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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
After using a dual port USB cigarette lighter adaptor with a voltage gauge, I decided its a nice thing to have. But I don't like having a thing sticking out of the console face - plus phone & other USB 5V supply is now hard wired and totally hidden, so while another project was underway, it was time to install a panel mount gauge I purchased, tested an commented on here sometime last year.

As long as the dash/center console was out, might as well put a couple of low intensity lights in the "not an ashtray". No more fishing by feel in the dead of night for me!

The lights are "naked" - old school style - that were common to hobbyists before LED illumination became an industry.

So, starting with a pile of parts from the bag/box of tricks:

NotTheAshtrayPileO_Parts.jpg

And wiring the back side like this:

NotTheAshtray_0.jpg

Inside the pocket is nicely finished:

InsideThePocket.jpg

The back side of the console eventually looked like this:

OneMore.jpg

Wherever possible, altering factory harnesses is a no-no, so the final assembly is "plug and play". The gauge and lights getting there power from the unaltered connector that used to power the "not a cigarette lighter".

NoCutWires.jpg

The camera really screws up red LED light - in full day light, the gauge is readable from the driver position:

EnoughAlready.jpg
 

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Discussion Starter #2

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Looks good! Now get back to work on that audio system and sub! :)

Seriously, I may attempt a similar LED mod on my RL. Couple of questions...How well does the color of the LEDs match the color of the ambient light LED in the overhead console (next to the homeland buttons)? Also, do you see any light leaks around the 'Not an ashtray' door when it's closed?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Looks good! Now get back to work on that audio system and sub! :)

Seriously, I may attempt a similar LED mod on my RL. Couple of questions...How well does the color of the LEDs match the color of the ambient light LED in the overhead console (next to the homeland buttons)? Also, do you see any light leaks around the 'Not an ashtray' door when it's closed?
Thanks Bob.

No light leaks, stray escaping or tell tale evidence of light behind when the not-an-ashtray door. Perhaps because they are fairly low intensity. Color continuity & contrast was top of mind with mod. So far it pleases my eye. I'm not sure about the green you are referencing - maybe 06’s didn’t have the feature? So as far as that continuity goes, it worked out with red from the speedo & V_Gauge, white back lighting on the dash w/green in the steering wheel, doors and not-an-ashtray.

LED_All_Night.jpg

Well, you opened the door to (one of) my obsession(s), so I’m walking thru it!

On the audio system, the sub build will be last step. The front channels are "done" for the moment – “for the moment” because opening up the doors this time around gave birth to a whole new group of ideas/potential improvements. But there are other tasks that need to be dealt with - and this project has been delayed long enough already! So… this last effort included a bunch of LEDs, the gauge and these audio related thingys:

Attached additional Cascade VB-2 to the inner door frame sheet metal - and the door panel itself – this, in addition to ~85% VB-2 coverage on the inside of the outer door skin of the last project netted a total of 3db in overall noise reduction when cruising @ 60mph. Not to mention a more secure sound when the door is closed. I’ve got spectra graphs before and after but am away from those files right now.

While the panels were off, made a new vapor barrier, repaired a couple of broken panel clip mounts, installed the mid-range pods I shaped almost a FRIGGING YEAR ago, built and installed custom filters for the mid-bass, mid-range and ribbon tweets and a dozen smaller changes.

So, the front channels are up and running. Initial impressions are good but there is frequency shaping and level adjustments to be made. I’m hearing content, attack and decay qualities in the 2 to 5kHz range nearly absent before these additions were made. Fast and articulate might be a general description.

The phase relationship between the dash mounted air motion transformers and the door mid-range/mid-woof is pretty close to what was first imagined. For example: on the full digital studio recording of Billy Cobham’s “Mozaik”, you can literally hear the tom-tom strikes change in height as he rolls left to right from floor to kick mounted, then hits the $h!t out of the overhead cymbal rings - all the while the high hat remains fixed above knee level, stage right. Or when fed gospel inspired harmonies from Linda Ronstadt’s “Down so low”, the definition between voices is very convincing. Still, the sound can get brassy, or a bit squawky, depending on content. Tweaks should get that under control. This morning on the way to the office, iTunes brought around “Une Nuit A Paris” – a recording made during the pinnacle of analog development in the studio. MAN! The bicycle bells danced high across the windshield as the sound of voices on a street appeared chest high, floating left to right in sonic space. Its good so far but I am hoping to bring the pronounced middle down a bit in both level and dimension.

My standard vibration test tune is Trüby Trio's live recording of Donaueschingen - the stand acoustic bass and percussions throughout that performance will quickly reveal loose fittings, poor mechanical interfaces, stuff in need of gasketing, ETC. I'm really happy all door related rattles are gone - completely. Pushing the system to over 105db this morning, no rattles, no hums. SWEET.

After pondering the perceived benefits of closing off the inner door frame metal with various materials, I arrived at this conclusion: The effort was not worth the supposed benefit. Here’s why: making something rigid to cover the openings would do ZERO to benefit air control on the back waves produced by e door mounted mid or low frequency driver. The door is already leaky. The only way to affect that is thru a genuine enclosure mounted to the inner door frame (hence: new ideas on how to do that). Further, adding material to fill the opening might change resonant characteristics of the inner frame metal, but to what benefit? Absent an enclosure, benefits would be incrementally marginal. What about acting as a sound barrier? Unless the material were substantial, there would be little – if any – noise reduction from the outside – and it too would need to be treated with deflex materials like VB-2 or dynamat. Not to mention covering factory openings impedes future service of the window and lock mechanisms. I opted out in favor of deflexing the door panel itself. IMO” covering the entire inner door metal with damping material is certainly beneficial, although costly and interferes with future service.

So, the paper template seen here was drawn a while back, overlaid on sheet aluminum which was formed, bent, slotted and ribbed to fit nicely over the opening at the back of the door, and – using double stick tape - stuck to it. Even with deflex material attached to the aluminum, the ringing it produced was unacceptable, and any expectation of real noise reduction was thoroughly squashed. So I experimented with thermo-forming ¼” ABS plate but never progressed to the point of finishing a panel insert – because it was difficult to shape compound curves with very warm and loose plastic – made even more difficult trying to hold it in place long enough to cool and retain the intended shape. With more thought and testing, it could have been made to work but... UNCLE already. I’ll spend time in the future on an enclosure solution for the door.

Thermo_Form.jpg

Top image is the "shock mount" for the door mounted filters. Image below that is the finished filter assembly. All first order, 1kHz low pass to the mid-woof, 1kHz hi pass to the mid-range (low pass limited to 4.5kHz) and 10kHz to the ribbon. The ribbon will definitely need to be adjusted up to 6db slope @ 12 or 14kHz. All I want from these is “air”, because I SO love the sound of the dash mounted air motion transformers.

Dividing_Mount.jpg

Inside drive door, vapor barrier, VB-2 attached in various locations, wiring to the mirror LEDs, ETC.

Vapor_Barrier.jpg

Passenger door completed:

Pass_Door_Done.jpg

Now that the front is this far along, the amps will be removed from the bed wall, a new 850W Zapco will be married to the twin Zapco STX-2's in a stack up rack arrangement to be relocated to the space between front seats. Once all that is done, the sub project can begin - the idea being 06 will be road-able while the work progresses in the rear.

BTW: the experiment with leather wrapping the mid-range pods was a bust. Perhaps I used the wrong adhesive, but the leather eventually let loose. So I opted to cover the pods in "carbon fiber" vinyl wrap. Along with the ribbon tweets in the sail panel, they pretty much disappear - if the shadows are just right. :)

PodAndRibbon.jpg

OH, and fiberglass. Been playing with small scale fiberglass projects building up to the sub project. That's part of what started the ideas of door woofer enclosures. No more delays on this! Onward and sideways!

Sorry to babble, but you asked for it Buddy! :act024:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
A bit more detail. This is the back side of the door panel pockets, VB-2 placed between the structural ribs.
BehindTheDoorPocket.jpg

With all the time and planning leading up to installation day, I never considered that the all thread imbedded into the PVC pipe would be passing thru the door panel at an angle so extreme, there would be no practical way to thread a nut on top of a flat washer - at least, not without deforming the door panel itself. DUH.

Solution was to dig out some right sized nylon spacers and chop saw the hell out of them. LOL. An angle cut followed by test fitting and belt sander visits worked out the issue.

MakeThemWashers.jpg
OtherSideOfAngle.jpg

There are zero butt connected, crimp capped, wire nutted connections in the system. Where a semi permanent connection was needed, solder and heat shrink was used.
Solder_conn.jpg

In the interest of recycle/reuse, the factory "sound shield" was salvaged and reattached over top of VB-2 all around the inside. IMO: the VB-2 made the biggest difference in lowering the noise floor.
BackOfPanel.jpg

Of general interest is waterproof connector types. I looked around and found variations in number of connections, positions, locking mechanisms, wire size, leaded, bare, ETC. For this project, I only needed 2 wire positions. Trying to cover all the bases, ordered pre-terminated and bare/assemble yourself types.

The locking mechanism on the "assemble yourself" version requires two hands to release. For the mid-range pods, I didn't want to fumble around with that, so the leaded version mounted on the door here was used because... while removing the door panel, its easy to slip your thumb under the single lock, freeing the panel up. The connector seen in the image is attached to the leads from the mirror LEDs. The capacitor on the other side of it is the ribbon tweeter filter.

WaterProofConnectors.jpg
 

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Thank you for the update, I've been on the edge of my seat waiting for the next installment. It's gonna suck if you ever finish the project, kinda like watching the last episode of a favorite TV show. :)

I'm not sure about the green you are referencing - maybe 06’s didn’t have the feature?
There is a tiny amber LED light in the overhead console with a narrow spread that lights the cupholder area just enough to see your beverage, but not be bothersome. (previous Audi's had the same feature only in red) I highly recommend it as a future mod if your RL does not have one.

IMO” covering the entire inner door metal with damping material is certainly beneficial, although costly and interferes with future service.
I've always suspected as much, but proponents of sealing the door openings swear it makes a difference. Sealing a door seems like an un-obtainable goal with minimal sonic return IMO.

There are zero butt connected, crimp capped, wire nutted
Yea, I used wire taps once and ended up having to go back later and remove the wire taps, strip, solder, shrink tube and tape the connection. Never again. Great idea using the waterproof connectors, it may be overkill, but it is money/time well spent if it saves you from having to track down an intermittent connection later. Diving back into a 'finished' project to perform an upgrade is one thing, but once there is nothing I hate more than having to fix something I thought I was finished with.

The attention to detail on every aspect of the build is impressive and clearly focused on obtaining the best possible sound from the environment with minimal compromise. (Insert golf-clap here) Looking forward to the next update!
 

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Nice mods, I enjoy seeing your fabrications.. attention to detail is great. I love functional/useful lighting mods!
 
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