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Monday, July 22, 2013

The Shack Part 2 - What Antenna Do I Use?

Hello, Frank here.

In the last post I showed you some of the radios I use. Well radios also use connectors, cables or coax, antennas, and need mounts for the antennas. Today I will talk about the antennas that I use. So instead of going outside
and taking a picture of something that looks like a stick in the sky, I'm going to send you to websites where I bought the antennas, in most cases. The sites will have pictures, specifications about the antennas and what they are used for. But first let me tell you - there is not one antenna that will do everything. Some will advertise that they can, but it just doesn't work in the world of radio communications and physics. Remember, always be safe. If you don't know what you are doing, don't do it. Even if your crazy brother-in-law says that you can. 

Here's what I use for my radios. My HF radio antenna, is an Alpha Delta DX-LB Plus. This is a dipole antenna that picks up multiple bands, supposedly from 10 meter to 160 meter. Remember that
there is no perfect antennas? Well this is one of those cases. It works fine on the majority of the bands, but through some gizmo whizo physics, they claim to operate on 160 and 80 meters. I guess they do in a kind-of-way. Overall, I like the antenna. It is simple and it works, kinda.

For my VHF/UHF radio I use a Comet CA-2x4SR. This is a 40 inch antenna that works fine on the VHF/UHF ham bands and also
works fine on GMRS and MURS frequencies. I have tried ham band antennas that advertise tremendous gain and they work great on the ham frequencies, but my SWR is off the charts for GMRS and MURS. I don't know how this antenna works exactly, but I have included the eHam review page for this antenna, read it and see what you think. This antenna is normally used as a mobile antenna. I use it as a base, therefore, it needs a ground plane radial connector, which I have included. The antenna mounts to the ground plane that mounts to a pole. Therefore you have your antenna, your radial kit and the pole. 

Now let me advise you of something here. Antennas come with different base mounts. NWO and UHF are the two common mounts for mobile antennas. Everything I use has the UHF mount. UHF, SO239 and PL259 are all the same connector. One might be male or female, but they use the same threads. Some companies will call them UHF and some will call them 259, but they are the same. NWO has a larger diameter and different type of connector. So when buying an antenna, or the mount for an antenna, make sure you get the correct base. The links I have included go to sites using the UHF type base. But they also sell the NWO base. Make sure you know what you are looking for.

My CB antenna is an A-99. It is a standard in the industry. Many ham radio operators use this antenna for 10/12 meter. It has been around a long time and is a proven performer.

Okay. That covers my HF antenna, VHF/UHF antenna, CB or 11 meter antenna. Now there is one more that is not normally used as a transmit antenna, but can be. It is a discone type antenna and the link I have provided is for the economy model. Most people use it for a receive antenna only. It covers a wide spectrum from 25 MHz to 3000 MHz. But most guys and gals use it for UHF/VHF reception which includes your scanners, marine band radio, public service - which is police and fire, and the NWS (National Weather Service) or weather radio. 

I talked about scanners in the last post, but I forgot weather radios. 
I live in tornado alley. I know folks that live in hurricane areas and I know people that live in avalanche areas. Weather radios can advise you of hurricanes, avalanches and tornadoes and have a huge selection of other types of advisories and warnings. Tornadoes pop up quickly and the NWS sends out via radio frequency, special alerts and advisories that will trigger 
an immediate signal on special radios. These warnings can be narrowed down to the county level or multiple county level. This technology is referred to as S.A.M.E. (Specific Area Message Encoding). I use a Midland WR300 weather receiver. I find this radio a little bit difficult to program, but it works. Here in southeastern Oklahoma, we take weather very seriously. By no means am I slighting folks that live in hurricane areas, but with today's technology we know days in advance when a hurricane is coming. In tornado country, sometimes we might have five minutes warning. This is one more example of being prepared. Have a good weather radio, learn how to use it, keep a good battery in it for back up. I have this radio connected to my discone antenna along with my two scanners. 

I know this seems like a lot of different types of information - different radios, different frequencies, different antennas. And it is a lot of information. But that's okay. We haven't even covered coax cable, connectors or grounding rods which we will discuss later. Remember, there is no perfect radio or perfect antenna or perfect car or perfect gun for all situations. So, make your choices, choose wisely and be happy with what you have. If you are of this type of persuasion, which I am, then you might want to ask the Almighty Father for advice on which purchases are appropriate for you. 

We still have a lot to cover about radio communications. I hope you'll hang in there. If you have no interest at all in transmitting on a radio and you are only interested in listening or receiving, then in the next post I will make some recommendations for shortwave radios (SW) portable and base, scanners portable and base, and antennas that will work with both. I will have some good shortwave websites with a plethora of information. 

I had some questions about the 102/108 antenna. I've addressed these at the following websites: Firestik and Right Channel Radios. The 108 is the standard that all others judge their antenna upon. It is not for everyone, but if you can work a 108 into your mobile needs, you will have a first class quality antenna. And it looks cool!

By the way, my weather radio just informed me with a loud, rude, obnoxious sound that there is a thunderstorm warning in my county. Isn't technology great?

We'll talk more later. 73, Frank 


  1. Wait, what's the story on the Jurrasic Jeep? Thunderstorm warning here too tonight. Heard it on my handheld BaoFeng UV-5R.

    1. Dear Dad,

      The 108 antenna was the primary focus of the picture, it just happened to be connected to the Jurassic Jeep.

      Could you give a review of the UV-5R? When we upgraded from a GMRS handheld I went with the Wouxun, which I am very happy with. A local ARES/RACES group just purchased the UV-5R for handhelds, they look and feel like nice radios.

      We enjoy your site.

      Welcome to Oklahoma.


  2. Hi...Your post really got me thinking man..... an intelligent piece, I must say.

    Antenna/Pneumatic MAST

  3. Pretty sure those NWO antennas you mentioned are NMO antennas.I have never seen or heard of an NWO mount but maybe I missed something? I know my Larson 2/70 has an NMO mount as have all VHF/UHF mobile antennas I have used since becoming an Amateur Radio Operator in 1994.Of course it's common knowledge the NMO is a much more stable & weather resistant mount over the SO-259/UHF mounts but they do work.I just assembled my 1st MURS base antenna a few minutes ago & I will put it up tomorrow on a 30 ft push up mast.It's a Firestick 5/8th wave so I'll see how well or poorly it works pretty quickly & also see if we have much MURS activity here other than our local Walmart that thinks they own channel 3.I will then have 10 antennas in the air covering most all of the HF bands,CB,& VHF/UHF bands so it's just another tree on my antenna farm. 73 God bless & thanks for the article.