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#1 jsouth

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 09:55 AM

I'm currently running a Midland MXT115 with an Ed Fong antenna. It works great and I can reach 18 miles easily thanks to being in the foothills and having the antenna mouted 10 feet above my roofline.

Getting a little greedy, I'm trying to hit a repeater 31 miles away so I can reach a family member that's 45 miles away. Using the Scada line of sight tool, all looks well as the repeater is on top of a mountain. My MXT115 isn't reaching so i just ordered an MXT400 and would like to upgrade the antenna, if needed.

If I may, I'm looking for recommendations for a new antenna that won't break the bank but will give me that little extra nudge to hit that repeater. I'm looking at a lot of them online and reading reviews but it's nice to get some real world expertise from people using them. I'm currently leaning toward the Comet CA-712EFC. 

In case it's needed, I'm using 65' of Belden 9913 as my feedline.

Any help/advice will be great. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



#2 retiredpc

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 11:53 AM

Hello WREC915, 

I am currently using the same radio and it is my first GMRS radio. Also using the same antenna, but haven't had any luck talking to anyone on a repeater or even on simplex.  I know the radio is working because I have two motorola hand held radios and I can hear my mobile on them. It is hard to find a repeater in my area that is not private use and I'm not able to get the PL tones to them. Let me know how your MXT 400 works because I am thinking of doing the same thing you are, but not sure about midland.

Good luck

retiredpc in Tennessee.


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#3 WRAK968

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 12:06 PM

I am using the 712EFC antenna with Timesmicrowave LMR400 for my household repeater. Now my range isnt too great because of the height, (17' above ground, thanks to not owning my property and the landlord being afraid of the insurance costs of a tower on his land) but upgrading the feedline and antenna nearly doubled the range I had. (Originally I was running RG8X and a Diamond 200U)

Still there are other factors in play. What is the terrain between your house and the repeater you are trying to hit? If there is a mountain or very large hill between you and the repeater, chances are you'll need a taller antenna structure, not just a higher gain antenna. If you have a ton of pine trees, you may find the new setup (Higher power and better antenna) works well for you as it punches through the trees. You may also benefit from a lower loss feedline meaning less dB loss for the radios receiver, and more power getting into the antenna from the transmitter.


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#4 Riktar

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 12:29 PM

When someone refers to the height of an antenna, is that referencing the height of the mounting pole or is that adding the length of the antenna to the measurement?


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#5 jsouth

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 01:43 PM

I am using the 712EFC antenna with Timesmicrowave LMR400 for my household repeater. Now my range isnt too great because of the height, (17' above ground, thanks to not owning my property and the landlord being afraid of the insurance costs of a tower on his land) but upgrading the feedline and antenna nearly doubled the range I had. (Originally I was running RG8X and a Diamond 200U)

Still there are other factors in play. What is the terrain between your house and the repeater you are trying to hit? If there is a mountain or very large hill between you and the repeater, chances are you'll need a taller antenna structure, not just a higher gain antenna. If you have a ton of pine trees, you may find the new setup (Higher power and better antenna) works well for you as it punches through the trees. You may also benefit from a lower loss feedline meaning less dB loss for the radios receiver, and more power getting into the antenna from the transmitter.

 

So the 712EFC was beneficial and you would recommend? If I go that route, I'll also upgrade my feedline to 1/2 Heliax. Just want to make sure it's going to make enough difference to help.

 

As far as terrain is concerned, I'm in the high desert at about 5000 feet. There are very few trees and I have a direct line of sight to the repeater, according to  https://www.scadacor...-line-of-sight/ .  



#6 WRAK968

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 02:05 PM

So the 712EFC was beneficial and you would recommend? If I go that route, I'll also upgrade my feedline to 1/2 Heliax. Just want to make sure it's going to make enough difference to help.

 

As far as terrain is concerned, I'm in the high desert at about 5000 feet. There are very few trees and I have a direct line of sight to the repeater, according to  https://www.scadacor...-line-of-sight/ .  

Yes, height of the antenna refers to how high it is mounted, not the length of the antenna itself.

The antenna seemed to help a lot, however if you are upgrading your feedline I would stick to LMR400 if your less than 100' long. Its less expensive and easier to run. I get mine from https://mpddigital.us/ . Their cables are all US made, have great customer service, and custom build your cable to length and install whatever connectors you wish to use. They also have a guarantee. I had a 2' jumper fail on me almost 2 years after I bought it and they replaced it no questions asked, even paid for the shipping to, so I cant say enough about them.



#7 jsouth

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Posted 02 April 2020 - 03:21 PM

Hello WREC915, 

I am currently using the same radio and it is my first GMRS radio. Also using the same antenna, but haven't had any luck talking to anyone on a repeater or even on simplex.  I know the radio is working because I have two motorola hand held radios and I can hear my mobile on them. It is hard to find a repeater in my area that is not private use and I'm not able to get the PL tones to them. Let me know how your MXT 400 works because I am thinking of doing the same thing you are, but not sure about midland.

Good luck

retiredpc in Tennessee.

 

This is my first setup as well. The goal was to communicate with my Mom 6 miles away in case of SHTF. I installed the same setup at her house as well but used a much shorter feed line and hers has worked perfectly since day one. Mine has had some struggles but eventually got them sorted out. Now I just want to see how far I can go. Once it arrives and I put in some testing time, I'll let you know how it compares with the 115.



#8 citizensoldier16

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Posted 07 April 2020 - 11:42 AM

If your antenna can “see” the repeater with an unobstructed line of sight, I don’t see why the 115 wouldn’t work. I have the 115 in my truck and can hit repeaters easily at 12-15 miles using the stock antenna. Amateur radio operators talk to the ISS with 5w Baofengs, so it’s not all about wattage.

I would check your SWR first. Should be less than 1.5 if possible.

Other than that, you could try a Yagi antenna and focus all the RF towards the repeater and see if that works.

Best of luck and 73,

WREX979
KO4CWG
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#9 jsouth

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Posted 07 April 2020 - 12:01 PM

I hate to admit it but I had set the privacy tones incorrectly. Still learning, that's for sure. I was able to hit it with the 115 with no problem.  Yes - I have line of sight and since swapping the 115 with the 400, I can hit the repeater easily even on the low setting(about 5 watts) at 31 miles away. I do like the way that the 400 works better than the 115 or the 275. It's seems to be more sensitive on the receive side as well. Is it worth the extra $100? Maybe. I'm wondering now if I should upgrade my antenna or if this is good enough to do everything I want? 

Also, SWR is in the 1.15:1 range.



#10 Solly

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Posted 11 April 2020 - 04:19 PM

Jsouth. I would suggest you pick up a copy of the ARRL antenna handbook. It will give you a great insight to how your antenna works, and what you can do to improve both transmit and receive. It also will give you the knowledge you need to build your own antenna. Antenna for UHF 460-470Mhz can be easily made from material obtained at Homedepot,   less a few small items you will need to purchase online. The high Dbgain of a directional antenna, it is amazing what can be accomplished. Always remember in most cases the higher you get your antenna the better.


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#11 n4gix

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Posted 13 April 2020 - 02:11 PM

I've had the Comet CA-712EFC up 42' on a roof tripod now for almost three years. It works wonderfully. If I had it to do again I'd have made a cheaper choice for feed line.

 

I now believe that I went just a bit overboard by using 7/8" Andrews heliax... :lol:



#12 taco6513

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Posted 14 April 2020 - 03:12 PM

I've had the Comet CA-712EFC up 42' on a roof tripod now for almost three years. It works wonderfully. If I had it to do again I'd have made a cheaper choice for feed line.

 

I now believe that I went just a bit overboard by using 7/8" Andrews heliax... :lol:

Over kill on the coax? nonsense. The perfect size. If you had used 1 5/8 that may have been a little over the top.

But still acceptable. Gain is your friend. We want all the gain we can get...



#13 berkinet

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Posted 14 April 2020 - 03:21 PM

...Gain is your friend. We want all the gain we can get...

In fact, antenna systems never have gain, all they have is loss. The goal is to minimize that loss. What is called antenna gain is more properly called apparent gain. That is, the RF energy emitted from the antenna will always be less that that emitted from the transmitter or amp. The apparent gain is achieved by distributing the RF energy in something other than a 360° patten.
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Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

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#14 marcspaz

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Posted 14 April 2020 - 03:40 PM

Well... other than a spherical pattern. You can have apparent gain in 360 degrees around the radiation element vertical axis, but only 60 degrees wide on its horizontal axis, for example (using horizontal and vertical for the non-tech folks).
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