Please Help, antenna questioN!!!!

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kkovar

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Hi folks. Love the site... Some good info. I do have a question that I might get several responses from... and that's okay... I just need a majority vote.

I have ordered a BC3000XLT. Old style scanner. I currently have a Uniden Bearcat Sports Model SC150Y. I have had this one from over 10 years.. Love it.

Here is my situation that I need help with. I mainly listen to Railroad in the Dallas Texas area. I listen to 6969 (161.145). This is the frequency b/w Big Sandy Texas to SP Junction ( Dallas Texas). I railfan in the Terrell Texas area, but travel this route frequently. So, with this being said, I need an antenna to attach to my Uniden SC150Y or the BC300Xlt to maximize my signals. I would love to hear detectors from home, but not too sure that I am going to be able to do that. We will see after I get an antenna.

I am looking for a mobile magnet antenna that I can attach to my car while I am sitting rail fanning. I will probably not drive with it on there all the time, so It must be magnetic so I can remove it while not scanning.

I have read alot on the internet about antennas and all, but all the technical terminology and all 5/8 wave, diapole, etc, etc, etc.. it's a lot of antenna jargon that Im not totally following. So , I NEED A GOOD ANTENNA that you guys recommend.

ALSO, saw someone mentioning Phantom antennas. I am assuming these are the short antennas. I would prefer these over the long one's but I would use whatever works best. The short ones are less noticable and hit less things. Anyone recommend one of these?


Was Reading about the DIAMOND RH77CA--- Good Reviews... But this is not a magnetic is it? Do they make one with compariable reviews? Maybe since the RH77Ca is getting such good reviews, I should go with this one even though it's not a Magnetic Mount. ???? HELP!

Magnetic, Good reception, Railroad scanning. There you have it. OK boys, go to work. NEED HELP!

Thank you all for your responses in advance. Love the site... !!!!


Kelly
 
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W4KRR

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Is the railroad band all you plan to use the antenna for? If so, then get a 5/8 wave 2 meter ham band antenna, such as the Larsen NMO 150. You can purchase an NMO magnet mount base to attach it to for use on your car. This antenna will provide some gain over a quarter wave whip antenna.

For an antenna to attach directly to your portable scanner, the Diamond RH77CA is a good choice. It is a flexible so called "rubber duck" style antenna, about 14 inches long.

You can obtain these antennas from most ham radio dealers, I often use Amateur Electronic Supply, www.aesham.com
 

kkovar

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I plan on monitoring other freq as well.. PD/FIRE etc... so, yes, this would be a muti purpose antenna... I think that the RC77CA is a good choice... But, was wanting a low profile magnetic mount or regular magnetic mount for the truck... BUT IF the RC77CA will work just as well ( WILL IT? ) then I will go that route.
 

DPD1

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The best you will do in your car is a 5/8 wave antenna on the roof tuned to the rail band. You'll still be able to pick up other stuff, especially other VHF band frequencies... It would work well on those too. But that's how you would get the best performance on the rail band in your car. The Diamond is a good handheld antenna, but won't work as good as the 5/8... mainly because it will be blocked from inside the car. It may come close while standing outside the car in certain instances, but the 5/8 will probably still beat it often. The next down would be a 1/4 wave for the roof, which would be shorter. But typically it won't work as well as the 5/8. But it may often be better compared to the Diamond if the radio is in the car. If the radio is outside the car, the Diamond and 1/4 may be pretty close a lot of times.

Dave
www.DPDProductions.com
Antennas & Accessories for the RF Professional & Radio Hobbyist
 

kkovar

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Direct me where I can find the 5/8 antenna that you are talking about.. the magnetic mount.

Here is another question... If I want to get a lot of coaxial to run from the truck to a location where i sit outside the truck, is there a lot of signal lost from roughly 40-50 ft of coaxial ran from truck to sitting spot?

Or get the Diamond telescoping we were refrencing above in that situation...
 
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kkovar

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I guess I am still a little confused on which Magnetic Mount to get... Obviously I am a rookie at scanning and especially antennas.

So looking for something in the 20-30 dollar range. Not 70.00. Sorry Dave. Can everyone or someone tell me a good Mag Mount that is in that range... I think that I am going to get the RC77CA Diamond for outside portable use, but still needing that Mag Mount that will give me great performance.

Help still please!

Kk
 

SAR923

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Like I wrote, get the Valor PMM3B. It's cheap, works great, and it will do the job for everything but low band.
 

af5rn

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Do you listen to anything besides rail? If not, then you should go strictly with an antenna cut for the rail band. If so, then we need to know exactly what other bands you listen to (by frequency) to help you choose an appropriate antenna.
 

kkovar

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Yes, I will be listening mostly to rail, but will be listening to police and fire in the Dallas area... I believe they run off 460.575, 453.875, and 453.900, some 463.00 freq. So im mostly concerned about the RR frequencies. So with that being said, what would be the best magnetic mount for the truck. I already got one recommendation above, anyone have any more?
 

af5rn

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Okay, so I just stood out in the 105 degree sunlight like an idiot, for half an hour, leaning against my hot, hot car and switching antennas on and off the roof to give you a quick but objective side-by-side on the three mag-mountable antennae available at ScannerMaster.com.

The Watson Scan-Force ( http://www.scannermaster.com/Scan_Force_Mobile_Antenna_p/25-541147.htm ) actually does quite well on VHF (where the rails are) and UHF (where Dallas fire and police are). It is roughly equal to the Austin Spectra, which costs nearly three times as much. It performs a bit better than the Comtelco, and is much quieter than the Comtelco too. Down side is that the Scan-Force does very poorly on 800mhz, which most Dallas suburbs use for their fire and police communications.

The Comtelco BMAXSCAN1000 ( http://www.scannermaster.com/Comtelco_All_Band_Low_Prof_Antenna_p/07-540719.htm ) is shorter and better looking, and costs five bucks less, but it requires that you buy a mag mount for it. It clearly outperforms both the Scan-Force and the Austin Spectra on 800mhz, which is a big plus for most scannists in the Metroplex. It does very well on VHF and UHF too, but is noisier than the Scan-Force, and performs slightly less well than the Austin Spectra.

The Austin Spectra ( http://www.scannermaster.com/Austin_Spectra_Mobile_Antenna_p/04-540720.htm ) performs about as well as the Scan-Force on UHF and VHF, with possibly the slightest edge over the Scan-Force. The Spectra does notably better than the Scan-Force on 800mhz, but slightly less than the Comtelco. Like the Comtelco, you must buy the mag mount separately.

None of the antennae were tested on low band because frankly, there is not a single thing to be found on low band out here to test them on.

My recommendation for you, from the choices you have, and given your needs and novice level, would be the Watson Scan-Force. It will do the best in the ranges you are primarily interested in. And it will do "good enough" on any nearby 800mhz systems you decide to check out. I think I'd definitely sand that thing down and paint it with some flat black Rust-Oleum though. It's uglier than the Spectra.

I have not yet received my pmm3 to test (hopefully today?), but I suspect it is going to perform a little less well than any of the above three antennae. However, that said, it is half the price of the next cheapest antenna, and from all reports, will probably be plenty suitable for your needs. Only when you start getting a good ways from a transmitter do antenna differences really become notable.

Good luck!
 
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kkovar

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Man, I appreciate the detailed reply... Hope you didnt get too hot out in the heat..

Ok, last question on the scanner master.. first one... It says that you can adjust the length with an allen wrench.... how does the length affect the reception? Somewhere I heard that 17" is where you need to be for the railroad band... Taking the 2800- whatever it is formula... comes up with the 17... what if it is longer, shorter, how will this afftect the reception?
 

af5rn

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See reply in your other thread. The length thing is ONLY a consideration with single-band quarter-wave antennae, which none of these are. Hint: if an antenna has a loading coil on the whip, it probably is not a quarter-wave antenna.
 

37wes37

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How about this...

Was Reading about the DIAMOND RH77CA--- Good Reviews... But this is not a magnetic is it? Do they make one with compariable reviews? Maybe since the RH77Ca is getting such good reviews, I should go with this one even though it's not a Magnetic Mount. ???? HELP!

If you already have the Dimaond antenna, buy a Grove magnetic mount with the bnc connector and put it on the center of your roof with the Diamond antenna attached. I believe they're priced at $24.95 plus shipping. If not, the Diamond and the Watson antennas are solid...
 
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kkovar

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so on the scan force, http://www.scannermaster.com/Scan_Force_Mobile_Antenna_p/25-541147.htm , it says that the antenna is adjustable. To get the railroad, does this antenna need to be adjusted or will the 22'' that it comes with be okay? 17'' is where you want to be to get rail traffic correct? If you adjusted to 17'' will that limit you to other (fire/police) that you can pick up? Or, what, just leave it at 22'' and you will be fine overall??????
 

af5rn

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I'm not sure what those boneheads are talking about. There are no adjustment instructions included with the antenna. And there is less than two inches of whip to play with for any adjustments anyhow, so really, it's a non issue. It's not likely to make any difference. And as good as that thing picks up on UHF and VHF, you probably don't want to mess with it, unless there is some chance of improving 800 reception.

By the way, I received my Valor pmm3b today, and I am quickly falling in love with this antenna! The performance is amazing for a tiny little piece of crap with crappy coax! I can't wait to match it up with the others!
 

kkovar

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so you thinking that the Valor is a better bet than the Scan-force? Or would I still have an advantage with the scan force? I read the forum on the Valor and it has some good reviews... Alot complain about the coax and length. Can't you replace the coax with new longer and better?

I thought that i had my mind made up until this Valor came up. help!
 
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SAR923

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af5rn, I eagerly await your report on the Valor PMM3B. It really does look like kind of a piece of crap but it's actually quite well built. I think I've had just about all the mobile antennas there are - A/S, Larsen, Comtelco, Antennex, really too many to even remember. Some of those were a little better in absolute DX while mobile but none have the consistent performace of the Valor in such a small and inconspicuous package. This antenna goes to prove that you can you just about any kind of coax for short runs without degrading performance.

KKovar, it's easy to extend the coax. Just go to RS and buy a 10' length of RG-58 with a female BNC on one end and a Male BNC on the other. The connectors are already on and I think it's about $9.
 

af5rn

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I got the PMM3B from Universal Radio, against my better judgement. They have the worst customer service in the business. Took ten days to arrive. The invoice wasn't even printed until four days after the order was placed. They never said anything about it being backordered, and I don't think it was. They just take their sweet time up there. :roll:

There are only a very small handful of dealers that I have found to carry the PMM3B. R&L lists it, and they're good people, but it's a special order for them. HamCity.com carries them, but wants twenty bucks for them.

By the way, here's two pictures of the PMM3B you usually see online
http://www.hamcity.com/images/pmm3blg.gif
http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/scanants/1190.jpg

Mine doesn't look like that. The coils are not nearly that tight. And the distance between the two coils on mine is less than half and inch and is a twisted, contorted mess. I actually though the thing was damaged when I got it (it might still be?). Mine looks more like the KS3...

http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y60/akubra/Antenna.jpg

...but more gnarly between the two coils. I'm wondering what's up with the change?

BTW, here is an old thread on the PMM3B that is worth revisiting http://www.radioreference.com/forums/showthread.php?t=19122
 
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