Ideas before I move diamond x50 out of attic

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supercazzola

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Total newbie here. Was trying to save up money to buy my first power supply and base radio, and wanted to play with the Baofeng UV-5RE plus handheld I use while out and about.
I also wanted to avoid the HOA knocking on my door, so I bought a diamond x50 antenna, 50 feet of pre made coax with UHF connectors, and a small cable to adapt from UHF to my handheld.

I found a decent place in the attic, and assembled and mounted the diamond away from any power or other things that might interfere. It seemed to transmit well, but I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't pick up simplex signals originating 10-15 miles away.

So, before I move the thing outside on a mast, I'd like some suggestions of things to test. In particular,

(1) am I expecting too much from this handheld with respect to being able to receive weak signals? If I hit monitor button, I can barely hear anything other than static.

(2) i took extreme care when routing the coaxial, but what would be a good model analyzer to use to check the characteristics of the feed line and the antenna for both UHF and VHF ?

(3) any other ideas before moving it outside? The roof is just wood and asphalt shingles, so I can't imagine moving it outside will change much, other than a few feet height.

Assuming I do move it outside, I guess I buy a mast, some brackets to attach the mast to the side of my house, and some grounding strap and grounding rod, plus a new coaxial feed line. Am I missing anything?

Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this, pointing out obvious mistakes, and making any constructive suggestions.

-Kevin
 

N8IAA

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Sorry, but 5 watts from a HT, into an inside gain antenna, does not equal 10-15 miles on simplex. It won't change much by putting the antenna outside. It's just simple physics of radio frequencies.

More power into the antenna will make the difference. I used to run that antenna on the roof of my house. Used a mobile as a base, and used to talk 20+ miles. But I used a minimum of 10-15 watts and more.
HTH,
Larry
 

prcguy

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I get well over 100mi on simplex with a 5w HT and outside antenna, it just depends on where you live. Antenna height above surrounding terrain is one important aspect. Going from 5w to 10w is only a 3dB increase and 15w would be a 4.77dB increase and not even one "S" unit. Getting a bigger antenna will usually give you a lot more improvement.
prcguy

Sorry, but 5 watts from a HT, into an inside gain antenna, does not equal 10-15 miles on simplex. It won't change much by putting the antenna outside. It's just simple physics of radio frequencies.

More power into the antenna will make the difference. I used to run that antenna on the roof of my house. Used a mobile as a base, and used to talk 20+ miles. But I used a minimum of 10-15 watts and more.
HTH,
Larry
 

supercazzola

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To be clear, I have no issues with folks hearing me in simplex, it's in the receiving. I'm wondering if moving the antenna will help, or if it's a limitation of the capabilities of the Baofeng with respect to low signal receiving
 

mmckenna

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50 feet of pre made coax with UHF connectors, and a small cable to adapt from UHF to my handheld.
-Kevin
What kind of coax, and do you really need all 50 feet?

What band are you using? VHF or UHF?

In a flat landscape and with an antenna only 20 feet or so off the ground, 15 miles on simplex is pretty good. Coverage relies on a lot of variable, many you don't have control over. What you do have control over is:
Antenna gain
Antenna height
Coax cable (related to loss).

Sure, you can get 100+ miles on simplex in the VHF and UHF bands, but you have to have some things working in your favor.
 

n5ims

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I agree that your coax probably is both the #1 thing limiting your coverage and the #1 thing you can do to easily improve your station. Assuming that you move from the very consumer grade Radio Shack RG-58 to some pro grade LDF4-50A over that same 50' run (assuming UHF frequencies) you can go from a loss of 4.9 dB to only 0.733 dB of loss. You can find good deals on eBay or your local hamfest, especially if you don't need the full 50' length (Andrew LDF4 50A Heliax 1 2" 4 Rolls 30' Each | eBay)
 

supercazzola

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I had the difficulty receiving simplex on VHF. I do need the full 50' of coax. I am using RGBX, it was pre made with UHF ends.
For some reason my posts are not being allowed until moderator approves, so sorry for the delay.

I'll investigate different coaxial. How about some suggestions on a good quality, affordable entry level antenna tuner for VHF / UHF ?
 

W9BU

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RG-BX or RG-8X?

FYI, since you are new to RadioReference, your posts were automatically moderated until you successfully made 10 posts. I just approved several of your posts, some with duplicate information, so you are now unmoderated.

EDIT: My bad. Automatic moderation isn't lifted until 10 posts.
 
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supercazzola

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Thanks you. It wasn't clear while using the Tapatalk client about the holding of the posts. I only understood when I tried from a browser. The cable I'm using is
CABLE XPERTS
CXP08XC50
50 FT RG8X W PL259ST INSTALLED
 

LtDoc

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Would there be any benefit to moving an antenna out of the attic? Probably. Would that 'improvement' be worth the expense/effort of doing that moving? Boy, is that a 'loaded' question! If you are looking for a definite answer then I'm afraid you are out of luck. It depends on 'how much' improvement is worth the effort.
In general, there would probably be some improvement. Quantifying how much improvement isn't possible.
- 'Doc
 

supercazzola

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Would there be any benefit to moving an antenna out of the attic? Probably. Would that 'improvement' be worth the expense/effort of doing that moving? Boy, is that a 'loaded' question! If you are looking for a definite answer then I'm afraid you are out of luck. It depends on 'how much' improvement is worth the effort.
In general, there would probably be some improvement. Quantifying how much improvement isn't possible.
- 'Doc
that is kind of what I figured. It would be a big hassle for me to move the antenna outside. One thing that I would like to do is see what sort of SWR I have with the current setup. Can you recommend a VHF - UHF antenna analyzer that works well, but that won't break my piggy bank? I am trying to save up for the power supply and radio.
 

LtDoc

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The only antenna analyzer in my price range is the MFJ 259/269. It's not the absolute most bestest thing in the world but it works. I think finding an SWR meter and testing with a borrowed radio is a much cheaper way to go about it...
- 'Doc
 

McCroskey

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A few thoughts/questions:

1. What is the terrain like around your house? Lots of trees around, hills, ridges, etc...or is your roof relatively clear and/or above the tree line? Line of site is obviously critical when it comes to VHF/UHF.

2. Have you tried hooking up a 6 foot jumper coax to the antenna and seeing how the radio does sitting next to the antenna (in its same location, of course)? As others have mentioned too, if you can get your hands on another radio or two and test everything in both conditions (with your regular coax and hopefully with a short run of coax), it would be even better.

3. The Baofeng is anything but a precision instrument so I wouldn't expect it to do well when pulling in weaker signals. As is the case with most of these cheap chinese radios, the components are sketchy at best and even though they "work" and offer a relatively decent bang of for the buck, it's tough to ignore the high probability that the radio is the most limiting factor to your current setup.

4. You DO NOT need an antenna analyzer at this point, at least NOT with that antenna and coax. That antenna is a good antenna, the coax is fine, and the radio is what it is. I'd recommend spending your money instead on a better HT or even better, the power supply and radio you mentioned).

5. When troubleshooting, don't take anything for granted. Test even with/without that small jumper you are using...those things can get pinched very easily and something that small may wind up being the cause of your issues.

6. The answer to #1 will be important to helping answer the question of how much benefit would you see by moving the antenna outside of your house.
 

supercazzola

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A few thoughts/questions:

1. What is the terrain like around your house? Lots of trees around, hills, ridges, etc...or is your roof relatively clear and/or above the tree line? Line of site is obviously critical when it comes to VHF/UHF.
Flat Florida. Trees, houses, and the occasional abandoned space shuttle pad

2. Have you tried hooking up a 6 foot jumper coax to the antenna and seeing how the radio does sitting next to the antenna (in its same location, of course)? As others have mentioned too, if you can get your hands on another radio or two and test everything in both conditions (with your regular coax and hopefully with a short run of coax), it would be even better.
No, because I need to buy some coax, and was hoping someone could recommend a good entry level antenna analyzer for UHF/VHF.

3. The Baofeng is anything but a precision instrument so I wouldn't expect it to do well when pulling in weaker signals. As is the case with most of these cheap chinese radios, the components are sketchy at best and even though they "work" and offer a relatively decent bang of for the buck, it's tough to ignore the high probability that the radio is the most limiting factor to your current setup.
Yes, I'm aware, and only bought it to listen while I was studying for my exam. It helped to hear people speaking the Q codes.

4. You DO NOT need an antenna analyzer at this point, at least NOT with that antenna and coax. That antenna is a good antenna, the coax is fine, and the radio is what it is. I'd recommend spending your money instead on a better HT or even better, the power supply and radio you mentioned).
If you think my cable is okay, why ask me to test with a small jumper? I assumed it was to eliminate the possibility of bad 50 foot run of RG8X. Or was it because the 50 foot has too much attenuation? I didn't make the cable, and was wanting to test it with an analyzer.


5. When troubleshooting, don't take anything for granted. Test even with/without that small jumper you are using...those things can get pinched very easily and something that small may wind up being the cause of your issues.
Good advice, but my radio has to have a jumper of some sort or I can't test with the UHF connector on the other side.

6. The answer to #1 will be important to helping answer the question of how much benefit would you see by moving the antenna outside of your house.
All kidding aside, it's flat here. The only elevation are the bridges to connect this island to the mainland and beach side.
 

McCroskey

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Gotcha. I'd try to break the answers out like you did but I don't think the system will allow that many uses of quotes.

Here goes anyways.

1. Being in Florida certainly affects simplex quite a bit, I'll explain later.

2. You don't need an antenna analyzer. It's not going to give you any useful information to go on with your current radio/coax/antenna. It might shed light on a defect somewhere but you can find those out much easier (and less expensively) using other techniques.

3. Yes, testing with the antenna using a short run of coax (4-6 feet long) will virtually eliminate attenuation and will make the signal into the radio as STRONG as it possibly can be and will give you an idea on how to move forward (either with a new radio or better coax).

4. My point with the jumper was to have a backup in hand (you probably should anyways) just to test it as a possible weakness in the system.

5. Back to the terrain and being in Florida. RF has a funny way of playing by a literal set of rules and operating simplex in Florida is probably as tough an environment as any because while it seems flat, it's not. The earth curves so many inches per mile and when you look over a distance of 10-15 miles, you are talking about a line of site loss of anywhere from 8-10 feet. Add in subtle other variations in the terrain of even 6-20 feet and all of a sudden your elevation from being in the roof is negated.

How does the radio/antenna perform on local repeaters? Pretty strong signals?

Just knowing your QTH now, getting that antenna outside and up in the air another 10-15 feet may make a world of difference when working those simplex stations a few miles away.
 

supercazzola

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Thanks. The current setup works great on local repeaters. I'll build a small jumper, and test from current location in attic. Then, I'll move antenna outside temporarily on an old DishNetwork sat dish mount still on my roof, and still grounded to a ground rod.
 

N0IU

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I also wanted to avoid the HOA knocking on my door, so I bought a diamond x50 antenna...
Before you movie it outside...

Since you are concerned about your HOA knocking on your door, I have to ask, do you have any restrictions against outdoor antennas?

If you do, then you may be out of luck, maybe. I don't know anything about these antennas, but there is a company that makes VHF/UHF antennas that slip over your roof vents (hence the name!)

The Ventenna Company

Ham antennas: Amateur Radio Ventennas

Here is the review on eHam: Ventenna VT-27 2M/440 Dual Band Product Reviews

There are 20 reviews and it ranks a 4.6 our of 5 which isn't too bad. Almost everyone gave it a 5 out of 5. Two people gave it a 3 and one person gave it a four. One person gave it a 2 but it appears that he voided the warranty.

It probably won't outperform the Diamond, but at least it will get your antenna outside which will be a big advantage over anything in the attic and the HOA (hopefully) off your back!
 
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