There are various ways to stay in touch with us and other users of PrepComms.
One great way to practice your radio skills and make new contacts is to join our Zello channel.
Zello is a ‘walkie talkie’ app that you can use on your smart phone (Android and iOS) or PC. It works similar to a radio, albeit it is using the internet for getting the audio signals around the world. It’s a great tool to have, but just remember if the grid goes down you may not have access to the internet. So don’t ever let this become your only form of comms!
To join, simply go to your app store and download Zello. Install and give yourself a username, consider using your Ham Callsign if you have one. Then add our channel either by searching for ‘Prepcomms UK’ or by scanning the QR code below.
Imagine that you develop a blockage in an artery around the heart. You have a certain amount of blood trying to travel through a tube that is designed for the purpose. That blockage causes pressure to go up and then one day it all goes wrong. If you are lucky you will survive.
The same applies to your antenna/radio combination. The radio produces radio waves at set frequencies and those waves require the antenna to be designed correctly and able to cope.
What happens when you stick a cheap fake antenna on your radio?
As the waves travel out from the radio into an antenna, they expect to find a nice comfortable environment for them to successfully pop out into thin air. A properly tuned antenna is really important.
If they don’t find that comfortable, well designed antenna a certain amount of the waves will be reflected backwards into the radio. This is not good news for your radio.
Your radio has what’s known as an output stage. It doesn’t expect to see stuff coming back and it is quite possible that it will eventually fail to work properly.
The power reflected back into the radio is measured using a meter known as a Voltage to Standing Wave Ratio meter. The lower the ratio the better it is. The more energy goes out into the air.
If you put a fake antenna from eBay, Amazon, Wish etc onto your radio you might as well stick the pointy end of a screwdriver inside the radio and wiggle it about.
The worst offenders are the copies of the Nagoya 771 antenna. They are everywhere online and are likely to be fatal for your radio the more you use it. Yes there are ways to work out what the copies are, but most people who are new to radio May be completely unaware of how bad these things are.
Alternatively you may get advice from people to purchase a Tactical Antenna. Be careful with these. It seems that the only ones that are any good are made by a company called Abbree. Various YouTubers have kindly made videos showing how hit and miss they can be. Abbree have also changed the sizings of their antennas to make them more efficient. Unfortunately plenty of the older ones are still out there.
Most Amateurs (Hams) will be a aware of the Nagoya antenna. It’s a great choice if you can find a genuine article. But as mentioned, finding one isn’t straight forward. One great workaround is not to buy the Nagoya at all but go for an Antenna that is just as good… or in this case better.
Depending on the size you don’t mind using, I would recommend the Retevis brand of antennas. Retevis have a presence on Amazon and I have bought loads of their kit.
The two I recommend are the Retevis RHD-771 and the RHD-701. The latter is the baby brother of the the 771. The great news is that they are very reasonably priced. If you are paying over £10 then you are paying too much.
You could easily spend £7 for a knock off Nagoya. For the sake of a couple of pounds more you can get a good quality, well made antenna that will do the job well.
The links below will take you to where you need to be. For the sake of transparency, if you buy from these links, I may earn about 1p.
How many radios would you like to burn out at £20 a go? That isn’t even mentioning how bad the reception is on the fake Nagoya compared to the real thing.
I don’t work for Retevis and have no links to them. My interest is making sure that your radio works for a SHTF situation.
So don’t give your radio a heart attack for the sake of a couple of quid.