If you’re in the business of using ham radios, you will definitely know the value of having a great antenna. Antennas are like the air to sound waves; without them, you wouldn’t be doing transmitting and receiving to begin with!
But do you, my friend, have any idea what you could accomplish with the best antenna for ham radio systems ever?!
You’d have powers beyond your wildest dreams! Crashing down to reality though, it might not let you yield Goku-level powers but it can definitely give you quite a bit of headroom and advantages over average ones.
We will investigate great antennas with the following product reviews to see which antenna is the best ham radio antenna for you.
Best Antenna for Ham Radio: Reviewed
1. Tram 1185 Amateur Dual-Band Magnet AntennaThe Tram 1185 is a decent grade antenna for ham radios with support for ranges in two different bands. It comes along with a magnet that attaches itself to surfaces of metals for very easy mounting.
The magnet is quite strong and a lot of users’ experiences suggest that the antenna’s magnet is very sturdy and it stayed in place so users didn’t really need to readjust.
Supports reading radio waves with different ranges of frequencies. It can support the standard radio frequencies and has support for very high-frequency (VHF) waves in the region of 144-148 MHz and even ultra-high frequencies (UHF) between 430-450 MHz, supporting radio waves of some very niche frequencies and detect radio waves from very far distances away.
This particular antenna is actually a dual-band antenna and in many instances, they provide ham radios to get a much wider range of frequencies into your radio’s output frequencies so that is definitely going to be an advantage over single band antennas.
- Transmits radio waves in two frequency ranges for double band support.
- Frequency ranges supported are Very High Frequencies between 144-148MHz and Ultra High Frequencies between 430-450MHz.
- Comes packaged with a compatible cable with connector and magnet mount for metal surfaces.
- Power rating of 75 watts, a standard range for mid-range ham radio antennas.
2. Magnetic Mobile Antenna Ham Radio 2 MeterThe Magnetic Mobile Antenna is another double-banded radio antenna for ham radio systems and following on from it, can transmit signals in two ranges; between 144-148 MHz and 430-470 MHz. The extra range for extra detection is always desirable!
It comes with a mount for your antenna’s magnet so that you can place it somewhere with relative ease, as long as it is a flat surface.
The cable that is attached to the base of the antenna and with a length of 12 foot and pretty good build quality so it should provide decent length to mount the antenna from the radio at a distance.
It has a PL-259 connector so it should fit into most radio systems. It is one of the ubiquitous connector formats for ham radio systems so that’s definitely handy!
The antenna itself only has a length of 70 cm so if you are in need of a smaller antenna because of a lack of headroom for bigger sizes, this one is going to be right up your alley!
- Universal PL-259 connector makes it possible to use with most ham radio systems.
- Included coax cable is 12 foot, so 12 foot range with base station as center.
- Double band support with transmission over VHF and UHF ranges.
- Magnetic base at the bottom of the stand for mounting on metal surfaces.
3. Dual-Brand VHF/UHF Mobile Antenna Ham RadioThe Dual-Brand Mobile Antenna has a 3 inch ‘Strong Rare Earth’ magnet base which lets you instantly mount on your car without tinkering around for stability.
With a pretty strong magnet with the base, it is going to attach itself to metal surfaces making quite a solid contact with relative ease.
The antenna itself is made of stainless steel and has a design that allows the antenna to be both waterproof and freeze proof so you can expect it to do its part even in adverse weather conditions.
The Dual Brand Antenna uses the omnipresent PL-259 connector so it should be okay with your particular radio system. Can’t emphasize the ubiquity of the connector enough!
The manufacturer provides a year’s worth of warranty so if you run into issues with this particular antenna in this time frame, you can get it replaced with a new one free of charge.
The dual band design of the Dual Brand Antenna allows two different ranges of frequencies to be transmitted so that the signals have a better chance of detection. Hope you appreciate the wordplay!
- Durability and weatherproofing for some extreme use cases.
- Dual Band support over two different frequency ranges.
- Support in the VHF range over 137-149 MHz and in the UHF range over 437-480 MHz.
- Very strong magnet base for the antenna for vehicle installation. Suitable for speedy vehicles too.
4. Eightwood Dual Band VHF UHF Ham Mobile Radio AntennaAs the name suggests, the Eightwood dual-band antenna lets you access two ranges of frequencies; the very-high-frequency range is stated to be between 136 and174 MHz and ultra-high frequency is rated to be between 400 and 470 MHz.
The extension cable included with this antenna is quite long; 16.4 feet to be precise! If you want to place the antenna quite a bit of a distance away from the radio; e.g. when your garage radio is quite a bit away from the room, you are going to need that extra length. When in need, every foot counts!
Both the extension cable and the antenna has a PL-259 connector, a connector that is universal for radio devices so it should more or less fit your particular radio system unless you have something vastly different.
The magnetic base of the antenna sticks to metal surfaces well enough and given that it has a long enough cable, you will ideally want to mount this one around your house. Getting something like this is something you’ll likely do if you have a home-based radio.
- Support for two bands over the same transmission.
- Stated frequency compatibility in VHF: 136-174 MHz and UHF: 400-470 MHz.
- Use of the omnipresent and essential PL-259 connector.
- Extension cable of 16.4 feet for great placement range of the antenna.
- Small but thick size suitable for taller vehicles.
5. Antenna NA-771 15.6-Inch Whip Dual Band UV VHF/UHFThe NA-771 is a slightly different antenna for radios because it usually goes on top of radios and therefore, has a slightly different connector type. It has the SMA male connector and requires an SMA female to be available on the radio, which isn’t that much rarer than PL-259.
To protect the SMA connector of the antenna, this particular model has an antenna cover, protecting both from elements of the environment and physical threats.
With a double banded range coverage of two bands with maximums of 144-430 MHz, it is going to let you transmit over quite a significant range of frequencies. It is the same support for VHF and UHF frequencies that is a staple for most antennas on this list.
Has warranty coverage for about a year so if you come across any defects with the particular product, you can return it to get it exchanged for a new one.
Coming at a meager 15 and a half inches, it is going to be quite a short antenna, making it ideal for use in walkie-talkies and portable radio systems, the first of its kind on this list!
- Optimum size for use in walkie-talkies. Less than 16 inches!
- Warranty from the manufacturer with coverage over 12 months.
- Dual band support and all the advantages of greater frequency support.
- Comes in a pack of two for greater boosting or precaution.
6. Super Antenna MP1C All Band HF VHF Ham RadioA name that surely catches your attention, the Super Antenna MPIC comes with coverage for all bands in the High-Frequency and Very-High Frequency ranges, numerically being 7-30 MHz and 30-300MHz.
Due to the small size, this particular radio is also super portable. Carry it around with you with relative ease knowing that, you will be able to broadcast and detect most frequencies in the MHz range.
It has a super slider coil that lets you tune your signal according to your needs. Adjustability with settings is definitely something most antennas lack!
Comes along with extension rods if you want to be able to increase the size of the antenna mounted on your radio or any such device. It could come in handy in certain cases for sure!
Being a single antenna, you may have to buy a mount for it unless your radio can plug it indirectly, which is unlikely for most ham radios. For the power this is packing, you better get that mount fast!
- Small size of only 12 inches for super portability and use with smaller radios.
- Huge range of frequency coverage starting from 7MHz in the HF range to 300MHZ in the VHF range.
- A slider coil to alter detection frequency with manual alteration for maximum efficiency.
- Has two extension rods to allow the option of mounting at a greater height.
7. Nagoya NMO-72 19.25″ Antenna NMO Mount Dual Band VHF, UHFWith dual-band support for both very high frequencies and ultra-high frequencies, the Nagoya NMO-72 supports broadcasting radio waves at 145 and 440 MHz. Again, more frequencies is better!
There is no need to do any tuning in this particular antenna, as you might be able to tell due to the lack of tuning mechanisms
The mount of the antenna uses an NMO connector, a slightly rarer connector no doubt but is also newer and better than many of the older mechanisms.
A slightly longer antenna at about 19 inches, it is going to be able to boost weaker frequencies to a decent degree and it’ll do a better job than the smaller antennas.
With a solid brass mount and a Satin finish, it has a solid build and is not going to be breaking easily. Unless you drop it a long way or something of the sort, it should last you the bump or drop here and there.
For mounting on cars where you are likely to experience wind, this is one of the best ham radio antenna for cars.
- Auto tuning functionalities to save you from manually tuning to frequencies.
- Solid build quality for better durability for use with vehicles and rough weather.
- Uses a more modern albeit rarer connector, with several advantages over analog connectors.
- Better gain on detected radio signals than most analog antennas.
8. Solarcon I-MAX 2000 CB/Ham Radio Base Station Vertical AntennaWith a power capacity rating up to 5000 watts, the Solarcon I-Max 2000 is going to be able to take quite the electric shock before giving way! Great product for roof mounting in this case!
The antenna comes in three easy sections that are separated in the packaging but is quite straightforward to rearrange again in the correct way.
The antenna can amplify signals that you input into it up to 5.1dBl. Coming in at 24 inches in size, it is going to be quite the amplifier! I hope you’re intending to do put this amplification power to good use!
The antenna is made of fiberglass, an insulating material, which allows it to absorb so much voltage and wattage. Reinforcing this antenna is a pretty robust mounting plate so it is going to absorb quite a bit of wind before giving way. Ham radios with 10-meter bands will also benefit from the choice of material for this antenna!
- Ability to weather lightning strikes with power up to 5000 watts.
- Ease of assembly and installation for very easy setting up on your roof.
- A decent gain of 5.1dBl on different types of transmissions.
- Attaches to a clamp instead of a mounting base so it will go better on concrete.
9. The Survival Antenna for Portable Hand Held or Vehicle Ham RadioA rather small antenna, the Survival Antenna is a very portable antenna and it will be very easy to just wrap in a circle and carry away with you, making it the ideal travel antenna. It might be the best ham radio mobile antenna you can get
The antenna itself is made of wire brass, reinforced with stainless steel fittings for certain components to add to the durability. Small sized antennas definitely need extra protection. The build is also weather-sealed to a degree so expect it to survive to get a little wet.
The cable of the antenna along with the chord is a staggering 28 feet, so you are going to be able to mount this bad boy quite a bit away from where your radio is located.
It is ready to use straight from the box so you do not have to waste any time in doing setup or anything. Plug and play is definitely the way! It is right up there with the best antenna for handheld ham radio systems period!
- Plug and play antenna so no need for any elaborate setting up process.
- The small antenna body is well built with stainless steel and wire brass.
- Uses the SMA connector, a staple of walkie-talkie like devices.
- Coverage in the VHF range with the optimal range at 146MHz.
10. Hustler HF MultiBand Vertical Amateur Ham Radio Base Antenna 5BTVWith several attachments in the body, the Hustler HF Multiband Antenna is going to give you coverage for up to 5 different bands of frequencies to transmit and receive in.
The antenna itself is 25 foot high, making it quite the ideal size to really bump up amplification.
The band is limited to High-Frequency transmission but that is most likely the range of frequency that most radio transmitters are going to be able to detect anyway so it isn’t much of an issue.
With the design, if you really want, you can also mount it on the ground without needing to use a separate mount. You will just need to get a cable separately to connect it to the radio you are using.
The connector used in the antenna is compatible with a number of different types of cables so you should have no trouble with that I imagine.
Handles electricity up to 1500 watts. Needless to say, this is a proper lightning rod of a beastly antenna! If you are looking for the best vertical antenna for ham radios then you should try this one without any hesitation.
- Coverage of 5 different bands in the same channel.
- Bands are mostly in the HF range, between 10-80 MHz.
- Endures electric currents with power up to 1500 watts.
- Needs a separate mount if mounting on solid surface.
- Tall height of 25 foot for boosted amplification.
Overview of Ham Radio Antenna
Now that you have an idea of things you can buy from the ham radio antenna reviews, you’re probably wondering why even bother to get a ham radio antenna in the first place.
Understandable, and I get that most of you probably don’t have much trouble with your radio’s native antenna. But honestly, you really need to understand the benefits of getting a proper ham radio antenna.
Why Do You Need A Ham Radio Antenna?
- DIY radio antennas are hard to make: Getting a ham radio antenna is a lot easier than making an antenna of your own. There are a lot of enthusiasts who will get the hardware and parts necessary to make their own in order to build designs that are more to their suiting but if you are not much of an expert, it is just so much easier to buy one commercially that is already a good performer.
- Plug and play: All you have to do is plug it into your radio system and you are ready to receive and broadcast transmissions. The maximum diligence you might be required to do in this regard is to look out for the connectors of the antenna that you are getting to make sure that your radio system is capable of supporting it. With a number of connectors now being a mainstay in this system, even this is not much of a problem anymore.
- Limited ability of vanilla antennas: Whatever antenna that comes with conventional radios, if they include one at all, will usually have just one band to receive and transmit. Most commercially available to purchase antennas nowadays are going to be dual banded and having multiple bands is quite advantageous for reasons of greater reach and better signal performance.
- Availability of multiple bands: For people with limited knowledge regarding radios, it is probably unlikely that they can make multi-banded antennas of their own! They’re not that expensive nowadays and opting to get more expensive ones has several features and advantages too, such as tri band or even 5-band support!
Features To Look For During Purchase
Band Support: You need to know the number of bands an antenna can provide support for. As a general rule, more bands are better but of course, more bands are going to cost you more money too. My general recommendation for the ordinary user of ham radios would be to stick to dual-band antennas. Dual band antennas have coverage for a range of frequencies, one range in the very high range and the other in the ultra-high range.
UHF Support: As a general rule, higher frequencies in transmission usually translates in higher range coverage due to smaller wavelength. So UHF is definitely a feature you’ll want to give your broadcasted transmissions extra reach.
Gain: Another aspect to put some attention into is the degree of gain you want from your antenna. High gain antennas can help you boost the strength of transmitted signals quite a bit and if you have trouble broadcasting your signal at good enough strength, such as a signal repeater, you are going to want to look at the rating of the signal gain.
Height of Antenna: Also note, as more of a general guideline more than a rule, the longer an antenna is, the more power it will have to boost signal strength. If you want to use the antenna as a repeater system, know that you’ll need quite some headroom for the antenna in advance!
Length of the Cable: The cable that connects the antenna to the radio is also something you’ll want to spare second thinking on. It will depend on where your radio is at your home or garage or car and where exactly you want to mount the antenna. You probably don’t need your cable to be particularly long if you are using the antenna inside a vehicle or your car and you’ll want to put more of your focus on magnet strength and build quality to make sure it stays on your car in one piece. Flip the coin and you’ll want to focus more on the cable length when your radio is in your garage and your roof is quite some distance higher up. Multi-storied homes, for example, will probably warrant the use of a longer cable.
Feedline Loss: Finally, the other factor you’ll want to take in is feedline loss. To put in layman’s terms, this is basically how much signal is lost as the signal is transmitted to and from the radio system to the antenna. Therefore, you need to choose a cable that has a loss level that is acceptable for your system. As a general rule, waves with very high frequencies are going to experience the most loss so if you want to minimize loss at the highest frequencies, you will need a coaxial cable with as minimal loss as possible.
How To Set Up A Ham Radio Antenna
Look For Potential Sources of Problems
Before you decide to put your antenna on a surface, you need to know a bit about things that could cause problems. First of all, in order to get good transmission and reception, your antenna’s transmitting device needs to be clear from nearby objects. If your antenna is surrounded by trees or buildings, expect to experience significant interference in your signals.
Have your antenna placed in a high enough place to make sure that it is a good clearance away from objects. A good way to do this is to mount it on the roof of your home or building. In vehicles, you are more likely to get some interference anyway so you’ll probably have to prioritize the quality of the antenna anyway.
Identify Sources of Interference
While we’re on the topic of interference, do some research on objects that can cause interference to radio signals to make sure that they do not cause trouble. For example, wireless internet networks can in certain situations cause disturbances with radio signals too, depending on the frequency of the network.
Other appliances such as vacuum cleaners and drill machines, although not themselves producing any waves, do contribute to creating signal noise, adding to the possibilities that you might not get the entire transmission from your antenna.
After you’ve nailed the location well enough to minimize interference in the proximity of its area, you need to match radio antenna to the feeder of your radio. This is important because antennas and feeders tend to have different impedance values and without matching the values, you are likely to run into different types of issues such as power inefficiencies. This makes sure that the feed of wave frequency is continuous and no standing waves are created.
Type of Mount
To set up a ham radio properly, you will almost always be better off with a vertical mount. Vertical mounts will align your radio perfectly straight and if you know anything about waves, you will know that straight orientation is usually going to be the right way to go to detect and transmit radio waves.
Earthing the Antenna
Last but not least, you should be aware from all the cartoons we had during childhood of the likelihood that during a storm or such, antennas tend to attract unwanted electric attention, to say the least! Antennas, like most metals, are going to conduct electricity and therefore, you will need to do something about it.
Even the vertical ham radio antenna is going to need earthing; connection from the antenna to the ground to be specific. It will still have a power limit as too much electric power will no doubt damage it but earthing is going to go some way to protect it for sure!
Q.1: Do antennas for ham radios also need permits like the ham radios themselves?
Answer: Ham radio antennas will usually not need any separate permits as long as the antennas are within a certain limit. However, certain antennas, specifically ones that are taller than 65 feet will need you to apply for a specific antenna. The application for this permit will need to be followed by documentation of some other things pertaining to the location of the intended antenna placement.
Q.2: What are the benefits of getting an antenna without manual tuning?
Answer: Auto tuned antennas will accommodate detection of bands that are not already pre-tuned as long as they are within the defined limits of the antenna. Otherwise SWR meter is the best solution.
Q.3: How much power is safe for an antenna?
Answer: It all depends on the particular antenna in question. Most antennas will have at least a limit of 75 watts that it can endure but if you go higher end, you should be getting even much stronger antennas with seriously high wattage ratings.
Q.4: Do I have to get a separate mount for the antenna?
Answer: Most lower to mid-range antennas come packaged with their own mount but depending on the surface you want to mount on, you CAN get one but do not necessarily have to. Some of the higher end ones need separate mounts though.
Q.5: Do I have to get metal antennas?
Answer: There are a few antennas for ham radios made of fiberglass and other semiconductors. They may not be as durable though as metal ones.
So you should have a decent idea of what to do if you are in the market for antennas for your beloved ham radio. If you are serious about getting into this hobby of ham radios, you are going to enjoy your upgrade, I guarantee you!