Shortwave Radio Antennas: Everything You Wanted To Know About

What do you think, how do you contribute most of an ‘interruption free’ program in the air? Whether it’s your shortwave radio or old fashioned TV set, the antenna is the answer.

It’s the radio antenna that receives signals from the air. When you purchase a shortwave radio, a telescopic rod antenna comes with it. But what if it fails to receive signals properly? Or if you need an external antenna to improve the reception?

In this era of FM and internet radio, shortwave radio isn’t just alive, rocking in fact. Quite surprising, right? I also enjoyed shortwave radios when I was a child. My interest for it sparked then. And it was so intense that later I became an amateur radio operator.

Therefore, I can assure you, without asking help from an amateur, you can build one yourself! Making an SW radio antenna isn’t a hard nut to crack that you have to be a professional radio operator! Neither there is an urge to earn a vast knowledge of antenna theory. Even without any pre-experience, you can successfully make and install one!

Follow the instructions below to get your work done.

Broomstick Antenna

This is the simplest way to build an antenna at home. You can use it either indoor or outdoor. It’ll serve you like a cheap stand-alone device.

Make a pole which is a section of a pipe or other nonconductive material. Drive it into the ground for an outdoor antenna. But an indoor antenna will need some improvisation. Either nail, glue or screw the pole to a baseboard heavy enough to counter the antenna’s weight.

Then you have to fasten an aluminum disk to the top of that pole. Don’t use any screws, bolts or anything metal. Bind it to the pole using a non-metal cord. If it doesn’t have holes, then drill some and then bind it.

Then strip a speaker wire of insulation plastic covering of a length at least equal to the pole. The longer the wire would be, the more you can coil it. And therefore the better will be the reception. Now coil the wire around the pole as uniformly as possible. Wrap and Tie it to a bolt and terminate.

If yours is an outdoor one, tape the coiled wire using PVC tape.

Then strip an antenna lead wire, no longer than 10 feet, at one end. Wrap and tie the bare wire to that same bolt. Plug the other end into the SW radio. And your ‘broomstick’ SW radio antenna is ready to receive signals!

The Long Wire Shortwave Outdoor Antenna

It’s the simplest shortwave antenna that has newly joined to build antennas. A long length of wire is stretched out literally from SW receiver antenna connection. And then attached to an insulator on the opposite end.

Your SW radio either has a pull-up antenna or a connection point, on the rear usually. What you have to do is to add a small diameter insulated wire. The wire must be able to support its weight, whatever its size is.

Then attach it either to the rod antenna or the external antenna connection point. For attaching to that telescopic antenna, use an alligator clip. Then string it out of the house to the higher most possible support.

Make sure the entire length runs along some form of an insulator. That is, avoid water pipe, metal house siding, rain gutters, conduit. Rather you can tack it along the ceiling and snake up around the roof. Remove the insulation after you add the alligator clip or the connector.

Like all other antennas, this type of antenna is also a compromise. This type of antennas picks up the stations better those are in the direction of the wire.

For instance, suppose you live in the USA and want to reach the European stations. String the wire in the southwest-northeast direction. What I am trying to say, don’t expect that your antenna will receive all stations 100% clear.

A Multiband Long wire Short Wave Antenna

This will provide you a much better service than the previous one. But a little complicated. This antenna is end supported. It receives the major SW bands those are between 16 to 90 meters. A unique antenna property named as harmonics is used to get eight bands by using four wires only!

Each of the four insulated wire is soldered on one end. The opposite one is unconnected and insulated at the support. If you don’t know how to solder, then scrape down all the coating to the bare copper. Then tie ends together with several knots.

However, the soldered end should stay between an insulator and the radio.

Again, solder the end where all wires are connected to the central wire of a length of 50-75 ohm coaxial cable. This cable leads to the SW radio. Tape and shield the outdoor connections to protect them from the weather. This is a half wave antenna.

For different bands, the length of wire will also differ. Calculate according to that one you want to get.

After building this, like the long wire antenna, stretch it out as high as possible. If possible 140 feet straight out from the house! If not, utilize the existing space. Again, if you can’t stretch it out Straight, then go for zigzag layout. But in that case, you will need to provide more supports which may interrupt its performance a bit.

There’s nothing called a perfect antenna. This one is also a compromise (as mentioned above). But however, as a performer it’s excellent.

Random Wire Shortwave Antennas

As the name indicates, you can use a wire of any length, as long as possible! Now apply some construction techniques for supports and conditions as stated above. Isn't it easy to remember?

Note: The antennas I described above, none of them can transmit signals. They can only receive. Therefore, the transmitter may damage.

Warning!

NEVER STRING ANY ANTENNA OVER, UNDER OR NEAR ANY ELECTRIC POWER SOURCE.

This is the fine line between your life and death! If your antenna is under the power line, then the power line will fall. And if it’s over the power line, your antenna will fall. Ensure an adequate space, so that if a power line falls, it won’t fall on your antenna. Otherwise, it’ll risk yours as well as your dear ones’ lives.

Bottom Line

Reading this article, does it seem daunting to make an SW antenna yourself? Well, it may as I mentioned so many sizes of wire and warning issues! So much to remember! Then let me assure you, you don't have to maintain all those lengths at the beginning exactly.

But, you need to know some science at the same time to avoid danger, which may refer to as common sense. All those insulations, nonmetallic facts, you must take care. Apart from knowledge, you will need some related tools as well.

Just give it a try, and you’ll learn gradually. You’ll gradually find which way you should go for getting better service. You may discover some tricks also! What I am trying to say is, EXPERIMENT!

Joshua J. Salisbury
 

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