Soothe drivers with high-end entertainment units

An increasing emphasis on driver amenities has led to the design of high-end entertainment units for truck cabs. The new-generation sound systems have multifunction capabilities that extend beyond the more traditional radio/cassette/CD-player options.

Features include split sound controls, alarm clocks for sleeper cabs, and outlet jacks for accessories such as external amplifiers, video games, and satellite navigation systems.

The new units offer larger buttons and simpler controls, enabling drivers to switch between functions without taking their eyes off the road. In addition, off-key power drainage to support features such as alarm systems has been minimized by makers.

Pioneer recently announced a number of enhancements to its line of audio systems, including a flagship single-CD player and a new "visual audio" product that combines a hideaway main unit with a choice of two monitors for audiovisual expansion. An RDS tuner and four-channel high-power speakers are part of the main unit.

The basic system has an AVM-P505R compact primary unit that can be hidden under a seat and features a series of extremely flexible audio and video inputs and outputs, in addition to a Supertuner V tuner and 40-watt, four-channel high power.

A 5.5-in., full-color monitor provides a visual interface with the main unit, which offers inputs for a single- or multi-play CD player, video, game systems, future Pioneer satellite navigation systems, and OEM system high-level outputs. These outputs are designed to control front and rear monitors, either flip-up or stalk mount.

The monitor, an AVX-505, is ultra-thin and resides in a DIN-size chassis. When it's ready for use, the face of the unit flips up out of its chassis and opens up to expose the screen. The system has a detachable panel and a blinking LED for security.

The CVA-1000 system control monitor/receiver was introduced by Alpine last year. According to Alpine, this monitor achieves a new level of control and information access, allowing the driver to operate a mobile audio, security, and navigation system simultaneously. The driver can look at and control the navigation system without interrupting the music source.

If the unit is purchased as an audio controller, an NVA-N751A navigation system can be added at any time as a "plug and play" component. The CVA-1000 occupies a single DIN-size in-dash space in the retracted position; it will automatically move out of the dash via motorized operation at the touch of a button.

A 5.6-in. active matrix LCD color monitor opens, giving the driver menu-driven visual access to the status of all connected components. Controls for all components can be accessed from this central location.

In most cases, control is achieved through the simple turn of a knob or push of a button on the monitor housing. It is quicker and safer to use than multiple buttons, because drivers don't have to take their eyes off the road to make changes.

An internal 35W amplifier powers the unit. Dual pre-amp outputs are available if the driver wants to expand the system.

Delphi Delco Electronics Systems launched a high-performance audio entertainment system designed for the heavy-duty truck and bus market in 1996, and is expected to introduce a redesigned model in 1999. No details were available at presstime.

Delphi Delco's high-performance audio system, available through Class 6-8 heavy-duty truck OEMs, provides features that have been requested by operators and manufacturers, including a single DIN-size electronically tuned receiver (ETR) that provides 50 watts of power and is compatible with speaker systems that have four or more speakers.

The system is also compatible with CD players, remote audio system controls, analog steering-wheel controls, cellular telephones, and infrared remote systems. It can be easily connected to an external amplifier.

Designed with team operations in mind, the Delphi Delco audio system allows a driver who is resting in the sleeper to listen to a tape or a compact disc while his partner at the wheel listens to the radio. An alarm clock is also provided.

The system's radio tuner provides an option to change the sensitivity of the station-seek setting, which can be set to block out small stations in densely populated urban areas, or to pick up remote broadcasts in low-density regions.