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Hidden antennas of the modern car

Modern car antennas are a world apart from the half-metre-long metal wire that protruded from the bodywork.

india Updated: Apr 04, 2006 11:22 IST

Modern car antennas are a world apart from the half-metre-long metal wire that protruded from the bodywork, ensuring good radio reception.

Some of today's cars appear to come without the antenna but in reality sometimes have up to a dozen antennas hidden away.

The super luxury Maybach from Daimler Chrysler tops the list with an integrated system of 19 antennas.

Only five of the antennas ensure radio reception while the remainder are responsible for such extras as the remote start of the heating system or the keyless entry system.

The fact that most of the car antennas are hidden cannot be attributed to better reception, says Helmut Schmaler of Germany's ADAC automobile association.

"If that were the case, the centrally positioned shaft antenna is still the best," Schmaler says.

Joachim Siedler of the Blaupunkt radio manufacturer in central Germany's Hildesheim city says the design of the vehicle should not be spoiled by various antennas sticking out from the bodywork.

"There is a trend to make the antenna invisible," says Siedler pointing out that some antennas are built into the rear window.

In principle, the wiring of the rear window heating system is used for reception and the additional electronic components are stuck on the top section of the window.

However, some designers prefer to build the antenna into the rear roof pillar.

All these principles have the disadvantage that they work with an electronic booster system to improve reception and disturbing signals having to be filtered out.

The original shaft antenna also had its own set of disadvantages. Vandals liked to break them off and, if they were not cleaned properly, they could not be retracted. They were also noisy, remarks Schmaler.

An opposite trend can also be seen. BMW, for instance, has chosen a so-called shark antenna to be mounted on the roof in the form of a shark fin, Schmaler says.

The design includes several antennas, making it an extremely trendy element.