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Testimonial for Aurora Design Radio Conversions
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56D500boy
Posted 2017-09-29 6:03 PM (#549427)
Subject: Testimonial for Aurora Design Radio Conversions



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Posts: 2038
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Location: Lower Mainland BC
When I got my 56 Dodge Custom Royal D500 in Sept. 2016 I was surprised by the fact that it did not come with a radio (ever). It had the factory radio delete panel in place. Knowing that I would eventually install a radio, one of the first things that I bought from my local Mopar NOS parts guy (Ron Whiting) was the radio surround panel. Sometime later I found an Electro-Touch Tuning ("Town and Country") radio and bought that. However, since I had really no interest in having a tube radio that only got AM and there was only one local "oldies" AM channel anyway, I decided that I would get the radio converted to AM/FM somehow.

I did a bit of poking around and discovered Aurora Design:

http://www.tech-retro.com/Aurora_Design/Automotive_Home.html

It looked intriguing so I contacted my local supplier/installer Larry Wood of Wood Radios (about 40 minutes from me). We had a discussion about the conversion and he noted that my local licensing organization (ICBC) has pre-approved Aurora Design conversions for full approval for "Collectors" plates. On that basis, I decided to go for it. And "IT" became AM/FM plus USB plus AUX (iPod or portable CD player) *AND* (oh why not) Bluetooth. Larry had a bit of a queue of radios ahead of me so it took about a month to get done. I went out to pick my converted radio up and Larry ran through its operation. It was a bit mind blowing, so I found and reviewed (several times now) this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kw5hNDkLEY4&t=992s

The radio in the video was a Chevy Wonderbar but it seems much the same as the Electro-Touch Tuning "Town and Country" that I have:



As I have learned, the pointy knob on the left is the on/off volume. The one behind it is the tone knob. The pointy knob on the right side is the tuning and the one behind is the front back balance knob. They all work as they should.

In addition, with nothing (no USB, no iPod) plugged in, turning the radio off/on quickly will change the radio from AM to FM or FM to AM. At that point the five colour LED pilot light is changing from one colour to the the other (yellow to red or red to yellow).

Tuning is as normal with the knob *OR*, more excitingly, with the Electro-Touch tuning bar. One touch and radio scans to the next strong station (I am not sure if there is a "Town" or "Country" bias anymore or not) and so on. Radio pre-sets are set as normal for this radio, i.e. flip down chrome panel below the glass window and move the red pointer to the desired location and then flip the chrome panel back up. Using the presets to change channels is as per normal Electro-Touch tuning, i.e. only ascending, i.e. if you wanted to go to 640 AM from 1350 AM it will move from 1350 to the right end then slam back to the 550 end of the scale before stopping at 640. Same with FM except there are no FM numbers to work with. And since the pre-sets are physical, you only have the 5 to allocate between both AM and FM (e.g. 2 AM and 3 FM).

On to the USB stick. This is where 1956 meets the digital age. I had previously ripped some CDs that I own to Windows Media format (which is not mp3 but similar) so I copied them on to a USB stick that I had from when I worked (work? what the *ell is that? ) Out to the car. Radio was playing my local rock station, I just plugged the USB stick and after a second or to stop playing FM and start playing the music on the USB stick. Now I have to admit that I am not fully up on how I can control selection of the music on the USB stick, e.g. moving from album to album (if I can) *BUT* I learned (from the video) that I can use the tuning knob to advance or go back on the playlist by twisting the tuning knob quickly (one way or the other).

I was out in garage the other day (while it was raining), putzing with rear speaker plate install and decided to touch the tuner bar while I was playing tunes off the USB stick. To my surprise, each touch resulted in moving to the next song on the USB stick. Later I learned (from Larry Wood) that two quick taps of the tuner bar moved backwards one song in the USB playlist. The tuning bar is way more convenient than the tuning knob so that will be handy.

Now the iPod (in my case a Philips Songbird): Plug it into the radio via a two male-ended AUX cable with the iPod end into the headphones jack. I did this while playing the USB stick and it automatically switched to the iPod. Control of the music is via the iPod controls (I have to review the video to confirm that). No biggy.

Sound throughout all this (USB and iPod) is much better that the FM stations (not a surprise). Sounds great to my old ears (one mono 6 x 9 in the dash and two 6 x 9 stereo speakers in the rear parcel tray). The front speaker is hooked up to the Front Left (+) and the Front Right (-). There is a possibility that I might connect two kick panel speakers in the future.

Now the piece de resistance: Bluetooth. I don't own a Bluetooth phone so I hadn't investigated the option even though it was installed when I had the radio converted. However, yesterday afternoon, my neighbour came by to get the tour of the radio. I explained the AM, the FM, the USB and the iPod. He says "Too bad, it doesn't do BlueTooth". "AH HA!!", I say, "It does do Blue Tooth!". Took me a minute or so to figure out which knob had to be twisted quickly (the volume) and then a nice lady voice came on and said "Ready for Pairing". He set up his phone to pair and in few seconds they connected (I think the lady said "Paired") and the pilot light came on blue. He played a few tunes (Van Morrison) while we chatted. Sounded good (needed more volume though than the FM). Pretty amazing to me.

It is early days but I am pretty impressed and happy with the results so far.

Local dealers are available on this list:

http://www.tech-retro.com/Aurora_Design/Auto_Dealers.html

No, I didn't get paid to do this. I just like to share good news.

Edited by 56D500boy 2017-09-30 2:14 AM
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