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How come AM never seems to work?

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Old 03-28-2006, 12:33 AM
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Default How come AM never seems to work?

Whenever I have installed a apparently quality stereo AM/FM CD player in my boat (or for that matter in my Yukon SUV) the AM never works? I have an antenna installed and the FM always seems to work great. All the units I have installed cost in the neighborhood of $300. If I want to listen to a ball game on AM I bring along my $30 portable. Never could figure it out and it has been going on for years with several different stereo units.
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Old 03-28-2006, 12:56 AM
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Default RE: How come AM never seems to work?

i believe it has something to do with soldering in a resistor somewhere. I have a high end car audio stereo system. (over 6k worth of equip) and i have no am. I asked the installer about about it and thats what he said they have to do. I don;t listen to am so i blew it off. It was about 7 years ago though so mayber my memory has failed me......
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Old 03-28-2006, 09:03 AM
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Default RE: How come AM never seems to work?

topfish - 3/28/2006 12:33 AM

Whenever I have installed a apparently quality stereo AM/FM CD player in my boat (or for that matter in my Yukon SUV) the AM never works? I have an antenna installed and the FM always seems to work great. All the units I have installed cost in the neighborhood of $300. If I want to listen to a ball game on AM I bring along my $30 portable. Never could figure it out and it has been going on for years with several different stereo units.
That's a good question. In my car, FM stations work for 60 miles from town, but the AM stations sound like crap. I live approx. 6-8 miles from a powerful AM station, and it comes and goes, never sounding good. When I listen on a portable, it comes through clear as a bell!

Anything we can do to fix this?
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Old 03-28-2006, 09:24 AM
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Default Re: How come AM never seems to work?

Uhm, are you using an am/fm antennae?
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Old 03-28-2006, 10:18 AM
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Default Re: How come AM never seems to work?

I have AM/FM Antenna in Boat and car. The original radio that came with Yukon worked great on AM with same antenna. The boat antenna I bought from Boaters World said AM/FM. My 23 year old son had an extra sub woofer he installed in my Yukon. The existing radio would not drive all the speakers and sub. It wound up costing me $1500 to get the sub to work (new radio, more amps, new speakers, labor, etc). I kept thanking my Son for the free sub! Sounds great to a 61 year old Dad thumping his way down the highway. "Yo I got some bad sound coming from my ride". However, I am not allowed to turn the sub on when the little woman is in the vehicle. It is frustrating that I cannot listen to my beloved Redskin games on AM in boat and SUV. I called the mfg. of high dollar car radio when I installed it and he said to check the antenna. I told him that the antenna worked great on AM with the old GM system.
Even though I took dash apart and unplugged antenna and replugged and checked for loose connection. Am did not work. Go figure? Would love to know what to do.
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Old 03-28-2006, 10:47 AM
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Default Re: How come AM never seems to work?

topfish - 3/28/2006 9:18 AM

Would love to know what to do.
Re-install the old Delco radio. For radio reception you can't beat the stock GM radios. It seems like the high-end audio mfg's assume that if your buying a system like that you would never listen to AM.

I'm in your area. Now that you mention it, at the dock sometimes I have perfect FM, other days nothing. Maybe those 2 big antennas are gobbling up all of the RF on KI.

Where do you keep the boat ?

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Old 03-28-2006, 11:03 AM
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Default Re: How come AM never seems to work?

Keep boat on lift on Thompson Creek. From your good looking picture of your boat I see you are at or near Oyster Cove. I wish I could hear the music from The Jetty from my house! Cannot beat happy hour at the Jetty. When it warms up I will be back there enjoying 1/2 price appetizers for dinner. Looks like Angler's might be open again sometime soon.
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Old 03-28-2006, 03:04 PM
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Default Re: How come AM never seems to work?

Yeah the old folk at OC just love the noise from the Jetty.

What's the word on Angler's ?



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Old 03-28-2006, 04:21 PM
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Default Re: How come AM never seems to work?

They have been working on Angler's in the past couple months. It laid dormant for a long while after the tragedy and fire. I presume they are going to re-open. Have you heard what is the status of the County charging to park at parking lot by The Jetty (possibly putting up a gate)?
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Old 03-28-2006, 06:45 PM
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Default Re: How come AM never seems to work?

I have always wondered about this also. I travel through out the southeast for my job. I travel in some very off the beaten path remote areas and in my car (BMX X5) or a rental car I can never pull in a AM station. I remember as a kid in the late 60's and through the 70's in St. Louis MO I could get AM stations on my clock radio from Nashville, Chicago and New York! What has happened?
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Old 03-29-2006, 08:38 PM
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BTT Anyone have any ideas. It would be great to know what the problem is.
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Old 03-30-2006, 12:09 PM
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Default Re: How come AM never seems to work?

Yep! Older radios used a ferret core antenna inside the radio for AM reception and a extendable antenna for FM - Further more AM radio is more directional than FM and is easier to be blocked from being received by land mass or buildings - Signals at the low end of the dial (down towards 540) propagate better than signals at the high end of the dial (up around 1600). Therefore, even if two stations are located in the same area, and have equally good antennas, the station at the low end of the dial will cover a greater area. Next is that AM radio is more susceptible to man made noise generators such as =

Static build up
Florescent lights
Neon signs
Engine Noise
Alternator noise
Pump noise
Light dimmer controls
Touch lamps
Television sets
Computers and computer monitors
Electric motors
Dirty or faulty insulators
Radio equipment or medical equipment
Microwave ovens
Electronic Bug Zappers and Electronic Pest Controllers
A light bulb that is about to burn out
Automatic lights (indoor or out)
Hard-wired smoke and Co detectors
Blinking lights (such as Christmas lights)
Traffic light controls

So this leaves you with choices you need to come up with a separate AM antenna and need to reduce noise makers - This is hard to do on a boat particularly with all the electronics we have today! Those of you that are old enough remember the old AM Radio Direction Finders (RDF). What you could do is locate yourself out in the water by nulling out two or three stations where they intersect is your location on the water. The way this worked was the antenna was directional and you would spin it until the a needle would show the weakest signal then mark the direction, do this a couple of times on different stations and you knew were you where - So RDF use the directional factor of AM stations to navigate - This was the start of Loran and GPS we have today -

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Old 03-30-2006, 12:26 PM
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Default Re: How come AM never seems to work?

You need a better ground. AM reception in a car or boat is based on having a good ground Try running a ground wire from your radio chassis directly to your ground block or directly to your engine ground. Most cars and all boats are sadly lacking as far as a good earth ground.
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Old 03-30-2006, 12:39 PM
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Ok! as far as ground is concerned yes ground is important in transmission - Think about it if a good ground is needed how does that old AM battery powered transistor radio you bought back when for 4 bucks pick up stations that your $600 dollar marine radio does not - Yea you might have to turn it in the right direction but you can still hear something - Something to think about!

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Old 03-30-2006, 01:04 PM
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Default Re: How come AM never seems to work?

gonfish'n - 3/30/2006 11:39 AM

...if a good ground is needed how does that old AM battery powered transistor radio you bought back when for 4 bucks pick up stations that your $600 dollar marine radio does not ...
You said it yourself a few posts ago. That $4 AM portable radio had a directional ferrite loopstick antenna built in. A car/marine radio has NO antenna built in. I tried to put a ratshack radio into my 91 Passat, hooked up the antenna and -- it didn't work. Seems the Passat had an "active" antenna (a little flexible jobbie on the rear of the roof) with a preamp built in, and I had to get power to the preamp (in addition to plugging the antenna into the radio) to get the thing to work. So, check the manual to make sure the $600 radio doesn't require a separate preamp.

I ran a MF/HF SSB (which is a form of AM) amateur radio station from my old 28-footer. I installed a Dynaplate(R) through the hull as a radio ground and worked the world - transmit and receive regularly.
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Old 03-30-2006, 01:07 PM
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Ed Smith - 3/30/2006 11:26 AM

Most cars and all boats are sadly lacking as far as a good earth ground.
I certainly hope so

I think you mean Ground Plane

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Old 03-30-2006, 01:53 PM
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Default RE: How come AM never seems to work?

ancient angler - 3/27/2006 11:56 PM

i believe it has something to do with soldering in a resistor somewhere. I have a high end car audio stereo system. (over 6k worth of equip) and i have no am. I asked the installer about about it and thats what he said they have to do. I don;t listen to am so i blew it off. It was about 7 years ago though so mayber my memory has failed me......
ME TOO....I've had the car back to the Stereo Place and they can't figure it out...except to say less emphasis is being placed on AM signals now. Sorry answer...IMO
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Old 03-30-2006, 02:04 PM
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Default RE: How come AM never seems to work?

I bought one of those plug in antennas from Radio Shack,the kind that are all wire, I plugged it in to my AM/FM/CD on my boat,coiled it up and stuck on top of the unit which is located in my overhead electronics box and Presto! I can now listen to the Yankees on WCBS-88 AM while I am fishing.
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Old 03-30-2006, 02:09 PM
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Default Re: How come AM never seems to work?

Yep! in transmission of AM signals (marine SSB) a ground plane is the other side of the antenna system - That is why a RF ground is necessary for the system to work - Usually this entales bonding large areas of metal together and tieing them to ground plates. - Although RF ground is much maore complicate that simply bonding everything together to ground but that is a whole other topic of discussion -

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Old 03-30-2006, 06:50 PM
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Default Re: How come AM never seems to work?

Thanks for the help, I check out the ground.
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