As radio amateurs or even professionals, nothing is as frustrating as poor signal reception. This is a horrible issue with FM frequencies, but working out a solution is easier than most would think.
In fact, it’s so easy that you can solve poor reception with regular household items.
That’s right. In this article, you’ll learn how to complete a fun DIY high gain FM Antenna project from beginning to end.
For this project, there’s a lot of information to keep in mind. Also, several tools will be necessary to make the antenna a reality.
Don’t worry, there isn’t any guesswork. Here you’ll learn everything from what a high-gain FM antenna is to how much it will cost.
Want to make your radio pick up signals with better precision? Then don’t miss out on this terrific article. Let’s go!
What is High Gain FM Antenna?
The term high gain antenna or HGA refers to a directional antenna that has a focused radio-wave beamwidth.
As a result, the antenna has a better and improved radio signal reception. With one of these antennas, the improvement is so vast that the receiver picks up signals from distant FM stations.
For high gain FM antennas, the applications are many. For instance, they fit well in either inside or outdoor locations.
This means that they will work just fine in areas like the attic or outside the house. Of course, their performance also depends on the number of obstructions nearby.
As a rule of thumb, the fewer the obstructions, the better the reception.
Do high gain FM antennas make a difference?
Yes, they do. As mentioned before, you may have to try different things to improve its performance. For example, finding the perfect spot for the antenna without interferences is essential. If you do, then the high gain FM antenna will for sure make a huge difference.
Why is a high-gain FM antenna necessary?
But what makes this antenna such a big deal? Well, a lot of things, actually. This is why the high gain FM antenna is a vital tool to have at your disposal.
By adopting high gain, the antenna can significantly boost signals coming through FM frequencies. Furthermore, these antennas can adapt to different situations depending on the needs of the user.
Besides strong, the signals picked are also more stable. This is clearly visible once the receiver starts transmitting, as it does that with a satisfying smoothness.
The high gain FM antenna does an excellent job at providing clear, uninterrupted signals. Even if there are some obstructions between both ends, you’ll still hear the frequencies picked up.
Another reason to have a high-gain antenna is because of its portability. Sure, some may be larger than others, but they’re still pretty easy to move around. Because of that, the antenna can work just fine on both inside and outside locations. For instance, it’ll work decently in areas like the garage, basement, or attic.
Easy & Quick
The high gain FM antenna also happens to be the easiest and quickest method to boost signals. You could approach it in two ways.
First, by simply buying and setting it up. Or, you could create your own homemade high gain FM antenna.
And that’s the purpose of this article. So, after learning about its importance, let’s find out how to start the DIY high gain FM radio antenna project.
DIY High Gain FM Antenna: How to Make High Gain FM Antenna at Home
You being here means that you probably knew all of that already. So, let’s jump ahead to what really matters: the high gain FM antenna DIY project.
There are several steps and tools involved to build your own high gain FM antenna. During this section, you’ll learn about all of this from beginning to end.
Ready to begin? Then let’s go!
First, let’s talk about the tools needed for this project. Having them ready beforehand helps to save time and makes the process smoother. This is what you’ll need.
- Coaxial cable with copper shielding. Preferably 50 or 70 ohms.
- An FM receiver. Must have a coaxial connector.
- Copper tubing of 3/8-inch size.
- Wire cutters.
- A hacksaw.
- Soldering equipment.
Don’t worry. Even though you’ll be using a hacksaw and soldering equipment, it’s still light work.
Got your tools ready? Fantastic! Let’s continue.
You’ll likely spend more time finding the tools than building the antenna. That is, of course, if you don’t have them already.
Nonetheless, creating a high gain FM antenna is a pretty easy project. The estimated time is around 30 minutes to a full hour.
Naturally, this also depends on your skills using the tools. With enough experience, the whole process could take around 15-20 minutes.
Besides your own time, the cost of building a high gain FM antenna depends on the tools used.
- Though it varies, the price of the coaxial cable per foot goes from $0.25 up.
- Copper tubing also varies in length. Typically, about 25 feet of this product would cost between $20 and $35.
- A basic yet effective wire cutter costs around $8.
- For hacksaws, you could go either big or low. The most popular brands offer high-quality and expensive models. However, this task doesn’t require high-end tools. Basic hacksaws are available from $20 up.
- Finally, you can get a soldering pen for $17.
If you already have these tools, then that’s excellent! You won’t even have to spend a single buck for this project.
With the right tools and some free time, you can now build your own high gain FM antenna. Follow these steps:
Step 1: The Perfect Antenna Length
To use your resources just right, it’s essential to know how much you will need. Fortunately, there’s a simple equation to figure out the coaxial and copper tubing length necessary. Here’s how you do it.
- First, divide 468 by the frequency of your preference. For example, 468/108MHz would result in 4.3.
- Next, you’ll be dividing the previous result by 2. Following the same example would make it 4.3/2, resulting in 2.15.
- Lastly, multiply that number by 12 inches. This will give you the ideal antenna length for your project. That’d be 2.15*12 inches, which equals 25.8 inches.
That’s the antenna length you should look forward to.
Step 2: Preparing the Coaxial Cable
Naturally, the coaxial cable has two ends. While one must remain to work as the connector, you must remove the other one. This step is easy and quick. For clean removal, consider using the wire cutters or the hacksaw. Either of the two will work.
Next, start stripping half of the antenna’s entire length from the coaxial cable’s end. Remove shielding layers up until reaching the white layer that surrounds the very own coaxial cable.
It may sound tricky but pay attention here. This is not difficult.
- Remember the calculations made earlier? Good. If the antenna’s length is six inches, you’ll be removing three inches of shielding. Now, this is just an example. Apply it to the antenna length you got, and it’ll work perfectly.
- During this step, removing the copper shielding is also a must. There are many ways to do it, but don’t overcomplicate things. Grab the hacksaw, and make a shallow incision up to the shielding. Once you get there, start stripping it off.
Step 3: Working the Copper Tubing
Start cutting the copper tubing, which should be half the antenna’s length. Since the tubing comprises half of the antenna’s receivers, it has to be the same length as the area you cut in the previous step.
This is the same process as before. If the antenna is six inches, the copper tubbing must be three inches.
Step 4: Attaching the Components
The easiest of steps. Here, you’ll be attaching the tube to the coaxial cable. To do that, start sliding the copper tubing onto the stripped end of the coaxial cable. Once you do that, continue by sliding it down. Make sure it fits snuggly, and that’s it! On to the next step!
Step 5: It’s Soldering Time
Next, solder the shielding of the coaxial cable to the tubing. Here’s how you do that.
First, remove the PVC shielding about an inch from the coaxial cable. This is right below the unshielded section. Peel it back using pliers to create a lip, and connect the lip to the copper tubing with the soldering pen.
Step 6: Connecting the Coaxial Cable
Grab the other coaxial connector, and plug it into the coaxial antenna port of the receiver. After doing this, locating the rest of the antenna is an easy cake. Accommodate it as much as needed before moving on.
Step 7: Placing the Antenna
With the antenna plugged, adjust it to the closest station and set it in place if needed. Here, it’s important to remember an essential piece of information.
The fewer obstructions, the better. When the antenna has little obstruction from the closest FM station, the signal is stronger and clearer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) of DIY High Gain FM Antenna
How to connect the FM antenna to the receiver?
To get optimal signals, properly connecting the antenna to the receiver is necessary. Doing this is very easy, as you only need a screwdriver. Here’s how you do it.
Using the screwdriver, loosen the screws on the receiver. Then, wrap the antenna wires to a single metal post below the heads of the screws.
Proceed to tighten the connection with the screwdriver. And that’s it! Now all you have to do is find a place for the antenna.
How to boost FM radio signal?
There are a few methods you can try. Here are some of them.
Extend the radio’s antenna completely, and change the radio’s location. Put it in a high place to reduce the signal obstructions.
If you want to invest some money, try using a wave loop antenna or a dipole FM antenna. These are super affordable. So, you won’t be spending much money anyway.
Put the antenna outside. Ideally, the roof is a good place for it. Use a staple gun if necessary to secure it in place. Alternatively, a near a window would also be a decent setup location.
Do FM antennas work better when you touch them?
This happens because the human body pretty much works as an amplifier. When you touch the antenna, the touch joint’s capacitance transmits induced RF voltage that goes from body to receiver.
As a result, there’s a slight signal improvement temporarily. That’s why your body and other objects across the RF field behave as antennas.
Can aluminum foil boost antenna signal?
Yes, it does! This is a terrific trick that actually works. All you have to do is use aluminum foil to wrap the radio antenna. This will improve signal reception, and you can try other things too. For instance, you can move the radio to different areas after wrapping the antenna.
Does speaker wire work to make an FM antenna?
Yes, but this method does have some limitations. For example, using speaker wire is an excellent decision if you’re already dealing with good-quality signal reception.
Using this material will provide that fine-tuning to make the quality much better. Speaker wire works perfectly as a quick-range extender to improve the connection.
But, speaker wire isn’t a suitable solution for long-range issues. For this, you may want to try the method explained in this article first.
How to make a 75 ohm FM antenna?
This is also possible. Here’s a quick video explaining how to do it.
That was pretty easy, right? And it actually works! By following this DIY high gain FM antenna project, your signal reception will see a massive improvement.
Frequencies will come through clearer, and the quality of sound will be much better as well.
Besides creating your own antenna, don’t forget to try the other tricks suggested here. Fewer obstructions, more clearance is also necessary.
Shortly after setting it up this way, the antenna will perform significantly better.
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