A simple, inexpensive and effective expedient to improve a “rubber duck” antenna is a counterpoise or “tiger tail”. Make this from a piece of stranded wire, crimped and soldered to a battery clip. Your antenna acts like a center-fed dipole instead of an end-fed dummy load and adds up to 3db to your TX/RX signal. In marginal conditions extend it horizontally, pointing your hand to direct the main lobe of the radiation pattern in the direction where you need a stronger signal
length of wire needed is:
19.5″ for 144 Mhz 2m
11.5″ for 220 MHz 1.25m
6.5″ for 440 MHz 70cm
Parts: (makes 2 tiger tails with no wire wasted)
for a 2m/70cm
Cut exactly 26″ 14-18 gauge zip cord
#10 terminals or alligator clips depending on your antenna
Solder (if using alligator clips
soldering iron (if using alligator clips)
crimper for #10 terminals (if necessary
Measure 6.5” from one end of the wire and cut the RED wire only. Be careful not to cut the BLACK wire. Now, measure 6.5” up from the other end and cut the BLACK wire only. Do not cut the RED wire.
2 meters = 19.5″
440mhz = use 6.5″
Separate the RED & BLACK wires between the two cuts at 6.5” by pulling them apart. You now have two tiger tails.
Strip 1/2? of the insulation at the double end of each tiger tail and twist the wires together
Crimp a terminal on these wires OR solder on an alligator clip (depending on your radio)
That’s it! Install the tiger tail on your handheld radio
BUT be careful if using on an SMA antenna, if you raise the antenna to put the tail wire between the antenna and radio you just might raise the center pin on the SMA to where the contact is lost and this will make things worse and could damage the radio.
The idea is that an HT using a “rubber duck” has -5db gain compared to a quarter wave antenna that is held at shoulder height. Speaking in terms of effective radiated power, a 5 watt HT with rubber duck antenna held at shoulder height is actually only radiating 1.5 watts on key-down. The stock antenna is a horrible radiator, and it lacks a counterpoise or a ground plane to keep the RF from coupling to your body. Similar to using a 1/4 wave mobile mag-mount and not mounting it to a metal surface.
By using a tiger tail counterpoise, you give your HT a missing lower quarter wave and along with a quality aftermarket antenna (flexible 1/4 wave or telescoping 1/2 wave) you succeed in creating a center-fed half-wave vertical dipole, giving the HT much more effective radiated power. The tiger tail can be left to dangle, but is directional and the radiation pattern can be pointed in the direction of the station you are attempting to contact for better results.