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Austin Spectra

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RadioDitch

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I know there's been tons of posts over the years about this design, with across the spectrum opinions. Which I also know besides being a subjective topic, depends on how many people read the directions and didn't short it out with the "L" contact. So opening pandora's box here...what are everyone's thoughts about this model before I decide to spit the $80-100 out?

Also has anyone tried putting anything between the "L" contact and the bottom of the antenna to definitely prevent contact? Some small piece of styrofoam or plastic perhaps?

Thanks gents...
 
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gewecke

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If I'm going to spend that kind of $$ on an antenna then it better be able to support transmitting on at least a wide vhf/ uhf bandwidth as well otherwise it's a coat hanger at best.

73,
n9zas
 

Fast1eddie

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Say what you will-it is a excellent antenna and I am more than satisfied with the performance. As for the "L" rf contact, don't muscle it down into the base-just hand tighten. If installed per the supplied instructions, it'll be gravy. Get aggressive with it, that's your problem. Price???? Excellent build quality and Austin will answer your questions. Have had several name brand antennas fail due to our winter weather in a mobile environment that cost just as much as the Spectra, mine is going strong.

Good Signals,

Ed
 

russellmaher

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Hello Matt:

I am in total agreement with Fast1eddie and his opinion of the Spectra antenna. I purchased mine in the spring of 2006 and use the NMO trunk lip mount so I don't have to put a hole in my vehicle. The performance of this antenna is and has been terrific since day one and I'm totally pleased with it, and if something happened to it, I wouldn't hesitate to get another one.

I have used it on every vehicle I've owned since 2006 - a Chevy Lumina, then a Buick Century, then a Chevy Trailblazer (mounted it on the hood) and now a Hyundai Sonata. The same mount and the same antenna....so, I guess the cost figured over that timespan reduces the "pricey" thought to a more
reasonable amount.

Botton line....in my opinion the Austin Spectra is a great antenna and wouldn't hesitate to get another.

Russell
 

RadioDitch

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Honestly, I don't consider $85-100 pricey for an honestly excellent RX antenna. So price isn't that big to me provided it earns it keep. I definitely know about the "rookie" mistake with the Spectra of not reading the directions and not doing proper instillation. I've read tons of posts and reviews tainted by that dumb mistake.

So how does it hold up at speed for such a big whip? I mean...c'mon... I am from Jersey. O:)
 
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Skypilot007

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I didn't think the spectra antenna performed as good as claimed, at least not for me. Perhaps if you listen to VHF low band it's handy and seems to work pretty good down there. I got a lot of signal wavering due to the antenna whipping around in the wind at highway speeds with the antenna trunk lip mounted. The Larsen tri-bander works just as good or better 144MHz on up thru 860MHz on the same mount and its half the size and 1/3 the price. Its another option if you don't like the austin spectra.
 

TexScan780D

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I have 2 Austin Spectra antennas, one for mobile and the other for base. The mobile is on a mag-mount and the base is connected with the Larsen BSAKIT ground-plain which converts a mobile antenna to base. I am very happy with the performance of the Austin Spectra for I on VHF-HI and 800 MHz band.
 

RadioDitch

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I didn't think the spectra antenna performed as good as claimed, at least not for me. Perhaps if you listen to VHF low band it's handy and seems to work pretty good down there. I got a lot of signal wavering due to the antenna whipping around in the wind at highway speeds with the antenna trunk lip mounted. The Larsen tri-bander works just as good or better 144MHz on up thru 860MHz on the same mount and its half the size and 1/3 the price. Its another option if you don't like the austin spectra.
That was one of my concerns, as was possible damage to the antenna at speed. It'd be hole mounted though, so that helps. There are still a number of FD's around here, as you know being from Medford, that operate on low band. Especially up by my girl's place.

I actually have the Larsen Tribander. Love it. My interest in the Spectra was in the interest of adding low band without having to add another antenna which would be huge in and of itself.

Thanks for all the comments guys. If you have any more to throw out, love to hear 'em.
 

gewecke

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As I previously said, how can a receive ONLY antenna be worth that kind of cash? I can't justify a purchase for that thing. I agree and stand by the comments regarding larsen antennas however! :wink:

73,
n9zas
 

prcguy

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The Spectra is also a transmit antenna, same as the multiband amateur antennas they sell expect tweaked more for public service bands.

I prefer the old A/S MON series and they work better on VHF lo band. They run about $50 when you can find them.
prcguy




As I previously said, how can a receive ONLY antenna be worth that kind of cash? I can't justify a purchase for that thing. I agree and stand by the comments regarding larsen antennas however! :wink:

73,
n9zas
 

N2MWE

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As I previously said, how can a receive ONLY antenna be worth that kind of cash? I can't justify a purchase for that thing. I agree and stand by the comments regarding larsen antennas however! :wink:

73,
n9zas
I got one, and I gotta tell ya...the antenna kicks ***. I can't speak for Larsen because I never used one, but truthfully, with all I hear from my Spectra, you couldn't really do much better. I think the Spectra vs. Larsen is like the Uniden vs. GRE! :lol:
 

russellmaher

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Hi Matt:

As you probably expected, you have some of the RR members that love the Spectra and some that don't like it at all; just shows you how opinionated we can be.

But I want to address your concerns with the antenna being damaged by your high speed highway driving (after all, you do drive in NJ). In the time that I have used the Spectra, it has been subjected to
all types of driving conditions: main roads, back roads, highways, turnpikes and all types of weather.
No problems have developed through all of those, so.....Don't worry - be happy! Just go to Austin's site and take a look at the heavy duty spring at the base of the Spectra - believe me, it keeps the Spectra upright at any speed. You are going to get some swaying due to high winds, but it doesn't seem to affect the performance IMO.

Russell
 

prcguy

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Ok, here are some facts comparing the Austin Spectra to an A/S MON53 and a unity gain military antenna on the same vehicle, same location and measuring known signals with an HP Spectrum Analyzer. The chart below is 5dB per vertical division.

For low band use the A/S (red line) has a lot more useable band width and in the 125 to about 174MHz range they are neck and neck.

Over the 220 to 400MHz each has its sweet spots and at 415MHz up to about 470Mhz the A/S is better then the Spectra pulls ahead in the 480 to 512MHz range.

800 was not tested because the military antenna only goes to 512MHz and was the focus of the test.

So which is the better antenna? As you can see each antenna has its strong and weak points and if you want VHF lo band or 440 to 470MHz the A/S would be a better choice. For VHF hi band it should not matter and for UHF T band the Spectra would be better.

Both antennas seem mechanically up to the task of high speed driving and the spring on the Spectra might save you some damage if roof mounted. The A/S is quite a bit longer and accounts for the better VHF lo band performance.

If the A/S was still made I think it would take quite a market share away from the Austin Spectra.
prcguy


Hi Matt:

As you probably expected, you have some of the RR members that love the Spectra and some that don't like it at all; just shows you how opinionated we can be.

But I want to address your concerns with the antenna being damaged by your high speed highway driving (after all, you do drive in NJ). In the time that I have used the Spectra, it has been subjected to
all types of driving conditions: main roads, back roads, highways, turnpikes and all types of weather.
No problems have developed through all of those, so.....Don't worry - be happy! Just go to Austin's site and take a look at the heavy duty spring at the base of the Spectra - believe me, it keeps the Spectra upright at any speed. You are going to get some swaying due to high winds, but it doesn't seem to affect the performance IMO.

Russell
 
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Fast1eddie

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I cut my teeth on Antenna Specialist products. A very sad day when they were sold off. Seems to be a fair amount of new old stock out there, they made a extremely durable product for the professional user and the hobbyist market. Got a couple of A/S tri band scanner whips, gotta find the loading coils. Think the coil was for 450 and above.
 

chrislxq

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I have used the Austin Spectra NMO Trunk Mounted with great results on UHF and 800. I have used Larsen Antennas, but for wide coverage, the Austin is a keeper. Any antenna custom cut to frequency is perhaps a better plan, but limited by choice. The Austin has always had good reviews for overall coverage.
 

mrkelso

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I own 3 Austin Spectra's all on giant metal sheets tucked in a corner of my Attic and i do just fine picking up signals from all over the try state area and space. (Yes up in orbit)
 

russellmaher

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Hello Matt:

The suspense is killing me....did you go with the Spectra or something else?

Inquiring minds want to know!


Russell
 

md_p97

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Weighing in

I had an Austin Spectra I was using on my Jeep Wrangler, mounted at the rear tail light.

On the Low band, it received very well....however, the higher the band freq, the less performance I got, regardless if I was using the hard top or soft top.

The best antenna I have ever used was the "modified" Radio Shack mag mount
http://www.strongsignals.net/access/image/antennas/bearwires.gif, if I could figure out how to use it on my Jeep, I would, but there are really no good places for the magnet to sit.

I just purchased a new stainless steel mount Quadratec Exclusive JW-TLM-L - Stainless Steel CB Antenna Mount for 76-06 Jeep® CJ & Wrangler - Rear Driver Mount - Quadratec and I'll give that a shot with the magnet...but if it doesn't hold (and I don't think it will) I am going to go with the Larsen tri-band.
 

ka3jjz

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Quite the opposite for me. My Spectra is mounted on my trunk through a Diamond mount, and grounded through the 4 screws (easily validated with a cheap VOM). The performance of the antenna is quite good in the VHF hi, UHF and 800 - low band is OK, but keep in mind this is a 2 foot or so antenna - you can't expect good performance with such a short antenna, no matter how many traps you put on it. Just won't happen.

However don't be fooled - I have heard Golden Ring barracks on 39 mhz when I was all the way in Laurel - a good solid 40 minute drive up I-95 (did it this morning, in fact). It does work, just don't expect optimal performance out of a 2 foot loaded antenna on VHF low band

On 800, I've had several times when I was in College Park, and heard the Anne Arundel 800 system (scratchy but readable) when I was in a fairly clear spot. That's just about as far as the Golden Ring barracks - and this was on 2 different handhelds (a 245 and a 396). That's pretty much stretching the string on 800; it just won't travel the same way a 39 mhz signal will.

best regards..Mike
 

russellmaher

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I own 3 Austin Spectra's all on giant metal sheets tucked in a corner of my Attic and i do just fine picking up signals from all over the try state area and space. (Yes up in orbit)
mrkelso:

This sounds interesting! Could you explain in a little more detail what you mean by giant metal sheets and how the Spectras are mounted?

I'm in an apartment which was formerly a factory, so I cannot put an external antenna on the roof but might be able to mount one in the large windows to improve my reception.

Thanks much!

Russell
 
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