Communications: Antennas

There is no point in spending thousands of Rands on the top of the line transceiver if you cannot hear anyone because it has not been properly installed.

There are three types of antennas recommended on the SA market, ie. Magnetic antennas, glass mount antennas and body mount antennas.

Magnetic antennas have the advantage of being easy to remove and install but have a number of distinct disadvantages. With some vehicles having aluminium bodies the antennas don’t “stick”, secondly even a small amount of dust will result in the typical coffee cup ring on the paintwork and on an extended trip this ring will begin to rust. Also the antenna cable will have to be fed into the vehicle through the door or window and will result in dust entering the vehicle and the chance of damaging the antenna cable is also increased.

The only real application would be in a hire vehicle in which you cannot drill holes.

Glass mount antennas are neat, easy to mount and do not require holes. These antennas are the least effective of all.

Body mount antennas are the way to go. If installed properly the vehicle will not rust around the antenna and the antenna’s earthing system will be excellent. The antenna cable is mounted permanently and is therefore less susceptible to damage friction and or damage by passengers.

In general the higher the gain an antenna has the better your range over flat ground will be improved, but this will be a slight disadvantage in hilly terrain.

The antenna should generally be mounted as high as possible. The location of the antenna on the vehicle will also affect the radiation pattern of the antenna and this must be kept in mind when you are trying to contact the furthest station

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