Tutorial: How to add Aux-in to stock 3rd gen radio | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)

Tutorial: How to add Aux-in to stock 3rd gen radio

Discussion in 'ICE (In Car Entertainment)' started by Hany, Aug 2, 2013.

  1. Hany

    Hany FEOA Member

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    I wanted a way to use my mp3 or phone to play music through my stock radio, I don't like the sound quality of FM transmitters and I had a budget of 20 cents!, I searched online for any mods to add Aux-in to my 98 wagon head unit but I couldn't find any, so i had to figure it out myself

    The idea is not mine, it has been done before but I couldn't find any info on our stock radio, and to make things worst Ford uses their own name coding for all chips inside the radio so you can't really tell what those chips are! it's like they are trying to keep us from understanding how their state of the art radio works :wideyed: just makes us feel a bit more special :)

    Warning: if you don't have basic soldering skills or don't know how to handle PCBs this project is not for you, I won't be held responsible for any damage.

    We are going to tap into the radio output on the board with a phone jack so whenever you connect any 3.5mm stereo plug to that Aux-in the audio from the radio will be disabled and the external audio source will go directly to the head unit power amp, if you want to hear the radio just remove the 3.5mm stereo plug from the jack

    It would have been easier to use the tape circuit as the audio wires run in a flat cable to the board but that meant I have to run a Tape in the head unit all the time which I didn't like, after all it's 15 years old device, so I choose to use the radio circuit which made it a bit more difficult.

    This is not a complete guide, if you don't know how to remove the stock radio I'm sure you'll find that info with a quick search.

    Tools required:

    1- soldering iron and some solder
    2- cutter or x-acto knife
    3- 1/8 stereo phone jack from Radio Shack part number (274-0246)
    4- some hook up wire
    5- T10 and T15 torx screw drivers
    6- drill with a 5mm bit

    Steps:

    1- Remove radio from dash and remove the A/C control knobs, front face plate, top cover and tape mechanism until it looks like this:
    [​IMG]
    we will be working on the two traces on the bottom right


    2- This is a close up of the two traces that carry the radio right and left audio channels:

    [​IMG]


    3- using your cutter or x-acto knife very carefully scrap about 1/2 inch of the green coating on the board along both traces to expose the copper conductors then cut the traces in the middle of the exposed area ( if you don't know what you're doing leave this to someone who does, you could easily ruin the whole board) now add a bit of solder to all the exposed traces making sure you don't join them again where you cut them, you now have 4 contact points (2,5) on one side and (3,4) on the other, you will figure out why i gave them those numbers in the next step

    [​IMG]

    4- cut 5 equal pieces of hook up wire (about 6" each) and solder them to the 4 points and any of the two grounds on the board , on the other side solder them to the audio jack, point 1 on the jack goes to any GND , point 2 on jack goes to point 2 on the board and so on..

    [​IMG]

    Phone Jack pin-out

    [​IMG]


    5-choose where you want your Aux-in jack and drill a hole and make it fit snug.

    [​IMG]


    or you could even use audio shield cable and have that connector hanging in your glove box or anywhere..
    Specialk, Shatto, zzyzzx and 3 others like this.
  2. ShakeZilla19

    ShakeZilla19 My name is ^^^

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    Damn nice mod!
  3. neuspeedescort

    neuspeedescort Moderator Staff Member

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    impressive! this is far past most peoples understanding or want. nice tutorial. i shall sticky this!
  4. Hany

    Hany FEOA Member

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    thanks Shakezilla, thanks for the sticky neuspeed.
  5. Intuit

    Intuit FEOA Member

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    Great work locating the proper traces to tap into.

    Remember doing similar with a Sony boombox many eons ago.

    It had a radio and CD and had tapped into the preamp output between main PCB and CD module.

    Also added a flip-switch to cut power to the CD unit for when I wanted to use the inputs. When I finished using the inputs and wanted to use the CD player I just hit the power for the module. Radioshack has bushbutton switches also.

    Eventually added a second set of inputs along with a flip-switch to toggle between them.
  6. Gamer92

    Gamer92 FEOA Donator

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    How is the quality with Aux since you did this?
  7. Intuit

    Intuit FEOA Member

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    I guess to reduce distortion pickup, simplify circuit design, maximize their ability to use low-cost commonly available ICs, engineers probably stick to using standard preamp level input/output between modules when implementing radio designs.

    As long as you keep the volume at "pre-amp" levels (meaning not too loud) it should sound pretty much like any other radio with built-in preamp level inputs. If the inputs have an unusually low sensitivity level, then the sound would be extremely distorted... like trying to plug your MP3 player into an old phono input for example.
  8. Hany

    Hany FEOA Member

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    the sound quality is not bad at all, at least it's better than fm transmitters.
  9. Gamer92

    Gamer92 FEOA Donator

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    I will have to try this. Been using a FM transmitter from Walmart for like 2 years and have went through at least 10. Either the heat kills them or they get dropped and other things. Sound quality is decent but sometimes I like to play stuff loud and the static makes ti sound crappy.
  10. Intuit

    Intuit FEOA Member

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    They work perfectly on paper or in the laboratory environments where they're engineered. In general FMTs just lack adequate power to overcome ambient RF sources and interference. They were also poorly designed with highly temperature sensitive components (like "pots"); they drift well away from their originally calibrated frequency(ies) and over time will need recalibration. Had one more than a decade ago now and had modified it to accept AA over AAA, and tapped it directly into my radio's antennae lead. It then worked reasonably well maybe 95% of the time. Still ate batteries for breakfast though; especially if I forgot to switch the damned thing off. Aside from the sometimes oddly-weighted signal conversion, over or under-emphasizing some part of the audio spectrum, got by with the modifications where as it would've been trashed otherwise.
  11. pextor

    pextor Moderator Staff Member

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    I would add a switch so you could toggle between the radio and the aux input.
  12. Rectilinear

    Rectilinear FEOA Member

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    I have a Sirius radio receiver that I plan to add into my 3rd gen soon. I want to do this mod to my radio for aux input but I was wondering if there was a reasonable way that you may see to run both my Sirius and an additional aux input so I don't have to switch the input plugs all the time.
    I guess the cassette input would work for this but then I would have to eject the 'tape' to turn off the sirius input, right?
    Or perhaps a 3-position input switch?

    Once again, trying to make things too hard....
  13. EscorGo

    EscorGo FEOA Donator

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    Great tip! Also in keeping with the typical budget minded Escort owners.

    I've become a fan of HD radio. I'm going to get a new single DIN faceplate in the '97 and put a modern head unit in
  14. chestypuller

    chestypuller making the wifes commuter better

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    my next mod!
  15. Gamer92

    Gamer92 FEOA Donator

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    I ended up just buying one off eBay. It's been almost a year and no issues.
  16. Maxwelhse

    Maxwelhse FEOA Member

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    Since this necrothread has been revisited...

    casette.jpg

    Or (which may be what the OP did in a non-obvious way.. which works for every player in the world, CD or Tape):



    Or, the best yet....

    3gMP3.jpg

    Some shit just isn't worth the hassle guys... Not even in 2013 when this thread was remotely relevant. I had an aux in for $70, new price, in 2004.
  17. Gabriel Panoussi

    Gabriel Panoussi My approval ratings have droped.

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    For the cost of the components and the time invested I would say this MOD is definitely worth the time and effort. few bucks vs a hundred. One question does the radio still work if you unplug aux?

    Not to mention you maintain the OEM look. Which is retro awesome.
    Specialk likes this.
  18. Gamer92

    Gamer92 FEOA Donator

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    Radio still works if you remove the line in cable

    When the line in cable is plug in you can still hear the radio faintly when volume is around max.
    Specialk and Gabriel Panoussi like this.
  19. Gabriel Panoussi

    Gabriel Panoussi My approval ratings have droped.

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    Excellent (In Mr. Burns voice).
  20. williamcmoran

    williamcmoran FEOA Member

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    I tried to do this on my 97 escort with a tape deck but the radio was different than the one pictured. The traces were different and I was unable to figure out which one was which. attached a photo below.

    Attached Files:

    Specialk likes this.

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