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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Danville, California
Posts: 54
Becker Radio Reception Fix (aka Porsche Radio Hack)

Recently got my first Porsche (2000 Boxster S) a few months ago and haven't looked back. Being a looooong time Bimmer guy I knew nothing about Porsche repair and maintenance but have learned a heck of a lot in a short time thanks to this site and others, including the 101 book. Also, I've learned to wring my hands over the IMS issue - a lot. Something you just don't worry about with an M3.

Anyway I thought this fix important enough to post about for others to learn what I have learned. OK....

My Boxster, prior to purchase, was a garage queen (operative word, was). I like listening to AM radio and was horrified over the ridiculously poor to non-existent radio reception on the Becker Radio. Even FM reception was on the edge of ludicrous. Being an old audiophile that sort of issue just wasn't going to do. Did some searches through the net but what I read was sketchy to non-explanatory at best. The conclusion I came to was that Porsche, despite being a rather expensive auto, cut corners and used very cheap tin type electrical connectors to save a few cents. Really disappointing considering what you pay for this very wonderful machine. These connectors build up an oxidation layer over time that interferes with current flow. I suspect that there may be other electrical connections on the car that suffer the same malady. Here's my fix and I can't take all the credit except to provide a clearer explanation.

1 Remove passenger side visor - two Torx bolts on right side, one Torx bolt on the left under the plastic cover. Flip the cover down and there is the bolt. Carefully remove the visor and place it to the side. Opening the cabrio top slightly helps.

2. Place your fingers atop the passenger side A-Pillar trim and pull out toward the center of the car. It'll sound like you just snapped the car in half but what is happening is that the metal fasteners are pulling out of their respective slots in the A-Pillar. Really, this is a very nicely engineered bit.

3. The antenna amplifier is attached to the center of the A-Pillar by a sheet metal screw, two electrical connections and the antenna co-ax cable to the radio.

4. Carefully separate the electrical connections. I did not and could not separate the co-ax as I would have probably cracked the windshield with a pair of pliers. The co-ax is connected securely via two locking ears. And with my luck I'd really break something I don't need to break.

5. Remove the sheet metal screw and separate the antenna amplifier from the A-Pillar.

6. Get "Caig Deoxit" from Radio Shack. It comes in a two pack with the regular cleaner and Deoxit Gold. It is very cost effective and mechanically/electrically as effective as some audiophile grade cleaners I have used. This is the 5% stuff but stronger grades are available on-line or through audiophile retailers.

7. Spray the cleaner into the electrical connections and let sit for a few minutes. Make sure you put a towel on the dash to keep Deoxit from getting on the dash. Spray Deoxit Gold in the electrical connections and let sit for a few minutes. This bit is optional but can't hurt. These are tin type connectors and the Gold formula is for cleaning Gold contacts. Yes, Gold does tarnish and misconduct despite popular belief.

8. Mechanically work the electrical connections by connecting and disconnecting several times. The Deoxit chemically cleans the connections but this step mechanically cleans the connections.

9. Spray Deoxit on the sheet metal screw, the hole for the screw in the A-Pillar (some sages recommend sanding the hole area - I would not as sufficient electrical contact is made with the A-Pillar metal and the screw and I didn't want to remove the protective undercoat), and the front and back of the metal tab of Antenna Amplifier (where the sheet metal screw goes in to anchor the Amplifier down). Also, spray the exposed metal area of the co-ax connection. Enough Deoxit will seep in to clean the area effectively.

10. Ensure all connections are reconnected. Electrical connections are one way Male/Female and hard to screw up. Replace the sheet metal screw into the metal tab on the Antenna Amplifier and screw the assembly back to the A-Pillar tightly - this is a really important step to ensure noise rejection. You can wipe excess Deoxit off if you are anal like me. Also be sure all connections are replaced cleanly and not obstructive of the trim fasteners.

11. Place the bottom of the trim between the metal tongue and the edge of the dash. Using the palm of your hand pop the trim fasteners back into the slots on the A-Pillar. Replace the Visor with its respective bolts.

12. Turn on radio and enjoy what you didn't hear before. This sort of stuff isn't in Bentley or, sadly, 101.

Optionally, you can use Deoxit on all the connectors for the Radio, CD Changer and Amplifier (these last two in the front boot) to improve the signal flow. I used audiophile grade "Kontak" two step cleaner on those connections. The pipe cleaner came out fairly dirty. And, yes, there was a perceptible improvement - to my ears. But, Deoxit should work just fine.
Old 07-14-2011, 10:18 PM
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Update:

Well, the problem solved was short lived. Radio reception was just not up to par. AM was unobtainable and FM was weak and spotty at best. So, I decided to change out the Antenna Amplifier as the only possible weak link. The original part number for the antenna amplifier is 986.641.105.00. However, the current part number is 987.647.105.00. Its a bit expensive at approximately $50. Sunset Porsche was extremely helpful.

Anyway, I replaced the amplifier with the new part and an amazing amount of radio reception was obtained immediately. The only tricky part is getting the antenna coax from the radio to pull out from the old amplifier. It does come with a bit of pulling but one has to be really careful not to yank on the coax. The replacement part doesn't clip and screw down into the A-Pillar like the old part. Rather it has a locator pin that goes right into a little pre-made hole in the pillar and then screwed down. Otherwise, this is the fix, for me at least, for the problem.

for fun, I popped open the old unit to see what makes this expensive. I was shocked to see a multitude of surface resistors, micro coils and IC's. Now I know why. I'd like to thank myself for solving the issue and hope that someone else finds use in this solution in the future.
Old 02-19-2012, 07:49 PM
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I remember trying to improve am radio reception by removing the right windshield pillar plastic cover and cleaning/scraping the antenna ground. It improved somewhat, but not dramatically.
Old 02-20-2012, 02:29 AM
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Originally, I did scrape the ground area in addition to using deoxit. The best I can surmise is that all we are really doing in that case is mechanically lengthening the antenna. So, we get a bit better reception because the antenna is now "longer". But, the amplification issue is no better because the circuit within the amplifier body is electrically dead. I can only additionally guess that a number of these amplifiers were defective right out of the factory. At least my IMS is in good shape. Sheesh.
Old 02-21-2012, 08:06 AM
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I've got an '08, so I assume that it has the newer 987 amplifier that you installed in your car. This is a new-to-me car as well, and the AM reception is virtually non-existent. My other 2 vehicles (Toyotas) get very strong AM reception where I live, but not the Porsche....
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'08 Boxster S, and over the years a few others. A daily driver 911SC, and a 356B... you guessed it - a Super 90!
Old 02-21-2012, 08:49 AM
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The only way you can tell if you have the newer amplifier is to pull everything apart and read the printed code. But, if you are getting the same reception issue as I was, which seems to be as described then I would certainly look toward replacing the amplifier.

Presumably, the new amplifiers have the same propensity to die as the old ones. I haven't yet figured out if there may be some sort of mini voltage spike, heat from the sun or some other environmental issue that fries these things. Its a bit mysterious as the amplifier in my 13 year old M3 is still good and I can't imagine BMW using any different an OEM (Fuba). All I know is that I now get radio reception where there was almost none before the replacement.
Old 02-22-2012, 10:43 AM
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Thanks for this Post, I love listen to football games on while driving, with this I was able to replace the Antenna and BOOM there you GO. Thanks!!!

Roy

Last edited by royroger66; 12-01-2012 at 12:22 PM..
Old 12-01-2012, 07:52 AM
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I've learned to live with no AM. I just listen to the engine and be happy.
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'08 Boxster S, and over the years a few others. A daily driver 911SC, and a 356B... you guessed it - a Super 90!
Old 12-01-2012, 08:30 AM
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Here's a new mystery:

It has rained Cats and Dogs in the SF Bay Area for the last three days. The S sat in the garage during that time. Conditions this morning while going to work at 6am: 37- 42 degrees F, Approximately 90% humidity, Clear sky - AM RECEPTION PERFECT! even going through zones where overhead power lines cause even more static than usual. Normally, I just expect a howling buzz but was in a state of shock to actually hear clear, unimpeded AM Radio. Almost drove off the road staring at the radio in disbelief.

The damn antenna amplifier must be tuned for German weather conditions. That's all I can figure anymore.
Old 12-03-2012, 09:19 AM
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