Multi use, wideband base antenna

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AronDouglas

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I just fishing for information on a good base antenna ranging from the low 25Mhz to about 2GHz. I may change my mind later and switch my parameters to a TriBand antenna, but for now I'll just be looking for a wide band antenna.

I plan on getting another BCT15X as a base (I dont need the digital side of the 996XT). I also want to use my Realistic PRO-45 as a weather station.

Can I efficiently (without too much signal loss) use two scanners on the same antenna?

I plan on monitoring primarily the CB range, local police, NOAA, MURS, GMRS/FRS and some other 400Mhz frequencies along with the airports. It would be nice to have the ability to monitor HAM as well, but thats not too important.

The police are around the 150Mhz ranges and their stations are about 10 miles away. The NOAA stations range from 30-50 miles away and the airports are 15 and 45 miles away. Since we are putting CBs in our trucks I'd like to be able to monitor that range as well, and they travail upwards of 50 miles away from the base station.

I know with scanners, getting as high as possible is always the best idea. I have a 40 foot tower, and if all goes well I think I might be able to get an antenna 60 foot in the air.

I dont care if you guys say I need a giant discone antenna or something like that. I'm not going for low profile or economic. Size and price does not scare me, I want to hear and I want to hear well.

On a side note, has anyone ever used or own an Austin Ferret base antenna? I'm happy with my Austin Spectra mobile, and I would like to know about their base version. Austin Antenna Ferret Omnidirectional Multiband Base Station Scanner Antenna

Any help you guys can offer is much appreciated.
 

AronDouglas

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I think I'll go over to a Antennacraft ST2 thread as that is the antenna I might be getting. So I'll direct my questions there unless someone highly suggest that I take a closer look at the Diamond D-130J or Diamond D-3000N.
 

mmckenna

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Discones are poor antennas. They cover a lot of spectrum but do it by sacrificing gain. Unless you seriously need to cover that much spectrum, you'd be much better off with dedicated antennas for the bands you intend to use.

It's sort of hard to fake a CB antenna with anything other than a big vertical. Trying to shorten it to look aesthetically pleasing or combine with with many other bands is going to result in overall poor performance.

I have a discone, a really expensive one, Telewave, Inc. ANT280S 118-3000 MHz Unity Gain Discone Antenna | TESSCO
I paid $1500 for it. I paid that much for it not because it was an outstanding performer, but because from the high location it is mounted, it works good enough. It's also durable enough to last 10+ years. Being that it's for work, I needed durability.

If i was going to be doing this for a hobby, I'd do it different.

In all seriousness, there isn't much above about 1300 MHz that is in any form that hobby grade radio can decode, so spending a bunch of money on an antenna that runs up that high is sort of pointless unless there is something very particular you are needing to listen to. Since you talk about having scanners that won't really do much up that high, and won't do digital, it's sort of a moot point anyway.

Below the CB band, you are really better off with horizontal antennas, wire antenna, etc.

So, get a good base CB antenna if that is what you want to listen to. It's going to work best. Not a mobile CB antenna, get a base antenna. If you really need to save money, a 102" whip with some radial/ground plane under it will work, but you really don't want anything smaller than that. There are also plenty of vertical wire antennas you can build yourself if you are up to it.
For everything else, get one of the scanner antennas that cover the VHF, UHF, 700 and 800MHz bands. Get an antenna switch so you can switch between the two.

If you are going to hook up two scanners, you can use a splitter, even a cable TV/TV antenna splitter will work, but keep in mind that you are going to take one signal and send half the power to one radio, half to the other, and actually lose a bit in the process. You can add an amplifier, again, a cable TV amp that will cover the frequency range will work just fine. This will recoup some of the losses from the splitter, but can increase overall noise, so keep that in mind.
 

ko6jw_2

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I have posted some stuff on this topic before, but the fact is that you can't get broadband performance and gain from the same antenna. Log periodic antennas are an exception, but they are directional. I agree with the previous posting that separate antennas are the way to go. Separate receivers and separate antennas are even better. The more you try to monitor with a single scanner the more you will miss when it's stopped on another channel. Beware of discones that advertise 30-1300Mhz coverage. they should really say 100-1300Mhz. The low band coverage is very narrow on all of them. They do not function as discones, but are base loaded ground planes. My Radio Shack discone is centered around 42.6 Mhz. This is perfect here for CHP, but would be useless for CB or 6 meter ham use.

TV splitters have an insertion loss and are designed for 75 ohms. Scanners are 50 ohms. The splitter will work, but there will be losses. You can buy high quality 50 ohm splitters through ham radio stores. A good investment. You can also get combiners that are designed to connect multiple radios to the same antenna - or multiple antennas to one radio.

I've been using scanners for almost 45 years. In a major emergency I frequently have 3 to 5 radios going. Fortunately my ham gear receives public safety frequencies so I have the best of both worlds.

The Comet and Diamond antennas are virtually identical. Take a look at the Ferret 8 band antenna. Expensive, but some people love them. I have no personal experience with them, but they look interesting. Basically a bunch of vertical half-wave elements with a common feed point. You can transmit through them too.
 

AronDouglas

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Well, that was unexpected. I always thought (and read in various places) that discones where fairly good antennas. Shows how much i know :)

I dont mind getting multiple antennas, its more expensive of course but thats fine. Maybe I'll look into one or two tri-band antennas to cover the freqs I want.

The second scanner (Pro-45) will only be used for weather monitoring (NOAA) and will not be used very often.

I understand what you guys are saying, in a perfect world 1 scanner and 1 antenna would be dedicated to 1 frequency. I do not have that luxury and I dont need that kind of precision when monitoring. I'm just wanting to listen to a few select groups (11m, 100-150, 400 range and maybe 800, no digital as of yet) and occasion try to pick up some wild freqs.

For the CB, if I'm lucky I'll find me a 500 super perpetrator and use that. But for the time being it may just be a 102.
 

Turbo68

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Hi these are my Youtube videos monitoring the airbands with an Icom-AH7000 Discone has been replaced with AH8000 discone main airport is 80 kilometres at antenna is 8 metres high with RG213 coax cable i also have custom airband antennas but discones performance is excellent use to have a
diamond discone but the performance wasnt as good as the Icom although it was 3 metres above it also had a Comet discone rubbish.I run 8 radios on a Stridsberg-MCA204M 4 port multicoupler..

VHF AIRBAND - YouTube
Airband - YouTube
Uniden-UBCD396T - YouTube
Airband - YouTube
Airbands - YouTube
Aviation - YouTube

Regards Lino..
 
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mmckenna

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Your milage may vary. Discones will work fine, but don't expect them to be outstanding performers on the CB band. It's just not easy to fool an antenna into working on the CB band when its physically shortened. They do work on the VHF and UHF bands, though.

My concern is the price. For what you pay for a good discone, you really are not getting much, other than the wide bandwidth. You can certainly get a multi-band vertical antenna that will work just as well if you are only monitoring in the VHF and UHF bands. Probably cheaper, too.

The fun thing about antennas is the experimentation. Trying different ones to see what works best for you is part of it.
 

AronDouglas

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Now see, its post like yours that keep me looking at antennas and going back and forth between styles and rbands :) I dont mind though, its alomst a let down when I hit that "Purchase" button...I enjoy the research and hunting for good products.

I stared this thread set on getting a Diamond discone. Then half way through I stared leaning towards a tri-band (the diamond V2000). Since I'm find out that there is no good 11m scanner antenna, I'm really only listening to the 100-150 and 400ish ranges. And everything I want to listen to is 50 miles or closer. I like to match hardware with function, the BCT15X is 25-1300 Mhz capable and I'd like to match the antenna to that, even though I may not listen to all those frequencies. But I'm learning that thats not really possible (or pratical for 1 scanner and 1 antenna). Now I'm throwing the ST2 back into the options bin. I've heard nothing but good reports about that thing for its price.
 

mmckenna

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Yeah, that's certainly part of the fun. Over the years I've had the chance to try many different antennas, and, at least on my truck, I've discovered that simple is better, at least for me. Complex designs often lead to their own problems, failures and headaches.

Some discones are built pretty cheap. Hollow elements bend and snap. Cheap designs lead to failures. Having to climb on the roof to replace a cheap antenna is dangerous. Saving money at the start of the project might seem like a good idea, but in the long run you'll end up spending as much, or more, as if you invested more in the first place.

A discone might be a very good choice for you based on your requirements. They are certainly wide banded enough to match the scanner you have.

I mentioned a drawback above about them not having any gain. In reality, a lot of scanner antenna don't, so that wasn't a fair comment. Also, I can tell you from real world experience, that antenna gain doesn't come into play as much as you'd think it would when looking at receiving. One of the radios in my work truck has an option where you can pull up received signal strength show in dB. On the trunked system I run, it shows the strength of the control channel. I can sit there watching the received signal strength and swap out antennas. I usually run a 1/4 wave 800MHz antenna on it. I have a 3dB gain antenna also. You might think that switching from the 1/4 wave antenna (0dB) to the 3dB gain antenna would show a 3dB gain in received signal strength. It doesn't. It might show 1dB, maybe. When looking at antenna gain, they are really talking about the TX side. Antenna gain doesn't really affect the received signal strength that much.
So, what really helps? Good feed line. Getting what signal you do receive at the antenna down to your radio is what really helps. Using cheap cable is a sure way to cripple your system. If anything, I'd say invest in good cable from the start, if you can afford to do that. Using good cable will be a good investment. It will also get as much signal as you can to the radio. Avoid using any more adapters or connectors that you need to. Avoid splitters. Also, avoid amplifiers as a solution to cheap coax. Amplifiers amplify everything in their range, that includes noise.

So, if a discone looks like it meets your needs, then that's probably a really good place to start. Get one that is durable so you are not always on the roof fixing it. Get it as high up in the air as yo can. The more it can "see" them more it will hear. The higher it goes, the farther away your radio horizon is. Make sure you use the best quality coaxial cable you can afford. All coaxial cable has loss, and the longer the cable run is, the more loss there is. You can easily get into a situation where using cheap cable will wipe out all the gains you make with antenna type and height.
 

AronDouglas

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Oh decisions. I hate making them but love entertaining possibilities. I've got a few months to think about antennas, this christmas really cut deep into the wallet :)

Fortunately I was able to come across a spool of RG-6 a few months back (a few hundred feet) The scanners will be probably 200ish (max) feet away from the tower (got to go down the tower, under ground and up to the second story of my house). I know that RG-8 is better suited for scanning, but will I be ok with RG-6? The one thing I like about scanners is that they are not picky. If you didn't care about performance, you could use a coat hanger and speaker wire for an antenna and it would still receive. I think with my long line run I should use RG-6.
 

DisasterGuy

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mmckenna really has hit the nail on the head. Discones certainly have their place and I also have used the Telewave that he mentions. It was used on a very wideband transmitting radio for interoperability purposes within a somewhat limited range.

For what you want to do I would look at an A99 for CB, ST2 for general omni reception, and a log periodic such as the CLP-5130-2N or even a good log periodic TV antenna for directional usage.
 

rbm

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Oh decisions. I hate making them but love entertaining possibilities. I've got a few months to think about antennas, this christmas really cut deep into the wallet :)

Fortunately I was able to come across a spool of RG-6 a few months back (a few hundred feet) The scanners will be probably 200ish (max) feet away from the tower (got to go down the tower, under ground and up to the second story of my house). I know that RG-8 is better suited for scanning, but will I be ok with RG-6? The one thing I like about scanners is that they are not picky. If you didn't care about performance, you could use a coat hanger and speaker wire for an antenna and it would still receive. I think with my long line run I should use RG-6.
I use RG-6 for 'almost' everything.
Compression fittings are a MUST for outdoors.
My preferred connectors are PPC EX6XL and I buy them 1,000 at a time.

Keep in mind the following RG-6 signal loss at 100'. Double it for 200'. And it can vary between manufacturers.
100 MHz - 2.0 dB
400 MHz - 4.3 dB
900 MHz - 6.8 dB

That can be enough loss over 200' that it will completely attenuate weak signals.
My coax runs are around 100' or less.

You can use a preamp mounted at the base of the antenna to overcome that loss.
Pick a good quality preamp that will give you around 2-4 dB more gain than your expected loss.

HOWEVER, if you have any strong RF sources nearby, you could overload the preamp.
It's well worth a try and you may be pleasantly surprised.

Keeping that in mind, I've tried a lot of antennas over the years.
And this is what I've settled on. (But still looking for the perfect solution.)

I have five ST2 antennas with low noise amplifiers right at the antennas. Typically LNA-1000 from RF Bay, Inc.
I have commercial antennas for a few specific bands. They also have a preamp at the base of the antenna.

I bought a DPD 118-1000 MHz Scanner LP Model Antenna in 2010 ($239) and tried for years to 'like' it.
But I just couldn't and I took it down this past summer and replaced it with yet another ST2.
Besides the fact that the LP rarely was pointed in the right direction, the ST2 seemed to do 'almost' as well overall.
DPD Productions - Scanner, Aviation, NOAA, Low-Band, 700 MHz Public Safety, Base & Mobile Radio Antennas for Commercial & Hobbyist Applications

My ST-2 antennas with preamps performed very close to the LP antenna. (It too had a preamp. Tried it with, and without)

For the Air band, MilAir, SatCom, etc. I preferred the Grove Off Center Fed Dipole. (I think it was the ANT-1)
I've since made my own version of it.

One caveat about the ST2. It depends on mechanical connections for the elements. I think over time, they can become intermittent. I haven't yet, but I intend to modify one of mine with very small sheet metal screws at all connections to see if that makes any improvement.

And also, the ST2 is somewhat directional. For testing purposes you can temporarily mount one on a short post and rotate it to see the difference.


Rich

Here's a video I made of SatCom reception using the ST2 and a USB dongle.
That one antenna is feeding 31 scanners in addition to the USB dongle used for the video. (32 total)

Milsat Satcom Satellite SDRSharp with Eztv668 SDR dongle e4000 chip - YouTube

And here's how one of the ST2 antennas performs on weak signals in my area with an LNA-1000 preamp at the base.
 

mmckenna

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RG-6 would technically work, but 200 feet is a very long way to run your cable. Mounting your antenna on a tower is nice, but in this instance mounting on top of the house closer to your radio would prevent a whole lot of feed line loss.

Even if you ran 1/2" heliax, you would lose a third of your signal just in feed line lose at the NOAA weather frequencies.
RG-6 will lose over three quarters of your signal.
RG-8 will lose half your signal.

This is really a big hit and going to really negate the benefit of a tower. A second story house with a 5 or 10 foot mast on it, and reducing your feed line to something like 25 feet is going to likely work much better.

Also, unless the RG-6 you have is designed to be underground, it's going to fail eventually.
 

AronDouglas

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Thanks rbm, for the info. It really helps.

@DisasterGuy, you mean I can use TV antennas? I throw those things away quite often. I guess it makes sense though to use them. I'll try and save the next good one I come across.

@mmckenna, 200 foot should be the max length I run, and thats with the tower fairly far away from the house. If I can figure out a way to not use guy wires with this tower, I will most certainly move it right up next to the house. And that should bring the length down to 80 foot or less. And I should have clarified, if I run the wire underground I will run it through 1/2"conduit for protection. I've done my fair share of trenching line in my short life so I know how its done :)
 

mmckenna

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Bracket to the side of the house is a good option for towers.

Conduit helps, but the one thing I can tell you about conduit underground is that it will collect water, doesn't matter how well you glue the joints, it'll find a way in, eventually. Unless the cable is a "filled" type, the eventually fill with water, corrode and fail. The phone company uses either a water blocking compound (like a sticky gel) or they pressurize the cables with dried air to a few PSI to force water out. If you don't do that, the jacket gets breached and the water runs it and via capillary action will soak the cable. Water and copper leads to nasty corrosion. You likely won't notice a sudden failure, just very gradual reduction in performance.
On the other hand, if you have a lot of the cable and don't mind swapping it out occasionally, that can work, too.
 
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rtl dongle - The right antenna?

I have two usb RTL-dongles. They have a MCX female connect, I have two pigtale 50ohmsMCX(M) to BNC(F).

MCX Male to BNC Female Connector Adapter Cable 4 Garmin Magellan Antenna BN19A | eBay

So here's the scoop, I connect the BNC rubber duck Antenna (from a old scanner) right to the pigtale and I get a strong signal. So I bought a Hustler Mobile Antenna with standard 6ft coax rg59.
Hustler New Tronics Antenna Corp MRMBNC Magnetic Mount Scanner Antenna Wit | eBay

So its good for 850mhz, I'm after Edacs96...SDR Sharp NFM, Unitruncker

BUT.....Thinking i would get a way stronger signal it's actually worse...

Could this be a signal miss match? Or the Antenna is good only for WFM not NFM (wide or narrow)
 
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mmckenna

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BUT.....Thinking i would get a way stronger signal it's actually worse...

Could this be a signal miss match? Or the Antenna is good only for WFM not NFM (wide or narrow)
Extremely unlikely it would be due to any mismatch. The difference in the coaxial cable impedance would have very minimal impact, even if you were transmitting.

WFM or NFM is not antenna dependent. It has to do with filtering inside the receiver.

More than likely the antenna is suspect. Looking at the page for it, it doesn't really talk about design, other than "Covers 30-50MHz 148-174MHz 430-450MHz and 800-950MHz" I find this suspect. I'd try and antenna that is just designed for the 850MHz.
 
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rbm

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So I bought a Hustler Mobile Antenna with standard 6ft coax rg59.
Hustler New Tronics Antenna Corp MRMBNC Magnetic Mount Scanner Antenna Wit | eBay

So its good for 850mhz, I'm after Edacs96...SDR Sharp NFM, Unitruncker

BUT.....Thinking i would get a way stronger signal it's actually worse...

Could this be a signal miss match? Or the Antenna is good only for WFM not NFM (wide or narrow)
An antenna doesn't care about WFM or NFM, only what frequency the signal is on.

A mag-mount antenna works best when it's on a metal 'ground plane' like when it's 'stuck' on a car.

It's easy to move a rubber duck around to find a peak in the signal strength. It could just be that where you are using your Hustler antenna is in a null.

In the 'Spectrum Analyzer' part of the SDR# display, you should be able to see what effect moving your antenna around does.

Also, those USB dongles are very easy to overload. You can take a full quieting signal and adjust your RF Gain and AGC so high that the very same signal gets noisy or almost non-existent.

To make it easy for you, turn OFF both RTL AGC and Tuner AGC in the 'Configure' popup window.
Then adjust the RF Gain manually for a good, clean signal.

I've attached a link to a screen capture showing SDRSharp overload.
Both SDR's are on the very same antenna.
Both SDR's are tuned to NOAA weather at 162.400 MHz.

The SDR on the left has AGC turned off and the RF Gain was manually adjusted.
The one on the right has BOTH AGC boxes selected.

The one on the left has a clear, nearly full quieting signal.
The one on the right is overloaded to the point that only 'garbage' can be heard.

Rich

 
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signal500

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I just fishing for information on a good base antenna ranging from the low 25Mhz to about 2GHz. I may change my mind later and switch my parameters to a TriBand antenna, but for now I'll just be looking for a wide band antenna.

I plan on getting another BCT15X as a base (I dont need the digital side of the 996XT). I also want to use my Realistic PRO-45 as a weather station.

Can I efficiently (without too much signal loss) use two scanners on the same antenna?

I plan on monitoring primarily the CB range, local police, NOAA, MURS, GMRS/FRS and some other 400Mhz frequencies along with the airports. It would be nice to have the ability to monitor HAM as well, but thats not too important.

The police are around the 150Mhz ranges and their stations are about 10 miles away. The NOAA stations range from 30-50 miles away and the airports are 15 and 45 miles away. Since we are putting CBs in our trucks I'd like to be able to monitor that range as well, and they travail upwards of 50 miles away from the base station.

I know with scanners, getting as high as possible is always the best idea. I have a 40 foot tower, and if all goes well I think I might be able to get an antenna 60 foot in the air.

I dont care if you guys say I need a giant discone antenna or something like that. I'm not going for low profile or economic. Size and price does not scare me, I want to hear and I want to hear well.

On a side note, has anyone ever used or own an Austin Ferret base antenna? I'm happy with my Austin Spectra mobile, and I would like to know about their base version. Austin Antenna Ferret Omnidirectional Multiband Base Station Scanner Antenna

Any help you guys can offer is much appreciated.
I use the Comet DS150S Discone and the DPD Productions OmniX mounted on poles at 35 feet using LMR400 coax to feed them. They both perform very well.

DPD Productions - Scanner, Aviation, NOAA, Low-Band, 700 MHz Public Safety, Base & Mobile Radio Antennas for Commercial & Hobbyist Applications

Comet DS150S Discone Scanner Antenna
 
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