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Based on comments and new information I have rewritten this question entirely: I need advice on a simple, inexpensive, and non invasive (no holes being drilled in walls) way to talk to repeaters in my town from indoors. I have a solid HT, I am not buying another radio to solve this issue, as I would need to resolve this antenna issue first either way. I am gravitating towards coaxial run under a few doors to a “slim jim” j pole I can throw over a tree branch out front.

My radio is an FT-60R new out of box, bought it from HRO so I doubt very much there is anything wrong with it. This afternoon I was able to make an echo link contact with someone who was kind enough to help me test my radio. According to my counterpart in Britain on the other end of the echo link I sounded alright even when indoors near a window. This makes sense since I can see the repeater from my house, its on top of a mountain 10 miles away.

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  • $\begingroup$ You should probably edit this question and tell us how you are using the HT. Which band (because the rubber ducky antenna is probably ok for some, terrible for others) and are you holding the unit or operating it from a headset, inside or outside. In a deeply urban area, or not. That sort of thing. $\endgroup$
    – user21417
    Jun 24 at 19:00
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    $\begingroup$ This sounds like a bigger problem than the antenna. How old is this HT? Are you certain everything in it is working correctly? If the repeater is locking it, it must be modulating correctly, but it sounds like there could be something wrong in the amps. How does it sounds if you simplex to the UV5R? $\endgroup$
    – David Hoelzer
    Jun 24 at 22:14
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    $\begingroup$ Your spare HT is not a good data point - radios are desensitised by nearby transmitters, if you're far from the repeater it might be enough to jam the UV5R completely. Rather ask nicely for a signal report. The repeater-watchers love giving signal reports. $\endgroup$
    – tomnexus
    Jun 24 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ As others have pointed out, it just doesn't sound like this is an antenna problem. Even if it was, buying another random omni-direction antenna probably wouldn't help anyway. You can try borrowing a directional antenna with some actual gain and seeing if that helps. I wouldn't expect it to, but either way you would have a good data point. $\endgroup$
    – user21417
    Jun 25 at 12:52
  • $\begingroup$ (Your edit also removed the important fact that the repeater seems to be hearing you on the input frequency enough to actually repeat the traffic on its output frequency. This is an important detail we've lost, because it suggests that this isn't a simple propagation issue.) $\endgroup$
    – user21417
    Jun 25 at 12:56

3 Answers 3

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The Question was edited after this Answer was created, and now it may no longer apply. It was already a marginal Q&A so it may make sense to delete it completely. At this point the OP is encouraged to test the assertion that a "better" commercial omni-directional antenna would help at all. A better answer would talk about how to do that.


It's hard to know, but you are in the realm of experimentation.

(These questions are more or less rhetorical. They are for prompting your problem-solving.)

  • Can your spare HT hear you correctly on the input frequency? It may be worth checking, in case the HT is totally hosed.
  • The SWR of third-party antennas is often dependent on specific testing environments. In this case your antenna documents requiring a "tiger-tail" to get to the SWR it claims at 2m. Perhaps you just aren't a very good ground.
  • That being said, do you get the same results with the default antenna? Yaesu claims only that the antenna ought to be some minimum SWR (check the manual) at 50 ohms. But the front-end and finals of HTs are notoriously picky.
  • I can't see a typical 2m j-pole being much better than a $\lambda/4$ monopole unless the problem is an ungrounded monopole not happy with its (lack of) image antenna. Which you can test with a $\lambda/4$ tiger-tail. Don't spend unless you have an idea it'll work. There are countless j-pole designs out there that use scrap wire you can test with first.
  • Go for a hike to a higher location, or one away from your typical testing locations.
  • Modern HTs are more computer than radio these days. Make sure it is actually working!
    • Is it set to transmit at its highest wattage?
    • Perhaps do a full reset of the HT just in case it is in a funny state.
  • Can you hear stations?
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Went to the local ham club and got some help, my HT is 100% fine, I was simply transmitting from an awful spot. The recommendation from the Elmer hams on-site was to get a slim-jim antenna up over the surrounding houses and obstacles using a tall tree I have in my yard.

Note: Thanks for the help from those who commented and tried to assist me. I will do a better job of writing up the question next time, and I will be sure not to remove anything important in edits moving forward.

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  • $\begingroup$ Heh. My other advice I neglected to give was my standard "join your local club!" so well done! $\endgroup$
    – user21417
    Jun 25 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your help 73. $\endgroup$
    – MKVIIGTI
    Jun 26 at 0:17
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There are three ways to improve your radio's weak connection to a repeater:

  1. Use Fresnel zones to your advantage. In anything but open fields with unobstructed paths to the repeater, multi-path propagation exists. Basically, multiple paths for the radio waves exist caused by reflection and refraction, all of different lengths. There will be spots where these constructively interfere, and you get double the signal, and spots where they destructively interefere, and you get half the signal. Find the spot where you get the most bars, and STAY PUT when transmitting! Typically, you would move by less than 1/4 of a wavelength to find the best spot. Because typically repeaters use the same antenna for transmit and receive, the same spot will be best for both.

  2. Improve your antenna. This might mean to use an external antenna (attached by coax) in a better location, or it might mean using a longer antenna (closer to a half wave) with a larger aperture, or it might mean making your antenna higher by any means necessary, or it might mean using a directional antenna, or it might mean just aligning the polarity of your monopole to be vertical just like the repeater's antenna so they are not cross polarized. (I've seen so many people hold their HT horizontal when transmitting and wonder why they are fuzzy!)

  3. Add an amplifier. Sure, you don't want to upgrade your radio...but what about adding an external amplifier? There are 50w 2m amplifiers available that are designed to take an HT's output. However, this should be a last resort, as the other two methods are typically cheaper, easier, safer, and more convenient.

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