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Railfan Technology > Lists of manufactures of tuned antennas for railfan use


Date: 01/30/11 15:56
Lists of manufactures of tuned antennas for railfan use
Author: SCL985

Looking for info on the various companies that produce custom
tuned antennas for railfan use. Know about Smiley,and DPD,
are there other good companies out there.
Would like to upgrade my present set up,for a handheld, and also
find a better mobile antenna (with a magnetic base)as well.

Thanks

Vincent Rister

Lakeland,Florida



Date: 01/30/11 17:13
Re: Lists of manufactures of tuned antennas for railfan
Author: K3HX

I'm not a fan of "Smiley" Antennas.

Railcom sells a 5/8ths wave magnet-mount antenna for about $95 including shipping. The ones I've measured are tuned pretty close to where they should be.

You can save some money by getting a "Larsen" antenna and cutting it to length yourself. If you choose this route, contact me and I'll send step-by-step instructions. Not hard to do.

Consider visiting your local, independent 2-way radio shop. Tell them what you want and they can
likely set you up. Tell them the center frequency is 160.890 mHz. You may be able to save money
by getting a "take-off" antenna as many public safety departments are changing from "hi-band" to
other bands.

For a hand-held radio, I've measured a RR band reception improvement over an amateur radio "2 meter" antenna with the MFJ-1717 series. mfjenterprises.com. Although the antenna is not marketed as being "cut" for the Railroad band, it works there. If you choose this antenna, be sure to tell the order taker what kind of connector is used on your hand-held radio. If the connector requires pushing down and a quarter turn, it is a "BNC" connector. If the connector is about 3/16ths inch in diameter and is threaded, it is a "SMA" connector.

I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Be Well,

Tim Colbert K3HX

30+ years in the 2-way radio industry
46+ years in amateur radio



Date: 01/30/11 19:01
Re: Lists of manufactures of tuned antennas for railfan
Author: DoctorThunder

I use a Diamond SRH77CA on my Yaesu VX150. It's tuned for 150-162 MHZ and works amazingly well. The SRH77CA has a SMA connector while the RH77CA has a BNC Connector.



Date: 01/30/11 21:27
Re: Lists of manufactures of tuned antennas for railfan
Author: tinytrains

Most 2 meter ham antennas can be cut down to 161 MHz easily. Try and look at the cutting chart before you buy.

Scott

Scott Schifer
Torrance, CA
TinyTrains Website



Date: 01/31/11 06:49
Re: Lists of manufactures of tuned antennas for railfan
Author: robj

Not necessarily endorsing Smiley but I use with a VX150 and it fits my needs, short and compact. As a side note on the company, when I ordered I was confused and ordered the wrong adapter, when I asked them to send me a new one, they just shipped it out N/C right away. The adapter is very stable, unlike the cheap ones.

I am not "into" radios and use the scanner as needed for the purpose at hand, often I am out of the car, in and out and the small size of the 150 with the short antenna enables me to use the clip on and keep it under my jacket. I had the Diamond(177?) for quite a while and eventually wrapping it around my the inside of my jacket etc as it is quite long led to it coming apart. I was tired of the length and don't really have a desire for another.

Bob Jordan



Date: 01/31/11 06:57
Re: Lists of manufactures of tuned antennas for railfan
Author: PRR5500




Date: 01/31/11 13:40
Re: Lists of manufactures of tuned antennas for railfan
Author: Trogdor

If you are looking for a 5/8th mag mount roof antenna I have and use the Railcom and Traintenna with my FT-250 and VX-150. They are great and work far better then any antenna that mounts on your handheld radio. They will also install any connector on it for you...BNC..SMA.. If you want a antenna for your handheld the Diamond or MFJ are about equal and work great. They are quite long at 16-18 inches and not tuned for 160 range but more for 172. Still its about as close as you can get in a off the shelf antenna. They work quite well. The Smiley is just crap. Don't even think about using it. Just remember a mag mount 5/8th wave antenna that goes on a car will always work better then any handheld antenna. I can get over twice the distance on my Railcom with my FT-250 then my VX-150 with a MFJ or Diamond.



Date: 01/31/11 14:07
Re: Lists of manufactures of tuned antennas for railfan
Author: cf7

"I'm not a fan of "Smiley" Antennas."

I don't know why as they have sold me many antennas cut
for the RR freq's.
Very nice people to do business with and orders shipped
out fast.
The Diamond antenna is ridiculously long and will not allow
the radio to stand by itself and gets in the way of everything!
I had one, tried it for about 15 min. and gave it to the guy
standing next to me. He didn't really want it so I don't know
where it ended up. Maybe he used it to whip his wife or dog....??
cf7



Date: 01/31/11 14:54
Re: Lists of manufactures of tuned antennas for railfan
Author: Trogdor

cf7 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "I'm not a fan of "Smiley" Antennas."
>
> I don't know why as they have sold me many
> antennas cut
> for the RR freq's.
> Very nice people to do business with and orders
> shipped
> out fast.
> The Diamond antenna is ridiculously long and will
> not allow
> the radio to stand by itself and gets in the way
> of everything!
> I had one, tried it for about 15 min. and gave it
> to the guy
> standing next to me. He didn't really want it so I
> don't know
> where it ended up. Maybe he used it to whip his
> wife or dog....??
> cf7

Well if all you used to judge its performance was its size then that shows why you like the Smiley... A short duck will never work as well as a Diamond. But I guess its best you don't have anything near you that you or your friends that you could beat a person or dog with... Someone like you should stick with the Smiley... And get some help... I understand whipping your wife but a poor dog???



Date: 01/31/11 19:11
Re: Lists of manufactures of tuned antennas for railfan
Author: kk5ol

SCL985 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Looking for <snip> a better mobile antenna (with a magnetic
> base)as well.
>

Never been a fan of mag mount antennas. Mostly from the ham aspect, they tend to pick up more engine/road electrical noise. Also, it's hard to do any serious mobile rail fanning without encountering low hanging foliage and/or jaw jarring roads that take-em off.

I suggest at least some sort of gutter rail or door edge mount with a quick disconnect.

RailNet802, out

http://www.qrz.com/db/kk5ol



Date: 02/01/11 16:08
Re: Lists of manufactures of tuned antennas for railfan
Author: QU25C

Trogdor Wrote: Just remember a mag mount 5/8th wave
> antenna that goes on a car will always work better
> then any handheld antenna. I can get over twice
> the distance on my Railcom with my FT-250 then my
> VX-150 with a MFJ or Diamond.


The why it works better is it has a ground or the other half of the antenna.



Date: 02/01/11 19:24
Re: Lists of manufactures of tuned antennas for railfan
Author: WW

The best permanently mounted vehicle antennas that I have used are the Larsen 150 or the Diamond NR-72. Both are "gain" antennas. The Larson is a 5/8 wave antenna, so it is fairly long. If you garage your vehicle, its length may present an issue. The NR-72 is a short antenna, but is spiralled toward the base, and that can hang up on raised garage doors, etc. That said, either will give a decent radio excellent reception of even weak signals. With a crappy radio, these antennas will just overwhelm the radio with signal. Hooking up a radio with lousy selectivity to a very sensitive antenna will not give good results. The radio and antenna have to work together. I, like others who have posted, am not a fan of magnetic mount antennas. They tend to fall off at inopportune times. By the way, I frequently can get better radio reception in my vehicles than the railroads often can get out of theirs because they typically do not use "gain" antennas on their vehicles.

I've also used various Diamond and Smiley antennas on my hand helds. They will improve reception some, but any of them still pale to a properly mounted vehicle antenna. For 20 years, I've used permanently mounted mobile radios and antennas in my vehicles. I only use my handhelds when I'm away from the vehicle.



Date: 02/02/11 08:53
Re: Lists of manufactures of tuned antennas for railfan
Author: grahamline

For various reasons, a permanent roof mount is out of the question for me. I've used the same Larsen NMO-MM mount on Dodge Raiders and Mitsubishi Monteros for 20 years, and the antenna has never moved more than an inch or two despite some high speeds and good, stout whacks.

The resistance to Smileys confuses me; their Slim Duck and Rubber Duck, tuned to 161 mhz, have both performed well for me on Uniden handheld scanners and the workmanship seems fine. Are they less efficient with 2M handhelds like the Yaesu?



Date: 02/02/11 10:18
Re: Lists of manufactures of tuned antennas for railfan
Author: WW

I did a "study" a few years ago with Yaesu VX-150 and VX-170 handhelds with both stock and Smiley antennas. I found that the VX-150 was slightly more sensitive than the VX-170 with either antenna. The Smiley improved reception on the VX-170 a little bit, but I did not see very much difference with the VX-150. The VX-170 would perform about equally with the VX-150 if the 170 used the Smiley and the 150 used the stock antenna. My "gold" standard for my handheld radios is a commerical Kenwood TK-290 with its stock antenna. It will outperform the Yaesu's but not by a whole lot (and it costs hundreds of dollars more). I'm told by guys who use them that the Kenwood high-performance rubber duck antenna for the 290 will improve its performance even more. I will probably get one of the high performance antennas when I replace the TK-290 with a Kenwood Nexedge radio as digital is phased in, but that won't be for awhile.

As I said earlier, the Larson 150 is about the best game in town, if length isn't an issue, for a mobile mount antenna. If one can tolerate a magnetic mount with that antenna, then it's a fine antenna, but a permanent mount is even a little better.



Date: 02/07/11 11:11
Re: Lists of manufactures of tuned antennas for railfan
Author: DrLoco

I have had good success going to my local Motorola distributor and just having them make me a 1/4"wave short gain antenna tuned for 160.000-161.000mhz. (17.4" if I recall correctly).
It was well under $50 for a mag-mount for the car. Only antenna's I've ever used...They may look at you odd, as you are not in the VFD or a deputy sheriff, but cash is the great equalizer, and they've never refused my money, even with the "we don't get a lot of call for one of *those* antennas." type statements I hear when I go get a new one.



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