Car Radio Reception in outback travel

Submitted: Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 00:31
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Just wondering if anybody has solved the problem of outback or isolated area's AM/FM radio reception. A lot of the time when travelling my wife and I are quite content to listen to the local radio channels, but they tend to not last to long before we are searching for another one. I have been looking at a booster option but also an extended copper wire long antenna? I am not keen to change out the factory fitted Toyota radio but was hoping for an antenna solution? Any advice would be appreciated.
Regards Will
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Reply By: TomH - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 08:31

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 08:31
Its normally caused by the low power of the stations transmitter, rather than any fault of the radio.

Years ago when living in the country we got improved reception by using the aerial tuning screw that was in the car radio in those days Dont know if they still have them in modern car radios.
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Reply By: Rangiephil - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 08:32

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 08:32
The sad fact is that all AM tuners have very poor sensitivity as the problem in most countries is cross talk from nearby stations,and it is very expensive to improve selectivity.

FM sensitivity is usually better and Pioneer have super tuner as a feature.

You can fit an antenna optimised for FM but they are a wire wound type which cannot be retracted. mobile 1 make one with low loss input cable.
Trouble with amplifiers is they also amplify interference.

Regards Philip A
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Reply By: Member - Alastair D (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 08:50

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 08:50
I have the second longest Mobile One am/fm aerial and it works well with the Sony receiver in my mobile home. I would buy a Pioneer tuner if doing it again as the specs are better.
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Reply By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 09:08

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 09:08
If your Toyota is a Prado or Cruiser, then you already have a booster built in.
I had an early Prado, with no booster and my current one has a booster connected to the aerial in the rear window glass.

I get ABC reception almost everywhere now. Living on the Central Coast, with poor ABC (702) reception, it is the fault of the station. All radio shops shake their head when asked about improving the reception and tell you to complain to the ABC!

I am thinking about getting the booster wiring off a wreck and fitting it to my Focus.

I have aftermarket entertainment units in both vehicles. The Prado one is better than the OME radio unit.

bill
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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 19:35

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 19:35
G'day Bill,

on the Central Coast you can get just about all the 702 content on 92.5 FM.

Steve
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Follow Up By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 19:41

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 19:41
Thanks Steve.

Will try it tomorrow.

bill
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Reply By: Member - Will 76 Series - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 09:46

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 09:46
Thanks very much for the replies it seems like an improved fixed antenna may be the solution to possibly improve reception. I have seen the copper wrapped wire type and they are definitely longer than the current factory retractable antenna.
Regards Will
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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 10:55

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 10:55
Been in western Qld & NT all my working life Will, so have always been chasing the perfect AM combination.:-)

Your Toyota unit should be okay, with a better aerial, as I've found them to be quite sensitive in remote areas. Have had good success with Mobile One replacement units, both medium length and in very remote spots, the 60" whip.

AM/FM Mobile One Aerials Lot of good advice on this page too, Will.

In June 2011, we travelled down to Lake Eyre, and were able to listen to ABC Longreach (540khz), almost as far as Mungerannie. This was using the 60" whip, with a basic Toyota AM/FM radio, in an '02 Landcruiser ute.

Prestige Communications had a number of ZCG AM/FM aerials on their website recently, but couldn't find the page this morning. The ZCG units were much, much dearer than Mobile one's offerings, and also a bulkier whip, which some may not like. They had a couple of models that had quick release whips......................if these are anything like the GME quick release UHF units, they won't hack rough roads!

FM is almost a non-event in remote areas. While most towns have FM, the signal is weak and barely manages to go more than 15-20kms out of town. suppose that's okay if you wqere camped in town and the Grand finals were on.

Bob

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Reply By: Grizzle - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 12:12

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 12:12
Just read this post and rang Mobile 1. Very helpful ( I spoke to the Arial Designer) and I ordered one over the phone. I have a Nissan Patrol and the reception has always been terrible.

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Follow Up By: Member - Trouper (NSW) - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 12:28

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 12:28
Hey grizzle, What one did you order?
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Follow Up By: Grizzle - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 13:10

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 13:10
I bought the M2W with 3 metre coax and spring base. The designer said not to loop coax so its important to get close to the correct length. The M2W is 1.5 metres long and is the best performer if you have no issues with the height of the aerial. I am mounting mine to the bullbar which is why I bought the spring base and I already have a long CB aerial so height is not an issue. $105.50 all up including delivery to Victoria. Approx 2 days delivery time. The guy I spoke to was the actual designer of the aerials.

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Reply By: Member - eighty matey - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 19:51

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 19:51
G'day Will,

Until the last couple of years we have used the standard double din Toyota Radio/Stereo.
I use a solid aerial with a spring base and extra copper from Repco.
This has worked well but things on the stereo stopped working so we replaced the unit with an after market one.
The new radio has AM, FM SW1, SW2, Bluetooth, CD, USB and auxiliary. I still match it to the same aerial.
We get ABC Am throughout outback Qld for about 75% of the time. Western NSW and southern QLD we get 2WEB.
Other times when we feel like listening to the radio but there's nothing local we scan the Short Wave bands and try to pick up something.
Up North there's a lot of International Channels but the English speaking channels are Radio Australia - Asia Pacific, Radio NZ, BBC World Service and Radio China English language. These are much stronger at night but Radio Australia is able to be picked up through the day, at times.

It's pretty good barrelling along the Sandover Hwy listening to radio instead of CDs sometimes.

Hoo roo,
Steve
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Reply By: Member - Will 76 Series - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 21:23

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 21:23
Thanks Steve & All,
Very helpful.

Regards Will
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Reply By: Idler Chris - Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 22:57

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2016 at 22:57
EO member Robin Miller designed the Astor Diamond Dot 13 Transistor car radio back in the seventies. What a performer. In good conditions it would pickup stations over a 1000 kilometres away. I wish they were available today. It was designed and built in Aust for Australian conditions. These days they are built for a world market and much more densely populated countries. Throw him enough bikies and he might build one for you.
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Follow Up By: Rob J8 - Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 02:05

Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 02:05
I had an Astor portable with a power cradle in the VE Valiant Regal and another in the Dodge truck. We were farming in the Eastern wheat belt of WA until 1973 and could pick up 5AD Adelaide during the day in the winter and at night 3 UZ Melbourne. Used to listen at midnight having my crib during seeding. The radio in my Ranger is pretty useless so am interested in all the comments. Rob J
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 09:04

Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 09:04
Thats very interesting. In Nov 1966 (which means Robin must have weaved his magic in the 60's as well) I was driving my Austin1800 from Geraldton to Perth at night time. I too was listening to 3UZ until the outskirts of Perth. Whats more the windscreen was broken early in the trip but was still able to hear 3UZ quite clearly above the wind roar.
I worked for Astor at the time and on my return to work in Clayton in Melbourne were the radio's were made, I mentioned this to Les Goding, the Car Radio Product Manager, (Did not know Robin at that stage) and the conclusion was freak atmospherics. You story would suggest it was not freak atmospherics but the norm. That's just amazing.
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 10:36

Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 10:36
Chris,
I'm old enough to remember the Astor Diamond Dot radios. Can't recall what cars they were in, but probably Holdens and a Valiant?

Another worthy Australian brand was Ferris. They made some good car radios, as well as some portable units. On my 18th birthday, my parents gave me a Ferris "Super 8 Portable Car Radio", which I still have. When I bought my first ute, I purchased a Ferris cradle for this, and it did good service in 2 Holden Utes.




In the early '80's, I was wandering through KMart in Mt Isa, and spotted a Ferris car radio on the shelves............$20.00. Why not I thought, so purchased it, and fitted it in an old HJ45 ute that we were given to use in our job at the time. Matched it with one of those 6'(1.8M) fibreglass aerials that were all the rage about that time.

We were doing earthmoving work S/W of Mt Isa, so we were a bit remote. That little radio, very light, so probably had a minimum of components, could pick up the commercial station in the Isa all day, as well as the ABC station(10kW) from Julia Creek. In early morning, the number of stations it could receive, and quite clearly, was amazing.

Anyway, to the punch line. :-). A bloke had a Mack Superliner with which he'd cart cattle off the station, as well as doing his vet duties, TB testing etc. He happened to hear this little Ferris going in the ute one morning, and was really p!ssed, as he'd spent hundreds of $$$$$ on a Jensen sound system in the Mack, and he was flat out hearing the ABC!

Eurovox were another highly sensitive brand, but they've sadly "left the building". Couldn't afford one years ago! :-(
Bob
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Follow Up By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 14:22

Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 14:22
'
From documents in my collection, the Astor 'Diamond Dot" was on the market in 1962. A great radio.
Robin Miller must have been quite young to have been involved in its development.

Cheers
Allan

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Follow Up By: J&A&KK - Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 21:05

Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 21:05
Bob. Seeing your photo,s of the Ferris radio brought back memories. I bought one in the late 60's, with the cradle, and moved it from car to car. Always crystal clear and reliable. Changing stations with the rotary knob was always a challenge on rough roads.

I went overseas to work in the late 70's and bought this Sony radio. A fantastic unit. Has an external antenna jack. When in the Solomon Is I had a dipole antenna rigged on the top of the house and listened to Radio Australia. One night the house was hit by lightening. blew every electrical device, plus house wiring, to smithereens. The dipole antenna lead ran down the inside wall of the house and all that remained of it was a black stain on the wall. Couldn't believe it when the Sony still worked. Have it today and take it with me when travelling.

John
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 22:40

Friday, Feb 26, 2016 at 22:40
I'd suggest John, that we both have a similar, and impeccable, taste in radios. :-)

By coincidence, I also bought a Sony multi-band radio, think it was an TR-1000, in late '60's. Good reception, especially with a long wire antenna.



Was working in the Kimberley at the time, and used to collect seismic wire from the Spirit Hill area, to use as an antenna. We were later camped at Milligan's Lagoon, and I'd strung this acquired wire for about 30M or more, away from our camp. No trouble to pick up Sydney stations, from late afternoon onward. An accident later saw this gem relegated to the junk box. :-(

Thanks,
Bob
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Reply By: MarkHugh - Thursday, Feb 25, 2016 at 19:36

Thursday, Feb 25, 2016 at 19:36
As the guys at MobileOne will tell you, using anything but RG62 coax will be degrading for the AM signal. Using it and a long whip on a good ground plane will do wonders. Having just come back from camping in some bushfire prone areas, not being able to receive ABC radio for warnings became something of an issue.
Cheers, Mark
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