note: article first appeared in December 2015
I have been testing a number of antennas over the last couple of years. The stubby antenna that comes with the radio is sturdy enough but reduces the overall range of receiving and transmissions. Additionally, there is also one more negative side effect, clarity. The antenna just doesn’t give you good clarity on the reception side. I didn’t really notice the difference until I used the Elite 14.5″ antenna. The improved clarity of reception was more than just noticeable…it was really clear.
However, I wanted to give some hardcore data on the different antennas that I tested. Some of the antennas that I have been testing I haven’t even posted a review yet. But not to worry, the review is coming. I did want to get the data out there just to show how versatile the Baofeng UV-5RA radio really was.
The objective of this article was to identify the best antenna(s) for the Baofeng UV-5RA radio.
My testing was simple…What was the SWR reading with each antenna. But let’s review what SWR is just in case you aren’t clear.
First, SWR means Standing Wave Ratio. When your radio transmits it sends the signal from the radio out to the antenna. When the signal, for whatever reason, reverses and heads back to the radio it reduces your ability to transmit. The reasons that the signal will reverse is normally due to discontinuity or impedance mismatch. When your signal reverses, your signal will not transmit as far. Another way to say it, you are losing transmission power when the signal reverses. The more power you lose, the shorter your transmission distance. The key is keeping that reversal as low as possible.
A low SWR refers to a large forward RF signal and a small reversal of that signal. Very little of your signal is being reflected back at your radio. SWR Example – Low: 1:1
A high SWR refers to a large amount of your signal is being reflected back at your radio. A large part, maybe most, of your signal is reversing. SWR Example – High: 9:1
Now, as if it weren’t already complicated enough, SWR readings can be different based on the frequency being used. So, what I did was to identify the most commonly used frequency ranges for my operations and then test the SWR. Knowing full well that SWR readings may vary if I switch out of those commonly used frequency ranges. That’s OK, not everything can be perfect…especially in the Ham world.
A final note for Ham operators already understand SWR readings. I am testing the SWR performance on a handi-talkie (handheld) radio. I use a 12″ adapter cable from the radio to the SWR meter. Then another 12″ lead from the meter to the antenna. I don’t think I am losing anything along the cables since they are brand new.
Back to the SWR results…
The bottom line…All the antennas tested showed SWR meter readings that are just fine, some actually very good. Something that really did catch my attention was the results of the larger vehicle antennas, they all showed great results. The Aweek UV108 antenna makes me think this would be a good antenna for inside an apartment or other area where you wanted a low profile.
Here is a picture and link for each antenna. Some will have reviews that I have done as well.
Aweek Nagoya NA733
Band: Dual band VHF/UHF, Antenna type: Soft Antenna, Frequency: 144/430MHz, Gain: 2.15dB/3.0db, Max power rating: 10W, V.S.W.R: less than 1.5, Impedance: 50ohm, Connector: SMA-F (Female), Polarization: Vertical, Radiation: Omni, Length: 4″ – 15.5″
ExpertPpower XP771 Elite
Impedance: 50 Ohm, VSWR: less than 1.5, Radiation: Omni, Polarization: Vertical, Maximum Power Input Watts: 50W, Height: 14.4″
< click here to read the review >
Speaker Mic with Dual band 7.5″ antenna (VHF / UHF: 136-174Mhz & 400-520MHz)
144/430Mhz dual band, high gain antenna with 30′ of cable
Tram 1185 Mag-Mount
19″ tall, dual band 144-148 / 440-450MHz, 2.5 dBd gain on UHF, 0 dBd gain VHF
< click here to read the review >
Tram 1600 Marine
Base-loading coil, 38″ stainless steel whip, GAIN: 6 dB
37-Inch tall, 144-148 MHz/430-450 MHz, 3dB gain VHF, 6 dB gain UHF, center load, max power 100 Watts.
Bottom line to all of this information is there for you to pick the antenna to accomplish the mission – your mission. You wouldn’t buy a Browning 180 to carry on your person while patrolling. But, you might want the Aweek speaker mic antenna combo if you needed to keep the radio under your poncho but want the speaker/mic/antenna near your ear to make talking and listening easier. Identify the mission and then choose the equipment to best meet that mission.
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