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ajroyer
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Posted: 7/2/2012 2:31:04 PM EST
Operating a ham radio has always been an interest, but somehow has never made it to the top of my priority list. A friend recently got into it and almost brought me along for the ride.

Now I am looking into it again and had a question about operations. This may seem dumb, but it might be the thing that gets me to finally take action.....

My stereo's get crappy reception on the couple of radio stations that I listen to. I bought a powered antennae and it doesn't seem to help. The biggest problem is that the FM station I like is competing with another station from another town almost the same distance away.

Here's the question:
Do ham radios have the ability to tune in AM and FM radio station frequencies?

Do they have the ability to distinguish between two stations and focus in on the one I am trying to separate out of the noise?

If they do, what equipment do you all recommend I focus on to achieve this? Keep in mind that I would like to use the ham radio for its intended function of communications also (both normal and during an emergency).

On that note, I would probably want a base radio at the house and a portable radio for the vehicle.

If they don't, are any of you radio/electronic guru's that can recommend stereo's and/or antennaes that can fix this problem?

I have been reading the tacked threads and almost know enough to be dangerous when talking about ham radios. I still have a LOT of reading left to do. Throw out any useful info and I will look up what I don't understand or ask for clarifying info. Thanks
EXPY37
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Posted: 7/2/2012 2:44:22 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/2/2012 2:48:24 PM EST by EXPY37]
Originally Posted By ajroyer:
Operating a ham radio has always been an interest, but somehow has never made it to the top of my priority list. A friend recently got into it and almost brought me along for the ride.

Now I am looking into it again and had a question about operations. This may seem dumb, but it might be the thing that gets me to finally take action.....

My stereo's get crappy reception on the couple of radio stations that I listen to. I bought a powered antennae and it doesn't seem to help. The biggest problem is that the FM station I like is competing with another station from another town almost the same distance away.

Here's the question:
Do ham radios have the ability to tune in AM and FM radio station frequencies?

Do they have the ability to distinguish between two stations and focus in on the one I am trying to separate out of the noise?

If they do, what equipment do you all recommend I focus on to achieve this? Keep in mind that I would like to use the ham radio for its intended function of communications also (both normal and during an emergency).

On that note, I would probably want a base radio at the house and a portable radio for the vehicle.

If they don't, are any of you radio/electronic guru's that can recommend stereo's and/or antennaes that can fix this problem?

I have been reading the tacked threads and almost know enough to be dangerous when talking about ham radios. I still have a LOT of reading left to do. Throw out any useful info and I will look up what I don't understand or ask for clarifying info. Thanks



To differentiate between 2 transmitters in different directions it's helpful to use a directional antenna.

The same thing is true whether ham radio or over the air broadcasting.

The amplified antenna you have for FM likely is omnidirectional and picks up both FM stations with the same 'gain'.

You need an FM yagi and a rotator to solve your problem.



lynchfort
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Posted: 7/2/2012 3:03:18 PM EST
Welcome to ham radio. First, spend a couple of days reading through Ar-Jedi's radio 101 http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_10_22/604477_Ham_Radio_101.html.
It's a lot of information but may answer some of your questions that are too broad to give a simple answer to. I'll hit on a couple of them. One reason FM stations are weak is because they are, for practical purposes, line of site. If you are too far away or there are obstructions between you and the transmitter, the signal will be weak. Same with the 2m ham band which is usually done by FM. Many ham radios can do AM and FM but AM isn't used much except SSB on HF. Confused yet? You mentioned a base station but many of us are using mobile rigs in our shack. I have no problem talking to Europe on a mobile unit and a piece of wire from Lowes. You will need to decide how you want to use the radio and who you want to talk to before investing in equipment. If you're mostly interested in local coms, that's VHF and UHF. If you want to talk to other countries, that's HF and a completely different radio and antenna setup. If you want to do both, there are some good all band all mode radios on the market. I like my Icom 7000 but rarely use the VHF side instead chosing to use a separate VHF/UHF system. I'm sure others will chime in with better/longer/more confusing responses than I did. If you can find a local ham club with experienced operators, that will be a great place to get good feed back. Most of us love to talk about how much we think we know.

Good luck
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Posted: 7/2/2012 3:04:22 PM EST
Hook your FM radio up to your TV antenna and point your antenna in the direction of the station you want to listen too. Your TV antenna is a directional antenna that will pick up the station that it is pointing to and "reject" the signal coming in from the side or back.

If you don't have a TV antenna, never mind.

Seriously though; get your license. It's really easy with just a little bit of study and even if you don't "get into" ham radio, you'll learn things that can help you in the future. (like how to improve the reception on your stereo)

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ajroyer
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Posted: 7/2/2012 3:25:47 PM EST
Originally Posted By lynchfort:
Welcome to ham radio. First, spend a couple of days reading through Ar-Jedi's radio 101 http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_10_22/604477_Ham_Radio_101.html.
It's a lot of information but may answer some of your questions that are too broad to give a simple answer to. I'll hit on a couple of them. One reason FM stations are weak is because they are, for practical purposes, line of site. If you are too far away or there are obstructions between you and the transmitter, the signal will be weak. Same with the 2m ham band which is usually done by FM. Many ham radios can do AM and FM but AM isn't used much except SSB on HF. Confused yet? You mentioned a base station but many of us are using mobile rigs in our shack. I have no problem talking to Europe on a mobile unit and a piece of wire from Lowes. You will need to decide how you want to use the radio and who you want to talk to before investing in equipment. If you're mostly interested in local coms, that's VHF and UHF. If you want to talk to other countries, that's HF and a completely different radio and antenna setup. If you want to do both, there are some good all band all mode radios on the market. I like my Icom 7000 but rarely use the VHF side instead chosing to use a separate VHF/UHF system. I'm sure others will chime in with better/longer/more confusing responses than I did. If you can find a local ham club with experienced operators, that will be a great place to get good feed back. Most of us love to talk about how much we think we know.

Good luck


Thanks to all for the quick replies. I have read through a lot of that thread already and understand most of what you have said so far. My use would mostly be from 0 to 50 miles radius from the house most of the time. I may want to reach out to each coast from Illinois from time-to-time.

To the other posts, where would I start looking for an FM yagi and what features should I look at? If I use my TV antennae, will it interfere with the TV signal? We decided to cut the satellite and cable bills a few years ago and just get the standard "free" tv now. How do I adapt the coax cable from the antennae to the stereo receiver?
targetworks
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Posted: 7/2/2012 5:05:07 PM EST
Are both stations on the same frequency or are they on adjacent or nearby frequencies?

If the latter then you need a more 'selective' receiver.



Gamma762
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Posted: 7/2/2012 11:02:51 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/2/2012 11:04:24 PM EST by Gamma762]
Quick question: what is the angle between the two stations you're trying to separate. You may be able to use something simplier/less expensive, even homebrew instead of a yagi. Since you're still using your broadcast TV antenna, another option might be preferable for your mounting options anyway.

A few amateur radios, mostly handhelds, have the capability for FM broadcast reception but if you want quality FM broadcast reception you just need a good quality FM broadcast receiver, and ANTENNA.
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ajroyer
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Posted: 7/3/2012 4:20:19 PM EST
Originally Posted By Gamma762:
Quick question: what is the angle between the two stations you're trying to separate. You may be able to use something simplier/less expensive, even homebrew instead of a yagi. Since you're still using your broadcast TV antenna, another option might be preferable for your mounting options anyway.

A few amateur radios, mostly handhelds, have the capability for FM broadcast reception but if you want quality FM broadcast reception you just need a good quality FM broadcast receiver, and ANTENNA.


I would say that the two places are about 90 degrees apart. I did some googling and found this:

http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?mc=03&p=FM6&d=Antennacraft-FM6-6-Element-FM-Antenna-(FM6)&c=AM-FM Radio Antennas&sku=

http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?mc=03&p=FMYAG-1&d=Pixel-Technologies-FMYAG1-High-Gain-AMFM-Yagi-Antenna-(FMYAG1)&c=AM-FM Radio Antennas&sku=

There is quite a price difference. I can't really tell what the actual difference is. The more expensive one specifically says it will receive digital signals from 50 miles. I would guess that the station I am trying to receive is about 50 miles out, no idea if it is digital.

I have a TV antenna on my chimney. Is it possible to split the signal and run the coax to my stereo receiver? Will it work for the FM radio? Will it interfere with the TV signal?
lynchfort
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Posted: 7/3/2012 4:31:44 PM EST
Another issue is your location. 50 miles on VHF is going to be a stretch for most setups unless you have a lot of height above ground (high tower) or are sitting on high ground to start with. Of course repeaters might be able do this or maybe a yagi but VHF is usually done with a vertical (FM) so the yagi won't help much. If using VHF and especially UHF, you want to use low loss cable; LMR400 or better; don't settle for less. Higher is always better and a gain antenna is good, like a diamond 510. You said 50 miles but again it depends on who you want to talk to. If they are on 2m ssb, then the yagi might work.
The_Beer_Slayer
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Posted: 7/3/2012 5:41:38 PM EST
easy answer is... depends on the radio. my ft-897 HF rig.. yes on all questions. my 2m vhf rigs, some have extended recieve for am/fm broadcast and some do not.

as with anything radio, the proper antenna is the key to success.
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EXPY37
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Posted: 7/3/2012 7:31:57 PM EST
Originally Posted By ajroyer:
Originally Posted By Gamma762:
Quick question: what is the angle between the two stations you're trying to separate. You may be able to use something simplier/less expensive, even homebrew instead of a yagi. Since you're still using your broadcast TV antenna, another option might be preferable for your mounting options anyway.

A few amateur radios, mostly handhelds, have the capability for FM broadcast reception but if you want quality FM broadcast reception you just need a good quality FM broadcast receiver, and ANTENNA.


I would say that the two places are about 90 degrees apart. I did some googling and found this:

http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?mc=03&p=FM6&d=Antennacraft-FM6-6-Element-FM-Antenna-(FM6)&c=AM-FM Radio Antennas&sku=

http://www.solidsignal.com/pview.asp?mc=03&p=FMYAG-1&d=Pixel-Technologies-FMYAG1-High-Gain-AMFM-Yagi-Antenna-(FMYAG1)&c=AM-FM Radio Antennas&sku=

There is quite a price difference. I can't really tell what the actual difference is. The more expensive one specifically says it will receive digital signals from 50 miles. I would guess that the station I am trying to receive is about 50 miles out, no idea if it is digital.

I have a TV antenna on my chimney. Is it possible to split the signal and run the coax to my stereo receiver? Will it work for the FM radio? Will it interfere with the TV signal?



Do you have a rotator?

It's worth trying, just hook your TV ant to your FM receiver and do a test.

All the rest is speculation.

Gamma762
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Posted: 7/3/2012 7:48:36 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/3/2012 7:50:47 PM EST by Gamma762]
Originally Posted By ajroyer:
I have a TV antenna on my chimney. Is it possible to split the signal and run the coax to my stereo receiver?

Yes.

Will it work for the FM radio?

Not as good as a dedicated FM broadcast yagi, but should work. May not give you as much off-axis rejection as you need.

Will it interfere with the TV signal?

Not interfere, but there will be a little loss. If your TV signal levels are marginal, it might cause a problem. Only way to know is to try it, just need a 2 port splitter and extra jumper cables.

If you wanted to homebrew something, there's a reasonably easy antenna design you can build that has a very deep null at 90 degrees off axis, so should be able to eliminate the undesired station. One of those FM yagis should work well though and easier than homebrewing, and they're reasonable on price.
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lynchfort
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Posted: 7/4/2012 4:49:54 AM EST
Originally Posted By lynchfort:
Another issue is your location. 50 miles on VHF is going to be a stretch for most setups unless you have a lot of height above ground (high tower) or are sitting on high ground to start with. Of course repeaters might be able do this or maybe a yagi but VHF is usually done with a vertical (FM) so the yagi won't help much. If using VHF and especially UHF, you want to use low loss cable; LMR400 or better; don't settle for less. Higher is always better and a gain antenna is good, like a diamond 510. You said 50 miles but again it depends on who you want to talk to. If they are on 2m ssb, then the yagi might work.


Let me correct my post. Yagi's come in both FM and SSB. In fact, you can get a cross polarized antenna that will do both but you need 2 coax's. You will, of course, need a rotator to make it useful but a Radio Shack will work for these.
EXPY37
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Posted: 7/4/2012 7:50:03 AM EST
Originally Posted By lynchfort:
Originally Posted By lynchfort:
Another issue is your location. 50 miles on VHF is going to be a stretch for most setups unless you have a lot of height above ground (high tower) or are sitting on high ground to start with. Of course repeaters might be able do this or maybe a yagi but VHF is usually done with a vertical (FM) so the yagi won't help much. If using VHF and especially UHF, you want to use low loss cable; LMR400 or better; don't settle for less. Higher is always better and a gain antenna is good, like a diamond 510. You said 50 miles but again it depends on who you want to talk to. If they are on 2m ssb, then the yagi might work.


Let me correct my post. Yagi's come in both FM and SSB. In fact, you can get a cross polarized antenna that will do both but you need 2 coax's. You will, of course, need a rotator to make it useful but a Radio Shack will work for these.



What's the difference in a SSB and FM yagi if both are used on the same frequency and polarization?

Inquiring minds would like to know...

ajroyer
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Posted: 7/4/2012 8:14:22 AM EST
Thank you for helping me walk through this problem.

Today I hooked up a splitter to the upstairs tv line, and hooked a spare piece of R6 from the splitter to the stereo. Turns out the receiver FM is a coax type hook up, so no trips to find fancy connectors.

Then I climbed on the roof and turned the antenna while my wife listened to the radio quality. I got it to the best that it would receive and tightened it up. She said it was a little static-y, which sounded a little better than normal. She checked the downstairs tv (longest run of cable) and said that the channels were still good to go (except for CBS, but they are always cutting out anyway.)

Somehow, after tightening up the u-bolts and climbing off the roof, the interference that was there cleared up and I now have a great signal.

It had not occured to me to use the TV antenna for this fix. I used low quality splitters all through this spaghetti jumble and it still seems to work ok. We don't hardly watch tv in our house any way, so I am happy for now.

At some point I think I may need an amp in the line, and run some new stretches of cable. I have no idea why I put a splitter on the antenna instead of running one cable into the attic and amping the signal before starting the splits. I guess that is why they call it experience......

Having studied up on ham radio to look into this problem, I am thinking that a couple radios may be in my future. Still need to learn some more, especially on antenna design. And definitely need to get a 100' tower. TV antenna and wireless internet are crowded on my chimney mount already, and there are big trees all around. But it works......
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Posted: 7/5/2012 3:02:10 AM EST
I LOVE it! a family that is more interested in a quality FM signal than television....

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NAM
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Posted: 7/5/2012 6:24:34 AM EST
Originally Posted By EXPY37:

What's the difference in a SSB and FM yagi if both are used on the same frequency and polarization?

Inquiring minds would like to know...



what you did there, I see it.

IIRC, SSB is usually horizontal, FM is usually vertical. Of course, depends on the frequency.
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Country_Boy
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Posted: 7/5/2012 8:27:47 PM EST
[Last Edit: 7/5/2012 8:31:02 PM EST by Country_Boy]
It the TV antenna is acceptable, Great, if not, google loop antennas (they are easy to build if you can solder.) Loops have a very sharp null- the point at which the antenna will not pickup a signal- Point the null at the offending FM station, and the antenna will recieved plenty of signal from the desired station, particularly if it's 90 deg off.

Then hide the loop antenna in the attic.

As to the FM vs SSB, I know that for at least one antenna manufacturer, at one point in time, SSB antennas were cut for a slighly different frequency than those intended for repeater use.
EXPY37
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Posted: 7/6/2012 8:12:38 AM EST
Originally Posted By NAM:
Originally Posted By EXPY37:

What's the difference in a SSB and FM yagi if both are used on the same frequency and polarization?

Inquiring minds would like to know...



what you did there, I see it.

IIRC, SSB is usually horizontal, FM is usually vertical. Of course, depends on the frequency.



Well don't digital TVs need a different antenna even tho the signals are still the same polarity and frequency?



NAM
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Posted: 7/6/2012 8:25:08 AM EST
Originally Posted By EXPY37:

Well don't digital TVs need a different antenna even tho the signals are still the same polarity and frequency?





Of course they do....vendors need to make money. That, and it's not a matter of a little snow.... either you have the picture, or you don't. So a set of bunny ears does'nt cut it anymore.... but you knew that.
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