THE COMPOUND BOARDSHOP VAN

The work we do at SRQ Customs goes far beyond the realm of car audio. As time has gone by, it has actually become a smaller segment of our business, with fabrication of all kinds taking the center stage. In this case, we took an empty Nissan van and turned it into a rolling showroom for The Compound Boardshop in Sarasota, FL

The first step in designing the van was a trip to the Compound’s retail store. Everything from the layout, colors and materials were photographed to be recreated. The store is filled with a wooden theme, using planks from broken pallets and other sources to cover the walls. The sea foam green color is popular inside the store, and on the outside of the van, so we used it too. We began by framing out the inside of the van. The back section would have a bench seat on each side with integrated storage, cup holders, and lockable storage cabinets. Near the mid section a 32″ LED TV would be mounted to play videos from an Apple TV. We made access behind all the panels possible, as this area quickly became the hiding spot for all the electronics in the van. The walls came together quickly with lots of the sea foam green used as accents. Branding is important on a company vehicle, and we were sure that there are Compound logos everywhere, like the one between the green trim. We added a pair of 8″ Focal speakers near the rear of the van, and made our own speaker grilles with the Compound’s C* logo stamped into them. For the floor and ceiling, we wanted to capture the mismatched wood look of the store. First we had to create a level ceiling, by attaching beams across the roof to hold the weight of the wood. A ring of color changing LEDs around the roof of the van can light it up any color he wants. On top of the van, we built a massive safari rack. Constructed in house from raw 1/8″ steel, the rack is 11′ long and 6′ wide. It holds the spare tire, a pair of Kicker marine speakers, a 50″ LED light bar in the front, a pair of small LED flood lights on the side, and secure storage for several surfboards. Once the steel structure was complete, it was coated in epoxy bed liner and mounted in place. To trim out the sides, we stained several patio deck planks in different woods, distressed them and bolted them to the rack. For easy access to the cargo on top, we also fabricated this ladder above the rear wheel. In the lower right of the van, you can see an electrical outlet. This allows the van to plug into a wall socket and run the electronics without the need for the car’s battery. There is also a water inlet. This fills a 15 gallon tank under the van, and we installed a quick release plug in the rear bumper that allows a pressurized hose to wash off surfboards. On the inside we transformed the left rear door into a jewelry case. With a lockable glass door,  and bright white LED’s inside, it can display a sample of the sunglasses and watches for sale in the store. The other rear door is dual purpose. Depending on the event the van is traveling to, the door can hold several skateboards or the Compound’s line of surfboard fins.

TUXEDO DODGE VIPER BUILD

The first time we saw this GTS Viper it was red with silver stripes. We installed a modest Phoenix Gold audio system with a Pioneer flip out DVD player. As time went on and other parts of the car were upgraded, it was time to freshen the audio system again. The door panels come from Dodge with fuzzy carpet on the bottom half, a pretty cheap way to accent their most expensive car. We removed the carpet from the bottom and replaced it with diamond stitched black suede. The vinyl tops of the panels were worn down, so we replaced those with solid black suede. The Phoenix Gold Elite component speakers are flush mounted with a custom ring to cover the mounting screws. In the back are a pair of Phoenix Gold Titanium 10″ subwoofers in a custom enclosure. As part of the enclosure, a pair of PG amps are mounted along the back wall with their circuit boards showing. We installed red LED strips inside the amplifiers to highlight the components at night when the hatch is opened. Our master of the sewing machine, Chip, dissected the original seats and remade them with black suede and white stitching. During this round we also added an Audison Bit One sound processor. It makes every system sound better, but in this case we also needed it because we are scrapping the traditional head unit. A ring of white LED’s around the processor act as a dome light for the car. The original dome light and sun visors were shaved off when we recovered the headliner in suede. We built this dash cradle to hold an iPad Mini as the brains of the system. It provides audio, internet, and with the help of a PLX Kiwi, it reads and displays engine diagnostics in real time. We also removed the ignition key cylinder, and installed a passive keyless entry and push button start system. With all of the upgrades on this vehicle, including a 2.4L Kenne Bell supercharger, the license plate couldn’t be more accurate.

JEEP WRANGLER SUBWOOFER ENCLOSURE

The Jeep Wrangler is the most customized vehicle on the road today. The popularity of this simple vehicle and the wide array of options allow the owner to make their Jeep a personal statement.  Many of the latest style of Wrangler include an 8″ subwoofer in the hatch area. It makes a little bass, but you will see how we dramatically increase output without taking away valuable cargo space. This is the stock subwoofer enclosure in the back of the Jeep. It contains a basic 8″ Alpine subwoofer found in many vehicles throughout the Chrysler family. The enclosure is made from 1/8″ thick ABS and securely bolted to the vehicle. After we remove the enclosure from the Jeep, we remove the grille, subwoofer, wiring, and auxiliary power port. The front and side of the enclosure are cut off to make room for the larger subwoofer coming its way. The entire plastic surface is roughed up with grinding disc so that the new parts will stick properly. The factory enclosure is only 1/8″ thick, and is made from two halves glued together. Without reinforcement, the halves will break apart with a more powerful subwoofer. We mix up a quart of our special recipe filler, “Concoction” which will work its way into the cracks and reinforce the inside of the enclosure. While the Concoction dries inside the enclosure, we machine the mounting ring for the subwoofer. The ring is made from 2 layers of 3/4″ MDF. The bottom layer has predrilled mounting holes with Tee-Nut threads inserted, and the front layer countersinks the subwoofer and adds a 3D element with the 30 degree chamfer on the inside edge that matches the grille for the subwoofer. The mounting ring is attached to the plastic enclosure with CA glue It is important not to increase the depth of the enclosure, or the floor panels in the cargo area will not operate properly. The side and front of the enclosure are made from 1/4″ ABS and bonded with CA glue. They are cut to a close fit, and the gaps are filled with “VERT.” VERT is one of four custom body fillers designed for the car audio industry by the team at Sonus Car Audio in Clarksville, Tennessee. VERT is a filler that stays where you put it, ideal for working upside down or filling a large gap without the filler falling into the enclosure. When the VERT dries, it is time to break out the Mass. This filler is infused with glass fibers, and although it is very thick, it is also easy to shape. Mass allows us to quickly build up styling curves and reinforce weak points. After sanding down the Mass, we switch to Matter. Matter is a lightweight filler that smoothes out the surface to “paint ready” status. Before painting any surface, it is important to thoroughly clean it. We use professional grade “wax & grease remover” to clean any dust or oils from the surface. Even the transfer of oil from your fingerprints can affect the quality of a paint job. We set up the enclosure and an extra test panel outside and spray it with a heavy coating of truck bed liner. The liner takes several hours to dry. We use the test panel to judge when it is safe to touch so we do not mar the surface of the enclosure. The wiring is reinstalled, the subwoofer bolted in and the whole piece is attached to the Jeep with the original mounts. The bass increase is significant, and as you can see the enclosure does not give up any more space than the original.

Thinking about this conversion for your Jeep? We can modify your factory enclosure just like in this blog. You can ship your enclosure to us, and we will ship it back ready to install. Contact one of our sales advisers for more details. (941) 923-6200. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for up to the minute installation pics.

LAMBORGHINI GALLARDO AUDIO UPGRADE

The Lamborghini Gallardo has seen a lot of changes since 2004. It has had the front and rear fascias updated twice, a convertible option, new engines, and more than a dozen special editions. One area that hasn’t seen much improvement is the audio system. The audio system uses the navigation system and speakers taken from Audi A4 from the early 2000’s. Many Lamborghini owners upgrade the sound system, and this one was no exception. The car was delivered to us even before the owner got the chance to drive it himself. We decided to keep the stock radio intact (but added Bluetooth) and stick to upgrading the sound. Step one: get those doors off. The factory speakers are an oddly shaped 6.5″ woofer and half inch tweeter. In order to properly mount our speaker, a Hertz Mille 6.5″ woofer, we first have to machine this adapter out of 1.2″ ABS plastic. In the humid climate of Florida, wooden spacers simply won’t do. The second picture is the Hertz ML1600 woofer is the flagship speaker in the audison/Hertz family. It plays low enough to impersonate a subwoofer, and loud enough to make you think there are three drivers in the door. Next on the list, the tweeters. The stock location, behind the door handle, is bad enough but the opening will only allow for a half inch tweeter. The Hertz ML280 tweeter is 28mm, or 1 1/8″ wide. Trying to fit the tweeter in the stock location would be a mess, and would choke the output. Instead we opted to replace the defroster vents for the quarter windows and the Hertz tweeter is a perfect fit. Sound processor. The audison BitTenD processor allows complete digital control over EQ, crossovers, time alignment and speaker levels. The Processor is tucked away under the bonnet, but the controls are easily accessed in this panel we made between the sun visors. This owner previously drove a Murcielago which had rear speakers as well. When you drive with the top down, every little bit helps. We stripped the leather off the rear firewall of the car to prepare to add rear speakers. We created a template for a pair of Hertz Hi-Energy HL70 3″ midrange speakers and a new cabin light. This piece was bonded and smoothed into the original panel. Some quick stitch work and the panel is back in the car. A removable grille covers the speakers, and the purple LEDs below light up the cabin, along with other LEDs in the bonnet and under the dash. Subwoofer. The passenger foot well area is a large cavity that is also home to the fuse box, ECU and SiriusXM tuner. It takes a couple hours, but we relocate all of those items (without cutting a single wire) into the top of the dash so we have room for the subwoofer. The area is taped off and a fiberglass mold is taken from the floor. The rest of the enclosure is finished outside the vehicle, and the Audiomobile Elite 8″ is ready for installation. 8″ may not seem like much, but it is one of the few subwoofers that can fit in this tight spot and handle 750w from the amplifier. Finally, the amp rack. As a surprise for the owner, we had the amp color matched and airbrushed. We decided to use the tribal style bull logo Lamborghini used in the 80’s. Normally the amplifier is a solid black, but this makes it much more interesting. Fitment in the bonnet is tight, but the amp is secure and we fabricated this trim panel to conceal the wiring. The trim is wrapped to match the interior, and also hides a string of purple LEDs that light up the amp whenever the bonnet is opened.

2013 VOLKSWAGEN JETTA AUDIO SYSTEM (PT 2)

With the door speakers installed, it’s time to move on to the trunk. The enclosure for the Hertz subwoofer will take shape in the left side trim panel of the trunk. To prevent accidental damage to the vehicle, the trim panel is removed from the car, and temporary stilts are made to keep it’s shape on the table. The entire surface of the panel is covered in 3M high quality masking tape, and a few coats of mold release wax are applied. A Sharpie line marks the outside boundaries of the area we want to capture. Fiberglass mat and resin are applied, over and over. For the subwoofer and the power it will receive, we need to build up a layer at least 3/16″ all over. Before taping the panel, we temporarily added 1.5″ to the floor of the panel and then taped over it. When the enclosure is removed, it will hover 1.5″ above the floor of the car so that the factory trunk mats can be reinstalled without modifications. When building enclosures like this, we also add a black pigment to the fiberglass resin so that if it ever needs service in the future, the enclosure will have a clean, uniform appearance. With the back half of the enclosure removed, the front is built from 3/4″ MDF and attached. The seam between the wood and fiberglass form is sealed and reinforced with our own custom mix of chemicals we call “The concoction.” The trim panel is back in the car, and the enclosure is temporarily held in place with the telescoping rod. With fiberglass molds, there is always some shrinkage. We pack filler into the small gaps between the trim panel and enclosure for a perfect fit.

The enclosure is wrapped in matching carpet and bolted in place. We machined this grille from wood, plastic, aluminum and steel. The colors and design mimic the factory tweeter locations on the front pillars of the Jetta. A thin 1/8″ ring of polished aluminum around the grille shape really makes it unique. The grille is securely attached with a set of hidden plastic snaps, and is also easily serviced by prying off the entire grille cover. The red glow comes from the new trunk lighting. The original light was replaced with a pair of very bright red LED bulbs. The power for the system comes from this Arc KS300.4 amplifier. Arc amplifiers are the choice of many professionals who compete in the sound quality arena. Next to the amp are the passive crossovers for the Hertz Mille components in the front doors. Everything is attached to a fully welded steel rack we built, which will bolt into the top of the trunk for easy service. In this picture, all of the components are prewired, leaving just a clean pig tail of wires that come out the side and quickly disappear behind the carpet on the side of the trunk.

2013 VOLKSWAGEN JETTA AUDIO SYSTEM (PT 1)

The first step in one of our custom installations is prepping the vehicle. Areas of the car that will see a lot of traffic, like the back bumper, seats, running boards, etc. are covered in tape or plastic sheeting to protect them during the entire installation. We use these wire carts to organize the equipment going into the car, and the parts coming out during installation.

2013 Volkswagen JettaWhen taking on a specific car for the first time, it is important to analyze the audio signals from the factory radio to ensure they will be suitable for aftermarket components. Most cars use some form of built-in EQ to make up for the shortcomings of the factory speakers. When the rest of the equipment is upgraded, the EQ curve is still there and can make the new gear sound even worse. This AudioControl RTA is listening to the audio signal between the radio and factory amplifier. The response after the factory amplifier has a heavy EQ curve, but as you can see to the left, the response out of the radio is flat. This is ideal for our purposes.

2013 Volkswagen JettaNow that we have found a level audio signal, it is time to see how strong it is. Playing a 1 KHz tone through the system and listening on the wires with an oscilloscope shows how strong the signal is, in volts. It also shows clipping-when the audio begins to distort-which in this vehicle is never. On a clean signal, the maximum volume level has no distortion. At the maximum level, it also has 4v of output, comparable to a high quality aftermarket radio.

2013 Volkswagen JettaThis Jetta was built with the “Fender” audio system, Volkswagen’s premium audio system. The speakers are completely different drivers than normally found in the Jetta. In the doors are dual voice coil 6.5″ mids that are riveted in place in classic VW fashion. What is different is these speakers also have a slimy layer of butyl rubber to give them a good seal. To remove the speakers, the rivets need to be carefully drilled out and the speaker pryed from the panel. The speaker has the mounting flange near the back of the speaker, so it sticks out about an inch from the panel.

2013 Volkswagen JettaWith the factory speaker removed, we cover the metal surface behind the speaker with Black Hole tiles. These thick brownie like squares disperse the back wave of the speaker to eliminate vibrations in the outside skin of the vehicle. We have removed all of the factory rubber slime on the back of the speaker, but and will use our own butyl rubber to seal the speaker to the door panel.

2013 Volkswagen JettaTo mount the new Hertz speakers, we machine spacers out of layers of ABS plastic laminated together. The rings are covered with a layer of butyl rubber to seal them and bolted through the original four holes. Then mounting holes for the Hertz speakers are drilled and tapped into the plastic. Finally, a set of hex head machine screws hold the speaker tightly. Finally, a ring of open cell foam is adhered to the front of the speaker, so the entire front side of the cone is sealed through the factory grille opening. This way, none of the sound is wasted in the space between the speaker and the door panel. It may not seem like much sound would be lost in there, but in a A/B comparison, the loss is significantly noticeable.

BMW 540I (E39) SUBWOOFER ENCLOSURE

Here is a quick look at our process for building a custom composite enclosure for a BMW 5-Series sedan. In this installation, we have made the most from wasted space, while still maintaining the original functionality of the car. The last part is very important to our process. What we do needs to sound good, and look good, but that is not enough. It still needs to be serviced by mechanics, and our enclosure covers the access to the car’s battery. When completed, just like the original trim, our enclosure is hinged at the bottom to allow full access to the battery and other electronics in the rear fender. The subwoofer never needs to be disconnected or removed to do it.

Let’s take a look at how we do it:

This is the passenger side of the trunk, as it came from BMW. This space is not particularly useful for storage, but will make a perfect enclosure for our Focal subwoofer.

We could have wasted a lot of time recreating this exact shape out of wood, plastics or fiberglass, but the original panel already fits perfectly. We do not always modify original car panels, but very often in an older car like this, there is no reason to put it back to stock later. First we built up the forward edge with MDF, and then coated the entire inside with several layers of fiberglass mat and resin. The original carpet on this panel is polyester based, so our fiberglass will chemically bond with it, and in a short time this piece is incredibly strong.

The way we layup the front is a bit of a trade secret. The technique is revolutionary, and yet so simple. If you want to learn it all, you will need to attend one of our boot camp classes at the store or through Mobile Solutions USA. I will give you a couple hints: 1. This is one piece 2. It comes right back off the enclosure 3. No fleece. I don’t keep a lot of secrets on how we build things, but the man who developed this technique makes his living by teaching others how to do it, and I respect his wishes not to give away the technique.

Once the fiberglass layer has cured, it is removed and trimmed with an air saw. This is probably the most dangerous part. Not the saw, it will barely cut skin, but the dust. Fiberglass dust from trimming these solid panels is like breathing in microscopic razor blades. We always wear face masks for this portion of the procedure. Next a series of 3 MDF speaker rings are laminated together and attached to the panel. First they are attached with CA glue just to keep it in place until the following layer cures. The green you see is a long strand fiberglass and body filler mix that dries extremely rigid. The top two MDF layers are enough to let the subwoofer pass all the way though, where it will sit and attach to the third. This will countersink the woofer 1.5″ inside the face of the enclosure, which will make more sense on the next step.

Alright, I didn’t get a picture of the next step. Here is what happens: We attach the two halves of the enclosure. This is done by covering the lip of the back half with a generous layer of the long strand filler. Then the two halves are clamped together until cured. Any material the oozed out the edges is sanded down and the enclosure is ready for upholstery.

Here is our enclosure installed in the car. The reason we recessed the woofer so far in was to make this grille insert. The grille is made from two MDF rings wrapped in black vinyl, with a piece of aluminum mesh sandwiched between them. By understanding the thickness of each upholstery material before we started, the rings are machined so well that the grille stays in place without fasteners. We will cover that topic in another post.

All of the raw materials used here to create this enclosure are available in our online store. Just click “Online Store” at the top right of this page.

JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE SUBWOOFER ENCLOSURE

Building a subwoofer into an SUV can be a bigger challenge than it looks. Most of them are full of wide open space, but the real trick to a professional installation is to add the bass response the client needs while retaining as much of that storage space as possible. In this case we utilized the storage compartment underneath the driver seat. There is a deep dish compartment under each side, but the passenger side was occupied with the car’s battery. Instead of building a big block that gets into the way of rear storage, we used up this dead space.

The first step was removing the plastic dish under the seat. This opened up a much larger area, and by using only wood we were able to capture .6 cubic feet of air space. We could have gotten more with a fiberglass mold and installed a 10″ subwoofer, but that would put this install over budget and behind schedule. The enclosure was sealed air tight, sharp corners rounded over as we always do, and wrapped in matching OEM style carpet. The subwoofer of choice here was the Kenwood eXcelon shallow 8″ subwoofer.

You are probably thinking an 8″ sub won’t cut it in an SUV… not the case this time. This 8″ Kenwood really delivers with only 250 watts of power going to it. In fact, we had to back the bass down quite a bit because of all the rattles in the truck. The dome lights were doing the Harlem Shake and the sunglass holder had to be coated with a layer of sound damping to control vibrations.

In the end, we had another satisfied client who had the sound she wanted, and only gave up a little bit of dead space she didn’t know was there to begin with.

LEXUS ES300 – IPAD MINI INSTALLATION

SRQ Custom Autosound is Florida’s expert in integrating iPad’s into vehicles of all kinds. This time we have taken on a Lexus ES300 and placed the new iPad Mini in the dash. We can’t give you all our secrets, but we can show you how our process happens.

Then the vehicle first came to us, it had a new Pioneer AVH-P1500DVD as the source unit. This unit is not ideal for iPad integration, but we were able to add Bluetooth functionality to it so our client would not have to purchase a new unit. Here is how the car looked when we got started:

The first steps were adding the Bluetooth, in this case an iSimple interface that translates Bluetooth audio into the AUX input on the back of the radio. Also, we needed to create the depth needed for the iPad Mini, while retaining the radio. Luckily we were able to remount the radio 1.5″ further into the dash using the factory Lexus brackets and not have to modify the A/C box behind it. Once everything was secured in place, it is time for us to fabricate the trim around the radio and what will cradle the iPad Mini.

Using MDF, we started with this base plate that frames out the radio and relocated hazard switch. The client said we could lose the hazard switch if we wanted, but at SRQ Custom Autosound it is important to us not to lose any functionality of the car whenever possible. This trim is slowly built up with precision cut layers until we have a single piece that frames the radio and cradles the iPad. The iPad Mini is held into this cradle using a dozen magnets concealed in the top of the frame. The iPad Mini can be easily removed using the finger groove on the right side. You can faintly see the circles where three more magnets are embedded that will secure the trim around the iPad Mini.

Now all that is left is the trim that will frame out the iPad Mini and help keep in locked in place. This trim is machined from a piece of 1/4″ PVC. PVC is an excellent choice for this application. It is more durable than wood, less surface imperfections than ABS plastic, and bonds easily with the glue that locks the magnets into the back side. PVC does create a very sharp edge when machined, so we use a 1/16″ radius router bit to make all the edges safe to handle. The trim is secured in place with three magnets matching the three in the trim around the radio. Grabbing this plastic frame in the corner without a magnet allows it to come out easily.