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Old 27th Oct 2021, 8:01 am   #1
DennisCA
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Default Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

I am not sure if this is the right place to post, but I think the people here would be the ones with most knowledge of radio antennas and setups.

Some background, I live in a newly built house (2013, we built it, well with a contractors help) and it has coaxial network for TV and FM radio with outlets in most rooms. It's connected to some far away central antenna but it's just used for digital TV transmission. They have stopped sending out analog FM radio and I don't watch TV. So I have no use for the central antenna hook up.

Instead I want to make my own mast for my own house and install an FM and AM antenna. I want to connect this to my houses existing coax-network so I can get AM and FM signals out of the walls and get better FM and AM reception. AM reception in particular is really bad indoors, but I enjoy tuning in far away AM stations. I have a receiver with FM and AM ports on the back.

I have a general idea of installing a mast on my roof, install an FM and AM antenna on the mast, then run the signals from the antennas via a coax cable into the network central of my house and replace the old non-functional central antenna hookup with my own antenna.

I am also thinking that since I have two outlets, one for FM and one for TV, but the TV outlet is not used, could I repurpose it for AM signals? I know there are FM/AM band splitters so I was thinking of having one of those in the network central and run FM signals to the FM outlet. I bet there is a splitter there now that separates video signals from radio FM signals.

Does this plan make sense or am I overlooking sometihng? Also what kind of AM antenna is better, seems there are long wire and loop designs. The loop is more attractive for being more compact, it would look quite ugly with a long wire antenna unless it could be camoflaged?
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Old 27th Oct 2021, 8:36 am   #2
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

Hi Dennis

Welcome to the club and what an interesting question with the roll out of DAB radio taking many FM stations off air and are now internet based.

First of all, before ideas are suggested on antenna design, do you, as in Belgium, have local rules which stop you installing external aerials without permission?

On FM, how far away are the radio stations you wish to listen to? Are we talking Sweden or Helsinki for example and so will you need to rotate the aerial or could it be located in the loft space?

In the USA, the cable company supplying Sherman Connecticut added specific FM radio when asked to do so, is your FM source traceable and so rather than a DIY job, you can discuss your needs with them or the contractor for your locality?

Did you know that the European DX Club held a meeting in your town, although some time ago, the EUDXF web contacts might be a good source of information and help.

Your question mirrors many challenges both here so I hope my questions do not put you off your ideas.

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Old 27th Oct 2021, 9:28 am   #3
DennisCA
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

I've always liked the old fashioned tech, and DAB was put on hold in finland back in 2005 so we ony have analog FM mainstream radio here.

I don't think there are any such rules where I am, I live outside the city in a more rural village and I think I can do what I want in that regard. People here usually install what antennas they want, usually on summer cottages and the like nowadays, it's less common to see them on peoples houses, but I still see them.

There are FM transmitters all around me from what I can see, so I think an omnidirectional antenna is the best, though the main transmitter for the channels I usually listen to is north-west of me about 50km away.

I have discontinued my service with the central antenna provider since it was expensive (180€ every 6 months) so I don't have an interest in resuming service with them.

I did not know that, but I have only just started doing this so likely it sailed me by completely.
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Old 27th Oct 2021, 5:34 pm   #4
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

Hello Dennis

I am told, Vaasa is the centre of the Finnish Ostrobothnia region, a gorgeous coastal city and a great destination to travel to any time of the year. The bilingual city bathes in colourful history and is rich in fascinating sites to visit.

I live in Harrow Middlesex and the first item you will see having searched my Town’s name is how to pay the Council Tax!

However, I digress.

First, may I apologise for not understanding the current FM radio situation, I searched Vaasa FM stations only to be given, well you can guess....

Looking at your local FM stations and associated transmitter map, the first thing I note is the topography of the area, the very low power of the transmitters, 1KW and the offset frequency.

For example, transmitter Mustasaari-Alskat station YKSI 87.8 MHz and you’re your local transmitter Klemettilia station FIN Iskelmsa on 88.7 MHz.

It will take an exceptional receiver to separate these two stations without some directivity from the aerial and so I would rule out the omnidirectional aerial for reception of the northern station except maybe where frequencies don’t clash. Maybe this is why Salora radios are so well regarded!

Although the transmitter masts are over 100metres high, your location is important as whilst Band 2, 88-108 MHz used for FM radio, is not a line of sight only, with only 1KW quoted of ERP -stereo radio without hiss may need some thought before buying an aerial.

Do you have a stereo portable radio that you can use? I’m thinking of top floor reception and then some inside your home to see if there are any blind spots.

Unfortunately, the signal strength of the transmitters at your site is not shown but correct me if I’m wrong, all the local stations are from the same mast?

Perhaps directional aerials loft mounted will be a safer bet?

Moving on. Using a loop aerial for AM reception, with a built-in amplifier, is a possibility but again a long wire loft aerial might be a good start as a loop aerial will be an expensive item and will require some technical knowledge to match it to a receiver let alone pipe through your home.

Again, some illustration of what you hope to listen to would help and what receiver you are going to use?. Using an external aerial on a radio with a built-in non-switchable aerial is problematic.

I do hope that I'm not putting too many issues your way but I'm working a little blind.

Chris
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Old 27th Oct 2021, 6:59 pm   #5
DennisCA
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

I only hope to achieve improved reception of any and all channels there might be around me. I have not given any real thought to to issues like that. I've not at all thought it about in that technical a fashion. But lets say I am more interested in the frequencies 95-106 mhz, most of the stations I listen to lie in that range. I am about 25km south of Vaasa too.

What my reasoning has been is that I can currently receive and tune in channels on my kitchen radio where I am now. It only has a small built in antenna. My reasoning was therefore that a roof mounted antenna must be a lot better than what this radio can do. And so I would be easily able to improve my reception with my own aerial. Or so I thought anyway.

In my office I don't get as good a reception but I have a radio antenna outlet, so my idea is to install a radio antenna mast and ideally get a lot better reception than my kitchen radio does. But I'd be happy if I could get as good or better quality FM reception in my office to my receiver there as I can to my kitchen table radio.

I have a metal roof which I think pretty much rules out anything inside the loft. The house only has a single floor too.

As for the AM antenna, just for fun I guess? To test and see what kind of stations I might be able to tune in, for the fun of it. Been doing it with my kitchen radio, though it's limited. I plan to build a small table mounted loop antenna to test with my kitchen radio soon, for fun. The type that you only put nearby the internal antenna of a radio.

I have a stereo receiver for my office (Philips F5110) that has an external FM and external AM antenna connection so it should be able to accept it. The built in AM antenna in the receiver gets very bad reception in my office. Basically useless. FM is also much worse in here than in the kitchen.

So I reasoned that if it's possible for me to connect an AM & FM antenna to my current coax-network (which otherwise sits completely unused) then I'd be able to lead in AM (and FM) signals from outside through already existing infrastructure and I would get an improvement in reception over what I get now, particularly with the AM since it would be free from all the noise from inside the house.

But what I really need to know, is it even possible to do what I am asking, is it possible to send FM and AM signals on a single coax cable from two antennas, and then split them up again and send them out over my coax network? If it's not, then I guess that's the end of that idea.

Last edited by DennisCA; 27th Oct 2021 at 7:05 pm.
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Old 27th Oct 2021, 10:39 pm   #6
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

Hi Dennis

Now I've got the picture. The Phillips receiver is just fine and given a little more information to confirm my thoughts, a 3 element Band 11 aerial aimed toward the northern transmitter will, because it has a wide capture angle and, that you live south of the town, will give you a good signal from your local station and the other one at the same time.

Could you tell me where the mast for the cable company is located? I would like to see what they are using.

For AM reception using the existing coaxial sockets is not so easy and the Philips expects a long wire aerial. It was something manufacturers did here in the 50's using transformers to convert the high impedance of a vertical whip antenna to coax and then back to high at the receiver.

Philips did something similar for their transistor portable radios when using a car radio aerial. "on the move." I'll get back to you on this.

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Old 28th Oct 2021, 3:40 am   #7
DennisCA
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

I am not sure, but I think this is the main antenna, if you click the link it should open up google street view. The company does not really have a website only a contact page. Not a lot of info there...

https://www.google.com/maps/@62.9559...7i13312!8i6656

I was told by someone else at least that the AM and FM signals would be able to share the same cable without interfering with each other, said might not even need a band splitter. He recommended I get an MLA 30 active antenna. The trick there though is that it requires power. I dunno if that is then compatible with the receiver but it seemed to be ready made for a coax connection.

So the receiver wanting a long wire antenna, this then means that it wants an antenna of a certain impedance, and one can use a transformer to correct this?
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Old 28th Oct 2021, 5:39 am   #8
DennisCA
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

I'm doing some of my own hamfisted research and if I understand it properly, I could use one of these to connect a long-wire antenna to coax:
https://www.winradio.com/home/lwa.htm

Then I could pick up AM signals from my coax-outlets with a receiver that is designed to work with 50 ohm impedance.

But for my phillips F5110 I'd need another transformer to turn up the impedance again to match it to the receiver? I've seen some mention of using a balun to accomplish that. I guess a balun can both lower and increase impedance depending on design.

I don't know what impedance my receiver would like to see, but I have read references to 300 ohms. I also have a 3rd 300 ohm FM antenna input, so perhaps the AM antenna would also like 300 ohms.
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Old 28th Oct 2021, 6:50 am   #9
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

I found this page and it seems to confirm what I am thinking:
http://johnjeanantiqueradio.com/antenna.htm

The setup in the picture I attached is from the link, seems to be the one most relevant to me. The coaxial feedline = my indoor coax-network. If I've understood everything correctly.
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Old 28th Oct 2021, 9:03 am   #10
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

Hi Dennis

Could you tell the name of the Cable TV company.

The location you have given me for the mast is 20Km away from Vaasa and the mast also shows transmitting antenna. This may well be the case but unusual for a local TV Radio cable network.

The 50 ohm to long wire Australian transformer looks the business. Designing a filter to join Band 11 FM radio to MW down a common coaxial cable will be interesting. Maybe a separate post will get an answer.

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Old 28th Oct 2021, 9:07 am   #11
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

I don't think there are many or any local AM radio stations available to you in Finland or anywhere in Scandinavia. But if you are interested in long distance or DX AM reception then an outdoor aerial mounted high or away from the house to reduce the interference and noise generated by almost every household gadget. Also using a loop aerial rather than a wire aerial offers more immunity to local electronic noise.

For FM as has been mentioned before investing in a VHF band 2 aerial use a small portable radio in different locations to see what signals are available to you. If these are coming from different directions maybe a vertical dipole rod aerial mounted on the roof is the way to go. You could feed this to a decent low noise distribution amp to feed various radios around the house.
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Old 28th Oct 2021, 9:53 am   #12
DennisCA
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

True I was hoping to tune in stations from a long way away.

But there is one AM channel in Finland actually:
http://www.swradio.net/

This also reminds me I lack a short wave radio. I tried looking for receivers that have LW/MW/SW and FM, but those are rare and seem to be from the 1960s mostly. Easier to find a small portable SW radio.

Simpsons it's called "Övermalax Centralantenn", you won't find much about it online. It's less of a real company and more a local group of people that makes sure people here can get access to programming such as TV channels from Sweden (my municipalty is 80% swedish speaking). I am only guessing by the way, that aforementioned mast belongs to these people. But it's the only big mast I know of.

Last edited by DennisCA; 28th Oct 2021 at 10:01 am.
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Old 28th Oct 2021, 10:06 am   #13
DennisCA
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

Found this:
https://fmscan.org/net.php?r=f&m=m&i...=YLE+X3M&rg=po
https://fmscan.org/net.php?r=f&m=m&i...YLE+Vega&rg=po
https://fmscan.org/net.php?r=f&m=m&i...dio+Nova&rg=po

Shows channels I listen to sometimes, seems there's a bigger transmitter south of me and on 98.6mhz which is the one I tune into more. Also seen it on 97.3mhz and that does tend to work better when going into Vaasa.

Looks like the southern transmitter is in the Bötom area, which I remember has been the location of most transmissions since I was young. Back then we had a central antenna in the village I lived in and they used it to get TV transmissions from Sweden as well as Bötom.

Most of the channels I listen to come from south, so if I had an antenna I should aim it there?
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Old 28th Oct 2021, 10:43 am   #14
DennisCA
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hybrid tellies View Post
You could feed this to a decent low noise distribution amp to feed various radios around the house.
I was just thinking, since my house is already setup to receive and transmit both TV and FM to most rooms, is it likely it already has a distribution amp installed?

I haven't actually checked, need to remove some paneling on my central to see that, so far I've only seen the coax and fiber that come into the house via an underground pipe.
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Old 28th Oct 2021, 12:19 pm   #15
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

Your distribution amplifier should work OK for FM signals if you feed its input with the signal from a good FM antenna.

It will probably not wok for AM [MW/SW] signals - most distribution-amplifiers are designed to work over the 40-700MHz frequency range used by Band-II FM, DAB and terrestrial TV signals; they rarely have any sensibly-usable gain on the medium/short wavebands.
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Old 28th Oct 2021, 12:22 pm   #16
DennisCA
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

Gotcha, at least I could start with the FM part then without doing too much replacing, and add the AM part later.

I did check further and there are a few stations I would like to tune into that come from vaasa. So seems I got the conundrum of having channels in both directions. The southern one is a 30kw transmitter while the one in Vaasa is 1kw

edit: Hmmm I just remembered there are also stations in Sweden I'd be interested in trying to tune in. I can already sometimes in my car tune in certain swedish channels like P3 or P4. It'd be interesting to see what could be done with a high aerial... Maybe I should make it so it can be easily rotated....

Last edited by DennisCA; 28th Oct 2021 at 12:43 pm.
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Old 28th Oct 2021, 9:51 pm   #17
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

Hi Dennis

So glad you mentioned your car radio. FM radio transmitters in Europe are slant polarised, that is they are designed for car (vertical) and home (horizontal) aerials. Whilst your car radio will optimised to reduce noise on stereo reception, thus reducing the stereo effect on weak signals, what you can receive on it is a good illustration of using a vertical aerial as said by Simon.

The juries still out though this being a recommendation though.

Re: Distribution amp. I'd be very surprised if the cable company had to boost the signal in each home, perhaps in a block of flats. Although a long time ago, the cable TV company I worked at, Telefusion Sowerby Bridge Yorkshire, the line amplifiers produced so much signal at the subscribers receiver, attenuators were often needed.

You will need a small distribution amp to distribute your FM signal to each room outlet and rather than search in the loft, I would use the cable TV company line input. Which begs another question. Is the cable TV cable to your home at street level or is it overhead?

Glad to see more options being discussed, such enthusiasm only damped by the cost of getting to vaasa to try out the ideas. I jest!!!

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Old 29th Oct 2021, 3:32 am   #18
DennisCA
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

I found the distribution amp last night and it's in the electrical panel for my house, that's where all the lines in come in. It says 5 to 1ghz on it so should be OK for radio.

I've attached some photos of my opening up my panel, one can see the distribution amp and where the line from the cable company comes in from below ground.

The electrical lines, fiber and cable lines are here all underground and I have a pipe that goes all the way to the edge of my property, 30-40 meters away possible and that's where all the service comes in. So I cannot reuse the cable line, I can only disconnect it and leave it hanging.

Fortunately my panel is near the front door so I could install a mast on the side of the house and run coax along the eaves and then into that room into the panel.
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Old 29th Oct 2021, 3:38 am   #19
DennisCA
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

Here's a photo of my house from a few winters ago, you can see the front door in question. I've thought about putting up a mast on the gable side of the house, to the left in the photo.

That's where it would be least visible to others and I have a lot of free space there and it would make the shortest run to the front door while giving me maximum height and ease of installation. If I put a 4 meter mast there I'd get around 8 m height.

I also forgot to mention I found i am in the range of a 3rd transmitter that's in seinäjoki, it's 60kw and gives me a stronger signal than the north and south facing ones.
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Old 29th Oct 2021, 7:30 am   #20
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Default Re: Setting up external antenna for AM and FM reception?

The Televes 4578 unit you have is not an amplifier, it is a 'passive splitter' that just divides the signal equally between the eight output sockets.
This will work with the very strong signal sent by a cable TV system but should be replaced with a proper amplifier if it is only going to be supplied with the weak signal from an antenna.
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