The best way to boost your AM radio reception is by building your own AM antenna. You might ask, why not get a high-quality antenna. High-quality antennas can make a significant difference to the reception but are also highly costly. To cut down on cost without compromising on audio quality, you can try out a DIY AM antenna for your radio system.
You might be thinking whether you can make a high-quality AM radio antenna. Tell you what, building an AM antenna is not a difficult task. We will give you all the important tips and tricks to get the perfect antennas. We can guarantee you that a homemade antenna will be just as effective as a store-bought one, at less than half the cost!
AM radio reception can be quite spotty because of environmental factors, directional issues, or simply due to low-quality equipment. By amplifying the weak AM signals, it’ll also reduce static and white noise on your favorite stations. The easiest way to get rid off poor reception is by making a homemade antenna.
So, let’s dive in to find how to do it.
How to make an AM radio antenna?
An AM loop antenna is the top choice for improving Amplitude Modulation (AM) radio reception and sensitivity. It amplifies faint signals, making them audible on your radio dial. There are a plethora of options on how to design a loop antenna.
Simple AM antenna
The best part about making your own AM loop antenna is that most of the material can be found at home. Here’s a list of supplies you will need:
- Insulated wire (100’)
- 2 crocodile clips/clothes peg
- Zip ties or tape
- 4-ft. metal stake
- Heavy-duty pipe clamp (preferably adjustable)
- Form a coil
The first step is to form a loop. The ideal size of this loop should be 3-inches and should have seven coils. To keep the coils in place, use zip ties or tape and secure them. We recommend having a longer antenna wire; anything between 60’ to 100’ is good. Next, attach a crocodile clip to the antenna wire.
- Ground stake
In the previous step, you connected the crocodile clip to one end of the antenna wire. The other end of this wire will run to the ground stake. You can place it at any suitable spot that’s also safe.
- Lay the antenna wire
Besides forming the loop, the next most important step is the wire layout. You must follow a certain angle to maximize the reception on your AM radio. This “angle” means laying the wire perpendicular to the direction of the desired station. For example, lay down a spare wire toward the AM station. Now, lay down the antenna wire 90 degrees from the spare wire.
- Connect antenna wire to the coil
Use a knife or wire cutter to free one end of the wire. Now, clip this wire to the coil you formed in step 1.
- Check ground connection
In order for your ground to work properly, ensure that the surface is conductive. If you’re placing the stake on the ground, around dirt, make sure that the dirt is damp. Next, use a crocodile clip to connect the wire to the clamp.
- Test your antenna
Once you have connected all the components, perform a test to see if your antenna is picking signals well. Tune into an AM station on your radio (preferably a weak station), to see if your AM loop antenna is intensifying the signals. You may also use a signal meter to measure the reading.
AM loop antenna
Here’s a list of the hardware components required to make this design:
- Enameled copper wire (#35)
- 15-inch square rod or wood slats
- 30-365pF variable capacitor
- Since this method is slightly more complex, we recommend following an antenna circuit diagram as it involves a variable capacitor.
- To build this loop antenna, you will need an enameled copper wire to wound to a square rod.
- If you can’t seem to find the square frame, use two wooden slats to form a cross.
- For best results, wound 16 loops on the square that are 1.5 inches wide and 15 inches on the side.
- Set the loops antenna as high as possible.
- Place your AM unit close to this wire and tune the variable capacitor for maximum AM band signal.
This antenna style will help provide coverage to the full AM radio band, from 550 to 1700 kHz. Moreover, what makes this DIY AM antenna super easy to make is that you don’t need to use the receiving wire to make wire associations.
AM Antenna Building Tips
- For best results, move your head unit near or above the loop to pick the strongest signals.
- Bring the radio closer or further away from the coil according to the desired station.
- Use colored wires for ease as they make assembling easier and less confusing.
- Take down the loop antenna when not in use, to protect it from thunderstorms.
DIY AM loop antenna works effectively in enhancing radio reception and sensitivity. The mere difference between a store-bought and a DIY AM antenna is cosmetic. That means you get the same performance at a much lower price!
Follow our guide to make your own AM antenna to tune into weak AM stations with absolute ease. You can also experiment with different styles and designs by looking up YouTube tutorials and circuit diagrams. You can check out our article on DIY AM radio if you are interested in building your own radios too.