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The New Sound HQ on Valencia Street

Internet radio in my car diary, Entry #1: it works!

The Decision

Last December I made a New Years resolution: I would get Internet radio in my Honda Civic by the summer. So in the middle of July I went over to New Sound car stereos in San Francisco and talked to the proprietor Ed Sosa about what I needed: a console with AM/FM plus a USB port and some kind of hookup for my Droid mobile device.

The New Sound HQ on Valencia Street

The New Sound HQ on Valencia Street

“Sure,” Ed responded, and while giving me a tour of New Sound’s fabulous Vault of Old Car Stereos, he installed a Panasonic DEH-X6500BT.

“This’ll work,” he assured me. It did. The radio sounded great. The USB very nicely played my thumb drive full of tunes. But I stalled, learning-wise, on the Internet connection. With the DEH you hook your mobile to the console via Bluetooth. So I opened up the instructions, set as usual in a teeny type size suitable for people under 50, and did what it said.

1. Press down on the Big Round Knob that you use to control volume or surf AM/FM channels.

2. Select my Droid Razr from the device list shown on the LED display (it was the only gizmo listed, Thank God).

3. Enter the PIN code disclosed on the instructions.

My car mic; just above the fuzzy dice.

My car mic; just above the fuzzy dice.

I finished all that and looked at the gadget. “Ok,” I thought to myself. “Now what?” The instructions did not say. And it was the summer, so I wasn’t using my car very much since the school where I drive to teach was mostly closed. Thus I did what I always do in these circumstances. I put the problem off until later.

Discovery

There are all kinds of technology users when it comes to skill. Without getting into all the classifications, I’m a Clueless Blunderer. I’m not a Luddite, but with a million things on my plate, I don’t have the patience to do market research or read reviews. I just buy something and figure it out, or not.

“When all else fails, read the instructions,” goes the saying. That’s me.

By late September I was back in my Honda, staring at my stereo and wondering how to get to the next level. Suddenly I looked up at my dashboard mirror and noticed something. “Gosh,” I said to myself. “What’s that microphone doing up there?” After a moment of narcissism I concluded that I wasn’t important enough for the NSA to have surreptitiously installed it. It must have come with the Panasonic installation and I did not notice.

So I plugged my Droid into my charger, put it next to the console, and starting driving down to UC Santa Cruz, where I teach, hoping in the back of my mind that Something Would Just Happen.

DEH-X6500B

DEH-X6500B: the machine itself.

An hour into the trek, I was listening to some FM rock station along the Highway 17, when I heard a phone ringing.

“Hmmm,” I thought to myself. “Maybe the station accidentally got its wires mixed up?”

The phone stopped ringing again, then it rang some more. I looked at the console: “BT AUDIO . . . ” the LED said. Could it be? I wondered.

“Hello there,” I said out loud.

“Mr. Lasar?” a voice asked, filling the car with sound. “Can we talk?”

“WOW!” I shouted back. “Did you just call me? Can you hear me?”

“Yes,” the voice nervously responded to my idiotic question. It was a student who felt he didn’t get enough course credit for a class he took with me. “Is this a good time to talk?”

“This is awesome!” I shouted. “Perfect time to talk! It works! It works!!”

Eventually I got over the excitement of the moment and actually helped the poor kid. Then I thought to myself: “If I leave it on BT AUDIO can I get, like, my mobile radio apps over my car speakers?” (Which was sort of the point, right?)

Exiting the 17, I parked the next to an elementary school, fired up my Droid Pandora app, and selected a classical channel. A Mozart piano concerto filled my Civic with sound.

“Holy #%$& crap,” I exclaimed as a small group of school children walked by . . .

Next: Internet-in-my-car diary, Entry #2: the Perils of Pandora on the Freeway


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3 Responses to Internet radio in my car diary, Entry #1: it works!

  1. Bob Hudson October 10, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    Congratulations. I am well over 50 and put Internet radio in my car back in 2005, connecting a Palm Treo through the car’s audio system using one those audio adapters that fits into a car’s cassette player (remember tape????”).

    In those days the data connections on what were not yet called “smartphones” was quite slow, but many radio stations offered low-bandwidth connections and thus I was able to cruise around Southern California listening to my favorite blues station (from Kansas City). It was actually easier to do that back then because there were so few models of phones that it was possible to buy a cradle custom-made for you phone. It had audio and power connections so all you had to do was slide the phone into the cradle and it was connected to the car.

    Long before internet radio was available on the go I did a parody piece and actually got several emails from people at tech companies wanting to know more about this miracle streaming device http://bobhudson.com/streaming.html

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