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Using a Handheld Radio with Nothing but an External Antenna

Wide band handheld radios are useful in many environments. However, when you have to transmit over longer distances, you need an external antenna. The challenge lies in the fact that these radios have nothing but a built-in smaller antenna. The only way to improve your transmission would be to purchase an antenna with a high gain, which is expensive and not practical for all. What then can you do with your handheld radio? Simple! Let’s follow these 4 tips to help make your transmissions clearer.

#1.The first thing you can do is to adjust your radio through the menu setting. By doing that, you can check whether the signals you are getting from your handheld radio are the same to what other stations are using or not. If the signal is too strong, then adjust your handheld unit.

#2. By using an external diamond  antenna that is resonant on the frequency you want to use, you can shorten your base/ground plane. If you are using a mobile antenna, you can get it to resonate on the frequency of your choice by:

  • Tapping into the coil and dropping the voltage at that point.
  • Adding a capacitor in parallel with the coil to reduce the Q value.

#3. Using a transmission line to connect the antenna to your radio, which is the preferred method.

#4.The final tip is to choose the highest quality coaxial cable you can afford. Most coaxial cable sold in stores is rated for maximum frequency of 450 MHz or 800 MHz, while there are much higher quality cables rated for up to 6000 MHz. If you’re going to be operating on the higher frequencies, you need to make sure that your coaxial cable can handle those frequencies.We recommend the Belden Brand coaxial cable, which offers superior conductors that dramatically outperform other brands. It’s also available in many different sizes and can be purchased through various online retailers.

Caution:Since the cable used for these projects is not waterproof, it is important to take some safety precautions. First, you will want to make sure that you do not expose the cables to moisture or direct water contact. This can lead to rusting, which can shorten the life of your cable or its connectors. If you are using older coaxial cables or cables with questionable quality, it might be a good idea to wrap them in shrink tubing in order to prevent water leaks and improve their longevity. Also, remove any unwanted rubber jackets found on your cables before you begin working on them. Finally, it is very important to perform a continuity test on your cables before you begin working with them. Any unexpected cuts in the cable can cause poor performance from your antenna system

Wrapping up

Some people have remarked that their radios sound better when they don’t use the external antenna. That may be true, but the external antenna has a reason for being there, and that is for taking signals from low-strength transmitters and boosting them to a level where the radio can receive them.

In some cases, especially when compared to an older radio model, an external antenna can boost a radio’s reception so much that nearby stations are overwhelmed to the point of causing distortion in the transmission.

So, when using your handheld radio with an external antenna, always remember that this antenna is there for a reason. Granted, there may be times when you can do without it – and you might even notice some reception improvement if you do – but the best bet is to leave it in place and use it to its fullest possibility.

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