SiriusXM Satellite Radio (info for techies)

Caveat: this page contains a lot of technical information.
  1. If you live in a large urban community comprised of more than a million people, then you are most likely being served by a TERRESTRIAL REPEATER. This means that 90% of the information below will be of little use to you.
  2. You do not need to know this stuff to use or enjoy your satellite radio. Continuing the "shortwave enthusiast" and "ham radio" traditions of yesteryear, this web page contains information targeted toward people wishing to investigate further. (Nerds + Technophiles)
  3. Many people use the phrase Sirius XM Pandora, but no such company exists. Sirius XM Holdings Inc. purchased Pandora Media (deal closed 2019-Feb) then managed it as a wholly-owned subdivision.

In his 1992 non-fiction book on telecommunications titled "How the World Was One" author Arthur C. Clarke wrote that since radio signals from above could not be jammed by repressive regimes and governments (as often happened previously), that satellite radio technology would help promote democracy throughout the world. Clarke didn't mention "the internet" (1969) which was just trickling down to the public at that time in the form of the world-wide-web (1991). Clarke passed away in 2008 so never wrote about social media but I am certain he would have found it of little value for telling spreading democracy. But since some countries today are actively filtering internet content, which means that satellite radio is still the preferred method for learning the truth.

Satellite radio aside, North American democracy is in decline partly due to suppression of "public broadcasters" like NPR (radio: 99% defunded by the US congress) and PBS (television: 90% defunded by the US congress) which have resulted in greater number of uninformed and misinformed American citizens. Meanwhile, business interests in England (beginning with Rupert Murdoch) managed to reduce much government funding for the BBC so now both BBC America and BBC World Service pay their bills with commercial advertising (not sure about the BBC Home Service which only serves Great Britain). Anyway, it should go without saying that it costs a lot of money to run high power radio transmitters, so it makes sense that CBC, NPR, and BBC provide their programming to SiriusXM.

Since late 2005, the only factual news comes to me from international sources on my Sirius satellite radio. I think about Arthur C. Clarke every morning when I press the power button.

Arthur C Clarke (inventor of the communications satellite)

 SiriusXM Links:

Canadian Links:

Canadian Sirius Signal Coverage

American Links:

American Sirius Signal Coverage

 Satellite Technology

Animated Satellite Map
Three Sirius satellites loop through a figure-eight pattern over the western hemisphere once every 24 hours (alt: 24,780 km). Two XM satellites are stationary over the North American equator (alt: 36,150 km). All satellites are considerably higher than this animation suggests.
Satellite News (2020)
Satellite News (2021)

 STARMATE-1 "Home Installation" Notes:

Siriius Starmate ST1 (Starmate 1)
  1. The following notes refer to my new (2006) STARMATE-1 ST1C (a Canadian version of ST1).
  2. The SIGNAL STRENGTH meter did not work until after service activation (this is fixed in subsequent models)
    • Push MENU :: push DOWN ARROW four times to SIGNAL INDICATOR :: push SELECT
      • SAT - displays satellite signal strength
      • TER - displays terrestrial repeater signal strength
        • Only present in densely populated cities like Toronto, Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, etc.
        • Originally provided as an alternate signal source for vehicles driving between very tall buildings, under bridges, or through tunnels.
        • Your antenna does not require a view of the sky in Toronto because the terrestrial repeater is on top of the C. N. Tower
    • nerd alert: this display is a special purpose florescent tube (not an LED or LCD)
  3. As is true with all satellite equipment, antenna placement is very important. The antenna should have an unobstructed line-of-sight path to the satellite:
    1. I started off using the Sirius Indoor-Outdoor Antenna (also known as Folding Windowsill Antenna) from the home-docking kit. Sirius documentation tells people in Southern Ontario to place the antenna into a West-facing window but, in my case, the signal strength meter never rose above level 3 bars (which I think is some sort of minimum display level because you never see 1 or 2)
    2. So, I attached the antenna to the end of a 1-m (3-ft) wooden stick, then held it out of a second story window. This resulted in a level of 6 bars
    3. After that I partially inserted two hook screws side-by-side at the one third point (about 30-cm or 12-in) from the antenna end of the stick, then hung the stick (via the hook screws) from the rain gutter. The antenna was now sitting about 30-cm (12-in) above the rain gutter which resulted in a signal level of 8 bars
    4. The animated diagram above shows that an unobstructed antenna located in Northeast USA (or Southeast Canada) will receive satellite signals from the Southern Sky through to the Northwestern Sky. I live at the edge of a wooded lot where tall trees totally block my view of the southern sky. This means I must do everything possible to make sure my antenna has an unobstructed view of the remaining sky (West through to the Northwest).
    5. Technical side note: These radios operate in the frequency range of 2.32 GHz (gigahertz) which means the signal is beginning (because of its high frequency) to take on the characteristics of visible light (like not being able to go around corners or through wood; and being interfered with by atmospherics). For best reception the antenna must be able to clearly "see the satellite".
  4. I just (2006) installed a Sirius Outdoor Home antenna which is directly compatible with my STARMATE-1. Note that all satellite radio antennas contain a built-in LNA (low noise amplifier) which are powered by your radio receiver so make sure that antennas without "a Sirius brand" do not overload your receiver's antenna power supply.
    Sirius Outdoor Home antenna with RG-6 cable
    1. This omnidirectional antenna seems to work best when:
      • Major effect: the "flat top" of the disk is parallel to the sky
      • Minor effect: the "bottom of the Sirius label" painted on the top of the antenna points toward the satellite figure-8 crossover point in Minnesota. I temporarily mounted my antenna on a pole with the disc parallel to the sky then rotated the pole until I had a rock-solid signal of 10 bars. Depending upon your location in North America (see the AIM THE ANTENNA charts above) you may need to rotate your antenna to a different location.
      Quote from the installation instructions: For correct operation and best reception of the SIRIUS signal, it is important that the outdoor antenna is placed where it will have a clear view of the SIRIUS satellites in the sky. Obstructions such as bushes, trees, other homes or buildings, overhangs, soffits, chimneys, gables, dormers, etc., will impair or prevent the antenna from receiving the signal. The best reception is obtained if the pod (disk) portion of the antenna (where the SIRIUS logo is printed) has a clear 360-degree view of the sky within an inverted cone shaped area shown in the instructions (or imagined) here.
    2. I did not want to drill any holes into the exterior of my residence, so I used two pieces of scrap lumber to manufacture a small wooden "T". The inverted "T" is lying flat on the roof with the horizontal portion of the "T" (a 24 inch 2-by-4) positioned in the rain gutter. The antenna is fixed to the vertical end of the inverted "T" (a 36 inch 1-by-2).
      • Now I measure 10 bars 100% of the time.
      • Okay so I'm in Canada and the antenna was totally covered with snow one morning in 2014. No big deal. I just fastened a 12 inch 1-by-2 to the end of the inverted "T" so the antenna can poke through the snow.
    3. This same product in 2012 employs an RG-6 connector and cable
Partial Antenna Chart
Description Antenna
SIR3 Magnetic Roof Mount for Cars   36 dB 170 mA
  1. Included with STARMATE ST1 and STARMATE ST1C (Canadian)
Sirius Indoor/Outdoor Window antenna with RG-174 cable and SMB plug   36 dB 170 mA
  1. Included with STARMATE home kit described below
  2. comes with 20-foot (6 m) RG-174 cable and SMB plug
  3. Good enough for large communities employing a TERRESTRIAL repeater
  4. usually works on a beach
Sirius XM Universal

(previously known as:
Sirius Outdoor Home antenna with RG-58 cable 1 dBiC 42 dB 160 mA
  1. This LNA is 4 times more powerful than 36 dB models.
    • remember that each 3 dB is a doubling.
    • 42 dB - 36 dB = 6 dB
    • 6 dB / 3 dB = 2 doublings or 4 times.
  2. connector + cable specs for 2006 version (Sirius branding)
  3. Highly Recommended for residential use
  4. connector + cable specs for 2012 version (Sirius XM branding)
  5. I get 10 out of 10 bars 100% of the time.
SIR4 Trunk/RV
Clip Mount
  36 dB ?
  1. looks like SIR5 Marine antenna
SIR5 Marine Antenna   36 dB 170 mA
  1. looks like to SIR4 Trunk/RV antenna
SIR6 Home 1 dBiC 42 dB 165 mA
  1. This LNA is 4 times more powerful than 36 dB models
    • remember that each 3 dB is a doubling
    • 42 dB - 36 dB = 6 dB
    • 6 dB / 3 dB = 2 doublings or 4 times
SIR EXT50 50-foot Extension   10 dB ?
  1. Includes a 10 dB inline amplifier
? ?
  1. replaces SRA-30
Marine   36.5 dB 140 mA
  1. replaced by SRA-40
STARMATE Home Kit   n/a n/a Contains:
  1. Sirius Indoor-Outdoor Home Antenna
  2. "120 Volt AC" to "12 Volt DC" power adapter
  3. bookshelf docking stand
  4. single mini-jack to dual RCA jack audio cable
  5. Highly Recommended for home use
  6. Only used with first generation receivers (e.g. Starmate-1)
  7. "C" suffix means Canadian market only
STARMATE Home Kit   n/a n/a


  1. Sirius Indoor-Outdoor Home Antenna
  2. "120 Volt AC" to "5 Volt DC" power adapter
  3. bookshelf docking stand
  4. single mini-jack to dual RCA jack audio cable
  5. Highly Recommended for home use
  6. Used with modern receivers (Starmate-2 and higher)
  7. "C" suffix means Canadian market only
Splitter   n/a n/a
  1. Required to connect newer antennas to older receivers
  2. One plug is labeled SAT while the other is labeled TER
Combiner /
Combiner/Splitter   n/a n/a
  1. Required if you want your Sirius external antenna to share the wire used by your existing satellite TV.
  2. Contains connectors for RG-6 and RG-58.
Pixel Pro-500
Very High Gain Antenna 12 dBi 35.5  ?
  1. This high gain antenna produces 12 dBi (5 dB more than standard antennas). Since the built-in LNA provides 35.5 dB of gain, the resultant signal strength is 47.5 dB
  2. Caveat: this antenna is "highly directional" so should only be installed by professionals
Pixel Pro-600
High Gain Antenna 8.5 dBi   ?
  1. A little smaller than the Pro-500 but the up-down-rotate mounting means you will have little difficultly pointing this unit.
  2. I think the mostly metal design may survive extreme temperature swings a little better than the all-plastic "Sirius Outdoor Home" or "Sirius XM Universal" described above.
  3. The output from this device is RG-6 but an adapter is included.
    Caveat: Be sure you purchase from a reputable vendor: there are reports of "some" amazon re-sellers and eBay vendors opening the boxes then selling the con

  1. So for now it looks like I must operate my STARMATE from a second floor office but I've still got a problem since my stereo is on the first floor. So here are two possible options:
    1. enable the "FM transmitter" option on the STARMATE selecting an FM frequency that is relatively quiet in your community, then tune your stereo to the same spot
      • you may need to tack on a single 50 cm (20 inch) wire to the antenna screw of your FM receiver.
      • if your STARMATE is located some distance from your stereo -and- your signal is weak, you may need to buy a short external FM transmitter antenna (these cost about $6.00). In a bind, you can make one by locating an old mono earphone jack from a 1960s transistor radio. Cut off the ear piece then separate the two plastic wires (discard the wire going to the plug sheath which corresponds to ground). The ideal length is 1.40 meters (55 inches) but 70 cm (27 inches) should work just fine.
        Maximum Frequency for FM 107.9 MHz
        Speed of Light (radio waves) 299,792,458 m/s (vacuum)
        Speed of Light (radio waves) 299,702,547 m/s (air)
        Half wave calculation 300/107/2 = 1.40 m (55 in)
        Quarter wave calculation 300/107/4 = 0.70 m (27 in)
      • in rarer instances you may not find a quiet location on your FM dial so may need to purchase an external third-party FM transmitter. (mandatory for college dorms)
    2. purchase SIR-EXT50 which will add a 50-foot (15 m) extension to your coaxial receiver wire. Since we're using frequencies near 2.32 GHz (2,320 MHz) it is not wise to rig up a DIY (do-it-yourself) extension unless you've got prior experience in this area. Also, a short circuit on the receiver antenna line can damage the antenna power supply in your radio.

      Common Use Of The Radio Frequency Spectrum:
      Frequency Use Notes
      530-1700 KHz AM Radio (note: 1700 KHz = 1.7 MHz)
      27 MHz Citizens Band Radio,
      Walkie-Talkies, Garage Door Openers, etc.

      54-72 MHz
      76-88 MHz
      NTSC (analog) TV - VHF channels 2-4 NTSC (analog) TV - VHF channels 5-6 VHF Band I
      88-108 MHz FM Radio VHF Band II
      174-216 MHz NTSC (analog) TV - VHF channels 7-13 VHF Band III
      470-890 MHz NTSC (analog) TV - UHF channels 14-83
      2.320 GHz Sirius + XM radio
      2.450 GHz Microwave Ovens
      2.4 GHz 802.11 b
      802.11 g wireless internet (wi-fi)

      2.4 / 5.0 GHz 802.11 n wireless internet (wi-fi)
      5.0 GHz 802.11 a wireless internet (wi-fi)
      10 GHz 1010 Radar
      Satellite TV Services:
       10-18 GHz - Ku Band
       18-26 GHz - K Band
       16-40 GHz - Ka Band (a.k.a. K3 Band)

      100 GHz 1011 (microwaves)
  2. 2006 "Sirius Outdoor Home" Info: Sirius Outdoor Home antenna with RG-58 cable
    1. Electrical power: 160 ma (supplied by your radio)
    2. Gain: 42 dB
    3. Antenna connector: Female SMA (tiny hex cap)
    4. Cable connector at antenna end: Male SMA (tiny hex cap)
    5. Cable Type: RG-58 (50 ohms)
    6. Cable connectors at receiver end: both SMB (required by your radio)
  3. 2012 "Sirius XM Universal Outdoor Home" Info: Sirius Outdoor Home antenna with RG-58 cable
    1. Electrical power: 160 ma (supplied by your radio)
    2. Gain: 42 dB
    3. Antenna connector: Female F-connector
    4. Cable connector at antenna end: Male F-connector
    5. Cable Type: RG-6 (75 ohms)
    6. Cable connector at receiver end: Male F-connector
    7. Comes with model: SRS-2VB splitter (only install this if you have more than one radios)
      1. input: one female F-connector
      2. output: two female F-connectors
    8. Comes with two RG-174 jumper cables for two radios: male F-connector to SMB (required by your radio)
      Note: you can purchase these jumpers separately for about $10.00 each
    comment: RG-6 has an impedance of 75 ohms whilst RG-175 has an impedance of 150 ohms so I do not understand why an impedance conversion transformer was not provided,

  4. More info about the STARMATE ST1 and ST1C
    1. this is a sophisticated digital computer that can simultaneously receive signals from 2 of 3 satellites and 1 terrestrial ground station
    2. buffered audio will play for approximately 7 seconds after removing the antenna connector
    3. reinstalling the antenna connector will cause audio to return in 2 seconds
    4. It appears that the STARMATE is always trying to stuff the digital output buffer with time-tagged content from various sources so the listener never (or almost never) experiences a signal loss as happens when driving under a highway overpass.


Starmate 4

I just added this second radio (for my office) to my Sirius account:

  1. Starting with STARMATE-2, all radios have a single docking port on the bottom so they can be more easily transferred between the vehicle base, home base, or boom box. All cables now mate with the docking base rather than the radio body.
  2. Larger cool-blue display can be seen at high noon (nerd alert: the display is a special purpose florescent tube; not LED or LCD)
  3. Signal strength meter now works before activation
  4. Three rows of ten preset buttons (rather than five rows of six buttons). First press the Dog Button then use the ten buttons to directly enter a channel number. Note that this "random access" functionality was only possible on the STARMATE 1 via the remote control.
  5. includes a vehicle-base for mounting in your car/boat/RV
  6. includes a mini (2.5 inch) antenna for the FM transmitter
Cons (STARMATE-2 and higher):
  1. I also purchased the optional Plug & Play Home Kit (SUPH1C) and noticed that there is no antenna jack for the FM transmitter on the home-docking base. The only way to connect it to your home stereo is by the supplied audio cables.
    (more on this in the next section labeled FCC Part-15 Devices below)
  2. So I used the power adapter from the Home Kit along with the vehicle-docking base which does have an FM transmitter antenna jack. The built-in FM transmitter in the STARTMATE-4 is five times weaker than that of the STARTMATE-1 which means that the maximum distance between your STARTMATE-4 and your FM radio has dropped from 5-m (30-ft) to 2-m (6-ft). This means that the built-in FM transmitter is virtually unusable in urban areas. This change is by design.
    (more on this in the next section labeled FCC Part-15 Devices below)
  3. The only way around this is to use the supplied audio cables to directly connect to a stereo, or purchase a third-party FM radio transmitter (great for college dorms). Click here for a short list: Third-Party Transmitters
  4. It might make more sense to buy a boom box rather than the Plug & Play Home Kit. The boom box comes with a folding windowsill antenna, audio cables, and A. C. power adapter.
    Caveat 1: Make sure you've got a boom box and eight fresh D-cells for the next power outage. During the Northeast Blackout of 2003, most radio, TV, and cell phone transmitters went offline but the up-link to those Sirius satellites kept on ticking. This might be your only link to the human race.
    Caveat 2: In a pinch, you will always be able to power your radio from you car but you'll need a really long power cable to enjoy the radio closer to your fireplace

 Using a Sirius Boom Box to survive a residential power loss

Starmate 4 with universal-docking Boom Box

Back in 2008 I purchased a Sirius Boom Box for use on the beach in Cancun, Mexico. When I returned from that vacation I continued to use the Boom Box in my home office. I didn't bother removing the eight D-cells (batteries) but did use the supplied AC power adapter.

Now for some reason I don't fully understand, residential power in 2009 is way worse than when I was a kid, and a few 2009 interruptions have averaged an hour. The outage of 2009-July-11 lasted 50 minutes while the 2009-August interruption lasted 5 hours. Whenever it happens you never know if the outage is local, city wide, or across the whole system as happened in 2003 when 55 million were driven into the dark, many for more than 24 hours. In the 2003 case, local radio stations as well as CELL PHONE towers eventually depleted their emergency backup power so even listening to your car AM-FM radio or listening with a portable patio radio wouldn't help. The only thing we can rely on today is that Sirius-XM satellite system orbiting overhead.


  1. When commercial or residential power fails, you've got to unplug the AC adapter from the Boom Box to activate the internal D-cells
  2. When power has restored, remember to plug in your AC adapter ASAP so that your batteries will not continue to discharge
  3. Always keep a fresh pack of batteries available for the next "big one"
  4. MH-C808M 8-cell battery charger
    Thinking that fresh rechargeable D-cells may be more environmentally friendly than traditional batteries (and perhaps cheaper in the long run), I decided to purchase a recharger from eBay. Make sure you look for deals because I found this brand new 8-cell model for only $80. The model name is MH-808M and it is capable of simultaneously recharging any combination of 8 cells. AAA, AA, A, C, D.
  5. Make sure you are careful when shopping for rechargeable batteries. I saw prices as high as "two for $35" but as low as "eight for $48". The power rating is important as well. They are all 1.5 volts but have different current-over-time specs. For example, I saw low numbers like 2500 mAh (means: "2500 milliamps per hour" -OR- "1 milliamp for 2500 hours") and higher numbers like 10,000 and 12,000. Higher is better.

 Sirius Synergi Internet Radio (Canadian)
 Sirius Tabletop Internet Radio (American)

If you are tired transporting your portable Sirius radio between your car and home (or car and office) then consider buying a Sirius Internet Radio.
Product Name Product Number Notes
Sirius Synergi Internet Radio TTR1C only works with Canadian Sirius accounts
Sirius Tabletop Internet Radio
SiriusXM Tabletop Internet Radio
TTR1 only works with American Sirius accounts


First-time set-up is child's play (and only takes a few minutes):

  1.  Choose "Network Wizard" or "Wired" or "Wireless" from the setup menu
    • If Wired: choose DHCP or manual
    • If Wireless: input your Wi-Fi security codes (only required if Wi-Fi security is enabled which it usually is not)
    • If Wizard: just follow the prompted instructions
  2. Wait for your unit to go online (it will auto set the clock; you need to set the time zone)
  3. At this point my unit asked for permission to do a firmware upgrade. I agreed which took 30 seconds.
    I'm not sure what was downloaded but the logo in the display changed from Sirius to SiriusXM :-)
  4. Input your Sirius account username and password
  5. Sit back and enjoy (Big Dial is VOLUME; Small Dial is TUNE; Push the Small Dial to SELECT a menu item)
  6. Optionally, program your presets

 "FCC Part-15 Devices" and the "NAB Report to the FCC"

The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) is a Washington DC based lobby group attempting to protect the business interests of terrestrial radio and television broadcasters. These businesses were (understandably) upset by competition from next-gen devices like iPods, MP3 Players, and Satellite Radios which are able to rebroadcast the their content to nearby FM radios. In 2006, the NAB commissioned a study of these devices and determined that 85% of them violate what the FCC has labeled "Part 15" devices. On average, the radios produced signals 5 times hotter than the legal limit. The NAB turned over this report to the FCC who, in turn, notified radio manufacturers that they needed to reduce the output power of their FM signals. This is why the Starmate-1 (ST1) FM Transmitter is 5 times hotter than the Starmate-4 (ST4).

Sportster Replay"
Sirius "Sportster Replay" (old)
Notice the built-in FM transmitter antenna (20 gauge wire) which travels around the outside then is soldered to a point on the upper right just beside the silver crystal.
Sirius "Sportster Replay" (new) Notice that the FM transmitter antenna wire is missing. Also, this is a slightly different circuit board (ignore component color but notice components size and position at lower right) so there could be other differences not visible in this photo like resistor values or firmware parameter settings. I wonder what the red dot on the CPU means?
Sirius Sportster Replay (old) Sirius Sportster Replay (new)

So what should you do?

Location Possible Solutions
Vehicle Satellite Radio companies and the FCC do not want you driving down the road with an over-powered FM transmitter which could annoy FM listeners in other cars.
  1. get a car kit which will allow you to directly connect to your car radio audio input (best quality)
  2. get a car relay kit which will allow you to directly connect to your car radio antenna
  3. listen to your satellite radio on cheap PC speakers (plug them into the head phone jack) or boom box
  4. buy an after-market FM Transmitter (you will annoy others up to 150 ft)
  5. use the built-in FM Transmitter (probably not realistic in urban areas)
Satellite Radio companies and the FCC do not want you blasting an over-powered FM signal to other near-by radios.
  1. listen to your satellite radio on cheap PC speakers, or head phones, or a boom box
  2. use audio cables to directly connect to a stereo (best quality)
  3. buy an after-market FM Transmitter (you will annoy others up to 150 ft)
  4. use the built-in FM Transmitter
Home Since it is unlikely that you will radiate a signal over 46 m (150 ft) you can do just about anything you want
  1. use audio cables to directly connect to a stereo (best quality)
  2. buy an after-market FM Transmitter (can broadcast up to 150 ft)
  3. use the built-in FM Transmitter
College Dorm Since it is likely that your college buddies will want to listen to your radio, take up a collection then...
  1. buy the most powerful after-market FM Transmitter (you will probably please others)
  2. use audio cables to directly connect to a stereo (best quality)
  3. listen to your satellite radio on cheap PC computer speakers, or head phones, or a boom box
  4. use the built-in FM Transmitter

 Third-Party FM Transmitters.

caveat: these widgets seem to have fallen out of favor in 2020 as Bluetooth interfaces become more popular

 Using "Sirius Satellite Radio" in Cancun, Mexico. (2006)

(click here for the much shorter text associated with my 2008 visit)

I just returned from a vacation on the Mayan Riviera (Playa del Carmen) with my wife and our Sirius "STARMATE STC1 radio". We brought along the radio as an alternative to late-night and early-morning TV viewing but ended up using it 90% of the time. Here are some amusing things that happened to me and hopefully will help you.

 Using "Sirius Satellite Radio" in Cancun, Mexico. (2008)

I just returned from a vacation on the Mayan Riviera (Playa del Carmen) with my wife and our Sirius "STARMATE ST4 radio". We brought along the radio as an alternative to late-night and early-morning TV viewing but ended up using it 90% of the time.

Using "Sirius Satellite Radio" in Toronto, Canada. (2008)

Great news for Toronto subscribers. For the past week I was driving around downtown Toronto and never experienced a single signal interruption. I stayed in an East-facing hotel room (supposedly the worst possible location for Ontario subscribers) and everything worked perfectly. Switching to my SIGNAL STRENGTH display revealed a whopping 10 bars of TERRESTRIAL signal. On Friday night I drove from downtown Toronto back to Kitchener with my display sitting on SIGNAL STRENGTH. Here is a list of my signal readings:

Toronto Locations
Location Terrestrial Signal Satellite Signal
Young Street and College Street 10 bars 3 intermittent
Young Street and Gardiner Expressway 10 bars 3 intermittent
Gardiner Expressway and Islington Avenue  6 bars 1 10 bars 3
Gardiner Expressway and Highway 407 10 bars 10 bars 3
Highway 407 and Highway 5  6 bars 1 10 bars 3
Highway 407 and Highway 401 10 bars 10 bars 3
Highway 401 by the Toronto Airport  3 bars 1 10 bars 3
Highway 401 and Highway 410 (Brampton/Mississauga) 10 bars 10 bars 3
Highway 401 and Winston Churchill Blvd  6 bars 2 10 bars 3
Highway 401 and Highway 407  6 bars 2 10 bars 3
Highway 401 and Highway 25 (Milton)  3 bars 2 10 bars 3
Highway 401 and Kelso Park  0 bars 10 bars 3


  1. These are low-lying areas and I am guessing that the Sirius terrestrial repeater is sitting on top of the C. N. Tower (near the intersection of John St. and Front St. in Toronto)
  2. Out this far, the terrestrial signal always increased whenever I was under an overpass. Since I never noticed any hardware mounted under the overpass, I am assuming that the concrete walls were acting as a terrestrial radio reflector/collector.
  3. During this driving experiment I always has access to usable TERRESTRIAL or SATELLITE signals, and the radio seamlessly switched from source-to-source. The only real-world compliant I noticed was caused when I passed the odd 18-wheeler. Some of these truckers were using powerful third-party FM transmitters (while I was only using the transmitter built into my STARMATE 1) which meant I would get a 10 second blast of country music while I passed them. One way to get around this is to purchase one of the direct connect solutions or a more powerful third-party FM transmitter.

 Using "Sirius Satellite Radio" in Cancun, Mexico (2010)

 Satellite Radio Companies

 Unofficial History of Sirius + XM

  • American Mobile Radio/XM co-founder Lon Levin joins American Mobile Satellite Corp.
  • Satellite CD Radio, Inc. successfully petitioned the FCC and Congress into creating Digital Audio Radio Service (DARS) in the United States.
  • Satellite CD Radio, Inc. changes its name to CD Radio, Inc.
  • American Mobile Satellite Corp. spins off a new division known as American Mobile Radio Corp. who would go on and join three other applicants as potential licensees. Later that year, American Mobile brings in WorldSpace as a 20% investor into the new venture with the intention of using their technology.
  • the FCC divides the S-Band spectrum already set aside for Satellite CD Radio, Inc. then gives half of it to XM
  • CD Radio, Inc. changes its name to Sirius Satellite Radio, Inc. in 1999.
  • General Motors merges their OnStar product with XM (and agrees to only install XM radios in GM cars until 2013)
  • American Mobile Satellite Corp changes its name to Motient
  • XM satellite service goes online in September-2001
  • Sirius satellite services goes online in September-2002
  • Howard Stern begins Sirius broadcasting starting 9-January-2006
  • In February, Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin announces that Sirius and XM intend to merge. They also intend to drop the subscription price by allowing people to only pay for channels they want.
  • XM-Sirius Merger @ Wikipedia
  • Because XM and Sirius occupy neighboring spectrum in the S-Band, only a small software change is required to allow existing receivers to access all channels (provided the radios were designed with typical engineering margins). This software change will be downloaded into the radios over the satellite network. Existing residential antennas and amplifiers will work without modification
    • Sirius 2.3200 - 2.3325 GHz
    • XM 2.3325 - 2.3450 GHz
  • The main opposition to the merger is the National Association of Broadcasters (a.k.a. Terrestrial Radio). NAB representatives have been present at both Congressional hearings, and have produced many advertisements regarding the merger.

    p.s. oil companies and banks merge with little opposition so why is this merger being delayed???
  • In the Spring of 2008, the US government announced that they will allow the merger of these two companies.
  • In August of 2008, the two American companies merged and are now known Sirius XM Radio
  • As of September 2008, the new company boasts 19 million paying subscriptions
  •  XM-Sirius Merger @ Wikipedia
  • The Canadian versions of these companies has not merged and there are no discussions on the horizon
  • After the sub-prime triggered economic crisis of 2008, Sirius-XM announced some difficulty in borrowing money to cover bond obligations. As usually happens these days, the "bankruptcy" word begins to be used by financial commentators/entertainers which then introduces uncertainty.
  • First off, Sirius-XM has the second largest number of subscribers after Comcast.
  • Secondly, Sirius-XM has the fastest growing subscriber base.
  • What would happen during bankruptcy? Under chapter 11, a company uses the courts to obtain protection from creditors.
    1. If new lines of credit are found, the crisis is averted and business resumes.
    2. If new lines of credit are not found, the business is auctioned or sold with the proceeds first going to the bond holders. Any remaining money goes to the preferred shareholders with the balance, if any, going to common shareholders.
    Under either one of theses scenarios the subscribers would not loose service.
    Under scenario #2 the company would be reformed with zero debt.
  • By early February, Sirius-XM found new lines of credit so bankruptcy was avoided.

I'm not sure why people bother to steal them

Executive Summary:
  • These radios are part of a subscription service.
  • You pay (subscribe) to have the content delivered to them.
  • Once stolen, the original owner will:
    • report the radio stolen to police so the owner can collect insurance
    • report the radio stolen to Sirius so the subscription can be cancelled or moved to a replacement device. Either action will render the stolen radio useless.
  • Starting a subscription with a stolen radio will immediately flag the black-market customer as an owner of stolen property. An investigation will lead back to the thief

Satellite Radios

Internet Ratios

Marketing Controversies

Before the merger of Sirius and XM, both companies competed in both the US and Canada. Competition brought with it competitive pricing and improved content. Since the merger, SiriusXM in both the US and Canada (where the US company owns 35% of the Canadian company) have become monopolies in their respective countries and this has led to higher prices, automatic renewals (without notification), and lower customer service. No surprise that consumers are now complaining to their respective governments.

Remember that all this is going on while billions are being allocated for a corporate stock-buy-back

It appears that SiriusXM in both countries seem to be ignoring the free streaming services offered by most radio stations. While streaming will not affect customers using mobile radios it will impact customers using radios in offices and residences where broadband internet is ubiquitous

Terrestrial Repeaters


Internal FM modulator is disabled?

I was preparing for a party on 2016-08-15 where my Starmate 4 would be sending output to a nearby stereo tuner (this was one of those situations where I needed background music in a room with no access to my Sirius external antenna). That is when I noticed that the "FM Transmitter" option is missing from the main menu when the Starmate 4 is docked in a Boom Box. Thankfully my Ramsey FM modulator served me well (I used an audio cable to connect the modulator to my Boom Box)

Weird antenna problem (2022) SOLVED!

Sirius Outdoor Home antenna with RG-6 cable

Ontario Wind Storm (2022)

  • A huge windstorm blew through southern Ontario today any now my Sirius Outdoor Home antenna is missing so I had to purchase a replacement.
  • This year I noticed that the trees behind my place (southern exposure) have grown high enough, and close enough, that reception is no longer 100% after the leaves pop in the spring (not a 100% unobstructed view of the sky) so I decided I needed to move my antenna to a higher location.
  • So I purchased a Philips J-mount (SDW-1220/27) from Amazon for $30.
  • It is easy to install in wood
  • It is harder to install in brick:
    • so make sure you have got the tools, skills, and experience to drill 4 small holes into the brick (never the mortar) which will enable you to insert 4 plastic anchors (not provided) for the mounting bracket.
    • if you do not have the tools, skills or experience then call someone who does.
      • This might cost you 50-100 dollars which is 10 times less that the cost to have someone replace a cracked brick.
      • Do not ignore a cracked brick or loose mortar. Thermal expansion and contraction will eventually cause the problem to grow until failure.
    • if you install the J-mount on a chimney then remember that hot gases rise. You do not want the plastic antenna pod, or plastic cable, exposed to high temperature gases so the antenna pod must always be positioned below the chimney top.
  • final thought: if you lost your antenna then considering listening to SiriusXM over the internet
Philips-SDW-1220-27 J-arm

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Neil Rieck
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.