Pioneer DEQ-9200 backlight fix

My car stereo is built around a Pioneer DEQ-9200. It’s a quite high-end, late 90’s sound processor with some nice features like auto-equalisation, a remote control and a three-group internal crossover. I like it a lot as it’s very seriously laid out, and aside from some pre-programmed EQ curves, it doesn’t try to be more “noob-friendly” than it needs to be.

There’s only one problem with it:


It wasn't like this when it was new.

It’s hard to demonstrate the problem with pictures, as the level of light emitted from the display was so low in comparison to the buttons; it was hard to read even in a completely darkened room.

Upon taking the backside of the front panel off, one is greeted by two ICs, some passive components, two lightbulbs (the next thing to fail) and the solder blobs that supply power to the EL sheet that illuminates the display, as well as the “bendies” that hold the display assembly in place.

Lovely, Pioneer-branded ICs.

That's a quite nice-looking board.

On the other side of the board, there’s an LCD display, some LEDs, an IR receiver (top right corner) and a whole bunch of buttons.


Ooh! White!

Underneath the LCD assembly, the white EL sheet is easily accessed. It’s merely taped onto the white piece of plastic with double-sided tape.


The sun has left its mark in less than a year!

Everybody tell me that I've got womanly hands.

There's not much light emanating from that EL sheet.

I’m going to use an EL sheet that I ordered from Electro-Luminescence Incorporated. They didn’t have anything that’d fit perfectly (22x108mm), but their 18x122mm sheet was the closest I could find anywhere.

Isn't that a nice roll of tape?

The EL sheet can't be soldered, so the connection is pressure-based.

I made the pressure connector by soldering two component leads onto the pads on the PCB, and simply bending them in under the sheet. It works a charm, as the LCD assembly presses it down quite snugly.

That's thermally safe tape from Dealextreme.

It's not beautiful, but it's at least... reasonably usable.

Since the sheet was just a little bit too small, I had to strategically place it to illuminate the most important part of the display. I chose the upper part, which houses the graphic and numerical displays, Auto EQ and posistion indicators. The lower part houses the pre-programmed EQ indicators and functions for the F keys.

The interior of my car is kind of rackety.

It works!

Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn! It works! The above picture was taken in broad daylight, even!


Heated, seated hell from France

I live in Finland.

We get kind of cold winters in this part of the world, and as a function of that, heated seats have come standard in pretty much every car sold around here the last forty years, my Pug being no exception to that, but twenty years of butt had taken its toll on the front seat heaters, of which neither worked.

The coldest couple of days last winter, the heater core in aforementioned Peugeot froze, and as the only then-running vehicle of the household, the hour-long, -40°C drive to various workplaces was rather dreadful to say the least. I promised myself to fix the heated seats before that had a chance to happen again.

Getting the seats out was a dreadful business upon itself, which consumed about an hour and a half per seat. That was only the beginning. The real time muncher lied in these:

The seat covers are attached using what appears to be bits of copper wire, jammed through the covers, cushion and metal grille. Removing them without ruining at least one of the components is a time-consuming process.

Upon breaking into the darned thing (and slicing the heater up), the problem becomes quite obvious.

Fixing it could be as quick as just jamming the cable back in, but I did it properly, with solder, some more wire, heat-shrink tubing and patience.

Tuck it back and seal it up!

I took the liberty of improving the cover attachments a bit:

And then I just mounted the seat back and buckled up for the driver’s seat. I knew that it would have graver issues than the passenger seat.

Ash tray? Power button.

My car radio stereo, unlike most, doesn’t have a power switch integrated into it (for the reason of it not actually being a complete system, but only a DSP and power amplifier). Due to recent generator troubles in my car, I’ve been using the very rudimentary power switch, consisting of two wires in the ash tray in series with a relay, more and more.

Since I don’t smoke, and I wouldn’t even consider letting anybody smoke in my car, I thought I’d proceed with using the ash tray area, since it didn’t really have any purpose other than storage space for the cigarette lighter when I use the power socket.

The parts used were one APC Smartslot cover, one hefty 10A switch from an old analogue TV transmitter control panel, the ash tray of my car, as well as an LED, a resistor and some wiring.

Some crude bending and drilling later, the switch was mounted. I didn’t have a large enough drill bit available, so I had to pry the last millimetre or so of the hole open by forcing my side cutters through it. Inefficient but ultimately effective.

Another smaller (thankfully!) hole and some soldering later, it’s starting to come together.

The tape used to hold the LED in place is heat-resistant tape from Dealextreme. One of the most versatile assets there are, I think. In hindsight, I should have used different colours for the wires going to the switch, as there actually is a difference between them, caused by the LED; if I hook them up the wrong way, the LED will shine constantly when there’s power, regardless of the switch position. Oh well, it’s a minor thing. The black wire is ground for the LED.

Finally, this little box came into existence:

I’m rather satisfied with the mounting mechanism for the metal plate holding the switch. Since the ash tray gets ever-so-slightly thinner at the back, there’s nothing more to it than to slide it in. It sticks extremely well without the aid of either screws, tape or glue.

It is a lot more user friendly now; I can actually turn the radio off while driving!