I recently had a friend install a new Pioneer Radio which includes XM. The xm loses the signal frequently and sometimes for up to 10 seconds. The antenna is mounted on top of the dash right behind the center vents housing. Pioneer tech support said that the antenna should be on m a metal surface, which is hard to come by inside or out on this car. First question, is this true? Does the antenna need to be in contact with a metal surface? If so, where? My friend, who I think knows a lot about this stuff says it's not necessary. He thinks the xm tuner might be bad. What do you think out there? Any help would be appreciated.

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Hello? Any help here?
I have heard that the antenna needs to be on metal. However, Sat radio frequently loses its signal in certain areas and especially when you drive under an overpass or tunnel. If the loss is always in the same areas, you may not have a real problem.
Well.... apparently people have been mounting satellite radio antennae on the frame under the front hatch, where the fluids and stuff are. Not sure how that works, or if it's the greatest spot.... but probably wouldn't hurt to try. would just require some wire routing.
Here's a photo: http://www.smartusainsider.com/photo/photo/show?id=2029424%3APhoto%...

No metal plate needed IMHO but it would be easy to add one if you wanted to.
The only reason the antenna "needs" to be on a metal surface is because it is mounted on a magnetic base, and needs something steel-based to glom on to. A steel surface does not enhance the action of the antenna as such....

....but, I suspect that placing the antenna on the front dash probably negatively impacts signal. While the roof of your smart is essentially non-metallic, the Tridion safety cell may very well be acting as a Faraday cage, and any RF field within its confines will be lessened. Maybe mounting the antenna under the front service flap would minimize this, but really high frequency stuff (like the frequency range XM uses) is more easily interrupted by physical objects of any sort....bridge underpasses, nearby buildings, even leaves on trees...so putting a layer of plastic between the antenna and the sky is maybe not so good. The best place to situate your antenna from a purely reception performance perspective is still at the highest, unobstructed point on the car, with a clear view to the sky, particularly considering the low angle in the southern sky XM's satellites feed from. This is just a guess, but you might have better luck with Sirius. Their satellites orbit very differently from XM's, and while their path creates some signal weirdness of its own (you can't "aim" at a Sirius satellite for long...it just keeps moving across the sky), their higher position overhead gives a generally better "head on" pickup view to your antenna. Normally, this wouldn't matter much, but in marginal reception situations, it could make a difference.
Note from SkyFi3 User's Guide:

"Placing the Antenna
Because all vehicles are different, there are many acceptable methods of mounting the antenna and routing the cable.
Make sure the antenna is placed on a clean, dry surface that is free of all debris.
For best reception, place the antenna on the vehicle’s metallic roof, at least 6” from any window or sun roof."
That seems to indicate a metal surface is preferred and not just for the magnetic mount, although we had good reception with the under service flap location. YMMV.
Well, I definitely have to try something different. The way it's working now is not acceptable. I'll try doing something with the antenna first. If that doesn't work it might be that I got a bad tuner. Switching to Sirius is not an option. Not after spending over $500 for this radio. I'll let you know. Thanks for the help.
Problem solved. I moved the antenna to the roof part of my Cabrio above the windshield and placed it behind the little wind spoiler. It now works great. I was able to hide the wire in the little rubber weather stripping. Looks and works great. Thanks for everybody's input.
I changed receivers as my old one died, while the new receiver itself works better, it seemed to not hold the signal as my old one did. I have had my antenna inside the cabin for two years now without a problem.. well until now. I had my antenna just sticking out the front of the shroud that covers the a/c. some of you have the tack and clock there.. well it looked tidy and worked well for all this time but apparently the new receiver does not like my old antenna. I took off the visors and the plastic trim behing it to discover a great place for a slim antenna to reside in. I removed the outer cover off of the new antenna that protects it from moisture and found that the actual receptor is quite small and thin. just to be on the safe side I wrapped it in some electrical tape and fit it between the Poly roof and a metal ledge that runs across the entire width of the roof opening. It fit PERFECTLY and I was able to rout the wire back to the receiver on my dash via the drivers side pillar and into the dash itself. NO holes needed to run the wire as it fed through existing areas and is totally concealed. By the way the reception improved exponentially as the sensor SEES the sky through the poly roof yet you cannot see it from the outside as that area of the roof is totally darkened out on the poly roof .

I have Sirius and use the antenna just have it laying on the dash. I have seen others who have mounted on the metal rail over the windshield and run the wire under the molding. Mine works fine where it is. Let the fun begin
Larry, the XM-antenna only requires a clear view of the sky. The attached picture of my Pioneer INNO system shows the antenna mounted on the plastic trim in the upper right hand corner of the dashboard. It has worked perfectly since installation 15 months ago..... Frank
I found out that SOME radio receivers do not use a buffer memory and some do. The ones that have the buffer memory would be able to seamlessly play a signal even if its interrupted for up to 10 seconds... the ones with no buffer are S.O.L. and need the very best and most optimized antenna position to see more sky than the receivers that have a little memory.

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