What's a Tiger Tail? How to make one

What's a Tiger Tail? How to make one

Did you know you can increase the performance of a rubber duck antenna by adding a counterpoise antenna wire, often called a Tiger Tail? What is a tiger tail and how does it work? How do I make a tiger tail? Can I add one to my Handy Talkie for better range?  

A tiger tail is a length of wire added to an antenna to take the 1/4th wave rubber duck to a half wave dipole antenna.  Why is this important? A rubber duck antenna isn't very efficient at radiating RF power, it actually has a negative db gain. Some reports say as little as one watt ERP (effective radiated power) or less. By adding the other half, the tiger tail, you can improve the antenna gain thereby improving ERP.  

A tiger tail is an easy project and requires just a few parts. You will need a length of stranded insulated copper wire 12 to 16 AWG and a way to attach it to your radio. The length will vary depending on the band of the radio, about 19.5" on 2m, 11.5" for 220 and 6.5" for 440. In one example for a 220 radio, cut your wire at 11.5" and attach a ring connector on one end. Don't forget to insulate the connection. Now slip the ring connector over a brass barrel adapter for your radio's antenna output. Attach the barrel adapter to the radio and the antenna to the barrel adapter. Try to keep the tail as straight as possible and to one side of the radio. You will want to with the direction of the radio and tail to find the optimum working conditions.With just a few parts and a little knowledge anyone can make a tiger tail antenna for their radio.

Remember this is a project and will work better for some than others depending on the parts used. Also remember your radio warranty and not to void it. Don't make any modification without considering the potential positives and negatives.  

There you have it. You made and added a 1/4 wave antenna to your HT to make a mock 1/2 wave dipole antenna. Now get out there and use it! Please leave your comments and suggestions below.  

Thanks Bob, KK6YLW, for the Picture

BCH-220 HT and Tiger Tail Antenna


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Rich Miller - June 22, 2020

Would have appreciated a close up pic showing exactly how the wire is attached to the radio.

Zack Schindler - May 22, 2020

This guy did testing of a tiger tail with a frequency counter and got pretty dramatic results.

Be aware that you need to make one for 2 meters and another for 440.

Zack Schindler

Alex - March 20, 2019

You could also connect it to the screw for the belt clip? That attaches to the chassis of the HT no?

jonathan m savageau - August 1, 2018

Where do you find a barrel connector? Will a steel bushing work?

Hap Holly - January 12, 2018

I’d like to conduct an interview for my RAIN Report ( with someone who has a working knowledge of a tiger tail VHF/UHF HT antenna, preferably someone who actually sells it. 73, de Hap Holly/KC9RP, Founder & Producer of the RAIN Report.

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