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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi folks,

I've been looking for an easy way to add an aux port onto my 9-3 1999. I've read the posts that lead to the blogs (http://technicaldiversions.blogspot.com/) and sites (http://gatoalfa.calipso.com.co/radioMod/saabRadioMod.html or http://www.sethevans.com/auxinput.html) that talk about modding the radio and patching the boards on the radio so the phone input becomes stereo and is used for an aux port. I'm worried that I'll mess something up if I go that route.

I then read the posts and sites about cutting into the CD changer cable and putting in a switch to switch back and forth between the changer and an aux port (http://users.adelphia.net/~jlehome/aux_input.htm). This seemed much easier. The trouble is, I don't have a changer and I don't want to shell out the $500 for the changer just so I can plug things into an aux port (I am just a poor grad student, after all).

As a side note, the changer is required in the above option because it doesn't change anything in terms of communication with the head unit. In other words, the user cycles the src from radio, to cd, to cd changer. While the CD in the changer is playing, the user flips a switch leaving the changer playing but diverting just the left and right audio to an aux port. That gets around the complicated propriatory communication issues associated with Saab head units.

Therefore, what I'm looking for is a way to trick my 1999 9-3 5-door factory installed head unit into thinking that there is a changer, that it is loaded, and that a cd in it is playing. I figure if its possible to do this, I can still use the changer cable already there for the aux port. I was hoping someone might have an idea about shorting out some part of the cable or something. Does anyone have any idea how I might do this?

Alternatively, more info on changers that would be compatible with the head unit in my car might be helpful. I've looked on eBay and I didn't find any other than new for full price. If there is a compatible changer I'm unaware of (though I thought only the saab branded changer that can be married to my car would work with my head unit) that too might be helpful.

Any help would be appreciated! Thanks in advance!
 

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I don't know of a way to trick the head unit into thinking that the CD changer is attached, but I do know that doing the aux mod using the telephone inputs is not hard at all, and probably the best solution. Even if you had the CD changer it is a PITA because you need to have a CD playing, and when the CD ends, your sound gets cutout, etc...

When I did mine, I had not soldered in probably 15 years, and am far from an electronics wizard. I just made sure to ask a lot of questions, and take things slowly. I had 0 parts or tools needed for the job, but did the entire thing for ~$30 including buying a soldering iron. I say go for it, it is actually pretty hard to mess things up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
still nervous...

Thanks for the response DougR. I wish There was someone here in Denver who had done the phone mod and could hold my hand so to speak. It seems all you saabers who have done this are back east. *GRIN* I haven't completely abandoned the idea of doing it, but I'd still like to exhaust the effort to find a way to trick the head unit like I described above, just in case that actually works (I still feel more comfortable cutting into a changer cable I don't use than the radio I do use). As for the music cutting out when the CD changes, if there is a way to trick the head unit, the music wouldn't cut out since the "cd" would never finish. Might be nice, if its possible (but I worry that it isn't). What I need is some electrical engineer to tell me that it isn't. *WINK* Anyhow. Thanks again for the reply. If you happen to move west sometime soon, and you're willing to help me through the mod, let me know. *GRIN*
 

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It just isn't possible. Give it up now and start getting comfy with the idea of soldering your head unit.
SaabCentral Moderator Viscouse (and engineer) tried unsuccesfully to do what you are refering to. He did nothing but destroy the extra radio he had. :D
I have contacted PIE and several other companies that make those CD cable > Aux ports and NOT ONE of them was willing to make one for our cars.
Something tells me the Saab Clarion CBus is one hard nut to crack. If it was cheap\easy it would have been done by now.
It is not a simple matter of shorting the cable.
 

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If you want to pay for my plane ticket :)

It really is very straightforward, and there are plenty of people here you can contact over IM who will help you along the process.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Arrrrgh...

And there it is... the depressing news I was hoping not to recieve (but expecting to none the less). Thanks for the update CleveSaab. So... I suppose I have no other choice then... any bits of added advice for someone that hasn't picked up a soldering iron since high school (practically past my ability to remember)? I suppose if I screw this up I'll have to breakdown and replace the radio and maybe this time I'll put something in there that has an ipod hookup to boot. *GRIN*
 

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What I would suggest is picking up a practice board at rat shack, and practice soldering wires to it until you are comfortable, then start on the radio.
 

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I'm also starting to deliberate the idea of soldering my head unit for the aux port. After reading some of the various posts I'm hesitant about one major issue.

Is it true that you can only get mono sound out of the tel-in aux port mod, or is there a way of getting stereo sound.

Can anyone clear this up??
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
mono v. stereo

Check out the links in my first post above... what I believe they'll have you do is patch the radio so the phone is split back to left and right and run through as stereo. I think its this "cutting" that I'm most concerned with.

DougR - yeah... I think I'll stop by and grab some practice kits to get myself used to soldering again... but that cutting... I've never done that before. I suppose its not that big a deal... just slowly running an exacto over the connection until the score passes enough through the connection that the connection is broken but something about it gives me fright.
 

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OMG do NOT even think twice about the cutting part. That is far and away the easiest part, next to pulling the radio out. The traces on a PCB are very, almost too easy to cut.
To reference there is a LEFT-In and RIGHT-IN on the TEL-IN. It is joined together by a trace to make it mono. Actually we are lucky here. I can't think of any reason for doing it that way...may as well just have one TEL-IN trace.
The only semi difficult part is making sure you don't put too much solder on the L or R in's. Don't use a ton of solder. You only need a tiny bit. If you use too much you might solder the L and R tgether. Then you wind up with sound on one side.
Not speaking from experience as I haven't done this yet, I stripped one of my radio screws (make sure you have the right size screwdriver for the job!), but I do know how to solder and am familiar with PCB's. A handfull of foks have soldered the 2 together. It won't blow anyting but it's a pain to have to re-solder it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
CleveSaab - Thanks for the words of encouragement. I think I'm going to go for it, though not 100% sure when... I start classes again Monday (grad student first, saab tinkerer second) and I've got those advanced assignments I need to tackle first. I've been wanting to do this since May, however, so I'm absolutely going to be doing it soon. BTW... where in Ohio? Most of my family is from Ohio (NE mostly). My parents were from Canton and I have family in Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Massillon, Piqua and Youngstown. Anyhow... thanks again.
 

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There is another alternative that works pretty well. You can get an fm transponder. Not the cheap belkin kind that clips onto your IPOD, but one that actually hooks up to the antenna wire so the signal is much stronger.

I did this, and the sound is decent. FM quality, but maybe not cd quality. Definitely better than the cassette adapter I was using. There's room for the transponder inside the console, and I ran the lead wire out of the glove box so that it's out of site when I'm not using it. Also, keeping it close to the head unit minimizes radio interference.

If you have an otherwise awesome stereo, you might not be satisfied with the sound, but with the SAAB unit you might be satisfied.
 
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