What is an NMO Mount?
Many radio users, such as police officers, require an antenna to be mounted onto their vehicle, which is typically called a New Motorola Mount or NMO Mount for short.
NMO Mounts are used for a couple of reasons. First, the mount has two waterproof seals to protect the internal electronics and keep water out of the car’s interior, which is a huge advantage when installation requires the drilling of a hole through the roof.
Second, the mount’s design makes changing the antenna relatively easy without disassembly. This is key if the antenna is damaged by a rock on the road or if your department changes frequencies, which will save you a ton of money by not requiring another installation.
We recommend considering the following when selecting the best mobile radio antenna for your needs. Frequency is a huge factor because it may limit your communication capabilities depending on your environment, and other considerations such as size will impact your NMO installation processes.
Read below with your specific applications in mind:
1. What frequency or frequencies do you need to be able to operate in?
We have included a quick frequency guide below that you can consider when selecting your antenna. Each frequency band has its own uses and advantages, when reading about each, think of what your personal situation and needs demand.
The main consideration you’ll need to take into account when deciding which antenna is best for you is the environment you plan to operate in. This is due to the penetrating power of signals. For example, when transmitting out of an open, rural area, there aren’t many obstructions needed to break through. We will go into more detail in the following section, but keep this in mind as you read ahead.
VHF (Very High Frequency) at 136-174 MHz
Best suited for outdoor applications where the maximum range is required with little to no obstructions and typically used for rural two-way radio systems. The higher the frequency, the better ability your transmission has to penetrate obstructions such as thick concrete walls. VHF, being at the low end of radio frequency, will thus perform best in outdoor settings and provide the best chance of radio reception/transmission.
We provided a list of VHF Mobile antennas that you can use as a quick reference guide when selecting the VHF mobile antenna that fits your needs.
UHF (Ultra High Frequency) at 403-470 MHz
Ultra High Frequency (UHF) is more powerful than VHF and is better suited for indoor applications and urban environments. This frequency range is typically used by police and fire departments in cities, as they have to work through the vast expanse of tightly packed buildings.
You will not find very many cities or urban departments using VHF systems for their operations, but the vast majority will be utilizing UHF and above, sometimes even in the 700/800/900 MHz range. This is because the weaker signals carried by VHF will have trouble penetrating thick walls, resulting in a spotty or even nonexistent transmission.
We included a list of UHF Mobile antennas that you can use as a quick reference guide when selecting the UHF mobile antenna that fits your needs.
700/800/900 MHz Frequency range
This frequency range is best suited for organizations that need excellent in-building coverage. Just like UHF, you’ll find many urban departments utilizing these radio frequencies – one great example is a security apparatus within a tall high rise building.
If your security team is protecting a building around 50 floors or more, that’s a lot of obstructions that your transmission must break through in order to reach its destination. In those situations, 700 MHz or greater is a must to ensure seamless communication between all members.
We’ve provided a list of 700/800/900 MHz mobile antennas here that you can use as a quick reference guide when searching for the mobile antenna that fits your needs.
Ham Radio Antenna Frequency range 1.8 Mhz to 440 MHZ.
Ham Radio/Amateur Radio Users will usually be using frequencies in this range for amateur purposes, such as communication during a natural disaster. This is a huge benefit not only to public safety officials, but to ordinary citizens who are sometimes the only source of on the ground communication when other forms of communication are impacted by an emergency.
We provided a list of Ham radio antennas here that you can use as a quick reference guide when selecting the VHF mobile antenna that fits your needs.
Multi-band Mobile Antenna for 3G/4G(LTE), WiFi, GPS(GNSS), ISM, and other Technologies.
Multi-band antennas are the most diverse antennas in terms of their applications, and have the most adaptability between the several forms of communication we use today including Wi-fi and 4G LTE.
In recent years, we’ve experienced rapid development in communication technology, so public safety, transportation, and law enforcement professionals must be able to seamlessly transition between these various forms in order to effectively do their jobs.
A single antenna is not conventionally able to operate on all the different frequencies, and it is not practical to carry around multiple antennas to provide coverage for each band. Using a multiband or wideband antenna will allow you to have multifunctional communication.
You can find all of our Multi-band Mobile Antennas at https://www.firstsourcewireless.com/multi-band-mobile-antenna
2. What type of NMO Mount do you need?
A. What size NMO mount do you need?
The mounting process for NMO’s requires the drilling of a hole through the metal exterior of your vehicle, so this is an important consideration when picking the right mount in order to ensure proper fit and watertight seal.
In general, the most common size mount is a 3/4″, but you might require a 3/8″ depending on your department’s installation process. Another popular choice is magnetic mounts, which have a simple installation and require no holes in the vehicle’s body. Once you’re sure which you need, we have all the sizes below for you to select from:
- NMO 3/4 High-Frequency Mounts
- NMO High-Frequency Mounts
- NMO High-Frequency Magnetic Mounts
- NMO 3/4 Standard Mounts
- NMO 3/8 Thick Mounts
- LM Mounts
- Ham Radio NMO Mounts
B. What type of connector do you need? Below we have included a list of popular NMO connector types.
When installing your NMO mount, the connector is vital in ensuring your antenna maintains a steady and proper signal to transmit and receive communications. NMO antennas come with a wide range of different connectors. We’ve listed the most popular types below:
The NMO No Connector is designed for magnetic mounts and thus does not include a cord or connector port. The Mini UHF mount is also magnetic and is designed to facilitate high-frequency transmissions. Magnetic mounts are weatherproof as they do not require the hole drilled into the vehicle, and their strength is enough to withstand the winds encountered while moving at high speeds.
The FME Crimp connector is a great connection choice and is much more reliable than a twist on or push on method of connection. The compression ensures a tight fit that can withstand stressors without interrupting the connection. If you go with a Male connector, you’ll also need its female counterpart and vice-versa. However, these twist-on connections are not as reliable, for they can twist off over time.
3. Do you have a color preference for your NMO Mount or Mobile Antenna?
In choosing the correct NMO mount, you might prefer a specific color in order to match up with your vehicle. Below we’ve provided a list with each color mount for you to take a look and decide which one fits your preference:
Choosing the best NMO mount can be an arduous and confusing process, but all you need to do is check off the criteria we’ve discussed in this article to narrow down your choices.
While frequency is a big consideration, the advantage of NMO mounts is that antennas can be readily switched out depending on current needs. On the connection side, the most reliable connection will be the Crimp connector, followed by magnetic connections which are the simplest method and then twist-on M/F which are common but less reliable.
Finally, NMO mounts generally come in three colors – white, chrome, and black. In general, chrome and white mounts will be most used on boats for communication, white is commonly found on public safety and medical vehicles, and black mounts are highly common for law enforcement vehicles.
Choosing the correct NMO configuration is a confusing process with the various different types and connections, but we hope this article was able to provide a set of criteria for you to incorporate into your decision making!