How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 287

How good are store bought antennas and if they are better than factory issue, which ones are most advantageous?
Ultimately the only things that matter about an antenna are (1) how much charge it moves in response to the correct radio transmission and (2) how little charge it moves in response to the wrong radio transmissions. Most store bought antennas probably just boost the amount of moving charge by attaching an amplifier to an otherwise undistinguished antenna. While that trick will increase the amount of charge moving in response to the correct transmission, it will also increase the amount moving due to undesired transmissions. Almost everything electrical transmits radio waves and these may well interfere with your reception. For example, your neighbor's lawn mower may send out radio waves and introduce noise into your music. Just amplifying the antenna signal does nothing to eliminate that problem. Your best bet is to find a directional antenna; an antenna that responds most strongly to radio waves coming from a particular direction. TV antennas are typically directional, with many separate antenna elements. Satellite dishes are highly directional.

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