by Russ and Tiña De Maris
In these really “high tech” days, the thought of FM radio may seem a bit “quaint.” Still, saving money is far from quaint, and those free FM radio signals are a lot cheaper to draw in than satellite radio. But one RVer recently asked us how he could add an antenna to his recently-purchased FM radio.
Many think “crank up” RV TV antennas are perfect for bringing in FM radio signals. Why so? In the “old days” of analog signals, the FM radio band rode in between TV channels 6 and 7. It’s still there, the trick is to coax the signal out of your coax — short for coaxial cable.
If your TV is hooked up to your TV antenna, then you’ll need a splitter. This little device allows you to add one more receiver to a single antenna connection. It’s best to look for a TV-FM splitter, and you’ll find one on the Internet, like this one. You’ll also need a couple of additional pieces of coax cable with the appropriate fittings. One piece will attach to the “jack” that allows your TV to attach to the antenna, the other will go from the splitter to your FM radio. You’ll have to figure out just how long these two pieces of cable will be by looking over your own situation.
A look at the back of your FM radio will help you determine how to hook up the coax cable. For radios that allow the use of an external antenna, you’ll either see a fitting like that on the back of your television where the round coax fitting screws (or slides) on; otherwise you’ll find two small screws, side by side. If you’ve got a coax fitting, you’re set to go: simply connect up the coax fitting. If you find the “two screws” style, you’ll need one more attachment, a Radio Shack purchase.
Called a “matching transformer” this little guy acts as a go-between from your two screws to the coax cable. Screw the one end into the coax fitting; the clips slide under the screw connectors on the radio.
With your FM radio connected up to the coax, turn on your TV antenna amplifier and prepare to be wowed by more stations than you thought possible. All of them free!
A final note: Some RV TV antennas make use of an “FM trap” that is designed to block overpowering FM signals from interfering with TV reception. Look over your antenna manual to see if your antenna has a trap (some that have traps have an option to turn them off or on). Lost your manual? Give the splitter a try (just keep your receipt to take it back if you find your antenna has a trap).