CountyComm: A note of caution about the high-gain ferrite bar antenna

Ferrite-Bar-PL-365After our post this morning regarding the high-gain ferrite bar antenna (available via eBay), I received a message from Nick at CountyComm.

Nick notes:

“[The high-gain antenna is] very cool however we wanted to let you know that we found out it [can] actually destroy the antenna input to the GP5/SSB or GP5/DSP because of its heavy weight. [W]e had at least five radios come back [after] customers had purchased the large ferrite antenna from an eBay seller.”

Many thanks, Nick, for the feedback. It is important to note that the high-gain bar antenna is not an OEM product, so CountyComm isn’t responsible if it harms the radio’s antenna jack.

While still relatively lightweight, the high-gain bar antenna is substantially heavier and longer than the GP5’s supplied MW antenna.

I’ve been concerned about dropping the GP5/SSB with the larger bar antenna inserted–fearing the jack could break off–so I’ve been very careful using it. I’ll probably continue using the larger ferrite bar, understanding that I’ll have to handle it with care.

If you’re concerned about damaging your radio, I would suggest using an inductively coupled AN200 loop antenna instead.

Again, Nick, thanks for the heads-up!

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12 thoughts on “CountyComm: A note of caution about the high-gain ferrite bar antenna

  1. Mark Piaskiewicz

    Far too many modern electronics manufacturers cheap out when it comes to connectors. Usually it’s been USB 2.0 and 3.0 micro connectors but audio type connectors are also a problem. I don’t know about the internals of this radio, but if possible, I’d replace the existing connector (which I strongly suspect is simply soldered to a circuitboard and not attached to the case in any way) with one that attaches to the case and wire the connector to the circuitboard.

    1. Tomas

      I would say the quality of this radio is quite good for $60 shipped but I wouldn’t expect an antenna socket created for heavy third party constructions.

    2. karl keller

      Mark, having grown up with WW2 milsurp gear, and robustly constructed products from the ’60s, I understand your concerns completely. But, as it’s been pointed out to me many times of late, “those days are gone forever, and they aren’t coming back”. We do have to keep in mind the price-point of this radio though, and it wouldn’t be fair to compare the build quality of an under $100 portable with that of a $1000 table-top…apples to apples and oranges to oranges. With reasonable respect in handling, you do get an awful lot of bang for your buck from this little radio.

      1. Mark Piaskiewicz

        I don’t disagree with you at all, however there are certain stress points that could, and often should, be made stronger. My main gripe is with USB micro connectors which are badly engineered, more often than not cheaply made and too often are just held to a circuitboard by the strength of the thin copper traces on which they’re soldered. I’ve had hard drives and USB hubs fail at these points.

        I’ve also seen inexpensive audio equipment (mostly mp3 players and cheap smartphones) fail at the audio jack but that’s more rare.

        I wasn’t criticizing the radio as this problem seems to only occur when heavy third party rod antennas are used. I was just suggesting that if a third party or homebrew antenna was going to be used, then it might be a good idea to replace the existing jack with the type that attaches to the case and uses flexible wires to connect it to the circuitboard. I think this simple mod would prevent problems IF there’s room to do it. If there’s no room, maybe a bit of epoxy could help, but epoxying jacks may cause more problems than it prevents.

        I don’t own this receiver so I don’t know how feasible these mods are, but they might be worth investigating.

  2. Michael McShan

    It’s very interesting to read this warning since this has apparently happened to my GP5/SSB after using the large ferrite antenna. The internal antenna is not that great anyway, and the small bar antenna that comes with the radio still works fine. However, it would be better to have the option of no external antenna for listening to AM while out walking. So, while the large antenna does work well, those who haven’t tried it yet might want to consider holding off on that purchase.

  3. Ken Carr

    I would like to second the suggestion to use the AN200 loop antenna.
    On the recommendations of Thomas and others such as Jay Allan I purchased one.
    The thing is awesome! It works specifically for distant stations during daytime listening (not very useful at night).
    I can tune my Tecsun PL-880 (another absolutely awesome radio … and I own a Sony ICF-2010 and prefer the Tecsun) to a spot where there is only static. Then I tune it with the AN200 and a station comes out of the mud and is easy to read.

  4. karl keller

    Hi all. I’ve been using the AN200 loop inductively with my GP5/SSB. I know others have been using a patch cord into the antenna jack, but I’m uncertain as to how well this will work. If you look at the architecture of the Si4735 chip, the ferrite loop forms the L portion of a tank circuit with the on-chip voltage variable C. The coupling loop of the AN200 is only 3 turns and measures only 3uH (on my wildly inaccurate cheap L/C meter) where the plug-in ferrite loop measures about 340uH. I’ve tried it both ways, and find consistently higher signal readings with inductive coupling. Perhaps the best results (assuming that you want to seperate the radio from the AN200) would be obtained by inserting a transformer between the AN200 and the antenna input of the GP5/SSB, in a manner similar to Jim (KR1S) from the Radioboard did with his hoop-loop antenna. I haven’t tried that as yet, since my experimentation has mostly been in trying to best couple an antenna for SW, and the indications thus-far are that the antenna jack isn’t best for that either. The saga continues…

  5. Larry Thompson

    Maybe try a Mini plug earphone extension and operate the longer Ferrite bar antenna by hand.
    I’d use a 3″ to 6″ extension.

  6. Steven Crawford

    I have considered purchasing a pair of plastic “L” bookends, placing them back to back and clipping the CountyComm to the vertical bookend backs when not handholding the radio.

  7. Rich

    Have had varied success with MW loops and DSP chip based radios. Some work, some not so well. A simple solution would be to just make a patch cable with 1/8 mono male on one end, 1/8 mono female on the other and then either lay the antenna down on a table, rock etc.

    1. Thomas Post author

      Yes, indeed, I had the same thought. I think a short shielded patch cable would certainly relieve any extra strain on the antenna jack.


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