How can I reuse my old car stereo - out of the car?
January 25, 2009 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Can I reuse my old car stereo - out of the car - with limited a)electrical knowledge and b)money?

I have a Sony AM/FM/CD car stereo from my old car that is just sitting in a box. I would like to do something with it, but not sure where to start.

Can I make it work as a simple under-the-cabinet player in my garage with some cheapy speakers? Or a standalone player? Or anything?

The model is CDX-L350.
The specs say that the power supply is: 12V DC Car Battery (negative earth).

A picture of the wiring can be seen here.

Don't want to spend a lot of money on this, so I'll just sell/donate it if I can't make it work.

posted by smelvis to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When I was a kid my dad ripped the stock Subaru stereo out of the car and used it in the house- it worked just fine.

Black is going to be negative, red is going to be positive- so you're going to want to hook those up to a 12V power supply, probably something you could pick up at Radio Shack.
The wires to the speakers look like they're already labeled (one of them says RIGHT FRONT) it doesn't matter which polarity those are hooked up as, as long as they're all the same polarity. You could just use a crimp tool to connect some wire (speaker wire, actually) to run to the cheapy speakers.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:32 AM on January 25, 2009

I used an old car stereo in my garage for years. You just need an antenna (if you wish to receive radio broadcasts), a couple of speakers mounted somewhere out of the way and a means to keep your battery charged. I got lucky and scored a 10 amp regulated 12 volt power supply that allowed to do away with the battery.

Be sure to mount an inline fuse in your 12 volt power wire to protect yourself from fire in the event of a short.
posted by buggzzee23 at 8:34 AM on January 25, 2009

Best answer: Can I make it work as a simple under-the-cabinet player in my garage with some cheapy speakers?

Yes. Very easily. Supply it with 12 volts and connect the speaker outputs to speakers - it's really that easy. Any old piece of wire will do for an aerial. All you need to know are which wires are which. From your picture it even looks like they are labelled.

12 volt power supplys are easy to get - any of those switchable, Circuit city, type things can have a 12 volt setting. Finding a plug/means of output that can be spliced to the cable from the radio should be simple in the same store.

Then, buy some cheap speakers (or go to a breakers yard and get some old ones from another car) and mount them in a piece of wood in your garage. If you're feeling energetic, make the piece of wood into a box first. Connect speaker wires. Done. I can't see it costing more than about $50 if you take more time, or $75-100 if you're lazy and just buy the speakers new. Whether or not that is cheaper/better than a basic radio/cd player of comparable quality is up to you to judge, though.
posted by Brockles at 8:35 AM on January 25, 2009

And if you do run it straight off a battery, make sure the terminals are protected. Lead-acid batteries can deliver a hellish amount of current if something big like a wrench bridges the bare contacts.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:36 AM on January 25, 2009

Best answer: I believe this is part of the redneck heritage competency test. You MUST be able to repurpose an old car stereo for home use, or, preferably, garage use.

As suggested above, use a power supply from Radio Shack, not a car battery. Also keep in mind that if you use car speakers, they need to be in a solid enclosure to sound good. (Mounting flush in a wall can work also.) They just won't sound great laying loose somewhere. For cheapy speakers, check out your local thrift stores. You might be surprised. (I got a pair of awesome vintage Allison Cube speakers for $10, and have seen many good older speakers at such shops. When people "upgrade" to a surround sound system, many of these great old speakers end up orphaned.)
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 9:14 AM on January 25, 2009

Seriously there is absolutely no need to make your own speakers, yea it's thrifty and cool but just go to Goodwill or a thrift store and buy some for like 5 bucks. I've gotten some nice Wharfdales, JVC, Sony, Pioneer, etc brand speakers from Goodwill and never paid more than 5$ for each.
posted by BrnP84 at 2:58 PM on January 25, 2009

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