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Not sure about which portable antenna to buy/recommendation

matters

Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2012
Messages
18
Location
Contra Costa County
Hello everyone,

I finally bought a 436HP a couple months ago but have been using the stock antenna. My fire department transitioned to P25 (East Bay Regional Communications System) a while ago and simulcasts on their conventional system. On both VHF and UHF, the reception is intelligible about half the time. One transmission may come in perfectly clear, but the next can be so broken that nothing can be made out (it is not encrypted). Meanwhile, my BC95XLT will come in just fine using its stock antenna at the same time when listening to the VHF frequency. Most of the time when listening I am indoors. I live on a hill and am withing 10-15 miles of the broadcasting antenna.

I primary listen to the fire department on P25 around 772 MHz, so I thought I would buy a Remtronix 800 because it performs so well; however, I would like to have the ability to continue to monitor the conventional VHF around 160 MHz for the fire tones. We often have medical helicopters flying out here, so I want to listen to Calstar, CALCORD, and hospital comms all around 155 MHz. I am not looking for a roof mount base antenna yet because I am not currently living here permanently.

Would the Remtronix antenna be a good fit or would I be better off with a dual band antenna, and if so what would you recommend?

I have some audio recordings in here Dropbox - Recordings - Simplify your life

Thanks
 

trentbob

Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
921
Location
Bristol, Pa.
So I'll jump in here fast before everyone else does. You say that you like to hear VHF High in addition to p2 simulcast on the 700 megahertz band.

The 436 is a great radio and was the flagship radio of Uniden in 2014 but sometimes it does not handle LSM environments well. The antenna doesn't always matter unless sometimes a less sensitive antenna might give you better results with LSM as it will deal with less Towers. For a while people were drilling a hole in a paint can and sticking the antenna into the paint can to reduce reception. It's just a problem you have with non LSM capable radios.

You will hear all kinds of opinions here and in 2015 it was a big debate on RR but reality has set in now and Uniden has made 2 LSM capable radios pretty much putting the issue to bed.

The GRE 800 megahertz antenna that was later rebranded as the RS 800 for RadioShack and then when they closed a former GRE technician developed the remtronix antenna which is exactly the same, comes in BNC, SMA and SMA 100 that fits the proprietary mount on the SDS 100.

This is an excellent antenna and far superior to anything you can get for a handheld on 700-800 megahertz and the UHF band, unfortunately not so much on VHF High. People say oh it works great on VHF well it doesn't and you want the best signal you can get.

It looks like you might be having issues with LSM but who knows. If it does turn out to be that and you need a less sensitive antenna to help with reception of LSM affected signals you might go with a less sensitive antenna like the low profile 7 - 800 rubber duck from Scanner Master or even the comet CH - 32 miracle baby.

There are a ton of good antennas out there that will cover VHF High, UHF and 7-800 megahertz. Scanner Master has a good selection, the antenna Farm is also a good source, just Google them.

If you have any questions about antennas or terms used just Google it and you'll be taken right to the radio reference threads that deal with that problem.

Keep us posted.
 

matters

Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2012
Messages
18
Location
Contra Costa County
I would love to have the SDS100, but its still too pricey for me. I got the BCD436HP for a pretty good price on sale.

I am slightly familiar with LSM because I have scanned with SDRs in the past using Unitrunker (which cannot do LSM) and SDRTrunk (which supports LSM). There was too much distortion with Unitrunker, but SDRTrunk was clear for the most part; however, this is unrelated to the 436HP's performance because they are two different pieces of hardware/software.

I forgot to mention something important about the recordings I put in Drop Box. The audio file titled Good was recorded while I was up even higher on the hill behind my house while we were watching the fireworks, and all the fires caused by them, on the 4th of July. The Bad and Average recordings were from inside my house. Plus, I still get distorted audio on VHF, and there are many times where my 436 will scan right past transmissions that my BC95XLT picks up just fine, so I think my issue may still be related to signal strength.

From the sounds of it, I would be better off with a dual band antenna so I can continue to monitor the VHF frequencies.
 

trentbob

Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
921
Location
Bristol, Pa.
Yes you want an antenna that's good on VHF high and UHF, 7 - 800 megahertz.

Take a look at Scanner Master antennas and check out the WSMA-801... it's a good performer and better than the stock antenna, I have one. It is 25 megahertz through 800 megahertz and performed well on VHF High. I think they still sell the W - 881 also which is the same thin whip but longer and is also 25 megahertz through 800 megahertz and performs even better but it's longer and less concealed.
 

Hit_Factor

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Messages
822
Location
Saint Joseph, MI
Another rubber duck antenna might give subtlety better performance. Save your money.

For a real improvement you need to setup an external antenna. 3 sections of mast (15' more is better), tripod, discone antenna, and quality cable/connectors is the only way to make a meaningful improvement.
 

trentbob

Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
921
Location
Bristol, Pa.
Yes of course obviously an external antenna would work better but I think the o p was looking for an antenna for his portable but I might be wrong.

Yes o p I agree. An external antenna on your roof of your house will certainly provide you with better reception especially on VHF High.

Make sure to use a good low loss coax. I'm sure the last poster can give you plenty of suggestions on a rooftop antenna. Keep it simple with a small VHF, UHF, 700 - 800 megahertz ground plane with 15 in elements.

If you are looking for a portable antenna for your portable radio good luck on your search there's plenty of options and I think you're on the right track.

Good luck in your search.
 

captainmax1

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Dec 28, 2010
Messages
472
Location
Florida Keys

trentbob

Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
921
Location
Bristol, Pa.
Well matters, looks like you are getting some good information for your search of a portable antenna for your 436. I just wanted to come in on a few of the choices.

Sorry for commenting on a rooftop antenna I was just replying to another post, I knew you were looking for a portable antenna.

So you listen to a 700 megahertz p25 system and you want to pick up VHF High and UHF. You spoke of the remtronix 800 and I confirmed it is an excellent antenna for 7 - 800 megahertz and UHF. Not so much on VHF High, it's terrible on VHF High and you will be disappointed regardless of what else you hear from others.

So given the frequency ranges you want to hear with optimal results was the reason I had recommended the W - 801 that Scanner Master sells. Pretty sure the brand name is Watson and you would want an SMA connection. It covers VHF low / High, UHF and 7 - 800 megahertz. I find its optimal for VHF High. I also like that it's very flexible with a very thin whip. No portable antenna is going to deliver the best possible reception but the 801 is better than the standard issue antenna.

The RC 77 is a popular antenna and is a optimal quarter wave antenna for VHF High, again even though it can receive 700 megahertz you would just have to find out how well it receives your system while scanning everything you want to hear.

So it looks like you may be able to narrow it down to two choices keeping in mind what you want to hear.

After doing this for over 50 years I have to admit I have a very large Ziploc bag of many many portable antennas and most of them are crap except for half a dozen or so really good ones. LOL
 

trentbob

Member
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
921
Location
Bristol, Pa.
I have that tri-band Larson. It's the new one with the heavy duty base and the spring. If you can still get the old Larsen tri-band that is nmo without the spring they should be about 30 bucks and it is the same exact antenna.

If you really need a magnetic Mount as opposed to drilling a hole then I guess it's okay because you are only receiving. The grounding is not so great with a magnetic mount but I understand you not wanting to drill a hole. I have used the Larsen tri-band antenna for many many years, good choice but you'll want to replace that RG58 coax with low loss coax as it'll give you better reception on UHF and 800 megahertz.
 

matters

Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2012
Messages
18
Location
Contra Costa County
Thanks for the heads up. When it comes time and I get my own car (I am in college and use my parents' cars), I will go with a permanent/drilled mount.
 

daniel18522

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Premium Subscriber
Joined
Dec 23, 2016
Messages
9
Location
East Bay Area CA
I use the Remtronix antenna for my 436HP. It has good coverage on EBRCS. For my car I have a Larsen tri band 150/450/758 on a NMO trunk lip mount. It works great since central simulcast is in the 700mhz. CHP comes in pretty well too on it.
 

matters

Member
Joined
Jun 16, 2012
Messages
18
Location
Contra Costa County
The Watson WMSA-811 antenna came in on Monday. I have had a little bit of time to test it out. The quality increased a lot. Before I would hear about 50% of the conversations. Barely anything drops now. About 95% of transmissions are clear. There was a fairly large fire yesterday in Knightsen and I heard almost everything on the dispatch, tac, and command channels. I added a recording called "Recording with Watson 881 Antenna" to my Dropbox so you can hear for yourself. I have not had enough time to compare the VHF performance with my older, but Calstar dispatches come in better for the most part. I will compare the performance with my BC95XLT just to make sure the 436 is not skipping over clear, strong VHF transmissions like it was before.

Thanks to everyone for your input.

For my car I have a Larsen tri band 150/450/758 on a NMO trunk lip mount. It works great since central simulcast is in the 700mhz. CHP comes in pretty well too on it.
Perfect. That is exactly what I plan to do. I looked into getting a trunk lip mount, but I might use a magnetic mount so I can use it on multiple vehicles. Do you have any photos of your setup? How did you route the wire?
 
Last edited:

daniel18522

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Joined
Dec 23, 2016
Messages
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Location
East Bay Area CA
Perfect. That is exactly what I plan to do. I looked into getting a trunk lip mount, but I might use a magnetic mount so I can use it on multiple vehicles. Do you have any photos of your setup? How did you route the wire?
The Larsen on the NMO mount is my main antenna for the BCD996p2. When I want to run another scanner, I'll add another antenna and I'll use a mag mount for it since I don't do that very often.

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