How to build a shortwave radio antenna

Written by edwin thomas
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Short wave radio is still alive and kicking. Because short wave bounces off the upper atmosphere rather than slicing through it, short wave broadcasts in theory can reach locations around the world. Of course, to get good reception, a listener needs a good antenna. This is a guide for building a "broomstick antenna," and although crude, it is flexible and can be scaled up or adapted to particular circumstances.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Pole made from a broomstick, paint roller handle, section of PVC pipe or some other non-conductive material
  • Wood or plastic base board with counterweights
  • Hammer or screwdriver
  • Glue, nails or screws
  • Twine, leather thongs or some other durable cord
  • Drill
  • Aluminium disc at least 6 inches wide.
  • Speaker wire
  • Antenna lead wire
  • Bolt
  • PVC tape (outdoor antenna)

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  1. 1

    Fix the pole so it will stand upright. This will be your antenna stand. For an outdoor antenna, this can be done by simply driving it into the ground. An indoor antenna will require some improvisation and either nailing, gluing or screwing the pole to a base board. The board will need to be heavy enough to counter the weight of the antenna.

  2. 2

    Fasten the aluminium disk to the top of the pole. How you do this will depend heavily on what kind of disc you have scavenged. If it has holes in it, for example, bind it with a cord. If not, you should drill holes in it and then bind it. The main thing is not to attach it to the pole with screws or bolts or anything made of metal.

  3. 3

    Strip a length of speaker wire of its insulating plastic covering. The wire can be any length that is equal to or longer than the pole, but the longer the better: the more wire you coil on the antenna (see Step 4), the better your reception will be.

  4. 4

    Coil the speaker wire in a uniform pattern around the pole. Be careful to make it as perfectly uniform as possible.

  5. 5

    Terminate the wire by wrapping it around and tying it to a bolt.

  6. 6

    Cover the coiled speaker wire on your antenna with PVC tape if this is an outdoor antenna.

  7. 7

    Strip a length of antenna lead wire at one end, and then wrap tie the bare wire to the same bolt as the previous set of wire. This wire should not be longer than 10 feet. Plug the other end into your short wave radio.

Tips and warnings

  • This antenna is meant to serve as a cheap, stand-alone device. It can be used either indoors or outdoors, but for the best reception, avoid placing it next to any other large metal objects, and keep it close to the receiver as directed in Step 7.

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