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Ultimate vintage radio project

14403 Views 28 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  slim
<Edit: There'd been some confusion below about the build, and I want to spare Gary Tayman from having to answer questions about work he didn't do. To be clear, Gary did just his standard AM/FM conversion of my AM radio, while I did everything else- the microswitch rack, mp3 board, etc., etc. Gary did a fine and professional job on the AM/FM conversion and I would recommend him without hesitation.>

After much planning and effort, I've just finished the radio for my '65 'vert. I wanted AM/FM stereo and to be able to play mp3s, preferably without any external devices or controls of any kind, and I wanted it in a stock appearing radio. The end result allows me to toggle between radio and mp3 and control the mp3 track and folder functions with the tuner preset buttons, which continue to function normally when listening to the radio.

The USA-66 has a good look, but there are too many horror stories about the tuner. CAS also wants crazy $$$ for their USB mp3 reader, and if that wasn't bad enough it only supports ten folders in the root of the device, and they must have specific names.

The Retrosound looks like a nice piece, but the look is definitely wrong. The upcoming Model 2 looks much, much better, but it's still a bit of a cobbled install with the adapter bezel and the protruding nosepiece.

With those out, I decided one of the Antique Auto Radio boards was probably closer to what I needed. They're 180 watts RMS through 4 channels and have vox activated auxiliary inputs (radio switches to other input device when signal present). They're sold just through installer/dealers, and to be honest I wasn't excited at the prospect of setting up the digital tuner on the board to read the original analog tuner, so I had Gary Tayman do the AM/FM conversion on a spare Motorola 5TMZ. His work was very clean and professional, and he did a nice job doing a cosmetic resto on the case as well.



Here's another Motorola 5TMZ unmodified. This particular one is working and original to the car, and will go in storage. Nice vintage tobacco residue visible on the underside of the case, which sits just over the ashtray.



Here's the other Motorola 5TMZ after conversion, as delivered by Gary. Most of the guts and the original PC board are gone, new 180 watt AAR board(s) mounted in lower right. Auxiliary inputs (auto-switched by presence of input signal) visible at top, massive heat sink sandwiched between new board and case at bottom. Lots of room left for me to work in.

When radio is first turned on it's in FM mode- off, then on again is AM.



Microswitches mounted on alignment rack ready to go in. Each microswitch is activated by one of the preset buttons and operates a function on the mp3 decoder board. Threaded rack allows for precise alignment over preset plunger.



Here's the modified 5TMZ with microswitch rack and mp3 decoder board mocked into position prior to final mount. The microswitch on the far right will trigger the impulse relay providing power to the mp3 and will get heavier hookups to handle the 12v load, not yet installed here. A 6" USB cable will connect the mp3 board to a panel USB connector on the exterior of the case, where a separate cable will connect to a panel mount USB port in the ashtray. The board isn't limited by volume size, but navigability without a display means thumbdrives. Not bad for a $15 board, and the sound quality is quite good.



Switch rack slightly reengineered, mp3 board mount tray, impulse relay, and 12v>5v power supply installed. I wasn't happy with the audio quality from any of the 12v mp3 boards I listened to, so the 5v power supply is necessary. The impulse relay toggles power to the mp3 board on and off in response to the momentary activation of the microswitch on the far right.



Complete, ready to button up the case. The impulse relay makes it a snug fit, but I really didn't want to locate it remotely. RF interference not an issue as none of the additional components are powered when the tuner is active.



Ready for installation. Auxiliary inputs and USB port visible at far right. When in mp3 mode, preset buttons function as follows from left to right: Previous track, next track, previous folder, next folder, and radio/mp3 toggle. As I mentioned they still move the tuner and function normally otherwise.

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That baby looks awesome,..... :thumbsup:

I'd LUV something like that
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 · (Edited)
Can anyone tell me if such a radio can be purchased from mustang online websites or do we have to do something custom like datac has done?
No, no, no, don't do that to Gary. As I've explained before, he won't have the foggiest idea what you're talking about- he does radio conversions, period, no mp3 function or anything else. I used the aux inputs in the AAR conversion board he installed for my mp3 board.

I bought the board (several, actually) from Jameco Electronics, IIRC it was well under $10. After over a year's worth of heavy daily use (the car's a daily driver), it's held up great and I couldn't be happier with it.

As I mentioned above, my initial plan was to buy a bare radio conversion board and install it myself, but (as you've discovered) unless I was willing to buy a case of boards or pay $$$ in markup to a sketchy dealer (he actually wanted within $20 of what Gary charged, installed), I was out of luck. BTW, Gary's now using a different board, which he claims is superior, but has some differences in how the aux input switching is handled. The AAR board (which is still available from other vendors) ships in an autoswitch mode, and switches from radio to aux when sensing a signal on the aux feed. I ran into a problem where it would switch back to radio during long quiet mp3 passages, which didn't make me happy. With the AAR board you can remove a component on the board and add an inline diode which, when 12v is applied, switches to aux input- it was a simple matter to connect this with the power source for the mp3 board, so that when the mp3 board's powered up it's in aux mode.

Gary does technically excellent work, but I did run into a painful and frustrating customer service experience with him afterwards which needlessly cost me both time and money. I would most definitely hesitate before asking him to do anything, and I do mean anything, beyond his standard conversion, which, as I've stated before, is first-rate.
 

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I wanted to post my experience. I had Gary do a conversion for me and I couldn't be happier. I've tried custom autosound, new stereos (sounded good, looked horrible) and factory radios. This is by far the best of them all.

When I got mine there was an issue with one channel not working. I contacted Gary and sent it back. The chip was replaced and sent back free if charge. I have no complaints at all about the radio or the service.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Gary does do nice work, and he's a reputable guy. That said, I was angrier at him than I've been at anyone in years, and even after talking with him I have no doubt that he still doesn't understand what happened. I have a famously slow fuse, so that's saying something.
 

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Fantastic project! Back in the days of Eico, Dynaco and Knight I used to build hand wired tube type hi fi stereo. Would love to try this! I realize this is more than a kit it's an extensive mod.

Slim
 
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