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12:02 pm: Vacation hacking, day one

So work is closed this week. There may be some INBOX cleaning, here and there, but by and large this week is mine to refresh and recharge. In usual form, I’ve set myself a rather savage schedule of projects that have been sitting around for a while. Based on today’s efforts, I’m one for one – keeping pace with the unyielding demands of time. We’ll see how the snow helps out tomorrow.

My father in law sent me a car stereo. I’ve been wanting to play driving music directly from the iphone for a while now. Mostly, this is pride: burning 14 to 20 songs onto plastic, shackled to the whim of the licensing gods, does not suit. The bit and harness – they chafe. I was only briefly put off by the fact that Sony decided to name it “XPLOD”. As in “kaboom.” Once I got over that – I went ahead with the noble business of mounting it in my car.

I had never changed any component in my car before. I realize that as an American man in his mid thirty’s, this probably means that I’m some sort of communist. Anyway, I found many wonderful resources online. This stuff is totally fun. It’s a series of little puzzles that are totally solvable – provided that you don’t break the little plastic tabs or anything.

It turns out that in addition to the stereo itself, you need:

* A “dash kit” to mount the thing in your dashboard. Stereos are a standard size, but dashboards are not. The size standard is “DIN,” where the “D” stands for “Deutsches”. There, now you know.
* A “wiring harness” to adapt the Sony “standard” plug to my 1998 – 2002 “standard” plugs. Apparently the colors of the wires are standard – but the shapes of the plastic plugs are not.

I figured all that out, and had a contented evening soldering some wire splices.

There were a lot of fun little puzzles along the way to getting it working. The solution to the final puzzle (back and forth to the car, in the snow), was to wire the powered-antenna line (blue, FWIW) directly to 12V power. Apparently, little-known fact here, that line also TURNS ON THE SPEAKERS. I had been assuming that it meant “power for the mechanical antenna.” Like, how it’s labelled on the wire and in the book. I have no powered antenna, so I had just connected it to the blue wire on the stereo plug … further assuming that the stereo would do the right thing. No dice. That caused the system to work when using the radio – but to be silent (though superficially functional) for any other mode. The stereo was trying to deploy the antenna only when the tuner was on – and otherwise playing without powering the speakers.

For the record, it’s not the “powered antenna” line. That’s the “make the whole damn system work,” line.


Originally published at chris.dwan.org. You can comment here or there.

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