clip antenna for portable shortwave radio

External Antenna For Portable Shortwave Radio Improved Reception

An external antenna for your portable shortwave radio. It’s a “must have” in my opinion, for improved reception.

My portable shortwave radio (Sony SW7600GR) came with one (as shown in the attached pictures). Prior to that purchase, I also owned a Grundig which also included the same style portable shortwave antenna.

There are several brands of this style. They’re all pretty much the same.

I’ll describe their simple, but effective, functionality below. (And a do it yourself). Also, how and when I use it.

For the interest of those who have purchased a portable shortwave radio. You may be interested in getting the longest range reception as possible. The best way to achieve that is to use an external antenna.

portable shortwave radio antenna

The image above shows my Sony compact antenna. It functions just like the others. It extends to 23 feet and can be easily rewound into its compact case

It’s made up of a spool of antenna wire. The wire is easily pulled out. It also winds back in nicely while using your finger in the recessed dimple to reel it back in.

There’s a clip on one end of the antenna wire. It is electrically connected with the wire. It is designed to clip on to an existing whip antenna.

A strap is connected to the body of the antenna reel. A clip on the strap enables attachment to whatever… A curtain works nicely (for example).

My Recommendation For External Wire Antenna – Improved Reception Of Portable Shortwave Radio

With that said, here’s my recommendation if you’re looking to get one for your own portable shortwave radio, regardless of the brand.

The best of this antenna style right now, in my opinion, is the Sangean ANT-60.

Not only does it have a clip to Snap-On to your existing whip antenna, but it also has an adapter to plug directly into the antenna jack on your portable shortwave radio (if so equipped).

(view on amzn)

Improved Reception With External Wire Antenna

Some portable radios have pretty good built in antennas and ‘front-end’ circuitry to enable good long distance reception (conditions permitting). But adding an external antenna will improve reception dramatically.

Here’s my portable Sony radio with the external antenna clipped to the built-in whip antenna.

Here’s the clip for attaching the antenna to “something”.

Most all portable shortwave radios will have a telescoping antenna as well as one that’s built inside (mainly for AM radio band reception). Some radios (usually the higher priced models) will have an external antenna jack, usually a 3.5mm (1/8″), where you can plug in your own external antenna.

Do-it-Yourself – Long Wire External Antenna

You could also do it yourself. Although the convenience of the rollup antenna (described above) is nice, you could simply attach a length of ordinary wire to it (by wrapping the (bare, stripped) end of it around the whip).

Or, you might “get fancy” and solder an alligator clip to the end of your wire. That’s what I did (with previous experimentation).

Although there are varying antenna models, do-it-yourself designs, configurations and formulas to use while calculating exact lengths, etc.. However when it comes to simply listening to shortwave radio (not transmitting), generally speaking just use a LONG WIRE. It’s simple, and it works quite well!

The wire gauge doesn’t matter. Because you’re not transmitting. My long wire was only 22 gauge.

Here’s a nice spool of Black Flexible 22 AWG Stranded Tinned Copper Wire:

250-foot Spool

Anyway, the simple message is that for better shortwave radio reception, get yourself a portable external antenna. Either the one up above, or a spool of wire for a do-it-yourself long wire antenna. Makes a big difference…

Oh, I almost forgot. How and when do I use this antenna?

Well, whenever I go on a road trip, I always take my portable shortwave radio (and external antenna). Also, we have a camper. Whenever we go on one of those trips, I use it too. When I’m at home, I usually use a different radio for listening. I happen to have a YAESU FT-450 Ham radio and a different antenna mounted outside. But I digress…

[ Read: Best Portable Shortwave Radios ]


  1. When using my shortwave at home I have it attached directly to a 50 ft wire antenna shaped into an “L”. It is also attached to a ground wire that goes to the outside where it is attached to a buried piece of copper wire. This combination has given me my best reception.

    1. I like the “L” concept. That way you get more “omni” direction. Thanks of the tip.

  2. Great info Ken,
    For those who haven’t tried any of this stuff, it’s easier than ya think. I should have learned about radio stuff years ago. I built a homebrew external fm antenna for music/talk radio etc. In my metal garage, almost no signals got through. Now, I receive stations I’ve never heard before. Not to beat a dead horse, but it’s easier than ya think.

  3. Tom,
    i’ll try the “L” antenna. i now have a length of speaker wire with alligator clips run to the metal roof of my house.
    one wire is run to my kaito voyager and the other is run to a ground. it works very well.
    i may try both at the same time? you never know until you try.

  4. Another option that works quite well is an end-fed inverted V antenna. The better part is that it is ‘end fed’ vs. center fed like a dipole. One doesn’t need to run coax (feed line to the radio) to the highest part of the antenna. In fact, for RO (receive only) you don’t need coax. If the sides of the “V” are close to 45 degrees, you got it made. You can even ground the ‘far end’ of the antenna if you desire and that will not degrade its operation. (On antennas near 100 ft or over.)

    Inverted Vs work quite well receiving vertically and horizontally polarized signals. Horizontally polarized signals are usually below 30 MHz, vertically polarized signals are usually above 100 MHz. Unless you/they are mobile then everything is usually vertical. The attenuation factor between vertical and horizontal signals is commonly
    expected to be 30 dB. (Some claim 20 dB) Anyway, its a lot. So, with a 45 degree antenna, there is less attenuation and you can ‘hear’ both type signals fairly well without having two antennas.

    Just my 2.5 cents worth.

    Search for ‘inverted V antenna’ and ‘end fed inverted v antenna’. There’s a few thousand articles out there, but don’t get overwhelmed. Look at the diagrams, compare a lot of them. You’ll find a lot of info saying the same thing 10,000 different ways. My version: An inverted V antenna is a long wire that has its middle way off the ground and the ends down low. One end gets connected to a radio and the other can get grounded. If you have a lot of ‘extra’ wire, make an inverted V antenna and a horizontal long wire antenna. Find ‘weak’ station using one antenna then swap to the other. You can hear a definite difference. Then figure out why.

    Next project: Search for tropospheric scatter. That really gets fun! LOL

    1. Crow Bait,
      2m ssb????? I accidentally ran across a tropospheric ducting thing. Amazing distance, though obviously not reliable.

  5. Plainsmedic,
    No they aren’t. But when conditions are ‘right’ and you are at the radio when it happens, it’s like talking to someone just down the street.

  6. Sorry im not good at this. If you add this external antenna to your existing antenna and you keep the short wave radio in your house. How does it increase power of the antenna if its in your kitchen and not higher up, like the roof? Sorry, just confused.

    1. Larry,
      Simply stated, a long wire helps with increased shortwave radio reception compared with the whip antenna on the radio – regardless of inside or outside.

      However, yes, the effectiveness of the antenna will be better if outside.

      The referenced roll-up antenna that I talk about in the article is simply meant for portability along with your portable shortwave radio.

  7. Got it. I didn’t read all your notes properly. I didn’t see that the spool itself is the antenna. That makes sense. Thank you

  8. Here in Arizona I have 27 strands of barb wire witch works well !!
    No problem with livestock !!

    1. I have the antenna through the barb wire no bs, am at elevation of 599 ft

    1. J-pole antennas are sized for the band you want to use. For 2 meters and smaller wavelengths, it is manageable. Not so on HF.

    2. sailor jack,
      i use it on a 2 meter and GMRS setup and it works well. just be sure to check your SWR before you go to far with it.
      good luck

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