Radios and Antenna info from Meeting

Here is a synopsis of my talk on radios and antennas from the May meeting.

If you are doing a retrive in a car, using a handheld from inside the car is going to have poor range and reception. Getting an external, inexpensive magnetic mount antenna will help range and clarity a lot. Doesn’t need to be big, just get the antenna outside.

The cheap rubber ducky antennas that come on our radios are poor. They work OK when your in the air but once on the ground trying to contact people can be difficult. You can get a good upgrade antenna for about $25. My favorite is the Comet SMA 24 which is about a 15" long very flexible antenna. I usually stuff this antenna in my harness and use it when I land. If you want something that is flexible and only a little longer than the ducky antenna then the Diamond SRH519 is a good option. These are for radios with SMA connectors. If you have an older radio with a BNC connector you need to make sure you get the right connector type. SMAs are very small screw on connectors. Both of these antennas have thin flexible elements so for reliability I always beef up where the element enters the connector. I put a little dab of Goop or Shoe Goo at that point and then put a couple wraps of electrical tape on that after it dries. This makes them very reliable.

Best radio is probably the Yaesu Vertex VX-270, but it is 2 Meter only and costs $140. If you want a less expensive radio that has great features, multiple bands and only 1 watt less powere (4w vs 5w) you can find the Baofeng UV-5RA on Amazon for $45. Need to program it to set it to narrow band, 5k indexing, 30 second transmit timeout (prevents a stuck mic [or mouth] from blocking the channel) and squelch to 1 or 2. I can load the radios with full programming for all our frequencies and 2M channles in a minute with my laptop. If a few people get these I’ll bring it to the next meeting with the programming cord. Only other issue with this radio is that to use upgrade antennas you need to get a female to femal SMA converter which you can either get online, or locally at Ham Radio Outlet for $4. Great deal for a radio. If you are a PG when buying the radio you may want to get the remote speaker/mic. Allows you to have the speaker/mic on you harness strap for about $10-15.

If you need an optimal range antenna you may want to build or buy a 1/2 wave dipole out of coax. You can buy them or if enough people are interested we could order some cables and I could help show how to build them. The only deficiencies with the ones you can purchase are that they should have a ferrite bead at the end of the transmission line, and you should put a couple dabs of goop where the elements separate to keep them from breaking prematurely. Do that and your antenna will last many years. There are a few other tricks to making them even better but if you are interested call or pm me.

The Baofeng UV-5RA radios are now available for $38.15 on amazon. The speaker mic is now $8.97.

A better antenna is also available for $7.75 shipped (if you have Amazon Prime): amazon.com/ExpertPower%C2%AE … feng+uv-5r

I just ordered this 40cm whip: amazon.com/Etekcity%C2%AE-An … feng+uv-5r

I’ll post how it performs once I get to use it.

Both Darren and I got the “whip” antenna for our VX150, and I could hear him on Boulder’s launch from 11,000’ around Mt Herman… Pretty impressive.

Looks as if that 40cm “whip” antenna is the Baofeng version of the Comet SMA-24J. The Comet is about $29 so you save $10 - 15 and apparently the performance is good from your reports. Looks like the joint where the element enters the base is relatively strong but I still advise putting some electrical tape, goop or epoxy at that area to strengthen it.

I was serious when I said the antenna makes a huge difference in radio reception and performance. Nice to have that confirmed in the field by others. Glad people have a few options and are getting better range from their radios. In an emergency that could be critical. And even if you are just having a great flight, knowing your signal is getting out allows you to focus on flying.

ExpertPower® 7.56" Dual Band Two-way Radio Antenna SMA-Female is now $2.95 on Amazon, using the same link as posted above.

You can get a Yaesu FT-270R from Ham Radio Outlet in Denver for $138 and there is a $30 rebate from Yaesu too.

Ok so now that I have a radio, does anybody know how to bump it?

Which radio do you have?

Yaesu FT-270R

I can bump it for you. I’ve never done that model before, but I did find the instructions on the Internet. It’s very similar to bumping a VX-150 or 250.

Ed Williams 303-419-6188

Thanks Ed. I"d like to take a look at the info you got online. Can you forward me a link or something? If I can’t figure it out we can look at you bumping it for me. Thanks for the offer.

Who do I contact for a radio lesson?

Here’s the instructions on bumping that radio.

http://theprepared.com/content/view/148/47/

Thanks a lot :slight_smile:

jj-
got my Baofeng UV-5RA radio on order from Amazon. Should be here before next weeks meeting. Any chance you will be there and can download your programming to get me started?? Thanks for your help and posts on this subject.
Scotts

Sure. I’ll try to make the meeting and if there I’ll have the laptop to program the radio.

Hi JJ,
I bought a second Baofeng radio for my girls and as a backup. Anyhow, I’ve been having issues receiving at LO with my first radio, so I’ve been using the new one with much better results. The only difference I can tell is new one has factory settings of step: 25.0k, WN: wide. Is it possible that these settings are causing the problem on my first radio since I set them to 5.0k, and NARR as you recommended? or do I have a faulty radio? What are these settings for? Please explain, if possible, and why you recommend changing them? Also, sql is set to 3 on both (what does changing to 1 do??), and both have the same antenna.

thanks!

With cheep chinese the antennas may look the same but I would try switching them and see what happens. I know the rc guys are finding out they are not all equal. :slight_smile:

One of my prior posts has this url regarding antennas. http://www.miklor.com/COM/pdf/AntennaTestingW9MDB.pdf

This and other links have plenty of information about what antennas perform best. Note that this will be for 2Meters (146 mhz). A highly tuned 146mhz antenna might be great for 142-148mhz and not be as good on 158mhz. When I make antennas I cut them a little shorter and tune them to work for 151mhz as well as 146mhz. You need a SWR meter to do this without potentially ruining the antenna.

But if you get any of the decent antennas they should work well. I really like the SMA-24 for Yaesus or 24J for Baofengs. But the latest Baofengs come with a pretty good antenna.

Settings.

Get the squelch down to 1 or possibly even 0. Squelch has no impact on what you transmit but it filters out weaker signals for reception. Squelch of 0 provides full range reception but it might also have some noise. You turn squelch up until you get rid of background noise and no more than that. It is a noise filter. If squelch of 1 gets rid of most background noise keep it there. Anything more than 2 or 3 will start reducing range and general signal reception.

Set the bandwidth to narrow Not wide. Nothing in the US uses wide band any more. It is actually a waste of energy and illegal to transmit on wide band. You just receive and transmit more noise and junk with things set wide band. The only reason why wide might improve reception is if one or the other radios is mistuned (which I doubt).

You also want to set the step to 5k so you can tune any frequncies you want to. If you have it at 25 it might bump you to a frequency that is offset from what you want to tune. There is nothing that 25k would do do improve anything.

It is great to learn about settings, but the easiest thing to do is have me program the radio so it is set the same as everyone elses.

One last possibility though is based on antenna cheapness. Stock antennas are cheap and it could well be that the wire in one of them broke and isn’t working well. You can try to test it as suggested (swap with the other radio and see if the “better” radio has changed). Or you can get a better antenna (or borrow one) and hear if that makes a difference.
Lastly, while I expect good quality from a Yaesu or Kenwood radio, the Baofengs are cheap and it could be one of them isn’t tuned properly or has a defective part.

Thanks for the explanation. I’m still learning. And I’m still having issues with these cheap radios. I guess part of it is you get what you pay for. One radio won’t stay in DCS on the receive setting no matter how many times I change it and it tells me “CONFIRM!” I go back to check it and R-DCS is back OFF. wtf? It seems to be working most of the time.

I ordered the speaker mic from Amazon and it was total garbage. Probably a knockoff as well. I also ordered the long whip antenna NA-771 and it appears to be a knockoff as well- the threads are too long and it doesnt seat properly on the radio which will put more stress on the threads, and expose them to moisture and grime. I’m about done with Amazon with all the fakes out there and no apparent QC to prevent it. I read thru the reviews and everyone is pointing the finger at the other guy saying they are selling fakes and they have the “real” one. After wasting an hour, I still cant tell if I’m going to get a real one or the fake. Who has time for this BS?? Maybe I’ll check Ham Radio outlet local store and see if they have the parts…

Scott,

Maybe programming the radio with the computer will be more successful. I’m not sure, I don’t know the Baofang radios. Denver Ham Radio Outlet does have a pretty good selection of antennas and their prices are very fair. However, don’t be surprised if the guys that work there treat you like crap. They been very scowling and dismissive of any questions that I’ve had for them. I know it’s because I’m not a licensed operator. Just sayin.

Try AES (Amateur Electronic Supply) or a place called the Antenna farm on line both have good equipment and treat you well. Both only sell better radios though.

Ham Radio Outlet will treat you like crap even if you have a ham license. Once gave them a check with my company name on it and they were going to refuse to sell me a radio until I produced a license. Then I had to listen to crap about how I was abusing the radio that I was just paying for.

Also recommend that you get you tech license for the ham radio. It is not hard to do.