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Antenna Success
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victoryvisiontour
Posted 2011-12-30 7:48 PM (#104411)
Subject: Antenna Success


Iron Butt

Posts: 763
Anderson, IN (48mi NE of downtown Indianapolis)
As much I a like my Vision, the radio has been disappointing to me in more ways than one. I have done a few upgrades and comparisons of which I will post the results on this forum. This write-up is regarding the antenna. I posted the installation process and results in the Tech Reference forum. Please review that posting before reading any further. Here is a link to it.
http://www.vision-riders.com/bb/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=10584&po...

The Tech Reference only shows the installation and results to keep it clear, concise, and easy to understand. I did not go into detail as to how to achieve the best results for receiving AM, FM, and WX stations. This post is intended to explain it a bit further to give those attempting to upgrade their antenna some knowledge when choosing a new antenna. Also, I would like some feedback on this subject which is not possible in the Tech Reference forum.

My 2008 Vision in stock form had very poor reception. The radio itself is not to blame. Its ability to tune in stations is, at the least, average. The problem is the antenna. As mentioned in the Tech Reference, it is hidden behind metal and is not properly grounded.

Metal tends to block out radio waves. Ever lose your cell phone signal inside a large building? When installing a new antenna, place it out in the open. Do not place it behind the dash, under the console, or in the saddle bag. FM radio waves follow line of sight, so the fewer obstacles in their path the better the reception.

Grounding your antenna is important for optimum performance. It has been said that the vertical mast is only half of the antenna; the car (or motorcycle in this case) is the other half. Proper grounding will keep out the static and interference. If you mount an antenna to the aluminum cowling on the Vision, it will NOT be grounded. The cowling has a finish that is non-conductive. Besides, the cowling is mounted to plastic and rubber so it will not have a path to back to the radio.

Height of the antenna is important for FM reception. Since FM radio waves are line-of-sight and the world is round, the signal leaves the earth at approximately 75 miles (depending on the height of the transmitting tower). Mount the antenna as high as possible. The top of the trunk is the best location from a performance standpoint since it is the highest point. However, that is obviously not practical. The antenna would whip around when opening and closing the lid. Be aware that if you mount an antenna anywhere on the truck you cannot remove the trunk without the antenna going with it. Also, the long distance between the trunk and radio will result in signal loss and the possibility of engine noise making its way into the cable. The next highest location on the Vision is the front cowl which is where I mounted mine.

The material you select for an antenna makes no difference as long as it is conductive: aluminum, steel, stainless steel, copper, etc. I do not prefer coatings such as paint, rubber, fiberglass, carbon fiber, etc. Some may disagree with me, but these coatings are an obstruction. They may be a minimal obstruction, but an obstruction nonetheless. There are several surface finishes that are fine such as anodize and black oxide because they are conductive.

One of the most important criteria for an FM antenna is its length. A vertical mast should be at least 32? long for best FM reception across the entire band (88~108MHz). Most auto manufactures have settled on 31? since there are few, if any, stations at the lowest end of the band. A 31? mast is sufficient down to 90MHz. The higher the frequency the shorter the antenna needs to be. I am guessing most Vision owners want the shortest antenna possible. So, tune your antenna to your favorite station by using the following numbers as a guide.
88Mhz = 32? mast
93MHz = 30? mast
98MHz = 29? mast
103MHz = 28? mast
108MHz = 26? mast

Now that we know the general details of antennas I will explain what I chose for my Vision and why I chose it. Let?s start with the antenna TYPE.

I have always had the best luck with vertical mast antennas. I tried three different types on the Vision before settling on the mast type. I wanted to get a hidden amplified antenna to work because I did not want to upset the flowing curves of the Vision. That was probably Victory?s thought too. Unfortunately, hidden antennas have their weaknesses for reasons explained above. The vertical mast type clearly out performed the hidden and OEM antennas in my testing (as expected).

The first thing to decide is the mounting method. I went with Metra AW-UT10B. I only wanted the mounting base due to its pivoting action. The location where I wanted to mount it was angled. I needed a pivoting base to get the mast vertical. There are chrome and black versions. I chose black because the dash is black and I wanted it to blend in rather than stand out.

The base I chose came with a telescopic mast which extends from 14? to 39?. This would be a good performing mast extended to 31?, but the diameter was visually unpleasing to me at 0.27?. I changed the mast to a cellular type which has a wire diameter of 0.07?. This made the antenna much less noticeable. When the bike is parked outside, the thin black wire disappears in all the background scenery. The problem with the thin wire is it has to be short or it cannot support itself. This is where I had to decide between performance and aesthetics. I went with the shorter cellular mast 15? long. The coil theoretically adds 6? of length. So, the result is 21?. I am not sure I buy the coil concept. The coil was originally designed to create an inductor for cell phone antennas. I am not sure it helps FM radio reception, but I have not heard that it hinders it any. If anyone knows more about this please let us know. There are literally hundreds of mast options that will fit on this base including: whip, stubby, amplified, 2 or 3 piece telescopic, lighted, etc. It can be easily changed if someone can point me to a better option.

The resulting antenna greatly improves the reception of FM stations. I received 16 new FM stations, 1 new AM, and 2 new WX. That is a total of 19 new stations that I did not receive at all with the OEM or hidden amplified antennas. All 16 FM stations are clear and come through in uninterrupted stereo.

As far as mechanical performance, the mast hardly moves at all. It does not whip around like I expected from a thin wire. The wind at 70mph has almost no affect on it. Bumps jiggle it a bit, but still very little movement. It doesn?t make any wind noise either.

In my experience with radio antennas, I have found that no antenna is the ideal antenna. The ideal antenna is the one that works best for you. Experiment like I did and you will find one that brings in more stations than you thought possible.

If anyone has tried other antennas (successful or not) please reply to this posting and tell your story.


Edited by victoryvisiontour 2011-12-30 8:01 PM




(DSC04320 (edited and resized).JPG)



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Attachments DSC04320 (edited and resized).JPG (42KB - 16 downloads)
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Mike
Posted 2011-12-30 8:36 PM (#104413 - in reply to #104411)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Puddle Jumper

Posts: 32
East Haven, CT
nice job and it looks good too
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Travelin Man
Posted 2011-12-30 10:20 PM (#104426 - in reply to #104411)
Subject: RE: Antenna Success


Iron Butt

Posts: 721

There is another option for those of us who already have the CB kit and it has existed for years in the CB community.  It is a signal splitter/combiner for using a CB antenna for the reception of FM/AM/WX signals.  Here is a picture of the unit from Firestik.com

 

 Model AR-1A
MSRP*     $17.99

*MSRP (Manufactures Suggested Retail Price) in U.S. Dollars

The "Match-Maker" is the perfect accessory for people who want to use their standard ground plane dependent Firestik, Firestik II or Firefly CB antenna for CB and AM/FM radio. Unlike the "receive only" antenna that is needed by the AM/FM radio, a CB radio requires an antenna that is resonant (on frequncy) within the CB band. If you only want one antenna, then the only wise and/or safe choice is to use a CB antenna and the Match-Maker CB/AM/FM splitter. Installation is easy too! Simply disconnect the antenna coax from the CB and screw it to the Match-Maker. Then, screw the Match-Makers PL-259 lead to the CB and put the pin-plug into the AM/FM radio's antenna input socket. Both coaxial leads are 18" (46cm)long. The two circuits are seperated with frequency specific filters which allows the CB to be heard and used even while the AM/FM radio is operating. The Match-Maker has seperate tuning pots (adjustable capacitors) for both the CB as well as the AM/FM radio. An adjustment tool and instructions are provided to help the user optimize the performance of both the CB and the AM/FM radio.

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victoryvisiontour
Posted 2011-12-31 12:10 AM (#104429 - in reply to #104411)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Iron Butt

Posts: 763
Anderson, IN (48mi NE of downtown Indianapolis)
Travelin Man,

One thing the Vision does not need is too many antennas. Thanks for the tip.
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rdbudd
Posted 2011-12-31 9:10 PM (#104483 - in reply to #104429)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Visionary

Posts: 1626
Jasper, MO
I tried one of those CB/AM/FM splitters on my bike. While it did work as an FM antenna, it totally screwed up the SWRs on the CB. No amount of tuning/fiddling of either the splitter or the antenna would bring them back even close to acceptable readings. I took it back off. It was a waste of money and time.

The splitter is designed to be used with ground plane antennas. The Vision (as well as most other plastic bodied touring bikes) use non-ground plane (NGP) antennas. I've used the splitters on cars with success, but it wouldn't work on the Vision.

Ronnie

Edited by rdbudd 2011-12-31 9:14 PM
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mlockman
Posted 2012-01-01 1:51 AM (#104499 - in reply to #104411)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Cruiser

Posts: 66
Oklahoma City
Is this only a problem on '08's? My '11 has absolutely no problems with radio reception, which of course begs the question...what in the world is the difference with the radio for these years?
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RedRider
Posted 2012-01-01 7:41 AM (#104509 - in reply to #104411)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Visionary

Posts: 1350
Thanks for the great info.
I wonder how a matching antenna to the CB trunk antenna but for FM would look?

That is interesting about the '11 antenna. Be nice if we could find out and just buy the new antenna or is it the base unit too?
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rdbudd
Posted 2012-01-01 8:04 AM (#104510 - in reply to #104509)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Visionary

Posts: 1626
Jasper, MO
RedRider - 2012-01-01 7:41 AM
I wonder how a matching antenna to the CB trunk antenna but for FM would look?


http://www.vision-riders.com/bb/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=5842&mid...

Ronnie
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Arkainzeye
Posted 2012-01-01 10:47 AM (#104517 - in reply to #104411)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Visionary

Posts: 3772
Pittsburgh, PA
i wonder why my 2011 vision has such better reception of my 2008 vision and i have No visual antenna's. my reception is so good on the 11 that all my presets are filled !! where as when i had the 08 vision i was lucky to get 1 maybe 2 stations and even then if i rode a few miles it they would fade out. so whats difference between the two.. hell my '11 visions radio is so good i can turn it to a station i like in another state (60-70 miles away) and it actually comes in !
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johnnyvision
Posted 2012-01-01 12:31 PM (#104518 - in reply to #104411)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Visionary

Posts: 4278
You that have 2011 is your panel plastic now and is your antenna still attached to it?

If so then I would think there is a new radio. Who makes Vic's radios ?

Now with my 08 if I sanded the back side of my panel and hooked a ground wire to it would I gain some reception ?
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victoryvisiontour
Posted 2012-01-01 12:49 PM (#104521 - in reply to #104518)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Iron Butt

Posts: 763
Anderson, IN (48mi NE of downtown Indianapolis)
john frey - 2012-01-01 1:31 PM

You that have 2011 is your panel plastic now and is your antenna still attached to it?

If so then I would think there is a new radio. Who makes Vic's radios ?

Now with my 08 if I sanded the back side of my panel and hooked a ground wire to it would I gain some reception ?


Regardless of the cowling being grounded to the bike or not , it is still an obstruction. I doubt you would gain much since it is not grounded to the antenna either. If you try it, please post your results.

The '08 antenna is a plastic tube (I assume there is a wire inside it) that runs down the inside of the right side aluminum cowling. Someone please check out their 2011 and let us know what is different. Thanks

Edited by victoryvisiontour 2012-01-01 12:49 PM
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jerrythekingpin
Posted 2012-01-01 12:51 PM (#104522 - in reply to #104411)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Cruiser

Posts: 94
milwaukee wisconsin
i have tried several diffrent antenna's to improve my reception on my 09 vv with no luck so i just use my mp3 picks up radio stations any where i go !! and radiosound in louisville ky they do offer repairs www.radiosound.com

Edited by jerrythekingpin 2012-01-01 12:53 PM
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Arkainzeye
Posted 2012-01-01 3:26 PM (#104535 - in reply to #104411)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Visionary

Posts: 3772
Pittsburgh, PA
i tooka few photos of my antenna setup. the front part where the antenna is tapped to IS metal.

http://i909.photobucket.com/albums/ac297/Arkainzeye/Vulcan%202000/2...

http://i909.photobucket.com/albums/ac297/Arkainzeye/Vulcan%202000/2...

http://i909.photobucket.com/albums/ac297/Arkainzeye/Vulcan%202000/2...

Edited by Arkainzeye 2012-01-01 3:28 PM
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johnnyvision
Posted 2012-01-01 5:22 PM (#104545 - in reply to #104535)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Visionary

Posts: 4278

Arkainzeye - 2012-01-01 3:26 PM i tooka few photos of my antenna setup. the front part where the antenna is tapped to IS metal. http://i909.photobucket.com/albums/ac297/Arkainzeye/Vulcan%202000/2... http://i909.photobucket.com/albums/ac297/Arkainzeye/Vulcan%202000/2... http://i909.photobucket.com/albums/ac297/Arkainzeye/Vulcan%202000/2...

 

Sorry to say the photos are two large and to close to see any thing.

What is the blue wire or where does it go.

Thanks for your hekp

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johnnyvision
Posted 2012-01-01 5:26 PM (#104546 - in reply to #104521)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Visionary

Posts: 4278

victoryvisiontour - 2012-01-01 12:49 PM john frey - 2012-01-01 1:31 PM You that have 2011 is your panel plastic now and is your antenna still attached to it? If so then I would think there is a new radio. Who makes Vic's radios ? Now with my 08 if I sanded the back side of my panel and hooked a ground wire to it would I gain some reception ? Regardless of the cowling being grounded to the bike or not , it is still an obstruction. I doubt you would gain much since it is not grounded to the antenna either. If you try it, please post your results. The '08 antenna is a plastic tube (I assume there is a wire inside it) that runs down the inside of the right side aluminum cowling. Someone please check out their 2011 and let us know what is different. Thanks

 

Your right about the plastic tube I think a saw a fine wire in it been some time ago to remember 

I do believe the aluminum panel would work like a good antenna but I do think it would pick up more forward stations then the ones behind you  

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vicguy
Posted 2012-01-01 11:47 PM (#104578 - in reply to #104411)
Subject: RE: Antenna Success


Cruiser

Posts: 74
shakopee , Mn
Antenna booster ftrom JC Witney

Ford fender mount 31" 8 ft cord works the best.

Mounted to the luggage rack.

Ford antenna plugs fits 08 radio plugins. GM products do not

No adapters needed
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pete a
Posted 2012-01-02 9:32 AM (#104589 - in reply to #104411)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Cruiser

Posts: 142
elgin mn
post a pic vicguy thanks Pete
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Arkainzeye
Posted 2012-01-02 10:18 AM (#104592 - in reply to #104411)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Visionary

Posts: 3772
Pittsburgh, PA
i know this doesnt help anyone but i still have to wonder. why do the newer visions have much Better reception than then older models? And they dont have a giant antenna sticking out of them.. ya know?
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vicguy
Posted 2012-01-02 11:06 PM (#104632 - in reply to #104589)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Cruiser

Posts: 74
shakopee , Mn
I'll try if one of the kids, show me how.
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jerrythekingpin
Posted 2012-01-05 8:02 PM (#104834 - in reply to #104411)
Subject: RE: Antenna Success


Cruiser

Posts: 94
milwaukee wisconsin
i finally got a responce from radio sound the company the makes the radios for the vision and if you have a 2010 and prior vision there is nothing they can/will do for the reception on the radio this is there responce this has been an issue since 08 we told victory when we built the radio for them it would require a externail antenna to get good reception but victory wanted a hidden antenna so at this time this is the onlything i can suggest to you thanks bla bla bla bla
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Arkainzeye
Posted 2012-01-05 8:17 PM (#104835 - in reply to #104834)
Subject: RE: Antenna Success


Visionary

Posts: 3772
Pittsburgh, PA
jerrythekingpin - 2012-01-05 8:02 PM

i finally got a responce from radio sound the company the makes the radios for the vision and if you have a 2010 and prior vision there is nothing they can/will do for the reception on the radio this is there responce this has been an issue since 08 we told victory when we built the radio for them it would require a externail antenna to get good reception but victory wanted a hidden antenna so at this time this is the onlything i can suggest to you thanks bla bla bla bla


but i dont understand how my 2011 vision has a hidden antenna like my 08 did and my 2011 radio is amazing! reception is so good i filled all the presets!
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jerrythekingpin
Posted 2012-01-06 6:17 PM (#104872 - in reply to #104411)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Cruiser

Posts: 94
milwaukee wisconsin
they remade the antenna and reconfigured the radio for 2011-12 visions so unless you want to spend the $700 + for the updated radio you'r screwed !!!
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divesharc
Posted 2013-05-03 3:54 PM (#138234 - in reply to #104426)
Subject: RE: Antenna Success


Cruiser

Posts: 297
VA
Travelinman,

Just wanted to say thanks for the post about the CB/AM/FM antenna splitter. I installed a powered antenna, but even then my reception sucked on on 2008 Vision. I commute to work (55 miles one way) and i needed to hear the traffic reports (I-95 changes by the minute here in VA). I found that on top of hills, I could hear the report, but as soon as I took a slight dip, I got static, of course just at the time that they were reporting on my area. Saw this post, ordered one off Amazon, and also ordered an AM/FM extender so that I could install the splitter in the trunk next to the CB/ICOM controller. I've taken the dash off a few times, so the whole thing took 30 minutes. Today I rode into work and what a difference! Not saying that it's as good as my truck, but it's 10 times better. I got no static on the traffic station, and it NEVER dropped out. It faded in strength a few times in the lower dips, but still very clear. Just wanted to say thanks and hope that anyone else with poor AM/FM reception should try this. Total cost (all ordered from Amazon) was only $30.

I admit, I don't have a SWR meter, so I have not tuned the CB, but I could still hear plenty of truckers talking when I was on the interstate. My only friend who had a CB changed bikes, and now doesn't have one, so I can't test it with him, but I never use the CB. The AM/FM was much more important to me anyways. Thanks again.
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divesharc
Posted 2013-05-03 3:54 PM (#138235 - in reply to #104426)
Subject: RE: Antenna Success


Cruiser

Posts: 297
VA
Travelinman,

Just wanted to say thanks for the post about the CB/AM/FM antenna splitter. I installed a powered antenna, but even then my reception sucked on on 2008 Vision. I commute to work (55 miles one way) and i needed to hear the traffic reports (I-95 changes by the minute here in VA). I found that on top of hills, I could hear the report, but as soon as I took a slight dip, I got static, of course just at the time that they were reporting on my area. Saw this post, ordered one off Amazon, and also ordered an AM/FM extender so that I could install the splitter in the trunk next to the CB/ICOM controller. I've taken the dash off a few times, so the whole thing took 30 minutes. Today I rode into work and what a difference! Not saying that it's as good as my truck, but it's 10 times better. I got no static on the traffic station, and it NEVER dropped out. It faded in strength a few times in the lower dips, but still very clear. Just wanted to say thanks and hope that anyone else with poor AM/FM reception should try this. Total cost (all ordered from Amazon) was only $30.

I admit, I don't have a SWR meter, so I have not tuned the CB, but I could still hear plenty of truckers talking when I was on the interstate. My only friend who had a CB changed bikes, and now doesn't have one, so I can't test it with him, but I never use the CB. The AM/FM was much more important to me anyways. Thanks again.
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Travelin Man
Posted 2013-05-03 8:14 PM (#138256 - in reply to #104411)
Subject: Re: Antenna Success


Iron Butt

Posts: 721
Marc,

You are welcome and I am glad to hear that it worked for you!

I rarely use the radio part of the audio system as I have all my music on my iPod but I do use the CB quite often because I still ride with a group of mostly Goldwing riders (right now my wife and I are currently the group leaders) where we use the CB to communicate mostly from the lead bike back to the tail bike.
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