Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a stronger signal?

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by David D, Oct 1, 2007.

  1. David D

    David D Guest

    My father's keep buying radios for the kitchen, but each one has the
    problem of poor reception (he listens to AM). Is there anything that
    will help boost the range of the antenna or maybe even an add-on or
    something? Thanks
     
    David D, Oct 1, 2007
    #1
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  2. David D

    Sjouke Burry Guest

    Re: Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a strongersignal?

    David D wrote:
    > My father's keep buying radios for the kitchen, but each one has the
    > problem of poor reception (he listens to AM). Is there anything that
    > will help boost the range of the antenna or maybe even an add-on or
    > something? Thanks
    >

    Put out a wire antenna of about 40 yards,as high as it goes,
    take the wire down into the kitchen, wrap it 4 times around
    your radio, and attach the wire to the (hopefully metal)
    water supply tube.
    To prettyfy this, you can hide the 4 turn coil(radius > 10")
    behind some wooden or plastic panel, as long as you put the radio
    close to that. Try radio orientation for best reception.
     
    Sjouke Burry, Oct 1, 2007
    #2
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  3. David D

    isw Guest

    In article <47005e60$0$25487$>,
    Sjouke Burry <> wrote:

    > David D wrote:
    > > My father's keep buying radios for the kitchen, but each one has the
    > > problem of poor reception (he listens to AM). Is there anything that
    > > will help boost the range of the antenna or maybe even an add-on or
    > > something? Thanks
    > >

    > Put out a wire antenna of about 40 yards,as high as it goes,
    > take the wire down into the kitchen, wrap it 4 times around
    > your radio, and attach the wire to the (hopefully metal)
    > water supply tube.
    > To prettyfy this, you can hide the 4 turn coil(radius > 10")
    > behind some wooden or plastic panel, as long as you put the radio
    > close to that. Try radio orientation for best reception.


    That might work, but you might need to try top-back-bottom-front-top and
    left-front-right-back-left wrapping to get it right.
    Top-front-bottom-back-top won't be necessary; the internal antenna coil
    undoubtedly isn't oriented that way.

    Isaac
     
    isw, Oct 1, 2007
    #3
  4. Hi!

    On many modern radios, the AM antenna is inside. It's a ferrite bar wrapped
    with many turns of fine wire.

    I would suggest looking for a radio that offers the ability to connect an
    external antenna for AM, FM or even both bands. You can then hook up a long
    wire antenna and this should improve the reception.

    Also check for common sources of interference to AM broadcasts, such as
    fluorescent lighting, motors and some switching power supplies.

    William
     
    William R. Walsh, Oct 1, 2007
    #4
  5. David D <> hath wroth:

    >My father's keep buying radios for the kitchen, but each one has the
    >problem of poor reception (he listens to AM). Is there anything that
    >will help boost the range of the antenna or maybe even an add-on or
    >something? Thanks


    The obvious answer is an external antenna. The radio(s) should have
    an external AM antenna connector. It should also have an antenna
    ground connection, which should be connected to a *METAL* cold water
    pipe.

    However, I'm a bit worried about your vague description. My guess(tm)
    is that your father is experimenting with varying quality of radios
    and that there's a problem across the entire AM band. It could be
    that your location is useless for AM, but I suspect that something
    else is going on. My guess(tm) is that you have some local source of
    AM interference, such a motor noise, power line arcing, computer
    RFI/EMI, light dimmers, fence chargers, etc. Should be something in
    the internet.....yep:
    <http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/interference/radio/index.htm>

    An easy test is to drag one of the radios to a very different location
    several miles away. If it works properly at that location, there's a
    fairly good chance that there's a localized RFI/EMI problem around
    your kitchen, house, or neighborhood. If this is the case, then
    adding an external antenna could easily make the problem worse, as it
    will pickup a stronger AM station signal, but also pickup a stronger
    RFI/EMI signal.

    Incidentally, we have a local RFI/EMI problem. There are a
    substantial number of solar arrays in the area. The inverters run a
    rather high power levels and are capeable of generating quite a bit of
    RFI/EMI. We're slowly dealing with the problem, but meanwhile, weak
    signal HF ham radio operation is a dubious proposition. Look around
    for solar power arrays and bring a portable AM radio to check for RFI.


    --
    Jeff Liebermann
    150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
    Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
    Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558
     
    Jeff Liebermann, Oct 1, 2007
    #5
  6. David D

    lakewood Guest

    Re: Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a stronger signal?

    On Sep 30, 10:36 pm, Jeff Liebermann <> wrote:
    > David D <> hath wroth:
    >
    > >My father's keep buying radios for the kitchen, but each one has the
    > >problem of poor reception (he listens to AM). Is there anything that
    > >will help boost the range of the antenna or maybe even an add-on or
    > >something? Thanks

    >
    > The obvious answer is an external antenna. The radio(s) should have
    > an external AM antenna connector. It should also have an antenna
    > ground connection, which should be connected to a *METAL* cold water
    > pipe.
    >
    > However, I'm a bit worried about your vague description. My guess(tm)
    > is that your father is experimenting with varying quality of radios
    > and that there's a problem across the entire AM band. It could be
    > that your location is useless for AM, but I suspect that something
    > else is going on. My guess(tm) is that you have some local source of
    > AM interference, such a motor noise, power line arcing, computer
    > RFI/EMI, light dimmers, fence chargers, etc. Should be something in
    > the internet.....yep:
    > <http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/interference/radio/index.htm>
    >
    > An easy test is to drag one of the radios to a very different location
    > several miles away. If it works properly at that location, there's a
    > fairly good chance that there's a localized RFI/EMI problem around
    > your kitchen, house, or neighborhood. If this is the case, then
    > adding an external antenna could easily make the problem worse, as it
    > will pickup a stronger AM station signal, but also pickup a stronger
    > RFI/EMI signal.
    >
    > Incidentally, we have a local RFI/EMI problem. There are a
    > substantial number of solar arrays in the area. The inverters run a
    > rather high power levels and are capeable of generating quite a bit of
    > RFI/EMI. We're slowly dealing with the problem, but meanwhile, weak
    > signal HF ham radio operation is a dubious proposition. Look around
    > for solar power arrays and bring a portable AM radio to check for RFI.
    >
    > --
    > Jeff Liebermann
    > 150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
    > Santa Cruz CA 95060http://802.11junk.com
    > Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558


    Just go to Web Site www.ccrane.com
    There you will find high quality good reception portable radios and
    antenna systems.
     
    lakewood, Oct 1, 2007
    #6
  7. David D

    hr(bob) Guest

    Re: Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a stronger signal?

    On Oct 1, 12:36 am, Jeff Liebermann <> wrote:
    > David D <> hath wroth:
    >
    > >My father's keep buying radios for the kitchen, but each one has the
    > >problem of poor reception (he listens to AM). Is there anything that
    > >will help boost the range of the antenna or maybe even an add-on or
    > >something? Thanks

    >
    > The obvious answer is an external antenna. The radio(s) should have
    > an external AM antenna connector. It should also have an antenna
    > ground connection, which should be connected to a *METAL* cold water
    > pipe.
    >
    > However, I'm a bit worried about your vague description. My guess(tm)
    > is that your father is experimenting with varying quality of radios
    > and that there's a problem across the entire AM band. It could be
    > that your location is useless for AM, but I suspect that something
    > else is going on. My guess(tm) is that you have some local source of
    > AM interference, such a motor noise, power line arcing, computer
    > RFI/EMI, light dimmers, fence chargers, etc. Should be something in
    > the internet.....yep:
    > <http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/interference/radio/index.htm>
    >
    > An easy test is to drag one of the radios to a very different location
    > several miles away. If it works properly at that location, there's a
    > fairly good chance that there's a localized RFI/EMI problem around
    > your kitchen, house, or neighborhood. If this is the case, then
    > adding an external antenna could easily make the problem worse, as it
    > will pickup a stronger AM station signal, but also pickup a stronger
    > RFI/EMI signal.
    >
    > Incidentally, we have a local RFI/EMI problem. There are a
    > substantial number of solar arrays in the area. The inverters run a
    > rather high power levels and are capeable of generating quite a bit of
    > RFI/EMI. We're slowly dealing with the problem, but meanwhile, weak
    > signal HF ham radio operation is a dubious proposition. Look around
    > for solar power arrays and bring a portable AM radio to check for RFI.
    >
    > --
    > Jeff Liebermann
    > 150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
    > Santa Cruz CA 95060http://802.11junk.com
    > Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558


    Are the invertors for the solar systems meeting the FCC Part 15 rules
    on emissions??

    H. R. (Bob) Hofmann
     
    hr(bob) , Oct 1, 2007
    #7
  8. David D

    Meat Plow Guest

    On Sun, 30 Sep 2007 18:39:55 -0700, David D wrote:

    > My father's keep buying radios for the kitchen, but each one has the
    > problem of poor reception (he listens to AM). Is there anything that
    > will help boost the range of the antenna or maybe even an add-on or
    > something? Thanks


    Have them buy the Grundig YB 400PE or equivalent radio. It comes with an
    external reel in and out antenna. Or at least something with an external
    antenna connection. Then help them erect a longwire antenna which you can
    look up on google.com.
     
    Meat Plow, Oct 1, 2007
    #8
  9. Re: Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a stronger signal?

    "hr(bob) " <> hath wroth:

    >Are the invertors for the solar systems meeting the FCC Part 15 rules
    >on emissions??
    >H. R. (Bob) Hofmann


    The few I field tested locally obviously did not. I do not have the
    full antenna kit necessary to make the determination. However, my
    back of the envelope calculations based on received signal strength to
    a small loop antenna seems to indicate that it's not even close. I
    need to drag over a spectrum analyzer and see what's really being
    radiated. I built a small power line coupling circuit so that I can
    look at the AC power waveform. I could see roughly 200mv switching
    hash on an oscilloscope so I suspect that this system wasn't
    compliant.

    The owner of one private solar system is working with the manufactory
    on reducing the interference and has installed power line EMI filters.
    These were a huge help. These filters are allegedly standard on all
    their current installations but were not when he purchased his[1]. A
    different owner just received what I suspect may be the worlds biggest
    clamp-on ferrite bead. He says it's about the size and weight of a
    brick and goes on the solar panel leads. That was installed about a
    month ago, and helped somewhat.

    Meanwhile, the ham operators that have been affected are making
    measurements, running tests, and playing with different types of
    antennas. There's been some success. Weak signal DX is out, but
    contesting, RTTY, PSK31, and other modes operate normally. At this
    point, radio reception is functional and not a crisis.

    The big problem is that almost all the EMI is being conducted (and
    radiated) through the power lines. We can turn off one source of
    switching noise, and there's very little effect as the other noise
    sources are just as strong over the shared power lines. At one point,
    we obtained the cooperation of everyone involved, except the water
    district, to turn off their solar systems completely for an hour so we
    can make measurements. We then found yet another solar system noise
    source we had not known about and possibly two more. We also
    determined that the major source of EMI was the water district system.
    At this point, we know of about 7 solar systems within about a 1 mile
    radius. Most of them were found by sniffing, but others by accident
    or with an airplane flyover. We tried Google Earth, but the images
    are too old. What was interesting is that many of the solar systems
    we found were fairly RF quiet, while others were very noisy. The
    difference seems to be the amount of EMI/RFI filtering on the various
    wires going in and out. The quiet ones are liberally equipped with
    filters on the panels, AC mains, and control panels. The noisy ones
    do not.

    Much of the testing and sniffing has been done with portable AM radios
    and a SW AM radio. The noise is continuous, very strong near the
    power lines, and very obnoxious on AM. My guess(tm) is that the
    original problem might be one of these solar inverter noise sources.


    [1] I suspect that the installer "forgot" to install the filter or
    lost it since it's a separate box and did not fit neatly into the
    installation.

    --
    Jeff Liebermann
    150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
    Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
    Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558
     
    Jeff Liebermann, Oct 1, 2007
    #9
  10. David D

    hr(bob) Guest

    Re: Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a stronger signal?

    On Oct 1, 1:27 pm, Jeff Liebermann <> wrote:
    > "hr(bob) " <> hath wroth:
    >
    > >Are the invertors for the solar systems meeting the FCC Part 15 rules
    > >on emissions??
    > >H. R. (Bob) Hofmann

    >
    > The few I field tested locally obviously did not. I do not have the
    > full antenna kit necessary to make the determination. However, my
    > back of the envelope calculations based on received signal strength to
    > a small loop antenna seems to indicate that it's not even close. I
    > need to drag over a spectrum analyzer and see what's really being
    > radiated. I built a small power line coupling circuit so that I can
    > look at the AC power waveform. I could see roughly 200mv switching
    > hash on an oscilloscope so I suspect that this system wasn't
    > compliant.
    >
    > The owner of one private solar system is working with the manufactory
    > on reducing the interference and has installed power line EMI filters.
    > These were a huge help. These filters are allegedly standard on all
    > their current installations but were not when he purchased his[1]. A
    > different owner just received what I suspect may be the worlds biggest
    > clamp-on ferrite bead. He says it's about the size and weight of a
    > brick and goes on the solar panel leads. That was installed about a
    > month ago, and helped somewhat.
    >
    > Meanwhile, the ham operators that have been affected are making
    > measurements, running tests, and playing with different types of
    > antennas. There's been some success. Weak signal DX is out, but
    > contesting, RTTY, PSK31, and other modes operate normally. At this
    > point, radio reception is functional and not a crisis.
    >
    > The big problem is that almost all the EMI is being conducted (and
    > radiated) through the power lines. We can turn off one source of
    > switching noise, and there's very little effect as the other noise
    > sources are just as strong over the shared power lines. At one point,
    > we obtained the cooperation of everyone involved, except the water
    > district, to turn off their solar systems completely for an hour so we
    > can make measurements. We then found yet another solar system noise
    > source we had not known about and possibly two more. We also
    > determined that the major source of EMI was the water district system.
    > At this point, we know of about 7 solar systems within about a 1 mile
    > radius. Most of them were found by sniffing, but others by accident
    > or with an airplane flyover. We tried Google Earth, but the images
    > are too old. What was interesting is that many of the solar systems
    > we found were fairly RF quiet, while others were very noisy. The
    > difference seems to be the amount of EMI/RFI filtering on the various
    > wires going in and out. The quiet ones are liberally equipped with
    > filters on the panels, AC mains, and control panels. The noisy ones
    > do not.
    >
    > Much of the testing and sniffing has been done with portable AM radios
    > and a SW AM radio. The noise is continuous, very strong near the
    > power lines, and very obnoxious on AM. My guess(tm) is that the
    > original problem might be one of these solar inverter noise sources.
    >
    > [1] I suspect that the installer "forgot" to install the filter or
    > lost it since it's a separate box and did not fit neatly into the
    > installation.
    >
    > --
    > Jeff Liebermann
    > 150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
    > Santa Cruz CA 95060http://802.11junk.com
    > Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558


    I am assuming that you mean the invertors that change the DC from the
    charged batteries to 120-240V AC, not anything associated with the
    solar cells charging the batteries. Am I right?

    If there are any clocks associated with the invertor control
    circuitry, the entire installation falls under the FCC Part 15 Rules.
    These apply to any "noise" from 150 kHz up to 30 MHZ for conducted
    noise from the installation onto the power lines and you should notify
    the nearest FCC Feld Office.

    I am a past president of the IEEE EMC Society and am still very active
    on IEEE and ANSI C63 (TM) EMC committees. Let me hear from you,
    either here or directly to me.

    H. R. (Bob) Hofmann
     
    hr(bob) , Oct 2, 2007
    #10
  11. Re: Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a stronger signal?

    "hr(bob) " <> hath wroth:
    >I am assuming that you mean the invertors that change the DC from the
    >charged batteries to 120-240V AC, not anything associated with the
    >solar cells charging the batteries. Am I right?


    Correct. All these installations are grid connected synchronous
    inverters. No batteries. There usually is a small generator and
    disconnect switch, to simulate the AC power from the grid during power
    outages. Without it, the system would not run. At night, the house
    runs on grid power. However, the inverter is still running to remain
    in sync with the grid power. I would think that it would be best to
    shut down the inverter if there is no solar power available, but this
    is apparently (my observation) not the case. The noise is there 24
    hours per day. I'll see if I can obtain an equipment list.

    I have no clue what's inside the water district system. It may have
    batteries.

    >If there are any clocks associated with the invertor control
    >circuitry, the entire installation falls under the FCC Part 15 Rules.
    >These apply to any "noise" from 150 kHz up to 30 MHZ for conducted
    >noise from the installation onto the power lines and you should notify
    >the nearest FCC Feld Office.


    I think (not sure) that this was already done. I wasn't party to this
    part of the exercise. None of the local hams involved seem to
    consider involving the FCC as a useful strategy. All of the solar
    system owners involved are being very cooperative, as are the
    manufactures of the equipment. The water district is kinda marginal,
    but without a proper field test (that's me and my borrowed spectrum
    analyzer), they're not interested in doing much.

    >I am a past president of the IEEE EMC Society and am still very active
    >on IEEE and ANSI C63 (TM) EMC committees. Let me hear from you,
    >either here or directly to me.


    Sure. I can supply names and possibly vendors, but I don't think any
    high level action is required. Things are blundering along slowly, as
    various participants find the time. I'll send you some email but I
    think I've supplied most of what I know.

    >H. R. (Bob) Hofmann


    --
    Jeff Liebermann
    150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
    Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
    Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558
     
    Jeff Liebermann, Oct 2, 2007
    #11
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