Antenna Recommendations Needed

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ArkTex

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Hello all,

I am relatively new to the world of scanning, just recently coming into ownership of a TRX-1. Currently, I have a Diamond RH77CA, a GRA RH-795 and the Anteena Tw-999. As these are handheld antennas, they work relatively well for local trunked systems on the AWIN system, but I'm trying to figure out a base antenna that's not gigantic and works relatively well indoors. I've looked into the tripod and Tram 1410 combination, but I'm wondering if this is too big for what I need and space requirements. Generally I'd like a discone that can travel well or reassemble easily/is of decent build quality, especially since I'm moving between Campus (Arkansas) and where I live (Texas) a couple of times a year.

I'm a full time college student who lives in the dorms of my college full time, so mounting an antenna on the roof is a pipe dream. Right now I have a amazon bought mag-mount antenna mounted as high as I can get it and it helps a small bit, but generally I'm not really seeing an improvement.

I'd like to be able to steadily listen to the Forest Service dispatch/public safety interop out of Hot Springs and the TRAUMACOM system based in Little Rock. I'm in the central river valley so generally any increase in performance is good. The current issue I'm having is that it will randomly pick up on transmissions for Fort Smith, AR, which is over 70mi away from my location but when I lock in to that frequency it's almost nothing. The scanner will go in between picking up things 70 to 80mi away to not even receiving them at all.

As far as Texas goes, my current setup preforms great, with my location in Plano, Texas being able to receive pretty much most of the metroplex.

I'm not looking to be receiving everything under the sun, but some general performance improvements would be good. I've seen the Max Systems 8HH talked about on here before, but I can't seem to find it anywhere for sale.

Any recommendations would help!
 

TailGator911

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Depending on your budget and size requirements or restrictions, the smaller Diamond discone, the 220R, is a great little discone without the huge footprint of other discones and works amazingly well. I mounted it on my RV with great results and fashioned a handheld mount for it with a mop/broomstick and duct tape for monitoring around the campfire. I was very impressed with this antenna, used a Stridsberg multi-coupler for 4 scanners all on the 220R and was very satisfied with the setup. Nice antenna.
 

ArkTex

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Pope County, AR | Collin County, TX
Generally my size requirements is that it has to be the general size of a normal lamp on a desk. I have limited space as is, so something that can be wall mounted would work as well.

Would something like a wire antenna work better for my needs, though a discone would probably work better I think in terms of reception.
 

JoshuaHufford

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Overall I've had very poor results with just about any antenna indoors.

Do you have a ground plane for your mag mount you are using now?

I've had the best success with antennas that could be placed near a window with nothing metal nearby, and the entire length of the antenna was shorter than the height of the window.
 

ArkTex

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Overall I've had very poor results with just about any antenna indoors.

Do you have a ground plane for your mag mount you are using now?

I've had the best success with antennas that could be placed near a window with nothing metal nearby, and the entire length of the antenna was shorter than the height of the window.
I have the antenna mounted on the wall as high as I can get it. Generally it's magnet caught on to a metal pipe I think, so it's three quarters of the way up the wall, mounted horizontally. I've looked into the ground plane issue, but I'm unsure of how to make one stick. My plan is to mount the discone on the wall horizontally as high as I can get it near the window, and see how it works.

Attached is the current mag mount I have up there.


I'm also thinking of getting this (https://www.amazon.com/Anteenna-TW-...mag+mount&qid=1618547890&s=electronics&sr=1-2) and mounting one of my preexisting antennas up there as a stopgap.
 

WB9YBM

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but I'm trying to figure out a base antenna that's not gigantic and works relatively well indoors.

The current issue I'm having is that it will randomly pick up on transmissions for Fort Smith, AR, which is over 70mi away from my location but when I lock in to that frequency it's almost nothing. The scanner will go in between picking up things 70 to 80mi away to not even receiving them at all.

As far as Texas goes, my current setup preforms great, with my location in Plano, Texas being able to receive pretty much most of the metroplex.

I'm not looking to be receiving everything under the sun, but some general performance improvements would be good.
A "not gigantic" antenna that works well--depending on how you define "well"--a non-gigantic antenna with above average performance is a bit of a contradiction in terms. The more antenna you've got, the more capture area it has to "do its' thing". The same holds true for height--based on the proverb "height is might" get it as high as you can so that it's above the ground clutter (even if it's only ceiling level).

As for being able to intermittently being able to hear 70-80 miles away, sounds like that has more to do with variations in propagation than anything else...
 

JoshuaHufford

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I have the antenna mounted on the wall as high as I can get it. Generally it's magnet caught on to a metal pipe I think, so it's three quarters of the way up the wall, mounted horizontally. I've looked into the ground plane issue, but I'm unsure of how to make one stick. My plan is to mount the discone on the wall horizontally as high as I can get it near the window, and see how it works.

Attached is the current mag mount I have up there.


I'm also thinking of getting this (https://www.amazon.com/Anteenna-TW-...mag+mount&qid=1618547890&s=electronics&sr=1-2) and mounting one of my preexisting antennas up there as a stopgap.

Usually any type of mag mount antenna needs to have a ground plane to work properly, the lower the frequency the larger it needs to be. Usually you want 1/4 wave in all directions, 2 meters is about 19 inches if I recall correctly. Try putting your antenna on a pizza pan and see if that improves performance.

A discone doesn't require a ground plane so just switching to that type of antenna may improve performance.
 

bharvey2

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As noted above, indoor antennas are somewhat of a compromise, especially of you have metal siding, stucco (embedded wire), etc. as these will attenuate your signal. But hey, you work with what you have. The first order of business would be to get your antenna in a vertical position and on a good ground plane. mobile communications (e.g. public service) are vertically oriented. Secondly, look for a ground plane. The pizza pan idea is a good start unless your looking at low band VHF (30-60Mhz) 150Mhz and above and your pizza pan becomes useful. Placing you mag mount on a file cabinet would work as well. If you're trying to receive on only one band of frequencies and your source is only in one direction (you mentioned 70 miles away) then a yagi may be a good solution. You note that your using a TRX-1. Do you know the frequencies you're trying to receive or are you just looking at systems and talkgroups?
 

ArkTex

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Location
Pope County, AR | Collin County, TX
A "not gigantic" antenna that works well--depending on how you define "well"--a non-gigantic antenna with above average performance is a bit of a contradiction in terms. The more antenna you've got, the more capture area it has to "do its' thing". The same holds true for height--based on the proverb "height is might" get it as high as you can so that it's above the ground clutter (even if it's only ceiling level).

As for being able to intermittently being able to hear 70-80 miles away, sounds like that has more to do with variations in propagation than anything else...
Yeah, I understand the range requirement is a bit of a wildcard. I'm most likely going to get a discone regardless, but the size and space requirements are what I'm worried about.

I've seen the Diamond D220R and the MP series of antenna. Generally I'm looking to listen in to the standard 450 and 700/800mhz public safety bands.

Almost all of my listening is split between AWIN in Arkansas or the many different systems in and around Collin County, Texas , with the Dallas City Analog also being thrown in for good measure.
 

ArkTex

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Location
Pope County, AR | Collin County, TX
As noted above, indoor antennas are somewhat of a compromise, especially of you have metal siding, stucco (embedded wire), etc. as these will attenuate your signal. But hey, you work with what you have. The first order of business would be to get your antenna in a vertical position and on a good ground plane. mobile communications (e.g. public service) are vertically oriented. Secondly, look for a ground plane. The pizza pan idea is a good start unless your looking at low band VHF (30-60Mhz) 150Mhz and above and your pizza pan becomes useful. Placing you mag mount on a file cabinet would work as well. If you're trying to receive on only one band of frequencies and your source is only in one direction (you mentioned 70 miles away) then a yagi may be a good solution. You note that your using a TRX-1. Do you know the frequencies you're trying to receive or are you just looking at systems and talkgroups?
I already have the frequencies in EZscan for my TRX 1 programmed and set. Generally it's all going to be 400/700/800 public safety. If I can get some alright airband performance that is good as well.

I can drop my configuration file here if that might help.
 

WB9YBM

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Yeah, I understand the range requirement is a bit of a wildcard. I'm most likely going to get a discone regardless, but the size and space requirements are what I'm worried about.
humm...that got me curious: would it be possible to have a moderate antenna inside for "regular" listening and something temporary that can get snuck outside when no one's looking (like overnight hours) and pulled back inside before anyone catches on?

As a secondary point: I once heard that an apartment building maintenance person who wanted to do a bit of HF operation used the rain gutters around the building (insulating the downspouts so no one at ground level would get "zapped"). I'm wondering how easily that idea could be modified for VHF & UHF operation...
 

ArkTex

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Pope County, AR | Collin County, TX
humm...that got me curious: would it be possible to have a moderate antenna inside for "regular" listening and something temporary that can get snuck outside when no one's looking (like overnight hours) and pulled back inside before anyone catches on?

As a secondary point: I once heard that an apartment building maintenance person who wanted to do a bit of HF operation used the rain gutters around the building (insulating the downspouts so no one at ground level would get "zapped"). I'm wondering how easily that idea could be modified for VHF & UHF operation...
Our windows don't open in the dorms, and the windows have a screen back home. I would just put something outside my window and let it hang there in some PVC, but indoors is my best place. I could use a antenna like a Larsen, put some PVC on it and just use it at will. Would probably travel better as well.
 

ArkTex

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Pope County, AR | Collin County, TX
I found some metal tubing called "electrical metal tubing" from a company called Allied Tubing that wasn't being used and looks like has been sitting around for some time. Could something like that be of use for me to make a makeshift dipole?
 

prcguy

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That would be EMT conduit and not very useful for what you need. With all of your monitoring being confined to the 400/700 and 800MHz range I would opt for a gain type antenna for 700/800 that would also give satisfactory performance in the 460-470Mhz range. A typical Discone like the Tram 1410 and similar units like the Diamond D130 are junk in the 800MHz range being a good 10dB down in performance at the horizon compared to a simple 1/4 wave ground plane. They do work fine in the roughly 120 to 500MHz range.

There is an antenna sometimes sold cheap surplus that is a proven performer on 700/800MHz and it might be good enough in the mid 400 range. This antenna can hear things clearly on 800MHz that a full size Discone cant receive well enough to break squelch. Here is a link to one version but the actual model to look for is the L-Com HGV-906U. They sometimes come up for less than $30 including shipping, you just have to keep looking on Ebay. Here is the similar unit that has a male N connector where the 906U has a female connector: L-Com SP97177 800/900 MHz 6 dBi Omnidirectional Antenna like HGV-906U w/Hardware | eBay

I have a spare one of these I can try on UHF to see how it performs compared to a 1/4 wave ground plane and post the results. If it does ok then be on the lookout for one. Are you in the Plano area now or AR? I'll be in the Plano area in a couple of weeks and can bring it with me for testing there.

I found some metal tubing called "electrical metal tubing" from a company called Allied Tubing that wasn't being used and looks like has been sitting around for some time. Could something like that be of use for me to make a makeshift dipole?
 

ArkTex

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Pope County, AR | Collin County, TX
That would be EMT conduit and not very useful for what you need. With all of your monitoring being confined to the 400/700 and 800MHz range I would opt for a gain type antenna for 700/800 that would also give satisfactory performance in the 460-470Mhz range. A typical Discone like the Tram 1410 and similar units like the Diamond D130 are junk in the 800MHz range being a good 10dB down in performance at the horizon compared to a simple 1/4 wave ground plane. They do work fine in the roughly 120 to 500MHz range.

There is an antenna sometimes sold cheap surplus that is a proven performer on 700/800MHz and it might be good enough in the mid 400 range. This antenna can hear things clearly on 800MHz that a full size Discone cant receive well enough to break squelch. Here is a link to one version but the actual model to look for is the L-Com HGV-906U. They sometimes come up for less than $30 including shipping, you just have to keep looking on Ebay. Here is the similar unit that has a male N connector where the 906U has a female connector: L-Com SP97177 800/900 MHz 6 dBi Omnidirectional Antenna like HGV-906U w/Hardware | eBay

I have a spare one of these I can try on UHF to see how it performs compared to a 1/4 wave ground plane and post the results. If it does ok then be on the lookout for one. Are you in the Plano area now or AR? I'll be in the Plano area in a couple of weeks and can bring it with me for testing there.

I'll be in the Plano area within a couple weeks. I plan to check out the Ham Radio outlet shop there. I'd love to have some help with this. How should I get in touch?
 

prcguy

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I get into Richardson on April 30 and if the antenna checks out good on UHF before then I will let you know via RR PM. If all works out I could loan you the antenna for a week to test. HRO in Plano has a lot of fun stuff but I doubt if they have an antenna that will specifically fit your needs.

I'll be in the Plano area within a couple weeks. I plan to check out the Ham Radio outlet shop there. I'd love to have some help with this. How should I get in touch?
 

ArkTex

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Pope County, AR | Collin County, TX
I get into Richardson on April 30 and if the antenna checks out good on UHF before then I will let you know via RR PM. If all works out I could loan you the antenna for a week to test. HRO in Plano has a lot of fun stuff but I doubt if they have an antenna that will specifically fit your needs.
I'll stay in touch, then. I appreciate the assistance!
 

ArkTex

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Messages
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Pope County, AR | Collin County, TX
I get into Richardson on April 30 and if the antenna checks out good on UHF before then I will let you know via RR PM. If all works out I could loan you the antenna for a week to test. HRO in Plano has a lot of fun stuff but I doubt if they have an antenna that will specifically fit your needs.
Also, would it be worth it to buy some PVC and try to make a makeshift hanging antenna out of a normal handheld antenna, placing it in the PVC, and then seeing what would happen?

Mostly this might be for the 400mhz band, so that I don't have to compromise. I'm trying to get Dallas only, so a directional might do better or a makeshift one.
 

prcguy

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I think it would be better to make a ground plane adapter with whatever connector is on your hand held antenna. The extra height and ground plane should work a little better than the same antenna on a radio.

Also, would it be worth it to buy some PVC and try to make a makeshift hanging antenna out of a normal handheld antenna, placing it in the PVC, and then seeing what would happen?

Mostly this might be for the 400mhz band, so that I don't have to compromise. I'm trying to get Dallas only, so a directional might do better or a makeshift one.
 

wv2vvl

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Depending on your budget and size requirements or restrictions, the smaller Diamond discone, the 220R, is a great little discone without the huge footprint of other discones and works amazingly well. I mounted it on my RV with great results and fashioned a handheld mount for it with a mop/broomstick and duct tape for monitoring around the campfire. I was very impressed with this antenna, used a Stridsberg multi-coupler for 4 scanners all on the 220R and was very satisfied with the setup. Nice antenna.
I installed a Diamond D3000 discone (25-1300 MHz) yesterday in my yard on 3x5' Rohn tower sections. Compared to the no-name discone I had used indoors before, it performs great. I copied a local AM BC station at 1 MHz. On 160.275 I copied the NYC subway cops dispatcher, about 30-40 miles away. I copy NY Center (Yardley, PA) on 134.6 AM, which is about 10 miles away.

The only problem I had assembling this antenna was the small size of the M3 set screws that fix the bottom radials. If you drop one, it's usually gone as they are very small. Great antenna though. Using with my new ICOM R-8600.

The discone sold by DX Engineering is the Diamond D3000 with a different label.
 
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