Home > Electronics Cranny > The Electronics Cranny: Is it Time for a New Antenna?

The Electronics Cranny: Is it Time for a New Antenna?

By Skip Vorhees IV

By Skip Vorhees Electronics Expert

While it’s true that almost any piece of wire connected to a post can be serviceable, the listener will receive a far superior performance with a properly installed antenna. And while it may be “wisest” to utilize the type of antenna prescribed in your radio’s user manual, the Electronics Cranny is going to show you how to go above and beyond.


Let’s begin with the rigid support method. Begin by finding two rigid supports, sufficiently far apart and properly located. Attach one antenna insulator firmly to one support using a piece of antenna wire, then attach the desired end to the same support by means of a nonslipping knot (see figure 1.1).

Now you can proceed with the mounting, soldering and the reams. When you have completed these crucial steps, you can begin the attachment of a series of complicated pulleys. This will allow for the second insulator to pass crisply over the pulley wheel, deliciously coming to rest on the opposite stanchion. Now you can draw hard on the rope until it become taut. Be sure to turn on your radio now and see if you can hear anything. If you can’t hear anything, go back to figure 1.1 and study further. Check again your tautness or tautivity.  Note: you won’t be able to use the rigid support method if you live in the Southern Lankville Savannah Areas.


Several types of antenna have been approved for indoor use to avoid the horrifying nuisance of the outdoor antenna. These are primarily for use with portable, table-model radios or built-in components that have proven popular with the crafty. One type is the hanks antenna, so called because it is merely a hanks of some wires.  You can stretch it out carelessly along the floor or ruin some moldings by banging it in there with a hammer (see figure 1.2).  This will give you good reception for local programming but is rarely effective for good short-wave reception.  It can prove to be noisy and distracting.  And while it may appear useful at first, as the months pass you will begin to realize that there is a sort of lurking, odious fear issuing from your walls, a hum that portends some irreversible disaster (see figure 1.2).

Figure 1.2

Figure 1.2

Therefore, it may be best to utilize a flagpole antenna. In this scenario, a commercial flagpole antenna, similar to an auto-radio whip atenna, will produce better results.


For the best reception, however, the Electronics Cranny recommends a Hertzberg-Praff ungrounded antenna for both broadcast and short-wave reception. This is a project for the advanced electronics enthusiast as it requires the mounting of multiple “lightning shields” to prevent being scorched by the heavens. If you feel confident (or if you’re the type of person who thinks you are always right), go ahead and proceed with the Hertzberg-Pfaff.

First, climb to the highest point possible and begin laying out nets to capture and redirect ambient noise. Install the leadin on the ground and then quickly yank it out again.  This will allow you to listen for defects.

Figure 1.3.  It may be useful to have a lightning detector while installing the Hertzberg-Pfaff antenna.

Figure 1.3. It may be useful to have a lightning detector while installing the Hertzberg-Pfaff antenna.

Begin attaching the lightning shields. If there is lightning in the area, it may be useful to purchase a lightning detector dashboard (figure 1.3) from The Electronics Cranny (most models are from $5500-$6500). By reading ampere levels, you will begin to have an idea if the lightning will strike your high area. If readings prove conclusive, just climb higher up. It’s always wise to bring a couple of ladders with you.

Now, it’s just a matter of matching the transformers and punching some industrial staples into the ground. Your Hertzberg-Pfaff will be ready to go.

1. What considerations must the serviceman keep in mind when entering an apartment?
2. List several possible sources of noises.
3. A receiver is reported as suffering from excessive fading. A check of the receiver shows it to be perfect. What the hell do you think could be up?
4. An operator has spilled a cake on his antenna. What’s the procedure for reinstallation?
5. An antenna is be installed near several power lines, an energy plant and an airport. Should precautions be taken?
6. Who were Hertzberg and Pfaff and how did they come up with the idea of the ungrounded antenna. Are they dead? How did they die?

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