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Super Genius
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Factory radio antenna too long? (PICS ADDED)

I normally park my new Tundra in a carport or garage. While pulling into either parking spot the tip of the radio antenna always hits the top of the door or roof support, then bends a bit, then springs back forcefully when I pull all the way in. This made me curious: is the truck just higher than normal, or is the antenna longer than normal, or is this normal behavior for most larger pickup trucks? I have driven several other rental trucks and had a number of service contractors on site but don't recall those antennas hitting like this.

Personally I find it very irritating since the antenna scratches the stuff that it hits and after several bumps the antenna wiggles loose and has to be tightened again. I figured it would eventually loosen up the antenna mount in the right front fender so I went to the parts store looking for a shorter replacement antenna. The only short radio antennas that all the stores had were the flexible rubber whips or the flimsy coiled metal jobs which are supposed to look like the old car phone antennas. Sure, I could install a power antenna but then some idiot will bend it or break it and I will have an expensive repair. No thanks.

I ended up buying a black coated stainless metal antenna that is just like the factory unit, but then I cut it in half with a hacksaw and replaced the round tip with a small battery-powered blue LED that lights up at night only when the truck is in motion. The resulting antenna is about 40% shorter than the factory whip, stronger, and barely moves even when cruising down the highway above 70. Radio reception is pretty decent with almost no noticeable change except for the weaker stations that I wouldn't listen to anyway. Click here to see the photos including my new custom XM installation.

So this has me wondering: why is the factory whip so long? Is it deliberately taller than the truck so you can use it as a height gauge before tearing your cab roof off? If not then I don't understand why they didn't make it a bit shorter and stronger. Sure, some people live in the middle of nowhere and might need the extra reception but let's face it: most of us live well within broadcast range and the majority aren't going to be listening to AM/FM very often when we have XM, CD, MP3, DVD, and bluetooth cell phones to listen to... :confused:
 

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I'm trying to remember my physics right now but doesn't the length of an antenna have something to do with the wavelength of the signal band it is intended to recieve? If so, you probably shouldn't create your own antenna length :eek:
 

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Super Genius
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm trying to remember my physics right now but doesn't the length of an antenna have something to do with the wavelength of the signal band it is intended to recieve? If so, you probably shouldn't create your own antenna length :eek:
In theory this is perfectly true, however there are many variants of antennas including full wave, half wave, 1/4 wave, etc. and each of these can receive just fine. The length is normally only critical when transmitting, which I don't plan to do from the Tundra any time soon. The reality is that most AM / FM stations can be received with just about anything including foil, a coat hanger, a metal tooth filling, or even a single strand of copper wire.

When removing my XM radio from my totaled Tacoma a few months ago, I noticed that the XM antenna wire had been cut almost completely in half inside of the dash and then again when it ran outside under the door seal, yet the XM radio continued to work fine in every condition except for tunnels or bad rain storms. I tried to reuse that same antenna in the Tundra but the wire broke in two more places during the install so I had to finally lay it to rest and pull out a spare.
 

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In theory this is perfectly true, however there are many variants of antennas including full wave, half wave, 1/4 wave, etc. and each of these can receive just fine. The length is normally only critical when transmitting, which I don't plan to do from the Tundra any time soon. The reality is that most AM / FM stations can be received with just about anything including foil, a coat hanger, a metal tooth filling, or even a single strand of copper wire.

When removing my XM radio from my totaled Tacoma a few months ago, I noticed that the XM antenna wire had been cut almost completely in half inside of the dash and then again when it ran outside under the door seal, yet the XM radio continued to work fine in every condition except for tunnels or bad rain storms. I tried to reuse that same antenna in the Tundra but the wire broke in two more places during the install so I had to finally lay it to rest and pull out a spare.

Yes, it has to do with wavelength and the "ratio" that is specified for the particular signal. However, most vehicles have the antenna printed on the back window with the rear-defogger as it can literally be a full wavelength (by weaving it back and forth around the window).
As for your XM radio, that is completely different. That works on line-of-sight satellite technology. If you bring that thing inside it won't work properly. Also the signal is digital (much like HD Radio) where reception is either "on" or "off" hence no "static" or "hiss" sounds when you are between stations or reception isn't ideal. The QOS levels for digital radio are set so that you either get adequate levels of reception or you get nothing at all. Also digital transmission antenna requirements are actually much more efficient than analog in terms of antenna requirements for a signal...
 

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You could whack it off to whatever length you want, and make up any difference in reception by wearing tin foil around your head and driving with your left arm stuck out the window.
 

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Super Genius
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
i like the fact that it is higher than the roof. its a good way to see if you are going to hit in a garage
Yeah, I had thought of that too, but it is not worth the expense of having to tighten the antenna once or twice every week and eventually loosening up the antenna mount in the quarter panel. Most garages are going to accept the Tundra and if you want to be absolutely sure then measure the exact height of your truck and just read the signs since most lower-than-normal openings are clearly marked.
 

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Yeah, I had thought of that too, but it is not worth the expense of having to tighten the antenna once or twice every week and eventually loosening up the antenna mount in the quarter panel. Most garages are going to accept the Tundra and if you want to be absolutely sure then measure the exact height of your truck and just read the signs since most lower-than-normal openings are clearly marked.
as long as you trust the person that measured the lowest point in the garage... sure.

i for one, wont be trusting him.
 

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Super Genius
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
as long as you trust the person that measured the lowest point in the garage... sure.

i for one, wont be trusting him.
I think it is a fairly safe gamble considering that most buildings don't change their height very often ;) and most posted height markings usually include a few inches of extra space for people that push it to the max. In cases where the building is sloppy or run down or the height is set by a flimsy chain or something dirty hanging from the ceiling, I wouldn't take a chance anyway. Even if you cleared the initial hurdle you could always get stuck inside. Also, in most cases you are going to be driving fast enough that the antenna won't warn you in time to take corrective action. Can't hurt to leave your factory antenna on as long as you don't hit it too often. I had to change mine though since it was hitting nearly 2-3 times every day.
 

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Buiildings are not usually a problem. However, I hate it when car washes have a sign that is basically a disclaimer that says it's your fault if your truck is too tall. You have to figure that there are a ton of trucks and SUV's that are going through there every day but you still have to keep your fingers crossed.:confused:
 

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Super Genius
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
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