Radio Reception

Submitted: Monday, May 22, 2017 at 10:21
ThreadID: 134919 Views:5966 Replies:12 FollowUps:7
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Hi all,
A thought was jogged with a comment from the BT50 thread re radio reception/radio heads.

I have found the Toyota's have a built in booster on their aerial (even the one in the window of the Prado) which works really well.

Has anyone taken the booster out and fitted it to another car/SUV? I have looked in the wreckers at the booster but it really needs an electrician to know what to take!

Are there other booster solutions?


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Reply By: Bob Y. - Qld - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 10:53

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 10:53
I've been driving Landcruisers, and the odd Hilux, for a lot of years and have always found their radios pretty good in outback areas. Sorry, don't know anything about the boosters, but probably the best bang for buck is a replacement aerial.

GME, Axis, and Mobile One are just some of the brands available that do AM/FM aerials. From about 30" up to at least 60", there's a number of sizes and they really lift the sensitivity of the "music" radio. Example: some years back was driving west of Diamantina, a few clicks north of the Tropic of Capricorn, at about 10.30am. With one of the above aerials fitted, managed to pick up 3SR in Shepparton! Probably the only downside is that they look like an oversized CB aerial.


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Reply By: Member - mechpete - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 13:03

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 13:03
with all my yrs with Nissan Patrols I have found that Toyota has always
had better radio reception than Nissan
my 2 bobs worth
AnswerID: 611303

Reply By: vk1dx - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 13:31

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 13:31
Hi Bill

There sure are better ways. Instead of cutting one out and do a dodgy install, go to a local radio repair/installation shop and talk to them. Maybe buy one and preferably get them to install it.

FYI: An electrician is not trained on radio and TV equipment etc. Better get an electronics/Radio technician.

It's like asking a plumber about carpentry.

And before anyone gets their nickers in a knot, I am talking about what they had to study and know to get their ticket and not what they may have picked up during their working life or at the pub.

AnswerID: 611304

Follow Up By: 9900Eagle - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 20:11

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 20:11
Well, you maybe right, then again I know a comms tech that did his time as a mechanic, then went on to diesel fitting and then took on being a comms tech and he is still working as one, with no formal training in a high paying job. He is self taught and matches it with the best. That is if you can ever get comms techs to agree on anything.

Sorry about the last sentence, but that is my experience with radio techs.

FollowupID: 881340

Follow Up By: vk1dx - Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 08:27

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 08:27
I already covered what you said by "may have picked up during their working life". Self taught does not mean he is proficient and could be trusted to cover all the heaps of government rules and regulations. I studied for years to get my diploma and even then more studies followed. You can't just take that up.

But if you want, here is more. I though that I covered knockers who would attack so here is more.

Self taught is basically DIY. My father in law built his own house. And with a bung leg through polio. An amazing feat! However, does that mean that he was a qualified carpenter and builder. Don't think so. It wouldn't stand up even at a union meeting. is "trade" was as a taxi driver.

Sorry but I wouldn't let your self taught diesel mechanic to work on my car. Not when we travel solo into all remote area and deserts and rely heavily on the car being reliable and confident that it would bring us home.

Next time read all of what people say and don't try to "pick some small issue out the side and waylay the topic.

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Follow Up By: Member - ACD 1 - Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 09:29

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 09:29
And just being the "Devil's Advocate"...

Just because you have done years of training to gain your diploma, Bachelors degree, PhD etc etc, doesn't mean you are reliable either.

Have a look a couple of threads over - Ranger Lemon - I trust dealership mechanics would be "Qualified"? Yet they are unable to locate or rectify the exact fault!

How many kids leave school and are basically illiterate?

How many doctors are sued for malpractice because of misdiagnosis?

Most newly trained mechanics/technicians these days are simply replacement mechanics - They will simply replace parts until they get a fix. Years ago they were capable of removing and repairing parts.

The only real advantage of having "a piece of papered" mechanic do your work is you may have legal recourse if they belong to their relevant trade association.


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Reply By: Dean K3 - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 19:27

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 19:27
My experience with a window mounted am/fm element antenna on a prado is its terrible especially when its on AM and even more so when out bush - a very directional almost yagi setup. - hilux however has a small omi-directonal at rear of cabin anticipated for use in rural areas ?

Easier to buy a GME am/fm pre tuned antenna and mounted them either on bullbar or roof rack to get extra height gain. downside is some of them are close to 6 foot tall so don't want to run that under a tree or underground carpark too quickly

zcg scalar also makes them and better build imho

AnswerID: 611311

Follow Up By: vk1dx - Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 13:29

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 13:29
All deleted. Couldn't be bothered.

This wasn't supposed to be a response to you Dean. I posted the original in the wrong place.

FollowupID: 881355

Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 19:43

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 19:43
If you look at the BT50 forums you will see that the OEM radio is crap across the board. There is nothing you can do about it other than replace it with an aftermarket unit of some kind.

I don't like commercial radio and plastic parrots on talkback foisting their shrill opinions on me. I take my own music, talking books and recorded podcasts with me when I travel. Often times I just like nothing.


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Reply By: IvanTheTerrible - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 21:01

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 21:01
The booster on new vehicles is to compensate for less than ideal antennas not to boost low signals. They are tuned for the particular antenna and are not usually interchangeable. You can by an after market unit from Aerpro but it is designed for European cars and is pretty much useless.
AnswerID: 611317

Reply By: RMD - Monday, May 22, 2017 at 23:21

Monday, May 22, 2017 at 23:21
Bill Most Toyotas had Fujitsu Ten radios which have a far higher sensitivity than many others, therefore they performed well and renowned for doing so.
Many modern radios and after market bling radios have poor sensitivity because the makers think, who listens to the radio, it is all on usb and DVD isn't it? Oh, Forgot ipod.

The 2008 to 2011 Isuzu and Colouradoo products have a booster in the base of the centre roof aerial unit. Positive and negative and a connection to the aerial and other side off to the coax cable. Nothing complicated at all.
Power for it is supplied when radio is on, ie, radio aerial power out wire, or from the aux and Ign ON source. Not sure which.
Wreckers have a few of them and they are easy to get out of the vehicle.
AnswerID: 611320

Reply By: Member - shane r1 - Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 08:54

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 08:54
On the subject of what you listen to while driving.
Some of us want to hear some news, weather and other on the radio. I do use other media at times too.
Some comments from the dealership , when I was trying to get something done with my Bt50 radio, were " who listens to the radio?". Piss poor attitude from them , which didn't do my sense of humour any good at all. Since then have given up and for some reason the radio has been a bit better, maybe since the engine was replaced, so maybe something different going on electrically?
AnswerID: 611327

Reply By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 09:06

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 09:06
I think there may be some misunderstanding about the function of "boosters" used in auto radio installations.
Their function is to raise the received signal level for transmission from the antenna via the coax cable to the radio receiver. This has become more necessary with cars that position the antenna further from the radio necessitating long coax cable with its inherent losses. They cannot improve the quality of the received radio signal, only a superior antenna or a shorter (and better) coax can do that. They simply improve the signal-to-noise ratio of the coax path.

Losses in the coax cable are twofold -- the signal level is attenuated (reduced) and and RF noise is introduced. The radio input stage then amplifies the delivered signal and with it the RF noise. With a "boosted" signal, less amplification is required so there is also less amplification of RF noise.

If the quality of radio reception is important to you then the solution is to install a superior antenna and use a shorter & better quality coax. It is all about "collecting" the best possible signal then delivering it to the receiver with minimal loss and interference. "Boosters" cannot improve a poor signal.

Incidentally, what I have described above is the same reason for using masthead amplifiers on TV antennae. It is the coax that is the problem to be overcome.

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AnswerID: 611328

Follow Up By: The Bantam - Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 16:53

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 16:53
Yeh sorry to be contradictory .... .... but the main reason for factory fitted boosters is for (as has been mentioned) less than ideal antennas.

On the FM band 88 to 108 Mhz .... the ideal length for a quarter wave dipole on a ground plane is about 2 feet ....... ( just below the 2 meter amateur band)

many modern cars have short sticks about a foot long, or shark fins or worst, on glass/ in glass loops. ....... antennae with very low gain on FM

It gets even worse on AM, where you simply can not mount a long enough aerial to get a quarter wave.

Yes the coax may be longer and there may be some compensation, but it is not the main reason.

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Follow Up By: Allan B (Sunshine Coast) - Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 21:46

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 21:46
Actually, you seem to be agreeing with me rather than contradictory.
If you boost the output from a "less than ideal antenna" you will also boost the noise and be no better off.

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Reply By: Member - bbuzz (NSW) - Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 10:08

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 10:08
Thank you all for your insights and suggestions.

I do have aftermarket media units fitted (both cars) and they work well.

My touring vehicle is a 2008 Prado whose window aerial works well all over the place.

A Ford Focus, which has a roof mounted aerial, has poor reception all over the place! I haven't looked for a replacement roof aerial very hard but didn't see any when I was looking.

I will be investigating some of the options suggested.

Bill B

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Reply By: The Bantam - Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 17:20

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 17:20
If the radio in question is a poor performer, there is bugger all that can be done apart from replacement.

Signal strength is not everything ..... the radio has to have good selectivity (recieve wanted in presence of unwanted) and good noise rejection ( the ability to seperate signal from noise) ....... of course if it is well designed for those, it will have better sensitivity (ability to deal with low signal)

aerial amplifiers on car radios have some limitations ...... the biggest limitation is signal overload ...... if you boost the signal for weak situations it makes the radio more prone to overload is strong signals.

Thus the gain in car radio aerial amplifiers is very limited .... seriously only a few db ...... where in TV we push 20, 30 and 40db .... because our situation is controlled.
Yeh and the noise figures on car radio aerial amps are gererally pretty piss poor.

In the past ... we had high and low gain switches on high end radios ...... pretty much obsolete ..... good radios have good AGC ( automatic gain control).

Yes an improved aerial in an improved location will produce better reception ........ but a good radio helps a great deal.

Toyota have always had pretty well sorted factory radios .... maybee not the latest thing, mabee not the best speakers ..... some other brands had, FM, cassette, CD, MP3 and bluetooth before Toyota ...... but their radios always worked well.

some of the base model aftermarket radio units have good reception performance where the bigger fancy ones don't.

I ran a base model clarion in my L300 for years and It handily spanked the origional factory radio.

I've just put a near base model pioneer in my 2wd hilux ... and it seems respectable.

I'll be mounting a 1.8m AM/FM mobile1 helical whip on the roof rack shorty, I'll be interested to see how that goes and if it gets 4kq reception past Warwick, Toowoomba and Gympie ... where it becomes unreliable at the moment.

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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 17:24

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at 17:24
if you look in the aeropro catalogue you will find they still sell in line aerial amplifiers ..... pretty similar to those that have been around since I was fitting car radio in the 80s' ...... but they are still the cheap pretty much ineffectual thing they always where ........ not because they are poor product .... because of the limitations I mention above.

try one if you like

FollowupID: 881369

Reply By: Sigmund - Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 20:10

Thursday, May 25, 2017 at 20:10
If you need to tune into emergency broadcasts then one option is a good portable with a loop antenna.
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