What is the PowerConnect FM transmitter? - Orbitcast

What is the PowerConnect FM transmitter?

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PowerConnect FM
We first saw the PowerConnect FM transmitter during the product showcase at Sirius XM's NYC headquarters. But more and more new satellite radios are coming out with PowerConnect (like the XMP3i), and some people want a full explanation of what exactly the PowerConnect FM transmitter does.

But first... a little history lesson.
When satellite radios were first available ("the ol' days") receivers had built-in FM transmitters. These were a great because all you had to do was run the satellite radio antenna and plug-in the receiver - installation was pretty simple.

The reality was, many of these satellite radios had overpowered FM transmitters.

So overpowered, in fact, that surrounding cars could pick up the signal. It got to the point that some satellite radio owners were putting stickers on their cars letting others around them know what station to tune in to. Fun right? Not so fun for others who happened to be listening to public radio, which commonly were in the frequency range (read complaints from NPR listeners that sparked an investigation).

What happened afterwards, during the summer of 2006, had a lasting result on the satellite radio retail market: complaints from the NAB, demands to the FCC for a full recall, then XM started suspending receiver shipments, followed by Sirius halting production as well. It was a mess.

Months later, both Sirius and XM came up with solutions that the FCC could accept. Consumers were forced to run a multitude of wires in order to get a working FM transmitter.

That's why the new PowerConnect FM transmitter is such a break-through.

Now, instead of running wires everywhere, consumers can go back to the good ol' days. Just run the antenna wire, plug in the receiver, and you're good to go. What you see below is how you install the PowerConnect... that's it, nothing else:

PowerConnect FM Transmitter

So how does the PowerConnect work?

The concept is simple and brilliant (so much so that it's patent pending technology).

Essentially the FM signal is piped through from the cigarette lighter into the radio by using the electrical connection to transmit the signal. The PowerConnect itself is a power-source and an FM transmitter in one.

Below is a video I recorded at the Sirius XM product showcase explaining how the PowerConnect works (the company asked that I didn't post the video at the time, but I think it's safe now):

Pretty neat right?

You can expect every new satellite radio that gets released from now on to include the PowerConnect FM transmitter. You can also expect to see many existing models that have the "old" FM transmitters to get upgraded to include the new technology. Some of these include the Stratus 6, XM Onyx, XpressRCi, the upcoming XMP3i, and yes, the XM SkyDock.

Aside from ease of installation, the sound-quality from the PowerConnect is pretty incredible too. If you don't have a direct connection or a tape adapter, the PowerConnect provides a superior sounding experience to other FM transmitters.

So that's it, the PowerConnect in a nutshell. Do you have any question or own a PowerConnect enabled radio? Share with us in a comments below.

17 Comments

what about inside the home? can it send signals through your home electrical wires, so, for example, you can have the sat radio in one room and be able to listen to it on a radio in another?

Will there be a retro to use for the original Delphi MyFi?

I was wondering about the sound quality. Ultimately, it's still a FM signal and the fidelity is limited to the quality of analog FM transmission isn't it? It doesn't seem possible to be as good as what you would get with an auxiliary input or a cassette adapter. If it is, I'd sure like to understand how.

If the sound quality is on par, I hope they at least make a Sirius universal adapter for all of us with stiletto's and starmates.

It is a very clever and useful invention. the only thing is that it doesn't work as great as the old radios did in the past. this is supposed to always work, no down sides, but is not the case. sometimes it works is some radios and sometimes it doesn't work in some radios. this is supposed to ALWAYS work PERFECTLY in ALL sat radios.

You say that this PowerConnect works (I haven't tried it), but I don't see how this is much different from before. First off - this does not "stream music directly to the car radio". It goes to the cigarette lighter which goes to the fuse panel which goes to a 12V branch circuit that goes to the 12V branch circuit that the car radio is on then back though the fuse panel and then to the car radio. At that point, car radio manufacturers go to great lengths to make sure that only 12VDC enters the radio (it is highly filtered). The radio itself is highly shielded to be sure that normal "car noise" (engine, ignition, serial buses...) does not get into the radio. Eventually you are counting on the modulated signal to leak into the radio RF front end to have something useable by the radio. So your video and commentary still haven't explained how this system works. Has this system been blessed by the FCC or will there be new complaints registered? Sorry about the tone of my comment.

Does this work with existing car stereos or is a new type of stereo required to interact with the PowerConnect?

I don't have a need for the Sirius XM functionality the PowerConnect system provides (have a car with built XM), but I'm wondering if I could use it to plug in my iPhone or iPod for purposes of listening to my iTunes songs. It sounds like it would work a whole lot better than the cassette adapter and FM transmitter I've been using. Anyone using it this way? Are you happy with the sound?

ugh... re-read the article man not just the headline.

specifically last three paragraphs

xcountry cardholder#1

All I can say is I am glad my car has a USB port and an AUX plug. FM Modulation is by far the lowest quality sounding and the least reliable in my area due to so much FM channel cramming. Its hard to find a completely free station.

As usual these comments are INANE.

Of course this won't sound as good as a direct connect (or AUX input) or even a cassette adaptor. But the vast majority of people who buy aftermarket radios use the built-in FM modulator. For those people- this is LIGHT YEARS better. Its the best form of FM modulation going.

If you have the ability to use an AUX input, by all means use it. But this is a great invention for the time being. In years to come, I believe all cars will have an AUX input, making this invention worthless, but until that occurs, this is a big step up.

I know the power connect works well. I tried my XMp3 with car kit and my onyX on the same FM station when I turned the onyX on the XMp3 signal was no more. Same for other FM stations. NO STATIC! Perfect! Bravo SXM!

I'll tell you exactly how it is, because we have one. They sent us a test version. In fact, we've had it for like six months now. It's just the power plug, with the FM transmitter in it instead of the one you attach to your windshield. It's just one less cable, nothing special. I put it in my gf's car, because my Sirius is wired in through the RCA on my stereo. Like I said, it's just one less wire. Sound quality and reception are exactly the same. The only time she slightly loses reception is when we go to a huge major city where there are tons of radio stations on every inch of the dial. Other than that, it works great, and it's not as intrusive as mounting the FM thing from Sirius to the windshield.

When is this going to be available for the sportser 5? And other plug and play radios

Do these electronic cigarettes really feel like the real thing? I watched a video at this website but don't know what to think. Are there any real smokers out there that aren't promoting a product that can tell me what you really think?

it backfeeds the FM through the ground off the cig lighter plug, the same ground that the antenna is grounded to.

I recently purchased an xpress rci to replace an old xpress. The power connect is a joke compared to the old style radios. It may work in a little car, but not in a tractor trailer. When the engine fan is on or the a/c and fan are on, it loses fm reception. If I hold my hand anywhere near the unit, it goes to static.I have to hold the power wire in order to get reception to the stereo and that always doesn't work. JUNK!

where can i purchase this Powerconnect Fm transmitter? Whats its circuit voltage? and Whats the sound quality like?