So you’ve got a shiny new wide band radio scanner, you’ve played with all the functions, that new scanner feeling is starting to wear thin and your wondering how to get the best from it.
One of the major and simplistic ways to improve any receiver (or transmitter) is giving it a better chance of reaching its full potential by using the best antenna system you can.
This can be an issue when using a portable scanner as the very nature of antenna design means that there’s always got to be a compromise in performance somewhere across the whole frequency range that a modern scanner covers.
Given the wide band design of your everyday scanner its good that they’re more than flexible about what’s jammed into the antenna socket.
The higher VHF/UHF frequencies never really present a problem as the required antenna length shrinks amazing once above say 150 MHz, but if your scanner reaches down to the top of the HF bands (as many do) the stock helical antenna may not be doing that complicated box of electronics in you hand justice.
Performance Over Convenience
Fitting a telescopic for the lower frequencies is a good way to go for a better bite at those transmissions but how far you go depends on a few matters.
Walking around a deserted mountain with 6 foot of silver antenna sticking out the top of your radio scanner doesn’t really present a problem but use the same setup around other people and you not only look a bit crazy but there’s also the danger of hurting someone.
Besides, even though radio scanner use is not such a newsworthy topic these days as it used to be, its still best to keep the radio hidden while in certain areas. You only have to glance back at recent history to see that what we would consider harmless radio scanner use has dropped many a person in hot water for their hobby.
This varies from country to country with some accepting scanner use for certain transmissions to the other extreme where even possession of scanning equipment will bring a whole world of trouble your way.
Making The Best Compromise Possible
With the standardized BNC connector and an abundance of replacement helical “stubby” antennas available for radio scanners, its still possible to improve reception without making your radio difficult to handle.
Matching yours and your scanner needs to a new antenna helps to narrow the field when looking for a replacement. If you’ve no interest in the lower frequencies your scanner covers (at least while mobile), this not only keeps a new helical small but can also take a chunk out of the retail price.