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Cable type and length

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mjbjr

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#1
I am running a pro 197 and really think i need my antenna outside (Im in an apartment). But no clue of what cables are and consist of. I probably need at most 40-50 feet to get it from my scanner to outside antenna. I can possibly move the computer and scanner closer to the exterior if it needs to be. Any help is greatly appreciated.
 

popnokick

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That mobile antenna intended for use on a vehicle is going to be a disappointment unless you have a large metal surface to stick it to outdoors, e.g. an air conditioner, metal roof, or other metal plate. Looking at the Macon GA area it appears you are going to want to be able to receive VHF Hi, UHF, and 800 Mhz systems (post in the GA forum here on RR to confirm). That means the conversion kit from Tram that will turn the Tram 1094 into a base antenna is not going to help as the radials in the kit are only for VHF Hi-band. You're looking at spending more money if you buy an antenna to handle all those frequencies (e.g. discone, DPD Omni-X, etc.).... or making something yourself.
 

Aeroiki

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I use a disk cone (Diamond?) connected with 40 feet of LMR-400 for local reception. I had used RG-58U, but decided to try an upgrade, especially for 800 MHz stuff. It made a noticeable difference, so now recommend LMR-400 or RG-8U. That stuff is very stiff so if that would be a problem, use the super flex versions.
 

jaspence

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#6
Cable, etc.

You will need a way to get the cable through the wall to the outside and mount an antenna, not a simple task in any building, especially an apartment. If you are already on an upper floor, just moving the scanner closer to a window might be enough. The magmount antenna you have requires a flat steel surface, something that is not common in many buildings where air and heat ducts are often aluminum. A metal baking sheet has been used by some for mounting, but it will have to be anchored in a horizontal position for best results. The cable presents other considerations. To best match the antenna cable, RG-8 would be better to avoid signal loss, and you would need BNC connectors for the cable to the radio and the cable to the antenna connector. You could use RG-58, but it will have more signal loss, especially on the higher frequencies.
 

mjbjr

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Hmm..ok I do have a small possibility with the location. I can maneuver it up to the second floor balcony(Im on the bottom) and attach it to the railing if that helps.

As far as upgrading,I can do that as well depending on cost of course. I didnt expect a whole lot with a $15 antenna but it was worth the gamble. If either of you could link me to the lmr 400 cable and this new antenna I will be sure to look into it. I am including a picture of what the apartment looks like
 

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mjbjr

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#8
You will need a way to get the cable through the wall to the outside and mount an antenna, not a simple task in any building, especially an apartment. If you are already on an upper floor, just moving the scanner closer to a window might be enough. The magmount antenna you have requires a flat steel surface, something that is not common in many buildings where air and heat ducts are often aluminum. A metal baking sheet has been used by some for mounting, but it will have to be anchored in a horizontal position for best results. The cable presents other considerations. To best match the antenna cable, RG-8 would be better to avoid signal loss, and you would need BNC connectors for the cable to the radio and the cable to the antenna connector. You could use RG-58, but it will have more signal loss, especially on the higher frequencies.
I have this antenna up on the second floor balcony for a friends scanners. I was able to hide all of the cord in the siding and the antenna isnt very noticeable unless youre actually looking for it. But the balcony rail is only 1-2 inches wide at best.
 

jaspence

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#9
Hiding RG-8 or LMR cable will be next to impossible, and the railing is not suitable for much more than a vertical antenna and little if any provision for a ground plane. Any antenna with extended radials or elements would be unsafe on a typical balcony where people would be unless it is 6 feet or more above the deck.
 

popnokick

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RG-6 is a good choice as suggested; very low loss, small diameter, and flexible. Don't worry about it being 75 ohms.... it's not going to matter for scanner receiver use. And to take the "simple, inexpensive, and unobtrusive" approach a bit further.... TV antennas make great scanner antennas. The scanner bands you want to listen to are close to and often within the receiving bandwidth of most TV antennas. In particular one of those flat panel "blade-type" or "leaf" antennas would work fine. Get it up on the 2nd floor balcony, the higher the better. You could even mount it with zip-ties to the railing. NO ground plane needed. They are available everywhere that sells TV stuff, including your local home stores. You'll need an adapter to go from the F-maie on the antenna cable to your scanner ant jack. The antenna will be somewhat directional toward the open part of the balcony. Before you zip-tie or mount it, connect the scanner and turn the antenna 90 degrees on the vertical axis to peak up the signals.
 

Aeroiki

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#12
I have this antenna up on the second floor balcony for a friends scanners. I was able to hide all of the cord in the siding and the antenna isnt very noticeable unless youre actually looking for it. But the balcony rail is only 1-2 inches wide at best.
You are a good friend to host an antenna! In my apartment dwelling days, I stood cheap Radio Shack 1/4 wave ground planes on my balcony. Each had a plastic ball on the end of the vertical so no eyes would be poked out.

The LMR-400 may be overkill for you. It is about as thick as a Sharpie pen. I got stuck in my own application of listening to forest fires all over the Sierras up to 200 miles away using a six element yagi tuned to 170 MHz. I had such good results changing from RG-58U to LMR-400 that I put that cable on my local antenna (the disk cone). This also provided a noticeable improvement on weaker signals. If you are listening to strong local signals, than the antenna/cable choices are not so important.

Also, the range of frequencies you would like to monitor matters. If you are dealing with all 800 MHz stuff in one direction, you could get a little yagi for ~$50. A quarter wave ground plane antenna for that frequency would also be tiny, about 3 or 4 inches per radial/element.

Back to cable, you could use RG-8X if you want something a little better than basic RG-58U and is about as thin and flexible, while it is still 50 Ohms. Oddly enough, I got my LMR-400 from Amazon with connectors installed. Show Me Cables has also supplied me with odd custom patch cords as well as custom length runs with connectors pre installed. Now, I am sure other readers will chime in with better sources and ideas. That is fine. I want to continue to learn from this forum and its members.
 

mjbjr

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#13
Thanks everyone for their help and knowledge. I wil lbe looking into these and see whats out there. Im going to actually find some of these and see them hands on to see if its small enough to be hidden behind the siding.
 
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Run that coax up the drain spout and get it really high...no wiring being seen...get that extra performance from three stories....dream come true right there.... stick that magnet to the inside gutter...wrap the connections with bonding 3m tape...fusing tape for the lay person...
 
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