Improving Car Reception - Antenna Talk - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 90 Old 05-19-2007, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
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So, my car has a pretty lousy antenna. I noticed it when I first got the car, that the reception isn't as good as my old car Old car had a slantyways antenna sticking up on the roof. This car has one of those grid things right on the rear windshield.

Especially now that I've got the HD Radio, poor reception issues can be an annoyance --- if I'm listening to a -2 station, it'll completely drop out.

Does anybody have any suggestions on just general tips and tricks on improving reception in the car? I've seen amps, I'm thinking about trying to rig up another antenna somehow... ideally, whatever I do I'd like to be non-destructive (aka no drilling please!)
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post #2 of 90 Old 05-19-2007, 12:55 PM
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My truck radio reception is fair, but could be better, I'd like to know also if their is a better antenna out there. I drive in a pretty fringe areas, so I want the best reception!
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post #3 of 90 Old 05-19-2007, 09:16 PM
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Years ago, Radio Shack sold a clamp-on car radio antenna that clipped onto side mirrors on trucks and other vehicles. It may be best now to look for specialty car-customizing Web sites or dealers to see what they offer. There are certainly no-drill antenna mounts of many types for ham radio antennas, but I have never seen an AM/FM broadcast antenna that fits any of these mounts.

Chris

"It's [expletive] lame to watch Jaws, a film that uses the 2.40 ratio as well as any ever produced, in the wrong format on HBO." -Steven Soderbergh, Oscar-winning director

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post #4 of 90 Old 05-22-2007, 03:18 AM
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I purchased one of these antenna's on ebay. It worked real well. Increased my range by about 50%. It has a separate AM/FM amplifier built in to it.

Fuba-VW-Antenna-Combo-AM-FM

Search this on ebay or google and you'll find a couple of companies that sell them. I paid about $50

Cry Havoc and Let Loose the Dogs of War.
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post #5 of 90 Old 05-29-2007, 08:54 AM - Thread Starter
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So, my research has lead me to these two products:

http://www.crutchfield.com/S-5xDpwGs...o&i=12044UA200
and
http://www.crutchfield.com/S-WpqLw99...fo&i=12044UA20

Available from a bunch of different resellers. I was hoping for something magnetic that would "stick up" like those window-mount cell phone antennas. These don't look like they'd do much better than the stock on-the-rear-windshield thing I've got now (Although, I might be able to mount one on the sunroof visor).

I finally found my old AM/FM Signal Amp, which I'm going to hook up. That might be good enough under the circumstances.
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post #6 of 90 Old 05-29-2007, 09:29 PM
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i recently had both of these antennas installed with an alpine hd box. the little one thats 29.95 did not work as well as the wide one at 19.95. what i found with the alpine was that i had to try five different antennas and that wide one did the trick. i live in los angeles.
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post #7 of 90 Old 05-30-2007, 12:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Yeah if I wind up getting one of those, I think I like that one better.

Thanks for the feedback, it helps (c: I'm trying to avoid going through buyingi tons of crap like I usually wind up doing :b~

Out of curiosity, were any of the other antennas you tried along the same lines of "doesn't require drilling holes"?
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post #8 of 90 Old 05-30-2007, 01:01 AM
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Here is what I had in mind, an antenna that clamps onto an external mirror or other location:

http://www.partsamerica.com/ProductD...egoryCode=3531

The problem I see with the two Crutchfield items is that both of them have less metal outside and/or above the car body than a standard radio antenna. TydalForce, you have already experienced the limitations of such antennas, and I doubt either of the linked ones would be much better (basically, I agree with your doubts in that post). For good reception, you need as large an antenna, as high up and far away from other metal, as possible (within reason, of course). Anything else is a compromise... How much compromise can you accept?

Chris

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post #9 of 90 Old 05-30-2007, 04:33 AM - Thread Starter
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I don't mind something sticking up like a more "normal" car antenna; I'm just unwilling to punch holes in my car to do it. Something that clips/clamps on (like, at the hood or trunk) and sticks up would be acceptable.

The one you linked, Chris, might work. I'm going to have to dig up some more info about it when I have the time.
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post #10 of 90 Old 05-30-2007, 10:29 AM
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i don't think he drilled at all. not sure how this current antenna is attatched - but i will look.
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post #11 of 90 Old 06-03-2007, 08:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Now I found this:

http://www.jcwhitney.com/autoparts/I...D:100000144868

which is pretty much what I wanted... no drilling, and sticks up. Anyone know how good these "through the glass" sticky things are?
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post #12 of 90 Old 06-04-2007, 11:04 PM
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I have not used an AM or FM broadcast-band on-glass antenna, but the ones for ham radio VHF and UHF have worked well for me.

Chris

"It's [expletive] lame to watch Jaws, a film that uses the 2.40 ratio as well as any ever produced, in the wrong format on HBO." -Steven Soderbergh, Oscar-winning director

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post #13 of 90 Old 06-05-2007, 03:15 AM - Thread Starter
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works for me... ;-} I'll post back when I've installed it and had a chance to experience it
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post #14 of 90 Old 06-09-2007, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TydalForce View Post

...Anyone know how good these "through the glass" sticky things are?

I have tried both of those antennas that you referenced. Neither of them worked very well, they only picked up only strong local channels. I had trouble keeping HD reception while driving around. I think a metal coat hanger shoved in the antenna jack would provide equivalent performance to those antennas.

I'm looking for a decent window mount antenna too. These low profile things just don't work. I'm anxious to hear about your experience with the JC Whitney antenna. What's the verdict?
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post #15 of 90 Old 06-09-2007, 05:26 PM - Thread Starter
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According to FedEx tracking, it'll arrive Tuesday. I should have a preliminary report for everybody Wednesday, and a better report next weekend (c:
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post #16 of 90 Old 06-12-2007, 06:08 PM - Thread Starter
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So far, I'm disappointed.

It was easy enough to install, hardest part was running the cable. But, sitting in my driveway, it's getting reception not-quite-as-good as the built in antenna. Grr. I'm hoping that it's just a matter of "my house is surrounded by hills and this'll be better when driving".

There's a "hinge" point, the antenna itself can be angled from its base. There's a screw holding it in place. It's awfully hard to tighten, but I think I've got it. I fully expect it'll fly backwards on me tomorrow when I'm driving to work though...
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post #17 of 90 Old 06-12-2007, 07:49 PM
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That's not good news. What style is your factory antenna? Is it embedded in the glass?
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post #18 of 90 Old 06-12-2007, 08:10 PM - Thread Starter
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yeah the factory antenna is a wire-grid thingie that looks a little like the defroster, on the top 3 or 4 inches of the rear windshield. When I first got the car, I noticed the reception wasn't nearly as good as my previous car, which had a metal "stick" antenna that came out at an angle right above the driver's door. But it didn't bother me enough to do anything about it until I got the HD Radio.

I'm really hoping this new antenna will prove itself worthy once I start driving with it. Otherwise, I dunno what I'm gonna do... maybe I'll hook up that signal amp and putz around some more.
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post #19 of 90 Old 06-13-2007, 06:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Oh, it gets worse! I walk out to my car this morning, and the antenna is laying on the back windshield. The adhesive didn't survive last night's rain.

Probably better that happened *before* I started driving and lost it on the road!

Interestingly enough, just the "box" on the inside of the windshield did a remarkable job of FM reception on my drive to work. AM, on the other hand, got zero.
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post #20 of 90 Old 06-14-2007, 01:03 AM
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That is odd, about the adhesive. I have never had any problems with several on-glass antennas. In fact, when I have needed to remove them (typically after being on there a few years), I had to slowly pry them off while pushing a metal putty knife/spatula under the edges.

Here is how I installed them, which may be critical to getting them to stick securely:
-Clean the window surface with alcohol right before installing the antenna module.
-Press the module onto the window very hard, just a bit less than "so hard I am afraid I will push the whole window out".
-If the mount allows it, avoid all stress on it for the first 24 hours by removing/unscrewing the antenna rod/element (on the outside) and the coax cable (on the inside) for that first day.

Obviously, none of this will help with your already-fallen-off mount, but if you want to give it another try, get some of the extra-thin, dark gray "heavy duty" double-stick foam tape made by 3M (as opposed to the normal, thicker, white kind). Remove every trace of the old tape using a metal scraper/putty knife and WD-40 or Goof-Off followed by alcohol to be sure it is totally clean before applying the new tape.

Chris

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post #21 of 90 Old 06-14-2007, 04:29 AM - Thread Starter
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That's pretty much what I did, Chris. I did it as soon as I could in the evening so it would have all night to "set" before I drove off in the morning.

I didn't count on it raining, but I guess it's better it did so the ant. didn't fly into someone's windshield.

since the inside receiver box is working rather well, I'm going to leave it like that for a few days and try it out. I might try to rig the antenna piece up again, if I can figure out how I want to do it.
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post #22 of 90 Old 06-14-2007, 06:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, that was a letdown.

I thought maybe I could get creative with it, so I tried to pull the inside-the-glass piece off. And, well, they didn't design it to do that and be reusable. It kinda broke.

Oops.

I tried to fix it, make magic with it again, but it never got the AM broadcast again. So, I said "screw this" and went back to the built-in car antenna.

Hooked up my old amplifier, it's one of the #AB150 model on this page: http://www.electronixwarehouse.com/c...s/boosters.htm

It seems to help a bit, at least sitting here in the driveway. Ah, now I've got a hundred things plugged into my car's power. Joy! Even improved AM HD reception!

Now let us never speak of this again...
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post #23 of 90 Old 06-15-2007, 09:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Anyone have suggestions for power-line noise filters? I've got some interference from one of my devices causing noise and chaos I think
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post #24 of 90 Old 06-17-2007, 04:44 PM - Thread Starter
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So, I got bored yesterday and went and bought one of these: http://www.crutchfield.com/S-b1UNMfV...o&i=12044UA200
that I was looking at before.

I stuck it on my sunroof's visor, being the highest point in the car (and not *inside* the car). Cable was thin enough to run through the sunroof, and juuuust long enough to make it down to the stereo. I wanted to center it, but the ground wire it comes with wasn't long enough to reach anything useful, so it's directly above the driver's seat, grounded to a screw holding the sunroof visor on.

So far, it's doing OK. I haven't been anywhere that can really test, but it doesn't seem any better or worse than the stock antenna. This one's got a built-in amp, so is almost useless if you don't wire it into power.

There's definitely some noise coming over my electrical system, so I've ordered a noise suppressor:
http://www.audiooutfitter.com/store/649134/ns50.html
Which I hope will help. More to come!
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post #25 of 90 Old 06-17-2007, 05:39 PM
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Is the problem the car antenna, or is it really the electrical/ignition noise when the engine is running? With the engine off, and the igntion key in the "aux" position does the radio and the original stock antenna receive signals any better?
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post #26 of 90 Old 06-17-2007, 10:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TydalForce View Post

Well, that was a letdown.

I thought maybe I could get creative with it, so I tried to pull the inside-the-glass piece off. And, well, they didn't design it to do that and be reusable. It kinda broke.

Oops.

I tried to fix it, make magic with it again, but it never got the AM broadcast again. So, I said "screw this" and went back to the built-in car antenna.

Hooked up my old amplifier, it's one of the #AB150 model on this page: http://www.electronixwarehouse.com/c...s/boosters.htm

It seems to help a bit, at least sitting here in the driveway. Ah, now I've got a hundred things plugged into my car's power. Joy! Even improved AM HD reception!

Now let us never speak of this again...

that amplifier sounds like what i must need, at least it is worth a shot. can you tell me how hard it is to install? i'm really an amateur when it comes to installation of car radio and antennas.
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post #27 of 90 Old 06-18-2007, 04:14 AM - Thread Starter
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That amp is pretty simple, really. It's about 5" long by not even 1" thick (think if you chopped a computer hard drive in half vertically)

On the back, there's 3 connectors.
- An antenna input plug. You plug in the cable that plugged into your car stereo
- An antenna output cable. Roughly 2 feet, plugs into your stereo where you unplugged the car's antenna jack
- A Red power input cable. Feed this power from the car's electrical system. You can splice into a power cable from the stereo, or get one of those "Tap-a-circuit" things to wire it into the fusebox. Just make sure you tap into power that'll turn off with the car so you don't drain the battery.

That's it.
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post #28 of 90 Old 06-18-2007, 11:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TydalForce View Post

Now I found this:

http://www.jcwhitney.com/autoparts/I...D:100000144868

which is pretty much what I wanted... no drilling, and sticks up. Anyone know how good these "through the glass" sticky things are?


I had one on my old car to get in just regular AM and it does work well and never fell off..

D.I.N.K

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post #29 of 90 Old 06-20-2007, 06:29 PM - Thread Starter
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OK the antenna I stuck on my sunroof, not so good really.

The noise filter I bought? About the size of a friggin' soda can! nowhere to put it
Turns out the HD Jump's power cable *has* a noise filter! I thought it was just a fuse until I read it. So, I wired in my old signal amplifier to the power *after* the filter.

So, old signal amp + stock on-the-glass antenna for now.

I took the broken through-the-glass antenna, the "outside" part is now inside, touching the on-the-glass antenna, and seems to help a smidge. I give up. Without punching holes in my car, this is as good as it's gonna get....
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post #30 of 90 Old 06-24-2007, 08:03 AM - Thread Starter
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OK My last experiment, I SWEAR

I found what appears to be an awesome AM/FM Antenna from Firestik (they make lots of CB equipment)...

http://www.westcoastmall.net/firesti...-antenna/212/p (also comes in a 4-foot version)

Combined with a "Trunk Lip Mount" so I don't have to drill....
http://www.westcoastmall.net/firesti...ip-mount/257/p

And some cable:
http://www.westcoastmall.net/firesti...ex-coax/1642/p

And I just might have myself a solution that doesn't totally suck. According to the specs, it looks like I should have no problem attaching that mount to my trunk (center, closest to the rear windshield) and then running the cable into the trunk and through the car to the stereo. Although it might block the trunk from opening slightly, it looks like it'll be within a tolerable limit.

I'll keep everyone who still pays attention to this thread posted. My gosh, I hope *somebody*'s finding this useful or interesting!
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