Is my BaoFeng rubber ducky REALLY better than a Nagoya whip?

#1
So, I just got my general license and my callsign a little over a week ago. I have a BaoFeng UV-5R+ that my dad had lying around and wasn't using, so I inherited it and have been doing a good amount of talking on local repeaters lately. In order to improve the radio's general usefulness, I bought a bigger 3800 mAh battery and a Nagoya NA-24J (16.2" thin whip) antenna for it. I screwed on the antenna and noticed something really odd: I think it performs worse than the stock rubber duck antenna that came with the radio. So I thought I might have gotten a dud, and ordered the ever-lauded 771 (15.4" regular whip). Nope, same result. So let's walk through what is happening.

I live on the second floor of a three-story apartment building, almost exactly in the middle. There's four apartments on either side of me. My radio sits on the windowsill and can pick up signals pretty well from there. Using the stock rubber duck antenna, I have pretty clean and solid signals coming through off a repeater located on a mountain top about 55 miles away. With that antenna, I can pick the radio up, go into my apartment, and stand near the door opposite the window while still getting a consistent signal. There's the occasional spot where it cuts out but those spots are very small. I can walk around outside with the radio clipped to my pocket and not have dirty signals, everything comes in loud and clear. I have talked on the repeater 55 miles away in a rainstorm where there was a building or two between me and the repeater with the rubber duck antenna, and I was still able to be understood just fine.

Enter the Nagoya antennas. I put the NA-24J on my radio and played around with it once it showed up. I listened to ongoing traffic, talked to a guy who passed his tech with me, and checked into a weekly net in the evening. But whilst doing that, I noticed something really weird. The new Nagoya doesn't seem to be as consistent as the rubber ducky. I can't get a consistent signal all the way across my apartment with it as well as I can with the stock antenna. To add to that, it seems very "directional." If I turn my body whilst holding the radio in my apartment, the antenna is very quick to change from a crystal clear signal to a staticy one to one that completely cuts out. But here's where it's really weird: the same thing happens to me when I'm standing outside. If I get my body between the radio and the repeater, the signal cuts out pretty bad, and is quick to do so. The rubber duck does not do this at all. I maybe get a little more static when I place my body between the radio and repeater, but the rubber duck still seems to work okay. I could theoretically live with a staticy antenna in my house, but it seems a lot more sensitive to direction outside too. The rubber duck isn't. I can march around anywhere pretty much and get a good RX. I'm not sure how good the TX is on it, but I assume it's fine seeing as I was able to chat with someone in not at all ideal conditions.

I then ordered the Nagoya NA-771 which everybody seems to like, and it's got the same trouble. Granted, it's not as bad as the NA-24J, but it has the same trouble. Sitting on my windowsill even, it doesn't RX as well as the rubber duck. The 771 and 24J are really staticy, to the point where a lot of signals can't be heard, but the rubber duck is very clear.

A little background: I bought both antennas from Amazon. I know they're popular to counterfeit, but I'm pretty confident that I got two genuine antennas. Trouble is, they don't seem to be as good as the BaoFeng rubber duck.

So what's the deal? Is my BaoFeng 6" rubber duck antenna really better than the Nagoya whips?
 
#2
I noticed a clear improvement going from the stock to either the NA-701 or the NA-771, but I did notice a lot more intermod and overloading/desense in an urban environment, works great away from interference, could be related in your case?
 
#3
I noticed a clear improvement going from the stock to either the NA-701 or the NA-771, but I did notice a lot more intermod and overloading/desense in an urban environment, works great away from interference, could be related in your case?
I guess it's possible that's the cause, but I can't say for sure.

Small update: The rubber duck is still king in my apartment, but I've tested the NA-771 more extensively outside today and it seems to be much less directionally sensitive when outdoors, very similar to the rubber duck. Need to test it a bit more.
 
#4
I've found it to be very easy to overwhelm the front end of a UV-5R series radio. I built a collapsible. 6-element beam that I carry in my Land Cruiser in case I really need to talk to somebody. If I'm anywhere near town, and I hook it up to my BaoFeng, I get results just like you're describing. Way out in the boonies, it works fine. I think the extended antenna is just picking up too much interference for that radio to deal with. I can use my beam with my Kenwood TH-F6A anywhere with no problem. Probably the difference between a $30 radio and a $330 one!
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
#6
I did notice a lot more intermod and overloading/desense in an urban environment, works great away from interference
This happening would indicate the antenna is actually working better, since it's overloading the front end of the radio and in a RF quiet environment you see the improvement.

On YouTube, the guys are adding a 19" wire to the screws on the belt clip or the antenna base. That seems to help.
This is a generally good thing to do. Normally the HT itself is a pretty bad counterpoise and it's the person who is acting like ground. Having that wire removes any variance to be sure. Trailing a 19" wire from under the antenna doesn't help for making HT sleek and low profile, but can improve the performance.

One thing to watch with SMA antenna is the center pin and socket are easy to screw up. It's possible the stock rubber ducky is just making better connection than the Nagoya antennas. I've got a handful of HT antennas and to my eye the Nagoya are either really good knock-offs or in fact coming from the same factory as the Diamond and Comets. I have no complaints. But I also put BNC adapters on all the radios I have that use SMA connectors so I'm using BNC versions.
 
#7
Lots of Nagoya copies in circulation being sold and they flat out suck. Genuine antennas are not bad.

Sent from my XT1650 using Tapatalk
 
Top