My least favorite part of working at Digital Sandbox is the commute. This morning, I had my fastest morning since we’ve been located near Worldgate. It was about 40 minutes. My commute typically takes between 45 and 65 minutes, usually about 55 in the morning and 45 in the evening. The office is a little over 20 miles from my parents’ house in Springfield. That’s Washington traffic for you.
On Monday, I started my fourth summer working for Digital Sandbox. The commute gets a little worse each year, and the current office is a little farther from my parents’ house than either of the previous locations I’ve worked at. One of my personal conditions on going back this summer was that I would do something to improve the commute. The radio gets worse every time I come back, and I stopped listening to it on an at all frequent basis in January 2003. My CD player is a good friend, but I’ve wanted a wider range of options in the car. I decided that I would either get an iPod or XM radio for the car.
Either would have to be properly installed and look good. Also, because of its trapezoidal shape, I didn’t want to replace the car’s head unit because a replacement stereo wouldn’t look as nice. That meant that my best option for getting the sound into the head unit was the PIE HON-AUX98 input converter. This little box plugs into the CD changer input on the factory radio and tricks it into thinking that the CD changer has a disc loaded and playing. On the box, it has a set of audio inputs that can be used to get the iPod or satellite radio sound into the head unit.
Now that I had the problem of getting the sound into the car system solved, I had to choose between iPod or XM. The XM hardware has really come down in cost–I almost bought one over spring break, but in the end, I decided that I wanted to be able to listen to my podcasts in the car. The original plan was to buy a black iPod nano and attach it between the steering wheel and the climate controls. However, two things foiled that plan. First, the iPod nano is slightly too wide to fit in my selected space. Second, the price difference between nano 4 gigabyte ($250) and iPod 30 gigabyte ($300) was low enough that it made me want the larger capacity. My iTunes library is currently just under 19 gigabytes, so I could fit all my music on the 30 gig model. However, for just $100 more, I could put all my music and all my data files (~30 gigabytes) on the 60 gigabyte model. With my academic discount, I bit the bullet and went with the biggest one of all: the iPod video 60 gigabyte, plus a gooseneck car mount/power adapter, a case, and the input converter. I didn’t seriously consider other mp3 players because I use iTunes and very occasionally the iTunes music store.
When I returned to the Washington area on Sunday, I had all the parts waiting for me in boxes. Got the iPod syncing with my computer. Getting the car apart was another story. Two hours after starting on the car project, I had a working input converter. However, the second power outlet that I tried to add ended up stuck in my dashboard, half in, half out. Trying to put the second power outlet in also resulted in a blown fuse, making both power outlets useless.
A week later, I finally install the audio jack in a panel near the original power outlet, where the iPod holder now lives. I also relocate the second power outlet to under the dashboard at floor level on the passenger side of the car. With both jacks installed, I’m able to put the car back together for now. I’m going to find a plastic panel to replace the one that I drilled the hole in, but other than that, everything is installed and working well.
Click an image to enlarge