Improve Your HT Ham Radio by Adding a Counterpoise Antenna Wire

counterpoise

We found an interesting tip that might just improve the performance of those small affordable handheld ham radios called a “Handy Talky” or HT for short in ham vernacular. [RadioHamGuy] posted an interesting video on adding a counterpoise antenna wire to an HT. He claims it will noticeably improve both transmit and receive by making a quarter-wave monopole into a makeshift dipole antenna system.

Per his instructions you basically add a short wire to the antenna’s outer ground connection or to an equivalent case screw that’s electrically connected to the antenna’s ground side. Apparently this can be referred to as a Tiger Tail and does make it look like your HT has a tail. You would construct a counterpoise antenna wire 11.5 inch for VHF, 6.5 for UHF and about 19.5 inches for an OK performing dual band VHF/UHF radio.

Normally with a handheld radio the counterpoise (ground) is your own body as you are holding the HT. This is because the capacitance of your body makes a good counterpoise under normal conditions. It would be interesting to hear what others find for performance when adding a counterpoise antenna wire.

You can watch [RadioHamGuy’s] full construction tutorial video for multiple radio types after the break.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szmQmCn1tH4

Comments

  1. scorinth says:

    I always thought “HT” was “handheld transceiver”.
    Also, I wonder if I could get away with making a little plush sleeve to go over it. I bet furry hams would love it…

  2. Thinkerer says:

    Anybody have experience doing this with a handheld VHF such as aircraft/marine frequencies?

  3. Tyler says:

    Works, although is mostly an example of why grounding is so important for car-mounted mobiles. On an HT, it does not usually make it into a dipole, as that would actually reduce its performance. Many HT whips (non-ducky) manage to scrounge up some nontrivial gain.

    • rob says:

      same general idea, if you want to use a mag-mount antenna in the house, stick it to a cookie sheet or your refrigerator or something.

    • steves says:

      Why would making it into a dipole actually reduce its perfromance?

      • Dojo says:

        Since the antenna is designed to work as a monopole. It expects the other side to be ground. The counterload offered by the HT is quite small so adding radials will help (a metal plate even more).

        • steves says:

          Okay, thanks, How does an antenna element that is designed to work a monople differ from and antenna element that is designed to work as one half of a dipole?

          • rfengr00 says:

            A dipole is balanced, and driven with a balanced feed, which means the E and H fields are symmetric about the plane that cuts between the poles, and also has a higher radiation resistance than a monopole, which means it’s more efficient.

            The monopole is half the length, but requires a large counterpoise (i.e. a ground plane) or else the radiation pattern starts tilting upwards.

            The HT rubber duck antennas are typically helical resonators; they wind the monopole in a coil to compact the size. Your body acts a counterpoise, and the antenna is somewhat tuned to have a decent impedance when it is held, but your body is a poor conductor so it’s lossy. Adding on the wire counterpoise will reduce the loss, but maybe change the impedance. The increased efficiency probably nets you more gain that the impedance detuning.

      • Whatnot says:

        Several people that tested it report it works, so ignore some guy blabbing how it does not based on some vague arguments that don’t hold.

        And you can always try it, it’s a damn piece of wire, it’s easy to try.

  4. Jon Adair says:

    They’re called Tiger Tails because that’s the name of the product / company that used to sell them. I don’t know how many people bought them because they’re so easy to make, but they had ads in QST, CQ, 73, etc. back in the late 90s or later.

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