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Antenna Testing and Reviews

 

Still can't get that weak station signal in well enough? Here is our ongoing antenna testing and product review section. Try installing and external (indoors or outdoors) antenna to improve reception. Even the best radio sometimes need help due to the challenging reception conditions specific to your local area.

While we tested some external antennae as part of the first Radio Testing and reviews there was no formal product review. This article is from 2001-2002. Select a product from below and read the testing conditions with each unit to best match your situation

 

 

External antenna tips (Indoor installation)
The external (indoors) antenna helps a great deal for the most difficult reception situations. You can place them near a window if you live or work in a concrete and steel office or apartment building. If you can find a window facing the transmitter tower that helps. More on how to do that at a later date.

External antenna tips (Outdoor installation)
Those who work in windowless areas have said they ran a cable to the outside and put up an outdoors antenna with great results. Because of the possibility of lightning strike and injury during installation most manufacturers recommend a licensed electrician. You can however buy yourself some adequate lightning protection kits. More on that at a later date.

 

 

Twin Coil Ferriteā„¢ AM Antenna By C. Crane

twin coil ferrite antennaCatalog product description plug
Chris Twin Coil Ferrite has developed the best compact AM antenna for a portable radio or home stereo. It increases available daytime stations dramatically and reduces nighttime fade out by 99%.

 

The Twin Coil Ferrite AM antenna can eliminate heavy static on your radio. In laboratory tests, the Twin Coil Ferrite antenna eliminated radio noise heavy enough to destroy all AM signals except those from three strong local stations, allowing listenable audio from more than a dozen stations. More from C. Crane

 

Our review

 

Initial feedback
(December 2001)

The Twin Coil Ferrite antenna is an amazing unit. In early testing it demonstrated a dramatic increase in reception of any radio used. C. Crane has come up with some new technology here and they have every right to be proud of it. Evaluation is still in the early stages. Read the evaluations for the situation that best matches yours. In the picture above 2 pieces are not shown.
(January 2002 - Scott)
Early verdict - works great with lesser radios. If you already have a Select-A-Tenna and a CCRadio or a Superradio II, and you can null out atmospheric noise with them, you don't necessarily need the Twin Coil Ferrite. If you have a less capable AM receiver, or an acute noise problem, it can help.

 

July 2004:
One listener wrote me about how he likes using this product while camping. It can run off a 9 volt battery. Up in the mountains the reception in certain areas is challenging and now he can keep in touch with his favorite shows ... much to the chagrin of his wife.

 

It works like this ...
There are clear directions in the manual but if you are not familiar with this type of unit you must be wondering what the heck it does. First the rectangular "reception module" is placed away from the radio in a spot you think is best. Then a cable runs from that to the square tuner box. Then a cable runs from that box to the radio. If you have external antenna jacks on the radio you can use those. If there are no jacks they provide a small ferrite bar to plug the cable into, this bar gets placed onto the radio itself. The tuner box plugs into the wall with a 6V transformer or uses a 9 volt battery. You turn on the tuner with the inner knob then use the outer knob for coarse tuning, you will notice a spot of signal improvement or just a change in pitch. You then use the inner knob to fine tune the signal in. Then you go back to the pick up unit and move that around until you find a good spot. Normally this spot will work for every station after that. You will have to use the tuning box to fine tune each distant station. For distant signals this setup works great. If you are far from a window or outside wall you can purchase an extension cable built especially for this unit. You can pick up an RCA cable to extend the one wire to your radio if you need to but get the extension later from C. Crane for the pick up unit if you find out that you need to run that at a distance. I was able to finagle the cables in such a way to move the tuner further away with the cables provided but the tuner was out of reach, fine for most situations.

 

To sum it up ...
Apparently this unit picks up the signal, tunes in with the box then pumps the filtered signal out to your radio. By getting the pick up away from your radio it eliminates the interference that some digital home stereos generate. You can take a decent radio and turn it into a DX machine but you are then left wondering how well would this unit perform on a good radio? The product evaluations will try to determine that.

 

Product evaluations to date:

 

#1
Conditions

Inside a 2 story brick building, first floor, small window 20 feet away facing south-east, lots of indoor fluorescent lighting and interior electric motor interference. Outside, similar buildings nearby, relatively old power pole transformers. Normal indoor reception at this location is decent.

 

Results
Installed Twin Coil Ferrite antenna on a GE 3 radio using antenna screws on the back of the unit. Place rectangular reception module five feet closer to the window (now still 15 feet away). Selected weak signal at night from a 50K station to the west about 1,500 miles away that is normally full of static to the point of being unlistenable. The Twin Coil Ferrite antenna pulled in the skywave from the station quite well and while there was some static it was below the point of being annoying. Next tried several New York AM signals to the north that was borderline in reception quality. This time the stations came in loud and clear. With the unit still on a local strong AM signal was selected. The unit showed no interference on the local signal meaning you don't have to constantly turn it on and off when switching stations. You may have to fine tune it for distant stations in widely different directions but usually people interested in this type of product aren't flipping the dial constantly.

 

 

 

Select-A-Tenna Regular Model

Select-A-TennaCatalog product description plug
For daytime listening, the Select-A-Tenna effectively doubles the normal listening range of a radio station anywhere in the country, up to 300 miles away. The Select-A-Tenna will reduce night time fade-out by approximately 90%. More Info from the C. Crane website

 

 

 

 

 

Our review

 

A very popular antenna with radio enthusiasts. Early testing and feedback is positive. Specific testing situations are now underway and will be included at a later date. We welcome your own experiences.

 

It works by placing the unit next to, behind, or even on top of you radio and tuning the knob until you notice the signal getting pulled in dramatically better. No wires but sometimes cumbersome.

 

August 2002:
While a popular item this antenna doesn't compare to the Twin Coil Ferrite listed above. In some specific areas it is a fine performer, in other situations it helps little. For this product word of mouth from local friends who have the same reception problems as yourself is vital. It very well may be that you live in an area where this model works great.

 

July 2004:
After using this for a couple years I find that it's good for using on a radio you don't move around and having one station set all the time. The key is where you live and where the station that you want broadcasts from. For example here in Philly it works fine pulling in a New York station, Reading and point south too. Given the return policy I wouldn't hesitate recommending it.