Railfanning antenna vs stock

kudzu_kid

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Hi All!

So I recently purchased a SDS200.

Still learning how to program the thing beyond just the database for my area. It's a different animal. Come a long way from banks and channels of 30 years ago. But I do know how to quickly narrow it down to scanning just rail freqs when I want to. Like Sunday I drove over to the Cherokee Yard in Tulsa. It was fun. But I digress...

So for mobile use I ordered a Smiley 5/8 duck for 161 MHz. I've read mixed reviews. That said, I've never seen all glowing reviews for any duck, really. So I'll presume the Smiley is at least "ok" for my intended mobile purposes.

Now to the real crux of this: I would like to replace the stock telescoping piece of scrap with 'something' better. I'm thinking seriously of the DPD Productions Traintenna.

Question is: if mounted outdoors, though not much above the roof line, would it outperform the stock telescoping antenna in other bands as well?

Mainly, I just listen to local cops, fire, ambulance and then area rail comms. The chips, etc are fine on the stock antenna. Rail not so much. Pretty quiet from 30+ miles away. The nearest rail yard of note is probably about 30-35 miles northwest of me (Tulsa Cherokee). I'm not going to cry that I can't hear the OKC cops 120 miles away using a VHF Traintenna. But if I could pick up an area defect detector or two (I can't right now), and yard traffic with little noise, I'd be thrilled!

I really intend to focus on radio band listening. Just curious what I might expect aside from an improvement in rail receptive over the stock antenna, will it help or hurt other bands (compared to the stock antenna).

All responses appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

--Pete
 

JoshuaHufford

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Are you wanting to monitor from a vehicle or your home? Big difference in suggestions depending on exactly what you are trying to do.

From 30 miles don't expect to get any defect detectors or crews with any setup unless there is some really good skip going on, you should be able to get some dispatcher communication however if you don't have any big hills in they way between your antenna and tower.
 

mmckenna

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Now to the real crux of this: I would like to replace the stock telescoping piece of scrap with 'something' better. I'm thinking seriously of the DPD Productions Traintenna.
Why that antenna?

There's nothing magical about those antennas, they are just tuned for the 160MHz band and the price is jacked up. You can get the same/better antenna for less money.

Question is: if mounted outdoors, though not much above the roof line, would it outperform the stock telescoping antenna in other bands as well?


Likely. But we don't know exactly which "Traintenna" you are talking about.

Inside your home, you will have a lot of RF interference from consumer electronics. Foil backed vapor barrier insulation, wiring, HVAC ducting, pipes, etc. will all cause reception issues. Getting the antenna outdoors will improve performance.

IF your interest is in something other than the VHF railroad band, you might do better with a different antenna. Hard to say how well the antenna is going to work if we don't know which one you are talking about.



I really intend to focus on radio band listening. Just curious what I might expect aside from an improvement in rail receptive over the stock antenna, will it help or hurt other bands (compared to the stock antenna).
It's not going to hurt other bands, but it may not work as well as other antennas. Again, we don't know which Traintenna you are talking about, there seems to be several models, so it's hard to answer your question.
 

kudzu_kid

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Hi,

Apologies for the lack of clarity. I was looking at this traintenna.


I talking about using that one at home, and using the Smiley 5/8 duck when mobile / trackside.

I was (perhaps mistakenly) thinking a dedicated service antenna might outperform a more generic one, given my distance from the source.

Random factoid: I'm ~25 miles from Cherokee Yard in Tulsa. But I'm about 3 miles from the NOAA NWS transmitter.

Hope some that clarifies my situation a little.

Thanks for any suggestions, etc.

--Pete
 

mmckenna

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Yeah, that helps.

There's nothing magical about those antennas. It's simply an antenna that has been tuned to 160-161MHz. You can get a number of antennas with the same spec's for less money.
I think the products on the DPD site are overpriced...

Here's a suitable VHF antenna tuned for the 160MHz band that has better specs, costs less, and is manufactured by a known commercial antenna company:

There's a lot of variables that will dictate what you will hear. Your location, topography, local noise sources, etc. will all impact performance. Being that close to a NOAA transmitter might be problematic.

It'll receive out of band, just not as well. If you are looking for something that will perform across the entire spectrum your scanner will cover, then a discone might be your best choice. It's not going to work as well as a 160MHz tuned antenna, but it will work a bit better on the non-VHF stuff you want to listen to.
 

FrensicPic

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I have been using an old Radio Shack VHF-high 1/4 wave ground plane antenna mounted about 20ft up on the roof. Receive RR comms pretty good with it...nearest defect detector about 8 miles away. Trains can be heard as much as 20 miles away (depending on conditions at the moment) and the dispatcher of course. Trains occasionally heard from over the mountain range to the west of me.

While very good with 150-160 MHz it does a respectable job with VHF Low (Calif Highway Patrol) and UHF up to 800 MHz. Good enough for me as I'm not trying to "DX" or anything. More than enough to listen to! Using a BCD996P2.
John
 

wcsd45

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In rail band frequency case, building quarterwave ground plan antenna is pretty straight forward:

If plug n play needed and serving your new scanner capabilities well with very happy here railband performance,

Discone option:
or

These antennas should also be available from major amateur radio suppliers such as DX Engineering, Ham Radio Outlet et al.

Non-discone option among others:
Antenna:
Ground plane kit:


Any safer and done rightly compliant outdoor installation includes grounding and bonding to site installation ground. Many resources:

Grounding dos/do nots/why thread at start of this forum

ARRL Grounding and Bonding book (Amazon)

Longer coax runs will benefit from good quality coax e.g. LMR400UF, RG-213

Good Luck,

Chuck KC9QBY
 

cbehr91

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The DPD Productions TrainTenna is nothing more than a J-pole inside a fiberglass housing. That's not to say it's a bad antenna. But like mmckenna said it's a simple antenna with a jacked up price that you can make your self or even find commercially for a lower price.
 

217

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The DPD Productions TrainTenna is nothing more than a J-pole inside a fiberglass housing. That's not to say it's a bad antenna. But like mmckenna said it's a simple antenna with a jacked up price that you can make your self or even find commercially for a lower price.
Wow. I didn't know that. Thanks
 
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