iPod Integration in the Top Ten Automotive Technologies of the Decade

It’s amazing how far reaching MP3 technology has become since the introduction of the iPod in 2003. Apple’s vision of the iPod has truly extended to just about anything consumers can imagine. We can play our iPods anywhere. At home, at the gym, on a hike and in the car. But it’s the car stereo application that seems to have fallen short for consumers. But its not Apple’s fault. They foresaw the OEM car stereo application when they first introduced the iPod and even approached Alpine Electronics, the OEM car stereo maker for a huge majority of vehicles you see on the road. They wanted to collaborate with Alpine to integrate the iPod with the factory car stereo’s so that consumers could enjoy having their iPods on the road. It raised the a big question, “wouldn’t that kill the CD changer market?”. The honest answer was yes. The short story is the cry that came back from the manufacturers of the CD changer was too big and the result is consumers are today left with the poor fidelity options of FM modulation, cassette adapters and 3.5mm jacks. Fear not however, because this isn’t the only option anymore.

Earlier this year Edmunds.com named iPod Integration in their Top Ten automotive technologies of the Decade. “We’ve come a long way from carrying around bulky multi-CD cases. Today drivers can bring along all their favorite music with a device that fits in a pocket and can be integrated with most vehicles.” – Automotive Industries, Jan2010, Vol. 190 Issue 1, p53-53. And it’s not as expensive as you might think. But let’s explain how it works first.

iPod and iPhone Car Modules Play HIGH QUALITY music from your iPod and iPhone HARDWIRED through various available ports of your vehicles factory car stereo (ie: CD changer port) creating a truly integrated iPod Car Stereo. One of the most innovative and simple to install and use integration solutions is from DICE Electronics. Read what Stephen Witt, Dice Electronics new VP of Marketing has to say. Steve is the former VP of marketing at Alpine Electronics and was there when the struggle of integrating the iPod with factory car stereo’s began.

“In today’s digital world, consumers want a simple plug and play and cost effective integration solution for their cars. Everyone wants easy to understand value that will work in their cars. This “keep it simple” consumer behavior plays right into our strategy of promoting the complete solution integration including the connector to hook up their iPod/iPhone.” – Stephen Witt EVP, Dice Electronics

Here is a list of the features and benefits of installing a iPod/iPhone Car Stereo Integration Module:

Hard-wired Connection
Seamless Connectivity with CD Quality Music
No Cassette Adapters
No Bulky FM Transmitter
Stereo Head-Unit Control
Music Control at Your Fingertips
Album/Artist Text Display
Album/Artist Information at a Glance
Constant Charging
Keeps Your iPod Charged on the go!
No Cigarette Lighter Charger
Steering Wheel Control
Easily Change Tracks and adjust volume
Keeps Your Hands Safely on the Wheel
Bluetooth Connectivity (optional)
Allows Hands-Free Calling
Music is Paused or Silenced When Answering Calls
Incoming Calls are Heard Over the Speakers
Vehicle-ignition-controlled playback
Music automatically pauses when ignition is off and resumes when ignition is turned back on

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How Mil Spec Wiring Has Helped Enhance Automotive Technology in Motorsports

Automotive wiring has always been a crucial product for electronic wire manufacturers. It has become even more important with the growth and popularity of various types of motorsports.

Fortunately, automotive wiring has had a good track record for the most part. OEM wire manufacturers have been able to create quality and durable wires and products like connectors that can support rigorous racing requirements. One of the major reasons for this quality is the incorporation of military specifications to automotive wiring.

How Mil Spec Wiring Supports Motorsport Activities

Today, electronic systems of motorsport vehicles are considered just as important as the engines. They help keep the driver safe, provide speed and agility, and even help the car adapt to different driving conditions.

Hence, the wiring has to be precise in terms of design, qualitative in terms of materials, and durable in terms of manufacturing. Mil spec wires are of immense help when designing and manufacturing wiring for sporting vehicles.

Classic Example: If you were to look at the wiring and connectors of an established racing automobile, you would find that most of the connector seals would still be in good shape; the wiring would be stark but not cracked, and would still have its flexibility.

Then and Now

Earlier, the wiring design was used to raise the glamour quotient of the vehicle. Designers and engineers would talk about using a variety of complex components and processes like:

Epoxied connections
Metal shell connectors
Concentric twisting for airframes

This would also lead to high costs and large product warranties. Today, what motorsport OEM wire manufacturers have realized is that the wiring simply needs to perform the tasks it is designed for. They took a cue from mil spec wire engineering, and focused more on factors like reliability, small sizes, light weights, and durability. The main goal was to get the wiring to handle racing environments.

How was it Done?

Wiring engineers looked at specific factors that would hinder the overall performance of racing vehicles, and found a solution for each of them.

Weight: In racing, heavy weight is a car’s biggest enemy. The weight of the car is the determinant for factors like speed and maneuverability. A compact and light weight design helps reduce the weight of the car, and allows the driver to quickly increase and maintain speed. It also allows for improved maneuverability.

Racing vehicle manufacturers utilize a variety of mil spec products to save on space and weight. A few examples include:

o Small sized 30 gauge wires

o Circular connectors for cramped spaces

o Concentric twisting for compact wiring bundles and wiring flexibility

Adhesives: While adhesives are important when using certain plastic components, they can also act as a deterrence since they easily stick to wires, and hinder the function of connectors. Thus, the adhesive creates problems for engineers during repairs and remodeling. A temporary solution for this is using Kapton adhesive tape. It does not leave any residue, and can be used until repairs are conducted later.

Performance: The overall performance of a motorsport vehicle can be improved immensely by utilizing certain mil spec components. A few examples include:

o Protective glue shrunk boots

o Shrink tubing and tube labels

o Service loops for strain reduction

The use of mil spec components has helped racing cars become lightweight, faster, safer, and more efficient. Thus, mil-spec wiring has become an ingenious solution for enhancing automotive motorsport technology.

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