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Review of the Dr. Bott FM Kit

Discussion in 'Mac' started by Moose, Feb 6, 2002.

  1. Moose

    Moose Peasant

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    All of you iPod owners out there that are looking to use the lovely little device in the car need not look any further. Dr. Bott (out of lovely Oregon) has 2 solutions for you. The first is the cassette tape adapter (which will not be discussed) that everyone is familiar with and the second is an FM modulator for those that are “cassette challenge”, such as myself.

    Background

    When I purchased my 2000 Toyota Corolla I immediately tore out the cassette deck and replaced it with a top-of –the-line, bottom-of-the-line in-dash CD receiver. Ah, the enjoyment of pure CD sound. Now, 2 years later, the enjoyment has led to an obsession to figuring out how to connect the iPod to my receiver to make the 1.5 hour commute to school more tolerable. The receiver that I put in my car is a Kenwood KDC-6011, a nice CD receiver at a nice price, about $300 w/remote. I took out the manual last month and looked at the specs only to find that there are no RCA jacks and no other line-in options, save the changer controller. I put in a call to Kenwood, who informed me that they no longer stock the adapter I need to convert the changer controller to an RCA in-line and that I will have to see if there are any European distributors that can fill my need. I turned to Dr. Bott and the FM kit to fill my needs.

    Dr. Bott (http://www.drbott.com) sells the iPod™ Connection Kit w/ FM Transmitter ($49.95 direct) for those of us that are “cassette challenged”. The kit contains the following items:
     Auto Charger for iPod™
     FM Stereo Transmitter
     2 AAA batteries (for FM transmitter)
     Mini Stereo Extension Cable (male/female)
     Mini Stereo to RCA Cable
     Mini Stereo Connection Cable (male/male)
     iPod™ Carry Pouch

    Separately this stuff would cost you about $80-$90 so it is a good deal, though not all pieces will be used by most.

    Setup

    Setup of the system was very simple. Unpack all the items, put the 1 AA battery (note that it is different then the manufacture claim) into the FM stereo transmitter, plug the transmitter into the iPod and power both up. The transmitter has a simple on-off toggle on the unit allowing it to be powered down between uses extending the battery life to about 100 hours (or so they say). The next step is to set the transmitter to the frequency range that you want to “broadcast” to. There are 3 ranges: 88-92, 92-102, and 102-107. Set the radio to an empty station in one of those ranges, fine tune the transmitter with the fine-tune adjustment dial and listen for the music. It will tune in suddenly and really requires that the radio volume be turned up substantially so you “catch” the signal.

    Performance

    All things considered, I was not disappointed. I was also not all that impressed. One of the biggest reasons is that I live in an area that is flooded with radio broadcasts. Even the most obscure dial setting (88.1 for example) is taken, not by mainstream music, rather Christian rock and other religious ramblings. So finding an empty station was something of a chore. When I had an empty station the transmitter broadcast good clean radio quality that you would expect from your favorite radio station. One thing to remember is that the station you pick can have a short life and you may have to move the transmitter around a bit to have the receiver pick up the signal, closer is not always better as I found out. Driving from the farm country of Lancaster county to grad school in Philadelphia necessitated the changing of the station at least one dozen times. Did the unit work, sure, was it easy to use, sure, was it convenient, well, not really. Tuning in a station and then adjusting the fine tuning while driving 75 MPH is not the safest of tasks. I found myself doing a bit of weaving and even hit the rumble strip a few times. Thankfully I had the foresight to wait till there was no one around me so that I was a hazard primarily to myself.

    Final Thoughts

    The kit is quite a bargain if you consider the cost of the components. Radioshack sells a transmitter that is very similar for about $40, Dr. Bott sells the firewire lighter charger (which is awsome) for $25, a case would cost anywhere from $10-$20 depending on the quality, and finally the cables anywhere from $3-$8 a piece. Using this in the mountains is where I expect to see this little gadget really shine. The next trip that my wife and I take to Oregon will really put this to the test since mountain passes block all outside radio broadcasts. This unit should shine under those conditions. I did however find a distributor in the United States that had 2 or the adapters that I need in stock. I purchased one for $25 and will be connecting it the second I get it. The RCA jacks should produce pure, clean sound. The transmitter will be used only when we are in a rental car in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest (or the likes).


    Pros:
     Provides a solution to the “cassette challenged”.
     Works well when the broadcast is clean
     The kit saves you some money.
     If there is no radio signals to interfere (think mountain passes), this unit should shine!
     The lighter adapter rocks

    Cons:
     Other radio broadcasts can cause sufficient interference that cause you to have to change the station frequently.
     The fine-tuning of the station is very sudden, the signal does not tune in, rather it is not there, then bam, clear reception.
     The iPod case is rather cheesey (then again I expected as much)
     I found myself having to move the transmitter about the front seats to for my radio to find a clear signal. Remember, closer to the receiver is not necessarily
     
  2. Jakeman

    Jakeman MSC Founder and Donator

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    nifty! i want an iPod but don't want to spend the money right now. :p
     

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