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Goodbye AM Radios in Automobiles, starting in 2024

Discussion in 'General Announcements' started by W9GB, May 15, 2023.

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  1. KN6ZVI

    KN6ZVI XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Roger that!
     
    W1BR likes this.
  2. WD4IGX

    WD4IGX Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    My iPhone 13 is 5G and it doesn't use USB-C. Apple stayed with Lightning on this one. No issues with it charging while running Waze.

    It never occurred to me that someone might have the phone plugged into an in-dash USB, because neither of my cars have that. But it makes sense. I'm using a charger plugged into the "lighter style" power jack.

    I don't give a...flip about Apple Play even though I'm an iPhone guy. I connect to my stereo via Blu-tooth in my newer (2011) car, and for my old 2003 I have a Blu-tooth FM transmitter, phone connects to it, it transmits on FM for reception on the car stereo. It works well even for speakerphone (has an internal mic too) and surprisingly seamlessly. Sending music to the sound system is pretty much the only data I want my phone sharing with my car. But that's me - I'm increasingly tempted to just buy a restored older car for my next.
     
  3. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    These are not the same kind of starters and so won't face the same kind of wear issues. For one they run on much higher voltages than 12 volts, I recall mention of 48 volts and 90 volts on some of these but don't quote me on that since my recollection is likely flawed. Another factor is this is a feature that doesn't operate with every stop. It can be manually disabled, at least that has been the case so far on every example I've seen. The feature won't run if the engine is too cold as that could create an uncomfortable delay in restarting.

    While living in Texas I came across a group of people that did EV conversions on existing vehicles and built their own electric cars. It was quite interesting to see them work out the problems of running the various accessories when there's no engine to run them. I recall asking one such builder how he heated this EV. His reply was, "This is Texas." Okay then.

    The issues of running accessories off electric power has largely been solved with battery powered cars being on the market for so long. Regardless the point is that there's going to be more electric motors in cars and trucks to do away with mechanical complexities like serpentine belts. That adds electrical complexities but wires and motors last longer than belts and pulleys. This also adds electric motors that can produce RF noise.

    Battery powered cars have a reputation for reduced range in cold weather. To be fair we likely see reduced range in fuel burner cars too, we just don't notice as much because of the smaller reduction, fuel can be added back quickly and easily enough, and so on.

    Fuel burning cars in this kind of cold will likely have block heaters. We had block heaters on the diesel tractors on the farm, and our cousins to the north had block heaters on their cars. I suspect that EV makers will take advantage of this habit of plugging in cars in cold weather to smooth over concerns buyers might have. I've seen demonstrations of an EV having a scheduled warm up period while plugged in so the cabin is warm and the battery full. Then another scheduled warm up can happen for the drive home from battery power.

    I'm not trying to sell anyone on EVs, I just don't want people hating EVs for the wrong reasons. I won't buy an EV any time soon. If offered one for nothing then I'd take it and drive it regularly with enthusiasm, but I'd keep my gasoline Ford until I was convinced the EV won't leave me stranded. I'd buy a plug-in hybrid as I believe that could save me on fuel and maintenance while offering some conveniences and comforts that a traditional fuel burning vehicle doesn't offer.
     
  4. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    It can use USB-C, there may not be a USB-C port on the phone but it can use USB-C.

    I have Lightning to USB-C cables for recharging my iPhone, it appears to offer a slightly faster recharge over USB-A. With every Lighting to USB-C cable I've seen there's no added data capability over USB-A, it still runs at USB 2.0 speeds. I discovered that with the correct pile of gear I can get USB-C ports for connecting accessories if it is important enough to do so, it's not likely practical though due to the cost of the equipment. It was a fun experiment involving gear I bought for my MacBook and a "camera adapter", which is really just a general purpose USB-A adapter.

    I can understand not being concerned about sharing data to the gear in the dash of a car. The adapter I have now only offers sound, power, and translates a few button presses on the radio into functions for playing music. It works well enough that I'm not terribly concerned to do anything about it. In my next vehicle though I'll expect more.

    Apple may be forced into putting a USB-C port on the iPhone soon, and there's a rumor they may do so only for the markets where it is required. I don't much care either way. I'll likely buy an iPhone regardless. I didn't much care for the switch from the 30-pin port to Lightning but I managed okay, I'll do fine with the move to USB-C when or if it comes.

    My experience with Bluetooth has not been great. I avoid Bluetooth because it is often such a hassle. When going Apple iProduct to Apple iProduct Bluetooth works well but anything else often ends with me digging in a drawer for some cable or another.

    Speaking of cables, I had a hard time finding TRRS cables for connecting devices with ports that have sound in and out on the same port. Now that I have a couple of those cables I don't have to bother with Bluetooth for most things to get speakers and mic to work. The ports might not be labeled for speaker and mic but it seems to work on everything I tried so far.

    If AM reception is going away then could FM radio go too? Mention of FM adapters makes me wonder if people just use the FM tuner as a means to inject audio into the car, and the expectation of Bluetooth and TRRS plugs make FM radio redundant. That could be where this is heading, no? The in-dash gear is there just as a means to interface smart phones and other portable computing devices to the speakers, power, and such in the car?
     
  5. WW5F

    WW5F Ham Member QRZ Page

    Having an AM radio or not in an EV is not an issue with me. I don't think it'll ever be an issue with me because I don't see myself buying an EV any time soon.

    Warning: TOPIC DRIFT

    Charge time and range remain the issues preventing me from buying an EV.

    I'd have to actually see these two things before I'd actually believe these two things:

    1) A level 2 charger installed in my garage would take all night to bring an EV to full charge? (So much for driving across country in a short time... and I need more than a couple hundred miles each day.)

    and,

    2) 0.24 kWh/mile to 0.87 kWh/mile?

    Sorry, I just don't believe what I read on the internet.
     
    KB2SMS likes this.
  6. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    The issue is not that only EVs are losing AM radio but that all cars and trucks are losing AM radio.

    What is driving this shift is largely the difficulty in filtering out the noise from the large motors in EVs, which includes not only battery electric vehicles but also hybrid electric vehicles. With more "electrification" happening in cars and trucks today the line is blurring on what it means to be a "hybrid" since all vehicles are getting electrical components that used to be unique to battery powered vehicles, such as electric air conditioning as opposed to belt driven air conditioning.

    Car manufacturers are removing AM radios from EVs because of the interference from the motors, or at least that is the theory. They will claim this is because AM radios are not a feature people want in their cars, an argument that is difficult to support if their non-EV models retain AM radios so all models are losing AM radio.

    This has became an issue with Congress because there's traffic information stations on AM radio yet, and a need to cover large thinly populated areas with emergency broadcasts that AM radio is uniquely suited to reach.

    Back at post #35 is a link to a forum called Slashdot where the members of the forum comment on a story about Congress trying to mandate AM radios in vehicles. It is an interesting discussion as people are taking this from various angles, pro and con. The forum is primarily focused on free and open source software but regularly dips into a number of topics related to sciences and technology, knowing the kind of people that site attracts should be taken into account when trying to get any meaning out of the conversations going on. That's just generally a good idea as all forums, including this one, will have the commentary skewed by the kind of membership it attracts.

    Knowing the audience here there's a concern that should come up with announcements to remove AM radios, this means that the car makers aren't going to be concerned about noise across the HF spectrum. Without concern for noise on AM radios there's no concern to contain noise on many popular Amateur HF bands. Even if your vehicle has had filtering put in place there's going to be other cars on the road lacking the filtering, and this impacts your ability to operate while driving as well as at home if there's proximity to a well traveled road.
     
  7. KN4SKF

    KN4SKF XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Why not just purchase an AM/FM portable radio to keep in the car for emergency purposes?
     
  8. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Because if the car isn't built to keep RFI to a minimum the portable radio won't pick up anything. The reason car makers want to be rid of AM radio is because the AM radios easily prove that the cars are a source of radio frequency interference.

    I can make a good sized list on why a portable AM/FM radio in the glove box isn't a solution to the problems under discussion, the RFI problem is perhaps the top reason why the idea fails.
     
  9. G8FXC

    G8FXC XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    What we are really discussing here is the pain of being stuck with a legacy solution. Over on this side of the pond, we largely abandoned medium wave AM a long time ago in favour of VHF FM. One of the advantages of VHF FM is increased bandwidth which allowed the introduction of RDS which is a low speed data stream that can be embedded into an FM voice signal. If I'm driving in the car with the sound system turned on and any traffic or other emergency message is transmitted, the sound system automatically retunes to the transmitter carrying the announcement and turns the volume up. This happens irrespective of what I'm listening to - could be a tape or CD - then the RDS system detects a message, the tape or CD is paused and the radio retuned.

    As an additional benefit, the RDS stream carries traffic data to drive the SatNav in the car. There's no need for a 4G internet link - if I'm using the SatNav to guide me to a destination and there is an accident on my route, the SatNav will get the data from the RDS stream and try to plot an alternative route to avoid it.

    Martin (G8FXC)
     
    KL7KN and N3RYB like this.
  10. N3RYB

    N3RYB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    In some parts of the US, the terrain isn't favorable to large scale VHF FM installations. We have plenty of VHF FM installions in the US, but as others have stated here, MW has propagation advantages in rugged terrain. Think sheltered valleys in rural areas. The issue of course is that we use AM and its static/RFI on the MW band. DAB would work so much better for MW broadcasting at this point. I say this as someone who likes AM as a mode for ham radio operations.
     
  11. AC0GT

    AC0GT Ham Member QRZ Page

    That sounds about right. One thing though is we made transitions from legacy to new like this before, we can do it again. One example is the move from NTSC to ATSC in television broadcasts. It was a rough transition that came with a number of delays but we got through it without destroying broadcast TV.

    I read somewhere how the switch to digital TV reduced the number of TV sets in homes, and that sounds about right. It was common for a new TV to enter a home with the old TV moved to a bedroom, garage, basement, or whatever. The old TV didn't stop working, but rather had the color fade, the look and function become outdated, or whatever. But with the switch to digital all those old analog TV sets could not pick up broadcasts any more, so they were removed from the home and not necessarily replaced on a one-to-one basis. Given time we may see the number of TV sets in homes get back to where they were, or maybe people will seek their information and entertainment from screens on other kinds of devices.

    This has been discussed many times, the USA is a much larger area with some parts that are thinly populated. It is impractical to expect VHF FM to cover this area. I believe we should consider a transition from AM on MW to some digital mode, perhaps a narrowband FM, a re-channeling to allow for a new mode, or something similar. The problem is that AM picks up noise unlike other modes, and this is a problem in part because on MW the noise can travel considerable distance. It is the distance that MW can cover that makes the band useful. To keep AM useful means keeping noise sources under control. Even if we dispense with AM in favor of digital modes we'd need to do something about the noise to maintain MW as a useful broadcast band, though perhaps not to the same level of rigor.
     
  12. KL7KN

    KL7KN Ham Member QRZ Page

    The one thing I focus on for this 'legacy' technology is
    [​IMG]

    that I can - and have, cobbled together a radio from common scrap. Don't think that is possible for DAB...
    OTOH, anything like his is highly unlikely and most would just use a portable radio.
     
    N8TGQ, W7UUU, W2VW and 1 other person like this.
  13. W1BR

    W1BR Ham Member QRZ Page

    at some point RFI will overpower the best FM car radio limiters and even render that mode useless. I am sure if the interference is that bad then marginally weak FM statios are also affected.
     
    AC0GT likes this.
  14. K2NS

    K2NS XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    UPDATE----Ford announced today that they are going to keep AM radios in all their vehicles, and if you got one already without AM radio, it will only take a software update to restore the availability of AM.
     
    AC0GT likes this.
  15. WN1MB

    WN1MB Ham Member QRZ Page

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