Electronics Repair (sci.electronics.repair) Discussion of repairing electronic equipment. Topics include requests for assistance, where to obtain servicing information and parts, techniques for diagnosis and repair, and annecdotes about success, failures and problems.

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Default Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a stronger signal?

My father's keep buying radios for the kitchen, but each one has the
problem of poor reception (he listens to AM). Is there anything that
will help boost the range of the antenna or maybe even an add-on or
something? Thanks

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Default Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a strongersignal?

David D wrote:
My father's keep buying radios for the kitchen, but each one has the
problem of poor reception (he listens to AM). Is there anything that
will help boost the range of the antenna or maybe even an add-on or
something? Thanks

Put out a wire antenna of about 40 yards,as high as it goes,
take the wire down into the kitchen, wrap it 4 times around
your radio, and attach the wire to the (hopefully metal)
water supply tube.
To prettyfy this, you can hide the 4 turn coil(radius 10")
behind some wooden or plastic panel, as long as you put the radio
close to that. Try radio orientation for best reception.
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Default Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a stronger signal?

In article ,
Sjouke Burry wrote:

David D wrote:
My father's keep buying radios for the kitchen, but each one has the
problem of poor reception (he listens to AM). Is there anything that
will help boost the range of the antenna or maybe even an add-on or
something? Thanks

Put out a wire antenna of about 40 yards,as high as it goes,
take the wire down into the kitchen, wrap it 4 times around
your radio, and attach the wire to the (hopefully metal)
water supply tube.
To prettyfy this, you can hide the 4 turn coil(radius 10")
behind some wooden or plastic panel, as long as you put the radio
close to that. Try radio orientation for best reception.


That might work, but you might need to try top-back-bottom-front-top and
left-front-right-back-left wrapping to get it right.
Top-front-bottom-back-top won't be necessary; the internal antenna coil
undoubtedly isn't oriented that way.

Isaac
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Default Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a stronger signal?

Hi!

On many modern radios, the AM antenna is inside. It's a ferrite bar wrapped
with many turns of fine wire.

I would suggest looking for a radio that offers the ability to connect an
external antenna for AM, FM or even both bands. You can then hook up a long
wire antenna and this should improve the reception.

Also check for common sources of interference to AM broadcasts, such as
fluorescent lighting, motors and some switching power supplies.

William


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Default Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a stronger signal?

David D hath wroth:

My father's keep buying radios for the kitchen, but each one has the
problem of poor reception (he listens to AM). Is there anything that
will help boost the range of the antenna or maybe even an add-on or
something? Thanks


The obvious answer is an external antenna. The radio(s) should have
an external AM antenna connector. It should also have an antenna
ground connection, which should be connected to a *METAL* cold water
pipe.

However, I'm a bit worried about your vague description. My guess(tm)
is that your father is experimenting with varying quality of radios
and that there's a problem across the entire AM band. It could be
that your location is useless for AM, but I suspect that something
else is going on. My guess(tm) is that you have some local source of
AM interference, such a motor noise, power line arcing, computer
RFI/EMI, light dimmers, fence chargers, etc. Should be something in
the internet.....yep:
http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/interference/radio/index.htm

An easy test is to drag one of the radios to a very different location
several miles away. If it works properly at that location, there's a
fairly good chance that there's a localized RFI/EMI problem around
your kitchen, house, or neighborhood. If this is the case, then
adding an external antenna could easily make the problem worse, as it
will pickup a stronger AM station signal, but also pickup a stronger
RFI/EMI signal.

Incidentally, we have a local RFI/EMI problem. There are a
substantial number of solar arrays in the area. The inverters run a
rather high power levels and are capeable of generating quite a bit of
RFI/EMI. We're slowly dealing with the problem, but meanwhile, weak
signal HF ham radio operation is a dubious proposition. Look around
for solar power arrays and bring a portable AM radio to check for RFI.


--
Jeff Liebermann
150 Felker St #D
http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558


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Default Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a stronger signal?

On Sep 30, 10:36 pm, Jeff Liebermann wrote:
David D hath wroth:

My father's keep buying radios for the kitchen, but each one has the
problem of poor reception (he listens to AM). Is there anything that
will help boost the range of the antenna or maybe even an add-on or
something? Thanks


The obvious answer is an external antenna. The radio(s) should have
an external AM antenna connector. It should also have an antenna
ground connection, which should be connected to a *METAL* cold water
pipe.

However, I'm a bit worried about your vague description. My guess(tm)
is that your father is experimenting with varying quality of radios
and that there's a problem across the entire AM band. It could be
that your location is useless for AM, but I suspect that something
else is going on. My guess(tm) is that you have some local source of
AM interference, such a motor noise, power line arcing, computer
RFI/EMI, light dimmers, fence chargers, etc. Should be something in
the internet.....yep:
http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/interference/radio/index.htm

An easy test is to drag one of the radios to a very different location
several miles away. If it works properly at that location, there's a
fairly good chance that there's a localized RFI/EMI problem around
your kitchen, house, or neighborhood. If this is the case, then
adding an external antenna could easily make the problem worse, as it
will pickup a stronger AM station signal, but also pickup a stronger
RFI/EMI signal.

Incidentally, we have a local RFI/EMI problem. There are a
substantial number of solar arrays in the area. The inverters run a
rather high power levels and are capeable of generating quite a bit of
RFI/EMI. We're slowly dealing with the problem, but meanwhile, weak
signal HF ham radio operation is a dubious proposition. Look around
for solar power arrays and bring a portable AM radio to check for RFI.

--
Jeff Liebermann
150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060http://802.11junk.com
Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558


Just go to Web Site www.ccrane.com
There you will find high quality good reception portable radios and
antenna systems.

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Default Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a stronger signal?

On Oct 1, 12:36 am, Jeff Liebermann wrote:
David D hath wroth:

My father's keep buying radios for the kitchen, but each one has the
problem of poor reception (he listens to AM). Is there anything that
will help boost the range of the antenna or maybe even an add-on or
something? Thanks


The obvious answer is an external antenna. The radio(s) should have
an external AM antenna connector. It should also have an antenna
ground connection, which should be connected to a *METAL* cold water
pipe.

However, I'm a bit worried about your vague description. My guess(tm)
is that your father is experimenting with varying quality of radios
and that there's a problem across the entire AM band. It could be
that your location is useless for AM, but I suspect that something
else is going on. My guess(tm) is that you have some local source of
AM interference, such a motor noise, power line arcing, computer
RFI/EMI, light dimmers, fence chargers, etc. Should be something in
the internet.....yep:
http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/interference/radio/index.htm

An easy test is to drag one of the radios to a very different location
several miles away. If it works properly at that location, there's a
fairly good chance that there's a localized RFI/EMI problem around
your kitchen, house, or neighborhood. If this is the case, then
adding an external antenna could easily make the problem worse, as it
will pickup a stronger AM station signal, but also pickup a stronger
RFI/EMI signal.

Incidentally, we have a local RFI/EMI problem. There are a
substantial number of solar arrays in the area. The inverters run a
rather high power levels and are capeable of generating quite a bit of
RFI/EMI. We're slowly dealing with the problem, but meanwhile, weak
signal HF ham radio operation is a dubious proposition. Look around
for solar power arrays and bring a portable AM radio to check for RFI.

--
Jeff Liebermann
150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060http://802.11junk.com
Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558


Are the invertors for the solar systems meeting the FCC Part 15 rules
on emissions??

H. R. (Bob) Hofmann

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Default Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a stronger signal?

"hr(bob) " hath wroth:

Are the invertors for the solar systems meeting the FCC Part 15 rules
on emissions??
H. R. (Bob) Hofmann


The few I field tested locally obviously did not. I do not have the
full antenna kit necessary to make the determination. However, my
back of the envelope calculations based on received signal strength to
a small loop antenna seems to indicate that it's not even close. I
need to drag over a spectrum analyzer and see what's really being
radiated. I built a small power line coupling circuit so that I can
look at the AC power waveform. I could see roughly 200mv switching
hash on an oscilloscope so I suspect that this system wasn't
compliant.

The owner of one private solar system is working with the manufactory
on reducing the interference and has installed power line EMI filters.
These were a huge help. These filters are allegedly standard on all
their current installations but were not when he purchased his[1]. A
different owner just received what I suspect may be the worlds biggest
clamp-on ferrite bead. He says it's about the size and weight of a
brick and goes on the solar panel leads. That was installed about a
month ago, and helped somewhat.

Meanwhile, the ham operators that have been affected are making
measurements, running tests, and playing with different types of
antennas. There's been some success. Weak signal DX is out, but
contesting, RTTY, PSK31, and other modes operate normally. At this
point, radio reception is functional and not a crisis.

The big problem is that almost all the EMI is being conducted (and
radiated) through the power lines. We can turn off one source of
switching noise, and there's very little effect as the other noise
sources are just as strong over the shared power lines. At one point,
we obtained the cooperation of everyone involved, except the water
district, to turn off their solar systems completely for an hour so we
can make measurements. We then found yet another solar system noise
source we had not known about and possibly two more. We also
determined that the major source of EMI was the water district system.
At this point, we know of about 7 solar systems within about a 1 mile
radius. Most of them were found by sniffing, but others by accident
or with an airplane flyover. We tried Google Earth, but the images
are too old. What was interesting is that many of the solar systems
we found were fairly RF quiet, while others were very noisy. The
difference seems to be the amount of EMI/RFI filtering on the various
wires going in and out. The quiet ones are liberally equipped with
filters on the panels, AC mains, and control panels. The noisy ones
do not.

Much of the testing and sniffing has been done with portable AM radios
and a SW AM radio. The noise is continuous, very strong near the
power lines, and very obnoxious on AM. My guess(tm) is that the
original problem might be one of these solar inverter noise sources.


[1] I suspect that the installer "forgot" to install the filter or
lost it since it's a separate box and did not fit neatly into the
installation.

--
Jeff Liebermann

150 Felker St #D
http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558
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Default Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a stronger signal?

On Oct 1, 1:27 pm, Jeff Liebermann wrote:
"hr(bob) " hath wroth:

Are the invertors for the solar systems meeting the FCC Part 15 rules
on emissions??
H. R. (Bob) Hofmann


The few I field tested locally obviously did not. I do not have the
full antenna kit necessary to make the determination. However, my
back of the envelope calculations based on received signal strength to
a small loop antenna seems to indicate that it's not even close. I
need to drag over a spectrum analyzer and see what's really being
radiated. I built a small power line coupling circuit so that I can
look at the AC power waveform. I could see roughly 200mv switching
hash on an oscilloscope so I suspect that this system wasn't
compliant.

The owner of one private solar system is working with the manufactory
on reducing the interference and has installed power line EMI filters.
These were a huge help. These filters are allegedly standard on all
their current installations but were not when he purchased his[1]. A
different owner just received what I suspect may be the worlds biggest
clamp-on ferrite bead. He says it's about the size and weight of a
brick and goes on the solar panel leads. That was installed about a
month ago, and helped somewhat.

Meanwhile, the ham operators that have been affected are making
measurements, running tests, and playing with different types of
antennas. There's been some success. Weak signal DX is out, but
contesting, RTTY, PSK31, and other modes operate normally. At this
point, radio reception is functional and not a crisis.

The big problem is that almost all the EMI is being conducted (and
radiated) through the power lines. We can turn off one source of
switching noise, and there's very little effect as the other noise
sources are just as strong over the shared power lines. At one point,
we obtained the cooperation of everyone involved, except the water
district, to turn off their solar systems completely for an hour so we
can make measurements. We then found yet another solar system noise
source we had not known about and possibly two more. We also
determined that the major source of EMI was the water district system.
At this point, we know of about 7 solar systems within about a 1 mile
radius. Most of them were found by sniffing, but others by accident
or with an airplane flyover. We tried Google Earth, but the images
are too old. What was interesting is that many of the solar systems
we found were fairly RF quiet, while others were very noisy. The
difference seems to be the amount of EMI/RFI filtering on the various
wires going in and out. The quiet ones are liberally equipped with
filters on the panels, AC mains, and control panels. The noisy ones
do not.

Much of the testing and sniffing has been done with portable AM radios
and a SW AM radio. The noise is continuous, very strong near the
power lines, and very obnoxious on AM. My guess(tm) is that the
original problem might be one of these solar inverter noise sources.

[1] I suspect that the installer "forgot" to install the filter or
lost it since it's a separate box and did not fit neatly into the
installation.

--
Jeff Liebermann
150 Felker St #D http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060http://802.11junk.com
Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558


I am assuming that you mean the invertors that change the DC from the
charged batteries to 120-240V AC, not anything associated with the
solar cells charging the batteries. Am I right?

If there are any clocks associated with the invertor control
circuitry, the entire installation falls under the FCC Part 15 Rules.
These apply to any "noise" from 150 kHz up to 30 MHZ for conducted
noise from the installation onto the power lines and you should notify
the nearest FCC Feld Office.

I am a past president of the IEEE EMC Society and am still very active
on IEEE and ANSI C63 (TM) EMC committees. Let me hear from you,
either here or directly to me.

H. R. (Bob) Hofmann

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Default Any way to make a radio antenna better? A way to pick up a stronger signal?

"hr(bob) " hath wroth:
I am assuming that you mean the invertors that change the DC from the
charged batteries to 120-240V AC, not anything associated with the
solar cells charging the batteries. Am I right?


Correct. All these installations are grid connected synchronous
inverters. No batteries. There usually is a small generator and
disconnect switch, to simulate the AC power from the grid during power
outages. Without it, the system would not run. At night, the house
runs on grid power. However, the inverter is still running to remain
in sync with the grid power. I would think that it would be best to
shut down the inverter if there is no solar power available, but this
is apparently (my observation) not the case. The noise is there 24
hours per day. I'll see if I can obtain an equipment list.

I have no clue what's inside the water district system. It may have
batteries.

If there are any clocks associated with the invertor control
circuitry, the entire installation falls under the FCC Part 15 Rules.
These apply to any "noise" from 150 kHz up to 30 MHZ for conducted
noise from the installation onto the power lines and you should notify
the nearest FCC Feld Office.


I think (not sure) that this was already done. I wasn't party to this
part of the exercise. None of the local hams involved seem to
consider involving the FCC as a useful strategy. All of the solar
system owners involved are being very cooperative, as are the
manufactures of the equipment. The water district is kinda marginal,
but without a proper field test (that's me and my borrowed spectrum
analyzer), they're not interested in doing much.

I am a past president of the IEEE EMC Society and am still very active
on IEEE and ANSI C63 (TM) EMC committees. Let me hear from you,
either here or directly to me.


Sure. I can supply names and possibly vendors, but I don't think any
high level action is required. Things are blundering along slowly, as
various participants find the time. I'll send you some email but I
think I've supplied most of what I know.

H. R. (Bob) Hofmann


--
Jeff Liebermann

150 Felker St #D
http://www.LearnByDestroying.com
Santa Cruz CA 95060 http://802.11junk.com
Skype: JeffLiebermann AE6KS 831-336-2558
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