If you’re interested in pursuing the hobby of being a ham radio operator, a good antenna is one of the most crucial pieces of your equipment. Ask operators and they’ll tell you that your radio station will only be as great as the antenna you own. Here are some different antennae to choose from.
Depending on which one choose, you’ll need a high, clear area and sufficient cable. You’ll also need directional couplers to connect the antenna to a cable that runs to your radio system.
The HT antenna is the simplest and often most low-cost option you can buy for your radio station. HT antennae come with a short antenna that’s often called a “rubber duck” because it’s covered with a short rubber top. You won’t get as good of a range with this antenna unless you replace the rubber duck with an antenna that’s longer.
A mobile antenna is required if you want your radio station in your car. The antenna is attached to your automobile’s roof. A coaxial cable runs from the antenna to your radio. Because you’re mobile, you can typically get a better range with one of these antennae.
VHF and UHF Ranges
Both of these antennae are for short ranges, so they will have the VHF (very high frequency) and UHF (ultra-high frequency) bands. UHF bands work better indoors because they can go through building materials. For long-range signals, VHF signals require fewer watts than the UHF going the same distance.
The Right Antenna for You
You want an antenna that receives the same bands as your transmitter. If you have a dual-band transceiver, then you’ll need an antenna that is also dual-band. Your antenna will also need to have the same connector type as your receiver. Newer HT antennas will have an SMA (SubMiniature version A) fiber optic connector. You’ll also sometimes need a coaxial cable connector so check what polarity you need before purchasing your antenna.
The Right Gain
The amount of power an antenna transmits in a certain direction is known as antenna gain. You want an antenna with the best gain values for your system. The higher the gain, the better your range, so read the specifications carefully before selecting an antenna.
When building your ham radio station, keep these different types of antennae in mind. That way you’ll be able to choose the right antenna for your system.