Mass Music Storage
Just having the ability to play 1 CD is poor, you have to carry around a load of CDs and changing them while driving is dangerous.
The first and most widely know mass storage is the CD Multichanger. It is a box that usually contains a removable cartridge that can store 6 or 10 CDs.
The multichanger is attached to the stereo and is controlled directly from there.
Generally the multichanger is stored in the boot of normal cars but in the smart it is often stowed under or behind the seat.
Not all CD multichangers will work with all stereos, you usually have to match the brand.
Grundig CD Changer
The Grundig MCD36 is the standard smart supplied CD changer.
As the OEM stereo is also a Grundig it works perfectly, these are also fitted to some Fiats.
This shows the MCD36 6 disc Grundig changer and the associated lead.
Wiring is very simple, the blue plug inserts into the top right hand socket.
The cable is run down the back of the dash and under the carpet.
The other end terminates in an 8 pin mini DIN style plug which joins to the CD changer.
Fixing the changer down has 2 options. Smart have a metal caddy that bolts under the seat that holds the changer in place. The second option is to use the hook side of Velcro. You can buy self adhesive Velcro from B&Q, the smart carpet acts as the loop side.
Sony CD Changer
Different brands of stereo communicate to the CD changers using different codes,
this is why you can't connect any changer to any stereo and expect it to work.
For the past 8 years, Sony have been using a code called Uni-link,
There is now a product that you can buy which converts the Grundig codes to Sony.
This allows you to connect, control and use almost any Sony CD changer you like. Click here to buy the adapter
This picture shows the adapter and the Sony CDX-605 which is a 10 disc changer.
This is one of many Sony changers that will work with this adapter.
You can get DVD changers, Minidisc changers and MP3 changers.
The wiring is a bit more complicated but still easy. In the case of Sony, the data and the sound are carried along 3 different cables. The uni-link and RCA connections should be connected between the CD changer and the adapter. The adapter is prewired to connect
to the Grundig stereo with a blue ISO connection to the top right socket.
Sony CD Changer Continued
Sony has a second option which doesn't connect to the standard stereo.
It is called the CDX-51RF and it uses a small controller on a flying lead, the controller plugs into the Uni-link controller box which sends the codes to any Sony CD changer.
The Uni-link controller box is connected to the CD changer via the uni-link and RCA plugs.
The display controller plugs into the Uni-link controller and the power wires attached.
The CDX-51RF contains a wired RF modulator so an input isn't necessary on the stereo although it makes more sense to connect the CD changer RCA outs straight to the stereo.
This will offer a better sound and makes the sound source easier to select.
The CD changer was a product of the 80's, although the quality got better and more features added it is time to move with technology. Hard drives are getting smaller in size, bigger in storage and cheaper in price, they are the perfect medium for music storage.
With the ability to store thousands of near CD quality tracks in such a small device soon caught on and eventually made its way into the car. Dedicated car jukeboxes are few and far between since portable MP3 players are now common place. The drawback with the personal players is you often need dedicated power and a specially made cradle, this can look unsightly and alert theives to the chance of an MP3 player hiding in the car.
Neo Jukebox/Traxdata M-Station
This device was one of the first in car MP3 devices available, unfortunately because of slow uptake of the technology, the company went bust and stopped making them.
I bought mine about two years ago for £120, the kit included everything you needed.
Part of the design was that the caddy could be slid from the car and slotted into a PC.
This allowed a faster and easier way to transfer the MP3 to your car.
The device had two screens and two lots of controls, one set on the main unit and a set on the wired remote. Both screens showed all the available info and was changable.
From the factory they tended to come with a 10Gb hard drive but this could be
easily swapped for something a lot bigger. The operating system was soon cracked
and custom operating systems were offered. These new OS downloads offered
much greater control, better handling of the files and better look on the displays.
Not to mention the ability to use even bigger hard drives than ever before.
Wiring was quite simple, the unit required the normal positive and negative and
the backplane of the unit offers stereo RCA outputs which could be connected
directly to the Grundig stereo and selected as a separate source.
This one is not for beginners, getting it to work involves coding it to the stereo.
The custom code interprets the CD changer code delivered from many stereos
and turns them into actions that control the music. Unfortunately, at the time
of writing, there is no code available for the Grundig stereo.
I tried something clever. I coded the Phatbox to a Sony headunit and tried to
use the Sony to Grundig converter that I mentioned earlier.
The unit is similar to the M-Station mentioned previously, the main unit stays in the car while the removable hard drive caddy (the DMS cartridge) can be removed and
connected to a PC. In this case the DMS sits in a base station that connects via USB.
At the moment, the OS hasn't been cracked but there is a hack that can be applied that allows the hard drive to be replaced with a bigger one. Originals are coded.
In theory the wiring is simple, the Phatbox attaches to the converter and that connects to the Grundig stereo. It didn't turn out as easy as that unfortunately.
You may notice that the adapter has two RCA ports being unused but the phatbox doesn't have RCA outputs to connect to them. On taking the Phatbox apart I noticed that the motherboard has the connections for RCA outputs so adding them was a must.
At present I have yet to get these 2 working together properly and i'm not 100% sure why.
I will have to check the switched and permanent lives and the code on the DMS.
Phatnoise's Phatbox Continued
Due to the problems I found trying to use the Phatbox with the Grundig stereo, I started looking at another route. Sometime in the near future I will be trying the CDX-51RF to see if that will control the Phatbox in a proper manner.
Update - I rigged up the CDX-51RF and managed to get the greeting sound to play and the controls seemed to work. I won't be continuing with this particular unit.
Of course, if you already have a Sony stereo, you should look at one of these Phatboxes.
The reason I am trying so hard to get this working is that my current M-Station only plays MP3s, the Phatbox can be coded to play many formats including WMA, OGG and FLAC.
Rockford Fosgate Omnifi
Released over 2 years ago, the Omnifi seems to be the nirvana of car jukeboxes.
Plays MP3 and WMA files.
Swapping the 20Gb hard drive for something bigger involves no messing about.
Comes with a dedicated 1 DIN controller.
You can upload music to your car using wireless.
The controller is a 'face off' design for extra security.
The removable hard drive has a USB connection.
Software has been hacked and better alternatives are available.
Many people shrugged off the Omnifi when it was first released for one reason, you could not fast forward or rewind songs. Thankfully this has been fixed with the custom firmware.
The greatest things about the Omnifi is that it is cheap as they are no longer made and the online community is very knowledgable and willing to help.
I managed to buy my Omnifi plus three wireless aerials and an Omnifi wireless music home streaming box, all for £130 including delivery from the USA.
If you know of any other external jukebox type products, let me know all about them.