Attic Antenna - Good for FM?

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

  1. Tom6to1

    Tom6to1 Active 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.
    Pio1980 likes this.
  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.

    vwestlife likes this.
  4. Tim64

    Tim64 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    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 Active 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

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


    Then, RG59 (75Ω coaxial) to the receiver.
    spinroch and Tom6to1 like this.
  11. Tom6to1

    Tom6to1 Active Member

    Mississauga, Canada
    Well, Christmas has come (and gone) but that means spare time and some spare cash available, so i bought an Omni from Home Depot. For now, this is just sitting at the top of my closet in the house and seems to be doing a much better job than the regular indoor antenna. Next steps, and that may be some months off, is installing the Omni in the attic and seeing what the results are. Thanks to amptramp for the suggestion.
    amptramp and Wildcat like this.


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  12. rcs16

    rcs16 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Baldwin, Ontario, Canada
    The problems with an omni type di-pole antenna, is that there is no rejection of unwanted, no gain. We live in a very congested FM band in our area. Good and Bad. For instance, my favourite station is a low powered CFGI, 92.3MHz, Georgina Island, commercial free rock. If I point my directional antenna around I get a number of interferes on the same freq, as close as Newmarket, Pickering College, as far away as a very powerful one from Port Elgin on Lake Huron. As the sun does its thing, weather conditions, it affects the propagation of the signals, so at times I have to fine tune the direction to reject those ones I do not want to hear. There is also very powerful transmitters from Toronto at what else adjacent 92.1 and 92.5, that I also have to deal with. I bought a Yamaha T-85 which has 4 levels of IF filtering, to deal with these issues. My antenna is an old deep fringe LPA, with a amp on the mast, a rotor of course, on 50 ft mast. It is what I consider a really good setup, suggest the same if you need and can afford/install in you situation. It really allows one to make the best of what is available, which is fantastic compared to horror stories discussing the crappy FM, I read all the time from US listeners. The good thing about crappy FM in the US is that we can buy great tuners, rather cheaply, since why have a TOTL FM tuner, if you do not have anything decent to listen too. My T-85 came from Montreal, which seems to have the same issues with FM station quality as the US is experiencing. A shame imo.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
  13. RxDx

    RxDx Speaker collector Subscriber

    Virginia, the colonies
    As a US user, I've gotten over the betrayal of FM. It really isn't a betrayal, short
    playlists are just owners' response to the largest audience- drive time. Streaming,
    at home, or micro SD cards roaming, no problem.

    re: antennas, can't argue with physics: if it requires sensitivity or selectivity to get
    a station, the more metal in the air, the better, ideally with some way to aim it.
    I've got a couple of antennas on the roof- a VHF/UHF/FM array and an FM yagi.
    And a rotor. I can regularly hit 100 miles. Onkyo T-9090 II and T-4711, and a Sony
    XDR-F1HD. Sold my T-85s- they couldn't hang :)
  14. stonedeaf

    stonedeaf AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Sony XDR-F1HD is simply amazing - with a antenna under the roof -powered and specifically specd for FM /TV use- I get Green Bay to Madison to Chicago to Blue Lakes radio (other side of lake Michigan) and Milwaukee (which I'm close to/suburb of). I am flat out superstitious about this -took SWMBO'd into the attic and showed her the two antennas up there (one HDTV -one dedicated to FM) and told her -make sure you never move those. But frankly- a big part of this is just geography -I'm pretty close to the top of long gradual ridge N-W of Milwaukee - just plain dumb luck.

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