Spam (madbodger) wrote,

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Another week, another $16.75

On Wednesday, fizzygeek and I went shopping for satellite radio gear. We eventually determined that we'd need a car system, a home kit, a direct wired FM modulator, and adaptors to and from GM style antenna connections. We ended up finding all of these things, from various retailers. We found the home kit at Radio Snack $10 cheaper than one we'd already picked up, but were too lazy to return one to buy another. We also went by the Borders in Tysons Corner, and did much damage there (Death Note #7 is out, yay)!

That night, we set up the radio. I rounded up a random amplifier and hooked it to the bookshelf speakers in the headboard, and we tried to figure out which window would offer a view of the right part of the sky. We could get a marginal signal out of one west-facing window, but not enough to actually be usable. Since we have a metal roof, I tried the mag-mount antenna out of the car kit and popped it on a north-facing roof pitch. Bam, instant signal. I made a mental note to buy another mag-mount antenna for the car kit.

On Thursday, vvalkyri wanted to know if I could come over and help keep her on track while doing laundry. Seemed like a pleasant way to spend an evening, so I did. She whomped up some yummy garlic and cayenne daal and tofu over pasta, and I got some leftovers to take home too.

On Friday morning, the satellite radio didn't have such a good signal. This didn't wildly surprise me, as the Sirius satellites have somewhat odd elliptical orbits, and I hadn't been able to reach a very good spot on the roof. I decided that a less haphazard mounting was called for, and made a mental note to buy an extension cable.

I had noticed that leiacat's LJ sounded a bit down, so I offered to come over and keep her company. She like the idea, so we had a nice walk around a local lake, conversation on a variety of topics, and dinner at Rocky Run, which has an assortment of odd and delicious food, a SpongeBob Squarepants sort of décor (there's even Krabby Patties on the menu), frybread (a delicacy I generally associate with the Sonoran desert Indians), and lots of different hot sauces on the walls. She suggested the sweet potato fries, which were wonderful. I got home in time to do some vacuuming and laundry before fizzygeek got home.

On Saturday, I went to uilos's Dim Sum foo with a bunch of fun people, then met up with fizzygeek to go to the Lucketts fair. After the fair, we went shopping for the additional satellite gear and some work clothes for me. We considered dropping by voltbang's birthday party or hanging out with geekchick, but since fizzygeek had to get up early on Sunday and I have to get up early on Monday, we made an early night of it instead.

Today was time to install the car kit for satellite radio. I didn't know the correct way to remove the dash of fizzygeek's car, and one silly site wanted $5 to tell me (yeah, right). So I went to Pro-Fit International and downloaded the instructions for their vehicle specific mounts (I have one in my car and I'd have bought one if they offered one for this car, but they don't) for a similar-enough variant. The instructions explained that the large main dash assembly can be worked loose by running fingers along the gap. This works, but I know from experience that it can be quite uncomfortable. However, I have a plastic separator tool (literally) made for such jobs, and it worked a treat.

We had targeted a little cubbyhole on the left end of the dash as a likely spot. I grabbed a cellphone style clamshell mount from my collection of parts, and sure enough the Sirius bracket had a standard AMPS hole pattern. The back of the cubbyhole was a separate removable panel, giving neat access for wires. I pulled the power adaptor wires though the console, where they could loop around to the utility outlet for power. The roof antenna wire would have been a major hassle to route through the firewall, so I brought it in the car through the driver's door wire seal.

The tricky part was mounting the assembly to the cubbyhole. The bracket didn't reach far enough back to clear the bottom ledge of the air vent, so I ended up having to drill clearance holes big enough to pass screw heads in the air vent ledge, and smaller holes in the cubbyhole casting. This took rather longer than I had planned, as fizzygeek had taken my car to work so I could work on hers, and both my power drill and the Dremel tool were in the trunk (many of my tools are there, as I've been doing work on forexample's and red_lynx's houses a fair bit recently).

I finally opted to chuck some ¼" hex drive screw extractors in a screwdriver handle and hand-drill the holes. Since it was just plastic, it wasn't too much of a chore. Then I put the dash back on, installed the receiver in its bracket, and checked the fit. It fitn't did. The door wouldn't close without clobbering the radio. So I pulled the dash again, drilled another set of holes over a bit, and buttoned it all up again. The main knob now hides behind the turn signal lever, but the display is all visible, and the whole thing works nicely.

Then I went up on the roof, pulled down that mag-mount, attached it to the extension cable, and remounted it at the top of the roof, facing northwest. Should get a solid signal all the time from that vantage point. And there's enough cable to position the radio anywhere in the room now, instead of right next to the east window.


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