The yellow wire is a tiger tail antenna. It may not look pretty, but it dramatically increases the performance of the HT. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter W3ATB
“It’s probably best to just use a length of 19 and 1/4 inches to put you right about in the middle of the 2-meter frequencies.”
A Tiger Tail Antenna Boosts HT Output – HT on Steroids!
A tiger tail antenna is a short piece of flexible wire that connects to the ground side of your handheld transceiver (HT). They are easy to make and this simple additional wire will increase the outgoing strength of your signals.
What Is the Tiger Tail Antenna?
The tiger tail is the other side of a dipole antenna. The rubber duck antenna that comes with most HTs, or a good 1/4-wave high-gain whip antenna, is the positive side of the dipole. You create a high-performance antenna for your modest HT by attaching a matched length of wire to the negative, or ground, side of your antenna post.
How Long is the Tiger Tail Antenna?
You need to match the length of the tiger tail to the frequency you’ll be using on your HT. If you’re transmitting in the allowed portions of the 2-meter band in the USA, you’ll be between 144.00 and 148.00 MHz.
I used the ground plane calculator at Buxcomm.com to calculate it.
Look at the last value at the bottom: Radial Length (inches). That’s what you want. Copyright 2018 Buxcomm.com
Here are the lengths you’d need to cover the entire 2-meter band. It’s probably best to just use a length of 19 and 1/4 inches to put you right about in the middle of the 2-meter frequencies.
A tiger tail antenna requires simple wire, a wire cutter/stripper, a tape measure, and solder. I’m using 26-gauge stranded wire for mine. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter W3ATB
I stripped off 1.5 inches of insulation and twisted the strands of wire together. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter W3ATB
A standard pencil creates the perfect sized loop diameter for the tiger tail antenna. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter W3ATB
The loop is completed by wrapping the excess wire onto itself. All that’s left is to put a drop of molten solder on it so the loop stays intact. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter W3ATB
I still need to solder the loop, but you start your measurement for the tiger tail antenna at the base of the loop, NOT at the far end of the loop at the left. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter W3ATB
The 1/4-wave dual-band high-gain whip antenna is oriented correctly. It’s pointing to the sky. The yellow wire is a tiger tail counterpoise that helps increase the output signal of the small low-powered radio. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter W3ATB
Ham Radio Antenna Orientation – Very Important for 2-Meter Communications
Your ham radio will transmit and receive much better if you have the antenna in the proper orientation. Watch this video to get a good understanding of how important ham radio antenna orientation is.
What is the Antenna Orientation for 2 Meters?
You should hold your handheld transceiver (HT) so the antenna is pointing to the sky. Do not hold it sideways so the antenna is parallel with the ground.
Is It a Bad Idea to Put My HT on my Belt?
Yes, it’s a bad idea to put your HT on your belt. Much of the signal coming from the antenna is driven into your body.
Can You Use an HT in a Car or Truck?
It’s not a good idea to use an HT in a car or truck. The metal body of the vehicle acts like a Faraday cage. The 2-meter wave trying to get out the windows is taller than the windows.
If you must use an HT in a car, hold the radio next to the window to get the best reception and for most of your transmission to get out of the vehicle.
Can You Make a Simple Dipole for an HT?
Yes, all you have to do is add a 19-inch length of wire to the ground connection of the antenna stub. Some call this a counterpoise or the negative side of the dipole.
How to crossband repeat using the Yaesu FT-8900R. Note the left side of the radio is on a 2-meter VHF frequency and the right side is tuned to the UHF frequency of 445.875 Mhz. Copyright 2018 Tim Carter
What is Crossband Repeat?
Crossband repeat is the re-transmission in real-time of one signal from one band, typically UHF, on another band often VHF. Imagine talking into your HT using just one watt of power on a 70-cm frequency. Your dual-band mobile or base-station VHF radio hears your 70-cm transmission and immediately re-transmits it on 2-meters at 50 watts. Your transmission is crossing over to another band. Do you see how useful this might be?
How To Crossband Repeat – It’s Easy To Do
You may want to know how to set up crossband repeat on your mobile radio. It’s not as hard as you might think. Watch this video to understand why you want this amazing capability in your mobile VHF transceiver.
I happen to have a Yaesu FT-8900R and it only takes about five seconds to set up the radio once you have your receiving and transmitting frequencies set.
How To Set Up Cross Band Repeat Video
Watch this video to see how easy it is to get a Yaesu FT-8900R to be in cross band repeat mode.
Can you Crossband Repeat on the Same Band?
No, you can’t crossband repeat on ordinary mobile VHF radios on the same band. Note the word crossband. It means the signal is CROSSING OVER TWO BANDS to allow the magic to happen.
Small mobile radios and possibly some handheld transceivers with crossband repeat functionality are designed to only repeat signals on two different bands.
You can repeat transmissions on the same band (VHF and UHF frequencies are most common) if you have a powerful special repeater that might be up on a mountain or tall building. These robust radios are connected to special duplexers that make the real-time input and output of the transmission, or magic, happen.
My Yaesu FT-8900R has no trouble retransmitting my UHF 440 Mhz signal out on VHF 145 Mhz, the normal 2-meter frequency.
Here’s another video showing you how it’s done.
What Radios Can Cross Band Repeat?
Many mobile VHF transceiver radios made by Yaesu, ICOM, Kenwood, can operate in the crossband mode. Often it’s buried in the manual and the marketing managers don’t promote it as well as they should.
When Should I Crossband Repeat?
There are all sorts of situations where you can, and should, cross band repeat.
Let’s say you go on a hike and your mobile radio is left at the trailhead. You can set up the mobile radio to hear your handheld radio. If you get hurt on the trail, your tiny HT all of a sudden can reach out via your 50-watt mobile radio to get help.
You may do public service work and need more power to transmit a much greater distance than your small handheld HT will do. I happen to work the New England Forest Rally every year and crossband repeat allows me to communicate with the Finish Line when I’m miles away at the Start Line.