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post #1 of 25 (permalink) Old 2017-06-06, 11:29 AM Thread Starter
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Clock radio with good reception

I am a senior and I recently moved to the Barrie area (north of Toronto) which does not have great radio reception. I am looking for an inexpensive clock radio that I can listen to AM and FM stations form Toronto. Is there such a thing? Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.
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post #2 of 25 (permalink) Old 2017-06-06, 11:42 AM
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A radio with an antenna connection and an external FM antenna may be required. Not much can be done with AM these days due to the amount of RF interference on the AM band.

I use an internet radio called the Logitech Squeezebox (now the UE.) It receives most local Canadian stations as well as some internet music services and music stored on the LAN. There are a number of similar radios that may be better, including the Gracenote Internet Radio. Note that these do not receive broadcast signals and require wifi.
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post #3 of 25 (permalink) Old 2017-06-06, 05:33 PM
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You didn't say what part of Barrie you lived in, so to get an estimate of FM Signal Strength, I picked a spot in the middle of town and entered THAT address into FM Fool - Home [See RESULTS posted below]. I don't know exactly HOW far away you are from Extremely Strong CHAY-FM (on 93.1 MHz), but it must be VERY CLOSE and would make reception of Weak Stations more difficult (if not impossible). Also note that there is only ONE Other FM Station (CICZ on 104.1 MHz) in FMFool's GREEN Zone, which should be easy for a typical Clock Radio to pick up with it's Internal Antenna [probably using the POWER CORD and AM and FM].

For the YELLOW Zone Stations, you MAY be able to pick them up with an INDOOR FM ANTENNA...but ONLY if you buy a Clock Radio that has a 75-ohm Coax (or older 300-ohm) connector to connect to an External Antenna (or a Built-In Extendable WHIP Antenna, like you see on some Boom-Boxes).

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
AM/FM CLOCK RADIO SELECTION:

If you want to receive any more than the two Local FM Stations, you will NEED something more SENSITIVE and with higher SELECTIVITY that an inexpensive [$15-20] AM/FM Clock Radio. ALSO, there aren't very many inexpensive Clock Radios that have a 75-ohm "F-Type" Coax Connector for connection of an EXTERNAL FM Antenna (or older 300-ohm with a 300:75-ohm Balun Transformer) and screw type connector(s) for an External AM Antenna.

The fol. article discusses this subject, recommending several $100-150 Radios, most of which have a CLOCK Display and may or may NOT include reception of AM....however see my more refined shopping list of Alternatives below:
https://www.northcountrypublicradio....reception.html [PS: I have a BETTER Outdoor Crossed-Dipole "Turnstile" recommendation.]

The fol. "inexpensive" Alarm Clock Radio provides rear panel connections for External AM and FM Antennas:
https://www.amazon.com/Midland-WR-30.../dp/B00009V2YV [Low Quality Audio, ALSO Weather, $49]
http://www.buytwowayradios.com/produ...ct-Sheet-2.pdf [Midland WR-300 Brochure]
https://midlandusa.com/wp-content/up...ed-3.11.08.pdf [Midland WR-300 Owner's Manual]

[CAUTION: Although Midland WR-300 definitely has an External Antenna Connector....and although it reportedly helps reception of 162 MHz Weather Radio Frequencies, I have NOT YET been able to VERIFY that it ALSO works with FM Band Tuner (and probably NOT AM Tuner)....if NOT, I'll TRY to dig up an alternative low cost alternative.]]

But for GOOD Audio Quality, you might want to pay a bit MORE, such as:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0009ZAA42..._t1_B009OCBBGW [Sangean WR-2BK BLACK Model, $113]
http://s3.amazonaws.com/szmanuals/ef...28108ba52d1b26 [Sangean WR-2 Inst. Manual]

https://www.amazon.com/Sangean-WR-22...coustics+radio [Sangean WR-22 Walnut, with RDS & BlueTooth, $129]
https://www.amazon.com/Sangean-WR-22...coustics+radio [Sangean WR-22 BLACK, with RDS & BlueTooth, $134]
http://sg.sangean.com.tw/support/dow...R-22_GB_V1.pdf [Sangean WR-22 Inst Manual

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
EXTERNAL INDOOR AM ANTENNAS:

Many AVR's come with a SMALL LOOP Antenna for AM Reception which connects to the TWO Screw Type Terminals on any of the above Radios:
https://www.amazon.com/Ancable-Anten...dp/B01CSFVFT4/ [Ancable "Hi-Fi" Indoor AM Loop Antenna, $10]

HOWEVER, for improved Sensitivity....and it JUST LOOKS BETTER....mount fol. as far UP and AWAY from Electronics and METAL as is feasible:
https://www.amazon.com/Eton-NGAN200-.../dp/B001PNNXGO [Grundig NGAN200 Fancy AM LOOP Antenna, $30]

I could also dig up some similar High-Tech AM LOOP ANTENNA DIY projects if you are interested......let me know.....


------------------------------------------------------------------------------
EXTERNAL OUTDOOR AM ANTENNAS:

Standard practice for Shortwave Radio....and even on very low AM Band Frequencies, is to string a LONG-WIRE OUTDOOR Antenna.....the Longer the Better....but unless there is a particular station you just MUST HAVE, you probably won't "NEED" it:
Long Wire Antenna
Diagram shows a wire between a short post attached to House [can usually attach support post....or DIRECTLY to Ledgerboard] and a support TOWER aways from the House....which could just as easily be a convenient TREE. Note that each end is ISOLATED from the Long Wire Antenna by a short piece of wire and the fol. INSULATORs:
Jetream End Insulator, Dog Bone Insulator, JTBDOG, JTGDOG, JTWDOG
You can also buy Long Wire Antenna KITS from various Ham Radio Shops and On-Line Suppliers, such as:
Jetream End Insulator, Dog Bone Insulator, JTBDOG, JTGDOG, JTWDOG
And you'll need INSULATED Wire from the Antenna that goes THRU the Hole (or whatever) into your house, protected from Water Incursion.

You ALSO should use a "Grounding Block" connected between GROUND and the Long Wire where it enters the House [normally used for OTA/SAT Antenna or CATV Entry Point]. This drains off Static Electricity Buildup due to high winds and reduces the damaging effects of nearby or direct Lightning Strikes:


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EXTERNAL INDOOR FM ANTENNAS: [DO NOT USE AMPLIFIED FM ANTENNA...IT WILL OVERLOAD TUNER]

Most people would simply string the fol. Twin-Lead Folded Dipole in a convenient location and call it a day. HOWEVER, LOCATION is EVERYTHING....avoid placing it NEAR and esp. BEHIND METAL.....and avoid placing it on the FLOOR....higher is better....yeah it's ugly:
https://www.amazon.com/Parts-Express.../dp/B000M9EREE [Twin-Lead Folded-Dipole FM Antenna, $6]

Nearly as good is an inexpensive set of NON-Amplified Rabbit Ears, with Whips extended all the way out:
https://www.amazon.com/RCA-ANT111Z-D.../dp/B000HKGK8Y [RCA ANT111 Rabbit-Ears, $10]

And Terk claims that fol. Indoor NON-Amplified FM Antenna is (better???) (just as good) (better than NO Antenna???). I doubt that it's any better than either of the above:
https://www.amazon.com/TERK-Omni-Dir.../dp/B00008NJEP [Terk FM+ Indoor Antenna, $9]

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
EXTERNAL OUTDOOR FM ANTENNAS:

I have analyzed MANY Alternative OUTDOOR "OMNI" Antennas, whether "TRUE OMNI", "OMNI-PLUS...even better" or "QUASI-OMNI", which are usually Bi-Directional with deep NULLS to the sides....also suitable in YOUR Case if NULLS are Orientated East-West:
Omni & Quasi-Omni Directional Antennas - ImageEvent
Note that the best "TRUE OMNI" for Horizontally Polarized signals in the FM Band is the Double-Hoop, such as fol. from Stellar Labs:
https://www.amazon.com/Stellar-Labs-.../dp/B00DHHOZBI [Stellar Labs 30-2430 FM OMNI, $18]

To bring in more than the FMFool GREEN or YELLOW Zone FM Stations, the traditional approach would be to install a HUGE High-Gain FM Antenna and Rotator on the Roof, although Antenna HEIGHT isn't as important as it is with UHF TV Antennas. Unfortunately, the choices for Outdoor FM Antennas has shrunk drastically, with only a FEW still available, such as the fol. cost effective choice:
https://www.amazon.com/Four-Element-.../dp/B00NRHAV2K [Stellar Labs 4-Element FM Yagi, $37]

Fol. VHF/FM/UHF COMBO's are good for both TV and [even higher Gain] FM Band....but you will HAVE to also use a Custom 93.1 MHz Notch Filter to attenuate that Extremely Strong FM Signal to prevent Interference into TV Band [might also help weak FM Reception, although GOOD FM Tuners don't normally "NEED" it:
Voxx RCA Outdoor Digital TV and FM Radio Antenna (ANT3036WR) from Solid Signal
Xtreme Signal Long Range HD VHF UHF FM Outdoor TV Antenna (HD8200XL) from Solid Signal
Winegard Heavy Duty Platinum VHF UHF FM HDTV Antenna (HD8200U) from Solid Signal
Channel Master CM3018 UHF/VHF/FM TV Antenna (CM3018) from Solid Signal
Channel Master Deep Fringe Advantage TV Antenna (CM3020) from Solid Signal

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
FM FOOL REPORT (Estimate for MIDDLE of Barrie, ON):


Antenna Simulations, Overload Calculations, etc: http://imageevent.com/holl_ands

Last edited by holl_ands; 2017-06-06 at 07:43 PM.
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post #4 of 25 (permalink) Old 2017-06-06, 06:34 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies, especially from holl_ands for the very thorough and well documented response.
Once I digest everything, I hope that I will be able to set something up for myself.
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post #5 of 25 (permalink) Old 2017-06-06, 07:30 PM
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PS: Your location is one of the WORST that I've seen for FM Reception. You should enter YOUR Location into www.FMFool.com and Copy/Paste the Results into a post so we can see it....it would probably improve if you are at a somewhat higher Elevation.
[Right-Click "Copy Link Location" (or something like that in IE).]

[CAUTION: Although Midland WR-300 definitely has an External Antenna Connector....and although it reportedly helps reception of 162 MHz Weather Radio Frequencies, I have NOT YET been able to VERIFY that it ALSO works with FM Band Tuner (and probably NOT AM Tuner)....if NOT, I'll TRY to dig up an alternative low cost alternative.]

Antenna Simulations, Overload Calculations, etc: http://imageevent.com/holl_ands

Last edited by holl_ands; 2017-06-06 at 07:47 PM.
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post #6 of 25 (permalink) Old 2017-06-06, 07:52 PM
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You also need to consider costs. That Sangean WR-22WL radio is $129 in the US but $217 in Canada. That's pretty typical for most items. Just being able to find an FM antenna in Canada can be a chore, especially at a reasonable price. Save and Replay has the Winegard 6000FM but I doubt it will do much good for Toronto stations with the TVFool report posted. Then there is the cost of installation.

Like I said, most Canadian stations (and thousands more) are available with an internet clock radio. A search for "internet radio" on amazon_ca turns up quite a few starting at $110. I'm not familiar with most of them so some research will be required. I've been using an internet clock radio for about 5 years and it's way better than a broadcast receiver outside big markets like the GTA.
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post #7 of 25 (permalink) Old 2017-06-07, 01:35 PM
 
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For a cheap option, I've had a lot of good success with Sony's Dream Machine line that has external FM and AM antennas.

You can find them at thrift stores for about $5 for older models if you want something cheap to test out. I have them all over my house, travel with one, and have one in my office.

Very good AM and FM mono reception for my area in Niagara - especially for Toronto/GTA radio stations. FM Stereo is sometime hit or miss, but mono comes in clear for every GTA FM commercial station.
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post #8 of 25 (permalink) Old 2017-06-08, 10:37 PM
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Here's an alternative, inexpensive AM FM Weather Alarm Clock Radio which has connectors for External AM and External FM/Weather Antenna (see Manual):
https://www.amazon.com/Motorola-Outd.../dp/B00C5B276W [Motorola MWR-839, $50]
http://content.giantintl.com/manuals...082813_v11.pdf [User Guide]

In the User Guide, Motorola recommends using the C Crane "FM-5" AM Antenna and "ANT-100" for FM and Weather. Although I've heard of "FM-5" FM Band Antennas from Finco [5-El Yagi] and Triax [10-El Yagi from the U.K.], I've NEVER heard that part number being used for an AM Antenna.

Note that they didn't provide the name of the "ANT-100" FM Antenna manufacturer....but after looking at the diagrams, I'll make an educated guess that they mean the fol. Sangean ANT-100 which uses a "3.5-mm RCA connector"...more typically used for AUDIO connections:
https://www.amazon.com/Sangean-ANT-1.../dp/B0055Q5FIQ [For FM + 162 MHz Weather Bands]
ANT-100 : External Weather / FM Antenna

So you'll also need a Male-RCA-to-Female-Type-F Adapter plugged into the Radio to use a standard RG-59 or RG-6 Coax to any OTHER External Antenna [more re External Antenna which covers BOTH FM and Weather Bands in a future post...gotta do some investigations first]:
https://www.amazon.com/StarTech-RCAC.../dp/B003K1V99C

OTOH: If you want to mount the VERTICALLY Polarized [NOT always the best for FM], OMNI-Directional Sangean ANT-100 Whip Antenna on the Roof [it should ALSO have some sort of "Ground Plane"], you would need one of the above StarTech Male-RCA-to-Female-Type-F Adapters AND the fol. Monoprice Female-RCA-to-Male-Type-F Adapters for connecting Antenna to Male-F-Type Connectors on either end of RG-59 or RG-6 Coax Cable:
https://www.amazon.com/Monoprice-104.../dp/B003L16YK0

I've looked at C Crane catalogs for at least the past 20-years [and just looked through 2010 edition]..."FM-5" doesn't appear On-Line NOW, nor in 2010 Catalog, nor do I recall that part number being [erroneously] used for an AM Antenna....so I conclude that it's a totally BOGUS NUMBER.
Makes no difference....we can clearly see a Pair of Screw Connectors for connection of various External AM Loop Antennas [incl. overpriced Terk TR1 AM Advantage, the ONLY AM Antenna still in C Crane Catalog, with older High Tech Loops, such as LNA-100, having been REMOVED.


==============================
PS: I looked at NUMEROUS AM FM Clock Radios under the Sony Dream Machine BRAND NAME....which is NOT a specific model number. Nearly ALL of the inexpensive ones have a simple WIRE coming out of the box that performs the "FM ANTENNA" function.....NO WAY to connect a Physical Antenna unless you open the Box and MODIFY the case with a FEMALE F-Type Connector [Been there....Done that.....my modified Boom-Box worked just fine....just make sure the Internal Ground is NOT connected to EITHER side of the AC Power Cord....which would be a VERY Serious Safety Violation unless you use a high value Capacitor to connect the "Ground" on the new Type-F Connector to the Internal "Ground"....if you don't KNOW what this means, find someone who is QUALIFIED to make this modification]. Here is one of numerous USER GUIDES I've looked at...note that there also is NO SCREW Connections (or Jack) to connect to an External AM Antenna [or to POSSIBLE serve as a "Ground" connection to connect to SHIELD on FM Coax if you were to jury rig a connectoion to the "FM ANTENNA" wire coming directly out of the box:
https://www.manualslib.com/manual/25...-Icf-C218.html

Antenna Simulations, Overload Calculations, etc: http://imageevent.com/holl_ands

Last edited by holl_ands; 2017-06-09 at 02:12 AM.
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post #9 of 25 (permalink) Old 2017-06-10, 11:11 AM
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I have a Sony Dream Machine ICF-C218 and the manual says the Canadian model uses the power cord as the FM antenna. There is no external antenna wire and no place to attach an external antenna.

Winnipeg has plenty of local FM stations, so reception is good.
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post #10 of 25 (permalink) Old 2017-06-10, 12:41 PM
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I highly doubt that a power cord antenna would work in this situation. They will work with local high power stations but that's about all. Even then, power cord antennas are finicky at best and often introduce high levels of noise and multi-path distortion into the signal.
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post #11 of 25 (permalink) Old 2017-06-10, 12:52 PM
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ExDilbert, I agree. I recognized the name and checked mine to see what kind of antenna it had. I wanted to point out that there was no external antenna. My radio is 3-5 years old.
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post #12 of 25 (permalink) Old 2017-06-13, 05:04 PM
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FYI: FCC has a Downloadable *.kmz File ["OPEN" to load into GoogleEarth] that shows location of AM, FM and TV Towers (BUT ONLY in USA):
FCCInfo - Now on Google Earth!
It also has the ability to ONLY display LPTV or LPFM [Low Power] Stations as well as sub-categories of FM Stations....and supporting Signal Distribution Microwave Systems.

For CANADA, I haven't [yet] found an equivalent capability, other than the fol. website, which can display Distance and relative Signal Strength for BOTH USA and Canadian Stations....although Canadian Locations can ONLY be entered via LAT/LONG:
https://radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/page?p=maps

Here are the results for [estimated] Barrie, ON Location:
https://radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/lo...req=&sort=freq

There was ONE Very-Strong, 2 Strong, 7 Moderate, 14 Weak and 0 Very-Weak AM Stations.
I would GUESS that a High Tech AM Antenna, perhaps OUTDOORS, would be needed to receive "Moderate" and weaker Signal Strengths.

====================================================
Tips to Improve AM Reception:
AM Radio Reception, probably the web's largest tip collection

Long Wire Antennas are usually discussed for use with HF Band Signals [Above AM Band], where Horizontally Polarized Antennas are frequently used by Amateur Radio Operators.
HOWEVER, for AM Band (and Lower HF Band) Vertically Polarized Antennas are nearly always used....this means that below Long Wire Antenna Kits should be installed VERTICALLY as much as possible, such as near the Ground up to a nearby Tree or mounting pole. This also means they will have a nearly OMNI-Directional Antenna Pattern, whereas Horizontally oriented Long Wire Kits have NULLS directed toward each end.

Long Wire Antenna Kits:
Outside Longwire Antenna Kit for Crystal & Shortwave Radio - Main Trading Company
https://www.winradio.com/home/ax05e.htm
Instructions for Putting up a Long-Wire Antenna - Ham Radio Library

Antenna Simulations, Overload Calculations, etc: http://imageevent.com/holl_ands

Last edited by holl_ands; 2017-06-13 at 05:24 PM.
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post #13 of 25 (permalink) Old 2017-06-13, 10:31 PM
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To my knowledge the best portable radio Sony ever made was the ICF-2001/ICF-2010.
It has a clock, AM/FM/SSB/CW/Aircraft/Weather, etc.
It has seperate connections for external AM and FM antennas.

It has been out of production for years but is widely sought after by collectors.
I think they retailed in the $300 range, and that was 25 to 30 years ago.
If you can find one, grab it... They work really well.

DB4E/VHF Yagi rotor FM Bandstop ap-8700 preamp 4way split LG lcd.
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post #14 of 25 (permalink) Old 2017-06-14, 03:09 PM
 
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I have an ICF 55 which was one of Sonys all band radios. Haven't used it for years, saw this thread and turned it on. Sadly my house is surrounded by power wires but it still works...couldn't get anything on short wave in a few minutes of trying. Anyone have a use for it?


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post #15 of 25 (permalink) Old 2017-06-14, 03:12 PM
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FYI: Manual for Sony ICF-2010 (yes, it includes an ALARM Function). Note that [FWIW] it recommends using Sony AN-1 Active Outdoor AM Vertical Whip Antenna and AN-4 Outdoor Wideband Antenna [Vertical Dipole] for FM and other Bands [but mounting it for HORIZONTAL Polarization "should" be better]:
https://docs.sony.com/release/ICF2010.pdf
Sony AN-1, Sony AN1 Active Antenna [Sony AN-1]
Sony AN-3 AN3 VHF Antenna [Which would require a BNC-to-3.5-mm Mini-Jack Adapter or Adapter Cable.]
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