• radio
  • antenna

Make an antenna for distant FM stations

I enjoy listening to non-commercial radio. If you don't know what that means, its radio supported by donations and not commercials. If you are hearing commercials for local businesses every few songs any time you tune in you are listening to a commercial radio station. One of my favorite stations is WFUV out of Fordham University in the Bronx at 90.7 MHz on the FM dial. They have a bunch of awesome shows and we still sorely miss Rich Conaty's Big Broadcast since he passed away in 2017 as I wrote about back then, but one of my favorite shows is Ceol na nGael (music of the Irish) on Sundays. The problem is that I live a very long distance away from the Bronx, NY. If you draw a straight line from my house to there its about 52 miles away. Luckily the island I live on is fairly flat, but still - that distance makes it difficult to pull in over the air radio clearly in stereo. I've many times opted to listen over the internet but I prefer to listen on a decent radio if I can.

Antenna for WFUV 90.7 MHz FM

We haven't had a radio in a little while since I broke the old Grundig but last year I got my bride a new Sangean WR-11SE with a dial (which she prefers) and its really quite good. It's not portable like the Grundig was so I probably won't smash it like the last one. It has a wooden case and a hefty 65W speaker which provides really good bass making it perfect for classical music (which we listen to frequently) as well as folk and irish music. The antenna that it came with did not give the best results, however. It is a single lead copper wire, 60" in length with an F type male connector. I could barely receive WFUV no matter the orientation of the stock antenna. We have a place where we want the radio to sit which is basically right in the middle of the house not near a window, but window screens might interfere also. Before running out to buy a fancy antenna I figured I would try to make a simple dipole with some twin lead that I had in the basement. This wire used to run in the attic to an external TV antenna but it looks like this twin lead from Frys except mine is black. All I did was calculate the half wavelength (in inches) for the frequency of WFUV (90.7 MHz) using (468 / 90.7 MHz) * 12 then I just divided that length by 2 to determine the length to cut the twin lead apart in order to create two 1/4 wave lengths which I could tack up in opposite directions. Since twin lead is 300 Ohms and the radio accepts 75 Ohms I needed a 300 to 75 Ohm balun F style adapter and luckily I had several down in the basement!

WFUV now comes in perfectly clear in full stereo. I've listened for many hours now and haven't lost signal or had any interference to speak of more than a passing flutter once from some airplane radio traffic. I'm sure I could improve the antenna even more after doing some reading on the topic, but it hardly seems necessary with how well this one performs!