Introduction: How to Cure Car Cassette Adapter "auto-reverse Flip-flop"
For the last few months, while listening to my ipod through the car stereo via cassette adapter, I have been driven to near insanity by what I call "auto-reverse flip-flop". This is where the car stereo thinks it's got to the end of the cassette and tries to auto-reverse your adapter and play the other side of it. The fact that a cassette adapter doesn't have an 'end' or even an other side seems to mean nothing to car stereos.
One of the worst things is that it has an element of randomness; there seems no logic to when it will happen. Some days it won't happen at all.. others (usually when there is a podcast I really want to listen to) it will kick in almost immediately. The constant 'kerchink-flip-kerchunk-flop" is unbelievably annoying. After ripping the thing out of the tape deck and smashing it against the dash several times didn't fix it, I tried to find a solution on the internet. I discovered that this was a VERY common occurrence. It even seemed like all adapters, no matter how expensive, would eventually end up doing the auto-reverse flip-flop.
Anyway I did learn of an easy way to solve it. I found this solution in more than one internet forum but there were never any pictures to show you how, so I thought it would be worth an Instructable. It's really easy to do.. all you need is a screwdriver.
EDIT: Firstly thanks for so many kind and amazing comments! - it makes me so happy to know that so many have been helped by the instructions (and saved from insanity). Secondly if you still experience problems after this fix, make sure to read through the comments as there are several suggestions/improvements put forward. It seems like you can actually get away with removing all of the gears! although I haven't tested this. Also If you have problems with low volume after the fix you may need to reverse the wire and insert the adaptor the other way around.
Step 1: Dismantle
Find out how your adapter is joined together and undo it. I'm pretty sure most of them are joined with small screws like mine is, but it could be some other way. You might need a small jeweler's screwdriver if the screws are really tiny but I managed with just my swiss-army.
WARNING: When you open it up all of the component will become "loose" inside because the top of the case is no longer holding them down. Try to identify which half of the case is the "lid" and which half has the spindles for the gears etc. Take the lid side off GENTLY otherwise the bits will fly everywhere and you'll be buggered. If that happens you could try and piece it back together from the photos, but there's no guarantee they'd be the same. Mine is a Digitor brand (on a par with Panaphonics and Sorny I think).
Step 2: Identify Trouble-maker
Ok now you can see the guts of the thing. You need to identify the bit which causes the tape-deck to try and auto-reverse. It should be a collection of a few gears which move independently on a plate. The plate swivels up and down as well. This is the trouble-maker! No one seems to know exactly why this is even in a cassette adapter which doesn't need to auto-reverse but anyway this is what's causing the problems.
Step 3: Remove Trouble-maker
Go ahead and whip it out! Hopefully it will look something like my photo.
Be careful not to disturb the other stuff in there, or if you do, put it back where you found it! All the other bits are necessary!
It might be worth memorizing where the bits go (or take a photo) before you start fiddling with it. But if you're like me you will realize this after you have dropped it and spread the gears all over the floor.
Step 4: Success!!
Screw the cover back together the way you found it. Make sure the gears are all lining up where they should do and none of the wires are getting pinched in the side.
Success!! Get ready for some trouble-free listening!
Plug it in and hopefully you should have no more problems with the auto-reverse flip-flop. I read that some people reported the noise from the gears got a bit louder after doing this but personally mine sounded exactly the same as before.
Step 5: Decide Its Fate...
While part of me wants to suggest you immediately crush this part under your foot, it's probably best you make sure your adapter still works first. After you've confirmed this, feel free to dispose of it how you see fit...