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Jeep Wrangler - Restoration & Custom Outfitting
All photos, diagrams, and text on this page Copyright 2013 - David Todeschini - all rights reserved - see Copyright Terms

Short Radio Antennas

 

Many Jeep owners replace the factory whip antennas on their vehicles because they often take their Jeeps off-road, and close-quarters "bushwhacking" or overgrowth on seldom-used trails play havoc with a full-length whip antenna.

 

A Jeep owner who wants to install a set of windshield-level mounted floodlights has to have a shorter antenna for it not to hit against the back of the lamp housing.

 

Some Jeep owners replace their long whip antennas with shorter whip antennas purchased through auto parts stores or online.

 

Some Jeep owners simply cut their existing antenna to a convenient length, which is NOT a good idea, because it de-tunes the antenna from the range of resonant frequencies it was designed to operate on.

 

The length of a particular antenna is a specific length for a reason; and no, the converse isn't true either longer does not mean "better" not if the length of the antenna isn't resonant at the range of frequencies you want to be able to receive. This point is the primary reason that the Bogus "Antenna Amplifier" which connects your vehicle antenna to the "hot" side of your vehicle's electrical system is not a good idea besides the fact that in my opinion, there is a fire safety issue with these units.

 

If you want to create your own FM antenna that you can mount on your windshield or on a Jeep Hardtop rear window, read this Wiki Article.

 

Too often, these Jeep owners suffer from decreased sensitivity of their radios, and stations they often listen to are no longer being received with the same strength. In radio parlance with regards to FM stations, the strength of the signal is affects "quieting and capture effect"; the stronger the FM signal the stronger its resistance to noise, and a strong local station can be said to be received with "full quieting". Another parameter called "capture effect" refers to the ability of the radio to reject the weaker of two signals operating on the same frequency in favor of the stronger one. Obviously, a better quality radio receiver will amplify weaker stations, but if a weaker station that you want to listen to is on the same frequency as a stronger (local) station, you're going to have problems receiving the weaker station no matter the quality of the receiver, and no matter what you do short of using a directional beam antenna (which will work in your home, but isn't practical for a moving vehicle).

 

Short antennas (even the ones shown below) have a drawback; they sometimes operate in the "shadow" of the vehicle. Their "gain" or performance might even be better than the existing whip antenna, but where the antenna is mounted on the vehicle becomes an increasingly important factor the further away the radio station is.

 

After losing a bit of signal strength and perhaps a favorite station or two, some people install "signal boosters" into their antenna line. Many of these so-called "boosters" are BOGUS, and the Internet is flooded with totally bogus devices, and you should study this page (click the link) to make sure you're not installing a BOGUS (and perhaps even dangerous) device into your vehicle's radio circuit.

 

The standard FM whip antenna hits the back of the spotlight housing if you install windshield-level spotlamps on the aftermarket brackets. The rear of my lamps is ABS plastic, so (electrically), it doesn't matter, but it looks stupid.

   

I didn't want to sacrifice my radio reception, so I drilled & tapped a #10-32 hole into the bracket, and went to Home Depot where I found several sizes of Nylon Spacers to construct this home-brew standoff (The blue is reflective tape), the screw is a #10 Stainless Steel machine screw. The spacers are held in place with a Stainless Steel washer of the same diameter (this washer is also covered with blue reflective tape).

The tension on the slightly bent-back antenna holds it between the two larger Nylon spacers. A smaller (diameter) spacer keeps the antenna from touching the Stainless Steel screw. The screw fastens to the bracket via a tapped hole in the bracket.

Antenna Spacer used to hold full-length FM antenna to Spotlamp bracket on a Jeep. Spacers made with Nylon hardware available at Home Depot.

 

The Antenna Spacer is easy to fabricate from Nylon Spacers available at Home Depot. You need three spacers (or a combination of spacers) to construct something that looks like this. The Stainless Steel screw holds the whole thing together, and mounts it to the spotlamp bracket. Use a Stainless Steel washer on the outside of the spacer stack.

SHORT ANTENNAS

 

 

If you need to replace a long antenna with a shorter one, here are some alternatives.

 

If you've cut the long whip antenna you have to an arbitrary length, your poor signal reception is at least partially due to the "hacked" antenna not being tuned to the proper wavelength. Replace your antenna with one of these, then if the results are not satisfactory, see our Radio Troubleshooting Section.

 

 

 

 

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