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Question Of The Week

Readers Respond Yes and No to Satellite Radio and How!

“We have never had a problem with our Sirius XM.  Perhaps it is because of the fiberglass construction of the camper.  Fingers crossed!” – Orian Hartviksen, 2011 Ford F350, 2010 Northern Lite 8-11

“Yes. I use XM radio for traveling and at home, as well using a home/auto kit.  No modifications were necessary.” – Henry Nelsen, 2007 Toyota Tundra, 2012 Northstar Liberty

“Yes, XM.  I love the Blues, and there are no good blues stations in our area, so XM radio is one extra I treat myself to.  Step by step your modification is exactly what we did and has worked just fine for seven years now.” – Bill Tex, 2006 Chevy Silverado 2500HD, 2003 Adventurer 810WS

“Great idea, but if you own a late model Dodge with the Sirius XM and Garmin NAV, what you’ll find is that the data comes in over the same wire.  Interesting, with my camper on, I can’t get Sirius XM, but I do get the navigation.  I tried this solution (bought the little extra Sirius XM antenna and all, unplugged and plugged in).  The radio worked great, but the navigation not so much.” – Nik Rende

“Yes, we had to relocate the antenna.  I put it on the hood on the right side.  We also have a mobile satellite radio that I use in my work vehicles.  Its easy to move it from one to another and to use in the camper come summertime.” – Jerry and Tina Rohan, 2008 Ford F450 (without spark plugs), 2011 Chalet TS116

“I had the Sirius XM the first year I had the truck, and overall it was good to have.  But since I didn’t make any truck modifications, the station would fade out when driving in certain directions, mostly northwest, I think.  I almost canceled, but then Sirius XM offered me another year at half price, so I took it.  But at the end of that year I didn’t renew.  That’s mostly because the signal is sometimes blocked.  I only use the truck when camping so it’s a lot of money for occasional listening, and I can get almost the same thing from my iPhone.” – William Modesitt, 2011 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD, 2011 Hallmark Everest

“I’m very interested in this question since we are taking delivery of our new truck and camper in late April.  We have had a Chevy truck (pulling a fifth wheel) with OnStar which we treat as an emergency tool but expect it to work when necessary.  The White’s work around story concerning the Sirius radio antenna is of interest since the radio and OnStar share the same antenna.  Anybody have any experience as to whether the OnStar will work when the truck camper is mounted?” – Peter Staples, 2013 Chevy 3500 HD, 2013 Lance 1172

Editor: As far as we know, the Sirius XM radio in 2013 Chevy trucks works with the modification we made.  Of course you can make the modification and test the OnStar before finishing the installation.

“I bought a Skyfi XM receiver and extra mounting kits for the camper and boat.  The Skyfi mounts on the dash with the little magnet mount antenna out on the front driver’s side hood.  When not in use, I stick it on the underside of the hood.  When in use, it plays through the truck stereo and the camper stereo.  I keep the remote in the camper and can control all functions through the cab window.  It works great!  Keep on truck camping.” – Bigfoot Dave Miller, 2012 Ford F350, 2002 Bigfoot 10.6E

“We did the same relocation as you, but didn’t use the FAKRA adapter.  We used a stock Radio Shack antenna and carefully cut off part of the plug to fit the truck’s module.  We remove our camper after each trip so it’s easy to replug into the truck’s stock system.” – Jim Cornwell, 2011 Chevy 3500 HD, 2012 Lance 1191


“I camp off the grid primarily at national park campgrounds in the western United States and overnight at Walmarts or truck stops while on the road.  The Sirius radio works everywhere and uses very little power.  I put a Fusion Marine Radio in the camper with an Sirius receiver.  I used a Shakespeare Marine Sirius antenna mounter on the camper roof.  There are no leak problems as the wire goes inside the mushroom shaped antenna.  I put a Tune Trapper AM/FM antenna inside the overhead cabinet by the bed.  It works fine there.  This radio can be set up with a second zone to use outside or in the truck, but I have not done that yet.” – Bernie Neale, 2002 Dodge Ram 2500, 2005 Northstar 8.5 Arrow

“No, we do not use satellite radio.  We depend on the truck’s AM/FM radio and a portable weather radio when on the road.  We do make a lot of use of talking books on our long trips.  They help make the long drives pass more rapidly.” – Bill and Sue Billyard, 2000 Dodge Ram 3500, 2000 Real Lite 1150

“Yes, I have Sirius and can’t live without it.  I have a unit in my camper too.  I did the same modification that you did.  It works great!  Thanks.” – William P. Francis, 2011 Ford F250, 2012 Adventurer 80GS

“We love having Sirius XM along on our camping trips.  Neither my wife’s 2005 Tahoe or my 2004 F-350 were wired for satellite radio.  In the Tahoe, I installed a cassette adaptor.  In the F-350, I installed a FM adaptor.  Both of the adaptors come with a cradle that the Sirius XM receiver plugs into.

Now my wife can enjoy Sirius XM radio during her daily drive and for our camping trips.  We simply move the receiver to the F-350 and we’re good to go.  Both of the adaptors were purchased through Sirius XM.  I believe that they have now discontinued the cassette adapter, but you can still find them online.

Note that I mounted the magnetic antenna on the F-350 about twelve inches in front of the windshield in the center of the hood.  Despite the fact that it’s fairly close to the overhead bunk of the camper, we get excellent reception.  It really depends on the construction of the camper.

The satellite signal will travel through fiberglass and insulation pretty easily.  It’s metal features like roof racks or aluminum framing that block the signal, so you’ll have to experiment with the antenna placement before deciding on a final location.  It is magnetic, so it’s not hard to move if you have to do it.

One last note.  As with any antenna wire, it’s never a good idea to bundle up excess wire length into a tight loop.  This can lead to loss of signal strength and/or reception quality.  It’s best to fold the cable into a loose bundle at least ten inches across and find two points to zip tie the bundle up under the dash.” – Rex Carroll, 2004 Ford F350, 2006 Alpenlite 950 Cheyenne

“We own two vehicles that have XM radios.  We can only drive one at a time, and XM doesn’t offer a reasonable discount for multiple vehicles.  We let the subscription expire, and don’t miss it.  Our camper hauling pickup does have OnStar.  The shark fin antenna works well.  We have cell service wherever there is Verizon service.  Our Garmin GPS also works from the built in antenna.  Of course, our camper has fiberglass laminate sides.  I don’t know how well satellite radio or OnStar would have worked with our old aluminum sided camper.  The GPS didn’t work if we were driving due north.” – Philip Tron, 2009 Chevy 3500, 2012 Lance 1050

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