Several weeks back I wrote an introduction to my first amateur radio transceiver, a handheld Baofeng BF-F8HP. While researching these radios I kept reading blog posts and reviews indicating that performance is marginal on most stock “rubber duck” aerial antennas.
I decided my first amateur radio experiment should be to try my hand at adding a counterpoise wire to the radio chassis to see if I can quantify any performance gains over the stock antenna. Rationale for this decision was simplicity—I already had all the tools and supplies needed down in my basement from other projects.
I dug out a spool of 14/3 Romex electrical wire and cut off a length of 30″ (76cm). I then removed the sheathing and attached push-connect spade connectors. My reasoning for using spade connectors was to aid in simplicity of easily alternating between short- and long-length wires over a period of days or weeks.
Using details I found in the article titled Improve your HT ham radio by adding a counterpoise antenna wire by Todd Harrison, I plan to cut one wire to 11.5″ (29.2cm) for VHF, one to 6.5″ (16.5cm) for UHF, and one 19.5″ (49.5cm) for dual-band VHF/UHF.
In actuality, I cut each wire intentionally long by 2″ (5cm) so that as my experimentation progresses I can slowly clip off excess wire to fine-tune the final length. My assumption is the conductivity of the spade connections will make the counterpoise wire longer than expected.
At this early stage I didn’t bother to break out the soldering iron since I didn’t envision this to be a long-term solution requiring any extended permanency. I crimp-connected the spade terminals and applied a short length of heat-shrink tubing more for the practice as opposed to the practicality.
Finally, I attached another push-connect spade terminal to the belt-clip screw that showed continuity when tested with a multimeter from the antenna post.
I look forward to trying this out over the next few weeks to see if the counterpoise wire makes any noticeable difference for me.