Author Topic: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio  (Read 14144 times)

Offline gringogigante

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best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« on: July 07, 2014, 09:00:10 AM »
I am going camping with some buddies and wanted to take my little Yaseu dualband 2m/440 radio with me.  Admittedly, I am way out of practice with these things..... It's been 10 years since I played around with them and have forgotten a lot about antennas.   

What is the best option for a long range antenna for backpacking?  Something I can toss up in a tree? One that's telescoping or takedown?

Thanks,

Chris

Offline Carl

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2014, 01:24:29 PM »
Height above average terrain is your real ticket to talking distance,more effect on your range than power. That said ,most any ground plane for dual band use will do and a water bottle ,tossed over a tree limb will get you some height.But a high ridge will do better...a high antenna in a valley is not of much use. Be sure that some rope also supports your coax or it will quickly become useless.

Data from Line of site calculator LINK  http://www.qsl.net/kd4sai/distance.html

With the other person standing (6 foot) think these distances

you standing 6 foot  will  get you                          6 miles at best
your antenna 25 feet,other standing will get       10 miles at best
Your antenna 50 feet,other standing will get       13 miles at best
Climb a 250 foot hill ,other guy standing will get  25 miles at best

If the other guy and you are at 25 feet EACH   14 miles at best

So unless you are camping close to town,radio to radio distance is not so good.
When we do search and rescue we take a repeater to the tallest hill or use an aircraft mounted unit (VHF/UHF) in crossband repeat mode to equalize all ground units for best coverage.

I could maybe help more ,if I knew more about your usage..simplex or repeater...all HT or ???

Who are you communicating with at the other end? repeaters ?

ARROW ANTENNAS makes some great directional beam antennas and I use mine to contact HAMs 1000's of mile away through satellites with just an HT and PEOPLE WHO EXPECT ME AT THE OTHER END.

Arrow antenna    http://www.arrowantennas.com/arrowii/146-437.html

Offline gringogigante

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2014, 01:45:40 PM »
Great info! Thank you....

To answer your question, I don't have anyone expecting a call. So I plan on trying to hit some repeaters. I'll figure out where they are and start trying to hit them from the closest tot he farthest away to see how far I can hit them.

Next time, I can try to hit someone simplex I guess.  I don't want to carry a takedown mast system with me, so I guess I should plan on tossing something up in a tree to get some height on my antenna.  What's the best antenna for throwing up in a tree with a rope? Also when you said to use some rope that "supports the coax", do you mean something that takes the tension off the conenction between the coax and the antenna?

chris

Offline gringogigante

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2014, 01:52:40 PM »
Crap....I just saw that there's a HAM board.  Can the moderator move this for me?

Sorry about that,

Chris

Offline Carl

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2014, 03:08:00 PM »
I will continue here for now, COAX should be supported every 10 feet ,not just at the antenna-coax connector as the cable is pliable and heat plus stretch tends to cause permanent damage. Most any dual band or single band HAM antenna appropriate for the bands you are using will do fine . You can make a good ,strong antenna with a little effort as in a "J" POLE or one I giive FREE PLANS for called the BIG STICK...download from my Google drive at link below.

PDF   https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ZIZLZV4AwIVVVPNGJiODFjM0U/edit?usp=sharing

DOC   https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ZIZLZV4AwIbzY3MjZiSkg0S0U/edit?usp=sharing

Measure and cut lengths carefully and expect good results...over 100 built and in use in my area...I do this as a promotion to HAM activity.

Offline gringogigante

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2014, 05:05:04 PM »
I will continue here for now, COAX should be supported every 10 feet ,not just at the antenna-coax connector as the cable is pliable and heat plus stretch tends to cause permanent damage. Most any dual band or single band HAM antenna appropriate for the bands you are using will do fine . You can make a good ,strong antenna with a little effort as in a "J" POLE or one I giive FREE PLANS for called the BIG STICK...download from my Google drive at link below.

PDF   https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ZIZLZV4AwIVVVPNGJiODFjM0U/edit?usp=sharing

DOC   https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ZIZLZV4AwIbzY3MjZiSkg0S0U/edit?usp=sharing

Measure and cut lengths carefully and expect good results...over 100 built and in use in my area...I do this as a promotion to HAM activity.

Wow. That looks really cool.  I wish I knew more about making antennas....that looks really complicated to me.  It looks like its assumed the builder isn't a newbie. :-)

I'm surprised that there hasn't been anyone that has made one that is already backpack-able.

chris

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2014, 05:56:27 PM »
If you google "ladder line jpole"  you will find many variants.

Here's one that's more step by step but will perhaps explain Carl's method even though it's a variation.

http://www.hamuniverse.com/2mladjpole.html

There are folks selling them for < $30 on ebay but once you understand the anatomy it really is doable for any one.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2014, 07:42:05 PM »
Built this similar antenna last weekend: http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=50529.0
Hanging at 30' by some paracord, it and a 5w HT can hit repeaters 25 miles away.

Offline gringogigante

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2014, 08:04:45 PM »
Wow. That looks really cool.  I wish I knew more about making antennas....that looks really complicated to me.  It looks like its assumed the builder isn't a newbie. :-)

I'm surprised that there hasn't been anyone that has made one that is already backpack-able.

chris

BTW, I wasn't knocking the antenna. It looks great. Just knocking my own lack of skills. :-)

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2014, 11:12:20 PM »
BTW, I wasn't knocking the antenna. It looks great. Just knocking my own lack of skills. :-)

It sounds like you and I have a lot in common when it comes to ham radio.  Maybe someday I'll get around to making antennas, but often it just makes more sense to buy something and get on the air. 

I've had good luck with my three N9TAX Slim Jims and I'd recommend you look at this one for your purposes http://www.2wayelectronix.com/Dual-band-2m-70cm-Slim-Jim-Antenna-with-16-rg-58-dual-slim-16.htm.  It's similar to the ladder line antenna AG built in the link he posted above (I believe he referenced the availability for sale of the N9TAX in his thread, as well), all you have to do is decide what type of connector you want and you're good to go.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2014, 11:28:35 PM »
It sounds like you and I have a lot in common when it comes to ham radio.  Maybe someday I'll get around to making antennas, but often it just makes more sense to buy something and get on the air. 

I started with a dual band mag mount antenna for the same reason.  I am a big fan of doing the simplest thing that will work first.  Applies to any new skill.

In my "HAM plan" thread I talk about making the copper cactus J Pole.  God must have wanted me to build it, because while browsing neighborhood yard sales, I found a pipe cutter and blow torch accessories for $5.  I paid $11 for the copper pipe and fittings.  Today it's mounted inside my attic at 650' above sea level.

It probably took me an hour to measure, cut and solder (never done it before), but I did mess around for several hours tuning the antenna to the middle of the 2 meter band.

In contrast, I spent WAY more time making paracord survival bracelets for cub scouts, and this seems more useful.

Offline SCWolverine

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2014, 04:37:18 AM »
It sounds like you and I have a lot in common when it comes to ham radio.  Maybe someday I'll get around to making antennas, but often it just makes more sense to buy something and get on the air. 

I've had good luck with my three N9TAX Slim Jims and I'd recommend you look at this one for your purposes
http://www.2wayelectronix.com/Dual-band-2m-70cm-Slim-Jim-Antenna-with-16-rg-58-dual-slim-16.htm.  It's similar to the ladder line antenna AG built in the link he posted above (I believe he referenced the availability for sale of the N9TAX in his thread, as well), all you have to do is decide what type of connector you want and you're good to go.

Offline Carl

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2014, 05:58:21 AM »
The antenna that Alan Georges made is excellent for the duty you want (temporary-up and down) as most any produced antenna will also work fine. The ARROW ANTENNAS OSJ is a favorite among users  http://www.arrowantennas.com/osj/j-pole.html  . I like to build my own ,though it takes at least a good SWR meter or an analyzer to build and cut with confidence and so many often shy away from building.

  This is a big reason to not be a 'stand alone' HAM and participate with a club as there are often things for sale and or LOAN within a club that can be of real benefit as most new HAMs discover that it stands for Have A  lot of Money (HAM). and mistakes can ,and often are ,COSTLY.

  Even a factory made antenna should be checked with an SWR meter (in EACH place it is installed) as position does interact with the antenna at the higher VHF/UHF frequencies and as you use even higher frequencies you will see feed line and antennas that begin to act ,and look,more like PLUMBING.

  However ,until you get into HI-gain,directional antennas....little improvement is realized above the EASY TO MAKE 1/4 wave ground plane antenna. with some soliid copper wire (think house wiring) and a bit of buyable hardware...a GREAT antenna can be BUILT.

http://www.hamuniverse.com/2metergp.html    OR HERE   http://www.eham.net/articles/7005 

and tons of other links to make your own and careful measurements make for good results.

What better way to be prepared than to know how to make your antenna after a storm takes out your store bought antenna...OH YEA..I use and enjoy factory built AND home made antennas, I just have a problem with spending $$$HUNDREDS for an antenna that can be built from an old extension cord as was the case with my 8-Band inverted "V" antenna for HF.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2014, 09:37:37 AM »
  This is a big reason to not be a 'stand alone' HAM and participate with a club as there are often things for sale and or LOAN within a club that can be of real benefit as most new HAMs discover that it stands for Have A  lot of Money (HAM). and mistakes can ,and often are ,COSTLY.

I'm the poster boy for this situation.


Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2014, 09:54:09 AM »
I temporarily set my mobile and power supply on a closet shelf this past weekend.  Later in the evening, just because Murphy is a bastard, the closet shelf collapsed, tearing anchor bolts out of the wall, and all of my rig fell 6 feet to the floor, landing upside down with a bunch of clothes piled on top.

Thankfully all my gear seems to work fine, and this act of God can be taken as an endorsement the field worthiness of the FT-2900r :)

Offline Carl

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #15 on: July 08, 2014, 11:11:10 AM »
I temporarily set my mobile and power supply on a closet shelf this past weekend.  Later in the evening, just because Murphy is a bastard, the closet shelf collapsed, tearing anchor bolts out of the wall, and all of my rig fell 6 feet to the floor, landing upside down with a bunch of clothes piled on top.

Thankfully all my gear seems to work fine, and this act of God can be taken as an endorsement the field worthiness of the FT-2900r :)

I warned you it was a heavy power supply....

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #16 on: July 08, 2014, 11:32:45 AM »
I felt like that power supply was laughing at me while I spent Sunday afternoon patching dry wall and installing new shelving hardware.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #17 on: July 08, 2014, 10:21:19 PM »
I felt like that power supply was laughing at me while I spent Sunday afternoon patching dry wall and installing new shelving hardware.
At least it wasn't a plastic box full of lead and sulphuric acid...

Offline Bosham

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2018, 01:54:34 AM »
There is a lot you could do with a legit HAM, and yes you could reach out much further than a normal cellphone.

That said, they require a bit more technical expertise to use properly and get the most out of the unit. We could dive into that if you REALLY want to, and there's probably people on the boards here with far more expertise than me.

You most definitely "get what you pay for" though, a $40 radio for example like Yaesu FT-60R https://secretstorages.com/best-handheld-ham-radios/ will do you just fine running around town with occasional use. It's going to lack in durability and weatherproofness that you may be legitimately wishing for during a survival scenario. That said, having direct communications with a SAR team would be extremely helpful for us! Can't think of a search where anyone was carrying their own coms though (outside of a cellphone).

Overall, unless you have friends that are also HAM's, it would probably be fairly boring unless you plan on getting into the community. The real advantage that you're going to have a lot of places is a fairly well established network of repeaters, that will allow you to communicate far beyond the range of a single handheld. You can also nuture your inner nerd and get into APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System) where you can tie you radio into a GPS and it will do burst transmissions of your coordinates. You spend the money for a better handheld and some have a built in GPS and are ready to roll with APRS.
IF you do go that route, and get your license, make sure your friends and family know what freq you'll be monitoring, and what your callsign is.

Offline Carl

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Re: best backpack antenna for handheld Ham radio
« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2018, 06:35:46 AM »
BOSHAM I gave KARMA (a good going  point recognizing good work or effort) to you for your recognition of COMMUNITY as a major importance for adequate communications as I often notice that few of my local Hams will answer a 'strange to them' call as many have very narrow 'family' groups that they will respond to when heard.

  Antenna location is often far more important that design...height above average terrain is the best improvement one can make for VHF/UHF range and though I still suggest alternative antennas like a roll up "J" pole,my Big Stick,a good Magnet mount like Tram 1185,also a spare radio mounted antenna and adapters ....depending on space and your carry options as most any antenna that mounts on the radio is of limited effectiveness as the ,often quite small,radio body is actually part of the antenna and is not well balanced though the user's body does also become part of this antenna. Thus most any antenna that does not depend on the radio body is often much more effective.

  ARROW ANTENNA makes a selection of portable (they take down for easy carry) antennas and directional beam antennas that allow great range enhancements and even satellite communications capability...though these are on limited times and scheduling can be tough to make sure someone is listening for you and the few minutes of each pass that you can communicate.