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Railfan Technology > BC-125AT Antenna recommendations

Date: 04/07/21 10:02
BC-125AT Antenna recommendations
Author: tracktime

Hello All,
I recently purchased a Bearcat BC-125AT for field use while railfanning. 

I hear that the Smiley rubber ducky antennas are good, but they have multiple styles optimized for 160Mhz  - a "stubby" one vs. a "mini" one, vs. a traditional longer "slim duck" style and even more:  


 I would welcome any good recommendations for an aftermarket "rubber-ducky" style antenna for this scanner.



Date: 04/07/21 11:14
Re: BC-125AT Antenna recommendations
Author: colehour

Just a guess, given that I am no expert, but wouldn't choosing the one with the most stated gain offer the best reception? I am assuming that the antennas would all be tuned for optimum reception on the RR frequencies.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/07/21 11:15 by colehour.

Date: 04/07/21 13:20
Re: BC-125AT Antenna recommendations
Author: seod

The Smiley antennas are very good but I like the MFJ 1717 better MFJ-1717, HT ANTENNA, BNC, DUAL BAND, FLEXIBLE DUCK | MFJ Enterprises Inc The only problem is its size it ia about 16" long and it does flop around a bit but the reception is better than the Smiley. Comet also makes a similar antenna called the BNC- 24. I assume that the radio has a BNC connector. The radio I use uses a SMA mount.

Scott O'Dell

Date: 04/07/21 14:47
Re: BC-125AT Antenna recommendations
Author: TCnR

The highest 'gain' antenna often 'detunes' the front end of the radio and lets in nearby high power channels / frequencies that have all sorts of odd audio noises. The industrial style radios and well built HAM radios are less likely to have this problem but it can still happen. Many folks stick with a quater wave antenna for simplicity, a 5/8 wave with 3dB gain is nice but often gives trouble.

There's piles and piles of posts about this radio and antenna recommendations in the TO archives, albeit somewhat dated but there's not many tried and true antennas that have just hit the market..

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/07/21 14:48 by TCnR.

Date: 04/07/21 20:11
Re: BC-125AT Antenna recommendations
Author: wa4umr

With antennas, size matters.  Anytime you reduce the size of the antenna you reduce its effectiveness.  A quarter-wave at 160 MHz is about 18 inches.  Reducing the antenna to 6 inches will make it less effective than the full quarter-wavelength.  I did a little experiment a few years ago and documented the results.  You can read them at Date (trainorders.com)  

Hope this is helpful.


Date: 04/07/21 22:37
Re: BC-125AT Antenna recommendations
Author: TCnR

There's also the famous telescoping metal antenna, which works amazingly well, just like the textbook says it should. Not very user freindly in a small rental car though.

It really is the best bet for sitting on a rock at trackside waiting for action, trying to squeek out that last micro-volt of range.

Date: 04/08/21 16:04
Re: BC-125AT Antenna recommendations
Author: WW

Restating what I've mentioned numerous times before:  Good antenna + good radio = good reception.  Bad antenna + bad radio = bad reception.  Good antenna + bad radio = bad reception. Good radio + bad antenna = bad reception.  A radio and antenna work as a team.  The combination is only as good as the weakest link.  Scanners often have issues with sensitive antennas because the scanner's selectivity is not good enough to filter out strong spurious signals that a good antenna will introduce into the radio.  The BC-125AT has better selectivity than many scanners, but it is not up to the standard of a commercial radio.  On my BC-125AT I use a unity (no gain) antenna tuned to 160 mHz that doesn't overload the selectivity of the radio, but is good enough to capture most signals.  I use gain type antennas (a 160 mHz-tuned Smiley Sllim Duck or Laird EXH-160) on my commercial portable radios.  Yes, they will outperform the BC-125AT easily in areas with weak signals or a lot of RF interference.  If you are going to use your BC-125AT primarily for railfanning, I would buy a 160 mHz-tuned antenna--not one of the common multi-band antennas.  My personal preference that should fit the BNC connector on the BC-125AT is for a Laird EXS-155BN (unity) or EXH-160BN (gain) antennas.  The Lairds  can be difficult to find in the BN model, however.

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