Shortwave receivers are great for traveling if your not interested in having a bulky receiver taking up room or are starting out on a budget. There are some good models on the market at the moment along with continued innovation in what is a lucrative side of the radio hobby for manufacturing.

Sangean ATS-909X
As good as they are portable receivers do have limits when it comes to how well they preform on the SW bands and its all down to the built in antenna. You see your receiver will defiantly come with a telescopic and maybe a built in ferrite antenna for shortwave (depending on model).

The telescopic is the best design for the FM band that can be fitted to portable receivers but is a far cry from being an effective at bringing those weaker SW signals. It will do in a pinch but adding something much better doesn’t take a radio genius and it can be very, very cheap.

Simple Shortwave Wire Antennas

If your not looking for absolute optimized performance, setting up a shortwave wire antenna to work with you portable receiver is an easy matter. Even 20 foot of wire slung out of an upstairs window is going to give some benefit over a built in telescopic.

Of course arranging the antenna in a typical long wire setup will increase its effectiveness along with using a length that covers more of the frequencies your monitoring.

Going down home brew route means the antenna is going to cost very little but if you want to buy something ready made there are off the shelf portable SW antennas available.

Type Of Wire?

Pretty much any wire will do and this is where a good deal of recycling can come into play. Old mains extension cables or even bell wire makes for a suitable wire antenna and by using thinner wire it makes the whole setup very light.

Plastic coated wire will stand up to a fair bit of weather but the rain and sun will eventually break down the installation and start eating at the copper wire inside. This isn’t really a problem if its a temporary setup but if its something more permanent you have in mind, investing in some quality enameled wire will give a much longer lasting wire antenna.

Spending most of the summer outdoors gives me excellent opportunities to whack up the type of long wire antenna my home QTH just won’t support (without a lot of messing around). 40 meters of bell wire slung between 2 trees can give unrivaled reception on the lower HF bands if your up for a bit of tree climbing.


If your lucky enough to have a SW receiver that has a external antenna connection then all it takes is getting the right connector on the end and your golden.

For those without this socket you can simply wrap one bare end of the wire antenna around the telescopic and fix with some tape or go posh and fit a small crocodile clip, its that simple.

Please remember to fix the side of the antenna that’s connected to your receiver and not rely on the radio to be the anchor 🙂

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