Counterpoise wire experimentation on HT radios with push-connect spade connectors

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 already have the tools, wire, and push-connect spade terminals to experiment with a counterpoise wire

I already have the tools, wire, and push-connect spade terminals to experiment with a counterpoise wire

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.

14/3 Romex wire with sheathing removed and push-connect spade connector attached

14/3 Romex wire with sheathing removed and push-connect spade connector attached

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.

Crimped push-connect spade terminals with heat-shrink tubing. Will I regret skimping on soldered connections?

Crimped push-connect spade terminals with heat-shrink tubing. Will I regret skimping on soldered connections?

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.

Push-connect spade terminal so I can more-easily experiment with differing wire lengths

Push-connect spade terminal so I can more-easily experiment with differing wire lengths

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.

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Categorised in: amateur-radio, technology

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I am Matt Robb, a technology and fiction writer. Continue reading →

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