Ham Radio Antenna (2m)

Joseph Tyree

It has been almost a year since I recieved my ham radio license and I am about to purchase a 2m mobile radio. I have done some research on antennas and I am still unsure on what to purchase. What are some good manufacturers and models?? My preference is one with a magnetic mount. I am looking to spend no more than $50, if possible. Thanks in advance for any responses!

I apologize if this topic has been brought up before. If so, please point me to the older threads.
 
I would recommend getting a dual bander for a mobile rig. You won't be disappointed. In that case, this is a good antenna that has lasted me 4 years so far: http://www.hamstick.com/db.htm

There are tons of antennas you can get that will all perform about the same. www.aesham.com is for AES.

Look around this forum a bit, too - this is a pretty comon topic.
 
Diamond, Larsen and Comet are also big names in antennas, you won't go wrong with one of those. Check the total length of the antenna for your particular needs (to clear garage etc.), they can vary quite a bit. I would recommend staying away from "bargain brands" for your antenna, they tend to let you down when you need them most. Also check to see if you have a used market available ie: a ham flea market.. sometimes you can get a great deal from people that are upgrading.

Keep in mind that mag mount models tend to scratch your paint quite a bit; be prepared to remove the antenna often and clean under it. I personally prefer to drill the holes and use a permanent type mount.
 
It has been almost a year since I recieved my ham radio license and I am about to purchase a 2m mobile radio. I have done some research on antennas and I am still unsure on what to purchase. What are some good manufacturers and models?? My preference is one with a magnetic mount. I am looking to spend no more than $50, if possible. Thanks in advance for any responses!
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For under $50 total, that will take out the possibility of Diamond or a Comet Antenna. This spring I purchased a Comet C767 and a COmet CM-5M magnetic mount. The total for this was ~$85 with shipping.

I used to always use an MFJ-1729 5/8 wave antenna. That was also a mag mount and I was happy with the signal on it. That costs $34.95 just about everywhere, and I never had to worry about smacking a pricey antenna on the garage door. The new performance is awesome, but I have to tip it down for the garage which is a bit of a pain.

-John
 
Just wondering since I am in the market for a new Ham radio; Say I have $350 to spend, am I better off buying a $320 radio and a $30 antenna or am I gonna benifit more by purchasing a $250 radio and a $100 antenna? Keep in mind the radio will only be used for storm chasing, any suggestions?
 
Just wondering since I am in the market for a new Ham radio; Say I have $350 to spend, am I better off buying a $320 radio and a $30 antenna or am I gonna benifit more by purchasing a $250 radio and a $100 antenna? Keep in mind the radio will only be used for storm chasing, any suggestions?
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Then I'd buy a $150 radio and a $30 antenna and spend the other $150 on something else! :) Get something similar to a Yaesu 1500 2m model and the antenna to boot; you won't get exceptional performance out of the $30 antenna, but the radio would do you just fine.
 
I got a Comet SB15 triband antenna last year -- works great! It's a sizeable antenna for a mobile rig (it's ~58 inches), but I've been using it on a big mag-mount with a short leash without failure (e.g. without losing the antenna while passing an oncoming semi on a 2-lane 65mph road, though I can't say as much for my RadioShack scanner antenna [ugh]). You can that antenna for ~$75 it seems (see HERE), but it's smaller sibling is ~$20 less. Of course, you don't really need a triband antenna unless you have or have plans for a triband mobile rig. A dualband antenna in your price range is the Comet SBB-5 (see HERE).

What kind of vehicle is this going on? Are there clearance issues (e.g. garages, etc)? You may be able to do better with a slightly smaller antenna if you permanently mount it (probably NMO) to the center of your trunk (if you're putting this on/in a car). The farther the antenna is from the center of the vehicle, the more directional it's response will be, so the more center on the vehicle the better. Permanent mounts also work better than mag-mounts since you remove one more source for signal loss. I also suggest using a higher-diameter cable (bigger than RG58u if you can), particularly if you are going to run quite a bit of it... Generally, the smaller the cable, the more line loss you'll have, though quality of construction plays an important part, as does the primary frequency used (higher line loss at higher frequencies). Of course, this all depends upon how you'll run the cable, whether you'll need the flexibility or whether you'll run enough of it to make any appreciable difference.
 
Just wondering since I am in the market for a new Ham radio; Say I have $350 to spend, am I better off buying a $320 radio and a $30 antenna or am I gonna benifit more by purchasing a $250 radio and a $100 antenna? Keep in mind the radio will only be used for storm chasing, any suggestions?
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Easy - $250 radio and $100 antenna...the antenna is usually far more important than the rig. A $250 dollar mobile rig will be fairly nice, and so would a $100 dollar antenna! Never underestimate the importance of a good antenna/transmission line set up.
 
What kind of vehicle is this going on? Are there clearance issues (e.g. garages, etc)? You may be able to do better with a slightly smaller antenna if you permanently mount it (probably NMO) to the center of your trunk (if you're putting this on/in a car). The farther the antenna is from the center of the vehicle, the more directional it's response will be, so the more center on the vehicle the better. Permanent mounts also work better than mag-mounts since you remove one more source for signal loss. I also suggest using a higher-diameter cable (bigger than RG58u if you can), particularly if you are going to run quite a bit of it... Generally, the smaller the cable, the more line loss you'll have, though quality of construction plays an important part, as does the primary frequency used (higher line loss at higher frequencies). Of course, this all depends upon how you'll run the cable, whether you'll need the flexibility or whether you'll run enough of it to make any appreciable difference.
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Thanks for the replies everyone! The antenna is going on a Honda CRV. No clearance issues, though I would like to keep the antenna height below 50". I am planning on mounting it on the center of the roof. From the roof to where I am mounting the radio is probably about 10 to 15 feet max. Would this make a major enough difference to go with the smaller cable??
 
From the roof to where I am mounting the radio is probably about 10 to 15 feet max. Would this make a major enough difference to go with the smaller cable??
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Most mag-mounts will come with 10 to 12 feet of cable. For a backup antenna, or something portable to easily move between vehicles, I have a Diamond dual-band antenna that I attach to an NMO mag-mount. For my permanent mobile setup I have a Radial-Larson dual-band glass mount. Many people don't like glass mounts, and they do suffer some loss from my experience compared to the mag-mount, but I've had good luck with it for several years. I've heard good things about the MFJ and Comet antennas too. Everyone has their own experiences and preferences. Take it all in and use the information to find something that works for you ;)
 
A couple of things on the antenna....

Remember that the maximum possible theoretical gain of any base loaded VHF mobile antenna will be a 5/8 wave mobile antenna (3 DB gain), although Hustler makes a monster size 2-5/8 collinear antenna that takes out all overhead street lights and parking garages better than an F-3 tornado!! I am very skeptical of some multi-band antennas that claim 3-5++ DB gain and remember DB gain is not the same as DBi. I would not waste any more than $40-$50 on a good mobile antenna, but as several other posters have indicated...the antenna is more important for communications than any fancy radio will ever be!

Check out http://www.hamradio.com/ and scroll through the mobile antennas...Hustler has some antennas in your price range...you can also get some Cushcraft close out antennas and even some decent MFJ antennas within your price range as well. However, I would call prior to ordering any antenna and check on the quality of coax transmission line, as some antennas have cheap transmission line which equals higher loss values. A permanent roof mount (NMO) would be your best bet, but if you are going mag mount then make sure you have a good ground on your vehicle too.

Good luck and happy chasing.

Jesse/KB9TMA
 
I have just gotten a yeasu 2800m and a tram dual band ant. Have been useing this type ant. for a couple years and have had no problems with them. About $20 for the ant,and $150 for the rig.
 
This is a late post about this subject...

I currently use 4 Yaesu FT-1500's, 3 Kenwood TM-271s and 2 ICOM 2720s (with 20 more in my hospital network). I have multiple mag mounts and roof mounted antennas along with some tall high gain antennas for my longer distance requirements.

the Yaesu and Kenwood single banders are used for specific purposes (packet, APRS, Echolink or monitoring the local repeaters).

THe ICOM 2720's are used for my base station and prime mobile radio.

I have used several different mag mounts on my vehicles with little noticable difference in real world communications. For two-meter operation, antenna heigth is the real factor in communication distance. If I can hear a repeater, I can usually hit it with 5 or 10 watts. If I am on the outer edge of the repeaters range I pull over on a high spot and kick it up to 25 watts if I need to make a report.

I have seldom seen 50 watts make a significance difference in range and it cooks the radios.

The most significant item in relation to range is the repeater's antenna height. Our wide area repeater is located at 1600 feet Above Ground Level and covers about a seventy mile radius (all or part of 20 counties) for mobile rigs. Another local repeater is about 100 feet AGL and barely covers the local county with a radius of about 20 miles. (Using the same mobile radios and antennas.)

The 2720 is a high dollar radio but you can monitor two repeaters or scan on one side while monitoring on the other. This to me is almost essential in staying aware of the local situations.

Car to car (simplex) communications is usually about ten miles or less since both antennas are only about 10 feet AGL.

Netting it out...

Almost any two meter radio and mag mount will give you decent service for around $200.00. After that you are adding bells and whistles...

FWIW...
 
Diamond, Larsen and Comet are also big names in antennas, you won't go wrong with one of those.

I agree, you do get what you pay for in mobile antennas, Ive tried pretty much all of them. I currently use an SBB-5 from comet, its not as tall as some with more gain, I did successfully talk to a fellow chaser last year 20 miles simplex when we got seperated in TX using that antenna and 50 watts.
Mike
 
I agree, you do get what you pay for in mobile antennas, Ive tried pretty much all of them. I currently use an SBB-5 from comet, its not as tall as some with more gain, I did successfully talk to a fellow chaser last year 20 miles simplex when we got seperated in TX using that antenna and 50 watts.
Mike

I currently use a Comet C767 NMO on a fender mount and love it's performance. I've also got a Larsen dual band that I sometimes use as well on the roof mount, but normally take it off when I'm not chasing since I use a garage.
 
Definitely go with the best antenna you can afford. If you don't want to go drilling holes in your car, I'd suggest a trunk-mount antenna. It clips to the lip of your trunk. Should provide better signal than a mag-mount with little-to-no vehicle damage.


BC
 
Be weary of mag mounts! It's great that there's no holes, but over time you might fight tiny scratches, as I have on my trunk deck. I now have a trunk mount base with a small 18" dual band antenna.

As for a radio, I'm using a Yaesu FT8000-R. The R means that it can cross repeat, which is nice if you want to use your HT but can't hit the repeater on its low power. I've heard most Yaesu are bad with alternator noise but this one seems to do the trick.

As for antennas, Comet or Larson are my picks. The MFJ (Mighty Fine Junk) have a tendency to not be built very well. Since I needed an SMA connector for my trunk mount, I went with a Maldol AS-30 that I picked up in Dayton. My setup has no problems hitting a repeater about 30 miles away on low power.
 
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