Mobile Antennas and Tuners...
Compiled by Mike Morris WA6ILQ
A few tips and tricks:
- Don't use solid center conductor coax on a mobile antenna (especially on something that
moves, like a trunk lid). Yes, it seems obvious, but you'd be surprised...
- Punch-mounts are 20 times better than clamp-on-the-edge-of-the-trunk-lid mounts and 50
times better than magnetic mounts. I've yet to see a mag mount that supplies a decent ground
plane, unless you screw a 1/2 wave antenna onto it - something intended for a zero-ground-plane
installation (like what would be on a motorcycle saddle bag or a Corvette rear deck). Larsen
makes some good ones, as does Tram (the model 1155 is VHF, the 1175B is UHF and both work much
better than any 1/4 wave on a mag mount).
- A couple of tips about cutting the rods on mobile antennas.
- Quality mobile antennas use hard stainless steel rod for the elements. You will have a
difficult time cutting the stainless with common wire cutters made for copper wire because
the rod is as hard as the tool (if not harder). If you do succeed in cutting it you will
probably damage the jaws... or the hinge, or both. As a practical alternative the
Ridgid S14 (the smallest size) of bolt cutter will work just fine, then a flat file
to remove any sharp burr.
- One good alternative is to use the corner of a small triangular file to groove the rod
at the point where you want to cut it and then use a carbide rod saw in a hacksaw frame to
actually cut the rod. Or groove it half way through and break it using a vise and a
good pair of Vise-Grip pliers, then a flat file to remove the sharp burr.
- Another alternative is a small power tool (like a Dremel) with a small abrasive cut-off
wheel. Harbor Freight has a chinese clone of a Dremel at a decent price (and they also sell
all of the tools - like the cutoff wheels- for them). If you have a real Dremel you can at
least get the wheels from HF.
- Another method is to use the corner of a small triangular file to groove the rod at the
point where you want to cut it. Groove the rod all the way around about 1/3 of the way
through. Then use two pairs of Vise-Grip style slip-joint pliers (or a bench vise and a
single pair of Vise-Grips) with one set of jaws on one side of the cut and the other set
of jaws on the other side of the cut.
You should then be able to bend and snap the rod at the point where you scored it. Use a
grinding wheel (carefully!) or a coarse file to dress the sharp edge at the break.
- If you purchase a black Larsen whip please keep in mind that the black coating they use
is a soft plastic applied by dipping the rod in the liquid dip. You will need to use a strip
of fine sandpaper to take off the black coating (about 3/8 of an inch) at the new end of the
whip in order to insure that you get good contact with the antenna mount. Be careful to
remove just the black plastic coating and no more (this is the voice of experience
talking!). You will find that just under that plastic coating is a the copper plating layer
on top of the steel rod. Don't damage that plating with the sand paper. Just take off the
plastic and then insert the whip back into the base and tighten the setscrew into the copper
- Another tip: The US one dollar bill is the same length as a 440-450 MHz whip
- Yet another tip: Look at this photo. Notice
anything unusual? Like the thickness of the antenna rod? It's not too well known but the
diameter of the radiating element has a distinct effect on the bandwidth of the antenna.
When you make the element fatter it decreases the resonant frequency, meaning that you
end up making it shorter to compensate. The end result is that it is little more
broadbanded. Due to the thickness of the rod the left antenna presents a SWR that is less
than 2.5 to 1 from 442 MHz up through 467 MHz (i.e. from the repeater section of the UHF
ham band all the way up through GMRS)... and by the way it's a home-built antenna. The
right hand antenna in the photo is a stock 460 MHz whip (i.e. GMRS) from Larsen.
- And one more point: Let's say that you have a two meter 5/8 wave antenna with a
standard flexible whip. The whip is a radiating element that is just about four feet (1.2
meters) long. At 60 MPH (95 KM/H) the wind bends back the top foot of that whip to almost
horizontal. What kind of a pattern does that give you? I switched my mobile radio to a
center-loaded dual band whip with a fairly stiff rod about a year ago. My signal flutter
was reduced by over 50%...
- Check out the The KØBG web site link on the previous page. You can spend hours
there learning about mobile installs, including antennas.
The author can be contacted at: his-callsign // at // repeater-builder // dot // com.
This web page split from the main page 12-Nov-2011.
Layout and hand coded HTML © Copyright 1995 and date of last update by Mike Morris WA6ILQ
This web page, this web site, the information presented in and on its pages and
in these modifications and conversions is © Copyrighted 1995 and (date of
last update) by Kevin Custer W3KKC and multiple originating authors. All Rights
Reserved, including that of paper and web publication elsewhere.