*trying* to improve FM reception on my new stereo. - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 15 Old 08-31-2011, 06:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Recently I bought a Sony MHCEC909iP, it owns pretty hard, I luv it. But when I tried to pick up my two favorite stations, (92.7 TAO and 106.7 ZZL) All it got was static. I've always had trouble getting these stations, so I can't say I wasn't expecting it.

The FM antenna that came with the stereo, was nothing but a wire that you're supposed to tack on the wall or something... I tried everything to improve reception, I completely cut the AM loop antenna off (who uses AM?) and used the wire from it to make the FM wire much much longer. I ran the wire outside, and after tinkering a bit, I finally pulled the stations in, BUT sometimes they would have problems keeping a stereo signal.. and believe me I refuse to listen to MONO. AND.. here's the kicker, I get absolutely no signal worth listening to during the day! It is optimal at around 9PM - 5AM.

Alright, so I decided to buy a Terk Amplified Antenna, My first problem is that the connector for the Antenna on the radio is a sony-only connector, SO I used the included bare wire adapter and cut the FM antenna, and spliced.

Guess what? I got every other station in my area except the ones I want.

As I am typing this post, it is around 9PM, and both the stations I want are MAGICALLY coming in clear, and with a stereo signal <_<<br />
I live in a trailer with metal siding and a metal roof, I know that is the culprit, and I know for a fact that if I moved my stereo outside, they would come in perfect all day long.

Any other ideas? I would really much like to somehow make this new antenna work....
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post #2 of 15 Old 08-31-2011, 08:48 PM
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You'd be better off with an outdoor antenna.

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #3 of 15 Old 08-31-2011, 09:04 PM - Thread Starter
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D: I already spent $25 on this one

Any suggestions on the outdoor antenna? I gotta get one anyways for my scanner (I'm a firefighter) so I'll get one for radio, and one for scanner.
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post #4 of 15 Old 08-31-2011, 10:25 PM
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I've no direct experience doing this but I've worked with radio a fair bit. Here are my guesses:

This antenna would be a good one that doesn't require aiming.
This antenna would be a bit lower profile, probably not quite as good at pulling in weak stations, but still significantly better than anything inside a metal enclosure - and it's inexpensive, much less than any Terk (and probably FAR more effective - I own several that I use indoors and they aren't that good as antennas go).

The technical way to do this is to use a site like this one to look up the coverage strength and make decisions that way. You can probably pick up stations even outside their fringe zones if you live in an area that is high (for your local area) or have a tall tower, and are wiling to invest in a highly directional antenna. The higher you can get the antenna, the better.

Note that you don't probably need an amplifier unless you are putting the antenna up very high. Amplifiers can help if there is a lot of loss in the system before the receiver, but add noise as well so if there isn't a lot of loss it is usually the same or slightly worse. This is one problem with the Terk stuff, you tend to pay for amplifiers rather than good antenna design. But they do make good looking stuff, and well marketed too. Unfortunately with antennas, high neighbor acceptance factor almost always directly correlates to worse performance.

It would be a good idea to make sure any coax connections at the antenna end are well sealed. You can get a sort of putty for this, but I suspect that even the non-hardening putty for home service entrances would work well. It's also a good idea (for safety reasons) to make sure to get the grounding right (I don't recall the right way to do this but the antenna instructions will probably tell you), and make sure you leave a drip loop on the cabling before it goes through your wall to help keep the water out.

I'm sure there are many other good antenna choices; these are just what I was able to find with a few minutes of Googling.
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post #5 of 15 Old 09-01-2011, 05:33 AM
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as others have mentioned, and you noted yourself....you live in a "faraday cage" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faraday_cage

the only true solution is an outdoor FM antenna

go to www.fmfool.com and type in your address - if the stations you want are all in a similar direction, then a small directional antenna will work fine. http://www.amazon.com/Winegard-HD-60...4879910&sr=1-1

If the stations are in very different locations, then an omnidirectional antenna will work better http://www.amazon.com/Winegard-HD-60.../dp/B001HKM1HM

and the 25' or 50' of coax lead-in http://www.amazon.com/Wilson-Electro...4880011&sr=1-5

connect the center pin in the "F" connector on the RG-6 coax to the crappy little FM wire antenna on the boombox.
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post #6 of 15 Old 09-01-2011, 12:16 PM
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^^^ What they said. For general purpose I would get an omni. You can mount the scanner and FM antennae on the same pole but they need to be spaced a little apart, "little" depends on the frequency bands they are covering. I have used a short (e.g. 3' - 6') pole to get over the roof of the trailer, then a "T" bar at the top so the two are maybe 3' - 5' apart, and that seemed to work OK. Make sure the mount is solid! I would put it on the side, not a flat roof mount, to avoid future leaks, and make sure the mounting screws go into the frame (studs). I have often used a small piece of wood, painted for weatherproofing, to span a couple of studs to provide a more secure mount. The problem isn't the weight, it's the wind load.

HTH - Don

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post #7 of 15 Old 09-01-2011, 12:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soviet View Post

My first problem is that the connector for the Antenna on the radio is a sony-only connector, SO I used the included bare wire adapter and cut the FM antenna, and spliced.

To make sure we get this right... what exactly does the connector setup on the Sony rig look like? Because we need to get that right. If the Sony doesn't have a coax connector on it, it probably either has two spring or screw terminals. In that case you should NOT be messing around with cutting and splicing to the conductors in the coax, you should be using a balun like one of these. If it has an RCA or something weird, use an adapter.

If you cut into the coax on the Terk, pay the guy at the local antenna shop a fiver to get it re-terminated and buy the right adapters from him. It might fix your problem anyway.

If the connection to the Sony is something you don't know the description for, post a picture of it so we can help you figure out the right way to connect this.
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post #8 of 15 Old 09-01-2011, 03:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m_vanmeter View Post

as others have mentioned, and you noted yourself....you live in a "faraday cage" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faraday_cage

the only true solution is an outdoor FM antenna

go to www.fmfool.com and type in your address - if the stations you want are all in a similar direction, then a small directional antenna will work fine. http://www.amazon.com/Winegard-HD-60...4879910&sr=1-1

If the stations are in very different locations, then an omnidirectional antenna will work better http://www.amazon.com/Winegard-HD-60.../dp/B001HKM1HM

and the 25' or 50' of coax lead-in http://www.amazon.com/Wilson-Electro...4880011&sr=1-5

connect the center pin in the "F" connector on the RG-6 coax to the crappy little FM wire antenna on the boombox.

Because I can't make heads or tails of what the fmfool site gave me, here: http://screencast.com/t/IJALX4BKfg0s :P

It's a 3-pin sony only connector. I'll post pics.
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post #9 of 15 Old 09-01-2011, 03:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Here's the way I have it wired:


Here's a close up of connector:


Here's the old antenna before I... destroyed it :P (Not exactly the same, but similar)
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post #10 of 15 Old 09-01-2011, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soviet View Post

Because I can't make heads or tails of what the fmfool site gave me, here

Here's the way I have it wired:

Look at the azimuth column for all the radio stations you are interested in. It's in degrees of a circle. If they are all close to each other you can use a directional antenna if needed. If they are all around the circle then you can use an "omnidirectional", receives the same in every direction, antenna. But given that atmospheric propagation is making you receive the stations you need inside a metal box, I think you would be fine with an omni.

OK now it's clear about the connector. If I get this right, there is one terminal that was just going to a wire for the FM connector, and two to the AM antenna. Given that I'm not entirely sure how to connect it so I'd suggest an experimental approach with the current rig before buying anything. The Terk antenna might do the job just fine with the connections switched around a bit. Note that instructions here change a bit if I got the wiring of that connector wrong, so if that's the case drop a note in the thread.

One thing I'm pretty sure of is that you will need to have the ground connected for things to work well so step 1: if there's a ground point on the back of the unit, connect the black wire to it. If not just unscrew a chassis screw a bit and connect it to that. Then see if you get the stations you want. If not then try step 2: get a F-jack like this one and connect the center terminal on the jack to the wire from the stereo's connector (since you probably don't solder use a binder clip or something to clamp them as hard as possible and make sure none of it touches the outside part of the jack) and the outside part of the jack to the ground on the chassis.

You need to solder or wire nut all of the connections while you test this because without good connections we can't draw conclusions.

I understand this connector is probably the cheapest thing they could have done but seriously, Sony, normal antenna connectors can't be THAT expensive. Why, Sony, why??? *facepalm*
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post #11 of 15 Old 09-01-2011, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aackthpt View Post

OK now it's clear about the connector. If I get this right, there is one terminal that was just going to a wire for the FM connector, and two to the AM antenna. Given that I'm not entirely sure how to connect it so I'd suggest an experimental approach with the current rig before buying anything. The Terk antenna might do the job just fine with the connections switched around a bit. Note that instructions here change a bit if I got the wiring of that connector wrong, so if that's the case drop a note in the thread.

I'm 100% sure it's connected right, but the Ground is kinda just hanging there not connected to anything... Where can I connect it to? I can't connect it to a screw cause the wire isn't long enough, would I be safe extending the ground wire with another wire, then connecting it to something metal?

Quote:
Originally Posted by aackthpt View Post

get a F-jack like this one and connect the center terminal on the jack to the wire from the stereo's connector (since you probably don't solder use a binder clip or something to clamp them as hard as possible and make sure none of it touches the outside part of the jack) and the outside part of the jack to the ground on the chassis.

You need to solder or wire nut all of the connections while you test this because without good connections we can't draw conclusions.

Would these 2 items be all I need to solder properly?
http://www.amazon.com/Sinometer-Watt...4930499&sr=8-4

http://www.amazon.com/American-Termi..._bxgy_hi_img_b

Quote:
Originally Posted by aackthpt View Post

I understand this connector is probably the cheapest thing they could have done but seriously, Sony, normal antenna connectors can't be THAT expensive. Why, Sony, why??? *facepalm*

heh, ikr?
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post #12 of 15 Old 09-03-2011, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soviet View Post

I'm 100% sure it's connected right, but the Ground is kinda just hanging there not connected to anything... Where can I connect it to? I can't connect it to a screw cause the wire isn't long enough, would I be safe extending the ground wire with another wire, then connecting it to something metal?

Yes, extend the wire by soldering or using a wire nut with another length of wire. If the ground is not connected, you may or may not get good results. The subject of grounding in antenna systems is deeper than you want to get into (and frankly far deeper than any understanding I may have), suffice it to say you almost certainly need it connected. I see four screws on the back of the unit in the mirror in your picture that would be good candidates given what we know about the system right now.

Also, in this vein, once you have a solution that works fairly well (if we can find one) you'd probably be best off to minimize the lengths of the wires in the part of the setup that you make. Meaning, everything between the coax from the Terk antenna and the Sony connector should be as short as possible for best operation. However you can just shorten them all once we finalize the connections and stuff.

Quote:


Would these 2 items be all I need to solder properly?

Yes, those should suffice. Look up some tutorials online on how to solder, and maybe try it on some other wires first. Keep a wet sponge handy to clean the tip, and I like to work over cardboard so that I can press wires together against it or something and not burn my table. It's a nice convenient portable or improvised work surface. Oh, and if the iron tip screws in, don't make the mistake I did when I was about ten years old and try to tighten it with the iron still on. I got blisters on the pads of my thumb, index and middle fingers but hey, I still have my fingerprints so I guess I had good enough reflexes to let go before permanent damage set in!

One reason I suggested wire nuts (and binder clips) is that it's easier to undo than solder joints. And since you have an unusual configuration, you may need to try several things to get it to work right (not that there's any guarantee any of them will work right at all anyway to tell you the truth, but hey it's worth a shot). If you don't consider wire nuts to be an acceptable long term solution, then you can just solder connections after you find one that works using something more temporary.

Hopefully you understood that I was suggesting you try two different configurations in turn, if not I can restate it to be more clear (I'm just unsure since you didn't address that in your reply). In actual fact, I expect the second configuration to work better. That's because the signal your unit would have seen from the original antenna is unbalanced, and the balun output is balanced (a balun is called that because it converts from balanced to unbalanced, in either direction). The output from the coax is unbalanced so it may better match what the radio expects. We just need a good way to connect the coax to the wires... and you can do that by using the F-jack that I linked or else you could just connect to the center wire with an insulated alligator clip (insulated so it doesn't short to the outer ground part of the connector) and another clip to the outside part of the connector. If that setup works, though, you'd definitely want to get the jack for the permanent setup.

I'd suggest that you test with the amplifier in the Terk off as well as on. You could also play with the amplifier strength if it has a dial, but I'd probably just turn it up to half or three-fourths and test it on vs. off to simplify things.

Good luck, let us know how it goes.
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post #13 of 15 Old 09-04-2011, 09:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aackthpt View Post

I'd suggest that you test with the amplifier in the Terk off as well as on. You could also play with the amplifier strength if it has a dial, but I'd probably just turn it up to half or three-fourths and test it on vs. off to simplify things.

Good luck, let us know how it goes.

Yeah, I've done that, it works, but only part of the time.

We have a very old and large outdoor antenna that we used to use for our TV a really really long time ago. I'm not sure if it'd work for FM, so I'll post a pic of it as soon as I can take one, it does look like a directional antenna though.

thx for your help so far
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post #14 of 15 Old 09-05-2011, 08:33 AM
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Many, but not all, old TV antennas overlap the FM band and so might work. You could try it and see, since it's free. It is very probably directional; if it looks sort of like a flat, horizontal Christmas tree, it is directional -- point the small end toward the station you want to hear.

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post #15 of 15 Old 09-06-2011, 06:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soviet View Post


Yeah, I've done that, it works, but only part of the time.

We have a very old and large outdoor antenna that we used to use for our TV a really really long time ago. I'm not sure if it'd work for FM, so I'll post a pic of it as soon as I can take one, it does look like a directional antenna though.

thx for your help so far

If antenna is really large, then it will likely work cor you quite well. Small UHF antennas won't work. Keep in mind that if antenna ha d an amplifier it may NOT work - some TV amplifiers have rejection circuit to supress FM radio frequncies.
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