Austin ferret opinions...

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rrbum

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Just wondering if the ferret is as bad as people seem to say. I realize it is high priced, but still wonder if it is any good at all. I have seen reviews where people say the $35 scantenna beats it as far as reception.
The concept of a "stick" multiband antenna with gain on useful frequencies is just so alluring.
Was also looking at the DPD 118-1000 MHz Scanner LP Base Antenna, but it is not available.
Is the ferret really a waste of money as so many people say??
 

AronDouglas

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The people who throw down on the Ferret dont know much about antennas. While their cheaper antennas may preform the same as the Ferret (for their location and situation) that doesn't mean a $20 antenna will preform the same as a $200 antenna. The Ferret is a base station, wide-band antenna. You could go buy a $20 single band antenna that would preform better on a specific frequency compared to the Ferrets wide-band coverage.

I never put too much faith in reviews, I read them just because they are there for the most part. I do my research well in advance so I know what I'm getting. But with antennas like the Ferret (I've looked into getting one), the amount of negative reviews does catch ones eye. This is the time to apply come common sense, look at the people who buy and complain about it. Typically it will be someone who does't have a clue and just wants the best of whats out there, then they complain when that product doesn't solve world hunger for them.

Is the antenna a bust of a product? I dont know because I've never had one. There are a few Ferret owners on here who say they like theirs though. I personally dont think this all that bad, I would get one if I thought I needed one.

Thats just my 2¢
 

kruser

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I've owned one for some time now. It is now packed back up in its original shipping tube and that was done in less than a month of getting the ferret.

I ran many signal strength tests using the Ferret, several discones as well as commercial single and dual band base antennas.

My discones all beat the ferret across the board from 72 to 1300 MHz. And in most tests ranges, the discones beat the ferret by a large margin.
Of course the dedicated band antennas worked the best but they suffered when tried out of their designed bandwidth.
The discones ranged from the cheaply made one that radioshack sold to the Icom's version.

As we all know, discones are wideband unity (0) gain antennas and generally offer the same amount of gain as a dedicated 1/4 wave antenna offers which is zero.

My discones captured signals in several typical scanner ranges that the ferret would not capture at all. It really suffered in the 800 band.
The only band that the ferret did as good or better as a discone was the VHF low band. It even beat the Icom discone which does have the low band whip on it where the radioshack discone did not.

Once I tuned out of the low band range though, the ferret's performance dropped off well below even the cheapest of discone's.

It may be a decent antenna if you live in an RF rich area and other signals are desensing your scanners but it is no good if you are after distant lower strength signals.

I ended up selecting an old Antenna Specialists MON/R series of scanner antennas as it offered actual gain across most of the common scanner bands.
I'm not sure how they can claim any gain with the ferret as it consists of a bunch of 1/4 wave vertical elements with no ground plane inside a fiberglass tube.
I could get better reception over the ferret with a coat hanger.

I used an Icom R9000 for most of my testing when I'd made my tests.
I measured signals from a signal generator as well as signals from stations around the area that had consistent and steady signal levels, both weak and strong signals but the ferret consistently failed when compared to about any other antenna I hooked up.
For the oddball between band tests, I used a signal generator to generate signals into a small discone located about 90 feet across the roof from the receive test antenna mast.

I really must wonder if those that claim the ferret works wonders have actually done any side by side testing with other antennas. I suspect not.
I tested over two dozen antennas and some several times over a two week period including the ferret but the ferret came in last every time except in the VHF low band range where it did outperform all discones including those models with the low band whip on them but it could not come close to a band specific antenna in any band.
The antenna that gave me the best signal in the VHF high and 450 bands was a V-42R which I think is a Hy-Gain dual band amateur antenna with decent gain but that antenna suffered badly above the 450 band thanks to its tuning coils. It had been retuned for the public safety bands.

The A/S antenna I ended up going with also offers gain in the VHF low through UHF bands and then unity gain in the 800 band.
It does not work as well for say the military air band as a discone does but it still beat the ferret by a large amount in that range. I don't recall the actual A/S model I have up but it was sold not long before A/S stopped selling scanner antennas as it does have an 800 MHz tuning coil of sorts. 800 MHz systems were still in their infancy and pretty rare back in those days. The 800 MHz tuning coil is not really a coil but more of some type of element below the low band coil.

I did not expect the ferret to perform as claimed by Austin as I knew its design well before I made the purchase but I did not expect to see how poorly it actually did perform in real world tests.

For someone who lives in a basement and only wants to hear local strong signals, the ferret may be a good choice as it does lessen strong paging signals and other stuff that may overload the typical scanner when used with an outdoor antenna with real gain. That is thanks to its zero gain which can be a good thing for many wideband receivers with poor selectivity like most scanners.

I personally would never recommend the ferret after I saw its real world performance with my own eyes.
All my testing was done with the same LMR-400 coax run with the antennas at the same height about 30 feet above a flat roof on top of a 3 story building.
When the ferret would not even detect some signals, I would try an Icom R7000 and R8500 just to rule out a problem with the R9000 but never once saw a difference. The R9000 is a very solid receiver and works well for antenna testing thanks to its real analog S-Meter.
 
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ko6jw_2

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I too have wondered about the Ferret. It looks good on paper, but I have rarely seen a review that was favorable. It is also a very expensive antenna.

One comment about VHF low band performance. The discones with a low band whip tune very sharply. I have an old Radio Shack discone that tunes best at about 44.5 Mhz. Its bandwidth with my antenna analyzer is less than plus or minus 2Mhz. As I am interested in monitoring the CHP at 42Mhz, I'm going to fabricate a longer whip.

The Ferret is supposed to incorporate 1/2 wave elements and not require a ground plane.

Every time I get interested in buying one, feedback like this thread convinces me not to.

Thanks to kruser for his measurements and review.
 

fdnybuff18

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I had the Ferret up and operating for years and had outstanding results from 30 Mhz to 1000 mhz... With that in mind, I have recently replaced it with a DPD Omni-X and the results have been amazing. I can not believe what a better job the DPD Omni-X does.
 
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