Ive recently been helping a new convert to the radio scanner hobby get his first station up and running. From selecting the scanner and antenna, giving a hand with all the wiring to showing how the scanner works just simply lending a hand does massively reduce the time it takes for someone just starting out to get their head around how everything works.
I got my first taste of radio from a family member who (thankfully) was always at the end of the telephone line in case I had any questions or disaster struck.
This scanner newbie has an excellent location with a nice bit of altitude and clear 360 views around his home. This location gives great reception of VHF/UHF signals even from a handheld set top antenna meaning he has the making of an effective base station even with a modest outside wide band antenna.
After explaining the line of sight principle that most signals at VHF/UHF use he went about choosing an outside antenna. Quality does play a huge part in what you get from antennas but hidden in that cost are features that you sometimes just don’t need and the over the top models he picked out first are perfect examples.
As a all round antenna you can’t really go wrong with a discone and if you can mount it up nice and high all the better. General scanner discone’s can be bought cheaply but its when the coverage starts extending up toward 2 or 3 GHz that things get pricy.
Buying an antenna that will comfortably match the frequency coverage of your scanner is a good way to go while keeping in mind that anything beyond what your scanner will do is adding a premium on top of the antenna cost. Sure, having the widest coverage antenna may do you for the future but there isn’t much in the way of signals that would interest the general scanner user above 1 GHz and the transmission travel distances can be hideously short.
With a scanner that doesn’t extend much passed 1 GHz he soon realized that the first choice was a little too much and was happy with the reduction in price that a well match discone bought.
Now he’s all setup its just a matter of letting him get used to the new scanner and fielding any questions about frequencies etc. The one thing I will say is he has the sort of location I go climbing mountains to find and would gladly swap QTH at a moments notice 🙂
Budget Directional Radio Scanner Antennas
One of the main costs involved with setting up directional antennas is the rotator and tower needed to get the most out of them. This cost can be seriously cut back by going for a more manual system.
The higher in frequency you go the smaller a directional beam becomes and this is even less of a complex affair if you only want a beam for a very tight spread of the radio spectrum.
This small/lightweight combination makes it completely possible to rig up a simple radio scanner beam that can be pointed in the desired direction by hand and saving a huge bundle of cash while doing it.
Just be sure to have a system where the beam can be locked into place when your not using it to stop the wind destroying all your hard work.