Ham Radio on The Move
Whether you’re on the move or sitting in a radio shack, ham radio is all about reception. And reception is all about the antenna. Without a decent link to the sound waves, you’re just talking to yourself. So, what should you look for in a mobile ham radio antenna?
How to Choose
Bands Supported – you should be looking for dual band at least, VHF and UHF. The UHF band is the one that will give greater coverage on the road because of the shorter wavelength.
Gain – this is the technical term for the signal boost you get from your antenna. Check for a high rating. The length of the antenna will also affect the strength of your signal. Obviously, the longer the better.
Cable Length – consider where you are going to mount the antenna. For mobile use, it won’t necessarily need to be very long. More critical may be the strength of the magnetic base that will attach to your vehicle.
Feedline Loss – this refers to the loss of signal when transmitted to and from the radio to the antenna. This is dependent on the cable. Higher frequencies create the greatest loss, so choose the coax cable wisely to avoid signal degeneration.
Interference – ensure the antenna has good clearance from surrounding objects that could interfere with the signal. Wireless networks, such as the one used by your mobile phone, can cause issues if they are operating on a similar frequency.
The UHF band in particular is prone to interference, whether that be from the proximity of surrounding objects, or even from your own body. It is still preferable for mobile use however, because of the increased range and signal quality of the UHF band during communications.
Earthing – ensure the antenna is in direct contact with the metal chassis of the vehicle to protect it from electrical conduction effectively.
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