How to strengthen signal with the R170 Antenna - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

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#1 Old 12-05-2007
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How to strengthen signal with the R170 Antenna

What:
How to strengthen signal reception with the R170 Antenna

Who:
For those of us that can't stand the look of the R171 long whip antenna but do not wish to sacrifice a ton of reception using just the R170 short antenna.

Why:
Why not? I for sure hate being limited to a few feet when I want to lock/unlock my doors. Plus, I spent good money on a Roof Module. From 50+ feet away, I want to walk to my car all the while it's roof is being lowered. By the time I get there, it's ready.

When:
How about now? It only takes about 20 minutes.

Disclaimer:
I am not an electrician and realize there's probably a better way to do this mod. Then again, this worked for me and that's what counts. Right? I was introduced to this mod from another member, (thanks Ikarus), and decided to put a quick tutorial together. I can say that I've already noticed a vast improvement in signal strength. Please note, I have only tested the lock/unlock range. I really don't listen to radio but I'm sure that signal has improved as well. What was the difference? Well, prior to the mod, I was able to lock/unlock at a maximum of 25 feet. That has grown to 120ft! So, in my experience that's 5 times better!

Tools required:
-Soldier gun and solder (RadioShack Model: 64-2802 $7.99)
-22 gauge wire (RadioShack Model: 278-1224 $5.99)
-R170 Antenna (MB part#A170 820 06 75 approx $70)
-Allen Wrench
-Pen
-Ruler
-Razor Blade



Steps
1) Assuming you already have the R170 antenna installed, remove the antenna's upper section. This upper section is hollow plastic and is simply pulled off the base. I found that it's easier to leave the lower section screwed onto the vehicle. Pry the upper section off while slightly bending it. It should come off fairly easy.


2) Remove the lower section using the supplied Antenna 'Gear'


3) Take two strands of wire and begin wrapping them in a spiral around a small pen or allen wrench. The top section can be folded over. As you proceed, switch to a thicker pen. I used my child's paintbrush. The idea is to have a wire spiral that fits into the antenna cavity. I was able to utilize about 15" of length.

4) Next, strip the ends of the wire. Also, strip a small section of the antenna. Solder one piece to the inner section of the antenna and the other to the lower section.

5) Carefully fit the spiral wire onto the base of the antenna. Next, snap the Antenna's upper section back into place.

6) Reattach the antenna to your vehicle. Again, use the 'gear' to get a tight fit.

That's it! Test it out and see the results for yourself. So far, I am happy with the improvement. I will conduct so more tests if I get the urge. For now, I am done. My biggest gripe with the small R170 antenna is now gone.
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#2 Old 12-05-2007
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Very nice mate.
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#3 Old 12-05-2007
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EXCELLENT photos and documentation DSB. I reviewed the thread that Ikarus referenced from the German site last night. I was intrigued with how easy this mod was. I recently added a aftermarket amplified antenna to my R170 antenna set up. No increase in range with the SmartTop module so I removed it. Thanks for your detailed photos and "how to". This appears to be the answer to acceptable increased range with the R170 antenna. Thanks again for your contribution.
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#4 Old 12-05-2007
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WOW, it works like MAGIC! I just completed the R170 antenna mod. Thanks (again) to DSB for his detailed instructions and photos. Doesn't get any easier. Takes less than 30 minutes. I used some wire left over from my garage door opener. I just checked the range (car in the garage) and I'm getting over 200 feet. Might even be better than the factory antenna. I checked from the rear, and then the opposite side (away from antenna) and still getting 200 feet plus, even in the woods. Both AM-FM reception are excellent with the car in the garage. The design of the R170 antenna is a joke. No wonder the range is terrible. You have a 1" section of wire as the antenna and as DSB stated, the rubber portion of the antenna is hollow. With that in mind, the factory R170 antenna mast could be 2" in length max. Thanks to the original modifier for this great tip. Identify yourself. This ranks only behind the SmartTop module as BEST, most useful mod for the SLK.
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#5 Old 12-05-2007
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Don,

I'm happy to hear your results are even BETTER than mine! Isn't this so much better than before?! One of the best mods for sure. I have a feeling I'll be using my Roof Module a lot more at the parking lot. BTW, I wonder if you're getting better distance because of a thinner and thereby longer wire? Perhaps, it's just interference around my house? Either way, it's all good. I did this install late last night and only did a quick test. I'll be testing radio reception (for the wife) today.
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#6 Old 12-05-2007
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If the signal is not totally up to scratch after the mod you could always add the booster from the facelift car to it.

You would probably end up with a range increased even over the whip.

Remember to test it with a phone if you have one.
#7 Old 12-05-2007
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Thank you DSB, IKarus and to the person in Germany.

Would a thinner wire work better because of the longer length that may be accomodated than Gauge 22?

Eddy



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#8 Old 12-05-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DansSlk View Post
If the signal is not totally up to scratch after the mod you could always add the booster from the facelift car to it.

You would probably end up with a range increased even over the whip.

Remember to test it with a phone if you have one.
Dan do you think the r170 antenna will fit the facelift model? BTW this is an awesome mod and definitely a solution to the ugly stock antenna...
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#9 Old 12-05-2007
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Yeah probably or if not I'm sure a similar mod could be carried out on the facelift stub.
#10 Old 12-05-2007
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Great Mod...Only thing I need now is an R170 antenna Can these only be purchased at Dealer?

Thanks again to dsb and the original source...
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#11 Old 12-05-2007
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Is there a better solution for SL antenna? That would be really great!
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#12 Old 12-05-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by etyu View Post
Thank you DSB, IKarus and to the person in Germany.
You're most welcome. I had found a great description of the idea on this page, but the publisher himself credits an mbslk.de member named mac67. It seems the whole thing got started by him in this thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by etyu View Post
Would a thinner wire work better because of the longer length that may be accomodated than Gauge 22?
In that original thread at mbslk.de, there is a lengthy discussion about what the optimal length would be. The original proposal by mac67 was to solder a single wire to the stub. By experimentation, he found that the best length was about 75cm. Incidentally, this is about a quarter of the wavelength in the FM reception band @ 100MHz. Then, someone else pointed out that an antenna of half the wavelength would work even better, but that the antenna would have to be tapped in the middle in order to maximize the electric field strength. This eventually led to the described design.

So, ultimately, the best FM reception should be achieved with two wire branches of about 75cm length each. If you cannot fit as much with a particular wire, it may indeed be better to pick a thinner one.

Darn, I really need that antenna now. It looks so much better!
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#13 Old 12-05-2007
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Thank you Ikarus for the explanation. I have called the parts dep't at MB. The antenna should be available in one to two days. I will attempt to do the same mod this weekend with a thinner insulated wire and try to get 75 cm if possible.

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#14 Old 12-05-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ikarus View Post
You're most welcome. I had found a great description of the idea on this page, but the publisher himself credits an mbslk.de member named mac67. It seems the whole thing got started by him in this thread.
Ikarus,

Thanks for the links... of course I didn't understand any of it. So, I take it you're German. Are there any other easy mods we should be aware of? Looks like lots going on in those links?
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#15 Old 12-05-2007
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Aww man, now I have to go and spend money on a roof module! The only thing that was keeping me from getting one is that I'd have to be near the car to use it anyway because of the range with the R170 antenna. I guess now I really want that module!

Thanks for posting this dsb, I'll be making a trip to Radioshack today

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkR171 View Post
Aww man, now I have to go and spend money on a roof module! The only thing that was keeping me from getting one is that I'd have to be near the car to use it anyway because of the range with the R170 antenna. I guess now I really want that module!

Thanks for posting this dsb, I'll be making a trip to Radioshack today
Money well spent...believe meSometimes I just sit in the garage and watch..... up and down, up and down....mezmerizing...
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#17 Old 12-05-2007
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Went to Radioshack, got the supplies and did the mod. Works perfectly! Kinda makes you think which idiot designed the R170 antenna with so little wire!

With xmas just around the corner, a roof module might be a fine present Just need to decide on which!

Sold: '07 SLK280 | 18" TSW Bremmas | Toyo T1-R 225F/245R | SmartTop V.3 | Green Filters
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Originally Posted by dsb View Post
Thanks for the links... of course I didn't understand any of it. So, I take it you're German. Are there any other easy mods we should be aware of? Looks like lots going on in those links?
I'm definitely keeping an eye on this site, but the antenna mod is hard to beat. The one other mod I had found there and posted about here was the DIY AUX for Audio 20.
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Kinda makes you think which idiot designed the R170 antenna with so little wire!
This antenna was originally meant for cell phone reception only, so I wouldn't say it's justified to call the poor guy an idiot.
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this looks like a fantastic mod!! I've been planning to do the whole bumper extension thingy with the SL antenna, but have been putting it off because of having to take apart parts of the car, etc..soldering to circuit boards and whatnot. This is infinitely simpler..while the R170 antenna is, IMHO, not as good looking as the SL antenna, its still miles better than the R171 antenna. And now with this mod, I won't lose much, if any range!! Antenna is on order right now

thanks dsb and original modder, as they say in australia, THATS GOLD!
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