Custom retro car radio with vu meters - diyAudio
Go Back   Home > Forums > General Interest > Car Audio

Please consider donating to help us continue to serve you.

Ads on/off / Custom Title / More PMs / More album space / Advanced printing & mass image saving
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 29th September 2008, 05:19 PM   #1
maurycy is offline maurycy  United States
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: NJ
Default Custom retro car radio with vu meters

I just had a crazy idea. I am going to purchase older car that originally came only with AM/FM or AM/FM/Cassette radio. I can replace the radio with CD receiver but what about making one that has the retro look?

What I have in mind is to use housing from an old style shaft radio, stick mp3 player inside it. I would replace the AM/FM display with mp3 display, cassette slot (enlarged) with analog VU meters and add small slot for memory card. I know that that's a lot of work and I would have to come up with some good machine work for the front bezel but wouldn't that be just cool looking? Original radio is 1.5x DIN size so there is plenty of room for all the stuff.

I am noob when it comes to electronics but hacking cheap mp3 player is not that big of a deal for me. I think I can extract the memory slot, display, power and volume cables from the player and connect them to the shaft radio. Problem would be with converting the mp3's push volume buttons to pots and adding vu meters.

So anybody has any tips to get me started?

Thanks.
  Reply With Quote
Old 29th September 2008, 06:08 PM   #2
diyAudio Member
 
gtforme00's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
The VU meters might bounce around a good bit from the vibrations of the car. It sounds like a cool idea though, and I hope it works for you!

-David
  Reply With Quote
Old 29th September 2008, 06:21 PM   #3
diyAudio Member
 
N-Channel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Sol System
Send a message via AIM to N-Channel
Maury,

How about LED VU Meters? The National LM3916 VU Meter driver chip would be ideal for this. It's really easy to use, and you can get LED arrays (in elements of 10, since the '3916 has 10 outputs) that will connect right up to it.

Or, try the NSM3916, which is the driver chip and LEDs all in one assembly. LEDs have been around long enough (since 1975) that certain applications could be considered "old school". Just a thought.

Steve
__________________
-. ---.. -..- ---
  Reply With Quote
Old 29th September 2008, 07:23 PM   #4
diyAudio Member
 
tsmith1315's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Doerun, GA
Curious idea, with a definite cool factor for the DIY crowd. I see a large amount of cosmetic detail work in your future!

If your opening is 1.5x DIN, why not use a factory radio housing?

As far as analog volume goes, you could add your own preamp in there instead of using the MP3 player's control? You can also do balance/fade/tone, whatever you want in the analog world.

And I vote for real VU's. Bouncing would just give it more period-style fun.
__________________
Tim
  Reply With Quote
Old 29th September 2008, 07:51 PM   #5
maurycy is offline maurycy  United States
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: NJ
Thanks to all who replied. VU has to be analog. LED would be too fancy for this car. I do not want to use the original radio in case I mess everything up. Trying to avoid being stuck with a hole in the dash

So to start, I would have to take mp3 player, plug the output (headphone) to compact amplifier (home built) with volume control and put that into a case. Am I on the right track?

Any car amplifier kits available that would make my work a lot easier? I am not interested in high volume and quality at this point. The first concept version just has to work and it does not need to look pretty. Final version will get upgraded components and custom aluminum front plate (or wood to match the dash trim).

Oh, and how to wire the VU meters? I have never worked with them before.

Thanks.
  Reply With Quote
Old 3rd October 2008, 09:18 AM   #6
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
you could try looking for a panasonic tx-5500 radio, those already come with analog vu meters, plus they use a tube
  Reply With Quote
Old 3rd October 2008, 10:00 AM   #7
tvi is offline tvi  Australia
diyAudio Member
 
tvi's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Moonee Ponds, Vic, Australia
Click the image to open in full size.
panasonic tx-5500

Regards
James
__________________
The small part of ignorance that we arrange and classify we give the name of knowledge.
Ambrose Bierce
  Reply With Quote
Old 4th October 2008, 04:18 AM   #8
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Vancouver Island
Wow. That's almost as cool as the giant ghetto blaster with built-in mirror ball and spotlights I saw once. I suspect if you can find one, it won't be at all cheap.

You can probably pick up a replacement stock radio at a wrecking yard for not much money, and gut that.

How about scrounging analog meters from an old cassette deck; those are pretty cheap at thrift stores these days. I expect you could drive them from the speaker outputs just using resistors, a rectifier (full or half-wave), and a capacitor.

As for the amp... keep your eyes open at yard sales, thrift stores, and pawn shops. There's some very decent used amps out there now for very little money. I picked up a classic 4 channel RF 4080DSM for $44, which must be about 1/15 the original selling price. It just doesn't make sense to build or buy new if you can get something as nice as that used.
  Reply With Quote
Old 4th October 2008, 06:39 AM   #9
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Louisiana
For the meters to be useful from low to high power, I think you'll need to use a circuit like the one on the following page.

http://www.jlmaudio.com/VU%20Buffer.htm
  Reply With Quote
Old 6th October 2008, 03:41 PM   #10
maurycy is offline maurycy  United States
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: NJ
I like the Panasonic TX-5500 but I think I can't afford one. I have decided to go with TDA7560 as an amp, then add to it VU meters and provide source from mp3 player. If that works, I will add radio too.

Perry Babin: I have come across this buffer and you are right. I may need to use it.

Thanks to all who replied.
  Reply With Quote

Reply


Hide this!Advertise here!
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Found retro 80s amp - Anyone know what this is? tiffin4tea Chip Amps 7 15th February 2009 02:16 AM
retro marantz karma Solid State 25 6th June 2004 06:05 PM
Balance Pot, (=retro?) Cobra2 Everything Else 2 1st December 2003 09:25 AM


New To Site? Need Help?

All times are GMT. The time now is 09:52 AM.


vBulletin Optimisation provided by vB Optimise (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2014 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright 1999-2014 diyAudio

Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.3.2