Aftermarket radios & systems


Capt. Mike

Moderator
Crutchfield, a major supplier of aftermarket sound systems, used to have a very comprehensive tech explanation in their catalogs and web site.

Wattage alone is pretty meaningless -- my home system, with 200W available, will shake walls and deafen you at much over 5W. 25W is unbearable.
 

cheezus444

New member
hello friends('89 westy 2wd)
went through the postings and since i'm not allowed to see the archives(? what's up with that?)(can't check there) i have a question for y'all about adding a satellite radio system. went to the Capt.'s link at crutchfield's got alot of info but still some questions. will it work in deep forest?...in mexico?...is the cassette plug in sufficient or do i need a full in dash unit? sirius seems to be the best for me, they have sports...nhl, nfl, mlb, and most important NPR, plus all the music including i assume classical, nothing like a symphony in the middle of the woods! but, does it work as well as XM?..which works best in our westy's? read in other groups that there can be problems mounting the antennae, any input there? hope someone has some experience with these new fangled radios.TIA!....cheez
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haze03

New member
I recently purchased an 86' Westfalia Wolfsburgh and installed an old Blaupunk cassette player until I get a CD. Anyhow, there doesn't seem to be a switched 12 volt so the deck turns off with the ignition. I have tried both 12 volt wires and both run constant. The only way I can keep from running the battery dead is by taking off the face. Any ideas?
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
The radio feed is SUPPOSED to be live at all times -- see your wiring diagram in the Bentley. You should be able to turn your radio on & off at the radio. Some turn on & off by pushing the volume control; see your radio's original manual or contact the manufacturer. Blaupunkt has a US Service Ctr. listed elsewhere on this site.
 

icarus

Moderator
A trick I use, (though probably frowned upon by some hiway patrols) is using headphones. I started with a walkman when kids were asleep in the back on long trans-continental trips. I have graduated to a I-pod with Bose noise canceling head set. It gives superb sound, cutting out all the road noise. When I repalce the head unit in my syncro, I am going to wire in two headphone jacks that kill the speaker feeds so both driver and passenger can listen if they wish, but back seat passengers don't have to. I even toyed with the idea of an aircraft/motorcycle intercom built into the system but it seems a bit much!

I don't use the headphones in heavy traffic, but long nights across the praries it is nice.

I am looking for a head unit that has an aux input for an I-pod or other mp3 player, and has a bit better power than the stock radio. The stock radio is so underpowered it distorts badly if you play it loud enough to hear.

Any Ideas?

Icarus
 

Dave Hampshire

New member
Icarus,

Did you solve your stereo woes?

Three years ago, I installed a Pioneer DEH-2400F CD unit and a pair of Pioneer two-way 6" speakers in the front door panels of my 79 Westy. Unit plays CD-R's recorded (burned)in CDA or .wav format, as well as store bought CD's. The Pioneer components are mid-range in price, but I've been amazed at the quality and quantity of sound that fills the driving compartment while on the road. Three years later, I'm sure there are even better items out there to choose from. I especially like the removable face plate and the round volume knob...it's not a retro Blaupunkt but I'm just fine with that. BTW, Pioneer unit is 45 watts x 4 on paper.

As a recent owner of a 20 gig iPod, (a most excellent 40th birthday gift from my wife) I plan on purchasing an FM adaptor before the camping season so I can play our MP3's from the iPod directly thru the stereo in the Westy on an "empty" FM frequency. Just surf to the Apple website, look for iPod and then Accessories. In my Jeep, I use a cassette adaptor and have been very pleased with the sound from iPod to stock Mopar unit and speakers.

Headphones directly before speakers in an automotive enviornment...I'm not a tech, but I'm thinking 80,or even 10 watts to a set of headphones is going to make a puddle on the floor mats. Maybe you can go with a head and one or two seperate amps and place a headphone amp in between. If you've solved this already...please let us know!

Dave
 

icebox500

New member
Speaking of an always hot radio connection...

I had an 87 that I simply turned the radio off and on all the time.

My 89 has a trick feature that I don't know if it is stock or what. When I put the key in the ignition, the radio comes on as if it were on an accessory position. Frankly its pretty cool. This is an aftermarket installed by the PO.

2 cents
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
It is NOT standard. In fact, it indicates you may have a failing electrical side to your ignition switch and miswiring. The key part is mechanical and not related to the electric switch. When the key can turn correctly (unlock), it then moves a very basic electrical switch. One stage (ignition on) turns power to the various 'ignition on' circuits. The 2nd stage to the starter circuits. You apparently have a electrical switch either damaged or out of adjustment such that just inserting the key is also turning on stage 1. The electric switch is replaceable independent of the lock.

However, the radio is SUPPOSED to run off the dedicated radio/accessory circuit which is NOT switched by the ignition. That subject is covered in "Radio/accessory wiring" topic in the BASIC VAN WIRING forum. There is also a topic on ignition switches when you decide to fix yours.
 

guest

New member
Captain, I believe you are in error on this point. It sounds like Icebox500's ignition switch works just fine.

The radio on Icebox500's Vanagon probably has its "trigger" wire hooked to the grey/black wire coming from the ignition switch.

This wire originally sent 12v to the "fasten belts" idiot light as soon as the key was placed in the ignition. Most people can live without that irritating reminder, so they use that wire for exactly the purpose Icebox500 describes.

You can easily double check the purpose of the grey/black wire under the steering column cover with a multimeter. It will show 0v with no key in the ignition, and 12v as soon as you insert the key. You don't need to turn the key - this happens as soon as the key is inserted into the ignition lock.

Most aftermarket stereo head units have two 12v leads - one is fused and is hot all the time (usually yellow), and one is unfused and only is hot when the ignition key goes into the "ACC" position on most cars (usually red). Presumably the unfused (red) stereo wire triggers a relay inside the stereo so as to power it up. The fused yellow wire remains hot all the time, which keeps the clock and station pre-sets alive when you take the ignition key out.

It's perfectly safe to wire the grey/black wire from the Vanagon ignition switch to this unfused (usually red) stereo wire. This gives the Vanagon an artificial "ACC" position to its ignition key switch (ie. the radio plays when the key is in the ignition, and turns off when the key is pulled out).
 

guest

New member
Mike, you're correct, it's not standard VW wiring. But it's not the sign of a failing ignition switch and miswiring, either.

It's not necessary to actually disable the "fasten belts" idiot light, if you consider that to be a safety device.

You can tap a "T" junction into the grey/black wire with a Scotch Lock (uggh), or (preferably) strip away some insulation and then solder the stereo's trigger wire to that bare spot. I usually re-insulate a wire after soldering with polyurethane seam sealer or 3M 5200, but electrical tape will do in a pinch.

The ignition key mod is useful for people who don't have a house battery, and who sometimes park & forget & leave their stereo playing too long for the health of the starting battery. So the mod IS a safety feature for these forgetful folks (myself included!).

If you have a house battery installed, and the stereo runs off that one instead of the starting battery, then I find this ignition key mod is unnecessary. In that case, there's no real need to protect the (house) battery from discharge from accidental overuse of the stereo, and also it becomes irritating to have to put the key in the ignition whenever you want to play the stereo.

Each to their own. I had the ignition key mod set up before I installed a second battery, but now I have removed the mod, as I am not concerned with running down my starting battery, and I don't like needing the key to play the radio.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Your point taken. One of the problems in moderating a site like this is poster's failure to provide FULL information or any preliminary checking & diagnosis (Guideline #3).

In this case, the question was if it's standard with no preliminary checks or diagnosis. I offered the "may" item to check based on the next most likely scenario, it had been wired to an "ignition on" circuit which I also included. With aftermarket radios & other devises, especially those with memory, an "ignition on" component may be desireable. Both my CB & cell phone docking station connect their memory circuits to the radio fuse; but the operating circuits are attached to an ignition controlled power source, in my case a separate accessory fuse box, since the likelyhood of using them while stopped is minimal and I can't 'forget' to turn them off.

I'm not overly sympathetic to those that forget to turn a radio off and kill a battery. I've done it myself and thought it a 'hard knocks' lesson I deserved. Like the old mule story -- all it needed was a soft and kind gentle word . . . after attracting its attention with a well placed 2x4 up alongside the head. After having to jump start my main battery (fortunately just from my own auxiliary) a couple of times, it had my attention.
 

icarus

Moderator
I just installed a very nice pioneer head unit, with a ipod adapter. I seemed to be draining my battery while the car parked for a few days, even with the radio off. The stereo is designed to have one connection from the acc side and one always hot. Since the westy does not have a acc position, and wanting to be able to use the radio with the key off I wired both hot. Even with the radio off, a fair bit of milliamp draw seems to happen. I assume that the acc side acts as a trigger for other functions, that are not off just by turning off the radio.

I solved the problem by installing a rocker switch that controls the acc side of the stereo. It also gives a positive off for the ipod adapter.

It really sounds great with the new speakers and speaker wires (described elsewhere on site) The i-pod is the greatest toy since Hi-Fi! We used to travel with 100's of c.ds in custom made boxes taking up all kinds of room (We move twice a year so we took them all!) Now just the ipod.

Icarus

PS. after reading the above posts about using the key reminder wire is a great idea, wish I have thought of it first. (When tapping into wires, don't forget the value of heatshrink tubing; the second best invention since Hi-FI)

PPS. I drove a loaner jetta yesterday, and presto, the radio goes on and off when you INSERT the key, you don't have to turn the key (assuming the radio is on). Way cool
 

jerepowers

New member
1984 Vanagon Westfalia

As stero models are constantly changing, I wanted to add what Crutchfield's has listed for this year. They only listed two in-dash stereos that would fit the shallow dash of the Westy. I ordered and installed the Kenwood KDC-MP532U. I also ordered the Kenwood iPod adapater, part KCA-i500. The stero plays CDs and has a tuner, of course, but it also has a USB plug in to allow you to play MP3 files off of a USB jump drive. The iPod adapter plugs into the back of the stereo and allows you to play your iPod through the car stereo, using the car stereo's controls rather than trying to monkey with the iPod while driving. It also charges the iPod. I ran the wires for the USB and the iPod to the glove box. So now, all I do is open the glove box, plug in the iPod or USB drive, close the glove box and I can control everything from the stereo. And no one can see it or any connecting wires dangling. And, finally, this stereo unit came with a remote control, which allows me to sit on the rear bench and choose from my more than 7,000 songs on the iPod. The stereo was $200 and the iPod adapter was $100. I have since seen the stereo for as little as $140 plus shipping and iPod adapter for about $75.
 

tsombrero

New member
I bought an Alpine CDA-9856 for $199, even though it wasn't on the list of what would work I figured I could make it fit. And Lo! After bending a V-shaped metal piece up out of the way, it JUST fits. I am quite happy with the unit. The ipod adapter is $30 and I picked up an RCA-in adapter as well for non-ipod noisemakers. It is not too flashy, just a nice subtle blue thing. And it has a clock, which is nice since the vanagon one is broken.
 

Abquid

New member
Head unit too deep--OK to cut back there?

I have a newer-model Pioneer head unit I want to install. It fits the dash hole perfectly, but with the antenna and amp-out cables connected is about 1/2" too deep to slide all the way back. I'm running into the plastic wall (not the bendable metal piece). I'm prepared to cut away a little bit here to make space, but don't know if there's anything important on the other side of this wall...any opinions?
 

Abquid

New member
Pioneer HU doesn't quite fit

(Sorry about that-here's more info)

My bus is an 86 Westfalia 2.1. The previous stereo was an aftermarket Panasonic cassette model that fit fine.The new head unit is a Pioneer DEH2000MP.
I would like to cut out a hole in the plastic wall/floor, just to the right of the U-shaped VW metal stereo bracket. I can reach this by removing the ashtray.
 

bernard1973

New member
Hi Mate

I've just put a bog-standard Blaupunkt PortoCD27 in with no problems (87 Westy). I've upgraded the speakers (same size as the original blaupunkts so kept the grills). Sound sounds great - probably could do with a bit more bass if I was going to be picky.
Thinking of a subwoofer - do I need to have an additional amp?

bernard
England (north of course)
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
To Abquid:

:( I would strongly urge you NOT to cut the plastic 'wall' as that is your air distribution box (blower box). The VW's heat system is already marginal and it could drastically reduce both heat and more importantly, defrost capability. Besides blowing hot, cold, moist or dusty air right onto your sound system.

I'm sorry you bought without first checking dimensions. There are a number of good units that would have fit. I'll suggest you consider a way to shim out the front of the radio. Crutchfield has a tremendous number of installation kits and may have one that has a face plate build-up. One would be relatively easy to fabricate; either plastic, wood or metal. You can get Lexan or plexiglass at many places and it just glues together. However, that would eliminate the factory catch tabs if it still uses the VW securing brackets. If it doesn't, then you it probably wouldn't make any difference. If it is just the plugs that are preventing the unit from sliding back, you may be able to get enough room by switching to the 90° almost flush plugs available most electronic supply stores.
 

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