Un-crapifying My Stereo

Hey, Internet! Long time no see!  Anyway, today I’m going to show a quick (but not necessarily dirty) hack I did on my car, literally 24 hours after purchasing it.  The glorious beast of a vehicle I purchased (From my grandparents) is a 2001 Ford Focus Wagon. The car had everything I wanted (namely getting me from point A to point B), minus one thing. It didn’t have aux in! http://i.imgur.com/0GEgv.jpg What was I going to do!? How would I survive? Who shot Mr. Burns? All of these questions were running through my head. I knew something had to be done.  After doing some research, I came upon some forum posts from people who were in the same desperate situation that I was in. I found that I had the following options:

  • Get over it (impossible)
  • Tap into the built in AUX capability of the cd player (Doesn’t exist in my car)
  • Use the weird Ford media protocol built in to the back (Beyond my abilities)
  • Trick the stereo into thinking it’s playing a cd, and inserting my own music (Bingo!)

As you can see, my only option was the fourth. I would have to hack into the CD audio lines inside the stereo.  First, I had to open the stereo up. In order to remove the stereo from my car, people were saying I would need to buy some fancy stereo removal tools on Amazon. Having literally no money available, I decided to use what I had. Namely, tent pegs and coat hangers. Both worked perfectly and soon I had the stereo out. Here’s a blurry photo of the insides of the cd player section:


In the lower left, you can see the ribbon cable slot that goes from this board, which is the CD player assembly, to the rest of the stereo for amplification and stuff. Under that are the solder pads I need. Here’s a close-up:


Aha! We see ROUT, LOUT, and several GND connections. That’s our entry point. Some very careful soldering and very liberal hotgluing later, we have this:


There! Wire those to a 3.5mm jack and we’re done here, right?  Wrong. There’s just a little bit more work to be done. The stereo apparently requires a signal from the CD player, saying “Hey! I’m playing music now!” Before it accepts the audio and amplifies it. So we have to fake that information, with a fake cd.  I opened up Audacity (Everyone should have Audacity. It’s awesome.) and clicked “Generate silence.” I chose 1 hour, but I could’ve fit more on. Oh well. Burned that to a CD and voila! A silent CD!  Now all that is required is to put the CD in and play it, then play your music from your phone, iPad, or whatever. Here’s a picture of the finished product:


And a closeup of the jack:



There! Everything’s pretty, and works like a charm! Here’s a video of the thing in action: