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Electronics interface for Dummies


doc47

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Being, as A.A.Milne would say, a bear of very little brain, what do I need to be able to listen to my radar detector and some music at the same time? The Autocom does this, right? So does some sort of interface box marketed by someone on this Board.

With the Autocom what, exactly, do I need?

Suppose I also want bike to bike communication? What then?

I've got a new set of Al's earplugs w/ speakers.

What else do I need to confuse myself even further?

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Being, as A.A.Milne would say, a bear of very little brain, what do I need to be able to listen to my radar detector and some music at the same time? The Autocom does this, right? So does some sort of interface box marketed by someone on this Board.

With the Autocom what, exactly, do I need?

Suppose I also want bike to bike communication? What then?

I've got a new set of Al's earplugs w/ speakers.

What else do I need to confuse myself even further?

 

An Autocom Active Plus (Kit #200) will do everything you want, and more should you some day decide you want to expand your electronics.

 

Music: A straight cable to connect to your music source is included with the kit. This is useful if your music source is self-powered like an iPod or other MP3, or something like a Walkman/Discman. If your music source takes its power from the motorcycle, then you'll need an isolated cable (Part 1314).

 

Radar Detector: Same thing. Your radar detector is likely powered by the bike, so you will need an isolated cable to connect it to the Autocom. Part 1314 will work if it's a Valentine One. If it's an Escort, then you'll need part #1566.1 (we stock both).

 

Internal Earplug Speakers: Easy to do. Instead of using the straight headset extension lead that comes with the Kit 200, you get yourself Part #1187 (straight) or 1188 (coiled) to use as your extension lead. Each one has a small box, about the size of a lipstick, which sports a 3.5mil female jack into which you plug your earplug speakers. Remove the original Autocom speakers from your helmet and you're done.

 

Bike-to-bike: B2B capabilities are built into the Autocom. There's even a lead coming out of the box that you can plug your personal FRS or FRS/GMRS radio into. All you need is that radio (we recommend the Kenwood TK3131 although Motorolas are a fair, and less expensive, substitute), and an interface cable between the Autocom's B2B lead and your radio. These cables vary depending on the radio. We've got all of them in stock.

 

Connected straight to the Autocom, your B2B works off of the Active Plus's VOX system. This is ideal for someone who rides solo. You speak, and if your radio is turned on, you're broadcasting. Your riding partners have to get used to delaying their responses to you for about a second or so while the VOX shuts off when you're done talking, but this is how I do it and it works fine.

 

If you ride two-up, not only will you need the Active Plus Duo Kit (two headsets) but you will want to add a PTT switch into your B2B circuit. The PTT ensures that your broadcast ONLY when you push the PTT button. Thus, your intercom communications with your passenger remain private, and you broadcast only when you want to.

 

Doc, if you've got questions, give me a call at the dealership (909) 629-2132 and I'll help you with whatever issues you have remaining. I'll give you the list of items you need to purchase. Then you can go to your local Autocom dealer or, if they don't have what you need, I can help you there, too.

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EffBee said: we recommend the Kenwood TK3131
Why? I understand the quality aspect of the radio - but my question is more geared towards frequency/capability.

 

Why a 1 watt radio instead of 2?

Isn't this a GMRS only radio? GMRS range can exceed FRS. Yet there are many FRS "biker radios" being sold. Is GMRS the preferred frequencies for motorcycles?

Does Kenwood offer a GMRS/FRS radio?

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Thanks, Fernando. What's the price tag likely to be for all that?

 

The Active Plus is $329.95 (if you need a Duo Kit, they're $429.95). And the radar interface cable and the earbud interface cables will run you a total of $112 if you go with the 1187 (straight), or $123 if you go with the 1188 (coiled). The B2B interface cables run between $37 and $39 depending on which radio you want to connect to. If you want a PTT switch, they're around $70.

 

Your local Autocom dealer should either have this in stock, or be able to order it for you. If they don't, and you need it right away, we can help.

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EffBee said: we recommend the Kenwood TK3131
Why? I understand the quality aspect of the radio - but my question is more geared towards frequency/capability.

 

Why a 1 watt radio instead of 2?

Isn't this a GMRS only radio? GMRS range can exceed FRS. Yet there are many FRS "biker radios" being sold. Is GMRS the preferred frequencies for motorcycles?

Does Kenwood offer a GMRS/FRS radio?

 

The Kenwood TK3131 is both FRS and GMRS. FRS is the prefered frequency band for motorcycles. However, when FRS frequencies get too crowded, as they sometimes can, it's nice to be able to switch over to GMRS channels.

 

As to why the one-watt TK-3131, vs. the two-watt TK3101 Kenwood, the 3101 is a mil-spec radio and as such you set channels through a series of beep tones, not on screen. In fact, the 3101 has no LCD screen whatsoever.

 

This is generally a PITA. Although some have mastered it and can do it on the fly, most people don't want to be bothered with a "feature" which in this particular application is considered more of a hindrance than a benefit.

 

Finally, we rarely ride in groups larger than 3-4 people. A one-watt radio is plenty to stay in touch, from lead rider to sweep rider.

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Aluminum_Butt

I usually hate to do what I'm about to do, because it's almost as toxic around here as the dino/synthetic debate. I'll also start with a disclaimer: I have nothing against Autocom. I haven't used one. Clearly, judging by the experiences of others around here, they make a fine unit.

 

However, I'd like to suggest that you throw Starcom into your mix of potential solutions. I did two years ago, and I've been a very happy customer. I bought another one for my wife this year. There are several happy Starcom owners around here, but we're not a vocal bunch.

 

Their base kit is the Starcom1 Advance. It sells for $259, and includes one headset. The headset that lets you plug in your earphones is $52. Isolated radar cable is $41. It comes with a music lead suitable for non-bike-powered music (i.e. IPod), but if you want a bike-powered source the isolated lead is $45. The bike-to-bike radio cables vary depending on the specific radio, but are around $20. Push-to-talk switch is $26.

 

I bought my Starcom after a lot of research. At the time, it was almost $300 cheaper than the comparable Autocom solution (I needed a lot of different interface cables - my dashboard runneth over grin.gif). I also saw an article in the BMWMOA magazine by a guy who had installed one and was happy with it - that article is really what put me over the edge.

 

Often the folks who put it down point to the fragility of the headset plugs. It's true in a sense - they're similar to the PS/2 plugs used on PC keyboards up to a year ago. I haven't had any problems, but I can see where you might bend a pin if you weren't careful. The Autocom plugs are beefier.

 

Also the Starcom doesn't prioritize channels in the same way. For example, if my radar detector goes off, my music keeps playing. On the Autocom, the music goes to half volume, I think. I like mine better - it's the way things happen in the car. Music is fully cut in the event of radio communications; I assume the Autocom does the same.

 

I buy my stuff through California Sport Touring. They've been OK as a vendor. I'm not sure who else sells them in the US.

 

Feel free to post or PM if you want to know more.

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Holy Smokes, Fernando! I just want some electronics not a Star Wars Missile Defense System!

Too much bucks. I can't justify it.

 

Hasn't anyone come up with something more reasonably priced?

 

Starcom sounds more affordable, but I wonder what else is out there?

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Eckhard Grohe

Fernando was just the messenger here. He has been helping us out for years and we all appreciate it.

 

It is a BMW you drive and I guess he just assumed that you would want the same level of intercom as the bike you drive. Looks like he was wrong.

 

Check Ebay and the classifieds here and other places for second hand Autocomm stuff. There is stuff available from time to time.

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Got my Autocom Active-7 with 2 headsets and a couple of other accessories for $125 on eBay. There are bargains/deals to be found.

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Holy Smokes, Fernando! I just want some electronics not a Star Wars Missile Defense System!

Too much bucks. I can't justify it.

 

Hasn't anyone come up with something more reasonably priced?

 

Starcom sounds more affordable, but I wonder what else is out there?

 

Sorry, Doc. But quality (in a brand-new box) does have a price. As people have pointed out, there are used bargains out there at substantial savings.

 

As for Starcom, I've said many times that it's not a bad system. It's just less. Understand, of course, that when you pay less, you should expect to get less. That doesn't mean that it's bad. Again, it's just less. Less quality, fewer features, fewer dealers nationwide, shorter warranty, less support. For some, these are outweighed by the lower price. And this makes them happy and I'm happy for them. I won't argue with their choice just because I have different priorities. To each his own. I just know that my Pro-M1 worked flawlessly for 7 years and 90,000 miles before I upgraded (if I break down the original $400 cost, that's 4/10 cents per mile for intercom and to have all other audio inputs fed into my speakers). And then it went off to a member in Australia who, for all I know, is still using it and enjoying it. That's a tough record to beat.

 

Doc, I take it you don't have to have this TOMORROW. Be patient and keep your eyes open. My biased opinion is that you should go for the best. Even a used Autocom is better than any similarly priced alternative.

 

PS: Here's a suggestion. Call Autocom USA. They might still have some remaining Pro-7 units (perfect for your intended application) and they might have them at a very attractive price. 888-851-4327. As for the cables, I know you made a great personal sacrifice this past year (two years?) to go do charitable/humanitarian medical work for the impoverished in Africa. You have my deepest respect for that. Call me about the cables and I'll do you right.

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