I had made a thread about what GMRS ht would be the right one for me. I ended up picking the Wouxun KG-S88G. Has anyone put a aftermarket antenna on one and felt it was worth it or is the factory one as good as it gets?
I tested loads of aftermarket antennas, frankly found none that I would consider better. A few were a tiny bit better, but impractical - they were too long, made radios top heavy, and lots just gave me the impression they put huge amounts of strain on a tiny connector. In contrast, manufacturers antennas are always a good compromise of performance and length. A tiny radio with a small antenna, but a big one can have a longer one - practical stuff like that.A few, have bigger bases to spread the strain - the aftermarket ones tend not to fit as well.
I fully agree with my friend Paul. I have tested nearly everything on the market and have found very few that improve performance. Many of them even degrade performance. The factory antenna is usually one of the best in real-world performance.
I tried a couple of Nagoya antennas (701G and 771G) and a signal stick cut for GMRS. The longer one, 771G, was a little better than the original. I found that the longer antenna on the smaller radio is a little awkward as you can’t easily stand the radio up and not tip it over. I have the other antennas if I need them though. The S88G is a great radio so far.
Some very good points were raised. I was looking at the Nagoyo na-771g but trying to walk around with a radio attached to my belt and a 15.3 inch antenna attached to it doesn’t sound like fun. I think I’ll still order the antenna to use if I’m at home and not walking around. The factory antenna will be just fine for work purposes. Thanks for the good points of view. Hope everyone enjoys their 4 of July.
The other thing I discovered in the tests is one rarely thought about. orientation.
With antennas, we have got a bit obsessed with gain as the ONLY concern. In the experiments I made doing range testing - essentially reducing remote transmitter power until the squelch would not open, a few times I got odd results and discovered that what we forget is that the different antennas have different lengths and different matching to recover the magical 50Ohms, but the actual polar pattern is also changing. We assume it’s the usual donut shape, but the angle of strongest signal also changes - which impacts on the apparent gain, but this figure is at a preset angle from the horizontal. Some of those ‘better’ antennas can go from max gain to an awful lot less with only a few degrees of antenna movement from vertical.
The test I used - as in the power required to get the squelch to lift is also a problem. We want radios that respond to signals not at that signal/no signal point, but at the ‘hold them to the mouth’ position. Many by design of the PTT and the shape make getting a vertical antenna really difficult, so should we not consider an antenna in held to the mouth or on the ear positions - including the body masking that occurs. My tests of the antennas were done to be repeatable - each antenna mounted in the same position, same orientation - but with hindsight that’s hardly realistic is it? Do we chase maximum distance with a handheld, or do we want easy to listen to audio, with hardly any noise component. If you use a handheld - do you want easy to understand audio, or audio that you really have to work on to understand.
The most useful radio I ever had was an Icom IC-4E UHF handheld. It came with a ¼ wave. I replaced that with a short stubby helical with BNC mount - no more than 2", probably an inch and a half. Much poorer performing, but the repeater was close, and the short length made it possible to have it in a pocket!