What is considered the most critical and least expensive component of your two-way, to increase the performance on both transmitting and receiving?
If you answered the antenna, you are absolutely correct.
The average antenna supplied with your portable two-way radio, which is often called a “rubber ducky”, is actually not very efficient and sacrifices performance for convenience. IE: A shorter length.
A typical ¼ wave VHF antenna should be about 18 inches long while a typical ¼ UHF antenna should be about 6 inches long. Looking at your own portable radios antenna you will find that it is actually much smaller than the figures quoted above. This is the result of a compromise between length and convenience.
Antenna manufacturers artificially shorten the length of the antenna for the convenience of the operator by a process called “coil loading”. That 18 inch ¼ wave VHF antenna is now reduced to a 6 inch coiled piece of wire covered in a rubber substance. That 6 inch antenna on your portable two-way radio is a better fit on your uniform pants belt, dress or coat jacket than the 18 inch ¼ wave VHF antennas.
So how can we improve the performance of these shortened antennas?
First, check the antenna for signs of wear, breaks in the wire, rubber coating or actual bends in the wire. See the attached photos of an example of the antennas we have had returned to our service department for repair and replacement.
Secondly, always hold the radio in the vertical plane while operating the portable two-way radio. The antenna is called a vertical for a reason.
It seems to be the fad on the TV “cop shows “where the officer holds the radio in his hand with the antenna in the horizontal plane. This greatly reduces the performance of the two-way radio. Some people actually hold the antenna while operating the portable two-way radio. Guess where all that Radio Frequency Energy is going?
Holding the portable two-way radio by the antenna damages the actual antenna and weakens the antenna connection on the radio. This is a major cause of intermittent transmitting and receiving problems with the portable two-way radio.
In weak signal areas, it is advisable to remove the portable two-way radio from your belt and hold it up right while speaking. Keeping the portable two-way radio on your belt, while using a speaker microphone will cause the human body to absorb a significant amount of the portables radios energy and effect its’ performance.
Also, in buildings and other structures, move away from metal structures and areas , find a spot where the radio receives the best. Moving just a few feet can make a big difference in you two-way portable radios performance.
In conclusion, check your radios’ antenna regularly for damage and wear. Replace it if there is any doubt of your two-way radios’ performance.
If additional antenna gain is required, there are many after- market “gain” antennas by different manufacturers that will improve the performance of your portable two-way radio. Our knowledgeable staff will guide you in the process of selecting the right antenna for your application.
Remember, your expensive two-way portable radio is only as good as that $15.00 antenna attached to the top of it. Check it often and replace it at the first signs of wear!
If you have any questions regarding two-way radio performance, or if you need a new radio antenna quote please give us a call @ 201-666-0131 or fill out the form below and we will get back you with in 24 hours.