Bet You Won't See This Often... If You See It Twice... Semi-Truck Upgrade


Anomaly

Junior Member
Dec 24, 2015
6
0
Troy, Virginia
Ok, first and foremost, you don't see many people upgrading audio systems in a road tractor (Tractor-trailer truck for the unfamiliar), so bear with me... Some of you may have friends that drive semis that may want to try this idea.

I found very quickly that the factory stereo in most road tractors is anything but sufficient. About the only thing they have going for them is newer units have Bluetooth and support USB (and a major fail by not supporting Android devices).

Most trucking companies do not allow upgrades of the stereo system, especially if it involves altering wiring. Therefore, I found a way to have great sound without touching the truck's factory setup.

I started with my Alpine CDA-9884. Great unit, if a bit underpowered (18x4, Alpine? REALLY?) I had noticed that the standard single-DIN receiver size fit a CB radio mounting bracket near perfectly, and it gave me an idea.

I found an old Cobra 29 CB radio that was fried, and removed the electronics, keeping the case and frame skeleton. The Cobra's inner frame skeleton is essential for making this work -- DO NOT toss it! This worked quite nicely with the Alpine CDA-9884 I have, I see no reason to believe it will not work with any other single-DIN receiver.

Items I tossed in the conversion: Original Cobra CB electronics, Original Cobra CB faceplate and control knobs. Cobra faceplace could be modified to make this a bit more airtight, but I don't recommend it with head-units with flip-down or motorized faceplates.

View attachment 26554156

After bending a few tabs to allow the Alpine's chassis to fit into the case, it fits quite nicely, though I found that I had to invert the CB case's inner frame upside down to fit properly. When finished, the unit should protrude from the case just enough to snap its surrounding trim bezel in place.

View attachment 26554149

NOTE: You may want to bend one or two of the CB frame's tabs inward to lock the head unit in firmly, and you may want to use hook-and-loop or rubber strips to cushion the top and bottom of the outer case, as I've noticed the outer case has a tendency to sag in the middle on the top and bottom. Merely a cosmetic issue, though, does not affect operation.

View attachment 26554151 View attachment 26554153 View attachment 26554154

One nice thing about this setup is that Cobra CBs use a modular three-pin socket/plug arrangement, even though most CB radios only require two wires. Two-and-three-wire 12V cigarette lighter plug harnesses are available in any truck stop. Newer ones actually have provisions to use the plug's center pin, but it isn't necessary, I have been running mine with the memory and 12V drawing from one pin.

If you're interested in doing this, most CB shops will have burned-up radios that others elected not to fix. They may just give you the case and frame just to get rid of it. When finished, depending on how you have it set up and mounted, you can remove the whole unit from the vehicle to take it with you if you wish.

Of course, now that I had the unit adapted for this situation, I needed more power to overcome road noise. Yet it wasn't feasible (or allowable) to have a typical car stereo amplifier installed.

In the interest of ease of removal, I elected to use an Onkyo home theater receiver and powered subwoofer with the truck's power inverter, using Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 satellite speakers as the primaries (I found they wedge nicely into the overhead storage cubbies in the Peterbilt 386 I drove at the time, they also fit nicely in the International ProStar's overhead cubbies as well).

View attachment 26554152

It all sounds a bit complicated, but it really is not. Most companies allow the driver to have an inverter installed, if not already so equipped. With a little research and a little of my time, I had the rockin'est semi around, with no permanent modifications to the truck, which kept the company happy. And the best part is, the entire setup can be removed without a lot of fuss and muss. If you know someone who drives a semi and wants better sound but can't modify the company's truck, feel free to tell them about this idea... It should work with any single-DIN receiver.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

hispls

CarAudio.com Veteran
Sep 10, 2009
10,725
220
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Ok, first and foremost, you don't see many people upgrading audio systems in a road tractor (Tractor-trailer truck for the unfamiliar), so bear with me... Some of you may have friends that drive semis that may want to try this idea.
I found very quickly that the factory stereo in most road tractors is anything but sufficient. About the only thing they have going for them is newer units have Bluetooth and support USB (and a major fail by not supporting Android devices).

Most trucking companies do not allow upgrades of the stereo system, especially if it involves altering wiring. Therefore, I found a way to have great sound without touching the truck's factory setup.

I started with my Alpine CDA-9884. Great unit, if a bit underpowered (18x4, Alpine? REALLY?) I had noticed that the standard single-DIN receiver size fit a CB radio mounting bracket near perfectly, and it gave me an idea.

I found an old Cobra 29 CB radio that was fried, and removed the electronics, keeping the case and frame skeleton. The Cobra's inner frame skeleton is essential for making this work -- DO NOT toss it! This worked quite nicely with the Alpine CDA-9884 I have, I see no reason to believe it will not work with any other single-DIN receiver.

Items I tossed in the conversion: Original Cobra CB electronics, Original Cobra CB faceplate and control knobs. Cobra faceplace could be modified to make this a bit more airtight, but I don't recommend it with head-units with flip-down or motorized faceplates.

View attachment 26554156

After bending a few tabs to allow the Alpine's chassis to fit into the case, it fits quite nicely, though I found that I had to invert the CB case's inner frame upside down to fit properly. When finished, the unit should protrude from the case just enough to snap its surrounding trim bezel in place.

View attachment 26554149

NOTE: You may want to bend one or two of the CB frame's tabs inward to lock the head unit in firmly, and you may want to use hook-and-loop or rubber strips to cushion the top and bottom of the outer case, as I've noticed the outer case has a tendency to sag in the middle on the top and bottom. Merely a cosmetic issue, though, does not affect operation.

View attachment 26554151 View attachment 26554153 View attachment 26554154

One nice thing about this setup is that Cobra CBs use a modular three-pin socket/plug arrangement, even though most CB radios only require two wires. Two-and-three-wire 12V cigarette lighter plug harnesses are available in any truck stop. Newer ones actually have provisions to use the plug's center pin, but it isn't necessary, I have been running mine with the memory and 12V drawing from one pin.

If you're interested in doing this, most CB shops will have burned-up radios that others elected not to fix. They may just give you the case and frame just to get rid of it. When finished, depending on how you have it set up and mounted, you can remove the whole unit from the vehicle to take it with you if you wish.

Of course, now that I had the unit adapted for this situation, I needed more power to overcome road noise. Yet it wasn't feasible (or allowable) to have a typical car stereo amplifier installed.

In the interest of ease of removal, I elected to use an Onkyo home theater receiver and powered subwoofer with the truck's power inverter, using Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 satellite speakers as the primaries (I found they wedge nicely into the overhead storage cubbies in the Peterbilt 386 I drove at the time, they also fit nicely in the International ProStar's overhead cubbies as well).

View attachment 26554152

It all sounds a bit complicated, but it really is not. Most companies allow the driver to have an inverter installed, if not already so equipped. With a little research and a little of my time, I had the rockin'est semi around, with no permanent modifications to the truck, which kept the company happy. And the best part is, the entire setup can be removed without a lot of fuss and muss. If you know someone who drives a semi and wants better sound but can't modify the company's truck, feel free to tell them about this idea... It should work with any single-DIN receiver.
That's a nice clean way to mount aftermarket HU. Thanks for sharing!

 

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