How to use the TERK AM Advantage Antenna

TERK AM Advantage Antenna

The TERK AM Advantage Antenna works for any AM radio. I have owned this indoor AM radio antenna for many years, and it has done its job boosting AM radio signals for better reception. It’s passive – meaning, no electricity required.

The antenna is a simple aid to MW (Medium Wave) reception (the AM radio band). It’s a wound wire loop with a variable capacitor for tuning. 

How Well Does the TERK AM Advantage Antenna Work?

First, it will not perform miracles. However, it will improve reception most of the time. Occasionally it will not do much at all. Other times, it may be the only thing that makes reception possible. It is, by nature, a mixed bag, owing to physics, the science of propagation, and all that jazz. Thus, no guarantees, but in most instances, it is a useful and worthwhile aid to MW reception.

said a reviewer of the TERK AM Advantage Antenna

I agree with the review/statement above. I definitely (usually) notice an improvement in reception after I perform the tuning steps listed below. It will optimize with the particular station I’m listening to. The extent of that reception improvement varies. Sometimes it’s a pretty big difference. Other times, lesser. Depends on conditions and such, I suppose.

Why Did I Buy It?

I like it as a prepping & preparedness gadget in order to pull in distant AM radio stations for news and information. Or, for simply listening to a favorite talk show…

Communications. Gathering news and information. It’s all part of an overall preparedness plan. A portable battery operated AM/FM-Shortwave Radio will enable reception of important information from local and far away stations. And this particular TERK AM Advantage antenna does a good job at amplifying and boosting distant signals for the AM band of any portable radio, if used properly…more on that in a minute.

Not only do I enjoy the peace of mind having a number of communications radios, I occasionally enjoy listening to distant AM radio stations during the evening when the propagation is often terrific. The TERK AM Advantage helps during the day, and at night. During the evening/night, distant stations come in pretty well anyway due to propagation. But the TERK helps keep those distant stations tuned in and sounding better, with more stable reception and less drift in-and-out.

TERK Storefront
(view on amzn)

How To Use The TERK AM Advantage Antenna

There are three important factors for success with this antenna…

  1. The orientation of the AM Radio with the TERK antenna
  2. Use of the tuning dial on the TERK antenna
  3. The direction of the TERK AM Advantage antenna itself

Orientation Of The AM Radio With The TERK AM Advantage Antenna

Place your AM radio right next to the TERK antenna. The antenna loop that is wound inside the TERK ‘induces’ it’s signal into the small coil antenna that is built into your AM radio (inductive coupling).

Depending on how your radio’s internal antenna is oriented, will affect the proper orientation that you should use when you place your radio next to the antenna.

As you can see in the image above, I orient my AM radio in a perpendicular 90-degree direction as shown. This is likely the way for most radios. However, be aware that yours might be different in that you get better results if positioned parallel with the antenna. Once you discover the best way, use it the same every time.

TERK Tuning Dial

The antenna has a tuning dial (variable capacitor). It needs to be turned/tuned depending on the AM radio station frequency that you’ve selected on your radio.

There are markings on the TERK dial. This will get you in the vicinity – matching what station frequency you’re listening to. Then, tune the TERK dial slightly back and forth to audibly maximize the signal. It will become obvious when you’ve reached the right spot on the tuning dial.

Let’s say for example that you are trying to tune in WJR (Detroit) on AM-760 (760 kHz)… not only do you tune your AM radio to that frequency, but you also tune the dial on the TERK antenna to that approximate frequency. Then play with the TERK dial for best reception.

TERK Antenna Pointing Direction

The TERK antenna direction needs to be oriented facing the geographical location of the AM radio station you’re trying to pull in. While also maintaining the proper radio orientation as in step-1 above.

Tip: I use a ‘Lazy Susan’ turntable. I place both the TERK antenna and the properly oriented AM radio on it, so everything rotates together in unison.

My Favorite AM Radio

It’s an awesome radio for AM long range listening. CCRadio-2E by C Crane.

[ Read: Best DX Radio For AM DXing – Long Range Listening ]

Also, if you’re looking for a good decent (but cheap) AM radio…

[ Read: Best Cheap Pocket Radio For AM/FM Band ]

1,000 Foot Loop Antenna – Art Bell

Given the subject of this post (AM loop antenna), I couldn’t resist mentioning the ultimate AM loop antenna. I recall when the late Art Bell (Coast to Coast AM) built a 1,000 foot loop antenna on his property in Pahrump, Nevada. I was intrigued.

It’s amazing to realize that the frequency wavelengths of the AM radio band are huge. For example, the wavelength of 980 on the AM dial (980 kHz) is 1,000 feet! A quarter wave is 250 feet. Wow…

I added two pictures of this antenna down in the comments below.

14 Comments

  1. An AM radio may be one of the most important information tools in a grid down (or worse) situation. In the U.S., the Emergency Alerting System (EAS) is maintained as one of the last resorts for mass government communications. Take that for what you will, but in circumstances where it is a late or last resort, knowing what the U.S. government has to say about the situation will be useful; sifting the wheat from chaff will remain a challenge. Some AM radio stations remain as “primary entry points” in the system and may remain standing when other broadcasters are down.

    Antennas such as this help tune out the noise notoriously found in the AM band, especially in disaster zones, as well as tune in weak signals that may be found when power is at a premium, broadcaster antennas are damaged, etc.

  2. There are also models of these loops that have a patch cord that will allow you to plug it into the antenna jack of your shortwave. This will help your reception somewhat as well.

    These loops actually do work. As stated, they’re not miracle workers, but they will help. Just a note; AM radios DO.NOT.LIKE obstructions. The BEST place for reception is outside, away from structures, trees, and the like. In your house, get the radio as close to a window facing the direction of the station you’re trying to pull in.

  3. 406Redoubt,
    yes and you can get 16 Gauge AWG 250ft Speaker Wire Cable on amazon for 26 bucks. i have thousands of feet for other HF comms. AM is going to be the last form of comms. other than ham for those who have power to run them in a grid down situation. i wouldn’t count on either for reliable info.
    you know, disinformation and all that. trust your gut.
    just get an alligator clip, split the wire, stretch it out and see what you have. the more wire on AM the better.
    i have one attached to to the metal roof of my house. six way directional on AM.
    it works great for me. i can pick up AM stations 600 miles away some nights depending on the tropospheric scattering with my little Kaito receiver.
    you just have to experiment, it’s like moving the rabbit ears on the old TV’s, like trying to get HE HAW or Wonderful World of Disney to come in clear. Bonanza!
    take care

    1. When I was stationed in Kodiak while in the Coast Guard, I’d sit down there by “The SeaLand Docks” at night and pick up AM broadcasts from as far away as Chicago and Mexico on the AM radio in my 66 VW bug! It’s all about LOCATION and/or ANTENNA. The time to experiment is NOW.

      Take a tip from yesteryear. The old shortwave radios had built-in antennas with LOTS of wire. Stations were farther away from each other and quite a ways from houses in rural America. Zenith called their antenna the “Wave Magnet.” It sat atop their “Transoceanic” radio and could be rotated to find the sweet spot for each station. If AM radio is a part of your prep, look for one with an external antenna jack. A little internet searching will yield plenty of info on how to CHEAPLY make a really good antenna for the rig! Pay attention to the length of the wire, as that is the length that resonates with the AM broadcast band.

  4. Yup it’s all about induction. Speaking of Emergency Alerting System (EAS), this used to be called the EBS station, Emergency Broadcast System. Very useful back in the days. I worked at a 5kw AM station for a while in my high school years, we were EBS asigned. If ANYTHING went down in the broadcast studio, a scanner in the transmitter house would auto-scan for any other station it could detect and feed that to the air! Of course, the generator would fire up as well. Found these things out the hard way while working on a production board linked to the broadcast room! I just moved the stylist on the turn table back a few grooves and ran out and switched back to the studio, no one was the wiser.

  5. Thank you Ken. I spent most of last year in a remote area and couldn’t even get local am static free.

  6. Need technical advise. I installed a 55’ Rohn tower with tilt base in order to receive a decent signal for TV over the air, cell signal with my Wilson booster and satellite internet from a local provider. Please advise how I may leverage this tower to obtain a better AM signal from a small radio? I assume I need to add an external antenna and I have plenty of coax R6 available. I am open to a radio and antenna suggestion. Trying to keep the antenna and radio below $200 as a target budget.

    1. To RWT,
      Here’s the thing… AM medium wave frequency wavelengths are massive. For example, 980 on the AM dial (980 kHz) has a wavelength of 1,000 feet! 1/4 wave is 250 feet! Wow…

      It reminds me of the late Art Bell (“Coast to Coast AM” broadcaster). He built a 1,000 foot loop antenna on his property in Pahrump, Nevada. I recall being fascinated by the idea. He had some unique issues to overcome. The big one was apparently a high voltage induced into that antenna. I don’t remember how or why.

      Anyway, I’ll suppose that any long length of wire will help with AM reception. One end simply next to the radio (induced into the internal antenna), and the other end stretched out pretty much any which way… The longer the better.

      Here are a few pictures of that 1000 foot loop antenna from the Art Bell compound:

      Art Bell antenna farm

      Loop Antenna at Art Bell compound, Pahrump, Nevada

      1. Ken,
        Hams know that Big long antenna as a “skywave” antenna. Many think it is the best antenna to have. Pulls in lots of signal, but you must have a good antenna tuner to transmit from one. BTW, that “high voltage” problem you mentioned that Art Bell had was likely due to static electricity build up from wind blowing across the wire. Thanks for sharing the photos and story.

      2. Looks like a HARP array. Just kidding. Loved Art Bell……..the new guy not so much. They should have given C2C over to John B. Wells.

      3. Ken
        Thank you. This helps. You validated what I have read from untrusted sources. As long as I have 20’ of bare wire I should be able to improve the reception. This is why I read this blog. I have access to SME’s that can confirm what I have read. I need to send you the guest article on my Grid down CPAP set up. It probably defies all the known laws of electricity, but it worked and is so simple my 12 yr old can set it up.

    2. RWT – Nothing beats having a lot of wire in the air, especially for those gigantic AM broadcast wavelengths. The good news is that tower of yours is a lot of metal to work with and can be tuned to some small part of the AM band at little cost using a “shunt feed” or match.

      The diagram linked below depicts the basic idea. Any friendly ham ought to be able to help with details. Setting up an antenna like this to receive is a lot simpler than for transmitting.

      There’s only one electrical component (a capacitor) involved. It’s connected between the center conductor of the coax and a wire isolated from the tower that connects near the top. The coax shield connects at the bottom.

      The capacitor effectively lengthens the wire/tower to serve a given frequency. A variable one, as was used in tuning old-time AM receivers, would simplify tuning and allow it to work for different frequencies (with a run to the tower to “change channels” :)

  7. a antennae tuner is very important to have. you can burn up a good radio if you key up and the SWR is way off.

    Art Bell was in Pahrump NV. i grew up not far from there. the average humidity is about 15% across sand and gravel and the wind ALWAYS blows. static electricity is a way of life there. you get use to it.

    they tell a story about the Hoover dam project in the 30’s. story has it that one day the wind stopped blowing and everyone fell down : )

    i remember mom hanging cloths on a line and when she got finished hanging them she could start taking them down. they would dry that fast, if a dust devil didn’t come through yard and then she would have to start all over again. that happened a few times.

    thanks for the pics ken, i’m so homesick i can’t hardly stand it.

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