My radio listening habits are split between the shortwave, FM and MW bands. While I do not consider myself a serious DXer, I do occasionally scan the shortwave and MW bands with the purpose of seeing what new stations I can receive and to maintain a log of receivableable stations. When MW DXing I typically use my CCRadio Plus because it is a capable performer and has a digital display. From my location west of Philadelphia I typically received 35 to 40 market stations and distant powerhouses. With some additional effort I am guessing I was up to 60 or 70 stations using just the radio. Then I picked up a Grundig AN-200 Tunable Medium Wave Loop Antenna when on sale at a local Radio Shack. The loop inductively coupled to the radio improved reception and increased the number of stations received to 115. However, once I reached this level I hit a wall. Whenever I decided to try some DXing, all stations received were previously heard and reflected on my log. I could hear stations under the received stations, however, could not adequately null the stronger station to make the weaker stations listenable. This wasn’t all bad as my log became a reliable listing of receivable stations.
Recently I received a promotional email from CCrane listing Orphan Twin Coil Ferrite (TCF) antennas. Orphans are customer returns which are cleaned, tested and sold at a reduced price. The reduced price and curiosity got the best of me so I did some research. Reviews of the TCF Antenna were mixed. Some thought it was the best thing since sliced bread while others found no improvement in their MW reception. However, the more knowledgeable reviewers seemed to favor the TCF Antenna so I decided to give it a try.
Once I made the decision to buy the TCF Antenna I selected the USPS Priority Shipping option as it was only a few dollars more than ground shipping and was considerably faster to my location. The CCrane TCF Antenna arrived in a few days with a tuner control, antenna element, ferrite stick, bare wire connector, cables, AC adapter and instructions. The TCF can be operated using either a 9v battery or the AC adapter. CCrane states the antenna will run 45 hours off the battery.
When using the TCF it is best to place the antenna element near a window to minimize interference and to optimize reception. The antenna element can also be mounted outdoors; however, this will eliminate your ability to rotate the unit. The antenna element is connected via a cable to the tuner, which in turn is connected to the radio. The TCF antenna can be connected hard wire to the radio, or can be inductively coupled using the ferrite stick. The antenna element can be manually rotated to improve signal strength or to null unwanted signals. The tuner has coarse and fine tuning knobs which can be adjusted to optimize reception. I connected the antenna inductively to the radio using the ferrite stick. The instructions tell how to find the sweet spot for placement of the ferrite stick which sits on top of the radio.
I find the TCF easier to use than the loop and it provides better signal boost and nulling ability. Simply rotating the antenna element can null out competing stations and permits you to focus on the desired signal. I found the loop to be more cumbersome to use and not as effective in boosting desired signals or nulling unwanted signals. In a week of limited use, I picked up a dozen new stations I could not receive previously, including a remarkably clear signal from Radio Reloj in Cuba. Based on these results, I expect to be digging out many additional stations as time permits. The TCF not only improves the strength of the signal, but also enables directional nulling of stations. The radio’s signal strength indicator clearly demonstrates the benefits of the TCF Antenna. You can see the signal strength indicator jump as you rotate the antenna element and adjust the tuner.
Overall, I am very pleased with the TCF Antenna. Spending money on an antenna is not as much fun as getting another radio; however, the performance boost it can provide all your radios is remarkable.