Wireless Technology

How to Find the Right VHF/UHF Antennas and Mounts?

You can install your UHF antennas in several locations of your vehicle. You can have them placed on the roof, in the windows, in the trunk, or the fenders. A high mounting position is most preferred for better performance and greater efficiency, as it has as much metal mass as possible beneath the antenna. Another critical consideration is to maintain the antenna is not in the way of hatch doors or roof pillars wherever possible.

VHF/UHF antennas are commonly mounted in the following ways, in order of importance: on-glass mounting, hood or trunk grooves, fenders, trunk lid center, and roof center. This ranking is calculated based on the available ground plane and the clearance from obstructions provided by the position.

Take into account where your feedline can make its way into the vehicle while determining positions. 

If you’ve ever seen police, fire, or commercial trucks, you’ll see that they have their antennas securely fixed to the body of the vehicle itself. This placement makes sense in such a way that it further enhances the ground connection. 

tower antennas

It is also the ideal and recommended way to install it, but many are having second thoughts about drilling holes in the sheet metal, especially if the car is only leased. Direct installation or mounting is not always a practical option for many. However, it is then important that we are aware of the many different antenna mounting options we can try because they offer comparable performance, too. 

Choosing Your Antenna

Typically, you can buy mounts and antennas separately. This works to your advantage since it allows you to combine and then match components one to another to meet your specific requirements. 

Ascertain, though, that the antenna base you have got is compatible with your mount. For example, an NMO mount requires that you make use of an NMO antenna. Besides, N, 3/8′′, and UHF threaded stud mounts are offered on the market, too. 

Mobile antennas are classified into three fundamental types: 1/4 wave, 1/2 wave, and 5/8 wave. Each one of them is distinct in its way. For example, the signal of a 1/4 wave antenna is directed at greater angles. Thus, making it more suitable for use in urban settings. 

A 5/8 wave antenna is meant to refer the transmission toward the horizon, which is excellent for flat areas with poor transmission coverage. Half-wave antennas are used in situations where the ground is inadequate or nonexistent, such as on vehicles with bodies that are made of composite or fiberglass materials.

Size does matter. You will want to explore a small antenna or something that comes with a fold-over capability if you have a UHF antenna that stretches over the roofline. 

You can mount up to a 40″ antenna on a trunk lid or bumper installation, which provides higher radiating performance. 

Also, make sure to look for high antenna gain numbers, but we encourage you to maintain your skepticism somehow. When describing antenna gain, you should identify where you are measuring from so the reader may make an informed assessment. 

In antenna literature, gain values are commonly stated in terms of dBi or dBd, which are both isotropic (i.e., dipole) radiators. Make sure you aren’t comparing different kinds of apples to each other. 

What are the Best Features of a High-Quality GPS Antenna?

boat antenna gps

If there is one technological equipment that is constantly being worked on for improvements, additional features, enhanced accuracy, and precision, it has to be the GPS antenna. This is one piece of technology that is of prime importance to the marine crews, anglers, boatmen, travelers, and many other types of users who require precise navigational data.

GPS sensors found in the market today usually come with more than 40 channels. It is not unusual that they come with MSA S satellite decoding features, and sometimes they are even coupled with technologies that are so advanced and pioneering such as the EGNOS and the WAAS. Users of GPS-enabled devices can take good advantage of this state-of-the-art technology in deriving pinpoint accuracy, at around 3 meters or better.

There is a growing number of devices and equipment that are integrating the GPS technology and system in their production, examples of which are cruise ships, luxury vehicles and chances are high that your handy smartphone comes with a GPS technology, too.

boat antenna gps

One gauging factor that will help us determine if a GPS sensor is efficient enough is if it can manage to generate uninterrupted signal access from satellites.

One of the characteristics of a good GPS sensor is that they can obtain radio broadcast signals from around 30 satellites. This works to the advantage of the user which allows him to derive very precise information. Hence, it is safe to conclude that the more satellites are used for obtaining the needed navigational data, the greater are the odds that the readings will be highly accurate.

This also goes to show that devices that come with a much stronger signal collection capacity are likely to provide better reception between a GPS device and the satellite.

Be that as it may, it is a natural tendency for a signal to get jammed or scrambled. This is most likely to happen when you are surrounded by a thick canopy of forest cover in that area where you are nestled or are traveling in.

On the contrary, ordinary objects that are in your immediate surroundings such as buildings or even your car windshield have the potential of creating signal interruptions or interferences for GPS devices. For anglers and sailors that are constantly traversing little or less traveled waters, they are usually left contending with an array of issues concerning GPS data management.

If you are aiming to further intensify your signal density to increase your chances of obtaining even more precise results, a highly effective GPS sensor would be of substantial help. The use of an external type of GPS antenna can be extremely helpful because it will allow your device to collect satellite signals regularly.

It is not unusual for a GPS device to access at least a minimum of 8-12 satellites at a time. With the help of GPS sensors, the presence of additional satellites can be easily detected which will work to the advantage of the user since it will give way for his device to obtain even more accurate readings.

Some GPS sensors that can be found available in the market nowadays support Seatalk and NMEA2000. They are known to provide networking options that come in the form of a backup GPS device. They can also serve as a primary alternative if you happen to have a multifunctional display device.

The majority of earlier generation of GPS antennas were very sensitive and are thus extremely prone to signal interference and jamming.

Today, so much improvement can be seen done on this type of device to address those setbacks. Before, you can only mount them on poles and horizontal surfaces. But now, with the help of the latest advances in GPS systems, the very design they come in allow you to mount them even on multiple surfaces and platforms.

Should I Install a GPS Antenna in My Car?

GPS stands for global positioning systems. They work by receiving signals direct from orbiting satellites, and that functionality will not work well in the absence of a good working GPS antenna. If you have been wondering why you are not seeing any visible sign or indication of an antenna whenever you look at your GPS unit, it is because most of the time they are built right into it. 

There are also GPS devices that offer greater flexibility of use in terms of providing users an option to install an external antenna to it. While the installation and the use of an external antenna are not prerequisites, there are instances that they can be of great help.  

If you had your GPS unit for some time now, and you have not encountered any pressing concerns about it in terms of accuracy issues or loss of signal, then you may abandon the idea of having an external antenna. Such may not be necessary anymore. Perhaps one good exemption we need to cite here is if you have intentions of driving your car somewhere uncharted. Somewhere you are not very much familiar with it. In such cases, you will make good use of an external antenna.  

But, if on the contrary, you have been having issues with your GPS unit, if you keep losing your signal, then you can amplify this and strengthen your signal with the use or help of a GPS external antenna. Two possible things can bring this about, there are obstructions that you need to deal with. Second is the quality of the antenna that your GPS device comes in.  

Internal vs. External GPS Antennas

So what is the difference between internal vs external GPS antennas? The vast majority of GPS navigation units on the market today have internal antennas built internally. Under normal circumstances, they should work okay and good. What do we mean by saying under normal circumstances? We are referring to a clear view of the sky, there are no obstructions that can get in the way of receiving GPS signals from satellites above.  

These internal antennas are less capable compared to their larger external antenna counterparts. They are either passive or amplified. 

For external antennas, they can have double GPS strength versus an unpowered antenna. If you are realizing that there are occasions that your GPS devices signal is failing you, or that you are finding that it is sometimes inaccurate, the best course of action to remedy this is to take advantage of an external antenna. Most of the time, this action alone will help resolve the issue. 

You may think that the practical way to get around this problem is by trying to move your GPS device around your vehicle first, thinking that it would allay the interference or obstruction issues that your unit is having. However, you will eventually realize that there is only one viable solution for this, and that is to install an external, amplified antenna instead.

car GPS antennas

Amplified vs Passive Antennas

GPS external antennas are either amplified or passive. An antenna is qualified as a passive type if they are just on the receiving end of a GPS signal and relay it to a proper GPS navigation device. As for the active/amplified type, they usually come about with amplified power whose main purpose is just to boost the power of the signal. 

The active or amplified antenna comes a little more expensive when compared to the passive antenna. It is also more challenging to install. Perhaps what makes it distinct from a passive antenna is the fact that you have the liberty of installing it at a safer distance away from your GPS device as opposed to what a passive antenna can handle. Usually, you need to install a passive antenna with a coaxial cable that is not more than three feet, between it and your GPS device. 

Active antennas are pretty much better option to use for larger vehicles since you can install them much further away.