How to Boost Scanner Antennas

By Tamara Wilhite

Scanner antennas receive signals across a wide range of frequencies. Scanner antennas include police scanners, wi-fi scanners, search-and-rescue communication equipment and amateur radio scanners that seek out any signal. Scanner antennas may be used by those who wish to listen in or so that parties like first responders can respond to it. A scanner antenna's signal reception can be improved by reducing its interference, strengthening its signal, and increasing its sensitivity and range. A scanner antenna is connected to a radio scanner via a coaxial cable.

Things You'll Need

  • amplifier
  • pole or tower
  • coaxial cable

Methods

Step 1

Install a small amplifier at the base of the antenna to boost the scanner antenna's performance. This increases the strength of the signal that is transmitted. Increased signal strength adds range to the signal. An amplified signal also helps the signal be received over the noise on the radio frequency spectrum that might interfere with it.

Step 2

Move the antenna to a higher location. Mounting the antenna on a pole or tower or moving the antenna to a higher surface like a hill top or roof also helps it receive a better signal. According to "Electronic Troubleshooting" by Daniel Tomal and Neal Widmer, "The antenna must be mounted away from trees, metal, and large objects."

Step 3

Install a longer antenna. A longer antenna can receive less powerful signals on the same frequency. According to "How to Get Anything on Anybody Book 3" by Lee Lapin, "To boost gain at a particular frequency, increase the antenna's length or size. The bigger the antenna, the more RF power it can capture." Another option is to install an omni-directional antenna that can receive signals in all directions.

Step 4

Decrease loss of the received signal through the coaxial cable to boost signal reception. This can be done by installing a larger diameter coaxial cable from the antenna to the receiving station. Larger diameter cable experiences less signal loss via its larger diameter and thicker electromagnetic frequency shielding. The same effect can be achieved by adding more shielding to your cable. More shielding can be achieved by wrapping existing coaxial cable in non-conductive tape or threading the coaxial cable through an extra layer of cable covering.

Step 5

Protect the scanner antenna from the elements, when possible. Corrosion can decrease the scanner antenna's performance. A scanner antenna could be placed under a weather barrier or placed in a sheltered location as long as that shelter doesn't interfere with signal reception.

Tips & Warnings

  • Signal performance can be improved by removing nearby interference. According to "Electronic Troubleshooting" by Daniel Tomal and Neal Widmer, "The antenna can be mounted in the attic of a home, but aluminum, insulation backing, and other metals may dampen signal strength."
  • Antennas conduct electricity. Mounted antennas can attract lightening. Ground them properly to prevent a strike from traveling through the antenna's cable to the receiving station and shorting all the attached electrical components.