Decent HT Antenna

K9DWB

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Greencastle, PA, USA
I'm newer to this forum and also new to my HT and Amateur radio. I would like to find out what others use as their HT radio antenna. Which make and model (if available) have you tried? Which do you like? Best results from?

My radio and antenna info:

I have the Yaesu FT3DR. Obviously it came with the stock duck antenna that I don't even think I tried. When I got this last week from Ham Radio Outlet, I also bought partially on accident the MFJ-1714 and the Diamond SRH77CA. I say accidental on the MFJ-1714, because after it was ordered, I noticed it's 2 meter only. I've since bought a Signal Stick dual band with the blue coloring. So far, this Signal Stick pulls in the best it seems. I'm pretty sure I'll need to do an external antenna if I want to transmit anything on any HT at this location. I'm in a poor location; just too far from repeaters to make it work as is.

I'd like comments from anyone that wishes to answer regardless of make/model radio, antenna, or connection type.
 

W5lz

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I agree with you, an outside antenna will do better than the typical 'rubber duck'. Getting it as high as posible/practical is also a good thing. Another option is to swap the OEM antenna for one that is 'close' to a 1/4 wave length long. More whip than loading coil type of thing (usually something 10 - 18 inches long). Won't beat an outside antenna, but depending on how far you are from repeaters, etc, may work just fine.
A very 'quick-n-dirty' way of looking at antennas is that if it ain't big and ugly, it ain't no good. Need lots of 'salt' with that, but generally true.
 

K4EET

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Hi @K9DWB. The Diamond SRH77CA is a 2m/70cm antenna at 15 inches in length. It is advertised to have +6 dB of "relative" gain over a typical stock HT antenna. That is a huge amount of gain for a 15 inch antenna, especially on VHF, since it is only 8 inches longer than the stock Yaesu FT3DR antenna which is 7 inches in length. But the reviews and ratings are good and I believe that this particular antenna is the best available for portable operations. As a matter of fact, I plan to order that very same antenna. So all-in-all, I think that you made a good choice with the Diamond SRH77CA antenna! 73, Dave K4EET
 

mmckenna

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I'd like comments from anyone that wishes to answer regardless of make/model radio, antenna, or connection type.
An exterior antenna outside your home, up as high as you can safely get it, and fed with good coaxial cable, will likely solve your issues. Hand held radios are already at a disadvantage due to the lack of good ground plane on VHF. The antennas don't help much, but when I used to have a 2 meter hand held, I used the Diamond and it worked well.

But, if you want any sort of serious performance, get an exterior antenna, both on your home and your car.
 

K9DWB

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OK well that's good to hear I did something right about this. I do realize I can't overcome physical attributes. I do plan on moving sometime soon and that places me about 5 miles from a repeater that'll be about 1,300 feet higher than my apartment. I still plan on an external of some stealthy sort.
 

mmckenna

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Yeah, external antennas will greatly improve things. It's worth it, when you get to that point.

I remember when I got my first HT, it was difficult to make good contacts with it, but when I added an external antenna on the roof, I had no issues hitting repeaters all over the place with that 5 watts.
 

K4EET

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FWIW, we have a ham here in Baltimore City that could not reliably get into the repeaters from their QTH with a 4 watt HT. Two hams generously donated this Baltimore City ham some equipment that solved the access problem. They gave the Baltimore City ham a 12 VDC power supply, a 30 watt VHF amplifier and a 5/8th wave mobile mag-mount antenna. Using the antenna on a 15 inch cookie sheet set by the window and using the HT on the low power position of 1 watt into the 30 watt VHF amplifier, the Baltimore City ham is now able to get in to some distant repeaters that they wanted to access now with a full quieting signal.

The reason that I relate this story here is because used mag-mount mobile antennas and VHF (or VHF/UHF) amplifiers can be found at just about any hamfest. This might be a quick way to reliably access the repeater(s) that @K9DWB wishes to access.

73, Dave K4EET
 

N4DJC

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A 1/4 wave mag mount on a steel pizza pan 16” in diameter works even inside if you’re up high enough. The ground plane gives you a nice low radiation angle, and is far more efficient than a HT antenna.
 

KE5MC

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David,
The Diamond 77 does get nice reviews and for a short time I used one. I found the stiffness of the antenna a distraction in use and maybe a strain on the connector so I started using the thinner more flexible type. For my scanners and HTs I switched to a SMA to BNC adaptor earlier on. The challenge is to find an adaptor that is a good fit on the radio side. In the case of the two attached radios, the red line is pointing to a spacer used to close the gap once the adaptor is screwed fully down. I wanted the larger base of the adaptor to make contact with the body of the radio around the SMA socket. Without the washer there was a gap and side loads to the antenna transferred to the threaded part of the SMA connector. I picked a thickness that allowed contact with the washer and preload to the adaptor base before it bottomed out on the threads. Washers are hand-made and non-metallic, blue is from a piece of static mat and other is clear Tygon tubing. Using BNC allows me to easily and quickly change antenna without wear and tear on the connection. Each antenna is a dual band, but of different lengths depending on how I will be using the radio/scanner. For connection to an outside antenna a short pigtail to a stiff feedline with BNC on one end and UHF connector on other are available. If the outside antenna has something like RG8x cable a adaptor could be used. In the third picture the right side 2 position switch is for the dual band antenna and the left side 3 position is the HF antenna. The Yaesu is connected to the switch with a 5 foot BNC patch cord. Some loss with various adaptors and less than best cable, but generally the loss is made-up for by gain of the outside antenna and height. This setup gives me quick and easy swap and change between radios and antennas.

Click picture for a larger view.
Mike

Icom.jpeg

Anytone.jpeg

Yaesu.jpeg
 
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K9DWB

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Good info again from all. I'm certainly going to try either the external mag mount or this concept I'd seen where you use a tripod topped with a mobile mount an antenna. Knowing me, I'll do both some point soon.
 

N4DJC

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Another option, one that I have used, is a small yagi (like a portable Arrow) mounted on a PVC stand. I had no issues hitting any repeater within reasonable distances (30 miles) with 5 watts.
 

W5lz

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Any gain claim advertised as "relative" is more joke than fact, don't even think about going by it. As in, what's it relating to?
The typical rubber-duck antenna is -only- for convenience, not performance or efficiency. A minimum of a 1/4 wave length is a fairly good way of thinking about it. A 1/4 wave still has a negative gain, but not as much 'negative' as a 'duck'. Depending on who made it, that 1/4 wave is still typically loaded a little bit, but something on the order of 10 - 19 inches is a ball-park length. Also less 'convenient', oh well. As far as brands are concerned, what is available to you is a biggy. Nagoya is what was convenient/available so that's what I'm using. It 'works' for me...
 

K9DWB

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Yup I gotcha. My rubber duck spent 30 seconds on the radio just to see how it looked on there. I took it off and used the Diamond over the first weekend and then swapped in my Signal Stick. I am just in an area where no repeater is close enough to hit on transmit. I'm cooking up external project with good coax and a 9' speaker tripod with maybe a Home Depot Tram or Diamond dual band vertical. No that's not a portable solution, but it'll get me out there at home.
 

WB9YBM

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If you don't want to get poked in the armpit when your radio's on you belt, the ducky might be the best way to go--also okay for short-range work. I've had equal good luck with various manufacturers of telescopic types; I try to go for 5/8 when possible, or at least a 3/8 wavelength. The one time I hooked up my H.T. to a base station antenna I got clobbered with intermod, adjacent channel garbage, etc. making me assume that H.T.s were never designed for longer range work--although it's been a long time ago where I tried this, so it might be possible H.T. designs have improved since then...
 

AB4BF

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I'm newer to this forum and also new to my HT and Amateur radio. I would like to find out what others use as their HT radio antenna. Which make and model (if available) have you tried? Which do you like? Best results from?

My radio and antenna info:

I have the Yaesu FT3DR. Obviously it came with the stock duck antenna that I don't even think I tried. When I got this last week from Ham Radio Outlet, I also bought partially on accident the MFJ-1714 and the Diamond SRH77CA. I say accidental on the MFJ-1714, because after it was ordered, I noticed it's 2 meter only. I've since bought a Signal Stick dual band with the blue coloring. So far, this Signal Stick pulls in the best it seems. I'm pretty sure I'll need to do an external antenna if I want to transmit anything on any HT at this location. I'm in a poor location; just too far from repeaters to make it work as is.

I'd like comments from anyone that wishes to answer regardless of make/model radio, antenna, or connection type.
Hello, if you would like a very lightweight dual band HT antenna, I highly recommend the Comet SMA-24 series. Comet HT Antenna
I have two, one on my Wouxun HT and one on my Yaesu FT-65. I am very pleased with their performance. I did use and still have two Diamond SRJ77CA antennas. They are also good antennas, but my clumsy self has broken both of them. I epoxied both back together, one worked, one didn't. YMMV...
 
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