11 February 2009

Replacing your car radio

The cheap radio I got with an used car broke. Actually a small hook holding the detachable front panel broke, so it became useless. Not a bad news since the FM receiver was extremely poor, it played only original CDs and had a PTO tuning mechanism begging for inspection (see previous posts).
I had kept aside an old MW/FM/cassette device from 90's, that is now approximately 14 years old. It had a very good receiver, so it was time to put it back into service!

First thing to know about car radios: they have a standard outer size. So, even if they probably have different hooking mechanism to the supporting frame, they fit interchangeably. I also discovered that mine was only inserted into an existing frame, and the radio body could be pulled out with a simple movement.

Connections were worrying me. Almost two decades had passed, both for car audio industry and car manufacturers. Moreover the two cars were of different makers (Rover vs FIAT).

The antenna connector is the same. I don't know the name of that sort of plug, but I was happy with it.

Rear panel connections looked very similar indeed! Good news: those connectors are standardized, ISO 10487! Moreover both devices carried a label showing cables and their functions, so I could match them side by side and make sure no rewiring was needed.

Newer device had only A and B parts (powering and loudspeakers respectively), while older had also C. Since "C" connector is for extensions, not used in my case.

So I just plugged the antenna and the ISO connector ... et voilĂ  ... the job was done while waiting for a couple of semaphores to turn green.

You may try this at home only if you understand the risks of playing around high capacity batteries. Take your time to make sure both connections are wired exactly the same!

I am now enjoying medium wave reception in a small city car, whose emissions render unpleasant the band:
  • below 1000 kHz, with ignition noise on weak signals
  • during rain with windscreen wiper motors noise
  • in Summer with A/C pump noise
Have fun.