FM antenna/reception issue
September 26, 2004 3:47 PM   Subscribe

FM antenna/reception issue (and we need to listen to Little Steven tonight!- MI)

My husband is trying to hang a wire antenna for our stereo to get the Little Steven’s Underground Garage from a Toronto station tonight, and he needs a little help.
He is trying to improve the FM reception of the home stereo and he had always been under the impression that one could use a length of speaker wire as a hanging antenna. He is having mixed results using this method, so maybe he needs to learn the basics of bootleg antenna-ing, i.e.- does he leave the wire intact when he hangs it, or does he split the positive and negative wire strands, and if he does split the two wires, is it better to then hang them parallel to each other, should there be space in between, should they be at a 90 degree angle to each other, etc.?
posted by oflinkey to Technology (9 answers total)
This might help. Go here to figure out the wavelength of the frequency of the station:

Then, cut wire to half that distance. Connect the wire to only the antenna-side (or the center of a coax connector using, say, a nail that fits in the center snugly).

Alternatively, take some coax running to the plug, and run the same length wire described above from the middle of the other end of the coax (the exposed wire can't touch the outside of the coax)

Actually, I would go with the first method. Experiment moving the wire around until the station you seek is audible. If the signal is as weak as it seems to be, switch the tuner from stereo to mono.

The tuner/receiver/radio should be as high as possible: upstairs, rather than down, and near a window towards Canada.

Good luck!
posted by ParisParamus at 4:03 PM on September 26, 2004

Response by poster: Paris, you rock. I will let you know how it works. Thank you!
posted by oflinkey at 4:31 PM on September 26, 2004

Too late, but that show does play on a Buffalo station: WBUF, 92.9, from 6 to 8 PM on Sunday nights. Also on a Rochester station: WCMF, 96.5, from 10 to midnight on Sunday. Just in case you have a hard time pulling in Toronto! Good luck though.
posted by Melinika at 4:52 PM on September 26, 2004

I think Little Steven is on CILQ in Toronto. In which case you can stream the show from the station's website. If the antenna thing doesn't work out.
posted by bcwinters at 4:52 PM on September 26, 2004

Response by poster: Thank you, thank you all very much. We will check into BUF, CMF and CILQ. Thanks!
posted by oflinkey at 5:00 PM on September 26, 2004

Please tell me if it worked--otherwise, my @13-year-old amateur radio license may be revoked by the feds!
posted by ParisParamus at 5:12 PM on September 26, 2004

Some FM receivers have both a coax input and a twinlead input. If you have twinlead, and you're making a center-fed dipole (a reasonable antenna for the FM broadcast band), IIRC the twinlead is a better input to use.

(recipe for that: run two wires from the radio, together, to where you want the antenna to be --- this is a tradeoff between keeping it close to the radio and getting it up high. Then have the two wires head off in opposite directions for 1/4 wavelength each. You can make that out of speaker wire or whatever, or buy something of this shape at radio shack, or whatever you like.)

If you have a TV antenna, you could try plugging its coax into the FM receiver's input. The FM band is right in the middle of the VHF TV channels (between channels 6 and 7 --- actually, there's a whole lot of stuff between channels 6 and 7.) Likewise, if you have cable TV, there's some chance that it includes the local FM broadcast stations on the cable.

On the other hand, simply attaching a long wire of whatever length is handy to the antenna input and moving it around until you get a good signal is often the easiest way to go. (don't tell anyone, PP, I'm an (inactive) ham too.)
posted by hattifattener at 10:55 PM on September 26, 2004

hattifattener, my FM curiosity of youth tells me that the big issue with FM is as much blocking-out adjacent local stations as it is maximizing reception of the signal in question. The problem with a dipolile is that it's too broad-fielded, and doesn't filter-out the other stations well enough.WB2MMR.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:35 AM on September 27, 2004

posted by ParisParamus at 7:35 AM on September 27, 2004

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