DAB Aerials and DAB reception

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The purpose of this guide is to give an idea of how to get the best out of DAB radio.

Firstly, (and most obvious) the Radio you choose will have a big impact on the quality of the radio you receive, but in many cases the actual electronics, are a module that are used by quite a few manafacturers, so ALWAYS try to listen to a radio before you buy. The "personal" dab radios seem a great idea but in practice can be very dissapointing, as the earphone lead is used as the aerial and signal break up, can make them unusable in most areas if you are moving about. If you are sitting still they are OK. The next major factors are the quality of the amplifiers and speakers and importantly the case. If you get all this right then you are well on your way.

 

Alas, the one area where EVERY DAB Radio falls down, is the aerial. Almost all DAB radios have a simple telescopic aerial, which works relatively well in most of the UK. However, ALL DAB radios can be improved if an external aerial is connected. Therefore it is important to get a radio that has an external aerial socket. some radios seem to have a telescopic aerial with a nut at the base. a lot of these when unscrewed reveal and "F" type socket where an external aerial can be connected. Even without that luxury there are some methods to connect an aerial to your radio.

The next question is: "is it worth the hassle" well my own experience tells me Yes!! every single time. I went from 35 stations on the telescopic "twig" on my DAB set up to 71 and signal break up is just a bad memory.

The Aerials

If you can fit an external aerial there are a few to choose from.

1. A "piece" of wire to make your aerial longer. This is normally just try it and see, but can significantly increase the number of stations and the signal quality of what you receive.

2. The Dipole. This is a simple and fairly small aerial that comes in various designs, from a simple piece of wire which splits into two, to a shop bought (or home made) aluminium one. these will definately improve your radio reception. these are omnidirectional so you dont have to align them just fix, forget and listen.

3. The "Jim". This is a variant of a tried and tested omnidirectional aerial, which greatly improves DAB. This is my aerial of choice. at present it seems unavailable commercialy and you would have to make one. But it is worth the effort. Again being omni directional its fit, forget and listen. plans are easily available.

4. The beam (or yagi). these are available at fairly low cost. but they have good and bad points. They are larger than dipoles and omni's, but have a significant advantage in very poor reception areas, in that they are directional. they have a "gain" in one direction. If you live in an area where reception is OK then these have a negative effect as they tend to "reject" signals from anything except the direction they are pointing. But if you are trying to get a distant DAB service these are worth a look.

Cable.

This is fairly straightforward, but some people (including some shops where DAB are sold) seem confused. DAB radios need a cable with 50 Ohm impedance, and unfortunately TV coax is 75 Ohms. Now that said, if you can't find any 50 Ohms coax then use what you have. Even with the wrong coax it will still give better results than the telescopic. but if you can get the right cable you will not regret it.

 

In summary

 

1. Choose a dab radio with external sockets for speakers and an external aerial.

2. Tune and see what you get

3. Fit an aerial and get much more from your radio

 

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