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Jeep Wrangler - Restoration & Custom Outfitting
All photos, diagrams, and text on this page Copyright 2013 - David Todeschini - all rights reserved - see Copyright Terms


Bogus AM / FM Radio Signal Booster


Exposing a Multi-Million Dollar Internet Fraud, and
recommending solutions that are proven to work

 

A Ripoff Report has been filed

 

Before I begin this article, I want to advise my readers to read through this entire page and follow the hyperlinks. Many people think they need a signal amplifier because they experience noisy radio reception, and in reality, the problem may be noise induced by the vehicle itself, or due to improper installation of high-powered audio amplifiers or equalizer equipment.

 

I am in the process of adding a Troubleshooting Section that will help you to correctly identify the problem, so that the solution you choose is the correct thing to do.

 

When installing ANY audio equipment, it is important to run a separate heavy-duty ground () wire to the battery, and not just attach negative wires to the vehicle chassis. If you install a signal amplifier on a vehicle that has an electrically noisy electrical system, you will invariably make the problem worse. It is therefore very important that you correctly identify the problem before you attempt a "solution". This article (and those referenced with the hyperlinks) hopefully addresses all possibilities.

 

BASICALLY: You need a signal amplifier if the radio station you want to listen to is weak, or fades in and out while the vehicle is standing still with the engine off, AND the CD / DVD / iPod (aux jack) is functioning properly regardless of whether the engine is on or off. You need to run a separate heavy-duty ground wire to the battery negative terminal if your CD /DVD / iPod (aux jack) is picking up hum, static, or high-pitched whining with the engine running.

 

UNFORTUNATELY, some of you have correctly identified the problem as a weak radio signal in a fringe area, or not enough gain from a shorter antenna you might have installed to make your Jeep more "bush-worthy", but have attempted to fix that problem with a BOGUS solution; a piece of equipment which, according to one eBay seller's store page, has sold over 2,000 units from that one seller alone at $3.89 + S&H (do the math; that's $7,780 for this one seller alone!). eBay has at least 186 sellers for this "device", ranging in price from $2.59 to $6.21. Others on the Internet are charging $25 or more.

 

HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of these units are being sold by sellers all over the Internet, and even on Amazon. No doubt, many of these sellers are not aware that the product is a ten cent P.O.S. that CANNOT POSSIBLY WORK, doesn't work, and contains no components that could be called "signal amplifier" or "signal booster" in any sense of the word.

 

Many people have devoted hours to installing this thing, and some have convinced themselves that it made a difference because they invested so much effort into its installation, but it is ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE that the device can amplify a radio signal, because there are NO TUNED CIRCUITS, and absolutely NO SEMICONDUCTOR COMPONENTS in the device at all.

 

If you installed a short radio antenna or rubber "trail antenna" on your Jeep to prevent it thrashing about as you drive on back-woods trails, or are simply in or traveling through a fringe area where your radio reception sucks, there IS a solution to the problem, but it ISN'T the $3.89 piece of crap advertised on eBay, which is the same piece of junk you can get from Amazon and from a host of other sellers on the Internet. For a few bucks, I figured "what the hell? It might work", and without knowing precisely what it was made of, out of curiosity, I ordered one.

 

A signal amplifier has nothing to do with eliminating noise caused by the alternator or other components in your vehicle. An RF (Radio Frequency) signal amplifier is designed to operate on a specific band of frequencies, and it requires tuned circuits and transistors or tuned circuits and integrated circuits. This is the least of what I expected to find in the "amplifier" built into the aluminum tube (see photos and video below). When I received it, the thing looked a bit suspicious, so I disassembled it and cut off the heat-shrink tubing on the circuit board inside. All I found inside was a 10uFd, 25WVDC capacitor and two resistors on a circuit board.

 

While this circuit might filter out some alternator whine, it is definitely NOT an amplifier of any sort. In addition, the Working Voltage (25 Volts) on the capacitor is much too small; voltage spikes on the vehicle's electrical system could cause the capacitor to short out, and while in this circuit, a shorted capacitor is unlikely to start a fire, your radio reception if this happens will suddenly be next to nothing. I traced out the connections on the circuit board, and used a multimeter to measure the value of the resistors. The diagram for the thing is shown below.

 

If your radio suffers from "alternator whine" a high-pitched noise which is audible when listening to AM stations with the engine running, installing a signal amplifier will make the problem orders of magnitude worse. If you are getting noise in your AM radio, or buzzing, whining, or high-pitched squeals in your speakers, there is a very good troubleshooting guide here, and a technical discussion from Ham Radio Operator KOBG.

 

If you have a high-powered amplifier (say, in the trunk, or rear of the vehicle), and you have grounded that equipment to the chassis () at that point instead of running a separate heavy-gauge wire to the negative terminal () of the battery, the noise may be caused by a "ground loop".

 

You need a SIGNAL AMPLIFIER if your radio reception is poor due to your being too far from your favorite station, or if you installed an alternative (short or rubber) antenna, and are now getting crappy reception (when it was fine before).

 

NOTE: You cannot just cut a whip antenna to make it (conveniently) shorter and expect it to work. An antenna's length is TUNED to a fraction or a multiple of the wavelength of frequencies of the radio. Cutting an antenna to a "convenient" length arbitrarily will ruin the SWR (Standing Wave Ratio) and your reception will suffer as a result.

 

BOGUS ANTENNA "AMPLIFIER"

 

SCREEN SHOT for Ad for BOGUS radio signal amplifier on eBay - note red arrows

Screen shot for Ad and description of the exact same "amplifier" that is advertised on eBay on Amazon.com

This ad from one of several dozen sellers on eBay does not guarantee improvement in performance for this device. Some sellers an eBay are charging $27 or more for this identical piece of crap. Another seller on eBay provides photos of the inside of this device, which is identical to the one I have except for the addition of a disk capacitor (which does not make this an "amplifier") marked by the red arrow.

Seller on eBay for this BOGUS signal booster says he does not guarantee it will work. At least he's giving the buyer a "heads-up".

This seller elsewhere, actually shows the inside of this POS. Anyone with any electronic expertise looking at this photo would know that the thing is BOGUS

BOGUS car radio "AM / FM Signal Amplifier" sold on eBay, some Chinese Web sites, and even on Amazon.com

I purchased this item on eBay looking for a signal booster for my Jeep radio, because I have a short "trail antenna", and live in the New Jersey Pine Barrens which is a fringe area for the stations I like to listen to. I am a retired IBM engineer, so before I tore my dashboard apart to install this thing, I opened it up to see what makes it "tick".

 

Well, a 10 microFarad capacitor and two resistors (see photos, video, and circuit diagram, below) do NOT constitute a "signal amplifier" of any sort, and so the advertisement on on eBay and on Amazon (shame on you, Amazon, for not quality checking your products) are TOTAL FRAUDS.

 

The guy who (supposedly) reviewed this thing on eBay saying that it boosted his reception must be experiencing the placebo effect or he's smoking something really good, because such circuitry CANNOT POSSIBLY boost any signal. The most it could possibly do is filter out some alternator whine (on AM signals). It is more than likely this guy (if he's real) inadvertently fixed a loose antenna connection while installing this thing.

The inside of the BOGUS "Amplifier" - there are 3 parts - NONE of which can POSSIBLY amplify a radio signal.

Back side of the "Signal Amplifier" circuit board. Nothing here but 'land patterns'.

There is also another "variant" of this thing sold on an overseas vendor's Web site that completely drops the pretenses of an aluminum cylinder (which would presumably contain the 'amplifier' circuitry), and provides a male / female connection for the antenna, and a wire that connects the 'hot' side of the antenna directly to the vehicle's (+) positive battery terminal. If connecting through resistors (or inductors, as above) is a bad idea, THIS is even worse.


R1 and R2 connect your vehicle's antenna to 12 Volts via the blue wire. This turns your car's wiring into an antenna. It is also dangerous.


 Disassembly of the BOGUS "Signal Amplifier"

 

Although the specifications for this unit on eBay read, "Car Antenna Radio FM & Am Signal Amp Amplifier Booster", and on Amazon read, "Patuoxun Car Antenna Radio FM and AM Signal Amplifier Amp Booster", it is by no stretch of even a highly intoxicated imagination, an "amplifier" of any sort. I bought this thing on eBay, and just for principle, I am filing a dispute for "not as described", demanding my money back from the seller, and when you watch the videos below, you'll see why.

 

The Insides of a BOGUS device

See this video on YouTube:
http://youtu.be/6n7y34AnsTk


(I also posted this video on Amazon):
http://www.amazon.com/review/R256WOZTKS1E35

 

Rebuttal to Ripoff Report Rebuttal that says resistors are inductors and that device works as claimed.

See this video on YouTube:
http://youtu.be/W0GO3tsRdVA

 

In this video, I cut open one of the "resistors" with a Dremel Stylus Tool. It is a wire-wound resistor or small inductor.

 

See this video on YouTube:

 

 WARNING: THIS PRODUCT CONNECTS YOUR ANTENNA MAST TO THE (+) POSITIVE SIDE OF YOUR CAR'S ELECTRICAL SYSTEM. IT TRIES TO TURN YOUR CAR'S ELECTRICAL WIRING INTO A CAR ANTENNA. IF YOUR CAR MANUFACTURER THOUGHT THAT THIS WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA, YOUR CAR WOULD HAVE BEEN BUILT THIS WAY. THIS DEVICE IS NOT ONLY BOGUS, IT MAY START A FIRE IN YOUR DASHBOARD. IT MAY BE DANGEROUS TO HAVE YOUR CAR AROUND GASOLINE FUMES AT A GAS STATION. IF YOU HAVE INSTALLED SUCH A DEVICE, I ADVISE YOU TO REMOVE IT.

 

I have ordered ANOTHER one of these things from a different vendor than the one I got the original one from. What I want to see is if there is any difference (I know it's the same device, I just want to prove it to my readers), and I want to ACTUALLY INSTALL one of these things in my Jeep and produce a video demonstration that this device has no effect in reception (it cannot, because there are no RF-active components), and puts 12 Volts on your antenna mast.

AMAZON REVIEW: "Should rate below zero. This radio signal amp - booster does not work and it cannot work because it has NO amp circuit. I am a BSEE and this has only 2 resistors and 2 capacitors - it can't boost anything - impossible.
It is low cost so its not worth shipping for a refund - so DO NOT buy this thing unless you want a lighter wallet. Any other reviewer that says otherwise thinks it works but it can't. If this scam device sells a few hundred thousand at 5 bucks that's a million dollar scam for a POS to these crooks. You need transistors or an IC to make signal gain - look elsewhere."

 

AMAZON REVIEW: "I plugged it in and no difference at all. I couldn't tell any change in it. All the stations come in at the same as they did without."

 

EBAY REVIEW (what is this guy smoking?): "Both my factory and aftermarket unit were having trouble pulling in more than 10 stations in my neighborhood, a lot fewer than the 20+ I used to get in my old car system. All I had to do was install this unit between my antenna adapter & aftermarket unit, splice the power cord into the accessory power line, and all of a sudden I'm getting a lot more stations (including 3 low power stations I didn't know existed), and its easier to get HD radio signals on the ones I had before! Great Product!"

 

REBUTTAL TO MY Ripoff Report : I will not quote verbatim, since the rebuttal belongs to Ripoff report, but you can read it by clicking the link (above). The person attempting to discredit my review said that the two "resistors" I said were on the circuit board were actually "inductors". Be that as it may, resistors or inductors, the circuit  cannot POSSIBLY work, and if these two components ARE inductors as he claims, what this circuit does is connect your car antenna (mast) to the positive (+) terminal of your car battery through two small coils of wire. In that case, you would be lucky not to burn out your radio receiver "front-end" with 12 Volts applied to the antenna. In that case, if the antenna mast ever touched the body of your Jeep (or car) the current through two 18 Ohm, 1/2 Watt resistors = 12V / (18 x 2) = 12 / 36 = 0.33 Amps. At 12 Volts, 1/3 Amp = 12 / 3 = 4 Watts, which means those two inductors (wirewound resistors) that have 18 Ohms of resistance in the guise of 1/2 Watt resistors would instantly go up in smoke, and if it were not for the aluminum tube around the circuit board, it could set your Jeep on fire. You would DEFINITELY smell the smoke if that happened, and you'd go BONKERS (and possibly spend a fortune on a mechanic) trying to figure out where the stink is coming from.

PayPal Refund

 

I filed a dispute with the seller and he wanted me to send this thing back to receive a refund. It would cost me more to ship the thing (plus the time & gas to go to the Post Office) than the refund was worth, so I stopped communicating with the seller and escalated the case to a dispute on eBay, and filed a dispute with PayPal (eBay owns PayPal).

Not that $3.89 (+ shipping) will make or break me; it's the principle of the thing. After filing a dispute with eBay claiming "item not as described", and providing a link to this page in the dispute, I received a refund of the purchase price AND the shipping without having to return this piece of junk which I destroyed in the above video to prove that the device is bogus. If you have bought one of these things, I suggest you remove it from your vehicle if you installed it, and (also) file a similar dispute referencing this Web page. The refund won't make you rich, but it will send a message that YOU cannot be micro-scammed.


Because of its obviously DECEPTIVE marketing (whether intentional or out of ignorance on the part of the seller), this device has earned the USDA Grade A Bullshit seal.

TRUE SIGNAL AMPLIFIER

 

At this point, we have NOT found any device that is suitable for improving radio reception that is a true "amplifier" that affects the strength of both AM and FM signals when inserted into an existing antenna connection. The ability of a radio receiver to "pull in" weak stations is primarily affected by two things: The location of the antenna relative to the broadcast station, and the sensitivity of the receiver's "front-end" (which is tuned circuitry built into the radio itself). Any amplifier that would affect AM signals would also amplify alternator whine and electrical noise in the area (such as would be caused by overhead high voltage lines) We are actively looking for an external device that would solve this problem, and I will make a video of the installation in my Jeep.

 

If you are not satisfied with the performance of your radio reception, there IS a low-cost option: REPLACE the antenna with a TRUE amplified antenna that mounts on the inside of your windshield. In the alternative; albeit a more expensive alternative is to get a new windshield with an antenna built into it. The low-cost alternative will cost you a bit over 4 bucks, and the installation is easy. Here is the link to where you can get it:
http://www.eachbuyer.com/internal-glass-screen-mount-amplified-aerial-antenna-p4922.html

SHORT ANTENNAS

 

 

If you need to replace a long antenna with a shorter one, here are some alternatives.

 

If you've cut the long whip antenna you have to an arbitrary length, your poor signal reception is at least partially due to the "hacked" antenna not being tuned to the proper wavelength. Replace your antenna with one of these.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOISE FILTERS

 

 

Depending on the type of noise problem you have, there are a myriad of solutions available. Before you order any filter -- especially if it taps into the audio cables -- research and determine what your problem is, and what components are at fault. In any event, anything that looks like the BOGUS AM / FM "Amplifier" in the video on this page, is absolutely useless and a complete waste of money and time.

Send a question or comment on this page? Click here & PLEASE do NOT change subject line.
We are a Veteran's Advocacy & Christian Ministry - to donate to our cause click here. God Bless you.

 

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