Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Maine Coast
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iPods and Boats - Yes you can...
I love my iPod, actually all my iPods, and find it to be one of the best additions to our boat, home and cars. It seems a lot of boaters, are not techies, and get really confused about the overwhelming technology posed by the iPod. Some feel iPods are a complicated, new fangled gizmo. I can assure you they are not complicated and, in fact, can give you the freedom from lugging those Case Logic binders full of CD's and then running up and down the companionway to change a CD every 30 - 40 minutes. I regularly carry over 47gb worth of music in my iPod (probably 2000+/- cd's) and I'm never without my music..
Know I know some of the crusty crabby's on this board will chime in and tell everyone how they love the sound of silence and the sound of sailing so do I but just not all the time. So for you crusty crabby's please stop reading now and go back to braiding that new baggy wrinkle and polishing that sextant.
Below are the steps involved in adding an iPod to your boat.
Step 1- My first advice is to buy a car stereo from Wal*Mart, Best Buy, Circiuit City or even a car stereo from Crutchfield. Please don't waste money on a marine grade unit they are just re-badged car stereos with less features! I could go into the technical details about the "marine" stereo scam but suffice it to say there is NO such thing as a marinized stereo and the moisture WILL eventually kill any marine stereo if givin the opportunity or time.
One of the easiest things you can do to preserve stereo life is to remove it from the boat in the winter. This prevents the constant condensation that happens under that winter cover from the huge temp swings between night and day. I remove ALL my electronics and keep them in a dry closet at my house. During the sailing season it's best to keep it turned on as much as you can. If you have a dock slip leaving your stereo turned on, but with the volume turned down, is perhaps the best thing you can do for it. The heat from the resistors, transformers and other electrical components will keep the stereo dry and moisture free.
I have only owned one marine grade stereo in my 15+ years of having stereos on boats, a Poly Planar, and that marine stereo was the only one to fail. It also sounded sub par but that's another story for another day. Since that time I have been using mid priced to inexpensive car CD players with high labled output like 22w X 4ch RMS or more. Now keep in mind all manufacturers lie about the output of a car stereo and that 22w X 4 is more like 8-10w X 4 RMS. There are really only two categories of power output standard output or a high output. No matter what brand you buy get the high output model and you will be able to play it plenty loud for a sail boat. I think my Pioneer is claimed to be 22w X 4ch and I paid $169.00 for it. My current stereo has an AUX input and also the option to add a Pioneer integrated iPod interface. I prefer to use the rear mounted AUX input for my iPod as opposed to the iPod interface. I do this for one reason and that's because we have a radio frequency (RF) remote control for the iPod (see below).
When searching for car stereos it's important to decide wether you want to control the volume from the stereo or the iPod. I prefer the iPod controling the volume and therefore use the rear AUX input. The AUX input gets it's signal from the variable headphone jack located on the top of the iPod. It's easy to set up. Just turn your stereo up to about 80% volume +/- and leave it there. You can now turn the volume up and down via the iPod. Make sure you turn it down before you switch to the FM radio though. If you choose an iPod interface to connect your iPod they connect through the bottom dock connector and send a pre-out fixed level output. This forces you to control the iPod volume through the car stereo. Most car stereos come with a remote control option but keep in mind these remotes are IR (infrared) or line of sight meaning they are virtually useless from the helm and you physicall need to point the remote at the stereo like a TV to change the volume!
So in summary there are two output paths on an iPod. The first option is from the bottom or "dock" connector and is a fixed pre-out volume level. The benefit in using this connector, with an interface, is that if you buy the additional iPod adapter from the stereo manufacturer like Alpine, Pioneer, Sony, Kenwood etc. you'll have only one cable feeding your iPod. That one cable will feed the audio signal to the stereo and charge your iPod at the same time. The other audio output path is on the top of the iPod in the form of a headphone jack. This output is variable and will allow the volume to be adjusted with a wireless iPod remote control like the one in the link below. Using this method will require two cables to the iPod one for the music signal and one for charging.
When deciding on the type of stereo with AUX input to buy keep in mind that a front mounted AUX input will have the audio path plug sticking out the front side of your stereo and connecting to the iPod. This is dangerous on a boat and can be easily broken off by someone adjusting the stereo volume in a sea. I recommend stereos with the AUX input on the rear side of the stereo and wiring the iPod directly to that. You can usually read the specs, of each stereo online, to determine if the AUX input is front mounted or rear mounted. My first iPod stereo had a front mounted AUX input so it's easy to tell where this rear AUX input advice comes from!!
Step 2 - Consider an iPod Remote! The remote we use is made by ABT and is called the iJet. It's a RF (radio frequency) not a line of site IR (infrared) remote like a TV remote so it will work from anywhere on the boat without having to point it at the stereo. Mine will work to about 60 feet away. The iJet consists of two parts, a receiver, which plugs into either the bottom, on 5G (G=generation) iPods or the top of 3G and 4G ipods and a remote control FOB. The actual remote is the size of a key FOB for a car and will allow you to adjust volume, track up and down, turn the iPod on and off and pause/play. See the link below for the iPod remote.
iPod RF Remote Control
Link submitted by author
This device is by far the best $40.00 I have ever spent on my boat. It allows me to velcro the water resistant remote to my pedestal and keep my iPod mounted next to my stereo, in the cabin, dry and safe.
Step 3- iPod mounting - You will need to decide where you are going to keep your iPod. The easiest solution, I found, is next to the stereo on a strong aluminum powdercoated pedestal bracket made by a company called Panavise. The model is a Slimline - Model 727-06 at the link below.
Pananvise Bracket Link
Link submitted by author
The second product connects to the Panavise pedestal and actually grips and holds the iPod. It's called a Gripmatic CM30 and it bolts directly to the Panavise (the holes are already drilled on the Panavise to fit the Gripmatic) and holds the iPod perfectly. Don't just use the links I posted for buying these items search around for the best price as they vary widely. The links are for illustration purposes only. I think I paid $15.00 for the Panavise and $9.95 for the Gripmatic.
Gripmatic iPod Holder
Link submitted by author
Step 4 - Organize your iPod by either playlists or genre. I use both of these methods but really prefer to play music by genre with shuffle turned on. iTunes software allows you to make up a genre too. I actually have one I call Hip Hop/Funk/Soul it consists of bands like Spearhead and G.Love and the Special Sauce. For my Jazz collection I broke it down into four seperate genres New Jazz (Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenauer etc.), Traditional Jazz (Thelonius Monk, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis etc.), Vocal Jazz (Diana Krall, Liz Wright, Norah Jones etc.) and Classic Vocal Jazz (Sinatra, Tony Bennett etc.). Organizing by genre is easy and will play music by style or your mood. We like reading and drinking our coffee, in the morning, to Classic Jazz but like sailing to weather listening Bluegrass. The key is to organize it. If a song comes up you don't like just hit the ABT iJet, from the helm, and skip a song... Genres are great because they will prevent terrible transitions. You from going straight from hard rock AC/DC to a new age song by George Winston and trust me there is nothing worse that a bad transition on a iPod with shuffle turned on....
You can see the Panavise, Gripmatic and the iJet receiver for the remote control (plugged into the top of the iPod) in the picture below. Good luck you'll love boating with your iPod. Have fun!!!!!!!
-Maine Sail / CS-36T
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Last edited by Maine Sail; 12-14-2007 at 07:22 AM.