There comes a time in every scanners life when the antenna needs replacing, perhaps you’ve lost it on a mountain somewhere or your dog mistook it for a chewy toy. Luckily there are plenty out there to choose from and there’s no better time to go for an upgrade.
If your having to buy another antenna anyway it gives you a golden opportunity to get something better or more suited to your needs than the one that came with your radio in the first place.
Either through loss, animal attack or the bundled antenna you received with the radio just not cutting it, making sure a replacement is going to work (especially for your most listened to frequencies) has to be a top priority.
Miniaturize Or Go Large
Stock antennas sold with new scanners do a good enough job and you can (almost always) guarantee their designed for the full range of frequencies the scanner covers. While never being overly big there are more “stubby” antennas available if you want to reduce the overall space your scanner takes up.
One practical application Ive found over the years for a very short antenna is how much easier it is to clip a scanner to your belt if you have to do a lot of climbing and bending. It does save the occasional jab in the stomach and is less likely to sang on anything else your carrying.
Nearly all of my camping these days is done on mountains so even if a shorter antenna does give a slightly poorer reception this is offset by the altitude its being used at anyway.
Stubby’s also make the scanner less visible to those around you along with making them more comfortable if concealed in your clothing.
Although a longer antenna can give a performance boost because their very design means more physical antenna length is in the vertical position rather than coiled away they can be a little impractical. Depending on where your using the scanner something like a long telescopic can look a little suspect as well as being a danger to people around you.
A good compromise is a quality flexible scanner antenna that will still give the wide band coverage your scanner deserves and take away the hardware problems that come with a pointy telescopic.
This my seem like a no brainier as almost every antenna used on modern scanners has a BNC on the end but there are usually identical types with SMA connectors fitted on sale alongside the BNC types. Have a quick check of what your buying and don’t take it for granted that’s it a BNC.
Although you can get hold of an adapter its still extra cost along with weakening the way the antenna works by introducing an unnecessary joint.
Because the antenna your buying now may outlive the scanner and can always be used on something else its good to do a little future proofing. If you can get a model that has a much better frequency coverage for a little bit more cash I would go for it, you never know what your listing habits may be even in the near future.
Keeping Any Upgrade In Perspective
Fitting a better performing antenna to your scanner is always going to improve things, more so if its optimized for a particular frequency band but don’t expect base station antenna like quality. Range at VHF, UHF and everything above is mainly governed by line of sight and although good antennas make a difference there is also the height factor to take into consideration.