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Choosing the correct antenna connector for your radio

It seems we have not so far done a very good job of helping people figure out which connector is which, so this is a handy guide to help you figure out which antenna connector you need!

BNC

BNC connectors are common on older radios, often referred to as “bricks”.  They are also found on some newer radios such as the Icom V80. They are a larger connector, but due to the handy “twist and lock” mechanism they are very quick to put on and take off. Some people get adapters for their other radios so that all their radios can use BNC, primarily so that they can easily change between the connector types.

SMA (and how to determine polarity)

Before going over the specifics of SMA-F and SMA-M, note that the polarity is determined by the pin — the connector with a pin is male, the one with a socket is female. This causes a lot of confusion with people who figure the one with threads on the outside would be male, but that one has a socket and is SMA-Female.

SMA-F

SMA-Female connectors were very rarely seen on antennas until the last few years (2014 or so) when many Chinese manufacturers began manufacturing inexpensive radios capable of operating on amateur radio frequencies.  There are a lot of debates as to how good those radios are but most of them require antennas with an SMA-Female connector. There are also some Motorola and Kenwood radios that we know of which require SMA-F antennas, and there may be others that we are unaware of.

It is worth noting that this is *not* the same connector as a Reverse Polarity SMA, often abbreviated RP-SMA; that has the pin and socket switched from standard and will not fit your radio.  We’ve often seen these called “Reverse SMA” which is semi-accurate since historically most ham radios with an SMA antenna required SMA-Male on the antenna, but it is far too easily confused with RP-SMA and we recommend strongly against using the terminology.

A radio with an SMA-Male connector on it requires a SMA-Female antenna.

SMA-M

SMA-Male connectors are needed by most radios produced by the more “traditional” Amateur Radio manufacturers; nearly all Icom and Yaesu handhelds require an antenna with a SMA-Male connector on it, as do many other brands.

A radio with an SMA-Female connector on it requires a SMA-Male antenna.

44 thoughts on “Choosing the correct antenna connector for your radio

  1. Hello, I own a handheld and want to upgrade antenna . I’m looking at purchasing from you, as I’m afraid of ordering from a online site and possibly getting something fake or knock off.

    What antenna do I order from you for my (Baofeng UV5RTP).
    73

    1. All baofengs that I’m aware of (including that one) require an antenna with an SMA-Female connector.

      1. Okay, thank you.
        Thanks for the quick response.
        73

  2. I’m a ham radio newbie – my kids just bought me a Yaesu VX-3 as my first transceiver after I passed the test for my license. The VX-3 is very small and the antenna that comes with it is basically worthless here, considering how far I am from the nearest repeater. So I’m just making sure the SMA-Male is the correct one for this transceiver. Thanks!

    1. Yaesu radios will all require either BNC or SMA-Male. If you have a yaesu radio and the antenna connector is small with threads then it’s SMA, if it is larger with a little knob on each side then it’s BNC.

      In other words, yes, you are correct that the VX-3 needs an SMA-M antenna =]

      1. Thank you!

  3. Perhaps part of the problem is that your ordering page just says “Connector type” without saying whether you mean the type of connector that’s on the radio or the type we need to have on the antenna. My guess was the type that I want the antenna to have, but I still figured I should go look around on the site to find something that said for sure.
    Also, a chart of radio models and which connector they need the antenna to have would probably come in real handy.

    1. Further comments….

      I noticed that once I select a connector type and a color it gives me more information, information which would have been MUCH more helpful before I had to choose a connector type, but even that information seems incorrect.

      If I pick “SMA Female” for the connector type, the information presented says “This antenna will connect to any radio with a SMA-female connector.”

      If I order an antenna with an SMA-F connector, I’m expecting to pair it up with a radio with an SMA-M connector.

      1. Good catch on the typo; I’ve corrected it. A list of radios and which connector they need is a great idea, I just need to figure out how to do it with WordPress. I prefer to spend as little time as I need to working on antennas and this website so that I can focus on improving HamStudy.org in my “spare time” =] Thanks for the feedback, and we’ll keep working on improving things here as well!

  4. Do you have any dealer on Malaysia

    1. We don’t have any dealers, we make and sell them ourselves. I haven’t yet found an address that Paypal would accept that I couldn’t ship to using the US postal service, though.

  5. I have a Baofeng UV-82 HP HT. I am looking for a pigtail with a SO-239 connector on one end and an SMA-Female on the other that is 3-foot-long. Do have one I can purchase and what is the cost?

    1. Hi Roy,

      We don’t carry pigtails, I’m afraid — our primary purpose of existing is to support HamStudy.org and some other local groups. I’d recommend checking eBay for the pigtail you want, though, as they are relatively easy to find. Make sure you get female SMA and not RP (Reverse Polarity) SMA, as there is a big difference =]

      73,

      Richard
      KD7BBC

  6. I Rene rly ordered a SMA-male for my Kenwood TH-D74A. It works amazing. I’d like to use it on my Icom ID-51a, however the fitting is to large and does not fit the space between the GPS area and does not screw down very far.
    Any thoughts?

    1. Hi Jim,

      That is odd; could you send me a picture to support@signalstuff.com? I have an Icom ID-51a myself and I use these antennas with it all the time.

  7. will these antennas work on scanners
    I have a whistler trx-1 scanner and want to improve reception

    …. (full list of frequencies removed by moderator for brevity)

    1. Signal Sticks will work on any transmitter or receiver in the frequencies that they are designed for (144-148Mhz, 430-448mhz-ish). They may work for other frequencies but we make no guarantees. For a scanner they will work but will receive some frequencies much better than others. I can’t tell you if it will be better than your stock antenna since a) I know nothing about the stock antenna and b) you’d really just have to try it to find out.

  8. I’m in Japan where our 70cm frequencies are only from 430-440MHz and 2m is 144-146HMz. Would any adjustment need to be made to the antenna to get it to work better in that range, or would this antenna have me covered?

    1. It should be just fine as it is; both of those ranges are within the US frequency allocation that they are tuned for and I have had no issue using those frequencies with these antennas.

  9. I have a TYT MD-380. I ordered two antennas from you, one was for a older Yaseu FT-530 and other one was for my TYT MD-380. When I received the antennas one was Right and One Was Wrong. The one I received with the SMA connector was wrong. I though I had ordered for the MD-380 a SMA Male, but what I got was a female. The site does not do a very good job of showing which type is which. Can I exchange the SMA-F for a SMA-M?
    Our local radio shack has closed up and not sure where I could find a adaptor for SMA-M to SMA-M to fit the antenna. I will gladly return the one I am unable to use for the correct one.
    Thanks,
    Jack Blake/AI4LL

    1. Hi Jack,

      Sorry you’ve had that trouble! We’ve been trying to find better ways to illustrate it, but even with photographs on this page and having the product page hide the other connector photos after you select one it’s clearly not good enough. We’ll keep trying :-/

      The good news is that we’re happy to exchange the antenna for a different connector. Our general policy is that if it was our mistake we’ll pay return shipping, if it was your mistake we ask that you pay return shipping (it can be shipped from anywhere in the US for about $2.61); we will ship your replacement back to you as quickly as we can.

      To arrange to send your antenna back just contact us at sales@signalstuff.com and we’ll get you squared away.

      73!

      Richard / KD7BBC

  10. I have a Yaesu VX-6.
    I should be ordering an SMA Male correct.
    Thanks

    1. That is correct =]

  11. Would the BNC connector work with a Uniden BC75XLT Scanner?

    1. It looks to me like that uses a standard BNC connector, so I imagine it will work just fine. I can’t guarantee which frequencies it will receive well on, but I expect it’d probably work fine most anywhere the antenna it comes with does and probably better in most cases.

      1. Thanks.

        So am I reading your comment correctly that you would recommend sticking with the OEM rubber duck then?

        1. Wow, just re-read what I wrote and I see why you were confused. I hope I clarified it =]

          I’ve not used that scanner nor do I know much about it, but most likely a signal stick will work at least as well as the stock antenna on all frequencies and much better on some frequencies (in particular the 2m and 70cm ham bands).

          1. Got it. Thanks for the clarification.

  12. HI
    Sitting hamradio in romania (YO3FYO) I want to pay by pay pal. Can I pay you a Pay Pal to you?

    1. Just order through this site — we accept stripe and PayPal.

  13. Hi
    The Hamradio band in Romania is 144 – 146. Can you customize the antenna for the 145 Mhz frequency?

  14. Hi, I’m YO3FYO
    The Hamradio band in Romania is 144 – 146. Can you customize the 145 Mhz antenna? I would like the SWR at 145 Mhz to be less than 2.

    1. The U.S. band is 144-148, so our antennas should work fine in Romania

      1. My personal conclusion is that I should be able to order, buy antennas for both 144- 146 and 144-148 radio beacons with a minimum SWR center for each band. Sincerely YO3FYO.

        1. Our antennas are designed to have a minimum SWR around 146Mhz (see https://signalstuff.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/g.png)

          1. Hi
            If you can not bring a small SWR at 145 Mhz I will point to another, SRH77CA. Other money of other quality. Best of YO3FYO, 73!

          2. That will not satisfy his personal conclusion. With all the business you’re doing in Romania, you should start a new product line with with the SWR optimized at 145.
            I build custom cars designed to be street legal in the US. Suddenly, I realize that I should be making specific models designed to meet the standards of each and every country. Well, at least that is my personal conclusion, anyway.
            It appears this man will be spending his money elsewhere. =]

          3. Well, if you want to understand what a company does you need to understand why they do it; thus, if you want to know how likely we are to do something you first need to understand that Signal Stuff is not an antenna company. Sure, we make good antennas, and yes we will continue to make good antennas and we will support them, etc etc… but we aren’t an antenna company.

            Signal Stuff is dedicated to improving the state of license examination and study in the US — we do that primarily with the websites HamStudy.org and ExamTools.org. We sell great antennas because we need a way to fund our real endeavors — you don’t make a lot of money running free resources with minimal ad revenue, and we’re not interested in compromising the usefulness of our websites by peppering them with obnoxious ads. Thus, the antennas =]

            Now, in order to properly support those endeavors we do need to provide good service for our antennas; they need to work well, they need to be worth purchasing, and we need to make sure we show the same level of commitment to our antenna users that we have to our other users… but does it actually make sense to make custom antennas for a specific country? No, not really. I realize that’s going to frustrate some people, but it would work directly counter to our goals — I’d have to spend more time designing and building antennas and less time building HamStudy.org.

            So there you go — just a bit of an insight into the bizarre mindset here at SignalStuff.com =] People find it strange when I recommend other antennas for some purposes or when I don’t seem concerned about losing their business — but I don’t need to make a ton of money with this, I just need enough to keep funding for our other efforts going. =]

            73 to you and yours!

            Richard
            KD7BBC

  15. Hi, all.

    I have a beautiful l’il Wouxun KG-UV6X Dual Band VHF/UHF 200 Channel Handheld Commercial Radio that I just got. I take it that they need a Female connected antenna, if I’m reading things in the manual correctly?

    73,
    N7YYZ

    1. Based on a few minutes of google searches I think you’re correct; however, all you really need to do is look at the connector on the radio. If the center conductor is a pin (Male) then you need an SMA-Female antenna. If it’s a socket (female) then you need an SMA-Male antenna.

      1. I’m late to the party, but am pretty sure the KG-UV6X has SMA-Female on the radio and thus takes an SMA-Male antenna. For example, https://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/ht/3006.html says the radio comes with a “flexible antenna with conventional male SMA plug”.

        BTW another radio that has the Baofeng-style SMA-Male on the radio and SMA-Female on the antenna is the AnyTone AT-D868UV dual-band DMR/analog radio.

        1. You may well be right about the KG-UV6X; Wouxun radios are a bit tricky since some need SMA-M and some SMA-F. I’ve tried to put as many as I could on the product pages.

  16. Does the antenna work well with the new DMR radios

    1. Mode (digital or analog) should make no difference; the question is whether the frequency range is a good match.

      If you’re going mono-band UHF these will not help as much as they would for a VHF radio — 1/4 wave on UHF is about the length of a rubber duck anyway.

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