12v: Check Your Connections
Sometimes we lose sight of the small stuff. We discuss sophisticated ADAS systems and telematics services, even the car as a hub on the owner’s home automation network. Sometimes, problems happen. When they crop up, it can boil down to something as elementary as a poor connection. Sometimes, it’s on the micro level, such as a bad solder joint. Sometimes, it is on the major level - for example, a ground wire that got splashed with salt water and is now green with crusty corrosion. And sometimes, poor connections and undersized wire can be choking the performance of an aftermarket audio system. For most installation techs, the first thing communicated to their salespeople is the need for them to sell proper wiring kits accessories to appropriately deliver the amperage needed for the install. As a side benefit, it makes all of our jobs easier, and the retailer profits from the sale of the necessary hardware – with the best margins – to do the job right.
If your shop has been doing the right thing, poor wiring problems rarely crop up. The vehicle’s owner was qualified correctly from the get-go, and the appropriate wiring accessories were sold with the installation. But sometimes we get vehicles from other shops or shade-tree installers. Usually the customer is fed up because things aren’t working properly. We get problems such as intermittent signals, amplifiers shutting down just as the customer is getting into the music, even engine noise itself amplified through the speakers. We find things such as undersized wire, solid-core wire, or the dreaded Scotchlok. This is the time to step in and upgrade all the wiring to eliminate all the potential problems caused by the previous “installer”…if we even want to call them that.
High-quality connections, heavy-gauge wire, and good grounding techniques were the hallmark of show car installations 20 years ago. We seem to have lost sight of this when working on more delicate and diminutive Class-D amplifiers, processors and electronics. The temptation there is to just get power from a brake light or fuel pump circuit instead of obtaining clean positive current. But what worked for our forefathers still works today. Even if the customer wants to hide all the wiring for a stealth installation, we can still run wire and place accessories under the hood that will do the job for years to come without having it visible.
Years ago, the industry was using fused distribution blocks to make sure power wires remained fused, neat, and tidy. The same technique still works today and leads to a cleaner installation. We are impressed with Stinger Electronics and their new patented X-Link Distribution Block. According to Stinger ‘s Ken Kuenzie, director of audio product strategy, “X-Link revolutionizes circuit protection in high-performance audio installations, providing an all-in-one system that allows for easier, cleaner-than-ever fused power, and/or ground distribution on any install. The apparatus may include an extensible, interlocking, modular block of multiple-use modules. Each module may be configured to include a fuse or a link bar mounted within it. Being granted the patent only solidifies what we already knew: X-Link’s innovative design allows retailers to stock a single part that covers dozens of fusing and distribution items they would have had to cover with a larger mix in the past, and the sales have proven that our customers agree.” X-Link has the ability to transform from an inline fuse holder to an expandable power, ground, or power and ground distribution block, while able to accept 0, 4, or 8 gauge input/outputs and either ANL or MIDI/AFS fuses. The X-Link block is accompanied by Stinger’s Expert Ground Terminals, Power Terminals, Wire Ferrules and an accessories pack to complete the installation.
Stinger complemented these fuse and distribution blocks with their Stinger X Ultimate Wiring Kits to make the add-on wire sale easy for the retailer. The kits are designed to provide the highest power transfer and system flexibility for no-compromise installations. Kuenzie continues. “Power delivery, and just as important, but often overlooked, ground integrity are the main goals of these kits. So, to make sure the ground potential is as equally robust as the power delivery, we have included a ground reinforcement cable to be used from the battery to the chassis and on the amp side the Expert Ground Terminal for a large- footprint, low-resistance, non-rotating grounding terminal. To complement the power and ground delivery performance we would recommend utilizing other leading products from Stinger X, including interconnects, optical cables and sound-damping products for the best power and sound.”
Whether the installation in your bay is getting infotainment, security, the latest ADAS features, or a mutha-thumpin’ system, delivering rock-solid current from a fused source is always best practice. If you are upgrading someone else’s work, make sure your salespeople are trained to properly sell the corresponding wiring kits and accessory hardware to make it work perfectly. Sometimes fixing other’s problems means upgrading weak hardware.
Strong 12-volt connections still ring true, even in today’s connected car.