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The 102-inch whip in a perfect world and the real world

FPR1981

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Okay, McKenna, this one's for you! :)

102 inches of stainless steel - the standard by which all mobile CB antennas are measured. This true quarter-wave gem has earned the reputation as the perfect pairing for your mobile CB.

The problem with it is that it isn't practical for most of us. If you own a crapper old pickup truck or big boat of a car, a 102-inch whip on the bumper might be ideal. But for a modern personal or family vehicle, it looks like redneck dog poo.

My wife would file divorce papers if I drilled holes in her beloved Pilot and added this giant monstrosity to it. That being said, what kind of suck ass placement is a bumper mount or side mount anyhow?

It is a commonly-held belief that the 102 whip is such a good performer that it generally overcomes a poor mounting position, but to what degree?

How well would this beast work if you could roof mount it?

With kick butt magnet mounts like the Stryker, the Wilsons and other Tram antennas mounted perfectly at the center of the roof and carrying a good SWR, will a crappily mounted 102 still outperform it?

Opinions?
 

prcguy

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While we wait for McKenna to answer, I've done testing along the same lines and size is mostly everything. If you test all antennas in the same exact spot you will find no antenna shortened to less than a full 1/4 wavelength will outperform a full length 1/4 wave. Even if you make a 1/2 wave or 5/8 wave, if its 7ft tall or 8ft tall a 9ft whip will work better. Maybe not by much but its better.

As for bumper mounting or ball mounts way down low, that really degrades performance but if you were to mount any other kind of shortened loaded antenna down there its going to work worse than the 9ft whip. A 9ft whip on the bumper of a sedan will outperform something like a 2ft or 3ft shortened antenna on a trunk lid and will outperform a 2ft or 3ft whip on the roof in one direction, but the short roof mount will provide a more consistent 360deg pattern and will approach the 9ft bumper mount off to the sides and to the rear. When you get into the 4ft length antennas in the center of the roof they will start to outperform a 9ft bumper mounted antenna in all directions. A 9ft bumper mounted antenna will have the best pattern towards the most metal on the vehicle which is the front.
 

trentbob

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I'm sure McKenna will be along shortly. When I got my first car in 69 in high school I had been in to CB for about 5 years at that point.

I was going to have a quarter wave 102 in whip with the Big Spring with three holes drilled into my car, no matter what, there were no other options for me. I did have a clip where I could fold it forward and clip it. Think of the Mayberry police car, and that antenna was shorter as they were on 39 megahertz, not 27.

As has been said, it's a great antenna unless it's not mounted well. It was always going to give you better performance if properly positioned than any shorter loaded antenna. If it was flopping around for whatever reason the signal would flutter but at higher speeds it would even out again.

Forget about any magnet mounts even though some might disagree. For god sakes, don't drill three holes and mount it on the roof of your car. :LOL:

Some might disagree with that but it's always your call, it's your car LOL.
 

prcguy

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While I'm no expert on the topic, this was my daily driver for 5yrs and I did experiment some with antennas on the rear mount, if that counts for anything. For the typical 30-90MHz or 30-512MHz antennas you will find mounted there, the ground plane is a bit lacking and nowhere near as good as mounted to the roof. I had a bunch of different antennas on the roof rack floor, which was a continuous thick metal mesh and a great ground plane.

You will find some HF antennas mounted in a similar spot on the rear with the whips folded over when traveling. The standard whip is 16ft and you can't drive around with that up so they stow them folded over out in front with a guy rope or sometimes two guy ropes off the front bumper to keep the whip centered down the length of the vehicle. In the Iraq war they would operate with the antenna folded over on purpose to take advantage of NVIS or sky wave propagation on frequencies below about 8Mhz which can work much better at 50 to 300mi out that with the antenna in the vertical position. For higher HF frequencies you would want the whip vertical.

For CB or VHF/UHF you would never want to operate with the antenna folded over. They might do that when running in a convoy and everyone is within a mile or less, otherwise the VHF/UHF antennas are vertical when operating the radio to get maximum range.

The whip on the rear of my vehicle in the picture was a 30-512MHz Shakespeare and there is a fold over mount on the front drivers side of the roof rack that was for HF at the time. There was also a small auto tuner for HF up there. The top mount was designed for the 16 or 32ft Shakespeare military whips but I tapped it for 3/8-24 and sometimes used a dual wound 9ft SGC whip and sometimes a Hamstick while in motion. All of those worked really well.

Edit:
I had forgotten this picture was taken after I sold the vehicle and borrowed it back to do some antenna testing for a day. It never looked this clean when I had it.

H1.JPG

So what are your thoughts on the bumper-mounted HF whips on military vehicles where they attach to a guy rope on the front bumper?
 
Last edited:

mmckenna

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^^^ yeah, what he said.


And I agree. No way I'd mount a 102" whip on any of my vehicles. It just screams "DORK Alert!".
I did use one for a while around 1990. It worked well, very well, but the drawbacks of driving around in your early 20's in a pickup truck with a long whip hitting all the tree branches in town got pretty old.
I tried a few of the consumer grade CB antennas, but quickly realized they were mostly lacking. The ones that were good were stupid expensive. I had a neighbor who was an EMI/RFI engineer and knew a thing or two about radios and antennas. He introduced me to Larsen antennas when I first got my ham license. He gave me a Larsen LM-150 5/8th's wave antenna to use on the 2 meter band. He assisted me putting my first permanent antenna mount in my truck, and from there I was hooked. I removed the CB antenna I had and went down and purchased my first Larsen NMO-27 for my CB. After dorking around with the consumer/hobby grade antennas, going to a well built, durable and reliable antenna was really an eye opener. From that day on, I've done nothing but permanent antenna mounts. Learning about ground planes, proper tuning, radiation patterns, etc. really made me detest the consumer stuff. It opened my eyes to the marketing gimmicks, trickery, smoke & mirrors, witchcraft, etc. that goes into them.

102" whips for CB work well. No arguing with that. But most cannot live with the looks. No argument with that, either.

After running the Larsen NMO-27 for 30 years, I'm not feeling the need to change, even though I rarely use CB any more. Properly mounted over a good ground plane and tuning correctly, everything else (other than the 102" whip) pale in comparison.

I know PRCGuy has used the Laird CW27w and he reports very positive results, also it has more usable bandwidth than the Larid CB27 and the Larsen NMO-27, which is beneficial that are working a bit outside the CB rules or want to use 10 meters. If I needed a new CB antenna, I'd probably give one of those a try just for comparison. But my 30 year old Larsen is still going fine and I don't have a need to replace it.

I know the hard core CBer's like their Wilson and Firestick antennas, but once you understand how antennas work, you realize that none of them have any way of breaking the laws of physics. The physics of antennas are constant. The marketing department can make all kinds of silly claims, but they can't fool the science of it.

What really matters is that each person finds what works for them, fits in their budget and installation meets their skill set. No shame in that.
 

mmckenna

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Consumerism has been the downfall of CB radio in some cases.

Manufacturers/vendors discovered back in the 80's that a lot of people wanted CB radios but didn't know a thing about RF. Their goal was to sell as many CB's as they could as quickly as they could. That meant they had to sort out the antenna side of things and make it easy for the end user.
You couldn't take some random dude off the street and hand him a power drill and tell him to make a hole in the family truckster. That just wasn't going to happen. So, they had to come up with a consumer ready solution, and convince them that it was the 'best' solution.
Magnetic mounts, clamp on mounts, and bumper mounts were an easy solution that most anyone that understood which end of the screwdriver to use could handle. That was good for sales.
Buy a mag mount antenna, drop it on the roof of the station wagon, and away you went, master of the airwaves.

After a while, so many did this, that it became the benchmark for CB antennas. It became rare to find a CB user with a really good mobile antenna installation. Instead, the Radio Shacks and truck stops of the world made the compromise mag mount the de facto standard for high end RF.

Run that coax through the door and slam it extra hard and you were good to go.

It's a shame. Yeah, they work, but they have their drawbacks. With so few people actually doing -real- antenna installs now, the magic of a well installed/tuned antenna system is lost on most. Even in the ham radio community, it's a rarity to see a permanent mobile antenna install. Walk through the parking lot of a ham fest, and you'd be hard pressed to find a drilled NMO mount that wasn't part of some old retired police car that was now a ham radio/whacker mobile.

I've helped a lot of people do their first NMO install. I have never, not once, had someone who regretted doing it. Done right, it's a beautiful thing, and the performance is well worth it. Getting a high quality antenna properly installed looks better and performs better. A good ground plane under them makes a big difference. And not a capacitively coupled ground connection, like a mag mount, but an actual metal to metal connection where the antenna becomes part of the vehicle.

And then route the coax cable properly. Not jammed through a window or door, but actually routed from the mount to the radio, cut to length and a proper connector installed.

Not only the coveted low SWR, but an actual good radiation pattern and no stray RF running along the coax back to the radio.
 

trentbob

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Hey, if it was good enough for Andy Griffith, it was good enough for me! :ROFLMAO:

View attachment 100301

I had a whip on the metal bumper of my '68 Rambler American with my 3 channel Johnson Messenger.

Worked great! (y)
Hey that's the Mayberry patrol car I was talking about.

I agree with McKenna I would never ruin my new car with 102 inch whip, quite embarrassing and dorky but in the late 60s on my used Ford Bronco which was the size of a large beetle it was very cool. I actually had a Lafayette he 90 that had 6 transmit crystals and a tuner dial for all 23 channels.
 

mmckenna

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One interesting thing to keep your eyes open for….

In the days when 102" whips were popular for CB, they were often mounted up high to get the best use of the ground plane. On some vehicles, that put the antenna tip up -very- high.

There are a number of rural places around me that suffer from some visible damage from these days gone by. In a few locations where telephone lines pass over the road, you'll see a splice enclosure right near the center of the lane. No, the cable wasn't spliced at that point, it's just from so many antennas hitting it, it had to be repaired.
I work with an ex-AT&T splicer and he had a lot to say about the guys with their big trucks with the long CB antennas on them.
 

mmckenna

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Perhaps it is my preference for trucks, but while a recent MY p/u with a 102 inch antenna may be unusual, it's acceptable.
Done right, they can look good.

The below example is the "DORK Alert!" in my estimation.
Old police car with lots of mag mounts + a glass mount. Add in two shark fin antennas, and they're all set for the Dork-olympics.


The only thing more 'dorkier' is this antenna:
Yeah, gimmick antennas plus a mag mount. Let me guess, an amateur radio operator?

"When all else fails", let us hope the magnet holds it all together.
 

prcguy

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It looks like the guy with the cop car used mag mounts everywhere and possibly ran the coax through the holes for the old antennas. I don't see any coax coming off the mag mounts. Or they are mag mounts with no coax for maximum geek affect.

Perhaps it is my preference for trucks, but while a recent MY p/u with a 102 inch antenna may be unusual, it's acceptable.

The below example is the "DORK Alert!" in my estimation.

View attachment 100303

The only thing more 'dorkier' is this antenna:

View attachment 100304
 

jhooten

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pcrguy,

Back in the dark ages the 30-70 tactical vhf low band antennas that were about 8 feet long with the automatic band switching matching units at the base didn't need ground planes. They were half wave antennas. No idea what the current ones are.
 

trentbob

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Perhaps it is my preference for trucks, but while a recent MY p/u with a 102 inch antenna may be unusual, it's acceptable.

The below example is the "DORK Alert!" in my estimation.

View attachment 100303

The only thing more 'dorkier' is this antenna:

View attachment 100304
Got to have the spotlights, if there's one on the passenger side I'm sure there's one on the drivers side, am I missing something or are there holes drilled for the coax for all of those magnetic mounts?
 

trentbob

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Shouldn't you drill 4 holes? :unsure:
So I drilled those holes 50 years ago but I'm pretty sure on the mount brand that I used it was three holes and I remember looking at those three holes when I sold my little Bronco. The new owner wanted the antenna removed but didn't require me to get caps for the holes.

My cognitive functioning is going down fast but... I remember three holes but I certainly could be wrong and in that case, who cares :ROFLMAO:
 
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