Radio antennas

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townline

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 29, 2021
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Location
southern wisconsin
I am wondering about radio reception in 3 of my vehicles. They are all terrible and all have shark fin or stubby antennas. The other vehicle in my family is a dodge caravan with a whip antenna on the fender It has great AM and FM reception. Wherever i look in discussions about antennas the subject turns to appearance or looks, or no one listens to AM any more because we all have satellite radio. I am just starting to think that a vehicle needs a long antenna mounted on the fender. Not a stubby or windshield with a booster. The Buick and Promaster 1500 do not have any extra electronics in them. The PMcity has a 12v fridge and solar but reception is poor with all turned off.
 
Back in my school days when I worked on cars one of the things I did was to take the owner of the car out to a hilltop along about dusk and "trim" the antenna. (most back then had extending mast antennas on then and were great for AM) There was an adjustment screw in the radio for trimming the radio to the antenna. In some cars/vans it was under one of the knobs on the front of the radio and others it was on the back end of the radio where the antenna cable plugged into the radio.

If out in rural areas you may want to extend the mast all the way out....but beware of car washes when doing this. Those drive thru places often break or tear off the antennas. If in an area with lots of stations you may get by with the antenna at it's lowest position.
Antennas have since been embedded in windshields or small roof mounted pods to eliminate the mast antenna problems.

Trimming the antenna to the radio was most important for the AM radios. FM radio usually takes care of themselves. You start by tuning the radio to a very weak AM station at the low end of the band, somewhere around 1400 KHz. Turn the trimmer screw to the left or right to achieve the best reception from that weak station you are tuned into. The volume will increase to a maximum and begin to decrease if you adjust past that. So, adjust to the best volume. All the other stations should then respond much better.

Some antennas are adjustable and some are not. Set it at a height you can measure and remember. (my manuals suggested 31 inches) I don't own any vehicles with that stubby antenna I understand that they use a pre amplifier or coil in them. (which makes the stubby think it's as tall as a mast antenna).
 
^^^ Lol!!! I remember my uncle running a thin copper wire way up a big walnut tree so he could try out his crystal radio he had just put together on top of Spring Hill. He could probably see across the Ohio River from there! Thanks for the memories!
 
I am wondering about radio reception in 3 of my vehicles.
A GM Vice President said they kept the whip on some trucks for rural customers. Many rural folks drive trucks and want to receive AM/FM.

https://gmauthority.com/blog/2021/0...-gmc-sierra-pickups-still-use-a-whip-antenna/
Another explainer at Jalopnik:

https://jalopnik.com/why-cars-dont-have-those-long-antennas-anymore-1837879149
Wikipedia has a decent page on whip antennas: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whip_antenna
 
OK, trying not to get too technical. An antennas length is matched to the frequency it is receiving or transmitting on thru a mathematic formula. For AM and FM the AVERAGE length is 30 inches, if it’s a stubby there is 30 inches of wire coiled up in it somewhere. A CB antenna is around 103”. On a home TV antenna you see on houses that look like a big V with all the different length arms coming out……every arm is an average for frequencies for channels the more arms the more specific frequencies and better reception. Radio waves go in straight a line so antenna height is a factor to receive signals below the horizon.
As I said I could get into the mathematics of 1/4 wave 5/8 wave, cable length, impedance, reflected imp. you could write a book on antenna theory.
This is what eDJ is talking about in their post, the trimmer pot is changing the “length” of the antenna to match the freq.. Transmitting on a mismatched antenna can even severely damage the transmitter.
 
I just ordered a stubby to replace my full length antenna because it was driving me nuts watching it whip around while driving. Hope I have success with reception. We have short antennas on both of other cars.
 
You guys listen to the radio?
I have had my truck for 12 years and I don't know if the radio works.
 
You guys listen to the radio?
I have had my truck for 12 years and I don't know if the radio works.
I rarely listen to the radio. I used to use it often when I was younger. My Honda Element has the radio antenna on the back roof area, it is stubby. It works OK. My radio can even bring in the Satellite radio service but I have no plans to subscribe to a service. I have a small Bluetooth receiving device I can use to cast audio from my phone to the aux port of my radio. I use that for playing audio books on longer drives.
 
Some while back I stopped in this Family Dollar store for some pickle relish and happened to notice a "Reduced" table there. One of the things on the table was what looked to be a boom box but it was different. I spoke with the manager asking her what it was and she told me it was a return and she thought it was all there except for the owners manual.

She said if I wanted it for $15 bucks I could take it as is and final. She told me the customer said that they couldn't get it to work.

There was a branch Library just up the street so I went up there with it and found the instruction manual for it online. The earlier customer had already charged the internal battery in it. So within a couple of minutes I had it paired with my Cell and was in business.

It will pick up within 30 ft of my Cell. I'll also pair it with the radio in my Van when I install the new sound system console in it.

Sylvania SP 333 DG Portable Speakers
 
It will pick up within 30 ft of my Cell. I'll also pair it with the radio in my Van when I install the new sound system console in it.

Sylvania SP 333 DG Portable Speakers
That is cute:) You would have fun in Temu's Electronics section. I got a couple deals there. The Lenovo bluetooth earphones and this little Lenovo bluetooth speaker. About $10 each and the sound quality is decent.

Edit: actually the sound quality is quite good imho. Both get my teen granddaughter's thumbs up, too. Gave her the earphones. Now I'm ordering another pair.
 
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Yeah, I've put it in the back of my rig and it makes plenty of sound.
If I need to mute the volume I can control it with the Cell phone.
The speakers light up with blue LED lights when it's operating. If there is no sound and the speakers aren't lit...you've run out of battery. The built in battery recharges fairly quickly via USB.

There are a number of makers producing these now. Years ago I used to carry a Boombox with an "AUX in" and connect my Mp3 player into it. (using LimeWire to source music) Until I purchased this I hadn't realized the number of music, radio station, or even Short Wave station apps that were available. Similar with Podcast & audio book apps. If you want to listen to Aviation frequencies there are apps for that too.

Shortwave is much like NPR here in the states. You may hear of things on SW days before it breaks on our news outlets. I once looked at a SW car radio at Universal Radio in Columbus, Ohio and it was several hundred dollars. (thanks but no thanks)

For Shortwave listening & schedules:

Shortwave App's
 
I'm just surprised.
The only times I have listened to the radio in the last 40+ years is when I was watching/listening to sports with a blind friend.

I have music I like on my phone, no commercials or music I don't like.
Or I can stream music when I have cell signal.
I get news, weather, sports, educational talks on my phone when I want them.
I can download talking books from my library.
Bonus: I get it delivered wireless to my ears without bothering the da beagle.

Radio is so 70's ;)
 
edj the radio you have is what we commonly call a 'jobsite radio' or in this case, a jobsite bluetooth box. Easy to toss in and out of the pickup truck, set up on the floor or a toolbox or half finished cabinet, play tunes while you cut, drill, saw, nail, paint, whatever. Then you gather it up and toss it in the back seat at the end of the day.

I have a nice AM/FM jobsite radio called a 'Toughbox'. Still works after 10 years and to this day, its been living mostly outside, mine is weather 'resistant'. The rollcage gives it some ability to tolerate being bumped into, tripped over, or the occasional 2x4 landing on it.

I bet yours will stand the test of time like mine has.
 
The only times I have listened to the radio in the last 40+ years is when I was watching/listening to sports with a blind friend.

I have music I like on my phone, no commercials or music I don't like.
Or I can stream music when I have cell signal.
I get news, weather, sports, educational talks on my phone when I want them.
I can download talking books from my library.
Bonus: I get it delivered wireless to my ears without bothering the da beagle.

Radio is so 70's ;)
LOL I prefer radio over good streaming music while driving, because if I hear more than two really good songs in a row I tend to forget that I'm, er, driving. I kind of rely on the radio to keep me bored enough to pay attention to the road.

I used to love listening to NPR in the car before my sound system died (it woke up but then it died again). I'm a big fan but for some reason it's just not the same reading articles on their website. I keep meaning to get that sound system looked at, so I can listen to Shankar Vedantam's sexy Indian accent again ...

Don't you guys find streaming for long time periods on your phone to get expensive, or put you in the throttling zone?
 
When traveling, listening to the radio is a constant. I need the back ground noise. The biggest problem is that I am often losing stations and searching for new stations as I drive. I have my favorite radio station app on my phone, so I sometimes just turn that on instead.
 
When traveling, listening to the radio is a constant. I need the back ground noise. The biggest problem is that I am often losing stations and searching for new stations as I drive. I have my favorite radio station app on my phone, so I sometimes just turn that on instead.
I constantly search for new stations. It's better now since I put 150 of my favorite songs on a flash drive. Still, I like listening to songs I haven't heard in years and had forgotten about. To me, streaming seems like a waste of bandwidth. Bad enough I do it for movies.
 
edj the radio you have is what we commonly call a 'jobsite radio' or in this case, a jobsite bluetooth box. Easy to toss in and out of the pickup truck, set up on the floor or a toolbox or half finished cabinet, play tunes while you cut, drill, saw, nail, paint, whatever. Then you gather it up and toss it in the back seat at the end of the day.

I have a nice AM/FM jobsite radio called a 'Toughbox'. Still works after 10 years and to this day, its been living mostly outside, mine is weather 'resistant'. The rollcage gives it some ability to tolerate being bumped into, tripped over, or the occasional 2x4 landing on it.

I bet yours will stand the test of time like mine has.
I learned about job site radios from our last discussion here about radios. Old Wolf recommended Sangean and I did a search. They make those job site radios with the roll bars. HDR liked Sangean, too

The old radio thread: https://vanlivingforum.com/threads/radios.38778/
 
Streaming music on cell:
Normal (MP3) quality = ~72 MB/hr​
High Fidelity (CD) quality = ~115 MB/hr​
I seldom do this, but it does mostly solve the problem of searching for new stations when you drive out of range in the middle of your favorite song.

I create my own playlists of music I like, can mix (classical, 60's, 70's, et.al.) or have the program randomly pick from my library.

Mostly, I like silence. Or prefer an audio book to music.
 
Sangean makes a lot of Radios of different types. They also make for other marketing companies too. I have a Radio Shack SW MB MW AM/FM that was made by Sangean.

It is my understanding that Asian Radios have a higher pitch sound than many European made Radios. I had a Blaupunkt (German) Radio and pitch in it's sound was so low it was difficult to understand some of the time. Many of the Asian languages are based on tone and inflection so I guess it makes sense for the Radios built there to have a higher pitch sound. Just my guess.
 
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