Pro-97 Antenna for Airshows/Military

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Hey everyone, forum lurker on here. Wanted to chime in and ask for some suggestions as I'm a bit overwhelmed by the amount of antennas that are out there and frankly, I'm not all that knowledgeable when it comes to what's good or bad in the least.

I have two Radio Shack Pro 97s that I use at airshows all over the West Coast. I rarely ever use it for police/fire/etc and pretty much stick to Civilian Aviation Freq (100 range) and the Military Freq (300-400 Range). I use the Win97 software to program the 97s with all the latest Airshow/Airport frequencies.

At any rate, I replaced the stock antenna with one of the RS800 antennas a while back, and while that did help reception from the stock one I found two issues with it...

1) It's still pretty stiff for an antenna and often gets caught in my other gear putting wear and tear not only on the antenna but the BNC connector base.
2) It's range still seems limited... this could be also because of the wear and tear on the antenna, but there's some times were I'll go to the opposite end of an airport and have issues picking up the tower.

So I'm looking for a good antenna that is better (if there is one) for general aviation and military aviation frequencies. After doing some searching on here I've seen a lot of people recommend the Diamond RH77CA as being one of the best antennas of all time but it is rather quite long and might get in the way at airshows since I have the scanner strapped to my shoulder. The Diamond RHF40 looks pretty appealing because it is bendable, but I've seen hit or miss reception posts about it. Aside from those two, are there any other suggestions for antennas for those bands I use? Would any of the stubby low profile antennas work better than the RS800? I'm not really needing anything in the 800 level, just something that can pick up an F-18 coming in a few miles out or can pick up a tower nice a clear even if I'm far from it on the airport.

Thanks!
 

br0adband

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The RS800 is tuned to the 850 MHz region (that's roughly the center frequency as tuned at the factory as I understand it) so you shouldn't be expecting it to perform well at all in the 127 MHz and 300 MHz ranges where 127 MHz is roughly the center of the Civilian Air band and 300 MHz is the center of the Military Air band. It will perform and yes you'll get some transmissions in those frequency areas depending on the signal strength even in spite of it not being tuned anywhere near either of those bands - if you're using said scanner hardware at an actual air show meaning either directly on the airfield or the airport grounds or even within sight of the show inside of a 5 mile perimeter you're still going to get something.

Having said that yes you can do much better for an actual tuned airband antenna, the one I saw recommended more often than anything else for Civ and Mil Air band use was the famed Maldol AL-500H but it's no longer manufactured. I spent a long long time trying to track one down and I finally did just over a year ago, found it posted on a Canadian Ham radio forum and I did get in touch with the seller and purchased it (about $40 USD shipped) but for whatever reason it just did not work for me at all with my RTL sticks, sadly. I did some testing with it and there appeared to be some kind of short or manufacturing issue that rendered it basically useless so I eventually scrapped it for other purposes.

For general use the Diamond RH-C77A (BNC) or SRH-C77A (SMA) is a fantastic antenna and would most assuredly work great for airband purposes since you're in close proximity to the airshow events and the actual aircraft too. Yes, it's about 16" long but realize because of the frequencies you're looking to pull in having an antenna of a given length is going to be a necessity or you'll end up with sub-par performance like what you've been getting with the RS800. I own the RS800 like so many others do and I own an RH-C77A as well like so many others do and I use them both for their designed purposes and I've never had issues with either of them in any situation.

Of course nowadays I do all my monitoring from inside my apartment using RTL sticks and SDR software but they still work just as well as they did the day I bought 'em over 12 years ago and I don't expect that to change anytime soon.

I don't think you'll find a 'stubby' type airband antenna simply because the length would be natively detrimental to the performance at the required frequencies.

Suffice to say if you have an RS800 already then adding an RH-C77A/SRH-C77A to your "toolkit" will definitely make a huge difference for your airshow monitoring without any doubt at all.

Getting a nice telescopic whip would be recommended as well for use as required, can't be an antenna you can pretty much tune to a given frequency band/range when needed. Diamond makes a nice one, the RH-779 (BNC) and SRH-779 (SMA), that has a swivel style connector to it and the elements of the whip itself are notched at various points to make it easy to adjust quickly to given frequency ranges.

But just adding the RH-C77A/SRH-C77A will provide a huge improvement instantly.
 
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THANK YOU! Your information is really helpful, I think I'll just have to figure out a way to live with the long RH-C77A. I'll report back after the next airshow with how the RH-C77A worked out.
 
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