Re: Another silly (?) question.

Tony Germanotta

Drifter, no problem. We all started out needing basic help at some time. 

The video you referenced is useful.  When you talked about a long wire, I thought you were hunting medium wave stations. A wire to get those stations would be very long indeed, with the best results often on wires that are hundreds of feet long. 

For shortwave stations, the wave lengths are shorter, hence the name. And a random wire of 20 to 30 feet can do wonders on a portable, especially if you can get it out the window and away from light dimmers, aquarium heaters and television sets. Portable radios are designed to be super sensitive so they can use the inefficient whip as a source. 

Antennas have lots of electronic rules but often work despite them. I find that to be the most fun. Folks have used bed springs and rain gutters as antennas. I have a metal frame around my shower doors that works just as well as an outdoor wire so long as no noisy appliances are running 

Once we were on a dxexpedition with thousands of feet of wire strung along the dunes of North Carolina’s outer banks. One of our party arrived after dark and dumped a tangle of wire onto the porch next to our meticulously laid antennas. His heap somehow captured everything we heard, including Indian and Indonesian local stations during daylight — probably by acting like a transformer to our antennas. But the rule books wouldn’t have predicted this. 

So try stuff. Walk around your house. Believe it or not, your whip might work much better in one room. Get a short piece of wire and put clips on both ends. Try attaching one end to the whip and the other to a cold water pipe, if your home is old enough to use copper. 

Run your wire outside the window.  30 feet would probably be the most that radio could handle without overloading.  Sometimes, less wire is better, improving the signal without addding to the noise. Especially if you have powerful radio station towers nearby. A small metal tape measure can be used as an antenna, just extend it as far as helpful and connect it to the radio with that wire with clips. 

And try a counterpoise, like the video suggests.  A ground counterpoise is vital when you are trying to transmit. It may not be as important on receiving. But it could help with fading. 

You can even cut a dipole for the band you are most interested in. That uses two wires of the same length to offset fades, and when resonant to a frequency, it actually amplifies the signal and reduces the noise. 

There are lots of books on antennas. And YouTube videos too.  

Just remember, with radio the best antenna is still reliant on conditions. If the bands are dead, no antenna will open them up. And certain bands work best under darkness, when the sun can’t mess up the ionosphere.  More folks get frustrated with shortwave by trying to find stations during the day on a band that will come alive after they pack it in. 

Good luck. It’s a fun journey. All these signals are constantly flying by us unnoticed until we get a radio and antenna to capture them. 

On Jan 1, 2022, at 6:11 PM, FenDrifter via <essexmarshman@...> wrote:

[Edited Message Follows]

Hi Tony
Many thanks for such a detailed and informative reply! I’ve clearly got to be more sure of what I’m doing here, and in answer to Paul’s question the beast I’m making this for is my Tecsun PL-330. I was intending to use this hanging out of my bedroom window, but may now keep it for country trips. I did see this YouTube clip of which I’d appreciate an opinion:
Am I right in thinking that the lower ‘earth’ lead is connected to the plugs sleeve. If this is clouding the issue please tell me to forget for now, I can take it!
As usual any help greatly appreciated 

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