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Attic Antenna - Good for FM?

Discussion in 'Tuners' started by Tom6to1, Apr 1, 2018.

  1. Tom6to1

    Tom6to1 Member

    Mississauga, Canada
    I am the (recent) owner of a house built in roughly 1970. When I looked in the attic I found a television antenna installed inside. (Who knew? My experience growing up was an antenna on a tower next to the house, not inside the house). The wires (not coax) have rotted and I am not sure of the overall condition. I don't have much interest in using this for television, but I do have some challenges with FM reception for a receiver on the second floor. Is it worth my time to run a line to my receiver? Will this improve FM reception? Anything in particular I should look at to determine if this is worth trying?

    Sorry, no pictures or details of number of "elements". It is a solid 45 minutes just to get into the attic (I have to clear out a large closet) and then 45 minutes to put the closet back together so I am unlikely to go back and just take pictures. Would like to go back in with a plan but I don't know much about antennas and FM.


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  2. Ballylongford

    Ballylongford Bailey ; He's a great guy Subscriber

    SFBay Area
    Not an ideal solution: that would be a dedicated FM

    Antenna, but certainly worth replacing the cable to test.


    * If it's a UHF only antenna it won't pick up much FM; a VHF only,
    or a combination it's likely better than interior rabbit ears .

    * If it's pointed away from the FM broadcast tower, possibly you can reposition it.

    You have a lot of radio stations in your area; hopefully it's aimed at the broadcast tower of a station you listen to.
  3. arts

    arts Super Member

    Qc, Canada
    Most VHF television antennas will function as an FM antenna,as the FM band is between TV channels 6 & 7.If your antenna looks like either of these,you're good to go.

  4. Tim64

    Tim64 Super Member

    Southern Oregon
    Back in the 1980's I ran a splitter off my out door antenna one to the tv and one to the receiver it worked great. On the tv side I could get over 10 channels LOL how things have changed. Funny part is I currently have a outdoor antenna for the tv to get local channels but now I get about 20 channels.
  5. Bob in WI

    Bob in WI AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Waukesha, Wisconsin USA
    As its a PIA to get up there, I'd run new wire & then aim & test before I closed everything up.
    As mentioned above, you might have to reorient/ turn the antenna to get a good signal.
    I bet you could get Toronto, Buffalo, Rochester & who knows what else but you may need a rotor to do that.
    Rochester used to have a pretty good FM station but that was years ago.
    Good luck - I bet you get good results.
  6. heyraz

    heyraz AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Long Branch, NJ
    Yagi's (like the antennae pictured by Arts) have the most gain but are highly directional.
    They receive well when pointed at the transmitter, but the reception drops off rapidly as the the antenna is rotated.

    Most important thing to remember: Line of sight is best.

    From personal experience: a Yagi in the attic is mediocre at best compared to an outdoor omni-directional.

    I had a really nice, outdoor FM Yagi pointed at the New York area but couldn't pick up two local College Radio stations 30 degrees off axis. I replaced the FM Yagi with an FM omni and can get everything.
    Best part about those FM omni's: they are inexpensive.

    Antenna theory is pretty cool and not too difficult to understand. You might enjoy reading up on it.


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    I LIKE MUSIC Super Member

    Some general information.

    Not all TV antennas are created equal when it comes to FM broadcast band reception. For some the performance will fall off a cliff above about 92 MHz.

    The frequency coverage of a TV antenna is not continuous between TV channel 6 and TV channel 7, there is a big gap. TV antenna manufacturers do not in general include antenna elements for these frequencies, that is above TV channel 6 and below TV channel 7.

    How well a particular antenna will work for a given situation will depend on the amount of signal that is available to the antenna and this can and will very. What works well in one case may not work well in another case.

    Recommendations based on a particular situation may or may not apply to another situation.

    It is somewhat trial and error. If a person already has a TV antenna, it will not hurt to give it a try. Depending on the amount of signal available to the antenna it may work okay. But it is likely that a 4 or 5 element purpose designed FM broadcast band antenna will out perform a TV antenna used for the same purpose especially if some of the stations of interest are weaker.

    For the reception of signals from different directions an omni-directional antenna may not be a bad choice depending on the amount of signal available to the antenna. Most omni-directional antennas do not provide the gain (increase in reception sensitivity and signal) that is provided by a directional antenna.
  8. Tom6to1

    Tom6to1 Member

    Mississauga, Canada
    Thanks all for your replies. Far as I could tell from inside the attic, the antenna is pointed at the CN Tower in downtown Toronto, so it should (might) pickup every Toronto radio station. I think that means essentially east and maybe a bit north, so no Buffalo, no Rochester, but anything on the north shore of Lake Ontario (Oshawa certainly) is possible. No St. Catharines or Hamilton stations.
    Well, I have to go up and try to wire it up someday, poke a hole for the cable and see what I get. I need to read up on what equipment I need. Assume I need something that hooks up to the antenna like the original flat 2-wire design that converts to coax and a run of coax long enough to get to the receiver. Do I care about grounding the antenna or assume this is already grounded (and how do I check that the grounding is still good)?

    Thanks for suggesting omni-directional antennas. Perhaps the next thing to try if I am unhappy with results.
  9. amptramp

    amptramp Active Member

    Mississauga Ontario Canada
    I am also in Mississauga. This is one place where an Omni antenna is a must. One thing you could have is an Omni (like a whip antenna from a car - no need to use anything expensive) and a directional antenna for getting the more distant stations. A higher whip antenna may provide some gain by flattening the vertical dimension of the reception pattern. We have good stations in Oshawa, St. Catharines, Hamilton/Stoney Creek, Guelph, Kitchener as well as Toronto, so I would not eliminate Omni antennae from consideration. Since a lot of stations use circular polarization to cater to vertical whip and horizontal dipole antennae, a vertical whip is not a bad idea as long as you have a ground under it. There are turnstile and circular bent dipole designs if you have no access to ground (like in an apartment) but since you have an attic, you are probably in a house.
    Tom6to1 likes this.
  10. Wildcat

    Wildcat Audio Sommelier Subscriber

    MI, US
    A balun (aka matching transformer) is what you need at the antenna:


    Then, RG59 (75Ω coaxial) to the receiver.
    Tom6to1 likes this.

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