DIY Digital Radio Antenna

Updated February 21, 2017

Digital radio broadcasting is sometimes called HD radio. This new system of radio broadcasting converts the analogue signal to a digital signal. Digital FM radio is compared to the sound quality of a CD, while the digital AM signal is compared to the current analogue FM signal. Unlike the conversion to digital TV, the FCC has not established, as of 2010, a firm conversion date for radio broadcasters. With no definitive deadline for conversion established, the progress of converting radio stations to digital is proceeding at a much slower pace. Since there are fewer radio stations broadcasting a digital signal, listeners may need a good antenna to receive those that have made the conversion.

Search for digital stations in your area by slowly tuning across the FM dial with your digital receiver. You may also search on the Internet by visiting the HD Radio Guide. Knowing where the digital station is located will help you orientate your antenna for best reception.

Create your antenna with the longest wire possible for your location. The FM band extends from 88 Megahertz (MHz) to 108MHz. A full-wave antenna for the centre of the band would be approximately 118 inches long. You will need twin-lead copper wire approximately 58 inches long, plus enough extra wire to run from the location of your antenna to the back of the receiver.

Cut the twin lead wire down the middle to the 58-inch mark. Stretch the two leads horizontally and mount on the wall or ceiling with tacks or staples. You now have a full-wave dipole antenna.

Connect the ends of the twin-lead wire to the connections on the back of your receiver.

If your location does not have the space necessary for a full-wave dipole antenna create a quarter-wave dipole instead. Use a twin-lead wire approximately 29 inches long, plus enough extra to reach the receiver. Split this wire down the middle to the 14.5-inch mark.

Connect the antenna to your digital FM radio and while holding the two ends horizontally, slowly rotate to find the strongest signal for the digital FM station you want to listen to. The full-wave dipole will provide maximum signal strength. The quarter-wave will prove adequate for most stations.


If mounting the antenna inside, avoid electrical lights and wall plugs. If mounting outside, avoid power lines.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire cutters
  • Screwdriver


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About the Author

Lon Quist wrote news and scripts for radio stations. His novel "Pennyman" was published by MtSky Press. He has a broadcasting degree from the American Institute of the Air and engineering degree from Brown Institute. Licensed by the FCC, he was a radio station chief engineer and has been a writer for 40 years.