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Hamateur antenna dilemma

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jparks29

John McClane
Joined
Nov 20, 2003
Messages
840
Location
Nakatomi Plaza
Well....

In trying to keep my installs low profile.... I've come into a dilemma.

Vehicle is a 2004 F150. Mounting location is passenger side fender where existing FM antenna is, I'll be removing the antenna and modifying the existing mount for either SO-239 or 3/8x24 (NMO is too large to fit on mount area)

I already have a Phantom Elite center of the roof for APRS, which is all but invisible from the street, and a 'sat/onstar' look-alike on the roof for GPS/800.

Currently I'm running a 1/4 wave whip center of roof for VHF temporarily with UHF not being hooked up, but that will be replaced with the Phantom Elite when I get my dual band antenna setup.


I have a few options.... None of which are good...

1. Go with a Sti-co disguise antenna. 500$ - ****ty output - Looks EXACTLY like the factory antenna.

2. Go with 3/8x24 mount , replacing the factory FM mount/whip with 3/8x24 and 19" dual band antenna and center load 'loose wound' coil. First problem is 1/4 wave on VHF and 5/8 over 5/8 on UHF, which leads to problems because there is very little groundplane (being mounted on the edge of the truck), ~50$ - looks aftermarket but not enough to raise eyebrows - Good tx/rx but not great because of lack of groundplane.

3. Go with SO239 mount and an antenna like the Comet SBB5 which is 1/2 wave on 2m (which reduces/eliminates the need for a groundplane). Also replacing factory fm ant mounting hole. OBVIOUSLY aftermarket, and @ 39" and a wide base DEFINITELY something that would be questioned. About 60$, best TX, highest profile.

4. so239 mount fiberglass whip, dual band, looks like .. well.. a fiberglass whip.... definitely thicker, but could be played off as being factory... since the factory fm antenna mount has a shroud which encloses the base, meaning just the antenna would stick out, making it look somewhat factory. ~40$ ... ...presumably 1/2 wave on VHF because of 2.5db gain (stated), so similar in performance to #3 (theoretically)




Thoughts?





BTW. Here's a pic of the truck to get an idea.





Single CH, dual band Orion setup..






In the middle of the install, still finishing things up....


 
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66twr2009

Member
Premium Subscriber
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Jul 10, 2009
Messages
22
Location
Frederick, MD
Just my opinion, but maybe go with #4. Many jeeps use this type of thicker antenna but it matches their rugged off-road look. Most are on the back and longer though like for CB. If there is a practical way to make your truck look more off-road or 'utility' then it might match better. I've used a 5/8 wave for railroad band before and it only worked great on top of hills. Most of the time a 1/4 wave for the same freq worked better for me (I thought that was odd at first) but I'm not in a dry salt lake or desert. After trying many combos I'll now take performance over a more curious look anyday so I went with a wide-based NMO mount in the center of my roof...thanks to the diagram on pg 17 here: http://www.larsen-antennas.com/docfiles/LarsenAmateurCatalogVol1.pdf. I think wide bases may get more attention than thicker whips. 39" vs standard 31" AM/FM probably makes no difference there. Esp if you can get a thin or tapered whip. Flat "satellite dish" gray (what I call it) whip colors are less obvious than gloss white or black throughout the 24 hr day.

Also, many construction contractors with pickups have metal business band[?] or dual co-phased fiberglass CB antennas just behind the cab on the bucket top insides or on the tool locker front top corners and leave the factory whip as is. For single ones they put them on the back driver's side.

Ideally for what you want, if you can spend more time deciding, a better peformer for item #2 may be best. I'm considering this for a 2nd antenna but haven't found a solution yet.
 
K

kb0nly

Guest
No offense, but why go through all the trouble of what appears to be a spectacular install in the making and then skimp out on the antenna? The radio's are only as good as the antenna, so even a crappy install with a really good antenna will beat the heck out of a totally tricked out one off install running 1/4w or disguised antennas!

Put a mount on the drivers side fender, an L-Bracket or Adjustable mount, put on a Comet SBB-7, the best dual band antenna i have ever used and i have it on two vehicles, and then enjoy!

I always get a kick out of guys running 100w radios on 2m with a little crappy antenna and they can't get into the repeater as solid as me with 50w on my SBB-7. The antenna makes all the difference in the world, the radio is only as good as the antenna! I regularly talk on repeaters here that are 50-60 miles out with 25w on my FT-7800 and SBB-7 in both mobiles.

I do know one guy who ran a sti-co disguise antenna, didnt work for crap. I tossed a mag mount on his roof with a 1/2w larsen on it just for comparison and it was a world of difference. The Phantom Elite works ok i guess, that is if your always in the shadow of the repeater or the system your using. The VHF Phantoms SUCK for any real world use in my opinion. I helped replace one with a real antenna, what a difference. The Phantom UHF is "ok" being a 3db antenna thats reasonably well built.

More antenna the better!
 

jparks29

John McClane
Joined
Nov 20, 2003
Messages
840
Location
Nakatomi Plaza
I'm well aware of the limitations of the setup I'm running. It sucks, but it's a necessary evil.

install must look as stock as possible, and some sacrifices will be made.

STi-Co has been ruled out because of ****ty tx and cost...
 

jparks29

John McClane
Joined
Nov 20, 2003
Messages
840
Location
Nakatomi Plaza
Where would you mount everything? With velcro stuck to the fuzzy carpet?

Heck of an install. My question is will the rear seat back go back on?
I measured everything, and, if I measured properly.. Yes...

LOL

I should have about 1/2" of clearance at the highest mounted piece of equipment.. Which isn't much for tolerances...

Luckily, foam will give a little if I'm off....

The metal wall is not flat, so special screws to attach wood to metal were used, along with industrial strength construction adhesive and sound deadeners...
 

DieselFF918

Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2008
Messages
147
Location
West Milton, OH
Just curious, what is the deal with it having to look "as stock as possible"?

What is wrong with how it looks now?

The way you have it set up now looks stock enough, and looks good, so why change it?
 
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kb0nly

Guest
Just curious, what is the deal with it having to look "as stock as possible"?

What is wrong with how it looks now?

The way you have it set up now looks stock enough, and looks good, so why change it?
X2..

What is the big worry here? Why do you need to hide??
 

jparks29

John McClane
Joined
Nov 20, 2003
Messages
840
Location
Nakatomi Plaza
The VHF 1/4 wave sitting on top doesn't do two bands, and I STILL need another VHF antenna for APRS.

Hence the LP VHF on top (not readily visible/out of the ordinary), and the dual band where the factory ant is.

It just needs to look as factory as possible :D
 

PJH

Database Admin
Database Admin
Joined
Aug 23, 2002
Messages
3,591
If your getting poor output on the Sti-Co, your doing something wrong. We have quite a few in service with zero problems.

However, once you start drilling anything into a vehicle, you have lost the stock look anyways. I see nothing wrong with whats there now, or perhaps you really need to rethink everything with the vehicle.

I am technically running equipment that would require 7 or 8 antenna's - from lowband to wifi, but you only see three antenna's (four if you count the OEM looking Sharkfin)...and with the expection of the lowband antenna (to a point) you hardly see anything of them as it all blends in.
 
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kb0nly

Guest
The VHF 1/4 wave sitting on top doesn't do two bands, and I STILL need another VHF antenna for APRS.

Hence the LP VHF on top (not readily visible/out of the ordinary), and the dual band where the factory ant is.

It just needs to look as factory as possible :D
Why though? You still haven't answered that.

I got an idea, if you want it as factory as possible pull all the radio gear out and give up, problem solved... Seriously why why why??

I don't understand why people think they have to hide like that.
 

66twr2009

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Premium Subscriber
Joined
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Messages
22
Location
Frederick, MD
Here are my reasons, however, most people I know don't seem concerned at all about most of this except for drilling the holes:
1) Unusual antennas get people more curious and though secure, I'd rather avoid theives taking a chance on whether I've left something in my vehicle. Many honest people have asked about my stingers so I can only guess what dishonest people may think. More people ask when on a car than on a van or pickup. One morning I saw 2 sets of muddy footprints leading up to driver's and psgr side doors but no break-in was attempted. Back then I only had an old CB in a van. I did hear of a nearby mobile antenna system stolen but it wasn't noticed until key up and the radio got fried.
2) I've had people shouting 'get otta here!' and other things in Brooklyn thinking I was 5-O.
3) Was questioned by an officer about 2 antennas in NYC but they were nice & didn't seem to care...it was just CB and railroad at the time and the radios were not connected.
4) Looks less apealing if you want to sell and the stingers are still on.
5) Once when I got insurance on a pre-owned vehicle the agent came out to inspect my vehicle to see if I made any modifications to it...even after I told them I didn't. At that point it was all factory.
 

N8IAA

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Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
7,044
Location
Fortunately, GA
Have a 97 F-150. Have done the dual band antenna on the L bracket on the drivers side. Better mount was the third door with a Diamond or Comet trunklip mount to get it vertical. Used a Larsen 2m/440Mhz short antenna with the spring. Worked better than the Larsen full size antenna on the drivers side.
 

DieselFF918

Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2008
Messages
147
Location
West Milton, OH
Here are my reasons, however, most people I know don't seem concerned at all about most of this except for drilling the holes:
1) Unusual antennas get people more curious and though secure, I'd rather avoid theives taking a chance on whether I've left something in my vehicle. Many honest people have asked about my stingers so I can only guess what dishonest people may think. More people ask when on a car than on a van or pickup. One morning I saw 2 sets of muddy footprints leading up to driver's and psgr side doors but no break-in was attempted. Back then I only had an old CB in a van. I did hear of a nearby mobile antenna system stolen but it wasn't noticed until key up and the radio got fried.
2) I've had people shouting 'get otta here!' and other things in Brooklyn thinking I was 5-O.
3) Was questioned by an officer about 2 antennas in NYC but they were nice & didn't seem to care...it was just CB and railroad at the time and the radios were not connected.
4) Looks less apealing if you want to sell and the stingers are still on.
5) Once when I got insurance on a pre-owned vehicle the agent came out to inspect my vehicle to see if I made any modifications to it...even after I told them I didn't. At that point it was all factory.
Not to get too far of topic, or cause a big argument.....

1) If you are worried about that, park inside, I have seen some one break in to a car for a small carry bag and the car stereo.

The key is to have the radios securely mounted. I had a vehicle broken into, they tried to get mine, but it was securely attached, all they managed was to bend the bracket.

2) you will have that any where, not just brooklyn, I new a guy in Michigan who drove a red pickup with a pole antenna on his bumper, truckers thought he was a Fed.

3) see the first part of number 2.

The drilling holes i can agree with, but the rest are mute points.

back on topic, Jparks, its up to you, its your truck, but i think a couple of mag mounts will work just fine, and look good with a lot less work.
 

LowbandGuy

Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2008
Messages
119
Location
The Maritimes, Canada
If a low profile look is what is wanted, give advice accordingly. I remember reading a few years ago in a pick up truck magazine about our vehicles being a form of art. Self expression is alive and well on the installation and pictures of mobiles/shacks parts of the forum. This is a nice truck, with a neat tidy install, obviously an owner who takes pride in what he owns.
 
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