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MODIFYING

BLUETOOTH 8-TRACK ADAPTER

For All 1983-88 Cougars / Thunderbirds With 8-Track Player
Revised September 1, 2016

Ever since we installed an 8-track player in our 1984 Cougar—on purpose!—we've been disappointed in a few things. Sure, 8-tracks are generally horrible to deal with in the first place, and then there's that issue of 7 watts pumping through 4 lackluster speakers. But we sought to compensate for these with an adapter to play my digitally-compiled music through the radio via other means. We started off with the typical Kraco 8-track-to-cassette adapter. And inside that, we put a cassette-to-MP3 adapter. And then plugged the cord into the iPod or phone. The result? Horrid, horrid degradation of sound. Along with an unspecified warbling sound. And the fact that we needed to lug around TWO adapters. There had to be a better way.

We found a few videos on YouTube concerning homemade 8-track adapters. Most involved gutting the 8-track and installing the innards of a cassette adapter, complete with wire running out of the body. While that's fine, we wanted something cleaner and higher-tech.

Enter: the world's first* Bluetooth 8-track adapter.

*We never found any evidence otherwise, so we're a-claimin' it.


Bluetooth 8-Track Adapter

Left: So here we start with a typical 8-track. In this instance, we chose a generic, nondescript, recordable 8-track from K-Mart. Any old 8-track will work, though. This one was all black which worked better for our particular instance, as you'll see later.

Bluetooth 8-Track Adapter

Left: After popping off the top, time to gut the entire 8-track case. Nothing inside will be reused for this project. Also shown here is a gutted cassette adapter, and a gutted Bluetooth device, along with all the tools used to do this.

Bluetooth 8-Track Adapter

Left: With all the components gathered, it was time to solder all the connections. For the record, the Bluetooth board has a soldered-on battery; from there we soldered on the cassette adapter wire to the Bluetooth board. The extra triangular board next to the capstan was already in the cassette adapter, so we merely carried that over.

Bluetooth 8-Track Adapter

Left: There were some minor trimming and modifications necessary to make all the components fit into the 8-track case...

Bluetooth 8-Track Adapter

Left: ...but the end result is a very roomy, yet compact design. The extra wiring got spooled around an existing post. We could have shortened the wire a bit more, but we wanted a little extra wiring in case this needed to be redone in the future.

Bluetooth 8-Track Adapter

Left: So we popped the lid back on, and...yeah, it looks exactly like it did before starting. Which was, of course, the whole point of this. The black case along with the black adapter jack and button makes this mod nearly invisible.

Bluetooth 8-Track Adapter

Left: Ah, but a closer inspection shows the magic: here we have a 1/8" mini jack and a mini-USB port. The jack is for either input to, or output from, Bluetooth. We can choose to never use this, but it's nice to have, and it does work as advertised. The standard mini-USB port is needed to charge the Bluetooth module's battery. Since everything here is black in color, nothing stands out and it all blends together quite nicely.

Bluetooth 8-Track Adapter

Left: Underneath the peeling label is the on/off switch for the module. Very stealthy.

Bluetooth 8-Track Adapter

Left: A close-up of the capstan in place. It's amazing how the cassette head and the read head on an 8-track player are so similar. That made this job a lot easier.

 

So how does it sound, you ask? Well...it's not bad. There is a low volume issue which is related to either the distance of the capstan to the 8-track player's read head, or it may be the Bluetooth module itself. But it does work, and we're able to wirelessly stream music from my phone to the adapter with ease. If we want to use the iPod instead, we can plug a 1/8" stereo adapter wire between it and the side of this adapter. Battery life is very good also, about 8-10 hours of continuous use.

Now those road trips in this car will be a little more bearable. And all of this from an early-1980s vintage 2-post radio! Gotta love technology.

 

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