Say Goodbye to the BNC
There was a discussion on Google+ the other day about how a particular handheld transceiver has an SMA connector, instead of the venerable BNC connector. I noted that many of the newer HTs are going with SMA, presumably because of the smaller size. In fact, I started thinking about it…I didn’t think you can buy an HT anymore with a BNC.
I took at look at some of the ham radio dealer websites to see if I was right. These radios all have SMA connectors: Alinco DJ-175T, DJ-C7T, DJ-G7T, DJ-G29T, DJ-V17T, DJ-V57T; ICOM IC-80AD, IC-92AD, IC-T70A, ID-31A: Kenwood TH-D72A, TH-F6A, TH-K20A; Yaesu FT-60R, FT-250R, FT-270R, VX-3R, VX-6R, VX-7R, VX-8R. The Wouxun radios are SMA but with a male connector on the radio (opposite gender compared to the other manufacturers…a topic for another day.)
But I did find three ICOM models that have BNC connectors: IC-V80, IC-V82, IC-U82.
The trend line is clear…the BNC is on the way out for amateur radio handheld transceivers.
Do I care?
Well, yes, I do.
I have a collection of extended length antennas that are much more efficient than the standard
dummy load rubber duck. These are great for portable operation, mountaintopping, etc. I have not found very many of these antennas available with SMA connectors. Even if they were available, I am not sure I’d want to attach them to an SMA connector on an HT. For example, a 1/2-wave 2-Meter antenna is about 38 inches long — I am skeptical that an SMA provides enough mechanical strength to support it. Even with a BNC, I have always been very careful to not put too much strain on the connector.
We will have to see where this leads but it seems that the BNC will fade away for amateur use. Most mobile and base rigs use PL-259 and/or N connectors so HTs have been the main application for a BNC.
Goodbye, BNC, I am going to miss you.
73, Bob K0NR
Update on Feb 24: I’ve had several people suggest to me “just use a BNC-to-SMA adapter.” This certainly takes care of making a good electrical connection but mechanically they are generally weak.
I found a SMA to BNC adapter for my TH-72A. It seems pretty sturdy, not sure about a long antenna on it, but makes for quick on/off for car and house use. I find the SMA annoying screwing connections on/off.
I have a nearly 13 year old Yaesu FT-50R with an SMA connector on it. I’m surprised after all these years that I haven’t broke it off. I don’t think SMAs are very well suited for that kind of service. The center pin of a female SMA is especially fragile. BNCs are more robust and convenient, IMHO.
Some of the SMA/BNC adapters are a good supporting fit, so I feel comfortable using a BNC 1/4 wave whip. I have one for my Wouxun. A Kenwood adapter works on my Baofeng with a sliver of plastic removed to get a good fit.
I also have a nice Diamond SMA whip. Slip a piece of Tygon (clear) tubing over the bottom of the SMA on the antenna so as to put some slight axial strain on the connector pair, and this improves things a lot.
The one thing you do NOT want to use is a SO-259 to reverse SMA on a Wouxun!
Whats a SO-259, is that a typo for SO-239. I seem to be seeing variants of standard connectors of late. I have and use the BNC adapter, I have the SO 239 adapter. But in both cases I provide mechanical support to any thing attached to the radio and adapter. My IC-U82 with the BNC is more robust without a doubt.