attaching two antennas to one scanner, it can produce too many unpredictable results, such as worse reception instead of better.
 

Grog

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mrdinks said:
I have been running it with the stock antenna for a week and can hear all my regular VHF / UHF channels plus I can pick up our 800mhz system that is 30 miles away. The signal is weak and hard to hear at times, I get about one bar at best.

Yesterday I went to Radio shack and the man behind the counter sold me a 20-176 antenna, a 50' RG-58 cable with PL-259 ends and a BNC adapter

That 50' of RG-58 is loosing a lot of the 800mhz signal (ok, probably all of it since it's likely weak to begin with) and the antenna is not best for 800mhz as it is (unless it's strong/close). You could stick that 70ft in the air and if you're using 100' of RG-58 it'll still not work well.


Better coax is always good, antenna upgrades are good too when you are dealing with 800mhz. If you had strong local vhf/uhf signals you might get away with using a dedicated 800mhz antenna.


I don't know the area, so I really can't advise.
 

CLTX11

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Echoing what everyone else has to to say about the cable.

I do want to say THANK YOU for using the "search" function on the boards and asking what you need after researching.
 

Airdorn

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Pretty much, get one of those gaudy antennas with all the wires and what not for VHF/UHF...

And get one of those little shortie antennas with that cute coily thing on it.. like the old car cell-phone antennas back in the day when it meant you were better than everybody else.

Switch to the big gaudy thing for the UHF/VHF stuff, and then switch over to that smaller one for the 800Mhz.

Choose the best cable you can get for that smaller antenna. But I think RG6 and its ilk should be ok for the VHF/UHF stuff.

Get em both outside and as high as possible.

I'm not an expert but that's what I've gleaned from the forums so far.

Good luck! :)

I don't have one, but I heard that Radio Shack monstrosity you bought is basically deaf around 800mhz. I won't pretend to understand how/why this is so, but I trust these people here.
 

mrdinks

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I had my hands on some better cable and the guy at Radio Shack put it back and gave me the 50' roll of RG-58 and said that is what everyone uses.
I aleady have a ground rod in place, I will get it in the air and run new cable tomorrow and report back.
Thanks
 

Grog

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mrdinks said:
I had my hands on some better cable and the guy at Radio Shack put it back and gave me the 50' roll of RG-58 and said that is what everyone uses.

#1, never listen to what the guy at RS says. 99 times out of 100 he'll be way off.

#2 just because everyone else does things that way, don't mean you have to :D
 

schillin

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I had an RS 20-176 with 50 feet of RG 58 and the reception on 800 MHz was very bad.

I upgraded to 50 feet of LMR 400 cable and a Diamond Discone antenna. The results are amazing. I can't tell you how happy I am.

I obtained both from a place called Associated Radio in Kansas over the internet. These guys are very helpful on the phone.....no hard sell.

http://www.associatedradio.com/

Anyway, ever since I made this change, this hobby has been a blast. I can hear 800 MHz from a tower over 30 miles away.
 

mrdinks

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UPDATE
Took the RG58 back to RS for refund and looked around for some new cable and could only find RG6. Then I had a thought, the PL259 end is the same end on all our truck radios. I called my radio supplier and said have you heard of LMR400. His reply "I have piles of it" so I said can you put PL259 ends on it? He said I will start on it right now. I went and picked it up and he charged me $25 for a 25' piece with ends!!!

Well I am home and changed nothing exept the cable (antenna still on 3' pole ungrounded etc) I now have one bar on the 800mhz which is what I had off the factory antenna but better than nothing I had with the RG58.

So I am happy for now, I have a new pole, ground wire, etc but it is raining out so it will wait till later in the week.

I will see what difference 10' in the air makes and let you all know. Maybe the next thing will be a different antenna but I will try things one at a time to see what works best.
 

W4KRR

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mrdinks said:
UPDATE
Took the RG58 back to RS for refund and looked around for some new cable and could only find RG6. Then I had a thought, the PL259 end is the same end on all our truck radios. I called my radio supplier and said have you heard of LMR400. His reply "I have piles of it" so I said can you put PL259 ends on it? He said I will start on it right now. I went and picked it up and he charged me $25 for a 25' piece with ends!!!

Well I am home and changed nothing exept the cable (antenna still on 3' pole ungrounded etc) I now have one bar on the 800mhz which is what I had off the factory antenna but better than nothing I had with the RG58.

So I am happy for now, I have a new pole, ground wire, etc but it is raining out so it will wait till later in the week.

I will see what difference 10' in the air makes and let you all know. Maybe the next thing will be a different antenna but I will try things one at a time to see what works best.
Going from 3' to 10' may not make that much difference, but you'll never know for sure until you try it.

My first outside scanner antenna (many years ago) was a Radio Shack ground plane mounted on a Radio Shack 20 foot TV antenna mast. Worked pretty well. I too started out with RG-58 coax, but later switched to RG-8. There was no 800MHz band back then, so it worked out okay for VHf and UHF.

If 10 feet doesn't quite do it, try a 20 foot mast, and get enough LMR400 cable to make it happen. Experimenting is part of the fun of the hobby.
 

Grog

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mrdinks said:
Took the RG58 back to RS for refund and looked around for some new cable and could only find RG6. Then I had a thought, the PL259 end is the same end on all our truck radios. I called my radio supplier and said have you heard of LMR400. His reply "I have piles of it" so I said can you put PL259 ends on it? He said I will start on it right now. I went and picked it up and he charged me $25 for a 25' piece with ends!!!

I bet 50' of the RS garbage was likely the $25 you spent on the LMR400 :lol: Good luck, and as has been said, it's all fun taking it a step at a time.
 

mrdinks

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Update Update

Well I got the antenna from its temporary location at 3' up to about 12' from the ground. That puts it at about a foot above the gutter on my hip style roof.

Well I am drawing in vhf channels I never did before AND I can see a second bar on the trunked system I am trying to listen to. Its digital and till garbled half the time but I will take it as a step forward.
Its also grounded to an 8' ground rod a couple feet from the pole.

I will wait till the wife gets home and see how loud she screams before I plan my next move. I am going to look at a new antenna but will wait a few months.
 
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