Improving XM Satellite Radio Reception

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Audio and Electronics' started by GeoGeek, Jul 18, 2013.

  1. GeoGeek

    GeoGeek Member

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    I 've read several threads complaining about the satellite radio reception of the factory XM radio, so it seems like a common problem, but I haven't seen a thread that offers a solution.
    Some have seen improvements when the dealer replaced the entire radio, but others have apparently had continued problems even after that drastic step.
    I had a look at the outboard satellite tuner box which is located inder the driver's seat and it looks like the sat antenna connection may be a standard FAKRA type.
    I plan on trying to replace the factory antenna with an aftermarket one (Terk XMICRO2) and see if that helps with the reception. Has anyone tried this?
     
    Bob Nichols likes this.
  2. GeoGeek

    GeoGeek Member

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    Okay, so the FAKRA type connector is not a simple plug-n-play for the OEM XM satellite tuner.
    Apparently there is a proprietary antenna connector type used just with the factory shark-fin style saetllite antenna.
    They make an adapter to allow you to connect this factory antenna to an aftermarket head unit or sat tuner.
    The thing is, I want to use an aftermarket sat antenna with the OEM sat tuner (and bypass the factory sharkfin antenna).
    At this point I think I need the adapter (SFA12F) to plug into the factory sat tuner, but then I need to go from the SMB female (on the other end of the adapter) to the FAKRA terminal on the end of my new antenna. I'm curious to see if this aftermarket antenna will improve the reception of the OEM sat tuner.
     
  3. GeoGeek

    GeoGeek Member

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    Got antsy and decided to just cut off the factory antenna lead (near the factory sat tuner under the driver's seat) and splice it to my Terk XMicro2 Antenna (cut off the FAKRA terminal). You have to be very careful when splicing antenna leads, but the good news is that it works! No more drop outs....reception is now perfect and stays locked in on overcast days and driving under tree canopy. I guess that the factory sat antenna (in the base of the AM/FM antenna) is just that terrible. Do yourself a favor if you're frustrated with poor sat radio reception and replace the crappy factory antenna.
     
  4. Eclipse1701d

    Eclipse1701d Prius Enthusiast

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    I see no one offered advice, but, I would like to thank you for the post. I did not renew XM because of the drop outs. Now, I can try this! Thanks!!!
     
  5. SteadyEddy

    SteadyEddy Junior Member

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    Thanks GeoGeek, I do have that problem a lot. I have an appointment for my first service. I told them about the fading in and out of the XM. I guess they aren't going to do anything about it. I was planning on letting the XM run out because of this problem. Now if I only knew just what you were talking about changing the antenna, I'd be all set. I'll have to look into it more.
     
  6. RockerC

    RockerC Junior Member

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    It is nice to know that there is a solution out there for this problem, I am on the 3 month XM trial and had no plans to take a sub because it is actually annoying even trying to listen to mine. Unfortunately, I am not too conversant with this techspeak... GeoGeek, there is a huge gap in a market you might be perfect to fill here!
     
  7. RockerC

    RockerC Junior Member

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    But I have looked up what a Terk xmicro2 looks like, and wonder what you do with that thing? Where do you mount it, and how do you run the wires? It seems like it might be a bit of an eyesore without some talent at hiding this sort of thing?
     
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  8. jgilliam1955

    jgilliam1955 Sometime your just gotta cry! 2013 Prius 4.

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    Yea I have used a portable since SAT came out and the antenna was on the trunk lid. Never lost a signal. Now it is easy to lose signal. When you can drive down a highway with trees and lose the signal thats not right.

    SCH-I535 ? 2
     
  9. GeoGeek

    GeoGeek Member

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    After a week+ since the antenna modification, I can report the drop-outs that used to be frequent are completely gone.
    I placed the Terk XMicro2 just behind the factory antenna on the roof (between the base of the factory antenna and the hatch). This area is metal and so the magnetic mount sticks down solidly. The wire is run into the hinge area of the hatch and runs under the weatherstripping around the hatch opening. From there I ran the antenna wire under the moulding panels on the left rear quarter panel area. Then it runs under the rear door tread moulding and under the carpet to the location of the factory sat tuner (under the driver's seat). I cut off the factory antenna lead about 6 inches up the cable lead from where it plugs into the sat tuner. I also cut off the FAKRA end of the Terk XMicro2 about six inches up from the FAKRA plug. Then I spliced the two together. This required stripping and isolating both the steel-braid style sheilding and the center antenna conductor, twisting the two cut ends together, soldering both, and then electrical taping everything. You have to be very careful soldering the shielding because it's easy to overheat and melt some of the insulation.
     
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  10. jgilliam1955

    jgilliam1955 Sometime your just gotta cry! 2013 Prius 4.

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    Thanks. Is there any thing that will plug in without the splicing? I do not trust my skills.
     
  11. jgilliam1955

    jgilliam1955 Sometime your just gotta cry! 2013 Prius 4.

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    My Prius does the samething. If you google it, it is a common problem.
    The antenna is located in the wrong location. This is what I found out. It is sad that a 28K car has this problem.

    SCH-I535 ? 2

    SCH-I535 ? 2
     
  12. 14T shelley

    14T shelley Junior Member

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    I have been surfing the net and have found both a SFA12F and a SFA12M adapter is available. Will either of these plug into the Sirius receiver under the drivers seat? Is a Terk xmicro2 antenna available with a smb fitting on the end that might plug into the SMB on the SFA12M ?
    I don't speak electronics, but I am trying to find a non-solder way to upgrade the antenna. GeoGeek can you post pictures or chime in here?
     
  13. VicVinegar

    VicVinegar Member

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    FWIW the signal in my Subaru and when I used an XM Onyx radio drops out in tree canopies. I just kind of accept it at this point I guess. So with that said, XM performance has been "normal" for me since getting the Prius.
     
  14. jgilliam1955

    jgilliam1955 Sometime your just gotta cry! 2013 Prius 4.

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    Me too.

    SCH-I535 ? 2
     
  15. GeoGeek

    GeoGeek Member

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    Those adapters (SFA12M or SFA12F) may possibly work, I'm just cheap and wanted to try splicing before I spent another $60...and it worked. SFA stands for "Shark Fin Antenna" and the "F" or "M" notates whether the end is male or female. If I were to have ordered one, I think it would have been the SFA12M, as the end that plugs into the factory sat receiver looks like that one. Then the trick becomes ordering an aftermarket sat antenna with an SMB type termination(not the Terk XMicro2, which has a FAKRA type termination) so it will plug directly into the SFA12M. The Terk XMicro2 does come with an adapter which takes it to SMB...but it terminates in a male SMB connection....to plug into the SFA12M, you'd need an adapter that takes a Male SMB and connects it to another SMB Male.
     
  16. KeivnOBrien

    KeivnOBrien New Member

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    Hey GeoGeek,

    I looked under the drivers seat and see 2 wire connectors. They are both shaped like blocks and have a couple of wires into them. Which one is the satellite antenna please?

    Thank you,
    Kevin
     
  17. GeoGeek

    GeoGeek Member

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    The satellite antenna lead is a little gray square plastic plug with just one gray insulated wire coming into it.
    See the attached picture.
    P7200485.JPG P7200488.JPG
     
  18. 14T shelley

    14T shelley Junior Member

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    Thank you for the pictures. Its a big help to know what to look for!
     
  19. Joeteck

    Joeteck Junior Member

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    What year is this Prius...? I do not have this under my seat... I have AIR bag connections..
     
  20. GeoGeek

    GeoGeek Member

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    Ours is a 2010 Package IV with the solar roof, with JBL and Nav.
     
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