Friday, December 17, 2010

Camaro Muscle Cars And Radio, From Dave M.

And now for something completely different - KAAY once gave away a brand new "Sprite" -themed Z-28 Camaro in a contest sponsored by the Little Rock Coca Cola bottling company. Here's a story about the new Camaros, and how technology helped solved a little radio problem -

Merry Christmas to all!

Dave M//

From :

When spy shots surfaced of the pre-production 2011 Chevrolet Camaro Convertible sporting an AM/FM whip antenna positioned on the rear deck lid, mullet-wearing fan-boys began to bitch. So Chevy called in an unexpected problem-solver — a Ham radio geek.

After realizing the enthusiasts hated the idea of an R/C car-like whip antenna on the rear deck lid, Chevrolet commissioned self-described "antenna freak" Don Hibbard, an antenna test performance engineer, to find a way to fix it. "Antennas are a beautiful thing to me," says Hibbard.

Hibbard and colleague Gregg Kittinger had to do what some thought was impossible: conceal the AM/FM antenna without sacrificing radio reception. Adding to the problem is that, as Kittinger says, "Typically antennas are hidden in a vehicle's rear window, but with a retractable soft-top roof, that's not an option." So putting it inside the Camaro's windows? Yeah, that's not going to happen.

The two, who share three other patents, accepted the challenge despite Kittinger's belief it wasn't likely impossible.

But the two came up with a novel approach –- hide the antenna inside the rear spoiler. No one had tried that on a Chevrolet before because of the hit to radio reception.

"We responded to a legitimate criticism from devoted Chevrolet Camaro enthusiasts and in ten months found an innovative way to improve the overall aesthetics of the vehicle without sacrificing performance and quality," said Kittinger.

While the shark fin antenna that transmits XM Satellite Radio, OnStar and cellular signals is still present on the car's deck lid, the built-in spoiler antenna eliminates the need for a longer, separate whip antenna to receive AM and FM radio signals.

Hibbard, a lifelong Ham radio enthusiast, says the unorthodox placement of the antenna within the body of the vehicle created a number of technical challenges, such as balancing form by preserving the car's styling and function of unimpeded audio reception.

"Where other automakers have tried and failed, Chevy succeeded," said Hibbard. "We hope to take what we've learned with the Camaro Convertible, build on it and apply it to future vehicles."

But the main morale of the story? Mullet-wearing Camaro fan-boys will bitch about pretty much anything. But hey, Chevy will try to make them happy nonetheless.

The secondary morale of the story? When you have a girlfriend who's a licensed Ham radio operator — and knows Morse code like the back of her hand — you'll find any story about Ham radios to be absolutely enthralling.

(Thanks, Dave!  Being a Ham radio operator for years myself and a radio-listening enthusiast, I can attest that the antenna is the most important part of any radio system.  You can have the best radio or transmitter in the world, but unless you have a good antenna, performance will suffer.  One of the big loves in my hobby is antennas and their design.  I have hand-built many of the antennas I currently use in Ham radio and also for my listening pleasure and they WORK.

By the way, folks, Hams (Amateur radio operators) have developed much of the technology you enjoy today; chances are, most electronic and communication devices you use every day was developed by or improved upon by a Ham radio operator somewhere on this planet.  You're welcome!

Dave, thanks for this look into antenna technology; many of us rode around listening to The Big K for many, many hours.  I even put together a better-than-production antenna system on my old '66 Dodge so I could hear the station better.  KAAY's night-time signal was SO strong, that if my car radio had a signal-strength meter in it, the needle would have been pinned all the way over to the right!

And, as I've mentioned to Dave a couple of times, with all of his and other engineers' knowledge, they'd make great Ham radio operators!  Bud S., )

1 comment:

  1. A lot of the GM cars in the 70's like my brother's 79 Camaro & 81 Cutlass had the T-shaped antenna wires embedded into the windshield. Two very thin wires went up the middle, then went in opposite directions along the top of the windshield. Haven't seen those in a long time.