Watson Super Gainer W-881 vs Diamond RH77CA

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LIScanner101

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I know this has been beaten to death in older threads, but with changes in materials over time the “standings” of these antennas may have changed over time, so I have a question:

I own a Diamond RH77CA and it works very well on my BCT15X when it’s sitting on a desk and I don’t have an opportunity to use an outside antenna. However, I do understand this antenna is NOT a scanner antenna – rather, it’s actually designed for the 2m and 70cm ham bands. On the other hand, the Watson is clearly marketed as a 25-1000MHz antenna, so at least in theory, it should be a better performer for VHF/UHF/800MHz scanning.

Does anyone have any real-world experience comparing these two antennas side-by-side on a scanner? if you only have the SMA versions (which seem to be a little more popular now that some scanners have SMA jacks) that’s OK, I don’t expect that to change the Rx quality much.

What say you :) ???
 

LIScanner101

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questnz

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I own 4x Watson antennas in my collection as well as SRH771 (equiv of US version RH77CA).
You can't really tell the difference (without any scientific measurements) in performance between W881 and SRH771 on Uniden 93, 346XT, 396XT, Icom R6, GRE 310. I am on different band plan to US but overall both are excellent receiving antennas for my requirements, build quality good for both. Some people commented that Watson edging SR77CA on some frequencies? Both also very good on Air band, on airshows I am using W901 Air tuned but my out of the house or vehicle favorite is W801 shorter version of W881.
SR77CA claim to be wide band receive http://www.diamondantenna.net/srh77ca.html

ps I am still puzzled why and how, W801 gainer and W901 Air are exactly the sale size and length ! so what makes one W901 "tuned" to Air frequencies, bugger me?
 

br0adband

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"NOT a scanner antenna" <<<--- Pishaw, as every antenna is a scanner antenna when all you're doing is receiving. :)

Now, taking that statement with a grain of salt you can improve things by having an antenna that's band or frequency tuned to resonate better at a given frequency, sure, but overall any antenna is a scanner antenna. As for the RH77CA it's my trusty companion, has been since I bought it back in 2005 and I wouldn't get rid of it for anything. It does extremely well for me - note I'm stating "me" there specifically - across the 110 to 940 MHz range just fine without issues.

Sure it's designed as an antenna meant to be fully capable of transmitting on the most popular Ham bands, 2M and 440, but since it's still just another piece of wire in the basic respects it'll work as a receive antenna just fine, especially on bands/frequencies that are working harmonics of the 144-148 and 420-450 MHz ranges - hence this antenna "works" for the MilAir band (first harmonic around 288-296 MHz, smack dab in the middle of the MilAir band) and the 800 MHz area (first harmonic of 840-900 MHz, basically right there where it should be), and a little more in the 900 MHz area as well (close enough to work).

If I attach my 1/4 wave 800 MHz ground plane I made to my RTL stick and tune in a specific control channel in the 800 MHz range (854.7125) for the largest system in my area and then turn the RF gain down to about 3.7 dB I'll get a peak on that signal at about -20 dB solid; if I remove the 1/4 wave ground plane and then put the RH77CA on without changing anything at all, I still get the -20 dB signal (yes, it's incredibly strong, easily hits 0 dB or more if I don't watch my RF gain settings). I also get the same readings with the RS 800 MHz antenna which is my other trusty companion and forever to be part of my antenna arsenal.

If I tune to some less strong signals I still get similar performance across all three antennas, oddly enough - this could have to do with the fact that I'm "at the bottom of the bowl" for the most part: Las Vegas sits inside a valley on the bottom of it because we're completely surrounded by mountains on all sides and the antennas for all the major communications are placed on sites at the top of the ridges for the best coverage. Because I live in downtown Las Vegas I'm literally smack dab in the geographical center of this entire metropolitan area 360 degrees around - I'm in the bullseye, literally. ;)

As for the Wilson, I can't speak for it as I've never used one. And as far as the difference between the 801 and the 881, it could be the particular wrapping that creates the coils - one could be more tightly spaced than the other to alter the reception ability, I don't know.

I'd say if you are happy with the RH77CA, keep using it (which I'm sure you will do). If you want to check out the Watson(s), do it, if they're not what you expected or hoped for, return them - you're the only one that can truly judge how well a given antenna will work for you based on hands on testing which means you've got to get the antenna(s) to know. Remember: they're all basically pieces of wire or metal so all of them are "scanner" antennas in that respect - they can be different in form, size, shape, etc, but in the long run the basic principles are still the same, it's a resonator first and foremost so even a long piece of wire can pull in most anything at all, some better than others based on length and resonance.

You already know all this stuff anyway.

You know you've a scanner enthusiast when... someone asks you if you have a wire coat hanger they can use and you instantly say "Give up one of my potential antennas? NEVER!!!" :D
 

LIScanner101

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Br0adband,

Thanks for the reply :D

I do understand that you can call pretty much ANY antenna a scanner antenna, but let's face it, some antennas are going to be better than others at receiving the scanner "bands of interest". For example: NOTHING I have ever used in a mobile application can come close to my old A/S MON-Series for OVERALL scanning. From VHF low all the way up to 800MHz it's untouchable. Sure, I have dedicated band-specific antennas that do better for where they're cut/tuned, but they flop on the other bands. What I'm getting at is some antennas are just going to be better than others for broadband scanning - which was the whole reason for my OP ;)
 

hertzian

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Maybe this is a better way to visualize it:

If I was to commercially market the OCFD antenna, I would consult marketing, and state that it was "optimized" for 88 mhz through 1.2 ghz, knowing that I wouldn't be taken to court.

But we know that even though it provides a decent impedance match across a very wide spectrum, the "long wire" effect at UHF and above where it starts to look straight up instead of down low at the horizon, may not fit the ideal of being optimized. :) Still, based on impedance matching alone, I could defend myself.

Another example - the RS telescopic whips which when fully extended are resonant near 42-46 mhz, could say that they are "optimized" for low band, but just because they are resonant, does not mean they are as efficient as a full-length antenna cut for that band.

That's the beauty of RR - we can sift through the marketing, and find out if the OTHER aspects not mentioned about various antennas in the marketing literature are a bad match for your application. Those aspects you want the consumer to find out on their own, or remain blissfully ignorant of.
 

LIScanner101

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Am I weird for being obsessed with "antenna talk" :lol: ???

You guys are great, thanks so much for all the advice and info.

I'll keep using my Diamond antenna for now.
 

br0adband

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Whenever I see the picture of that Watson W-881 I swear it's the same antenna as the RH77CA - and yes I know antennas do look the same in general but I mean they look exactly the same: the design is the same, the number of "rings" cut into the base and the tip are the same, the point where the coiled element is in the middle of the length is the same, etc as if both antennas were made in the same in the exact same mold. Wouldn't surprise me if they are considering all that appears different between them is the plastic sticker with the branding on it... weird. ;)
 

hertzian

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Am I weird for being obsessed with "antenna talk" :lol: ???
Not at all considering that my last portable antenna for 42 mhz consisted of a 54 inch Hustler mobile mast, an MP1 Superantenna tripod, 66 inch radials, and a small aluminum pie-plate for top loading to bring the resonance of the hustler mast down from 52 mhz to 42 mhz. :)

It's the pie-plate top hat that optimizes it. Seriously it works, but you get strange looks. Two opposing 10-inch top hat wires (or four 5-inch wire spokes) would do much the same as the small pie plate.
 
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