Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Easy Radio Reception Soup-Up

Yes, I'm a technoid, always looking for something better- and easier, if possible!  Some of you may remember the first Baygen Freeplay radios to come out on the market within the last decade (and their knock-offs).  I got one of the early ones at a local discount/clearance store several years ago and love it!  Audio on all bands is great, with the very large speaker:

Unfortunately, the originator of these radios, Treavor Baylis and Freeplay have split company.  There is some contention as to whom provides repair for these radios...but, I'm getting along a rabbit trail, other than what I intended, so....

Being the tinkerer that I am, I immediately looked at any improvements for the radio.  There is a warning sticker on this (and other wind-up radios) to NOT open up the generator (the wind-up part of the radio).  I never intended to do that anyway...my intention is to see what could be done to the antenna system, since it receives AM, FM and shortwave.

The one telescopic antenna operates on all bands, and works well, but I wanted more "oomph!" for weak signals.  When I opened the case, I found that the telescopic antenna was the only antenna!  So, like the tinkerer that I am, I found a convenient place on the rear apron (a dimple), drilled a small hole and installed a female RCA jack.  I then soldered a short wire between the jack and the base of the telescopic antenna where the original lead connects from the PC board.  Of course, I left the original antenna lead in place so I could continue to use the telescoping antenna.

WOW!  When I connected a 20-foot 26-gauge wire to the connector, I had to turn the volume down!  It literally acted as if I connected a booster to the antenna!

Now, you can get by cheaper and easier than this, if you know the telescoping antenna is used for ALL bands.  Just connect a small alligator clip to one end of the wire and clip it to the telescoping antenna...and the latter doesn't even have to be telescoped out.

When you lay the antenna out, be aware that any noise within the area can also be amplified; you may want to stretch the wire out in a room without any light dimmers, etc., if need be.  Sometimes, just a simple reorientation of the antenna can make noise level(s) go down.  Also, be aware that noise is vertically polarized, so lay the antenna out flat, where possible.

Beyond the scope of most listeners, I have also taken a single-conductor insulated wire and GENTLY wrapped several turns around the AM loopstick antenna, then brought it out to a connector on the rear of the radio.  A drop or two of wax will keep the wire from moving around and "traveling" up & down the loopstick.  This will induce the signal brought in from the larger outside antenna and boost reception, as well.  This is not something to be done by anyone who doesn't poke around the innards of a radio, so get your friendly neighborhood Ham radio operator or other radio technician to help with it!

By all means, if nothing else, go the alligator-clip-and-wire route for your potable.  I usually take my 20-foot wire and an AM/FM/SW potable with me wherever I go for entertainment.  Many times, a 30-mile jaunt from your usual listening spot will net you several "new" stations for your logbook!

No comments:

Post a Comment