Review: Diamond SRH999 Quad Band Handheld Antenna
I've been using an Icom IC-T81A quad band handheld for nearly a year now. As I mentioned in my review of this radio, it's an excellent unit with extraordinary frequency agility. However, this frequency agility has its problems, namely how does one construct an efficient antenna that covers all 4 bands? While the supplied rubber duck is OK (and an amazing piece of engineering in itself!), as rubber ducks go, it doesn't quite have enough oomph when it comes to accessing distant repeaters from a moving train, or way out in the sticks. To solve this problem, I had to carry around a kit of antennas that catered for all 4 bands. My "kit" consisted of a 2m 5/8 for 6m and 2m, a conventional 2m/70cm dual band antenna (which was a compromise), a 70cm 1/2 wave (modified UHF CB whip) for optimal 70cm performance, and the original rubber duck for 23cm (whew!). Quite an ungainly lot to carry everywhere. There had to be a better way! Enter the Diamond SRH999.
I only heard about the SRH999 5 days before I purchased one, while talking to a local amateur during my regular lunchtime walk. He had visited one of the local shops, seen the antenna and knew I'd be interested. When the opportunity came, I purchased one, with the intent of using it as a "compromise all rounder" that covered everything the radio was capable of.
Well, there's not much one can say. The SRH999, after parting with A$95 (that's an expensive whip!), comes in typical Diamond packaging, the familiar yellow and clear plastic sleeve. The antenna itself is about 500mm long and has a SMA connector on its base (no more fiddling with SMA-BNC adapters!), to suit the T81A. When installed, the SRH999 is very lightweight and somewhat flexible, and doesn't add any undue weight to the top of the radio.
No sooner had I purchased the new antenna, I had it on air, testing its performance. Initial indications showed it to be quite a good performer, easily accessing the VK3RCC 23cm repeater, some 20km away from where I was at the time, and somewhat better on 70cm than the dual bander I had used earlier in the day. The following Monday was the first big test. I previously used the converted UHF CB whip to access the VK3RSE repeater, 30km away, from the tram. There were a few difficult spots where the repeater was difficult to access, even with this efficient antenna. Much to my surprise, the Diamond antenna actually performed somewhat better than the monoband whip I had been using, and all reports indicated my signal into the repeater had improved from "marginal" to Q5. Similarly on 23cm, the SRH999 outperformed the standard rubber duck by a good margin. Also, 6m performance was slightly up on the rubber duck. 2 metres was the most difficult band to evaluate, due to my spending much time in the city, where 2 metres is useless due to pager interference, but 2m performance was tested in a quieter area and found to be satisfactory, but down somewhat, compared to a 1/4 wave whip. This drop in 2m performance is actually ideal for the IC-T81A, as it makes the pagers slightly less of a problem than they would be with another antenna.
The SRH999 was also tested on the 70cm uplink of the SO-35 satellite, where is performed extremely well, producing a full quieting uplink for most of the pass. Here's another choice for the portable satellite operator. No doubt this antenna will also work well for receiving UO-14.
The Diamond SRH999 is an amazing antenna, with performance that can equal that of high performance monoband whips, especially on 70cm and 23cm. Instead of being a compromise, as most multiband antennas are, it is often the best antenna for digging out those weak signals while portable. My SRH999 now lives on the IC-T81A (except when I'm using the satellite beam). While it's a bit heavy on the wallet, I'd still recommend this antenna to anyone with a late model Icom or Yaesu tri band rig, even though the 23cm capability won't be used in in these cases. Also worth considering for scanner users (if your scanner has an SMA connector), though I didn't evaluate the performance of the antenna outside the amateur bands. The only minor blemish is that 2m performance is a little down, compared to the other bands, but in urban conditions this may sometimes work to advantage.
If you tend to lose the odd antenna, the SRH999 will eventually pay for itself in antennas that you no longer lose (because you don't need to carry them around!).
5 out of 5.
Copyright and Disclaimer:
This review is copyright Tony Langdon, 2000, All rights reserved Persons or organisations wishing to distribute part, all, or a derivative of this review are welcome to email me on the link below. Unauthorised distribution is prohibited.
This review is provided for the benefit of radio amateurs, and was independently written by me without the assistance of or under the direction of any other party, continuing my tradition of reviewing most new radio equipment I purchase.