Monday, August 11, 2008

Car hack..

As all of you know (if you read the earlier post), that my car has a Bose audio system. It sounds really awesome with 7 speaker surround sound and 9 subwoofers and/or pods (the term am not sure of but my car geek friends refers to.. sort of the refers to the speaker design that moves back and forth alot, so if you are standing close to it, you get a different feedback for the beats.. these pods are fixed next to my legrest, so the whole experience is pretty rad when you are driving).. ofcourse, I'm no audiophile.. the only speakers I ever purchased were the cheap Rs300 speakers in India, so my perception of the sound quality might be skewed.
Ok.. back on track. The only thing that this audio system lacked was an auxillary input to which I could plug in my mp3 player to (which is NOT an iPod). I went to the dealer and  was told that it would cost me $700 to replace the sound system, of course he had to bear with my loud WTF sigh.. there was no way on earth I was gonna do that. Next I went to some random car-audio store and asked him for a relatively inexpensive solution, and he showed me some gizmo for about $140 that interfaced directly with iPod, but did expose an auxillary-in.. but I didn't wanna pay for an iPod interface that I would never use, so I searched around for a simpler/similar solution.
Now fm transmitters were totally out of question, I had tried them and the sound quality sucked. Using that on the bose system was like tying a gold chain to a monkey. I noticed that there were tape/MD drive buttons and slots on the dash, but no tape drive, which led me to believe that there would be way to directly hook up a mod chip to that interface and get clean unadulterated music directly from my mp3 player (which is creative zen sleek iPhoto.. i know, it's relatively unknown, but it was the only mp3 player in my budget with a fm reciever in it). I googled "tape/md drive auxillary input mazda6", and voila! found Mazda6 forums where people were discussing exactly the same issues, and I discovered AuxMod in one of the archives, which was exactly what I needed.
Needless to say, I ordered it (but was definitely vary about the shady site), got it in a week by UPS, wrapped in torn magazine pages! Well, at $60, I wasn't exactly expecting a well wrapped manual with funky CDs that I would just toss into the trash. Next roadblock was installing it, the car-audio mechanics were charging about $200 for installation (I checked at two differnt places and they both gave me similar quotes.. another classic WTF moments), so I decided to install it myself (against the advice from all my friends/roommate and the ridicule by the car-audio mechanic who gave me a "yeah right" look ). My housemate let me borrow his tool set for my little adventure.
Had to rip open the cup holder, the gear interface, the glove compartment and the whole dash to reach the damn radio. Took me 4 friggin hours to install it and route the auxillary cable inside the armrest. After battling through some unmodular interfaces, weird sockets, mind numbingly complex plugs and being almost starved, dehydrated and exhausted to the point of unconsiousness, I pulled it off. This was one hack, not for the faint hearted.
It worked like a charm and was a totally rewarding experience. Finally.. took a long cold shower, took her out for a spin and treated myself with some bhel-puri and jal-jeera at Lucky Dhaba :)

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