Choosing the Right antenna

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skatertj

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So i have talked to two other people, not on this forum but some people who know radios very well and i have asked them what antenna i should get for my scanner. I currently have a pro-2055 and i want to scan freq's between 120mhz to 470mhz. The antenna i am running now looks like an older style radioshack antenna with a mag mount and what i believe are two coils. I can barely get a freq of 154 which is 20 miles from me.

My questions are, if i got a larsen 1/4th wave whip or a tri band, would either one give me better range?

Which tri band should i purchase, they larsen or bmaxscan1000?

And if i want to get a 1/4th wave VHF, how will it perform on High UHF?
 

Rt169Radio

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1st. If you only want to listen to freqs between 120 MHz and 470 MHz the 1/4 wave antenna would be better.

2nd. If you get a tri-band antenna get the Larsen one.

3rd. A 1/4 wave antenna will pick up 136-512 MHz.
 
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Rt169Radio

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Whats the difference in the larsen and maxscan?

Is the 1/4th wave going to give better signal distance?
I don't really no anything about maxscan,but the Larsen tri-band antenna is built strong,its short,and it picks up good in its freq ranges.

Well the 1/4th wave will be better for the freq range that you want to listen to because the Larsen tri-band antennas freq range is 150-165, 450-470 & 806-940 MHz and not the 120 MHz and 470 MHz like you want.

What brand of antenna are you getting the 1/4th wave antenna from?
 

skatertj

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Well, im not too interested in 120 to 140. Mainly 150 up to 470. As far as a 1/4th wave goes, i was looking into some larsen brand antennas
 

Rt169Radio

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Well, im not too interested in 120 to 140. Mainly 150 up to 470. As far as a 1/4th wave goes, i was looking into some larsen brand antennas
Well then a Larsen 1/4 wave should be good.
 

skatertj

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Alright thanks! And do you know if most fire departments use repeaters or are they handheld to handheld? Im hoping to hear fire stations better that are less than 20 miles from me. Currently, i only get static when they talk. Also, i am having a hard time finding the right 1/4 wave. Idk if i need a pre-tuned or field tunable. I want to stick around 18-20 inchs tall.
 
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Westcoast141

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Scanner Antenna

I have been using a Spectra quad band antenna made by Austin Antenna with good results on all bands. Transmit and receive. HRO has them and they price about $80.00

I mounted it on the tool box in the bed of my truck. I made an L bracet and mounted it on the side up close to the cab. I used a 3/4 inch NMO mount.

Good Luck
 

LtDoc

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For VHF/UHF the key to how far you can hear things is antenna height. For mobile use, that's sort of limited. For fixed use it can be limiting, but the higher the better. VHF/UHF frequency range is typically "line of sight", meaning those frequencies don't 'bend' over the horizon much. And just like you, the higher you are, the further you can see. Also like you, obstructions can keep you from seeing things that you wish you could.
Some particular lengths, or sizes, of antennas work better than others. One of those 'lengths'/'sizes' is a 1/4 wave length of the frequency of interest (so are 1/2 wave, and 5/8 wave). An easy way of figuring a 1/4 wave length is by dividing '234' by the frequency in Mhz. The high in frequency you go, the shorter the 1/4 wave antenna (any of then actually, not just a 1/4 wave). One 'trick' with just receiving antennas is that longer is 'better' than 'shorter'. So if you are interested in a wide range of frequencies then use an antenna for the lowest frequency of interest. It won't be the best at higher frequencies, but it will certainly be better than the other way around, too short for the lower frequencies.
All of this is a generalization, not 'exact' by any means, and not always 'true'. But it will certainly do okay in most instances.
Have fun.
- 'Doc
 

Halfpint

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I currently have a pro-2055 and i want to scan freq's between 120mhz to 470mhz. The antenna i am running now looks like an older style radioshack antenna with a mag mount and what i believe are two coils. I can barely get a freq of 154 which is 20 miles from me.
Hmmmmmmm... I, too, have a few, actually 4, 2055s and also use the RS magmount with them, and my 2096s and 600s, both mobile and base without any problems through the VHF-UHF ranges. I have several signals that are around the 154MHz range you are having problems with, though, several of them are a problem of being ones I really do not have any interest in. Luckily I have been able to take care of *most* those via setting either a CTCSS or DCSS `tone' for the ones I want. (I've got one signal of interest that, unfortunately, doesn't use either and I am somewhat lucky that the `competitor' signal is fairly intermittant so I can still hear pretty much most of what I am interested in.) The closest site that I listen to is over 50 miles away and comes in almost like it was next door.

This makes me wonder about your problem given where you are. Did you just assemble your magmount by dropping/inserting the various `interconnecting' `bits-n-pieces' into their various `sockets' and tighten things down? I've carefully made up all the connections such that the setscrews are only using approximately the length of the diameter of the setscrew plus about 1/16". (I *did* try replacing some of the other mast pieces with slightly longer pieces but all of my `kludges' really never made any really noticable improvements. Though, I will admit that replacing the top mast section *seemed* to make a just noticable improvement on the VHF-Lo end. The `fly in the ointment' was an almost total loss of the UHF-Hi end.)

I expect that there will be replies about "How does such tiny length differences make such differences?". While I could just make either "FM" or " It is sometimes just the way things go." type of reply? Instead, based upon many years `playing' with both scanners and actual 2-way radios, my response is that *sometimes* it works out that way because one is only just that `tad bit' off from the antenna's `sweetspot' for that particular setup and good old `plain luck' has reared it's head for you. Since we are talking about just receiving I suspect that this may be the case for you and while it is seemingly an easy way out to just go and get another antenna and just call the existing antenna a #@&%$@# piece of junk.

As you might gather from all the preceeding text I tend to look at the situation as something to `play' with. Since you already have faced the proposition that you may have to go out and purchase another antenna this opens up the `field' of what you may want to try *before* springing for that new antenna. (Now... Something I should warn you about, mainly because I *don't* know if you have had the not so wonder experience of cutting the material those `bits-n-pieces' of mast are made off. *DON'T* try and cut them with a plain old pair of diagonal wire cutters! You *might* get away with that doing one or two cuts but, unless the `dikes' are specifically made for cutting `hard' wire you will end up with notches in the, once nice and sharp, cutting edges. [I have even seen small `bolt cutters' end up notched!] The very best way to cut, both for saving a good pair of `dikes' and producing nice smooth cuts, is to use a cutoff disk with a high speed rotary cutter, AKA Dremel Tool, to notch the mast material on 2 sides, put the work in a vice and then snapping it, and then `dress' the end with either a grinder or grind wheel and the `Dremel'.) Find some place that will sell you a stick or two of some stainless steel welding rod, or `round stock', the same diameter of the pieces you are going to be playing with. Keep the original pieces and cut yourself some pieces that are, maybe, to begin with and try them in place of the originals. (I'd cut several different pieces of different lengths for all three pieces with +1/2', +1", +1 1/2" *and* -1/2", -1", and -1 1/2" `additions'/`subtractions' knowing that I *may* have to make `adjustments' to those as `playtime' proceedes.)

Next comes `playtime'. {VB GRIN!} The very first piece *I* would play with would be the top most one. This is, most likely, the one that handles the range of frequencies you are currently interested in. I suspect that if I am wrong there are others here on RR who will willingly jump in and correct me. (Don't worry about the `tip' end. Once you find out if that is what is needed all you have to do is just gently round off the end and slip on and shrink a small piece of heat-shrink tubeing, bright red is the best, to both protect it and make it visible.) Since you know what Frequency/Frequency Range you are the most interested in at this time your 2055 can be your `indicator' as to whether you are going the right way. (Keeping a set of good notes whilst you are playing will greatly help! Especially if you find that you have to `play' with the other mast sections!) Once you have found the `right' length for that frequency you can then, depending upon if you discover that you've caused a problem at another frequency, `play' with other pieces of the mast.

If you do have to play with any of the other mast sections your notes will help you know somewhat which way you have to go with the others and how much you might have to add or subtract to/from previously `tuned' mast sections.

Now... I suspect that you may be muttering something along the lines of, "Why should I `play around' with all the above?" You may probably be right that it sounds like a PITA and can just tell me to `bugger off'. But, not only is it actually fairly simple to do it also kinda fun to both do, being able to say that you have done it, you have made you receiver `hear' better, and you have a true `one of a kinda' antenna has it's `plusses'. Not only all that, without the cost of getting a Dremel (Which is something that will pay for itself as time passes.), even with the costs of the mast material and various `disposables' will most likely be a lot less than a new antenna. Oh, SWMBO just reminded me, yeah there also is just the "I did it myself!" `glow' you will have even if no one asks.

If you need to ask me any questions you can PM me and I'll try to help.
 

Rt169Radio

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Alright thanks! And do you know if most fire departments use repeaters or are they handheld to handheld? Im hoping to hear fire stations better that are less than 20 miles from me. Currently, i only get static when they talk. Also, i am having a hard time finding the right 1/4 wave. Idk if i need a pre-tuned or field tunable. I want to stick around 18-20 inchs tall.
Well my fire departments use repeaters and handheld to handheld,am not sure what other fire departments use.Your going to use this 1/4 wave antenna for mobile scanning? If so the only way your going to get any better coverage is height with the antenna.The Larsen 1/4 antennas that I know of our already pre-tuned as far as I know.

Try looking at this link for a 1/4 wave antenna.

Larsen Amateur Mobile Antennas NMO 440B
 

skatertj

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Messages
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Broken Arrow, Ok
Hmmmmmmm... I, too, have a few, actually 4, 2055s and also use the RS magmount with them, and my 2096s and 600s, both mobile and base without any problems through the VHF-UHF ranges. I have several signals that are around the 154MHz range you are having problems with, though, several of them are a problem of being ones I really do not have any interest in. Luckily I have been able to take care of *most* those via setting either a CTCSS or DCSS `tone' for the ones I want. (I've got one signal of interest that, unfortunately, doesn't use either and I am somewhat lucky that the `competitor' signal is fairly intermittant so I can still hear pretty much most of what I am interested in.) The closest site that I listen to is over 50 miles away and comes in almost like it was next door.

This makes me wonder about your problem given where you are. Did you just assemble your magmount by dropping/inserting the various `interconnecting' `bits-n-pieces' into their various `sockets' and tighten things down? I've carefully made up all the connections such that the setscrews are only using approximately the length of the diameter of the setscrew plus about 1/16". (I *did* try replacing some of the other mast pieces with slightly longer pieces but all of my `kludges' really never made any really noticable improvements. Though, I will admit that replacing the top mast section *seemed* to make a just noticable improvement on the VHF-Lo end. The `fly in the ointment' was an almost total loss of the UHF-Hi end.)

I expect that there will be replies about "How does such tiny length differences make such differences?". While I could just make either "FM" or " It is sometimes just the way things go." type of reply? Instead, based upon many years `playing' with both scanners and actual 2-way radios, my response is that *sometimes* it works out that way because one is only just that `tad bit' off from the antenna's `sweetspot' for that particular setup and good old `plain luck' has reared it's head for you. Since we are talking about just receiving I suspect that this may be the case for you and while it is seemingly an easy way out to just go and get another antenna and just call the existing antenna a #@&%$@# piece of junk.

As you might gather from all the preceeding text I tend to look at the situation as something to `play' with. Since you already have faced the proposition that you may have to go out and purchase another antenna this opens up the `field' of what you may want to try *before* springing for that new antenna. (Now... Something I should warn you about, mainly because I *don't* know if you have had the not so wonder experience of cutting the material those `bits-n-pieces' of mast are made off. *DON'T* try and cut them with a plain old pair of diagonal wire cutters! You *might* get away with that doing one or two cuts but, unless the `dikes' are specifically made for cutting `hard' wire you will end up with notches in the, once nice and sharp, cutting edges. [I have even seen small `bolt cutters' end up notched!] The very best way to cut, both for saving a good pair of `dikes' and producing nice smooth cuts, is to use a cutoff disk with a high speed rotary cutter, AKA Dremel Tool, to notch the mast material on 2 sides, put the work in a vice and then snapping it, and then `dress' the end with either a grinder or grind wheel and the `Dremel'.) Find some place that will sell you a stick or two of some stainless steel welding rod, or `round stock', the same diameter of the pieces you are going to be playing with. Keep the original pieces and cut yourself some pieces that are, maybe, to begin with and try them in place of the originals. (I'd cut several different pieces of different lengths for all three pieces with +1/2', +1", +1 1/2" *and* -1/2", -1", and -1 1/2" `additions'/`subtractions' knowing that I *may* have to make `adjustments' to those as `playtime' proceedes.)

Next comes `playtime'. {VB GRIN!} The very first piece *I* would play with would be the top most one. This is, most likely, the one that handles the range of frequencies you are currently interested in. I suspect that if I am wrong there are others here on RR who will willingly jump in and correct me. (Don't worry about the `tip' end. Once you find out if that is what is needed all you have to do is just gently round off the end and slip on and shrink a small piece of heat-shrink tubeing, bright red is the best, to both protect it and make it visible.) Since you know what Frequency/Frequency Range you are the most interested in at this time your 2055 can be your `indicator' as to whether you are going the right way. (Keeping a set of good notes whilst you are playing will greatly help! Especially if you find that you have to `play' with the other mast sections!) Once you have found the `right' length for that frequency you can then, depending upon if you discover that you've caused a problem at another frequency, `play' with other pieces of the mast.

If you do have to play with any of the other mast sections your notes will help you know somewhat which way you have to go with the others and how much you might have to add or subtract to/from previously `tuned' mast sections.

Now... I suspect that you may be muttering something along the lines of, "Why should I `play around' with all the above?" You may probably be right that it sounds like a PITA and can just tell me to `bugger off'. But, not only is it actually fairly simple to do it also kinda fun to both do, being able to say that you have done it, you have made you receiver `hear' better, and you have a true `one of a kinda' antenna has it's `plusses'. Not only all that, without the cost of getting a Dremel (Which is something that will pay for itself as time passes.), even with the costs of the mast material and various `disposables' will most likely be a lot less than a new antenna. Oh, SWMBO just reminded me, yeah there also is just the "I did it myself!" `glow' you will have even if no one asks.

If you need to ask me any questions you can PM me and I'll try to help.
This is a great idea. Lengthy, but a good one! I will go ahead and try it out first.

Well my fire departments use repeaters and handheld to handheld,am not sure what other fire departments use.Your going to use this 1/4 wave antenna for mobile scanning? If so the only way your going to get any better coverage is height with the antenna.The Larsen 1/4 antennas that I know of our already pre-tuned as far as I know.

Try looking at this link for a 1/4 wave antenna.

Larsen Amateur Mobile Antennas NMO 440B
Yes, i am going to be using this as mobile use. The freq im trying to receive clearly is 155.925. Since height is what i need, i am thinking of this NMOQ B antenna. Good one? Also, i have an ex cop car(i am not making my car look more copish, just want to throw it out now-have pics to back up if needed), it has a covered NMO hole near the top rear window on the roof. I really dont want a huge antenna there. Could i receive descent signal if it was hooked onto trunk with a L bracket?
 

skatertj

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Broken Arrow, Ok
So, is a 1/4th wave cut to 18inches going to give me better performance over the larsen? Even in 800 mhz if my county ever gets those freqs?

Sorry, just trying to get the right antenna for my use
 
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