Frequency band expanders for reimported RV8s

This note is based on information from Chris Watkins at HS Imports, Protech, and Roger Aldridge. (Jan 05)

RV8s exported to Japan were fitted with radios produced for the Japanese market which can only receive 76 to 90 MHz on the FM band. The UK radio broadcast frequency band is 88 to 108 MHz so there is only a small portion of overlap on the two bands - 88 to 90 MHz - which you can see in the chart above. In effect a Japanese market radio in a reimported RV8 will only receive Radio 2, so if your listening tastes are a little wider, then you have to consider either fitting a frequency band expander or replacing the radio with a UK market unit.

Frequency band extenders allow the signals from UK radio broadcast stations to be stepped down to the Japanese market waveband. One firm who supply these expanders, sometimes called converters, is

Standard 18 MHz model. (Photo: Protech)

Protech based at Nailsea near Bristol. They offer two different converters - first a standard 18 MHz model which allows a Japanese market radio to receive UK stations broadcasting in the 94 to 108 MHz bandwidth, and second a switchable 12/18 MHz unit which enables the full UK radio broadcast band to be received. Protech says "both units are made to our exacting standards and incorporate signal boosters for the best possible reception. They are quite simply the best available in the marketplace".

Switchable 12/18 MHz model. (Photo: Protech)

For further information, see the Protech webpage:
Protech frequency band converters

Protechnical Limited
23 Clevedon Road
Avon BS48 1EW
Tel: 01275 859955

Comments from members

Roger Aldridge has fitted an expander to his reimported RV8 and noted "on RV8s supplied to the Japanese market, the radio frequency band on FM is narrow and can only pick up UK stations up to about 90MHz. You can therefore usually get Radio 2 on 89.9MHz or less but no others. If you fit an expander this means the radio signal you receive is 18MHz higher than the radio display. Therefore when the radio shows a display of 80 you will be receiving 98. With an expander fitted you can receive most of the UK stations, but you may lose Radio 2 which is the shortest waveband station.
Lastly ensure you get a fitting diagram with the expander. It is a little box that fits where the aerial connects but must be fitted correctly. Most of the reputable RV8 reimport companies do fit these for you - HS Imports fit them to all their cars for example. The suppliers of the expanders are Clive Wheatley (01746 710810), Autocare (01278 789024) or Protech (01275 859955) and costs are around £22.50 inc VAT and post (late 2004 prices). This information also supplied by Chris Watkins at HS Imports".

Comments from HS Imports
Chris Watkins runs a leading RV8 reimporter and comments "I have have used Protech's expanders for several years but never the switchable version. The display on the radio unit will not change so it displays 80 you will actually be receiving 98 - the device quite simply adds 18MHz to the frequency on display. With six presets on the radio this is not such a great problem". Chris adds reception of Radio 2 is

on the edge of the expanded frequencies so it is best to assume that you will lose Radio 2 reception with the expander fitted although in some cases it will still come through.

Chris adds that his advice to customers on the ICE options with a reimported RV8 is along the following lines:
If the RV8 has a CD changer, it is best to keep the original ICE system intact and then opt for a frequency expander so you can pick up UK radio broadcasts - with the possible limitation on Radio 2. However the original radio does not have RDS -(RDS or radio data system), so if you lose the station signal as you are motoring over hill and dale, it will not automatically retune to the next suitable frequency for the station. So you will need to retune by hand.

If the RV8 does not have a CD changer and the driver likes music, especially on CDs, then an option is to remove the original radio head unit and fit instead a good Panasonic, Sony or JVC tuner with a CD player - just a "CD in the slot" variety. This has the benefit of having RDS and a moveable face for security too. Units like this can be bought for around £70 and if customers chose this option, Chris Watkins says "I do not charge for fitting because I am saving on the expander". Of course an entire system, including a CD changer, can be fitted but is a great deal more expensive.
Chris adds there is another source of converters - Bridgwater Electronics - who offer three variants:
BC12 which provides a +16MHz shift allowing reception of 88 to 102MHz which may possibly be

better for Radio 2 listeners..
BC16 with a +16MHz shift with reception of 88 to 90MHz and 92 to 106MHz.

BC18 with a +18MHz shift with reception of 88 to 90MHz and 94 to 108MHz.

They provide a pocket explantion of radio band expanders on their useful website by clicking the link to the webpage below.
Bridgwater Electronics

What ICE equipment was fitted to RV8s that went to Japan?

All the RV8s that went out to Japan were fitted with a CD changer holder (in effect a bracket) in the boot and all the necessary wiring was there so it was a simple matter to plug in a CD changer unit. Not all Japan spec RV8s were fitted with the CD changer unit as it was an optional extra. We have heard that a few of the early cars sent to Japan had a "Rover" badged CD changer which sat inside the bracket but supplies of these ran out, and then Panasonic units were fitted by means of a small extension to the original bracket. We understand the Panasonic units plug straight in. However new CD changers available today will not fit the plugs or wiring found on the RV8, so members seeking a CD changer have to hunt down an old unit that has been removed by an RV8 specialist or enthusiast who has opted for a complete change to more modern ICE and CD changer equipment. So when looking for a reimported RV8, you will need to check the text of the advert closely to see if an original CD changer is included in the equipment fitted to the car.
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