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The rubber duck antenna has many names – quack antenna, rubber ducky, and duckie among them – but all of them point to one thing: the humble rubber duck antenna is one of the most common and highly recommended pieces of equipment for your radio communications kit. 

Despite its seemingly simple appearance, it has a number of uses that make it so popular amongst amateur radio enthusiasts and professionals alike. Let’s take a look at why you should use a rubber duck antenna when it comes to your radio communications.

Antenna Basics

An antenna is a device that converts electromagnetic waves into tiny, electrical signals which can be sent to your TV or radio and vice versa. The majority of antennas used in television and radio transmission today are dipole antennas (radio: inverted V shape, television: two wires). 

These work very well over short distances. For longer distances, however, something else is needed. That something else is called an antenna array (A phased array antenna). This consists of several dipole antennas grouped together to act as one larger one; it picks up many different signals and sends them to your receiver all at once.

Origin of the Rubber duck antenna name

Several rumors link the naming of the antenna with the Kennedy family. According to one, the young Caroline Kennedy, daughter of President John F. Kennedy, named the device when she pointed at one on an agent’s transceiver and said, rubber ducky. Meanwhile, Thomas A. Clark, a senior scientist with NASA, claims to have come up with the name from a Vaughn Meader comedy about the Kennedy family.

There is a less flattering term for this antenna type which includes the word stubby: the stubby antenna.

Types of Rubber Duck Antennas

Rubber ducky antennas come in different shapes, sizes and materials. To ensure that you choose one that works best for your needs, check these different types of antennas: flexible, wire-clamp and fixed-position antennas. Each offers its own advantages depending on how it will be used. 

For example, a flexible antenna is great if it will be moved around or packed in tight spaces while a wire-clamp antenna provides greater efficiency when mounted outside or in open areas. 

If you’re looking to mount an antenna at a specific height or location, then a fixed-position antenna is your best bet. It also can be helpful to purchase an omnidirectional model since they work with all radio signals regardless of their source. 

As with any technology, there are trade-offs involved when choosing an antenna; knowing what to look for before making a purchase ensures that you’ll get something that meets your expectations.

Tips to buy Rubber Duck Antenna

Rubber duck antennas can be found for just about any application; it’s just a matter of finding one that works for your antenna installation. As with any equipment, there are both branded and generic models available; which you choose will depend on your budget. 

Generic rubber duck antennas cost between $20 and $25, so they make a fine cheap alternative to name-brand versions (which typically cost around $35). Just remember to match up your specific needs (e.g., 800 MHz versus 2.4 GHz) with what each antenna offers.When buying your new antenna, make sure that its frequency range is suitable for your application and region. Rubber duck antennas are available from 150 MHz to 5 GHz, but check that your device’s frequency specifications match up with whichever model you choose. For example, if you want an 800 MHz band for 2G and 3G communication on LTE networks, you can’t pick a model designed for Wi-Fi or 2.4 GHz networks (because they typically don’t operate below 1 GHz).

One of your options is to choose a combo antenna that includes both an omni-directional patch and also a directional dish. Although they’re not as readily available as straight duck antennas, these two models provide even more flexibility in how they can be used; just make sure that you buy one that suits your device’s needs.

Know more about rubber duck antenna. Check out the products on the Excel Wireless website.