How to Choose the Right Portable Radio Antenna

Choosing the right antenna for your portable radio is key to having your technology working efficiently. In this article, we will discuss antenna frequency ranges, lengths, and connectors. With this information, you will learn what to look out for when choosing the right antenna for your portable radio.

Frequency Range:

What is it?

Frequency range is important for ensuring your radio is functioning properly for the area you are located. A frequency band is an interval within the frequency range. The frequency bands are related to your location and the stations you want your portable radio to be connected to. For instance, a town’s fire station, weather station, etc. will each have designated frequency bands.

How to Determine Your Frequency Band?

If you want to connect to your local weather station, you will need to find the local frequency band. Convenient sites like Radio Reference, have systems that simply ask you to type your location, and then it will tell you the local frequency bands. Follow the link below to determine your local frequency.

https://www.radioreference.com/apps/db/?coid=1

Why is This Important for Your Antenna Choice?

Certain antennas work with certain frequency ranges. If you do not know your frequency range then you run the risk of choosing the wrong antenna. This could render your portable radio useless (in regards to connecting to the proper station) until getting the proper antenna.

Length:

As mentioned above, certain antennas function with certain frequency ranges. The determination for matching with frequency is the length of the antenna. The length of the antenna matches with the wavelength; for example, the higher the wavelength, the longer the antenna.

Wavelengths are labeled with a few terms, the most common being UHF or VHF. UHF stands for “ultra-high frequency” and VHF stands for “very-high frequency”. UHF frequencies have shorter wavelengths so they are paired with shorter antennas. On the other hand, VHF frequencies have larger wavelengths so a longer antenna is necessary to get the complete range your portable radio can access.

How to Determine what Length Your Radio Needs?

To determine what length your radio needs, it is as simple as figuring out what frequency range your radio runs on. With most radios, you simply remove the battery to reveal the model number or serial number. This number can then be used to determine if you have a VHF, UHF, 700/800 MHz, or multi-band radio. It will look similar to the image below.

Remember, the smaller the wavelength the smaller the antenna, and the larger the wavelength, the larger the antenna.

Antenna Options:

Follow the link HERE to purchase a great antenna for portable radios that use a VHF frequency.

Follow the link HERE to purchase an antenna for portable radios that use a UHF frequency.

Lastly, follow the link HERE to purchase an antenna for portable radios that use a 700/800 MHZ frequency.

Connectors:

One of the last steps to choosing the right antenna for your portable radio is understanding antenna connectors. There are three types of connectors—BNC, SMA-F, and SMA-M. Each connector has its own qualities and tends to be on certain brands of radios.

BNC:

The BNC connector is not seen on newer radios. These connectors are sometimes to referred to as bricks because________. They are large connectors that twist and lock. Although they tend to be only seen on older radios, their easy-to-use qualities have convinced many radio enthusiasts to purchase connector adaptors to make all of their portable radios BNC capable.

BNC connectors are compatible with popular Ham Radio models, including but not limited to, Uniden, BAOFENG, and Kenwood Ham radios.

SMA-F:

SMA-F stands for “SMA-Female”. These connectors are considered female and stand apart from the BNC and SMA-M because they have a socket. How to tell if your radio needs an SMA-F antenna? If your portable radio has an SMA-M connector on it, then the SMA-F antenna is required.

SMA-F connector

SMA-female connectors are compatible with popular Motorola models which include but are not limited to XTS5000, APX6000, and XPR7550.

SMA-M:

SMA-M stands for “SMA-Male”. These connectors have a pin; if your portable radio has an SMA-F connector, it needs an SMA-M antenna. Most traditional amateur radio manufacturers use SMA-M antenna connections.

SMA-M connector

For instance, SMA-male connectors are compatible with popular L3/Harris models which include but are not limited to XL-200, XG-75, and P7100.

Choosing the right antenna for your portable radio can make the device work to its fullest extent. We hope this article gave you the knowledge and resources to gather the information you need to choose the right antenna for your portable radio.

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