Amateur Radio

What is a Tiger-Tail?

For many years, "Antennas West" (Jim Stevens, KK7C) used to sell a trademarked item for HTs that they called a "Tiger-Tail." They were widely available at hamfests, and as late as June 1997 on the company's website (which was < >). The website became the "Radio Adventure" newsletter from 1997-1998, and then the company seems to have disappeared, and its inventory sold to Radio Paul (Paul Passey) in Albuquerque.

The idea behind the tiger-tail is simple. First, think of an HT's aerial as one-half of a dipole (usually a shortened, coil-loaded radiator), and the case of the HT as the other pole. When transmitting handheld, half of the rf radiates from the HT's antenna (ideally). The other half of the rf couples from the HT's case into the user's arm, serving as the second leg of the dipole.

The tiger-tail is a one-quarter wavelength piece of wire attached to the HT serving as the second leg of the dipole instead of the HT's case or the user's arm.

The erp of an HT can be increased dramatically by using a tiger-tail.

Test this! First, cut a piece of wire to one-quarter of the wavelength you want to use. Next, couple the wire to the VX-5R either by attaching it to the antennas ground, or just by coupling it inductively to the case by holding it close (I couple the wire using a small alligator clip which I attach to the belt clip -- others use a small piece of insulated copper foil attached with velcro).

Try this by transmitting a few test emissions (on an unused simplex frequency, not on the repeater) near a field strength meter with and without the wire. I dare say you will be amazed at the difference. The first time I tried this, I almost could not believe the difference.

I've found that the wire tiger-tail results in dramatically increased range for the VX-5R, and especially on the six-meter band, where the HT's OEM antenna is most greatly enhanced.

73 de AE3C / Rick

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