Can I make an antenna for my portable radio?

I listen to my radio (talk radio) at work almost all day. The radio can also play television shows, but the reception is pretty lousy, especially since I moved away from the window. There are a few shows I would like to hear - is there any way I ca fashion an antenna to improve reception?

Maybe. You’ll have to tell us more about the radio, though. Is it portable or does it plug in? Is it like a clock radio? Does it have any kind of antenna already (like a telescoping rod? Did you look on the back of it to see if there’s a screw for attaching an external antenna?

this one.

There is a screw in the back, but I never knew what it was there for.

Unless the screw on the back has a label that says “Antenna” or some kind of graphic symbol, it probably just holds the radio together.

No symbol or verbage - that’s what I thought it was there for, too.

That radio apparently comes with a wire antenna which uses the headphone port; have you tried using that? (If you’re using the headphones, the headphone wires double as the antenna; if you’re using the speaker, you can plug the antenna into the same socket.) I have a similar radio and the antenna helps with reception.

Unfortunately, I have to use the headphones here at work. Is there some kind of reception-boosting headphone set around?

None that I know of, but I probably wouldn’t know about them if they existed.

You could probably modify the radio or a pair of headphones, or possibly just add a Y connection wi to get better reception.

I suspect that the “antenna” is just a length of wire connected to one of the three wires in the headphone jack (I don’t know this for certain, though); you might be able to plug a Y connector into the headphone jack, and then plug in both the headphones and an external antenna. I’m not an antenna expert, though, so I don’t know how well this would work or what to recommend for an external antenna.

AM or FM?

I get decent reception on FM and really lousy reception on AM. I’m most interested in reception for the TV feed.

There is something called an inductive coupler antenna. You don’t connect it to your radio, just put it near it. This appears to be an example, and one of the reviewers explains how it works.

However, I don’t know if it will work for your situation, so get more information before plunking down your money.

The headphone cord acts as a dipole antenna. You could try a short 6 foot stereo-mini plug extension cord that may bring in more signal but a significant improvement is unlikely.

Also check out the Ramsey SM100:

Inside of a modern office building, I’m not surprised at all with this experience. AM signals are easily blocked by large metal/stone/solid objects. A building counts as a large object, when viewed from the inside.

The TV feed happens around the “FM radio” band in frequency (See Herefor the frequencies, under the audio channel), so your reception should be similar to that of the “FM Radio,” though I’d bet the antenna inside is more tuned for the traditional FM band.

Longer headphone cables could help, depending on the construction of the cable, as the antenna, if not a dedicated antenna plugged into the headphone jack, utilizes the headphone cables as the antenna. The AM antenna will be internal to the device.

You may also want to experiment with placement of the device. The metal components of the building, the cubes, and the electronics in your workspace can all work together to interfere with reception. A different location, with a different headphone routing could easily change your signal quality.

On another note, won’t TV functions essentially stop working next February, when they switch from standard over the air analog broadcasting to digital?

Yes, digital TV signals are not compatible with the TV audio mode in existing radios.