How to Make a Simple Antenna to Improve the Reception of an FM Radio Receiver

by Scott Shpak
"Rabbit ears" -- a dipole antenna -- can improve FM reception.

"Rabbit ears" -- a dipole antenna -- can improve FM reception.

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FM radio reception depends on distance between your receiver and the transmitting tower. A receiver with no antenna attached receives the strongest signals, but these may be prone to interference and drifting signals. A simple antenna not only stabilizes the signal from the strong stations, it allows your receiver to recognize stations with less powerful transmitters and at greater distances. A dipole antenna is simple in configuration and uses inexpensive materials in construction. Mounting such an antenna outdoors improves its effectiveness.

Step 1

Measure 28-3/4 inches from one end of your wire. Wrap several turns of electrical tape at that point. This represents a quarter-wavelength tuned to the middle of the FM radio band.

Step 2

Split the wire from the end to the tape. Spread the wires in opposite directions. These are the two poles of your dipole antenna. Use the wire strippers to remove 1/2-inch of insulation from the opposite end of your antenna and twist the exposed ends to prevent fraying.

Step 3

Attach each exposed end to one of two screw terminals on your receiver marked for the FM antenna. Loosen both screws, by hand or with a screwdriver, depending on your receiver. Wrap the exposed wires around the screw threads and tighten. It doesn't matter which wire is connected to each terminal.

Step 4

Extend and adjust the poles of your antenna to obtain the best results. The dipole antenna is directional, so changing its location and orientation will affect reception. Individual stations will be affected differently. Use hardware or additional tape to improvise support for your antenna.

Tip

  • The simple dipole antenna improves reception over no antenna at all. Further refinements can be made by elevating the antenna, moving it outdoors and away from obstructions, and adding coaxial cable and baluns (simple electronic filters) to your basic design.

About the Author

Formerly operations manager with Kodak, Scott Shpak has written more than 600 articles on business, music and photography topics as well as feature writing for magazines and technical writing for the automotive industry. He holds associate degrees in recorded music and photography from Fanshawe College in London, Ontario.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images