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Railfan Technology > My favorite portable dual-band radio antenna

Date: 05/17/24 10:18
My favorite portable dual-band radio antenna
Author: WW

Look on online retail or amateur radio websites and you will see dozens of dual-band antennas advertised, from very inexpensive to pricey.  Finding a good dual-band antenna can be tricky because a dual-band antenna must serve two masters--be able to receive both the VHF and UHF bands well--this is an inherent performance compromise that many dual-band antennas just can't achieve.  I have a drawer full of dual-band antennas--some are pretty good, some are awful.  Out of all of that, I've found just one that I really like:  it is the Powerwerx ANT-54 dual-band portable antenna.  Before I extoll the virtues of this antenna, here is the bad news--the ANT-54 is only available with an SMA-female connector, so it will not fit the Uniden scanners with a BNC connector, unless one uses a BNC-male/SMA-male adapter.  That said, the ANT-54 will fit almost all of the inexpensive Chinese radios, as most  inexpensive Chinese radios use the SMA-female antenna.  The ANT-54 does have a commercial cousin dual band antenna (the WXANT-Xpro) that is almost identical to the ANT-54, except that it has an SMA-male connector that fits some of the more expensive Wouxun radios.  The only reliable source that I've found for both of these antennas is Powerwerx.com, and I have traded with them for years, with good results.

So, why are these antennas so good?  First, the antennas are only 4" long, but will perform as well as most "extended range" antennas that are often much longer. Second, the antennas perform well on both the VHF and UHF bands, among the very best performers of any dual-band portable antenna that I've seen. They have performed better than the stock antenna on most every dual-band radio where I have used them.  I only say "almost" becuase the WXANT-Xpro is the standard antenna on my Wouxun KG-UV6x that I've had for years.  Third, they are a physically robust antenna that will last--my oldest one is about a decade old now, and doing just fine.  Fourth, they are an affordable mid-priced antenna, about $15.  Fifth, unlike many cheaper antennas, their performance and longevity is pretty consistent.  I own four of them, bought at different times, and they all perform consistently.

I'm posting this in part as a "teaser" of a future review that I will be doing, comparing three different inexpensive Chinese radios for railfanning.  For that review, I will be using the ANT-54 antenna on all three radios.  One small hint about that review--the ANT-54 improved the reception performance of each of the radios compared with each radio's stock antenna.

Finally, I really do wish that the ANT-54 antenna would be offered with a BNC connector.  It would likely improve the performance of both the Uniden BC125AT and BCD160DN scanners, the latter of which really needs something to improve its somewhat lackluster analog performance.

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