Connecting an external antenna to an HT

I often receive inquiries if my antennas can be used with handheld or HT radios. The simple answer is that if your radio has a detachable antenna, then yes you can connect it to my J-Pole antennas or another style of antenna.

Connecting your HT to an external antenna is a great way to extend your range of the handheld, especially if you are using your handheld in a remote location. The duck antennas that come with most handheld radios are not very efficient, most have none or even a negative gain. They are designed for portability and not efficiency. If you wanted to set up a field station at a public service event, or even use your HT as a base radio, then you will need a better quality antenna, such as the 2 meter J-Pole antenna.

BNC to PL-259 adapterHandheld radios these days usually have an SMA or a BNC antenna connector on them. The J-Pole antenna uses an SO-239 connector on it, which mates to a PL-259 connector. The PL-259 is the standard connector for 50 ohm coax cable. You will need an adapter to connect your HT to the coax cable. Radio Shack does sell a BNC to SO-239 adapter. The part number is 278-120 and this should be a stocked item for most stores.  I know they also have an SMA to SO-239 adapter, but I was unable to find it in their online catalog. Radio Shack employees are not often well versed in the little components that they carry, so if you have the part number, your shopping experience will go better.

SMA to SO-239 adapterSMA Male to SO-239 JumperMy favorite go to place for adapters and connectors is Tower Electronics. This online retailer can also be found at many hamfests in the the Midwest. When I run into them at a hamfest I’ll often pick up a variety of connectors and adapters that I may need for a future situation. They have both an SMA to So-239 adapter and an SMA to SO-239 adapter with a three foot jumper. For the SMA connector, I recommend getting the adapter with the jumper. This will take the stress off your HT’s connector and prolong it’s life.

If you’ve got a Wouxun handheld radio, please read my new article on how to connect Wouxun radios to an external antenna.

These adapters and connectors will let you connect your handheld radio to standard 50 ohm coax cable so that you can use the J-Pole antenna with your handheld radio. This will not only increase the range of your HT, but also give you solid communications when using your handheld as part of a field station at a public service event. Start collecting adapters and keep them as part of your EMCOMM, emergency communications go-bag kit.