Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Sound You Hear That Lingers In Your Ear

After driving 2 different vehicles without a radio for a while, today's post covers the little effort needed to get some tunes happening.

Back to the Future
we shall call it "DARK STAR"
1985 was an historic year. It brought us the first Back to the Future movie, Madonna's "Like a Virgin" and the Escort radar detector. Some things from that era have lived on (like the Back to the Future movie) and others, like the old radar detector, are probably sitting on garage shelves waiting to be discovered. In a very similar scene, one of Boo's friends found an old tape-deck stereo she used to have in her old Audi back in high school (in 1985). It was pulled when the car was sold, dropped back into it's original packaging and set on a shelf. Fast forward 30 years, and it was re-discovered.

The Sound of Silence-ish
Not having a use for a 30 year old car stereo, Boo's friend gave it to us. We have a couple of vehicles without stereos, leaving us to listen to the engine (what we usually do in the bus) or to rig some portable speaker solution (what we usually were doing in 2dot0 aka Dot). Boo and I had done both over the years. In fact, the bus hasn't had a stereo in it since I bought him, so even the concept of having music is foreign and awkward. I tried to get the 1985 stereo to work in Dot, but 1985 technology just doesn't install into 2001. With T driving Flash more than anyone else, he wanted a new stereo that he could one day move to his own car. That totally made sense, so we found him one and had it installed into Flash. This freed up Flash's original stock stereo. Now, we have 2 stereos. Kismet.

1985, meet 1972
it actually looks kinda okay 
Since I couldn't get the gift stereo working in the new-to-me Jetta, I figured I'd try to wire it up in the bus. I had already run power from the auxiliary battery to the radio hole, with an intention to "one day" have a radio. The old radios, though, are different than the modern marvels of today. Instead of shipping with a cartridge-like plug in the back, they have a bundle of thin wires back there. Some simple splicing later, and the radio is wired with some donor speakers sitting on the cab floor. Just like that, I have a radio. Now, there's speakers to mount, and more wires to run for more sound, etc, but as of now, I can listen to the radio. With one of those cassette tape -to- headphone jack input converter things from Radio Shack, I can route music from my phone into it. Wow... driving with music is neat.

Old Plastic
Of course, with a 30 year of radio, something isn't going to go pear-shaped. After installing the head into the dash, the little plastic volume and tuner buttons broke during re-seating. That was an easy fix with a couple of old-skool knobs from Radio Shack (I got the tape cassette thing at the same time). Oddly, those 2 knobs represent the most chrome on the bus.

Dot music
When the installers (Car Toys on Canyon in Beaverton, OR) removed the original stereo from Flash, they cracked a bunch of the plastic face. Adding insult to injury, they didn't mention it, so we didn't see the broken face until we got home. There wasn't much they could do about it, except apologize. They basically explained that the plastic was old and brittle. Having just broken the knobs on a stereo 15 years older, I couldn't exactly argue the point and the new stereo was installed very nicely. We had intended to take the old Jetta stereo and pop it into Dot, they being virtually the same car only a model year apart. With careful use of electrical tape, I was able to get the face to hold together and onto the head unit. This past weekend, I plugged the stereo in, entered the unlock code, and slid the stereo into the console of Dot. If you zoom in far enough in the picture here, you'll see the electrical tape surgery. That stereo can come out one more time and then its recycler-bound. Here's hoping that can wait a while.

The Sound You Hear
Just like that, half of the fleet went from no sound to music-capable. Fun stuff. That's it for today. As I make little improvements to the speaker set-up in the bus, I'll flap about it in future posts. In the meantime, this is a very "Agile" way of going after a problem: do the bare minimum to see if you're on the right track. Once you get buy-in on the concept, harden the solution. As you can see from the picture below, I'm still collecting feedback on the idea. The looks will be addressed later. I'll enjoy the music in the meantime. The old engine drone, that used to linger in my ear for up to an hour after driving a long distance in the bus may devolve into memory now. We'll see.

Thanks, as always, for following along.

the large magnets are actually holding the speakers in place :-D

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