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Old 11-02-2009, 02:43 PM   #1
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Basement antenna using electric circuit


I recently finished my below-grade basement. I put a stereo system down there that has an AM/FM radio receiver in it. Depending on the alignment of the stars and planets, etc, I may get great reception one minute and virtually nothing the next. I was thinking that some time ago, I had heard orread that you could use you home electric circuitry as a giant antenna. Is there any validity to this? If so, how does it work? Does it require any special equipment? Is is risky or dangerous?

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Old 11-02-2009, 02:58 PM   #2
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Basement antenna using electric circuit


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Originally Posted by Woodcutter View Post
I recently finished my below-grade basement. I put a stereo system down there that has an AM/FM radio receiver in it. Depending on the alignment of the stars and planets, etc, I may get great reception one minute and virtually nothing the next. I was thinking that some time ago, I had heard orread that you could use you home electric circuitry as a giant antenna. Is there any validity to this? If so, how does it work? Does it require any special equipment? Is is risky or dangerous?
You use a low value capacitor with a high breakdown voltage to couple the antenna to one side of the AC line. The capacitor's impedance at radio freqs. is much lower than at 60 Hz, so the 60 Hz doesn't go where it's not supposed to.
50 pF is probably enough.
It's the opposite of an RF choke.

Somewhere on the Internet is probably a schematic and parts list for one of these.

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Old 11-02-2009, 05:32 PM   #3
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Basement antenna using electric circuit


Seems like there used to be commercials on TV for a gizmo like that, you would just plug it into an outlet and it would use the electrical wiring as an antenna.....check the site "as seen on TV" or radio shack.
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Old 11-02-2009, 05:36 PM   #4
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Basement antenna using electric circuit


What are you using for TV antenna? FM band is right between channels 6 and 7 and TV antenna will work great for FM signals.
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Old 11-02-2009, 05:39 PM   #5
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Basement antenna using electric circuit


Then again, maybe not such a good idea - I googled "whole house antennas" and came across this link:

http://www.kyes.com/antenna/antennat...ennatypes.html

Best to do a little, or a lot of research.
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Old 11-02-2009, 06:23 PM   #6
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Basement antenna using electric circuit


Try it.
10' of Romex makes a 1000 pF capacitor between each conductor.
One conductor goes the antenna, the other goes to one side of the AC line.
Be sure to insulate the ends so they don't touch each other or anything else.
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Old 11-03-2009, 08:41 AM   #7
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Basement antenna using electric circuit


All of the wiring in the house will pick up radio signals but the signal picked up from one branch circuit will commingle with the signal picked up by another branch circuit and the result may either be stronger (additive) or weaker (subtractive due to cancellation). So what you get when you plug a "whole house antenna" or a "power line antenna" into a wall receptacle is a matter of luck.

A similar stroke of luck may improve AM radio reception by stringing a power cord of the radio or a lamp past the AM antenna which is generally a pencil or crayon or Magic Marker shaped and sized rod (some are fatter than others) inside or on the back of the cabinet.

A long time ago, FM radios had a so called "line cord antenna" which used the power cord as the antenna and had a strip of metal wrapped around the cord (where the cord entered the back of the cabinet) and wired to an antenna terminal. In effect this is the same thing as a $29.95 or so whole house antenna that plugs into a receptacle; the metal strip mimics a small capacitor to pass the radio waves but not pass enough to cause a shock hazard. In reality, most of the signal actually getting to the antenna terminal was picked up by the 6 or so feet of line cord itself.

The AM antenna on a stereo receiver is often just outside the back of the cabinet and a label warns not to use it as a handle. A year or so ago an inspector used a similarly shaped antenna mounted to the fuselage of an airplane to hoist himself up to get a close look at something and of course the antenna broke off.

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Last edited by AllanJ; 11-03-2009 at 08:53 AM.
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