Hours By Appointment

Please call StereoMan at 828-775-5905 for an appointment

StereoMan response to COVID-19 emergency

posted June 24, 2020

StereoMan is committed to conducting business in a safe manner even as the State of North Carolina continues to experience increasing spread of the novel coronavirus. Armed with new information about the way the virus is transmitted, it now appears safe to open my door to my customers, but I will continue to conduct all transactions by appointment to avoid having more than one person in the shop at a given time. And, in accordance with the State’s mandate, I will be wearing a mask during our appointment and I ask that all my customers do the same, or else I will not be able to invite you into my shop.

If you are in need of in-home service, please give me a call and we will discuss the parameters. If you are comfortable enough with my presence in your home, and I am confident I will be safe in your home, I will happily provide.

Unfortunately I am not able to offer car stereo work, and will not be doing so unless and until the pandemic has abated. I regret the inconvenience, but it pales in comparison to the inconvenience of being afflicted with this incurable disease, and I am determined to take every sensible precaution to avoid being the person who gives it to you or anyone else!

More Flex! Ability

Starting Jan 2, 2020, StereoMan will be cutting mandatory shop hours from three days a week to two, and will start scheduling car stereo work on any of the five work days each week. This will help StereoMan handle installation work and outside service calls more efficiently, with minimal inconvenience to customers seeking bench repairs.

New shop hours will be Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. And of course, other hours will be more available than ever, by appointment!

Monitor Mod

What happens when StereoMan makes a commitment based on written spec’s only to find out that the written spec’s were wrong? Giving up would be the last choice for StereoMan! Always trying first to think outside the box, sometimes the answer turns out to be INside the box – literally.

My customer had two vans with overhead DVD monitors that were supposed to play through the vehicles’ FM radio, but there was no direct connection, and so the sound was of poor quality and outside broadcasts would sometimes interfere. A review of the monitor’s specifications led me to believe that the jacks on the side of the monitor were A/V output jacks. Why would there be input jacks? The unit had a built in DVD player and no speakers, so input jacks would be useless and useless.

So I gave my customer a quote, based on the written spec’s, to direct wire the monitors to the stereo, and we scheduled the work. But when I took down the first monitor, I saw the jacks on the side were marked “A/V input”. Daunted, but not defeated, I carried the unit back to the shop to see if I could figure out a way to wire an output. On the bench, I took the bottom cover off and there on the inside cover was a label, indicating that there WAS an output, or at least there was supposed to be an output.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was no 5-Pin Harness to be seen anywhere, but there were several 5-pin sockets where a 5-Pin harness might plug in. And a couple of them were white! Could one of them be CN1?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hooked up the monitor on my test bench and played a DVD while I poked around the white 5-pin sockets with my oscilloscope. Before long I had located the correct pins in the correct socket to derive the audio output. To each of the output pins I soldered the center lead of a short coax terminated with an RCA jack. To the ground pin I soldered a short wire …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next I soldered the wire to the coax shields …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And after that, covered the ground connection with electrical tape …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, to prevent undue stress on the wires I’d added, I hot-glued the assembly to the circuit board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I connected an RCA cable to my finished assembly, long enough to reach the back of the radio, and remounted the monitor overhead. When I played a DVD, the sweet, clear sound came through the vehicle’s speakers, just like I had planned. Success!

 

Retreat! Retreat!

Next week my annual spiritual retreat is coming up, and the shop will be closed June 13, 14, and 15. I will get as much bench work done as I can between now and then so it will be the least possible inconvenience. I have quite a few pieces finished right now that have not been picked up yet, so if you brought something in during the months of Feb and March and you haven’t heard from me, please check in.

My customers are the BEST!

I took in a preamp for repair recently, and as usual I took a $25 deposit for my bench fee. A week or so later, the same customer decided to have his amp checked out and I said I’d do it at the same time as I did the repairs on the preamp, and I took it in without charging the bench fee.

Turned out the preamp needed some work, but the amp was in good shape, only needed a thorough cleaning. I completed the work on both pieces but when I wrote up the¬†invoices, I forgot that I hadn’t charged a bench fee on the amp, so the invoice showed an $11 balance instead of $36. My customer picked up the equipment and paid the invoices, we had a nice chat, and he went on his way.

Not ten minutes later, he was back. He remembered that I hadn’t charged that second deposit, and he still owed me 25 bucks. How’s that for honesty??!

The Leaking Roof Remedy

My latest effort to address the leaking roof problem. Two professional roofers have failed to solve it, and my two previous efforts were also epic fails. So here we have a ten foot gutter guard glued to the rooftop with four tubes of liquid nails all-weather adhesive, a tarp covering the base of the chimney sandwiched between it and a ten foot 2×4, all topped with 16 paving bricks. Lucky to have this mild weather for it to set up before a long period of rain tests the efficacy of the cure.

Update: two months and ten inches of rain later, it’s dry as a bone inside! StereoMan wins!

Kind help

Yesterday I provided in home service for a blind woman. Not merely “legally blind”, but absolutely not able to see. I got her two CD players hooked up and working (she has a backup just in case), and then figured out how to turn off the wake-up alarm on the backup (she had turned it on by mistake, and when it started beeping she thought it was a smoke detector and called in the fire department!). Then I helped her identify the different buttons on the remote, which involved guiding her fingers to the right positions as I explained what each button did.

When all that was done, she asked me to come in the kitchen and see if I could get her dishwasher started. To which I, of course, complied. She knew where the different buttons were located, but unable to see the indicator lights, she couldn’t tell that she had pushed one button too many and turned the wash cycle off instead of on.

Then when it was time to pay, she asked me to fill out the check, and then guide her finger to where she was supposed to sign it. I charged her $46 for my travel and my time. It was close by, and less than an hour.

I imagined how stressful it inevitably must be for a not-sighted person like her to let a total stranger like me into her house and allow me to work on her precious audio equipment. A lot of trust involved! It was so gratifying to me to feel that I had earned it, so satisfying to hear her say as I was leaving, “Thank you for your kind help.”

VW’s Are Strange

An unexpected challenge arose when I was doing a relatively routine speaker replacement on a 2011 VW Jetta. As is my habit, after replacing each speaker I turned on the stereo to let it play while I was reinstalling the door panel, to make sure it works and works right. When I got to this point on the fourth door, though, there was suddenly no sound through any speaker, and much to my surprise several other electrical components in the car stopped working: the door locks, the windows, the horn!

Blown fuse, right? How could I have blown a fuse by replacing a speaker??? There was no fuse diagram in the owner’s manual though, and nothing I could find online, so I had to hunt through the 50 fuses in the car’s interior panel one by one. But before I could finish this, the customer needed her car back, so I had to make an arrangement with her to return the car so I could resolve the problem.

Turned out not to be a blown fuse, but a shorted speaker wire inside the door frame, where I couldn’t possibly get to it. How to remedy such an issue? Replace the wire! Not an easy task, but not impossible. And once it was done, like magic all of the other issues were resolved as well.

VW’s are strange.

 

First step is to remove the rubber boot from the door frame and cut the shorted wire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First step is to remove the rubber boot from the door frame and cut the shorted wire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, the wire is cut at the other end, going into the speaker connector.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, the wire is cut at the other end, going into the speaker connector.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new wire has been run through the door frame, twisted and taped to the wire going into the vehicle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new wire has been run through the door frame, twisted and taped to the wire going into the vehicle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's the other end of the new wire twisted and taped to the wire going into the speaker connector.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the other end of the new wire twisted and taped to the wire going into the speaker connector.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I then taped the new wire to the factory wire bundle and reinserted the rubber boot in the door frame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shorted wire is inside that factory wire bundle, but it's no longer connected to anything at either end.

 

 

 

 

 

The shorted wire is inside that factory wire bundle, but it’s no longer connected to anything at either end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Generous taping is a must-do on any vehicle wiring job, not just for neatness, but more to protect the wires from the elements. esp. water and road chemicals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Generous taping is a must-do on any vehicle wiring job, not just for neatness, but more to protect the wires from the elements. esp. water and road chemicals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now the repair is done and the rubber boot is reinstalled on the door frame near the hinges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now the repair is done and the rubber boot is reinstalled on the door frame near the hinges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, the speaker is reinstalled, tested, and working properly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, the speaker is reinstalled, tested, and working properly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liberation

Are you one of those people who pays hundreds of $$ every year for cable or satellite service just so you can watch the local news and a few favorite broadcast TV programs? You might be a candidate for liberation!

Today I liberated a client from Charter cable by installing a simple rooftop antenna. Not one of those old school monstrosities with the long metal rods, just a simple little dish, less than a foot in diameter. Total cost for labor and materials was less than the cost of a year of cable TV service. When I was done, my client could get all the major networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and Fox Entertainment – and all the sub-channels that are now being broadcast because of the extra bandwidth that digital TV affords. 29 channels in all!

 

Not everyone’s results are that good, but you can contact StereoMan with your physical address and I will let you know what is possible where you live. If it won’t work for you, I will recommend you stay with what you have. But if you’re in a good location, like my client today on Fairview Rd. in Oakley, I’d be delighted to provide the tools and skills to liberate you from your monthly TV bill!