|Call 928-533-9666 (Paying Repair Jobs ONLY)
|DO NOT CALL FOR BELTS, PARTS OR FREE REPAIR ADVICE!
|Details About Converting to Modern Electronics
|Answers to Common Questions and Concerns From Customers
|It can indeed be a tough decision to convert your original factory radio or combination radio/8 track unit, especially since this
is a process that cannot be reversed. This page provides in-depth detail on the conversion process and offers answers to the
questions and concerns most commonly expressed by customers who are considering having their unit converted and updated.
Generally, the most common issues and questions are addressed first, and more will be added as more inquiries are received.
|Exactly How Does This Work - What Do You Do ?
First, we perform thorough testing of your original controls and tuner assembly - ALL OF WHICH REMAIN IN PLACE in order to fully
preserve the original appearance and functionality of your classic unit. All volume, tone, balance and fader controls are tested for
smooth operation, absence of dropouts and resistance values to ensure compatibility with the new conversion module. Your tuner
is also tested, and electronically modified if necessary to match the inductive and capacitance requirements of the new electronics.
NOTE: As long as they are not physically damaged, virtually ALL controls and tuners can be electronically modified to work with
the conversion module. In fact, even a damaged or defective dual-gang control (such as a stereo volume or tone control) can
still be used if one of the sections is bad. Since the conversion utilizes modern digital electronics and the controls will be adjusting
DC control voltages instead of low-level audio signals, only ONE section is needed to process BOTH left and right audio parameters.
By the same token, only ONE of the coils on your tuner will be used - thus it is no longer necessary to have at least three coils being
adjusted simultaneously (one once tuned the antenna, one tuned the local oscillator, and one tuned the RF amplifier - all at the same
time). The conversion module requires only ONE range of capacitance or inductance, thus even a "broken" tuner will usually work !
The next step is complete removal of all circuit boards and any chassis-mounted components that are no longer needed such as
output transformers, driver transformers, filter chokes, shields, AM trimmer capacitors, etc. This gives us a nice clean and roomy,
largely empty chassis in which to install the new module and wiring. NOTE: In our shop, we even replace almost ALL existing wires,
going back with wiring which follows our own special color code - for instance, we use white for the volume control wiper, green for
the tone control wiper, etc. This eliminates any possible confusion, goes hand-in-hand with our high standards of workmanship
by introducing and maintaining standardization, and makes any required troubleshooting or future repairs much more efficient.
After rewiring all of your original controls and tuner, we install NEW high quality shielded cable to the antenna connector and tuner
assembly, running all new wiring - neatly tied and tucked - to the location inside the unit where the new module will be installed. If
your unit is a combination radio/8 track player, at this time we install the NEW MOTOR and its companion, hand-built speed control
board - and if your unit's head preamp board was not a separate board, we hand-build a new preamp board and install that as well.
As the selection between 8 track and external line input is determined by the insertion or removal of an 8 track tape, it is also at this
time that we mount and wire the external line input jacks, then we install all new wiring for the 8 track section. Once the 8 track
section is fully wired and completed, we service and test that section by itself to make sure it runs at the correct speed, changes
tracks properly and produces output on both left and right sides, using our bench test amplifier to fully test the 8 track section.
Once the 8 track section is completed and tested, we then install and wire the conversion module. By this time, and since all wires
have previously been run to the module, the actual installation and wiring of the module is a quick and easy process. Just in case
any troubleshooting is required, we allow enough extra wire to have the module outside of the unit an inch or two, which also makes
it easier to replace the module should it ever become necessary. Once fully tested, the module is mounted with a heat sink.
The speaker outputs are either wired to your existing speaker connector(s), or run outside of the unit depending on the individual
customer's preference. Same applies to the 12 volt power and dial lamp wires, optional power antenna wire, and vehicle ground wire.
NOTE: Running all new car speaker wiring - with 2 separate wires for each speaker (NO common wires) results in best performance.
The result is a complete, NEW modern and more powerful AM-FM receiver - in your existing housing, using your existing controls.
|Okay, But How Do I Operate This Newfangled Radio ?
|USING YOUR ORIGINAL CONTROLS
EXACTLY the same as before - plus more! The original functions are not changed at all - if your radio was originally AM-only, the AM
works just the same as before - you turn it on, turn it off, adjust the volume, tone and tune in stations just like you did before. Then if
you want to listen to FM stations, you simply turn the unit off then right back on within 2 seconds. This changes the functions between
AM, FM and Line In (in that order). But if you leave the unit turned off for about 5 seconds or more, it stays on the same function you
were last using. For car shows, simply turn the unit off in the AM position - and it will operate in AM mode when the judge turns it on !
If your unit is a combination radio/8 track player, it will automatically switch to the 8 track when a tape is inserted, and switch back to
the last-used radio function when the tape is removed - just like it did before! If the radio was already an AM-FM model, it will still work
the same way - the AM-FM band switch operates the same as before, and an 8 track tape still plays automatically when you insert it.
The FM Stereo light still comes on when an FM station is received, and we can add the FM Stereo light to your AM radio on request.
To listen to your MP3 player, simply plug it in and start playing. Switching between the radio and external input is AUTOMATIC !
USING CONTROLS THAT WEREN'T THERE BEFORE
That wasn't a typo - your converted radio now has hidden, virtual controls it didn't have before! By giving the TONE control a couple
quick twists, it temporarily becomes a front-rear fader, a left-right balance control - or BOTH, depending on which controls your radio
did not previously have. If your radio was originally an AM-only radio unit, then the tone control serves as both a front-rear fader AND
a left-right balance control, depending whether you twist it twice clockwise or counterclockwise. This is a super-cool feature !
When giving the tone control two quick turns, you'll hear a series of beeps - at which time that control can now be used to adjust the
balance from left to right, or from front to rear. Then once the module senses that you've stopped adjusting it, you hear a single beep
to indicate that the control has returned to being just a tone control. This is one of the coolest features of the Aurora FMR-1 module.
NO PROGRAMMING OR RE-PROGRAMMING REQUIRED! SIMPLY INSTALL IT, TURN IT ON AND ENJOY !
|How Does the Performance Compare to the Original Radio ?
The first change you'll notice is greatly increased audio power - with more punch, tighter bass and crisper highs. The output level of a
converted unit is similar to that of the "high power" car stereos that were popular in the late 70's, except that your converted will have
FOUR separate speaker amplifiers instead of just two. Whereas most original factory radio delivered a maximum of 7 watts per side for
a total of 14 watts, your converted radio will have a combined output of 180 watts peak if all 4 speaker amplifiers are being driven.
AM reception is improved tremendously, with FM reception rivalling that of a nicer home stereo system. The "feel" of the tuning is just
a bit different, with not as much fade-in and fade-out as you tune across the band. The stations come in with more of a "snap" type
action, and it's possible to pass over stations until you get used to adjusting the tuner a little more slowly, due to the tendency of the
converted radio to suddenly "grab" the station without as much advance notice. This "grabbing" action is the result of the improved
signal lock on the conversion module, and this enhanced locking action keeps the station tuned in properly over longer distances.
8 TRACK TAPE
8 track tapes have better high frequency response, without the annoying muddy bass "smearing" effect - sounds more like vinyl !
OVERALL TONE QUALITY
In short, your converted radio will sound more like a nice home system than a "car radio", due to the automatic loudness contouring.
At low volume levels, the human ear cannot hear the extreme low and high frequencies as well as they hear the midrange frequencies.
The result is that a car radio sounds dull and lifeless at low volume settings. Home stereo receivers in the 70's had a switch called
"Loudness", which you could turn on to make the receiver sound rich and full at low levels - but then you had to turn the switch off
when listening at louder levels or the bass would be overpowering and distorted. Your converted radio applies Loudness Contouring
at low volume settings, then gradually removes it as the volume is raised. The result is rich, full sound at all listening levels.
|But I Want to Keep Everything on my Car Original
|Sometimes that's possible, sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's practical, and sometimes not. But I'll take a somewhat educated guess
and say your car probably doesn't still have the original belts, hoses, tires, thermostat, carburetor float, brake pads, brake shoes, voltage
regulator, headlights, taillight and turn signal bulbs - but at least there are companies who make replacements for these essential items.
Unfortunately, this isn't the case with classic car radio components, of which there are too many types and too little overall demand for
any company to spend the money necessary to tool up and manufacture most of them. This includes motors for 8 track players (which
is one thing we DO have !), output and driver transformers, early design integrated circuits, some transistor types, IF transformers and
any electronic component that was manufactured only for a few specific models. Yes, there are companies who manufacture cosmetic
pieces for the more popular classic radios - but no one will ever resume production of most internal, model-specific electronic parts.
To the classic car owner, of course it's a very important matter of aesthetics - but unfortunately it's a matter of profit potential to any
company or manufacturer. And the harsh reality is that if there's not enough money to be made from it, it's not worth the investment.
For many years, the solution was to simply salvage a part from an identical model. But nowadays with the prices of nonworking radio
cores reaching ridiculous levels, the fact that very few shops will place a warranty on a decades-old component, and the necessary
investment of time to pull an old part from a junk radio, test it and install it into a customer's unit - the whole idea and process has simply
become impractical, unprofitable and a potential risk to a shop's reputation since the customer only knows his repaired radio broke
down just a few months after he paid a shop to repair it. Keeping a classic radio "all original" is often simply not practical anymore.
I do exchange frequent correspondence with a national car show judge who wishes to remain anonymous, and he has assured me that
what concerns car show judges is that the unit works when they turn it on, and that all equipment in the car is period-correct. This
means that a converted original radio is worth much more than a new reproduction radio of course, and I sincerely believe that only at
the highest-level concourse shows would a radio be scrutinized so closely that its actual sound quality and operation is that critical.
Thus if you've invested less than, say, $100,000 restoring your classic car, you're probably okay for car shows with a conversion ! As
any warranty covers work performed only, keeping a unit all-original carries a very limited warranty - but when we replace ALL existing
electronics except for the controls and tuner, we can place a warranty on the entire unit - except for the original controls and tuner !
|Can I Add Anything Else to a Converted Radio ?
|Sure can! For a nominal extra charge, we can install a subwoofer output (requires a separate subwoofer amplifier), a separate Line Out
for each of the 4 amplifiers in case you want to also use a super-powerful amp that mounts in the trunk with 6 inch lag bolts, an external
multi-color LED for status indication and diagnostic use, or even more than one Line Input that is selected by an external switch setting.
The flexibility and features of the Aurora FMR-1 conversion, combined with my mad-scientist tendencies, means that we can customize
the system to your exact fantasies, and come up with just about anything you can dream of. Also, note that we can also add Bluetooth
and a USB reader as standard add-ons to the FMR-1 conversion. Find pricing for these additions on our "Adding FM" page, simply click
the link below to go back to that page. Additional "mad scientist" add-ons can be discussed, after which we can determine a final cost.
|Once Finished, is a Converted Radio Difficult to Reinstall ?
|USING THE ORIGINAL CONNECTORS
If you have chosen to keep your speaker system unchanged and use your original connectors, then your converted radio will simply
plug back into the car's connectors. Just plug 'er in, mount the radio, turn it on and immediately start enjoying the new features. While
the audio power level is not that of a fully isolated speaker wiring system, your converted radio will still be more powerful than before.
PLEASE NOTE that a converted radio can damage your original speakers at louder volume levels, and the speakers should be changed.
For a description of how the audio power levels are maximized by replacing your speaker wiring, simply keep reading on this page.
USING NEW SPEAKER WIRING
Not only are full instructions provided, at Barry's 8 Track Repair we actually create a customized and simplified instruction sheet that
only includes what is required for YOUR particular unit, depending on which options you selected. If you're only running a 2-speaker
system using isolated wiring, then there's no need to confuse the installer with 8 speaker wires when only 4 will be connected.
If requested at the time of payment, we can also install a diagnostic LED on the side, back, or bottom of the unit where it can be seen by
looking under the dash. In case of trouble or miswiring, the diagnostic LED emits a flash code similar to that used by handheld engine
diagnostic devices. This flash code will tell the installer if a speaker is not connected, is shorted to ground or if the speaker wires are
shorted to each other. In case of miswiring, your converted radio WILL NOT BE DAMAGED - it only shuts down until errors are corrected.
|How Much Audio Power Do I Gain By Running New Speaker Wires ?
|In order to produce maximum audio power in a small space, modern amplifiers use a technique known as "bridging". In a bridging
configuration, both (+) and (-) speaker wires are essentially "hot", rather than the (+) wire being hot and the (-) wire grounded as in most
older systems. Thus, by grounding the (-) speaker wires and tying them together as a common wire, we end up with only 1/4 the audio
power that the system is capable of. Now, this DOES NOT MEAN that we only get 1/4 the volume, as explained in the next few sentences:
The human ear does not perceive volume levels accurately. Specifically, the ear has a LOGARITHMIC - not linear - response to changing
volume levels. This means that, to the ear, 10 times the audio power only seems like twice as much volume. In other words, if you want
twice the apparent loudness of a 100 watt amplifier, you need to upgrade to an earthshaking 1000 watts. Upgrading from 100 watts to
200 watts generally creates only a 3 dB increase in apparent volume - or the equivalent of "one noticeable step" in volume increase.
Conversely, reducing an amplifier's output by half does not chop the apparent volume by 50 percent; rather, it reduces the volume level
by "one noticeable step". Thus, this means that keeping your original speaker connectors and sacrificing the maximum available power
gives us "almost as much" as if we were running all new speaker wiring - but is still a noticeable reduction in perceived output power.
Another mini-lesson in audio theory: Bass frequencies require much more power than high frequencies. Thus, using your original
speaker connectors in a common-ground scheme will mainly result in reduced bass and low-midrange "punch", but will still provide
plenty of midrange (vocal and guitar range) and high end for the listener who is simply looking for a higher=performance car radio.
NOTE: Most later Delco radios and radio/8 track units (1972 and later) already have fully isolated speaker wiring, and will operate at
maximum performance even using the original connectors. This type of radio can be identified by the 3 vertically stacked connectors
which are white, blue and black in color. No changes (except more powerful speakers) need to be made for this type of radio.
|Can You Return the Old Electronics, Maybe Change it Back Someday ?
|First, bear in mind that removal of the old electronics is a necessary step in the conversion process, and that there is no profit made. In
fact, I'm losing profit in that this takes time for which I'm not charging. Thus the removal process is done as quickly as possible, often
using hammer and chisel and a blow torch to make the process go as quickly as possible. The parts removed are not to be considered
useful again unless the customer is willing to pay a substantial extra charge to remove them carefully for possible reuse in the future.
To remove the old parts carefully and return them will incur a MINIMUM extra charge of 50.00, PLUS any additional return shipping cost.
|Call 928-533-9666 (Paying Repair Jobs ONLY)
|DO NOT CALL FOR BELTS, PARTS OR FREE REPAIR ADVICE!
|Can I Just Plug the Radio Back In and Use it As Before - Until I Can Wire New Speakers ?
|Yes you can, as long as you maintain the same configuration as it applies to the speaker (-) connections. If your existing system is a
single-speaker AM radio setup (which usually has the negative speaker terminal grounded), we can wire the existing connector(s) into the
conversion, AND still run all required wires for the updated system from the unit to connect at any time in the future - as long as your new
speaker setup ALSO shares a common negative/ground wire. Your converted radio will know how many speakers are connected, and
will operate in mono mode for a single speaker, and in stereo mode for 2 or more speakers. You can wait until next week, or even next
year to install and wire your new speaker arrangement. When you have the converted unit newly wired under the dash, simply unplug the
old connector. Or, leave it plugged in and cut the speaker connections, then your +12 volt power and dial lamp wiring are already done!
|When My Converted Radio Comes Back, How Many New Wires Will I Have to Connect ?
Red................. +12 volt power to unit from fuse block
Orange.......... To dial lamp, from vehicle lighting circuit
Black ............ Ground
Blue .............. Power antenna, or other uses. This wire is
"hot" with 12 volts while the unit is turned on,
and "dead" when the unit is turned off. This
wire could be used to automatically turn on
another device when you turn on the radio
such as - well, anything that runs on 12 volts
and draws less than a few amps of current.
White .................................. Left Front (+) Speaker Terminal
White w/Black stripe ...... Left Front (-) Speaker Terminal
Gray ................................... Right Front (+) Speaker Terminal
Gray w/Black stripe ....... Right Front (-) Speaker Terminal
Green ................................. Left Rear (+) Speaker Terminal
Green w/Black stripe ..... Left Rear (-) Speaker Terminal
Violet ................................. Right Rear (+) Speaker Terminal
Violet w/Black stripe ..... Right Rear (-) Speaker Terminal
|Don't worry, it's not nearly as complicated as it may seem - and I provide full instructions !
|To actually SEE the process step-by-step with pictures, please click HERE
|If you requested the "maximum audio power" option, there will be up to 12 wires to connect - 2 per each of 4 speakers, 12 volt power,
ground, dial lighting and an optional accessory wire which will be "hot" when the unit is turned on and "dead" when turned off. If you
are using only 2 speakers, that eliminates 4 of the wires you have to connect. Of course, if you requested to use your original connectors
for east installation, all you need to do is simply plug the unit back in under the dash. Below is a table for the "maximum power" setup: