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Mobile Antennas and range

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JR4815D2

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Hi,

I have been reading this forum for several years now. Great forum with tons of info. I mostly listen to the radio at home. My first scanner I ever got I was like 8yrs old. Now, I am in my mid 30's still listening.
Recently, I have been taking my portable out on the road to listen to railroad channels. I get great reception along the northeast Corridor line, but there are times I go to freight lines and get poor reception. I was wondering what is a great mobile antenna for railroad channels. I have a radioshack mobile antenna does the job, but recently I was out and I couldn't hear anything while the other person was able to hear everything. I want to get an antenna that could listen for at least 20-30 miles or so. I made a j-pole antenna along with a ground plane and works great in my place. Is there any good recommendations out there for a good antenna. I like the SD330 HF Screwdriver Mobile Antenna, but I am not sure if that would work on the 159-161mhz's frequencies. I also want to know if there is any sort of booster for mobile antennas like TV antennas and cell phone antennas. I have a Uniden BC246T, BC95XLT and BC355C. I am planning on buy a Radioshack PRO163 in the future. Railroad lines are cover by mountains, so I am sure it has a lot to do with signal loss. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 

Rt169Radio

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Hi and welcome to RadioReference.To answer your question about a great mobile antenna for railroad freqs,I would have to say either the Larsen NMO150B with the mhz of 144-174 and a gain of 3.0 dBd,or the Larsen NMOU150D with the mhz of 150-165 and a gain of 2.14 dBi.

I don't know of any kind of booster for mobile antennas that are used for scanning though.Also the antenna that you like,the SD330 Screwdriver Mobile Antenna will not pick up railroad freqs,it is only from 3.5 - 30 mhz.
 

JR4815D2

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Hi and welcome to RadioReference.To answer your question about a great mobile antenna for railroad freqs,I would have to say either the Larsen NMO150B with the mhz of 144-174 and a gain of 3.0 dBd,or the Larsen NMOU150D with the mhz of 150-165 and a gain of 2.14 dBi.

I don't know of any kind of booster for mobile antennas that are used for scanning though.Also the antenna that you like,the SD330 Screwdriver Mobile Antenna will not pick up railroad freqs,it is only from 3.5 - 30 mhz.
Thank you. I will look into these antennas.
 

ermin

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Joined
Dec 21, 2007
Messages
342
Location
Delray Beach Florida
Hi,

I have been reading this forum for several years now. Great forum with tons of info. I mostly listen to the radio at home. My first scanner I ever got I was like 8yrs old. Now, I am in my mid 30's still listening.
Recently, I have been taking my portable out on the road to listen to railroad channels. I get great reception along the northeast Corridor line, but there are times I go to freight lines and get poor reception. I was wondering what is a great mobile antenna for railroad channels. I have a radioshack mobile antenna does the job, but recently I was out and I couldn't hear anything while the other person was able to hear everything. I want to get an antenna that could listen for at least 20-30 miles or so. I made a j-pole antenna along with a ground plane and works great in my place.
Try here; DPD Productions - Antennas & Accessories for the RF Professional & Radio Hobbyist they have great antennas.

73

Ermin
 

ka3jjz

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21,779
Location
Bowie, Md.
'Boosters' (or more properly 'amplifiers') often cause more problems than they solve. Your scanners are more than sensitive enough - get a good antenna and you're going to help yourself more. Amplifiers can add noise, overload and actually cause you to lose sensitivity if you're in an area that is heavily saturated with other users in the area of the spectrum you're trying to hear. Bag the idea.

In addition to the ones already mentioned we have a few links to reviews of mobile antennas in our wiki. You might want to take a look there as well...the link (in blue) follows...

Scanner Antennas - The RadioReference Wiki

See the 'Homebrew, Tech and Reviews' section. In the article, clicking on number 3 in the table of contents will bring you to those links.

best regards..Mike
 

JR4815D2

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Messages
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New York City
'Boosters' (or more properly 'amplifiers') often cause more problems than they solve. Your scanners are more than sensitive enough - get a good antenna and you're going to help yourself more. Amplifiers can add noise, overload and actually cause you to lose sensitivity if you're in an area that is heavily saturated with other users in the area of the spectrum you're trying to hear. Bag the idea.

In addition to the ones already mentioned we have a few links to reviews of mobile antennas in our wiki. You might want to take a look there as well...the link (in blue) follows...

Scanner Antennas - The RadioReference Wiki

See the 'Homebrew, Tech and Reviews' section. In the article, clicking on number 3 in the table of contents will bring you to those links.

best regards..Mike

Thanks. I have been reading that section. I do have one more question in regards to multiple antennas for the same frequencies. By having multiple antennas, does it help or not? Sometimes, along the railroad, I could see the same type of Antenna twice in a tower. Also, I have been looking at newhamstore.com & walcottcb.com for mobile antennas.

JR

ermin, I did look into that site a while back. Thanks for the site
 

jackj

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Joined
Jul 19, 2007
Messages
1,542
Location
NW Ohio
Antenna

Hi,

I have been reading this forum for several years now. Great forum with tons of info. I mostly listen to the radio at home. My first scanner I ever got I was like 8yrs old. Now, I am in my mid 30's still listening.
Recently, I have been taking my portable out on the road to listen to railroad channels. I get great reception along the northeast Corridor line, but there are times I go to freight lines and get poor reception. I was wondering what is a great mobile antenna for railroad channels. I have a radioshack mobile antenna does the job, but recently I was out and I couldn't hear anything while the other person was able to hear everything. I want to get an antenna that could listen for at least 20-30 miles or so. I made a j-pole antenna along with a ground plane and works great in my place. Is there any good recommendations out there for a good antenna. I like the SD330 HF Screwdriver Mobile Antenna, but I am not sure if that would work on the 159-161mhz's frequencies. I also want to know if there is any sort of booster for mobile antennas like TV antennas and cell phone antennas. I have a Uniden BC246T, BC95XLT and BC355C. I am planning on buy a Radioshack PRO163 in the future. Railroad lines are cover by mountains, so I am sure it has a lot to do with signal loss. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
If I'm reading between the lines right, your mobile antenna used to work but has recently stopped receiving. That sounds like you may have a problem with your coax. If so then just replacing the antenna won't fix it. Take an ohm meter or a continuity checker and see if you have an open or shorted coax. Remove the connector from the scanner and you should show continuity from the antenna rod to the center pin of the connector to the radio. The shield should show continuity also but you should have an open between the center pin and shield. If that checks out okay then take your antenna apart and check for corrosion.

I personally would advise against using a preamp or booster in a mobile. A mobile is a noisy RF environment and a preamp will just make it worse. You will have better reception by using a good antenna.
 

Rt169Radio

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CT
Thanks. I have been reading that section. I do have one more question in regards to multiple antennas for the same frequencies. By having multiple antennas, does it help or not? Sometimes, along the railroad, I could see the same type of Antenna twice in a tower. Also, I have been looking at newhamstore.com & walcottcb.com for mobile antennas.

JR

ermin, I did look into that site a while back. Thanks for the site
No,not really unless your going to have more the one radio for the same frequencies.The railroad people probably have more then one radio for the same frequencies and thus need more antennas.For radio stores with mobile antennas,I would recommed these:

Universal Radio shortwave, amateur, scanner and CB radio since 1942

Scanner Master - Police Scanners by Uniden Bearcat, AOR and Radio Shack.

Welcome to AESHAM.COM
 

LtDoc

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Joined
Dec 4, 2006
Messages
2,145
Location
Oklahoma
I think a typical 5/8 wave antenna, something between 40 and 60 inches long, should help you hear those 'weaker' signals. Of course, getting the thing as high as you can will increase range too. Just like you can see further on a ladder than standing on the ground.
Is there a sure way of hearing more? Unfortunately, not really. The two easiest ways I can think of is to increase the 'size' of your antenna, or get closer. Neither is always easy, or practical.
- 'Doc
 

JR4815D2

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Joined
Feb 13, 2010
Messages
7
Location
New York City
Thanks to everyone. I did more research and I am buying Icom IC-V80 which happens to be popular with many railfanners. It's a BNC radio which works great with my antennas. I was also looking into Yaesu FT-270R, but it's not a BNC antenna. I also came across a Sinclair Excalibur ST221SF1SUFF1610 antennas from a friend. I am not sure how to hook it up and if I will need additional equipment. I am sure it's probably not even worth it, but will keep it in case it comes in handy one day.
 
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