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Discussion Starter #1
After buying an XM receiver (Delphi Roady XT) a year ago I've just installed it directly below my radio and have it connected to the audio jack on the front of my Panasonic radio/CD.

Once I got it all hooked up (the antenna is on the roof in the upper right corner of my Alfetta's rear hatch opening) I was able to get the XM 'sign up now' commercial. Which of course I did. The signal came in nicely and I left the XM playing as I buttoned everything up.

At some point the sound began cutting out - not unlike an online video which stops for a few seconds (apparently to catch its breath) then continues. The only non regulation thing I did was to solder wires to the + / -- connections on the bulky (and stupid) cigarette lighter 'plug' which is now stuffed into where the ashtray once was.

I'll admit my XM receiver was a refurb (obviously non-returnable at this point) but I've had outstanding luck buying refurbs. Though I'm not ruling out I did get a bad unit.

I'm guessing this particular problem is not typical. For the heck of it I'm going to unplug it and then have them reactivate it. Nice guy at XM told me about going to Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums to reactivate when needed.

Now the whine part: This apparently is not unusual for XM receivers / radios. Has anyone else had the whining problem and if so, how did you solve it? I found this: XM Satellite Radio Volt Converter & Noise Filter - Chrome Glow which is a bit pricey but should at least eliminate my power supply as being the culprit for cutting out (hopefully eliminating it) and has what I hope is a good noise suppressor.

I'm open to any suggestions.

I'll add that I've gone to Radio Shack's site for instance and checked out their ground loop isolator for $15 but it has RCA plugs which I don't want to have to either cut off or spend time soldering four inline female RCA connectors.

Biba
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I guess you're out of luck. You could have been (very semi) famous had you replied to this post. I strongly suspect some of you others have had whine in your cars sound system or more specifically 'XM radio whine' and solved it. Maybe not. Just now before buying the rather expensive 12V to 5V converter & noise filter ($89.05 - over half again what I spent on my XM receiver) I thought I'd google it again. #3 on the first page was a post on the ABB. Turned out to be this one and only very lonely question. Boy, google sure can work fast when they want to. Try getting your website on the first page in two days.

So your 15 nanoseconds of 'fame' has just slipped you by.

Biba
 

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1966-2013
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I don't suppose that whine is related to ignition is it, like all those radios from days gone by that would have that background noise that seemed to magically change pitch with RPM until a proper set of spark plugs and/or plug wires was installed?

Without having the slightest clue about the system, the way you describe the cutting out, and knowing that the feed is digital, perhaps it is/was a sattelite or signal issue rather than a head unit issue? (you know, like when the TV getting the new high falutin' digital signal from the cable box or sat feed and the picture freezes or goes all jigsaw squares. God I love this new medium! I mean stuttering pictures, double and treble rate increases and annoying anomolies right in the middle of a broadcast are so much better than that old fashioned 'night at the ant races' watching 'snow', but I digress....)

Do you know by chance if the signal is direct in the sense that it comes from the sat and straight out your speakers, or does it DL to a memory chip/board/drive in the head unit and THEN get put through the speakers after its been 'pre-recorded'? If the latter, it could be bad signal, bad memory device, bad recording, or even something so lame as a weak contact in there somewhere that gets wonky after a bit of heat gets into the thing.

I see on that link you provided that indoor setups must have the 'antenna' on the south side of the house near a window. Mabe the same applies to a car sitting in a garage with the door facing the wrong compass point, or even closed making for messed up/hitchy reception.

All the way around it, I doubt your soldering those wires had anything to do with causing the issue. Unless perhaps you inadvertantly got the polarity backwards, which would only be a thing if the device was REALLY sensitive to that sort of thing. (t'wouldn't likely cause the described problem anyway but just plain old not work. Of course if they sell only one polarity of 'power socket'/lighter adapter, mabe they expect every socket on every car in the world to be the same polarity. Doubtful to be sure)

I dunno, I want my 15 nanoseconds, so I'm just grasping at straws with truly no real clue what I'm talking about other than the off chance regarding ignition noise and/or perhaps the 'visibility' of the antenna to the sat signal. Otherwise I know nothing at all about the device, exept that around my part of town, those who got it (XM or Sirus) ditched it in short order due to either not liking any programing they were paying for so went back to regular old radio that they didn't feel compelled to keep on all the time like it or not because it's free, (s*** programming is so much easier to turn off if you're not paying for it ;) ), or, kept getting goofy signals and got tired of paying for that level of 'quality' service when they could do the same for free by going through a tunnel with thier AM radio on, or, listening to the retards at the drivethough at 3 am who think that because they're drunk and waiting in line in a fit of utter bordom decide to 'entertain' everyone within a 3/4 mile radius with thier wonderful taste in music.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Let's see if we can get this puppy up to first on google's hit parade. Two days ago I picked up a set of BPR6ES NGK's. The R being to prevent (?) ignition 'noise' in the sound system. No change in the whine. Today I installed a much better ground on the power source for the XM receiver. Again, no difference. I have a speaker next to my overhead shop door and I generally do this type of work with the car out far enough to open its doors. I say this only to give you a visual of the arangement when 'testing' the XM. There seems to be no delay between the sounds of the (obviously) same XM station playing on the single speaker as in the Alfetta. Also, I'm very sure I soldered the wires to the correct solder points on the circuit board of the XM's cigarette lighter plug.

The cutting out is just weird. It almost seems as if certain (???) in the music overwhelms the receiver so it momentarily cuts out. It might not even be cutting out completely, but lowers the volume. I listen to almost solely classical music (damm hard to find classical stations on FM - and there are only two on XM. I don't consider opera classical musical since it is so bloody dreadful) and it is not unusual for classical music to suddenly drop a lot in volume - or just the opposite. Which does confuse things. As I've made clear, my receiver was very inexpensive. It was absolutely the only one I could find that wasn't about ten inches long. Meaning it might well be greatly underengineered to start with - along with the absolute cheapest parts available - or poorly assembled.

I called the Chrome Glow guy which has the voltage converter w/noise filter and he was very cool. They're made for motorcycles and he wasn't sure if it would work okay in a car or not - and said there were no returns on it. He gave me the phone number of the manufacturer who was originally in car audio so I'll call him tomorrow.

Yes, things used to be much simpler, but unfortunately like everyone else I do like digital toys.

Biba
 

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Regarding the ignition:
What is the condition/age/type of plug wire used?
They tend to be more the culprit than plugs as non-resistive types or those with old/poor/weak insulation sleeving 'leak' on a pretty regular basis. You know, the same kind of breakdown that allow syou to see the cool light show when you open your hood at night with the engine running and the wires cross-talking or going to ground with arcs and such. (it doesn't need to be anywhere near that bad to make radio noise, but, if it's not detectable in your regular car radio/audio, somehow I doubt it would effect just the sat radio, unless they are reall really sensitive to that sort of thing)

I presume the head is internally amplified to some degree or another then? (nothing megawatt mind you, just enough to push sound out of the box to some speakers or through another head unit without the need for a seperate amp unit to boost things up to a usable level)

Two instances I can think of that have occured to me in the past with car audio thingies:

Low voltage cutting out the internal (or regular external) amp intermittantly, and, the internal (or external) amp failing in such a way that as it gets warm, it kinda cuts itself in and out. (heat cuts it out, momentary cooling brings it back on, repeat loop indefinitely)

Likely the former is a non-issue in your case unless your soldering or circut is weak, (did you check the fuse that services the lighter socket for tighness/good contact?), but the latter might be part of the picture.

Now if your cutting in and out is more 'chattery', as in like someone flicking the switch on and off as quickly as they can, I dunno, as the process above goes in and out over a period of a second or two, usually. Sometimes longer, but pretty unheard of for it to be shorter. (things don't heat and cool [i[that[/i] quickly)

The whine has me stumped. I do recall one instance in a tape deck where an internal PCB ground (or perhaps isolator wire would be more appropriate) wire that went from the head to PCB came loose and would whine like mad every time the power was turned on, regardless of a tape being played or not. It simply made noise because the wire was loose w/poor to no contact, so the head began picking up the literal whirr of the motor as it turned. Real high pitched, and almost identical to ignition noise, but had nothing to do with the ignition being on or not.

Can you tell I'm digging at the very bottom of the bag of tricks here?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Darren, hypothesise this one: I'm the cause of the XM receiver cutting out. No, not a boo-boo of mine, but me. I got my un-ugly audio cable in the mail today and installed it. Overhead door was open, but car was just inside. I checked to see if the new audio cable solved the whining problem, of course it didn't so shut off the engine. The XM was cutting out worse than ever, I'd wiggle the three wires going to the receiver's base and it would seem to start playing, but I'd sit back in the driver's seat and it would cut out again. I'm thinking a short within one of the wires.

Classical station was playing music that was dramatically going fairly loud, then really soft. I got out, opened the rear hatch (the main speakers are way in the back) so I could more evenly/clearly listen to the single speaker playing through the shop's XM and the car one. Everytime I thought the car's XM was cutting out, I realized that the outside speaker was also really quiet, but still playing. I should add here that my hearing isn't all that great so soft pasages are lost on me. Bottom line is that the XM didn't skip a beat. I get back in the car and it immediately cuts out. I touch nothing, I just sit down.

99% of my listening to the car XM radio to date has been within about ten feet of where I was tonight. I did drive the car with the radio on for about 1000 feet, but shut if off because of the whine. I was pretty sure it also cut out then, but I was more obsessed with the whiny whine.

Still, if everytime I'm driving west and it cuts out, I would not be happy. As mentioned the XM's magnet antenna is on the right rear of the (exterior of the) roof, nowhere near the driver or passenger seat.

Do I have to ground me?

Manufacturer's tech guy of the motorcycle converter/noise filter told me to get a 'power noise filter' and he was sure it would solve my whine problem - and be a lot less expensive.

Assuming this is the case with the whine, what's your take on the cutting out - short of my wearing a lead beanie with a propeller on top when driving?

Biba
 

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Ummm.... 'mabe'?

I suppose for giggles you could wrap a stripped wire around your wrist and the other end to a ground (steering column, door hinge, seat bolt or actual chassis ground nearby perhaps) to see what that does. Doesn't make sense, but, hey, it can't hurt to try. (might be as simple as grounding yourself to the chassis, rolling the left window 2 and 1/3 cranks down and sticking your right arm out said over top of your head at a 15 degree upward angle)

That or there's something being pinched in/around the seat and when you plop down it causes intermittant contact. :shrug: (the speakers are well connected at both the head and speakers proper, correct?)

I've heard fairly decent things about the power filters, but never have used one so don't know it it's fact or fairy tale.
 

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Secondary thought:

Touching wires stops cutting out, letting go of wires brings it back.

Even though the doodad likely has a ground, mabe consider adding another one to it's case? Like off one of the assembly screws or something, or perhaps even soldered directly onto the case proper. (mabe even one of those fat braided style ground straps instead of a whimpywire)

Also, (and prolly stating the obvious), make sure the ground you use is really a good one. Sometimes a console screw ain't always the best bet, and going directly to something chassis ends up being a much better setup.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The power source for the XM receiver is now connected to the chassis and I first scratched the paint off, etc. I just thought of a great product - a series of hollow grinding heads from say 5 mm up to 8 mm (I used an 8 mm stud) that would slip over the bolt/stud and grind off paint/rust in an area about the size of a (umm) 'round' connecter ground. It always kills me to have to start scratching off paint/primer right after I've painted a car in order to get a good ground - not that I've just painted my Alfetta. But I digress.

After I sent my previous email I realized I should have included that all of the wires going from front to back (and there are now a bunch) were first taped together (in two separate groups) every foot or two and are all on the passenger side - so no wire/wires are getting mished or unmished when I'm in the driver's seat (literally). Also, I think when it seemed as if by turning a wire a bit it seemed to get better, it was just the position of my hand in conjunction to the wire/receiver. I could move my hand around and it would cut out more or less by where it was.

I found about 50 different power noise filters ranging from $5 to $130 or so on google. I'm heading out shortly to see what Pep Boys and/or Radio Shack has to offer.

Question: Some companies list their filters by amperage (amperage of filters or power going through them?) and it seemed as the higher the amperage the more expensive they were - thought not dramatically more expensive. I do believe these were the ones which are to go between the alternator and power supply. Fellow I talked to yesterday said to get one that goes between the 12V power supply to the XM 5V converter (lighter plug).

If I can get the whine out, I'll then tackle me being the cutting out problem. At least I'm now pretty sure the problem isn't a bad receiver or wire situation.

Biba
 

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I could move my hand around and it would cut out more or less by where it was.
Too many X-rays in your life, the battery in your pacemaker is a lot more powerful than you imagined, your fillings (or braces for that matter) are conducting current based on how much saliva is present in your mouth at a given time, or the jeweler lied about the gold content of your wedding band, and it's really just plated copper. :) (don't feel bad, I can literally set off a geiger counter with either arm)

Question:.... and it seemed as the higher the amperage the more expensive they were
That's kind of a standard for most equiptment of that type. More amps = more power = more insulation or whatnot to allow for such = more manufacturing cost.

I do believe these were the ones which are to go between the alternator and power supply. Fellow I talked to yesterday said to get one that goes between the 12V power supply to the XM 5V converter (lighter plug)
Somehow I'd imagine either would be functional, but to truly isolate the head unit from everything, the lighter socket to head filter would likey be the safer bet, or at least would almost assuredly block out any stray stuff that going between alternator and power supply might not as it isn't part of the actual circut. (like ignition, turn signal flasher relays, wiper motor and other such electronic noise making items)

Basically filter as close to the troubled device as possible to ensure nothing can 'sneak by'.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Darren, I believe I'm going to retire from my life's work, installing an XM radio in my car and having it work properly.

On the way to pick up the in-line noise filter I decided to use XM, whining all the way. I thought I smelled something like hot electrical components, and shut off the XM/Aux. I didn't smell it any more - though it was just a maybe an electrical smell. After picking up a $10 noise filter at PepBoys the FM began cutting out a bit, then a lot so I shut it off figuring I'd knocked one of the two grounds. I (carefully) wired the noise filter and installed. I'll add that none of the wires on the 'converter'/lighter plug looked as if they had gotten hot - or any of the other wires in the back of the receiver.

No sound coming out whatsoever. Not on XM, not on FM (just checked and it also doesn't work with a CD), and the ATTN button wasn't on.

Turn the receiver on and it pretends like it is playing in that there is a balance dealy on the screen and it was moving up and down just like sound was coming out. I repeat, the ATTN button wasn't on. When I turn the receiver on, there's a slight pop in the rear speakers - so that indicates to me that the speakers are working, though I went ahead and pulled out the speaker plug and sprayed it with contact cleaner. Nada.

Manual says that if nothing is coming out of the speakers the front/rear fader is not set correctly. So I played with it (and had been earlier). I tried every setting and nothing changed.

This might not be the case, but since the speakers popped, it somewhat told me the amp is okay. No, no seprate amp. Or is it just the opposite in what I'm hearing is an electrical induced pop in the speakers which wouldn't be there if the amp section was okay?

Guess I'll just have to buy another Alfetta GT with a working receiver and XM. That should solve all of my problems.

Biba
 

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Well poo, you got me swingin', but that smell can't be a good sign no matter what it is originating from :(

The pop from the speakers at least indicates power/circut is going to the speakers, but beyond that, dunno. Could be a result of power kicking on in the wrong sequence, or cutting out violently.

Having a second car to tinker with doesn't sound like a bad plan at first, but who knows what a PO did to #2 to make it just that much different than what you're working with :shrug:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I hope you realize I was very much kidding regarding buying another Alfetta. Yesterday I got in the car and the radio came right on. I started the car up, and there was still whine on XM, but less so. However XM was really cutting out, then when driving there was static and cutting out when decelerating. Pulled back in the shop and tried FM. It too was cutting out. Grounds are solid and there is no blinking on the receiver's display indicating the power supply is iffy.

Today I installed a different car battery going on the odd chance I might have a bad cell. The car starts fine, the receiver is back to not making a peep. I've seldom made use of the various setting for treble / base / balance (from left - right) / or fade (front - back). The latter acts weird in that I can hold the key down and the numbers change, but no difference in the fade, then later it 'might' begin to work.

I've concluded that this is the area which is screwed up in the receiver and causing many - though not all - of the problems. The irony is I'm willing to bet it is because I didn't make much use of them over the years, is the reason they got/went funky. All I can think of is to get another receiver. If it does the same thing, I'll return it (I know, not a nice thing to do) and go back to checking every wire involved - though I've checked most of them and they all (both + & --) check out fine.

Hardly the same thing but I had a battery powered watch with various 'settings' - stop watch, date, etc. I only used the date and of course time. When I had a watch place replace a dead battery, the guy couldn't adjust these auxiliary settings to set the date. He fixed this 'section' and it has been fine ever since. He cautioned me in effect to use it of lose it (the watch settings).

Boy are there a lot of btut ugly receivers out there. Apparently they all gear their designs to 14 year old boys (with bad taste).

Biba
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Darren, the XM receiver is just that. Just like my office/living room set-up, the small XM receiver attaches to the XM ready jack in the back of the receiver. In this case however I then use my 'main' receiver to change stations, etc. After doing a bit of reading on the Internet it seems as if one uses an XM ready car head unit, the sound is terrible (though perhaps not if it is a high end head unit). However, I'd much prefer to have that type of set-up unless it sounds tinny.

No desire whatsoever to own another Alfetta. As it is I should be concentrating all of my (car working) time on restoring client's Spiders. I've not been having very good luck lately in that after working on my Alfetta, I then have major problems. Recently I installed a rebuilt transaxle with lightened gears along with a rebuilt DeDion, then ended up with a horrible vibration in the driveshaft. I had to remove my lightened (and balanced) clutch flywheel and switch back to my stock clutch assembly to solve the vibration problem. Very frustrating. And now I have no sounds in my car at all. Hard to believe the head unit is fried, but it is not responding. FM 'worked' last night when I was driving, but was totally garbled.

Biba
 

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Darren, the XM receiver is just that. Just like my office/living room set-up, the small XM receiver attaches to the XM ready jack in the back of the receiver. In this case however I then use my 'main' receiver to change stations, etc
Ah, OK, I understand.
It acts more like a TV cable box than an audio component.

ie: hook up the box and the thing it attaches to will do new tricks/get more stations.

I understand where you might be reticent about 'ready' head unit. I can see issues arising down the road reminicent of the DVD (and/or) VCR~TV combo setups one can get out there. Any one part goes bad and the whole thing is garbage.

Bummage about the car seeming to want to fight back with you when you're obviously tryign to be nice. They're seemingly so unappreciative at times.

Some days it's like 'do I go out with a gas can and keys, or gas can and a match', and hopefully there's more of the former than the latter, lest fate manifest itself in an 'accidental' fire someday. (and with my luck, the garage would go with it....)
 
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