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HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?

Sean C Bohannan (W1SCB) on October 11, 2003
View comments about this article!

I'm a new ham and probably could use some elmering, but here's what I'm experiencing. I have two HT's a Yaesu VX2 and a Kenwood TH-F6. I wasn't happy with the stock antennas and have purchased several aftermarket SMA antennae's.

Obviously I get the best reception with the longer two and surprisingly the same with the mid-length foldable. The shorter ones are all fair.

The exception being that only two of the Maldol's, the Comet, and one Pryme work with the VX2 as the rest have too short of center pins to reach in it's connector(Thanks Yaesu). In fact I've tried several Diamonds at the local stores and none of them would function without removing the dust grommet/jack cover.

Having recently acquired a MFJ 259B I decided to check the SWR and WOW, the results were varied.













Maldol 610












Maldol AS-20












Maldol 209












Comet SMA3












Pryme RD9












Pryme RD98












Stock VX2












Stock F6a












I haven't ever tested any before and I am so curious at this point I'm going to find a couple more analyzers to verify the results.

A couple of these seem very poor to me and was hoping to see if others have seen similar issues with HT antenna's and am looking for ideas as to the best way to test the performance impacts objectively.

I am boggled as to the great variances even within a manufacturer and wonder what others may think.

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HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by K5MAR on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Just a reminder, SWR alone is not a good measure of an antenna's performance. A dummy load, which should radiate little or no signal, has a flat SWR. BTW, my personal favorite is the RD-98, tested at a distance from the local repeater, it had the best RX signal and reported TX signal of the several I tried. YMMV

Mark Schneider - K5MAR
RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by RFSOAKED on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
HT's are notorious for having poor antennas. The don't have much to offer as a ground plane being small in case size, and the antennas are a big compromise to make them smaller.

I use and prefer the Larsen Kul-Duckie's, they seem to work a lot better on my Alinco than others i have tried.

Thats a bummer about the connector not reaching, i saw one that had that problem. It was puzzling the owner as to why he wasn't getting out at all on his new antenna, it turned out to be the center pin wasn't making contact. You would think that by now the aftermarket antenna manufacturers would be aware of the rubber dust shields and so forth that the radio manufacturers put around the connector.

HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by KC8DEJ on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I have never had any problems with the center pins on any HT but as far as SWR goes well... I never expect much in the way of a good SWR from any rubber duck antenna. I always figured that high SWR on a rubber duck was due to the lack of a proper counterpoise. The best set up I ever had on an HT was a quarter wave whip with a quarter wave counterpoise (wire) coming from the grounded part of the antenna jack. This worked very well for me. I seem to remember a product called a "Tigers tail" that would efectively make a proper couterpoise for your HT's antenna. I'm not sure if this product is still available or not but if not, they can be made easily. By the way Sean... Welcome to amateur radio!

73's John KC8DEJ
RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by ANULLRETENTIVE on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I have my reservations regarding the results. Those antennas are designed to work into a less than perfect counterpoise such as a handheld radio capacitively coupled into a human body. Measuring the swr of an ht antenna is erroneous in that the cables and vswr meter add to the counterpoise that the antenna works against. A more accurate test would be an open field strength measurement with the antennas installed and measured on the same HT, held by the same individual, in exactly the same position, with no degradation of battery or rf power over multiple test cycles. It is very difficult to measure VSWR due to the many variables involved, ie. different sizes of ht's, body coupling, moisture/mineral content of the body, height above ground, etc. Those swr curves will change for the better or worse when held up against the human body.
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by DG2IAQ on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I did some tests on HT antennas too. For me I found out the best compromise by using a counterpoise wire of about 50cm length (= 1.66 ft.). This gives a much better and more stable signal on both TX and RX. And it costs nearly nothing, hihi. Even the "body effect" has gone nearly 90% in most cases. It doesn't depend any more if I hold the HT in the hand or have it fixed onto my clothes. When we're doing walking-tours the HT mostly is fixed to the horizontal belt of my backpack. The counterpoise wire is laying down vertically or is whipping in the frequency of my steps, hihi. It doesn't matter and it don't change the signal levels.

I'm normally using a high-flexible black wire, normally used for selfmade test cables of a DC meter. I can buy it meter-for-meter on our local electronic shop. One end is soldered to a small pad.

Normally it should be able on *ALL* HT's to remove one screw of the backward clip, and screw on with the pad of the counterpoise wire under the screw. So I don't have to use the outer side of the antenna BNC socket which would make mechanical or electrical problems.

The 50cm (=1.66ft.) wire works well on 2m and 70cm, even if its mainly designed for 2m where it works as a 1/4 lambda wire and most small rubber antennas works as 1/4 lambda radiators too. On 70cm it can differ, so if you have problems only on 70cm you first have to check the informations about your rubber antenna and its design for those bands. Maybe another length of the counterpoise would solve that problem.

Jochen Heilemann (DG2IAQ)
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by K9COX on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Sean, which Pryme antenna worked with the VX2? I have heard that the stock VX2 antenna is not very good.

73, Ross K9COX
RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by AA4PB on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Measuring the SWR on an HT is going to be next to impossible to do without the meter itself affecting the limited ground plane area. The SWR is going to change when you remove the meter and put the antenna back directly on the radio. It will also change as you move the radio or handle it in a different manner.

In addition, SWR alone is not a good measure of antenna performance. SWR only has two impacts on performance: 1) if it is so high that the radio reduces power output to protect itself or 2) if the SWR is so high that it adds significant loss in the feed line (neither of which really apply to an HT with a directly attached antenna).

To test antenna performance on an HT you would be better to measure field strength at some set distance using someone holding the radio in the normal manner. Actually, antennas are recriprical (the difference in performance is the same on receive as it is on transmit) so you might be better off to use a standard transmitter at some distance (a repeater perhaps) and compare the antennas on receive. This is more representative of actual operation than measuring field strength at close range (near field).

Also note that since the typical HT does not have a signal strength indication your comparisons will be pretty subjective.
RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by W1JQ on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
The SWR of an antenna on an HT is irrelevant. Take a look at the excellent book Reflections (by Maxwell, W2DU, available from the ARRL). As long as the transmitter can deliver power into whatever load impedance it sees (and this shouldn't be a problem for an HT, which is designed to operate into a very short antenna), all the SWR really does is in crease the loss on the transmission line between the antenna and the transmitter. The loss is directly proportional to the distance; the distance is probably an inch or two; so transmision line loss has got to be negligible.

Even on HF, the importance of SWR is greatly overemphasized. There are really only two questions worth asking:

* can the transmitter deliver power into the load it sees? (This can be an issue with solid state transmitters without an antenna tuner. It's rarely an issue with tube finals.)

* can you tolerate the additional transmission line loss due to SWR? (The answer is usually "yes", particularly if you're operating HF, use RG-8 or better cable, and the SWR is below 4:1 or so. Note that using a tuner does *nothing* to the transmission line loss, unless you can mount the tuner at the antenna--which you can do with some of the new remote tuners.)
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by W1SCB on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
FYI, on the vx2 the PRYME RD98 (18") works the best, no TIGHTENING down or grommet compression, which I'm afraid will eventually damage the connector, required. All of these tests were connected firectly to an MFJ 259B, not on a meter through the radio. Both of my HT's have signal strength indicators and the larger ones work on an order of 3-5 S units better than stock or the mini's. I've recently acquired a little Maldol 209SMA which I use on the VX2 and it works well if you are near the repeaters. It's SWR reads 8.5 @ 143.5 to 2.3 @ 148.0 it goes 1.1 @ 151.9
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by W1SCB on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
FYI, on the vx2 the PRYME RD98 (18") works the best, no TIGHTENING down or grommet compression, which I'm afraid will eventually damage the connector, required. All of these tests were connected firectly to an MFJ 259B, not on a meter through the radio. Both of my HT's have signal strength indicators and the larger ones work on an order of 3-5 S units better than stock or the mini's. I've recently acquired a little Maldol 209SMA which I use on the VX2 and it works well if you are near the repeaters. It's SWR reads 8.5 @ 143.5 to 2.3 @ 148.0 it goes 1.1 @ 151.9
RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by K8LEA on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Many years ago, I was told that the manufacturers (probably mostly the commercial HT market at the time) used dummy cases & such to test the SWR (etc.) of an HT antenna, along with some kind of counterpoise approximating a human.

That seems to be the only meaningful way to test these things, but I don't think I want to cut up my TH-F6A to stick the Bird inline....

Any other measuring technique isn't going to mean much except very carefully controlled over-the-air tests.

There are also going to be differences between a hand-held and belt-mounted radio....

This is going to work about the same way in either direction. My vote would be to tape the HT to a wooden broomstick some six feet above a ground support, and find some non-electric way of keying the thing. Then read the relative field strength from a few feet away. I guess you could drop a speaker-mic from the radio and have the same person carefully stand in roughly the same place and reach up an key it.... The mic cable would give you a decent and somewhat consistent counterpoise.

I have a photo shutter release thing that uses air - I guess _some_ HT's could be keyed with that with a little help from more tape. The TH-F6A ought to work with the PTT button removed. I think the VX-150's PTT is a little too stiff.

Point being that sticking a duck on an swr bridge (or a Bird) isn't going to tell you anything meaningful. The things _are_ dummy loads.... A compromise between a 19" whip and something you can carry conveniently.

(However, I just bought a Diamond SRH77CA, largely to "open up" the HF part of the VX-150 for hotel room boredom-prevention, and it's something like 19" long. Without an x-ray, I can't tell what's going on with the 450 side, but it appears to have a separate winding or section for that, and that part appears to be at least a quarter-wave long while disregarding the possibility of helical winding. (The part above the 450 section appears to be a helical wound portion - that's give this thing a half wave on 2M, I think.) Overall, it's probably about as good as you can get, in terms of intent, at least, for an HT. I've not used it enough to give a review, but it does seem to hear well. (HF's kind of quiet, though - about all I've found thus far is a 15mhz birdie from an FM station at 88.5MHZ. No idea where that came from, but I'm like ten miles from the transmitter, so it's got to be happening at my end. Or they have a BIG problem....)

The old "the more steel in the air, the better" rule probably still applies, but part of the game is to make the duck so broad-banded that there are few resonance issues. The upside is that you can use it without poking out the eye of somebody down the street, but the downside is that you're going to be 2:1 or worse more or less everywhere.


RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by KD5UJX on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
It doesn't matter HOW you test the antennas, IF you just COMPARE the readings to EACH OTHER. So what if you don't have a human holding it, If each antenna was tested in the same way,in the same conditions, you can COMPAIR there relitive performance. I'll bet you a cold soda that the ones on his test results that looked the best, perform the best.
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by KC9ASI on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I didn't used to like my HT.

Then I got a Smiley 270a.

This thing even outperforms the telescoping antennas I used to make for my HTs.

It put out a healthy signal, even from a half-watt HT that I'd given up on!

Telescopes to 1/4 on 2m, 5/8 on 440, or collapses to 1/4 on 440. Nice little things, around $20 @ AES

Besides - the Dummy Load on the HT is usually attached to the Microphone. >:)
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by K9ZF on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
The best 2m HT antenna I have ever used:

19" of 14 gauge solid copper, insulated wire soldered to the center conductor of a pl259. Plus 19" of of coax braid soldered to the 'shell' and left to drop over the back of the HT.

I used an adapter to change the pl259 to bnc for my HT, adapt yours to suit. I also put a 'wire nut' on the end of the antenna for eye protection:-)

Cost next to nothing to build, and works as well or better than any other HT type antenna I have compared it too;-)

Good luck,
Dan Evans K9ZF
Scottsburg, IN 47170
K9ZF /R no budget Rover
Check out the Rover Resource Page at:
QRP-l #1269
Central States VHF Society
IN-Ham list administrator
Ask me about subscribing to the Indiana Ham email
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by KC8PMM on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I think the manufacturers try to match up the antennas to the radios as well as possible. Just go with what works. What are you looking for? A short antenna? A lot of gain? Everything has its price.

Too bad HT's don't have built-in SWR meters. That would help with your testing. Adding anything to the feedline will change the configuration of the antenna system an goof up the SWR. A high SWR on a good ground plane might present a low SWR on the radio.
RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by RobertKoernerExAE7G on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
"..3-5 S units.."

Truely, and unbelievable result.

Off hand, I'd think that one cannot substitute a measuring device for an HT; so HT&antenna does not equal measuring device&antenna.

RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by KG4PFO on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I tuned my beam with a HT....then finished the installation,powered up my yaesu with full power and it look almost the same..........worked great.
RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by W8JI on October 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
You can't test a HT antenna on an antenna analyzer and get a true picture.

The HT has a very small groundplane, and the antennas (if designed properly)correct somewhat for the small groundplane of the small plastic or meteal case HT.

What you see on a large metal case analyzer like the 259 is nothing like the radio/antenna combination, which has a small groundplane.

Also, as someone else pointed out, SWR doesn't always telkl the whole story. An efficient rubber duck has much less than 50 ohms R at resonance becuase it is so short.

73 Tom
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by K0RGR on October 12, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I've always called duckies 'rubber dummy loads' because that is often a fair approximation.

I've had good results with the aftermarket antennas I've tried, and I've tried many. I've used an MFJ-1717 for many years and it always works better than the stock antennas, but it has a BNC and using it with an adapter to SMA makes it cumbersome. The very long half wave or longer antennas would seem to be too much for use with fragile SMA connectors - they put too much stress on BNC's too - the center pins break rather easily.

I also have a 'stubby ducky' which is even closer to a dummy load, but it makes it easier to carry the HT around. But I'm not surprised when I can't make the repeater with 5 W.
RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by W7COM on October 12, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I put a PL-259 to SMA adapter on my RingoRanger and get great results. But I sure get funny looks when I take it in the mall.
RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by W4CNG on October 12, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
For any Hand Held radio the SMA connnector is a poor choice. It is easily damaged in the field, and very hard to replace, you cannot repair it. The BNC connector is best. Have you ever seen a crimp on SMA or solder on SMA? Not me. I had a SMA HT, got rid of it as I also could not find a resonant antenna that worked as well as my Alinco DJ580 and stock BNC dual band antenna. I use Lasen dualband antennas with BNC connectors on my Alinco HT's. You can use an antenna bridge to check antennas, just remember to test them with a ground plane under the antenna. Most factory antennas for HT's are lower than poor in the ratings at best. Yes I use a tiger tale ground on my HT's.
Steve W4CNG
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by KC0LBZ on October 12, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
"The best 2m HT antenna I have ever used:

19" of 14 gauge solid copper, insulated wire soldered to the center conductor of a pl259. Plus 19" of of coax braid soldered to the 'shell' and left to drop over the back of the HT."

Sounds an awful lot like a half wave dipole to me.
Bound to be an improvement over the typical RD.

FWIW, I have an MFJ-1717 2m/440 17" whip on my FT-10R. (Came with it when I bought it 2nd hand.) It seems to work well, judging by how it reaches the local repeaters, and by comments from some of the other repeater users. On the other hand, I haven't tried any others.

- Sam
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by KE6YOC on October 12, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
This made me think....when is the last time I used my HT? Long ago. Because HTs are just for use until I can get to a real radio with a real antenna. Nothing like a 10-50 watt mobile with a tuned antenna to spoil you, and then there is no going back....
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by K7JUS on October 13, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Just to throw my $.02 in I personally own a Pryme RD-78 and this antenna hasn't failed me yet. I also must says it done wonders for me in the field when I have done search and rescue mission. Best $15 dollars I have spent on a antenna
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by N8IWK on October 13, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
I'll have to agree that the VX-2R factory antenna is about as good as a dummy load. I just recently got a VX-2 and did some side by side comparisons with my VX-1 and was dissapointed in it's performance. I swapped antenna with the after-market antenna I had on my VX-1 and was impressed. The aftermaket SMA antenna I'm using is one of those sold at ham swap's in bulk sitting in a bin (no name brand, no specs. or model number). I've used that antenna on all but one of my HT's that use an SMA style antenna. I wish I could find the source of this antenna I buy a few more for my other radios. In the mean time I'll have to keep passing it down from radio to radio. It's looking a little beat up and twisted but still working great.
The only radio I've had that had a decent factory antenna that I did not need to replace has been an Alinco DJ-V5.

RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by KC9ASI on October 13, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
>Have you ever seen a crimp on SMA or solder on SMA?
>Not me. Steve W4CNG

Yes, actually. My local electronics dealer (Midwest Associated) carries the crimp ons, and will happily order compression or solder on for me if I ask them to. My recollection is that Jameco, Mouser, Digikey, and a few others will do the same.

William KC9ASI
RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by W9WHE on October 13, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Rubber duckie antennas are unquestionably a trade-off. They are typically a few DB down from a quarterwave with NO groundplane. Frankly, as antennas, they stink! However, they do have advantages: 1) they bend rather then break, 2) they are small and discreet, 3)they allow truly pedistrian portable use; and 4 don't get struck by lightning.

Now.... if you "unwind" the coil, you improve performance. Add a ground plane and you will improve it further. Go with a 1/2 wave & a matching coil, and you improve it even further. Add a 30 ft mast, low loss feedline, a 160 watt amp and a grounding system, and you are stuck at home!

What do you want? A portable radio that can be discreetly carried and operated OR do you want to look like some wierdo trying to communicate with the voices in your head?

Rubber duckies are high in convienence, low on efficency. A 12 foot fibergalss stick on a 30 ft mast is high on efficency and low on convienence.

If you want range: 1) stay at home or 2) use a repeater. If you want convienence & to look like a member of the human race, use a rubber duck.

RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by N6JSX on October 13, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
You have a good point that needs to be expanded. There is a general falsely that if the antenna has a near 1:1 VSWR impedance match all is good and the antenna system is optimal. This is NOT true.

A near 1:1 VSWR match is a measurement that tells you your transmitter is happy and is couling nearly full power into the atenna system.

You may notice I said "antenna system" - as many use antenna tuners to create this near 1:1 VSWR match. This device is tricking your transmitter into coupling maximum power out into what the transmitter feels is the perfect impedance the transmitter wants to see.

Notice another statement "transmitter wants to see" - YES not all transmitters want to see 50 ohms. I have found transmitters, especially solid state, to want a matching impedance of anywhere between 48-55 ohms.

Back to the issue - just because you measure a near 1:1 VSWR doesn't mean that you have an efficiant antenna nor that your actualling transmitting the full power of the transmitter. The actual resonance of the antenna is THE leading factor in understanding if your antenna will efficient or not. (There are more but I'm only going to focus on resonance.)

The longer the wire the more capture area an antenna will have to capture the RF wave as it passes through the atmosphere. Also the longer the wire the more usable bandwidth the antenna will have in grabbing the RF waves going by.

In trying to explain this I make the analogy of a 1/2 wave dipole on 40m with a total length of 66'. (The 66' dipole is tuned to a near 1:1 VSWR on 7.200.) Then go get two HAMStick 40m antennas rigging them end to end like a dipole. (Can be done and some space limited HAMs do this.) The two HAMsticks total about 12' of antenna. (The HAMsticks are tuned to 7.200 exhibit a 1:1 VSWR on that frequency.) Now which antenna do you think will capture the most amount of RF energy out of the atmosphere? Of course the 66' dipole catchs more energy and you can go to 7250 without much chnage in VSWR - try this with the HAMsticks all that wire turned into a coil on th4e HAMSticks really narrows the HAMSticks bandwidth. This is where an antenna tuner comes in real handy to slide the 1:1 VSWR up and down the band but remember you are loosing some energy in and out of the tuner when you use these extra coils and capacitors in the antenna tuner.

Now we get to the HT antenna - it is nothing more than a helical dummy load. However, in defense of this article the better the VSWR the more energy coupled out and the happier the transmitter. But don't think for a minute that the antenna is more efficient. The only way to make a HT antenna more efficient is to gain length - so antennas that are near 19" will most likely work better that a stubby duck at 3". I'm not even going into the absence of a ground plane - but the old tiger tail did help.

What we need in antenna performance evaluations is some type of efficeincy and not just gain factor plus VSWR.

Another item missing from this article is on the multi-band HT's what was the VSWR on 440? Maybe there were trade offs in the antenna design.

This is somewhat impractical but a good antenna for a HT would be a 1/2 wave J as it needs no groud plane and has the best angle of radiation. But the 2m length would be about 57". I still do not understand why a commercial firm hasn't made the J into a fiberglass stick on the HAM bands like thay have for the Marine band.

My opinion - take it or leave it.

RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by N0TONE on October 13, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
This points out one of the dumbest ideas in ham radio.

The rubber duck that your HT came with is NOT an antenna. It is a poor substitute for one. You should only use it when a real antenna is not available.

There's a ham a coupla blocks from me. He carries his HT from home to work and back. At home, he plugs it into an RG8 cable going to a roof-mounted vertically polarized beam. When he gets in his car, he plugs his roof-mounted 5/8 wave into it. At work, he has a 1/4 wave ground plane (made of coat hanger wire and an SO-239) dangling from a thread attached the the ceiling above his workbench.

When measuring the rubber duck, make sure you are simulating the actual operating conditions as closely as possible. I made such measurements once, and funny thing - the antenna did MUCH better if I held it so that the BNC connector was about at my forehead - right there they normally are when you're using them.

In normal use, you really should add a counterpoise to a rubber duck. It is incredible how much better they work if you connect a wire to the ground (ring of the BNC or SMA) and just let it dangle down from the connector. Doesn't even have to be a full quarter wave long, anything longer than the HT itself is an improvement. That one-wire counterpoise will turn the worst rubber duck into a better antenna than the best rubber duck.

We really HAVE to wean ourselves from the preposterous notion that a rubber duck is, or should ever be expected to be, a useful antenna for anything except very close work between two HTs operating simplex.

HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by WA2JJH on October 14, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
rubber ducks were always a poor antenna. Back when H-t's had xtals, you got a nice 19" whip. We would buy the rubber duck as the secondary antenna.
Even the old ht-220 had a 19" collapsable whip. The rubber duck just looked nicer.

I also did the 19inch wire counterpoise trick.
With this setup you could hit repeaters 20 miles away with 1.5 watts. The rubber duck was just good for hitting the machines within a few miles.

What is more compromised is the dual band rubber duck. Crummy antenna, but convenient.

I agree sma's are bad news.
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by K4III on October 15, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
RD-98's ROCK!!! Esp. on 70cm/440!!! All others but mini for small VX-5 were trashed! Try it, even beats the Comet version of the same antenna and has much better coverage and results!
RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by KE4SKY on October 15, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
A fun, but time-consuming method to evaluate HT antennas I have done is to do side-by-side comparisons of HT antennas, having a helper record received signal strength and readability from a fixed base location with unity gain antenna, such as a 1/4 wave ground plane elevated 15 or 25 ft. and use a rig with a sensitive receiver and good S-meter. Pre-plan a driving route which includes a dozen or so locations, where you can repeat specific operating positions and conditions over various seasons of the year to provide locations with varied distances, terrain, vegetation, building attenuation, etc. and compare the readability and strength of signals.

We have a 10-mile circuit we drive, recording signals with my TM255A all-mode, while the helper uses a dual-band HT powered from his car battery, coordinating on a repeater in the sub band while taking the signal strength checks on simplex on the other band. The helper steps outside the vehicle and stands away from it to conduct each test, with the HT held vertically, at face level.

If you do this enough times, with enough antennas, and repeat over the 4 seasons, you start to get a good idea of which antennas work. My all-time favorites are the 1/2 wave telescoping Larson 2m used with a 19" #22 counterpoise wire, attached with a radio Shack battery clip to the BNC connector shield, and a Comet CH722A dual-band similarly equipped.

Also very good are the Smiley 1/4 wave solid whip with added counterpoise, the Comet CH72 15" dual-band flexible, Larson 1/4 wave helical with counterpoise and the stock antenna which came with my Standard C588A, also used with the counterpoise wire - this one out performed a dozen other stock duckies in out tests.

HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by VE7VIE on October 18, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
Your results correspond with mine. I just replaced my VX-1r with a 2r, and of course immediately looked for another antenna. I bought a Pryme 98, although I have had reliability problems with them before (they explode if dropped on the connector end). But they do test very well, as you found out. The second best was the one that came from my Kenwood TH-D7, which may be the same as your Kenwood one. I also tested a MFJ 1717S - a kind of RD98 on steroids, in terms uf durability, but it didn't measure quite as well. And my 8" Comet whip (don't know the model) didn't do as well as it did on the VX-1r, for some reason.

But as mentioned, it isn't the SWR so much as the Effective Radiated Power that counts - but I have no way of measuring that (well, maybe an S-meter).

73, Barry
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by N3TTN on November 5, 2003 Mail this to a friend!
The one thing no one mentioned about the small "stock" type antennas is the convenience factor. If you are trying to work emergency ops, an event like a hamfest, or just ragchewing out in the field, you can't beat the utility and convenience of a rubber duck. A two foot counterpoise, or 19 in. copper wire as radiator with 19 in. of braid hanging off the back of your HT might be a better performer, but it is hardly convenient. A full half wave whip on 2 meters is undoubtedly a better performer than a duckie, but it's also unwieldy! Besides, my Icom T7H with just a duckie can hit repeaters 15 miles away on 500mw, although I usually use the 5 watt setting. I agree with the guy who said field strength testing is the most meaningful way to go for checking the effectiveness of HT antennas.
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by WA3SIMI on December 11, 2003 Mail this to a friend!

I use a Diamond 519 whip on a yaesu VX-2r with
great results.

The stock yaesu ant was useless on 2M.

The diamond is 8.5" long and cost $23.

I bought the BNC version and an adapter so I cuold connect to an amplifier. Therefore I never found any pin contact issues concerning the excess rubber seal.

HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by VE7LGT on July 21, 2004 Mail this to a friend!
Since when does a full length 1/4 wave whip have more gain over a shorter loaded 1/4 wave . They are both 1/4 wave antennas . The loaded 1/4 will suffer from losses in the loading coil but should have the same gain rating. adding a 1/4 (18 inch counterpoise aka tigertail) to a 1/4 wave now turns it into a half wave dipole which does have gain over a 1/4 wave .
RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by K8MHZ on May 23, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
<Since when does a full length 1/4 wave whip have more gain over a shorter loaded 1/4 wave . They are both 1/4 wave antennas . The loaded 1/4 will suffer from losses in the loading coil but should have the same gain rating.>

The loss in the coil means that some of the energy that would have been radiated from the antenna of a full size 1/4 wave is now being turned into heat in the coil (and some loss due to reactance), therefore, with less radiated energy, we have less gain.

<adding a 1/4 (18 inch counterpoise aka tigertail) to a 1/4 wave now turns it into a half wave dipole which does have gain over a 1/4 wave .>

Well, when it comes down to it, all antennas are dipoles. But by descriptive means, when we refer to a dipole we generally mean a balanced dipole. Adding a tiger tail to an HT does not make a balanced dipole. Instead, it modifies an existing unbalanced ground plane configuration with the result of lowering the upward angle of radiation and raising the angle of downward radiation, thus compressing the lobe and resulting in a higher RF density....which will be read as an increase in gain.

It is interesting to play with the tiger tails, at 18 to 20 inches they add 2 bars to the recieve on my HT. (Down and dirty efficiency test). Outside those measurements there seems to be no change. Also, draping the tail down the back of the HT works better than having it hang to the side.

Math is cool, my favorite equation is "Using things that work better + the amount of user skill always = better performance".

That is why may favorite test instrument is a field strength meter that has been comparison tested to the rig I am using, meaning it's readings should coincide with the actual performance of my rig.

The best RF emmitting antenna I ever used on an HT was an Anli AL 800. The thing was the size of a fly rod and had a gain similar to a mag mount 5/8 wave car antenna. The bad part about it, at over 40 bucks shipped, the antenna emits a horrible loss, financially. If you place too much stress on the antenna, and that isn't much, the leverage from the sheer size of the antenna does devataing damage to an HT. In my case I sat in a car with the antenna attached and it not only broke the end of the expensive antenna off, rendering it unusable, it also destroyed my Kenwood 2 meter HT.

So THAT'S why they sacrifice RF efficiency for flexibilty!!


Mark K8MHZ

RE: HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by K6LCS on November 3, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
>>...which antenna for the VX-2R...

Either Pryme's RD-98SMA or Comet's SMA-24 will give you increased performance not only on the amateur bands, but also for your out-of-band monitoring.

Clint Bradford, K6LCS
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by K6LCS on November 3, 2005 Mail this to a friend!
Too bad you didn't test the best-available aftrermarket antenna for your TH-F6a - the Diamond SRH-320a. It has increased performance on 2m, 200, and 440 - and is a great antenna for the 'F6a and the Yaesu VX-6R.

I am spoiled living in Southern Califonia...MOST of the stock ducks on current HTs work just fine on the bands they were ...But we're all livin' in valleys looking at our mountaintop repeaters. I can usually tell where soneone lives when they write, "Hey, this stock antenna on my new so-and-so HT is a dummy load..." - They live in an area where it is 50+ miles to a repeater.
HT Antenna's -- Dummy Loads?  
by KPAX1 on June 20, 2006 Mail this to a friend!
I have tested many HT Rubber Ducks over the years. Try testing in a vehicle with a window clip mount preferably with a MFJ-310. You can connect any BNC or SMA connector with a proper adapter. I have found that a Comet SH-55 or Diamond RH77CA are the best RD available. All products mentioned are available at Universal Radio.
If you are looking for top performance HT's I would highly suggest a CB radio handheld. They are cheaper and just as lame.
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