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  #1  
Old 02-11-2021, 02:35 AM
RebelRiderMike RebelRiderMike is offline
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Default Radio/cassette player replaced with custom panel.

Hey all,
I've been gone for a couple years. But the other day, my cassette player started clicking on and off, and wouldn't shut up, so I decided to remove it. Turns out it was really very easy to do.



I never actually listen to music while I drive. Probably the only one in the world who doesn't, LOL. I find it distracting. So rather than trying to replace it, I've decided to make a custom panel with things I'll find more fun or useful.

Here's a vague design I have in mind. No idea if it will work until I try it:


The plug that goes to the radio has lots of options to choose from. Once I finally figured out which wire does what.


The sticky threads here were very helpful. And conveniently, the pin numbers are actually printed on the back of the plug.


So I've got a direct wire to the battery, a couple of ignition switched lines, several ground wires, and also all the speaker wires.

Assuming they all work ok. I haven't actually found the fault yet. I suspected the connection was corroded from condensation. But it looks to be in perfect condition. I'll test the radio/cassette player next to see if the fault is internal.
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1999 Ford Ranger XLT
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  #2  
Old 02-11-2021, 07:32 PM
RebelRiderMike RebelRiderMike is offline
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Default Re: Radio/cassette player replaced with custom panel.

I checked out the player, and it seems fine. Soldered some tap wires on the circuit board, and hooked up some power and speakers.




I had no issues with the tape player clicking on and off like it did in the truck. Since I'm not putting it back in, I went and got the plug from inside the dashboard and made a more permanent set of connections.



I even played a tape, and it worked perfect. Uses about 2A with an old pair of 4 Ohm computer speakers hooked up. I think care speakers have more Ohms though, and may need more power. I don't know much about speaker wiring, except the Ohms have to match.


I guess I'll test the power and ground wires in the truck next. The battery wire and back-light wire should be fine, as there were no memory issues or flickering lights. There are two ignition switched power wires though, and three ground wires.
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1999 Ford Ranger XLT
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  #3  
Old 02-12-2021, 05:09 AM
Logan03CO Logan03CO is offline
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Default Re: Radio/cassette player replaced with custom panel.

Looks like an interesting project. I'm. Certain its due to the stressed financial situation with many of our members due to the whole virus mess. But it's refreshing to hear about someone modifying/upgrading their truck. Instead of all the problems most people complain or ask about

I can barely remember the last completed thread about customizing something
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  #4  
Old 02-15-2021, 01:55 AM
RebelRiderMike RebelRiderMike is offline
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Default Re: Radio/cassette player replaced with custom panel.

Thanks!

Since the stereo works, my wife asked if she could have it for music at work. So I set it up in our home office. I got a 12V power supply, and made speaker wires out of old Christmas tree light wires. Added a power switch, so the clock is always plugged in, but the rest can be turned off. I even got the radio working. Just needed a wire sticking out the antenna hole, and it receives FM signals no problem. Made a shelf, and hid most of the wiring mess behind the unit.


I'm snowed in at the moment, so the truck wiring diagnostics, and new panel will have to wait. I suppose I can shop for gauges in the meantime. I have a small amplifier/volume control that might be strong enough to run the phone audio through the speakers. I also have to figure out how exactly I want to mount the phone. Maybe something with magnets...
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1999 Ford Ranger XLT
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  #5  
Old 02-24-2021, 01:01 AM
RebelRiderMike RebelRiderMike is offline
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Default Re: Radio/cassette player replaced with custom panel.

The snow is gone, and my wife is enjoying her new office stereo.

I was able to get out and remove the bezel today, and make a cardboard template for the new panel.


I've also collected some parts I have laying around that may work for the project.


I have a small amplifier which may or may not be powerful enough. A few green LEDs for a bit of low lighting at night. A 2 amp switch for the reverse camera that I haven't installed yet. And a bit of plastic which may be the back of the cell phone mount.

I still have to test the truck's wiring to make sure it's not faulty. And I'm still shopping for what gauges I may want to install. It's actually going to be a tighter fit than I first thought, but I'll get it figured out.
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  #6  
Old 03-05-2021, 06:25 PM
RebelRiderMike RebelRiderMike is offline
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Default Re: Radio/cassette player replaced with custom panel.

Some parts came in!

A USB charger with a built-in voltmeter, and a dual temperature gauge with sensors. I think I'll put one on the transmission, and use the other one for... something else. Haven't decided yet. Exterior temp or cab temp probably.


Added my little amplifier and a power switch for the reverse camera. I didn't think I'd miss the clock, but I actually do. I'll shop around for one.

There will still be room for a couple more accessory switches in the future. Maybe an LED light for the canopy? I don't know.

Also, I got out to the truck today with a multimeter and a cheat-sheet. The ones I've seen online are pretty low rez, so I made my own.


I think I found the culprit as far as the cassette/radio doing it's clicking thing. I found that wire #3, fused ignition, only had 3.8V on it. I don't know why, but I'm pretty sure it should be 12V just like all the other power inputs. The grounds were also good. I suppose for now I'll just leave wire 3 out of service.
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1999 Ford Ranger XLT

Last edited by RebelRiderMike; 03-05-2021 at 06:43 PM.
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  #7  
Old 03-20-2021, 01:34 AM
RebelRiderMike RebelRiderMike is offline
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Default Re: Radio/cassette player replaced with custom panel.

The clock finally showed up. I had to move the switch in order to accommodate it.


I have some really thin plywood, almost veneer, that I'll use for the real panel material. I have an idea on some accent lighting, and the phone holder still needs work. Making progress though.
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1999 Ford Ranger XLT
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  #8  
Old 04-15-2021, 09:10 PM
RebelRiderMike RebelRiderMike is offline
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Default Re: Radio/cassette player replaced with custom panel.

Well, I found out my little amplifier is not powerful enough to run the truck's speakers. I ordered a more powerful one that I hope will do the trick. This one actually has a Watt rating, unlike the first one. So we'll see if 120W per speaker is enough to get good sound that doesn't break up.

Consequently, I'll have to rearrange all the stuff on the panel. But this new board also uses Bluetooth, so I don't need a cable. I only need the pairing button accessible.
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  #9  
Old 06-03-2021, 10:52 PM
RebelRiderMike RebelRiderMike is offline
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Default Re: Radio/cassette player replaced with custom panel.

It's been quite a while. Partly because some of the front wheels and steering stuff went bad, and cost a LOT of money to have fixed. And I've been fixing up an old riding lawn mower I got for super cheap.

Anyway, I installed the 120W amplifier today, and it seems to be plenty powerful to run the front speakers. I may need a volume control even. I still have to drive it around and listen to it with with all the driving noise, but being too quiet won't be an issue. Also the blue tooth connection to my phone works perfect.

Not sure how I'll mount it yet, but it will be behind the panel instead of protruding out of it. I'd like to find a way to extend the pairing button through the panel though, so It won't have to be taken apart with every new pairing. Maybe not such a big deal though, as my phone does pretty much everything I would need, and I don't change phones that often.

Other things I need to do with the truck is repair the tailgate latches. They bend backward just far enough that they won't latch. Unless I close the gate with the handle up. Not sure how to fix that. Also, I want to add a reverse camera, because in the winter I can't see out the back window, and through the canopy windows. I have the camera, I just need to install it.

But hopefully I'll start making more progress with this custom dash panel now.
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1999 Ford Ranger XLT
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  #10  
Old 07-10-2021, 10:51 PM
RebelRiderMike RebelRiderMike is offline
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Default Re: Radio/cassette player replaced with custom panel.

I got the amp and the volume control hooked up today.


They're not working together quite right. Full volume works fine, but turning it down I lose most of the sound immediately. Maybe the volume control is messing with some electronic thing in the amp. Or maybe the potentiometer in the volume control is too many ohms. I bought the exact same one for a stereo a while back, so I know it's a good product. I'll have to open it up later and see if maybe I can put a smaller potentiometer in and see if that helps.
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1999 Ford Ranger XLT
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  #11  
Old 07-27-2021, 02:11 AM
RebelRiderMike RebelRiderMike is offline
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Default Re: Radio/cassette player replaced with custom panel.

Haven't had a chance to play with the volume pot yet, but I did put together a new mock-up panel.


I got the clock, which runs on the truck battery, but the display runs on the dashboard lights circuit.

Added a temperature and humidity gauge for the cabin. Not sure how accurate the humidity gauge numbers are, but it does change when humidity does. I added that because the humidity builds up in the winter when I'm not driving much, and I've bought a dehumidifier to try to control it. Unfortunately, I couldn't find one that runs of an external battery or uses a backlight.

I've got the dual temperature gauge, which I can use to place sensors wherever. I plan to put one on the transmission, and the other one on the engine maybe. Not sure yet.

Three switches; one to turn off the sound system, one for a backup camera, and one that will control a relay for a future accessory circuit.

Next to the sound system switch will be the knob for volume control if I ever get that figured out.

And last is a quick charge USB port with a little volt meter for the truck's charging system.

I think everything but the clock will be powered through one of the ignition switched circuits that used to power the radio. Since the accessory switch will only be powering a relay, I think everything will be well within the limit of that circuit.
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1999 Ford Ranger XLT
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  #12  
Old 08-15-2021, 03:15 AM
RebelRiderMike RebelRiderMike is offline
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Default Re: Radio/cassette player replaced with custom panel.

I got the hole for the heat sink cut out of the amplifier box, and I think the volume control is working now.


I put the wires directly on a 10K stereo potentiometer and separated the grounds. Tried it out on headphones and it seems to work. Won't know for sure though until I try it on the truck speakers, since I don't actually know what caused the original problem.

So if everything works, the mock-up panel is finished.


I won't need the box or the circuit panel for the volume control, and the old knob fits the new pot. Time to figure out the wiring for this guy!


Looks like only the clock will need special wiring. The actual time-keeping electronics will get power from the battery all the time, and the display will only need power when the dash lights are on. The rest will get power from the one fused ignition wire that still works, so they will only get power when the ignition is on.
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1999 Ford Ranger XLT
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  #13  
Old 08-17-2021, 10:26 PM
RebelRiderMike RebelRiderMike is offline
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Default Re: Radio/cassette player replaced with custom panel.

The new potentiometer works! And I've got the clock and speaker wires all hooked up with connectors.


Next is to transfer the holes from the cardboard panel to a wood panel.
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1999 Ford Ranger XLT
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  #14  
Old 08-19-2021, 05:23 AM
RebelRiderMike RebelRiderMike is offline
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Default Re: Radio/cassette player replaced with custom panel.

Got the real wood panel made.


Parts are all wired in.


Everything works on the bench power supply, except the clock which is on a different set of circuits.


Fits in the bezel, and is ready to install on the truck. Though 2 of the switches don't actually power anything yet. Future projects.
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