SIMPLE AM RECEPTION IMPROVEMENT TIPS
Receivers that are part of a stereo system usually come with an AM “loop”
antenna. It’s made of rigid plastic which is 5 to 6 inches long by 2-3 inches
wide. Be sure to attach (plug-in) it to the AM terminals on the back of your
receiver. We have found that many people never even connect it to the receiver!
This “loop” antenna should be clear of and kept away any power cords or metal.
The telescoping antenna that sticks out the top of your portable radio is NOT
for AM! It is only for FM stations (Most people don’t realize this). The AM
antenna on a portable radio is a coil INSIDE the radio. To get the maximum
signal, rotate the entire radio 360 degrees until you notice a huge improvement
in the sound with the radio facing a given direction.
WHERE TO PUT THE RADIO
Reception of HBR 1610 AM works better near outside walls and near windows. The
signal strength will be decreased in
areas enclosed by metal, brick, or concrete. The best place for an AM
radio/antenna is at the outside surface, or at the window line. The AM radio
signal is best received outside buildings and little gets inside. This is why
you can hear HBR 1610 better while in the car.
HOW TO TUNE IN THE STATION
If your radio has an analog (A Digital Tuning Reciever is Recommended) tuning
dial, slowly turn the dial to look for the station. If it is difficult to find,
you can mark its location with a strip of tape. The analog radio dial can be a
challenge, as they are not marked with an accurate scale. There are strong local
stations which make tuning in HBR 1610 AM on an analog tuning dial sometimes
INTERFERENCE AND BUZZ
Sometimes it is a good idea to locate and minimize interference. This is because
fluorescent lights, dimmer switches, and electronic equipment can interfere with
HBR 1610 AM. Here is a partial list of interference sources – Simply try turning
off these devices and see if your reception improves:
Incandescent light dimmers (wall or lamp base mounted)
Incandescent lights that are about to burn out
Blinking Christmas lights (random clicking)
Televisions (60 Hz Buzz)
Computers and monitors (60 Hz buzz)
Electric motors (random pattern static)
Electronic bug zappers (random pattern)
Electric blankets (random pattern)
Light dimmers are a frequent source of “buzzing” interference. If you have one
in your home, you can have it replaced with a regular switch. The light dimmers
make the most noise when turned to the mid-point. Full-on or full-off will
generally create less buzzing on your radio.
Unfortunately, there are sources of interference that cannot
simply be turned off. Sometimes equipment in your home is causing a real problem
and will need to be replaced. (Remember, you might be causing interference for
your neighbors too!)
Touch lamps, the type you turn on by simply touching the base, may have to be
unplugged to eliminate the interference.
Hard wired smoke detectors cause interference, and can be replaced by
Aquarium heaters, particularly some low cost models, cause interference. You can
upgrade to a better model.
Automatic on/off night-lights and outdoor yard lights, which come on
automatically, may generate interference.
A faulty electric switch in your house can cause interference. You can and
should have it replaced since this can be a fire hazard.
Dirty or faulty insulators on utility poles can cause interference that spread
over many miles with the power wires acting as an
antenna. You can call the utility company and ask to have them repaired or
replaced. You may call attention to defective “Xcel” equipment before it causes
a power outage or a fire!
HOW TO LOCATE THE INTERFERENCE
In some cases you can locate the direction of the interference using a portable
radio. With the portable radio you can move it around looking for the buzz. If
you put the radio up close to a source of interference, for example, florescent
lights, it should buzz loudly, the buzz will decrease as you move it away.
IF ALL ELSE FAILS
Try a battery-operated radio and turn off the circuit breakers to your house one
by one to see if the noise stops. Once it does, you’ll know which circuit is
interfering with HBR 1610 AM. If the buzz doesn’t go away, it could be one of
IN A CAR
The most noticeable AM interference in a car comes from the spark plugs, but
this is rarely the problem in modern automobiles as it once was. Changing them
may help. Spark plug noise suppressors and suppression wire can also improve
Things which often cause automotive interference also include the on-board
engine computer and fuel injection pulse noise. Another nasty source of
automotive related noise is the cell phone in-car adapter/charger. These
chargers use a power supply that produces a white noise (the kind of noise you
hear when a gas burner is full on) covering many AM stations. A car stereo shop
can help fix some of these problems.
RADIO RECEPTION SHOPPING LIST
Here is some gear you can buy to get better radio reception. Most of this is
relatively inexpensive and will provide a marked improvement in the reception
and fidelity of HBR 1610 AM.
Unlike FM radios, with AM there is a huge disparity from one radio to another.
In fact, two radios placed side by side can sound completely different even
though they are tuned to the same station. One will have a small tinny sound and
lots of static, the other will have full fidelity audio that sounds just like
you’re there in the studio! Here are two radios that are widely recommended for
The cheaper one is the GE SuperRadio for about $60. You may find these at the
local department store and on the web at
www.universal-radio.com or, Amazon: www.amazon.com to
name a few. If you get one, use the “wide/narrow” bandwidth switch to optimize
your reception. The “wide” setting and a strong AM signal yields full sound. Our
variety music format will sound better on this than almost any other radio. If
you aren’t getting a strong signal, the “narrow” setting will tune in Radio
Sausalito like a laser beam. We are not affiliated with GE.
The other is the $120 C. Crane
CCRadio, which is bought from Amazon (www.amazon.com)
or from the C. Crane web site (www.ccrane.com).
That web site has more tips about AM reception improvements using products they
can sell you, though we are not affiliated with the C. Crane company.
As we mentioned above, a good antenna can certainly help your radio reception,
and usually a cheap radio has a poor antenna. A tunable “loop” antenna is a
frequently recommended way to improve AM reception for inexpensive radios. You
can order a Select-A-Tenna from many mail order and online sources. It is about
$60 and is highly recommended. Some Web pages recommend what are called long
wire antennas. These are usually about 50 feet of hook-up strung 6 to10 feet
away from metal objects outside to catch radio signals. They are cheap, but can
be an eyesore and difficult to set up and maintain. The very best outdoor
antenna for the money I have found, which will greatly improve AM, FM, and
Shortwave radio reception is the
Godar FM DXR-1000 antenna. Don't let the "FM" in the name mislead you. It is
for AM and Shortwave as well!
Another option is to "roll you own" -
ADVANCED TECHNIQUES FOR FINDING THE SOURCE OF AM RADIO INTERFERENCE
The following guides are meant for someone comfortable with electronics. If
you’re unsure about the requirements below, ask a local ham radio operator or
tech wizard to help you.
The best solution to electrical interference is eliminating the source. The
table below describes a common procedure for discovering the source of
electrical interference in the home.
1) Turn on the radio that is experiencing the interference.
2) Flip off the circuit breakers in your home, one by one.
3) The circuit that is causing the interference can be identified when the
4) Turn the offending circuit back on to confirm that it is the source.
5) Identify the electrical devices in your home that are connected to the
6) Turn those electrical devices off, one by one, until interference
7) If you have found the device that is causing the interference either,
repair, replace, or dispose of the device/appliance.
The table below describes an alternative procedure for discovering the source of
electrical interference in the home:
1) Tune a portable AM radio to a quiet place in the top area of the AM band
2) Turn on an electrical appliance.
3) With the portable radio, follow the electrical line from the circuit breaker
to that appliance.
4) An increase in static from the radio indicates a problem with electrical
5) Repeat for all electric appliances.
6) If you have found the device(s) causing the interference, then repair,
replace or dispose of the device/appliance.
Lastly you may want to have an electrician check the wiring in your house.
Interference problems can be caused by loose connections or bad wiring behind a
wall panel or outlet. Have a qualified electrician (Level III) conduct an
inspection of your wiring system to identify and eliminate the interference
conditions. If none of the above measures are successful, the chances are that
the interference is coming from outside the home and you need to contact the
power/utility company for additional assistance.