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Opinions on Hustler DCX Discone Antenna

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anthonie121

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I need some help from the resident experts please.

I own a Uniden BC-246T and a Radio Shack Pro-96.
I am quite new to the scanner world.
I monitor mostly a digital 866Mhz trunked system, a lot of VHF high commercial stuff between 150 and 174Mhz and like to listen to Airband once in a while. I have only heard transmissions on 2 frequencies in the UHF 460Mhz range. Either my city doesn't have anything in that range or my antenna SUCKS in the range reallly badly.

I currently have a 1/4 wave home made groundplane trimmed for best SWR on 160Mhz range. You know, the type that you make with the SO-239 jack and the 5 pieces of brass welding rod..... It is mounted outside about 25 feet in the air and I am situated on a very high ridge looking down over the city. I am using about 50 ft of very high quality RG6 coax.

The local radio store near me has the Hustler DCX Discone Antenna on sale for $20.

Will I get drastic improvement if I use this Hustler DCX discone instead of my current setup with the home made 1/4 wave antenna tuned for 160Mhz?

Yes I know everyone is gonna jump in here and say "buy it and compare" because it is only $20. But I would like to get some real world advice instead from those of you who have used the Hustler DCX Discone or who are experienced enough to give me a fairly good idea of what to expect. At the end of the day, $20 is $20 and I can use it to put gas in the car or something rather than waste it on the Hustler if it will give me no noticable improvements over my 1/4 wave home made ground plane.

Here is a link showing the Hustler DCX
http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/scanants/1205.html

Thanks in advance.
 

prcguy

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I use a lot of Discones both commercial and military and see some work better than others. The military versions with 12 or more elements for the disk and cone seem to work slightly better than the versions with 8, like RS and Diamond. The original specs for a Discone state that if it’s not made from a solid disk or cone, the elements must be no more than .02 wavelengths apart at the ends, which sets you up for a minimum of 16 disk and cone elements to meet this spec. Any less than 16 will start to degrade performance from a solid metal disk and cone, which is the original design. The Hustler has 3 disk and cone elements and the disk does not appear to be .67 to .70 diameter of the cone, which is another part of the spec. In other words, the Hustler DCX is not a Discone, it’s something else and I would assume an actual Discone made by the various ham/scanner companies will work better. Hopefully someone will have an A-B comparison to back this up. I see ads for 8 element Discones made by Workman for $25 new and I have an ad next to me for a Tram Discone for $19.95 or 10 @ $16.95 each. That sounds like a better risk than the mystery Hustler.
prcguy
 

Halfpint

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It's a discone and as such is a fairly broadbanded antenna with basically no gain. Having said that I'd say that you'll probably not really go wrong spending the $20 as long as you already have decently good coax already in place and should be able to hear a bit better than with your groundplane cut for 160MHz. About the only problem you'll have is that it *is* a $20 antenna which means that it is cheaply built and as such you shouldn't expect a tremendously long `lifespan'. (The one I had only held up for about 4½ - 5 years before needing a total rebuild and that was after going through it about once a year tightening things up. The person I gave it to shortly after I rebuilt it has had it for about the same length of time but instead of having it outside like I had it he's had it inside. Even having it inside he has had to go through and tighten things about every couple years and the last time he did so he decided to `retire' it because even having it inside it still managed to have things work loose and he didn't feel like having to `keep it up'.) However... Even with that I'll still say that it is a good $20 discone and would be worthwhile to buy just so that you could find out whether a discone will do what you are looking for. If it does then you can then start figuring on saving up to buy one of the better built, and of course more expensive, discones that are out there. (Since you are primarily interested in the 800MHz, or so, range I'd recommend looking for one that's `middle' of it's range is close to that. I'd think that something like a Diamond D-220 would be what you may eventually end up with if your `experiment' with the Hustler showed you that a discone would be what you wanted.)

Just an `Olde Fart's' 2¢ worth. {GRIN!}
 

mass-man

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Mar 15, 2004
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Big D, little a, double l, a s
It may just be the cable. High quality RG6 is about maxed out with a run of 50ft. THere is just too much attenuation in RG6!!! New cable, LMR 400, 9913F might be a better investment. Those little 866 mhz sigs have a long was to travel from the antenna to your rig. And this is very much real world experience. Made all the difference at 800 using a 440 antenna when I switched to better quality coax.
 

VernM

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Jan 11, 2006
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Arkansas' Ozarks
I have a Hustler discone. Get something else. I suggest the $30 discone from www.antennawarehouse.com as a much better made, better performer, better than the Diamond which is more than twice its price. And I have had all three in service for more than 2 years each, so have some experience to compare them.
 
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kb2vxa

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Mar 22, 2005
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Hi Anthonie and all,

Ah, a man after my own brass heart. That homebrew GP fits nicely in the top of an ordinary Rat Shack mast with the coax inside, neat.

OK to answer your question here's the math. The fundimental frequency being 160MHz you have a 50 ohm match and likewise on the 3rd harmonic 480MHz and the 5th 800MHz. In other words you have a resonant antenna with unity gain on the fundamental and increasing gain on the harmonics without any special consideration given to impedance matching.

A discone having electrical characteristics similar to a groundplane you'll not notice any difference so IMO put the $20 in the gas tank where it'll do the most good.

Gotta hand it to you guy, you've built an antenna for peanuts that works as well as the average fancy-dancy scanner antenna for ten or more times the price.
 
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Dcx

Take a GM antenna,cut it for 2 meters (144MHZ) and put it in the center top of the DCX ,this makes for a great antenna,had mine for years ,paint it to preserve it ,it will rust!
 

benbenrf

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Mar 27, 2009
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United Kingdom
Another perspective on overcoming Rx quality issues ....

Understand the architecture of the typical consumer priced super/hetrodyne type scanner/receiver unit in the price range of +/-$100 thru to around a 1000 bucks or so: they all tend to follow pretty much the same design philosophy, irrespective of manufacturer. The front end will be a full bandwidth dual conversion type: RF down to IF, followed by conversion from IF to baseband.

What takes place here - and how well it is implemented – is going to determine the quality of the demodulated audio/data/video.

To be more specific, it is usually the quality of the BP/filter (band pass filter) at the 1st IF that makes or breaks all subsequent Rx processing. Why/How? - because it is this filter that handles the lions share of sensitivity & selectivity for your chosen scanner/receiver.

To get a little more technical, how good a scanner/receivers' selection is, is largely determined by the phase noise characteristics of the 1st IF oscillator and associated tank ....... and there is only so much that can implemented, design wise at consumer scanner/receivers budgets when it comes to front-end IF's/tanks & LOs ect ect ..... Performance here is related physical size, power requirement/consumption, the skill of the electrical engineer and the volume/space avaliable for these parts.

So, while the “value” in throwing money at correct choice & set-up of any antenna can never be under-estimated, no matter how good the antenna is unless the receiver front-end is up to task a bottleneck will remain. Oddly, this perspective on receiver performance explains why broad bandwidth antenna types (e.g. discones) can be (and often are) counterproductive and bad choices for budget type consumer scanner/receivers – they flood front-ends with far more than they can handle.

Given the choice of a used WJ8617B S1 (or similar) versus any new out the box scanner/receiver up to and including something “as good as” (never mind anything cheaper) say an Icom 8500 (around £1400) or an AOR SDU 5600 (around £1200), it's a no brainer – you're going to get far far better Rx from the late 1980's/early 1990's WJ. As for the ability to handle modern day digital comm types - post-process one or other of the multiple rear panel outputs all 8617's have through a standalone add on box, or through PC software. Its easily done.

So how to deal with the problem? - a bunch of carefully chosen coaxial type filters and preamp/s– chosen for the freq bands you listen in most too, can and probably will turn any +/-$1000 scanner receiver into something with Rx performance usually only avaliable from receivers costsing several times more.

Some reading up on how to design and construct pole type filters (as in multipole - not antenna pole) - and an understanding of filter slope characertistics (very very important) - will go a long way to improving Rx performance, not to mention save you a good few bucks (properly designed and constructed multi-pole/cavity type filters ain't cheap of-the-shelf - they can run to a 100 bucks plus but can be constructed for a fraction of that cost). The theory is not to difficult to get the grasp of, and constructing them is well within a DIY'ers scope.

........ just another perspective on overcoming and dealing with limited Rx performance.
 
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