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Antenna Rant. questions answered...

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yaesumofo

Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2003
Messages
314
Location
los Angeles
nyscan asked this question on another thread:
nyscan said:
I notice a few complaints about the stock antenna. Is there another multiband, rubber duck type antenna that is better?
As I wrote a response I came to the realization that this was worthy of a new topic so here is my 396 antenna rant.


I am of the opinion that antennas make a big difference with the 396. This is especially true with any digital communications. An antenna tuned to the frequencies you want to monitor is essential. I have a bunch to choose from.

There are a few standouts for me though.
One is the diamond srh77ca. Not a short antenna but quite effective over a broad Ange of freqs, a good general monitoring antenna.
The RS 800mhz unit is not bad at all.
Another is the small Watson W889 telescoping antenna.
The Maldol telescoping antenna is a rather good one as well.
I like telescoping antennas for obvious reasons. not the least of which is because by nature they are tunable
One of my secret antennas is from a company called remote audio. It costs $22.00 for the SMA version. These are tunable (by cutting) high quality UHF antennas. For the money they can't be beat. When people see it they always ask about it because they come with little colored beads so you can match the RX to the TX. I have like 8 different colors on one of mine and it attracts attention. sometimes not a good thing, It is kind of fun though. They are designed for the very rigorous work of Eng television wireless microphone transmitters. I have found them to be fine antennas. Very small discrete (unless you are like me) and they are just plain heavy duty though they don't have the bulk of a big heavy duty antenna. (BnC version available for something like $13.00.)
I have a smiley antenna tuned for the VHF AIR band which borders on ridiculous because as a telescoping antenna it will scope out over 6 foot. It is big and unwieldy. But it pulls in air traffic fantastically.
If you are finding that your 396 is not as sensitive in a band as you would like it to be throw on a tuned antenna it might make the difference for you. Here in LA with the LAPD being an non trunked but an APCO 25 digital agency monitoring them can be a challenge if you are far away from the tower you want to monitor. A good antenna tuned for 5oomhz is a must.
A buddy of mine made me a couple of home brews tuned there and they work wonders. I am often (but not always) able to monitor valley simplex communications from LAX with them. Not bad (thanks Henry). As a scanner freak my best weapons are antennas.
You can never have enough of them. Oh and some are real dogs too.
One time I went into my local radio shop which shall remain nameless, and I noticed some fancy new antennas with SMA connectors on them no less. I immediately picked one up. got to the car put it on the radio hit scan and did hear jack. The antenna looked great but did not work worth a darn. when I went to return it I saw another fancy antenna (BnC) so I returned the crap from a big antenna manufacture and picked up the other fancy AIR band antenna called a maldol AL 500. This is a fine example of a tuned multiband antenna. It is a VHF and UHF air band antenna. you know what? It works very well. Very fancy and expensive. Is it worth the high price probably not. Unfortunately for me, this obsession with antennas goes along with my scanning hobby. Sorry about the antenna rant but I just figured I would cover as much ground as possible on this one.

The long and the short of it is to be as effective as possible your scanner needs good tuned antennas. So go get some.
Before you go here are my TOP THREE must have antennas for LA not in anty particular order:
my buddies 500mhz home brew.
the remote audio UHF with SMA
the Watsom W889
What are yours?


Here are a few of my antennas"
 

nyscan

Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2004
Messages
264
So... What if your scanning includes frequencies in all bands?? Mine is mainly UHF T and VHF High. If you selected the best antenna for the band with the worst reception would the other band take a hit and become worse than it was with the multi-band stock antenna?
 

mass-man

Member
Joined
Mar 15, 2004
Messages
950
Location
Big D, little a, double l, a s
It all depends....

Separate antennas is a great idea. If it works for you...

Antennas that advertise the ability to receive multiple frequency ranges are a compromise...

If you are only a few miles from the VHF station you want to hear, a 800 mhz will probably work...or maybe not.

Antennas are a fascinating, depressing, interesting topic. We build em, we re-build em, we throw em away and start over.

There is NO one ideal antenna. That said, I must say, if you have enuf scanners to cover specific bands, then put the proper antenna on them. If you have a scanner dedicated to trunking, then put a 800 mhz antenna on there. Unless of course you are monitoring the military trunking systems, then you need a UHF antenna...and then when the 700 mhz systems get up and running, that is another antenna...see what I mean!!!

Yea the antennas from REMOTE AUDIO are built like a tank. I use em for work, and would have nothing else!!! Heck if you tell em you want one for 150mhz VHF, they will build one for you...

Thru many years, scanners, antennas, etc. I have found the following...if it works, leave it alone...if might be able to be improved, but maybe not...if it doesn't work, wire, solder, connectors are a lot cheaper than a new radio with a tad big lower S/N ratio!!!

Plus if you have a few hours on a weekend and a few tools, you can build many an antenna that will rival what you pay big buck for!!! BEAMS included. Just snoop around www land for the construction articles.

Sorry for the rant...time to go connect my VHF/UHF antenna to the BC780xlt and find somethng for the dual band rig that fits in the attic...
 

hiegtx

Mentor
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Messages
6,213
Location
Dallas, TX
nyscan said:
So... What if your scanning includes frequencies in all bands?? Mine is mainly UHF T and VHF High. If you selected the best antenna for the band with the worst reception would the other band take a hit and become worse than it was with the multi-band stock antenna?
On a handheld scanner, it's not practical to come up with an antenna that covers all bands. The wavelength spread from Vhf-low to the 800/900Mhz used most commonly by the trunked systems is beyond what you can fit on a carry along scanner.

That being said, if your primary interest is Uhf-T & Vhh-high, the Diamond SRH77CA is a good compromise, if you don't mind the 15" or so length. It's optimized for 2meter ham, 144-148mhz, just below Vhf-hi, and the 440Mhz ham band, just below the band you mention. I use the RH77CA on my BR330T, which is heavily loaded with Vhf-hi & Uhf frequencies. This antenna also does a creditable job on 800Mhz trunked systems. The SRH77CA has the SMA base on it, so it can be used on the BCD396T or the BR330T without an adapter. The RH- version is the same antenna with a BNC mount. Link for both.

For my 396, I use the R/S 800Mhz antenna. It does a good job on the many TRS I keep loaded. Dallas (City) public safety is not trunked, but is on a Uhf system with good signal coverage, and the R/S antenna does not lose too much there. It does suffer some on Vhf, but most of those I monitor are fairly close, and are also on the BR330.

If I'm travelling out of the metro area west, where there are no active 800Mhz systems, I switch the 396 to an extra Diamond antenna, or an Austin Condor.

I don't have any active Vhf low in my area to speak as to reception an any of my current antennas.
 

KB4REA

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2005
Messages
360
Location
FL - St. Johns Co.
I too am content with the RH77CA as a general use antenna. I agree it does well on 800Mhz...I get 3-4 bars on my BR330T. When I feel like just listening to 800Mhz I use the RS800 and I get all bars up. But not much comms in my area analog-wise.

When I feel like listening to VHF and UHF Air I slap on my latest purchase, the Maldol AL-500H. It out-performs the RH77CA in these bands which I was very relieved about since it's twice the cost. It does especially well, I feel, in picking up UHF air. With open squelch I can just hear NAS Jax ATIS which is 7-8 miles away.
These are my antennas. :)
 

yaesumofo

Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2003
Messages
314
Location
los Angeles
It is a tough question too general really. Pick an antenna suitable to what you are monitoring. If you are listening to chip on 42 MHz and load on 800Mhz. It might be tough to receive both well. So the answer to your question depends upon what do you want to hear the most? Pick an antenna based on this decision.

Telescoping antennas are great for this kind of scanning. leave the antenna at a good length until you get a hit on some action that you want to monitor. adjust the telescoping antenna for optimal signal reception.
As somebody said there is no "best or perfect" antenna.
A good telescoping antenna can come close.
Yaesumofo

nyscan said:
So... What if your scanning includes frequencies in all bands?? Mine is mainly UHF T and VHF High. If you selected the best antenna for the band with the worst reception would the other band take a hit and become worse than it was with the multi-band stock antenna?
 

yaesumofo

Member
Joined
Jan 4, 2003
Messages
314
Location
los Angeles
I am glad you were able to get remote audio to cut some antennas for you. I was not successful. All I wanted was some longer uncut antennas and they were not accommodating.
The antennas I have from them are the small sma antennas which are designed for use with My lectrosonic wires. I have not cut the one I use for scanning.

Good antenna for the money none the less.
Yaesumofo

mass-man said:
Separate antennas is a great idea. If it works for you...

Antennas that advertise the ability to receive multiple frequency ranges are a compromise...

If you are only a few miles from the VHF station you want to hear, a 800mhz will probably work...or maybe not.

Antennas are a fascinating, depressing, interesting topic. We build em, we re-build em, we throw em away and start over.

There is NO one ideal antenna. That said, I must say, if you have enuf scanners to cover specific bands, then put the proper antenna on them. If you have a scanner dedicated to trunking, then put a 800 MHz antenna on there. Unless of course you are monitoring the military trunking systems, then you need a UHF antenna...and then when the 700 MHz systems get up and running, that is another antenna...see what I mean!!!

Yea the antennas from REMOTE AUDIO are built like a tank. I use em for work, and would have nothing else!!! Heck if you tell em you want one for 150mhz VHF, they will build one for you...

Thru many years, scanners, antennas, etc. I have found the following...if it works, leave it alone...if might be able to be improved, but maybe not...if it doesn't work, wire, solder, connectors are a lot cheaper than a new radio with a tad big lower S/N ratio!!!

Plus if you have a few hours on a weekend and a few tools, you can build many an antenna that will rival what you pay big buck for!!! BEAMS included. Just snoop around www land for the construction articles.

Sorry for the rant...time to go connect my VHF/UHF antenna to the BC780xlt and find something for the dual band rig that fits in the attic...
 

GTO_04

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Mar 10, 2004
Messages
1,779
I am glad you were able to get remote audio to cut some antennas for you. I was not successful. All I wanted was some longer uncut antennas and they were not accommodating.
The antennas I have from them are the small sma antennas which are designed for use with My lectrosonic wires. I have not cut the one I use for scanning.

Good antenna for the money none the less.
Yaesumofo
The Remote Audio antennas look like a good option. I could not tell from the pictures on their site, do they have SMA male version that will connect directly to the 396XT without the adapter? If you cut them to tune them at 856 MHz, do you know what fraction of a wavelength they are? The antenna looks long enough that it may be possible to get a 5/8 wave.

Good antenna rant BTW. I totally agree!

GTO_04
 
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