Cheap antenna options?

Discussion in 'Tuners' started by Ryan A, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. Ryan A

    Ryan A New Member

    Are there any cheap antennas I could use for my Sansui TU-919. I don't want anything too expensive or complicated, just something that will give me decent AM/FM reception.
  2. Mamrak1

    Mamrak1 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    You could always get a cheap fm dipole for a few dollars or even a rabbit ears antenna. How well they work will depend on what stations you are trying to pick up distance wise.
    Bill Ferris likes this.
  3. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Addicted Member

    A rocks throw from JBLM !!!!
    I'd use a long peice of speaker wire, you can get inventive and go up the corner of the room and across the top of a wall. Or, just lay it across the floor and move it around until the channel comes in as sharp as a bell.
    isotopesope and c.coyle like this.

    I LIKE MUSIC Super Member

    Indoor antenna or outdoor antenna?

    You may receive suggestions based on what has worked for others, but remember it is all about the amount of FM signal at your location, not anyone else's location. What has worked okay at one location may or may not be appropriate for your location.

    Web sites such as FM Fool and Radio-Locator can give you an estimate of the signal strength for your FM stations of interest. This can help you determine what may be needed for the reception of your stations of interest.

    The antenna that will provide reception for the station(s) of interest will depend on your particular situation in terms of the amount and quality of the signal seen by your antenna. As mentioned, starting with the basic FM dipole or a rabbit ear style antenna is not a bad idea.

    The antennas needed for AM versus FM reception are two different things.
    the skipper likes this.
  5. Ryan A

    Ryan A New Member

    Indoor is what I'm after. I don't mind getting two things for AM and FM reception just as long as they are not too expensive
  6. Ryan A

    Ryan A New Member

    I will be using the tuner for stations within 60 miles or so
  7. Punker X

    Punker X AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Panic in Detroit
    Grarge sale rabbit ears work nicely, I pick them up when ever I come across them.
  8. mhardy6647

    mhardy6647 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    The best, cheapest thing to do for an antenna is to give it as much altitude as possible.

    As Punker X, who is a professional, said above -- a set of "rabbit ears", i.e., a tuneable center-fed half-wave dipole, really is a pretty good choice.
    Dipole antennas like this have a figure-8 shaped response pattern, with relatively low sensitivity along the long axis (i.e., at the "ends" of the antenna); put it broadside to the direction of the signal of interest.
    Also, try both vertical and horizontal orientation (if possible).

    I LIKE MUSIC Super Member

    Here is a calculator that can help to get you into the ballpark in terms of the length of the elements.

    Note that you can select the angle between the elements. The results are a good starting point.

    By changing the length of one or both of the elements and the angle between the elements you can vary the tuned frequency and the reception pattern of the rabbit ear style antenna. Doing this and changing the orientation of the antenna may help with the reception of weaker stations. Here experimentation can be your friend.

    Good reception with an indoor antenna at the distance you mention is possible, but not guaranteed. Keep the antenna as far away from other conductors and metallic objects as you can and as far away from other electrical devices that might generate unwanted electrical noise.

    In general the antennas that we use for FM broadcast reception will be either vertically or horizontally polarized. It is not unusual for some FM broadcast stations to use circular polarization. A set of rabbit ears can be adjusted to better respond to this circular polarization and this can result in an increase in signal strength for some stations.

    Again, it is all about the amount and quality of the signal at your antenna. A small change in position, orientation and or adjustment of the antenna may make a noticeable change in your reception quality.
  10. RobRoy

    RobRoy It's just stuff - but fun

    Central Kentucky
    It's hard to make a good and cheap antenna now that coat hangers are made of plastic.
    lokerola, Talon884, 313guy and 2 others like this.

    I LIKE MUSIC Super Member

    I find it very difficult to make a good low resistance solder connection to the plastic from a plastic clothes hanger...

    On the other hand they do not seem to be prone to rusting.
    RobRoy likes this.
  12. the skipper

    the skipper Amateur Curmudgeon Subscriber

    Maybe I'm wrong but 60 miles seems to be asking a lot from an indoor antenna.
    Bill Ferris likes this.
  13. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Addicted Member

    A rocks throw from JBLM !!!!
    That's what I thought...

    For sixty miles cheaply I'd find an old TV antenna and clean it with an SOS pad, then mount it up on the roof...."up on the roof"! An old song...... Works just as good as spending big bucks on a fancy antenna, but you've got to leave the u-clamps loose so you can rotate the TV antenna while someone listens to the tuner so you find the best reception. Then tighten the clamps....
  14. Bunty2

    Bunty2 Active Member

    Stillwater, OK
    I picked one up at a garage sale this past Saturday. They're useful to get back up reception when Cable TV goes out.
  15. MarZutra

    MarZutra Addicted Member

    New Scotland, Canada
    I'd check the thrifts for some rabbit ears.. that's what I did for my gf's Sansui AU101
  16. techguy0192

    techguy0192 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    I'm using a Magnum Dynalab - SR100. Not super cheap at around 50 buck, but it works well. A tuner is only as good as the weakest link, which is often the antenna.
  17. Ryan A

    Ryan A New Member


    I LIKE MUSIC Super Member

    Again, there is no way that one can accurately say what will work well in a given situation (your situation), because each situation is different. The amount and quality of the signals for your stations of choice at your location (the location of your antenna) is the determining factor.

    60 miles is a fair distance to receive FM broadcast stations using an indoor antenna. It is not impossible, but it is not guaranteed.

    As can be seen by the reviews, it worked okay for some and others not so much.

    In general there is no substitute for full sized antennas (dipole, rabbit ear type or directional). Amplified antennas try to make up for their lack of size by using electronic amplification. This is a compromise.

    In very basic terms when amplifying an FM signal, the first stage in the chain, in this case the transistor circuit in the amplified antenna, sets the overall all performance. It has to be better than the first stage transistor circuit in your tuner or it will degrade your reception.

    This is well understood in design and engineering terms. It is not likely that this is the case with your TU-919 tuner, it is a very high quality tuner.
    KentTeffeteller likes this.

    I LIKE MUSIC Super Member

    Once again this generalization myth regarding TV antennas and FM reception comes up.

    Old TV antenna.

    This can mean many things. It may mean a TV antenna from the days of analog TV, the days of VHF low band, VHF high band and UHF. Or it may mean a TV antenna from after the transition from analog over the air to digital over the air. With the advent of digital over the air TV the channels were re-farmed (moved). Most ended up in the UHF range and the VHF high range and not all TV antennas offered much in the way of performance for the VHF low band channels and this would severely limit their performance on the FM broadcast band.

    Starting with cheaply, the TV antenna will still require all that goes along with mounting an antenna outside and the TV antenna will likely have a much higher wind loading factor than a purpose designed FM broadcast antenna. This means a more robust and likely more expensive installation.


    Not all TV antennas are created equal when it comes to FM broadcast band reception. See the picture below.


    Because the gain scale on the left is in dBi, I have added the yellow line that shows zero dB gain relative to a basic dipole antenna and the black line that shows what happens to the gain (actually lack of) above about 92 MHz.

    I do not understand why anyone would make a blanket recommendation for using an old TV antenna and claim that they will work as well as a purpose designed FM broadcast antenna when this clearly may not be the case.

    Antennas like the Stellar Labs yagi are available for about 30 dollars. This antenna provides about 5 dBd of net gain across the entire FM broadcast band and has a considerably smaller wind loading factor than most TV antennas.

    Back on topic, the OP is in search of an indoor antenna and may not want to or be able to install an outdoor antenna.

    Ryan, regardless of what others may post, the only way that you will know what will work in your situation is to pick an antenna and try it. It is not a bad idea to start with the basic dipole antenna or a rabbit ear style antenna. This can give you an idea in rough terms of the signal strength of your stations of interest.

    Are all of your stations of interest located in the same direction from your location?

  20. c.coyle

    c.coyle Fighting the Dunning-Kruger Effect Subscriber

    40.3329535 -76.4231855
    With antennas, you get what you pay for, either in money or your own effort.

    It depends on where you are and where your target stations are. Indoor FM antennas for stations 60 miles away are not likely to work well unless a lot of factors luckily come together. And then, only for stations in one direction.

    I would start with a basic directional antenna such as a twin lead dipole or rabbit ears and see how they work. If they are not getting it done, you may want to consider a smallish and fairly cheap 3 or 4 element yagi. There are several online sellers. You can mount a yagi indoors with a little imagination, and it would likely be better than indoor rabbit ears or dipoles.

    If you like to tinker, you can build a small three element yagi with a broomstick and some #10 wire for under $20, not including feedline, although it won't look great. There are lots of online plans and calculators.

    If you have outdoor antenna restrictions due to lease or homeowners association terms, you can rig up some pretty nice "stealth antennas" for vhf frequencies.
    Djcoolray likes this.

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