How to make an FM dipole antenna

Written by jonra springs
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How to make an FM dipole antenna
Small dipole antennas bring in the radio signals from large broadcast towers. (antenna image by from

Heinrich Hertz discovered radio waves in 1888. The radio frequencies in use today span a wavelength from 3 kilohertz to 300 gigahertz. This includes frequencies reserved for aviation and maritime communication, television, amateur radio, satellite, mobile communications, government use and broadcast radio. A dipole antenna helps receivers pick up the small section of radio bandwidth between 88 and 108, which includes all FM commercial and non-profit community broadcast stations. FM dipole radio antennas mount on an inside wall of a building not made of steel. They are simple T-shaped conductors that make a good FM antenna.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Ribbon cable
  • Wire cutters
  • Electrical tape
  • Slotted screwdriver
  • Push-pins

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  1. 1

    Strip insulation from wires on both ends of a 6-foot length of ribbon cable using wire cutters. Gently pierce the insulation without cutting the conductors to reveal a 1/2-inch of bare wire. This is the vertical part of the T-shape for the dipole antenna.

  2. 2

    Cut a second length of ribbon cable to 4 feet 11 inches. Strip both wires on both ends to expose one inch of conductor on each wire. Twist the bare wires together on both ends, and wrap them with electrical tape. That creates a loop of two 4 foot 9 inch wire lengths. The loop is long enough to receive the full wavelength from 88 to 108, so this horizontal crossbar of the FM dipole will pick up all stations on the FM dial.

  3. 3

    Cut one wire in the centre of the 4 foot 9 inch length with wire cutters. Cut halfway through the plastic divider of the ribbon cable as you cut through the wire.

  4. 4

    Strip away an inch and a half of insulation and plastic divider from both sides of the cut wire to leave two bare 1 1/2 inch wire lengths. The mast portion of the FM antenna will connect to these wires.

  5. 5

    Twist a wire from one end of the vertical mast around one of the centre wires from the horizontal length. Twist the other wire from that end of the mast around the other wire from the middle of the horizontal crossbar. Wrap both wire connections with electrical tape.

  6. 6

    Twist the conductors on the other end of the mast around the antenna terminal screws of the FM receiver. Tighten the terminal screws with a slotted screwdriver.

  7. 7

    Lift the centre of the top horizontal section as high as possible on a wall inside the room with the receiver, and tack it to the wall with a pushpin. Spread the top crossbar out straight and level. Dipole antennas work best in a straight T-shape. Tack the ends of the horizontal cable to the wall with push-pins.

Tips and warnings

  • Check for stronger reception by positioning the dipole antenna on different walls of the room. Place the receiver against the wall where the FM antenna gives the best reception.

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