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It’s the simple things…

Sometimes it's the simple things in life that offer the most joy! Simple things like… sunny days, clear blue skies, skiing in pristine powder or something more mundane like listening to static free music from your iPhone.

One of the advantages of the iPhone is that you always have your music with you and the battery is usually always charged! I couldn't say that about my iPod – carrying around a second device (and forgetting to charge it) was a hassle. The iPhone provides an elegant solution to both issues.

Unfortunately, my car doesn't have either the support for an iPod via the integrated electronics nor an AUX input. This leaves two options… hack the car (even I draw the limit here…) or using an FM transmitting adaptor to play through the car stereo.

The second option was my historic approach to iPod and car integration – not the best of solutions given the crowded airwaves here in the Bay Area. Every frequency is in use somewhere and often the radio station overpowered the iPod FM transmitter. This solution was a bust when I got my iPhone as not only did the phone give an incompatibility warning, the interference from the GSM RF deck made music listening an unhappy experience.

When iPhone compatible FM transmitters appeared in the local Apple store I gave in and bought one – the interference was gone but the poor reception problem remained. I kept thinking about ways of improving the reception but never thought about the problem when I had a browser at my finger tips… until this last weekend.

A short browsing session later I had a very simple, inexpensive and elegant solution. There are several sites that reference this out on the 'net – here's one of them.

Get a 33 inch length of wire (any wire just as long as its insulated), fold about 2 inches of the wire back on itself in a U-shape about half an inch across… and tape with duct tape (or any other strong tape available) to the back of the control unit of the transmitter.

You are done.

No kidding, this creates a simple antenna that's one quarter wavelength long at 88.3 Mhz that gets inductively fed from the antenna in the unit. No invalidation of the unit warranty, nothing to break, nothing to build, fix, or curse.

Works like a charm and renders music listening static free even in the RF swamp of Silicon Valley.

 

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STU PHILLIPS
MENLO PARK, CALIFORNIA

Intense Brit, lived in Silicon Valley since 1984. Avid pilot, like digital photography, ham radio and a bunch of other stuff. Official Geek.

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