Cardo Scala Q2 questions

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by DR. Rock, Mar 13, 2009.

  1. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    After reading all the bike-to-bike comm threads, I just pulled the trigger on the Scala Q2 multi-set, but still have a couple questions for those who have them already.

    I'm considering biggziff's earbud mod; nicely done. Like him, I have my favorite ear buds that I listen to my iPod with (I won't be using cellphone or GPS-audio functions). The units we're getting have the MP3 stereo port, and I'm wondering how that will work before deciding whether to pursue the earbud mod or not:

    1. If I plug the iPod into the MP3 port, will my wife's angelic voice silence the iPod audio when she speaks? -- if not, the rest of the questions are irrelevant 'cause I'd just keep the stock speakers and turn the Scala up loud to hear over the iPod earbuds, and manually pause the iPod if I couldn't hear her or if we were having an extended conversation. However, if the answer is "yes"...

    2. Will running the iPod through the Scala Q2 affect the Q2 battery life as opposed to just using the Scala intermittently for bike-to-bike voice? -- is the MP3 port just a pass-through, or is the Q2 continuously consuming it's battery charge doing something with the iPod signal.

    3. Is the iPod sound quality compromised when running hardwired through the Scala Q2's MP3 port? (I know the bluetooth connection is not stereo, that's not what I'm talking about -- also, I've tried wireless FM connections -- horrible)

    4. Does the Scala Q2 monitor ambient noise and change the volume of the iPod signal? -- (I think that would drive me nuts).

    A couple of other questions:

    5. Has anyone rigged up a 12V charger? Can someone post the charger output info as printed on the charger? I'm considering using them on Mobius III, and we'll be camping a lot.

    6. Anyone have experience using them while wearing a Leatt brace? Any interference?

    Thanks
    #1
  2. biggziff

    biggziff Funk Soul Bruvah

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    My responses are inline:

    #2
  3. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    ...and stayed up late doing the earbud mod to one set, and then played around with them a little. Just for future thread-searchers, I'll add some info to answer my own questions, and tomorrow when I mod the second unit, I'll post up a detailed step-by-step how-to on biggziff's earbud mod using the updated stereo mp3 units, and some soldering action shots.

    So first, how does the MP3 port function? The MP3 audio has the lowest priority. When the intercom (or a bluetooth phone call, or GPS voice prompt) is activated, the music fades out over 1-2 seconds, and you can have a conversation. When the conversation is ended, either by 30 sec of silence after a voice-activated connection, or after pressing the button to hang up after a button-activated connection, the music fades in again over 1-2 sec. Obvoulsly, the Scala can't pause your iPod, so if you're listening to an audio-book or podcast or something, you'll miss some.

    One thing I noticed is that to activate with voice, you have to have the mic almost in your mouth, and kind of shout. Probably not a big deal when riding, but inappropriate at 1am when your spouse is trying to sleep while you're playing around with the new toys. :lol3 At first I thought the voice-activation wasn't working 'till I figured this out. It takes about one loud word until the connection is made. On the initiator's headset, there's a beep confirming that the voice connection is good to go, on the other one, there's no beep, but the music stops.

    Next issue: the mp3 port is NOT simply a pass-through, but close. To my ear, there is some processing that occurs in the scala to the mp3 signal, but not much. As a consequence, I would expect the scala battery life to be slightly less when running an mp3 through it than if it were simply in stand-by, monitoring for a conversation, but probably not significantly. Real-world testing will have to wait, and I don't particularly care how much less it is, only if it is still plenty to last a day's ride.

    How is the mp3 sound different when run through the scala? Well, in short, it's not as full. It's still in stereo, but the overall volume is slightly less, and the bass is diminished compared to plugging the earbuds directly into the iPod. Right/Left separation is incomplete... that is to say that even with the balance full left, there's still some sound out the right earbud and vice-versa. My suspicion is that there's some attempt at surround-sound aural dimensionality and depth added by the scala q2 via some signal splitting and delay. It's not horrible though. I normally listen to the iPod with etymotic ER-6i's, the volume locked to about 3/4 full, and EQ set to "flat". To achieve similar sound and levels running the iPod through the Scala mp3 port, I had to boost the bass, and increase the volume to 4/5ths. Still not exactly the same, but close enough, and good enough to not feel like I'd be having a significantly better experience listening directly plugged into the iPod.

    BTW, volume control on the Scala does NOT affect MP3 volume at all. That can only be adjusted on the iPod. I'm still not certain if there's any active volume managment by the scala to the mp3 signal to compensate for ambient noise, but I doubt it.

    Charging: It comes with two plug-in chargers which are quite small, all things considered. Cardo has single chargers with two plugs available on their website... they should have included one of those, and one 12v. Not including a 12v charger is an oversight, but I found them available on-line, and have one on order from an ebay vendor. $14 shipped. The charging specs are 9vDC & 0.3a, so nothing I had would work. The plug from the fuji f-30 camera fit (snugly), but that's charging at usb voltage (5vDC), and insufficient for charging the Q2's. The red light illuminated, and I was excited at first, but then it went off after a few seconds. :dunno

    I haven't tried the fit with the Leatt brace yet, I'll update once I do.
    #3
  4. Uncle Pollo

    Uncle Pollo Long timer

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    Hey Dr ... will the scala mp3 sound broadcast to the passenger unit from the pilot's unit?
    #4
  5. biggziff

    biggziff Funk Soul Bruvah

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    no
    #5
  6. BlueLghtning

    BlueLghtning Riding is my passion

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    Thanks for the update. I just ordered a multi-set for the misses and I Sunday night. She said she'll be fine with the speakers, but I want to mod mine to use my ER-6i's also. I don't mind the helmet speakers around town, but on a trip, I want my earphones.
    #6
  7. biggziff

    biggziff Funk Soul Bruvah

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    I bought a set of helmet speakers that had an 3.5mm plug on them and leave them in the helmet. Like you, I prefer them on shorter trips.
    #7
  8. MK96xj

    MK96xj 100% Seat Time

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    A few weeks ago I got a head set with the MP3 port for my single Q2.

    In the past I would use a FM tranmitter to transmit my GPS/MP3 to the Q2. This was a fine set up although in mono. The battery life would be approximatly 5 hours. The battery life is certainly affected by teh volume settign used with this setup as i use ear plugs and will havet he volume at full or a notch below. The sound quality with the earplugs in is quite good and clear. Wind noise greatly diminishes the quality.

    Using the MP3 port in place of the FM transmitter i find the life is longer. I have been on for 6 hours and never got to the point of the low battery beep.

    Regarding the Leets brace. I think this will depend on your position on the bike. I ride a ZX6 and occationally the unit will catch my jacket when I turn my head.
    #8
  9. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    OK, y'all... I've done modded the second unit, this time with 4-part harmony, and feeeelin'. :wink:

    No, actually, just some photos. So... here's the way-more-info-than-you-probably-want step-by-step instructions.

    Start by assembling the materials:

    [​IMG]

    1. Your favorite bevarage: :photog (it was still too early for real drinkin' so iced coffee)
    2. Your Cardo Scala Rider Q2 unit.
    3. A small sharp scissors
    4. A forceps or clamp or a third hand
    5. A moistened towel (damp) or a wet sponge.
    6. Some white-out.
    Some stuff from RadioShack (links to product #'s) or equivalent:
    7. A 15W (low wattage-- for small jobs) soldering iron. Ideally with a small tip. ($8.99)
    8. Some rosin-core solder. I used Standard 60/40 formula for electronics work. 0.032” in diameter. ($5.49)
    9. 1/8" STEREO (not mono) Male plugs and Female jacks. Sold in pairs ($3.99 /ea).

    Next, have a quick review of some soldering basics: Here's a good one, this one too, and a third. OK, that's enough. It's not that hard, but you have to remember a few key points:
    1. "Tinning" is essential.
    2. You've got to heat the wires enough to burn off the varnish, but not so much to melt down insulation, or trash the wire.
    3. Take your time, it's all in the set-up.
    4. Pay attention to your appendages, wires, clothes, etc... the soldering iron will burn you and trash your project in a heartbeat if something inadvertently touches it. :yikes

    I get a big-assed binder clamp and affix the cord to the side of the desk to minimize the chance that the weight of the cord will pull the iron while I'm working.

    [​IMG]
    #9
  10. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    When I was half-way through the first unit, I realized I had forgotten which of the cut ends was right and which was left :doh soooo....

    white is right! :deal

    [​IMG]

    Next is the scary part... cut the wires... :eek1 Not too close to the unit, or soldering that end will be a pain, but not too far if you're going to salvage the speakers like I did. Just right... :D

    [​IMG]

    Now is a good time to plug in the soldering iron and let it warm up. Oh, and if you read the basics, you will know to tin the tip:

    [​IMG]
    #10
  11. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    Gently snip the insulation,

    [​IMG]

    and peel it back, exposing three stranded wires. Be gentle.

    [​IMG]

    Peel back about 1/2", and snip off the black insulation.

    [​IMG]

    Tidy up the ends,

    [​IMG]

    And repeat the process for the other three cut ends.

    [​IMG]

    Fold back the striped green, and the solid copper wires. We won't be using those.

    For the right (white mark) ear (upper wire) we'll be using the solid green and solid red wires, and for the left ear we'll use the solid blue and the striped red wires below.

    [​IMG]
    #11
  12. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    Wipe the solder off the tip from when you tinned it. You want to clean the tip frequently:

    [​IMG]

    Lay the end of one of the wires onto the hot tip, let it heat up for a few seconds, and then dab the soldering wire onto it so it melts into it.

    [​IMG]

    At first, the solder probably won't stick to the wire, so keep brushing the wire in the molten solder drip that has by now accumulated on the tip of the iron until the varnish burns off, and the solder starts to stick to the bare metal of the wire. Take your time.

    [​IMG]

    If it gets ugly, as above, clean off the tip, and start again. Eventually, you will have tinned the wires, and hopefully not destroyed them.

    [​IMG]

    Repeat the process until all eight wires are tinned. Here are the four on the speaker end, ready for the next step:

    [​IMG]

    Which is... THREAD THE WIRES THROUGH THE PLASTIC PART!!!
    #12
  13. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    Since I don't have much experience soldering audio wires, I wanted to practice first by soldering a male plug onto the helmet speakers. I probably won't use them, but I figured if I screwed it up, I could just toss them, and pay someone to do the money end of the job the right way. If I was successful, I'd have helmet speakers as a bonus. :thumb

    Here's where you need to be extra careful. Some of the reviews on the RadioShack website were critical of these components, complaining that the internal plastic insulation melted while soldering them. :rolleyes Probably using a 45W iron, and heating it too long. The goal is to drop a small bead of solder on the three tabs, so when it's time to make the final connection, you won't have to even have the soldering wire in your hand. Start with the sleeve:

    [A short break first, to discuss audio connection anatomy:

    [​IMG]

    OK, break time is over. Back to work.:whip]

    So, tinning the sleeve (ground):

    [​IMG]

    Nice:

    [​IMG]

    I don't worry too much about the holes... I'm not looping the wire and twisting it into it... just doing a surface solder. I tried, and it's just too tight and hard. If it gets tugged too hard (unlikely) and breaks away, no biggie, I'll just re-solder it. :dunno

    Next the ring, and the tip, in no particular order:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #13
  14. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    Start by twisting the solid blue and solid green wires together:

    [​IMG]

    Since they're already tinned, you probably won't have to add solder, but simply touch the twisted end to the tip of the iron briefly, and they'll stick together:

    [​IMG]

    Next, melt the droplet on the sleeve, and stick the twisted ground wires to it. I looped the wires around, and soldered them coming from the other direction. This functioned to take up some slack, and place the black insulation where it could easily be crimped into the sleeve, and place the other two wires right next to their respective targets:

    [​IMG]

    place the black insulation into the sleeve, but don't crimp it down yet...

    [​IMG]

    'cause first, we're going to...
    #14
  15. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    plug into an audio source, and very carefully touch first one, and then the other of the remaining wires to the solder droplets, and listen to the speakers.

    [​IMG]

    Confirm that right is right, and left is left, and all is good so far.

    [​IMG]
    #15
  16. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    Now you can crimp. :brow

    [​IMG]
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  17. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    Using as little heat as possible, but as much as necessary...

    [​IMG]

    Note that I'm not holding the soldering iron... it's just sitting there in it's stand, and I'm bringing the component to it.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #17
  18. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    Test again:

    [​IMG]

    I wrapped some 'lectrical tape around the two black wires, which snugged them into the plastic cover nicely.

    [​IMG]

    and then gently screw the cover on, being careful not to twist all the solders off...

    [​IMG]
    #18
  19. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    The other side will be a piece of cake:

    Plastic part on first,

    [​IMG]

    Tin the sleeve. (helps to bend it away from the other posts until the end) and then tin the other two posts.

    [​IMG]

    Solder the ground wires together and then solder them to the sleeve, then test before crimping:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Right-right, Left-left?

    Solder the ring and tip,

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    and test again...

    [​IMG]

    All good? Tape, and button it up:

    [​IMG]

    Enjoy.

    [​IMG]
    #19
  20. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    The connection tucks right into the seam between the foam pads:

    [​IMG]

    As predicted, the sound with the speakers is nowhere as good as the sound with the earbuds.
    #20