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Old 02-21-2015, 06:14 PM   #1
AndreBXP
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Smile Video: How to install an Android Tablet as a Stereo

Hey E46Fanatics,

I just finished making my first video on the E46 and I decided that someone might enjoy it so I decided to post it. Its a DIY on installing a nexus 7 into your car as a head unit(For cheap). It's definitely not perfect, and the shooting environment was less than ideal, but I hope someone enjoys it. Feel free to leave a comment, good or bad, on this post or on the video. Thanks for reading this far, I hope you enjoy the vid!



EDIT: This video was meant to be a general guide. If you are planing to do this to your own E46 you should read though the thread as I explain some specifics in more detail. Info for the software I used on the Nexus 7 Tablet can be found on page 2. Wiring specifics and adding FM Radio can be found on page 1.

Update (6/16/2015):

I have gotten a lot of PMs and questions on the specifics of this project and lots of people with issues like hiss and crappy audio. This should help you solve any issues. I will also include an Amazon link to a list of major components for this project.

KEEP IN MIND, this information may vary year to year, model to model. For example, in 2002 they switched the radio harness. Do your own research!

First thing first, Lots of people have been asking about the software I used on the tablet. I chose to omit this info because I figured people would want to customize their tablet the way they like. The ROM I was using in that video is called AutoDroid. A ROM is basically like an operating system and AutoDroid is a derivative of android that has been optimized for use as a head-unit. The ROM contains all the software needed to turn the tablet on and off with the key along with power management features to keep the battery over long periods of time. There are SO MANY tutorials on how to flash a ROM on a nexus device alone; Google is your friend here. The interface I use is made up of a custom wall paper and invisible widgets. When you click the widget it brings you to the app that is labeled on the wallpaper. I used an App from the play store called "Desktop Virtualizer" to do this along with a transparent .PNG. There is also a new app that is set out to emulate Google's Android Auto on any android device. Do your own homework here.

I've also gotten lots of people with audio issues and I was puzzled until my car developed the same issue. I tried a noise filter but that was total garbage. While it did reduce the noise it also made the audio trash and I began to get humming noise from the alternator and the LCM. I narrowed it down to a crappy pre-amp that was causing all sorts of ground loops. The solution is super simple and it is what I should have done at the start. This DAC: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ilpage_o02_s00 is FANTASTIC for this application. It has a built in pre-amp and the audio quality is so much better than the beringer that it is on a whole new level. Buy this and you make your life a lot simpler. To use this DAC you will also need an adapter to go from RCA to a 3.5mm headphone jack, as this is a headphone amp. It even has a Bass Switch to increase the bass cleanly with hardware, not though software. Adapter: http://www.amazon.com/C2G-Cables-406...ds=rca+adapter .

Next up is an issue that I faced and only recently conquered. I kept on waking up to a dead tablet in the morning. You have to make sure that you use a charger that can support the amperage requirements of the tablet. I would go 3 amp @ 5v to be safe. Be sure to enable fast-charging in the settings.

Lots of people have been having trouble with the Joycon. Please read the manual that comes with it before asking questions. It's OK to ask questions, its not OK to be lazy and expect me to hand this to you when you haven't even read the manual. The gist is that you have to hook up the I-Bus line, configure it with a computer, and then possibly adjust a few switches on the unit itself. I did also learn that it is NOT necessary to provide 12v power to the Joycon, it is perfectly happy running off 5v USB power. And you MUST use a Joycon EXD. It is 2x the price of the EXR for a reason; it is compatible with digital steering wheel controls while the other ones are not.

This is my basic parts list: http://amzn.com/w/3H9T5P2TAQJYN
Bezel: http://www.ebay.com/itm/BMW-3-Series...5f7579&vxp=mtr

You WILL have to re-pin the adapter for the wiring harness if you plan to use steering wheel controls. I linked a diagram for cars that use the old stereo connector a few posts back. Make sure to verify that ALL pins are in the correct locations before starting this.

Back up cameras are possible with this setup. There is some info on the AutoDroid thread over at XDA Devs and around the web. You basically use the OE camera and an EasyCap. When you put the car in reverse it launches a camera app and voila. Not quite sure on the specifics of this one but you can check this out on your own.

FM radio was discussed in the first few pages of the thread but this should be a good summation. You want to get an SDR, or Software Defined Radio, USB unit for a couple bucks. You should receive an antenna with this. I found out the the plug for the antenna matches the plug on the E46 antenna cable. Just cut the cable off of the included antenna, solder the cut end to the circuit board of the SDR unit and plug the end of the cable into the factory antenna connector. Secure this with electrical tape and be sure to solder the cable correctly so you don't get interference. Then you can plug it in to the hub and use the app from the play store. Be sure to test your unit beforehand. SDR Unit: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Terratec-RTL...item4ae35075c8

Finally, this is not a replacement for something like an Enon or Dynavin on an AVIN unit. This is priced much much lower and as a result lacks the R&D along with some features like Bluetooth integration and a pre-built interface. If you would rather drop $700 on an AVIN then this is not the DIY for you. This build cost me less than $250 and most of that was for the Tablet($50), DAC($75) and Joycon ($85). Be realistic with your expectations. This IS the DIY for someone that wants a cool and cheap replacement for a stock head-unit; be creative and make it your own. This is just a guide and nothing is set in stone.

Thanks to all the people that tried this, and If you did, feel free to share some pictures of your setup. I'll have more videos coming soon! Feel free to leave suggestions for other videos you might want to see!

Last edited by AndreBXP; 06-16-2015 at 10:21 PM. Reason: Add more information.
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Old 02-21-2015, 07:18 PM   #2
ChuckyVee
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Very well done video!

The language was clear, complete parts list, and step by step procedure. This will surely be valuable to anyone considering this mod.

Congratulations!
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Old 02-21-2015, 09:10 PM   #3
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I was completely lost at the part where you start soldering all the connections together. You did a really good job at describing the speaker wire soldering and what wires to solder to what. I am perfectly clear on that part. However, as soon as it starts talking about soldering rest of the wires together it get so vague that I am left feeling completely lost. This is the step I am stuck on.
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Old 02-21-2015, 09:29 PM   #4
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Great video, and awesome timing; just stopped me from dropping a bunch of money an AVIN Avant!
Though I am a bit confused on a few things:

Is the audio quality diminished at all by this setup?
How do I know if my steering controls are analog or digital? (2000 328i)
and how would I wire that if it was analog?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 02-21-2015, 09:36 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceric View Post
I was completely lost at the part where you start soldering all the connections together. You did a really good job at describing the speaker wire soldering and what wires to solder to what. I am perfectly clear on that part. However, as soon as it starts talking about soldering rest of the wires together it get so vague that I am left feeling completely lost. This is the step I am stuck on.
Time began to become a constraint so some of the details had to be cut out, but I think the part your referring to is where I solder the positives/negatives to the rest of the components. I agree that it wasn't as clear as it could have been, but the gist is that you want to solder the positives from all the accessories(The charger, JoyCon, and preAmp) to the main harness' positive(red), and all the negatives from the accessories to the main harness' negative(black). I hope that helped clear it up for you!
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Old 02-21-2015, 09:43 PM   #6
AndreBXP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZSabotage View Post
Great video, and awesome timing; just stopped me from dropping a bunch of money an AVIN Avant!
Though I am a bit confused on a few things:

Is the audio quality diminished at all by this setup?
How do I know if my steering controls are analog or digital? (2000 328i)
and how would I wire that if it was analog?

Thanks in advance!
I'm not an audiophile, but it certainly sounds better than a cassette adapter, or an FM modulator. I have never used/listened to a dynavin/Avant so I can't comment on how it compares, but it sounds as good as the stock unit. The DAC I used is good quality, and its much better than the audio output you would get if you wired it to the headphone jack on the tablet.

All E46 use digital(It's called I-Bus), I only mentioned analog if the car you were doing this to didn't have digital(like some older Bimmer, or some other make+model).
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Old 02-21-2015, 09:55 PM   #7
ZSabotage
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awesome, thank you!

~200 bucks hella beats 799 for an Avin

You're a life saver
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Old 02-21-2015, 10:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceric View Post
I was completely lost at the part where you start soldering all the connections together. You did a really good job at describing the speaker wire soldering and what wires to solder to what. I am perfectly clear on that part. However, as soon as it starts talking about soldering rest of the wires together it get so vague that I am left feeling completely lost. This is the step I am stuck on.
Your car has left front, right front, left rear and right rear. 4 channels. The android device only has two channels, left and right. So, what he does is ties the left front and rear together, and the right front and rear together. There are + wires and - wires, so you get two + wires for the left side and two + wires for the right side, and two - wires for the left and two - for the right.

Then, you take the left + wires and put them on the center pin of an RCA jack, and the - wires on the outside. Repeat for the right side speakers.

You know which wires are left and right, front and rear, + and - because the adaptor cable has them all marked. What you are working with is an adaptor that looks TO THE CAR like a standard radio. This will allow somebody to simply unplug your work someday and revert the car back to factory configuration, or install an Kenwood if they want to.
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Old 02-21-2015, 10:45 PM   #9
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^^ This
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Old 02-21-2015, 11:07 PM   #10
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This brings back memories from when I did my laptop / docking station setup a few years back. I relocated the head unit to the glove box though, to avoid using all the gadgets you used, and keep all the functionality / the premium sound quality intact, directly from the HU.... Great job none the less, and nice video too. I +1'ed it. Maybe I can share the old school way I did it sometime .

By the way, I liked all the music in the video. Good driving music. Think you can PM me the track list? Or Spotify playlist if you have it on there?

Peace.
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Old 02-21-2015, 11:35 PM   #11
AndreBXP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gzoneZHP View Post

By the way, I liked all the music in the video. Good driving music. Think you can PM me the track list? Or Spotify playlist if you have it on there?

Peace.
All the tracks are in the video description.
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Old 02-22-2015, 12:02 AM   #12
jdstrickland
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZSabotage View Post
Great video, and awesome timing; just stopped me from dropping a bunch of money an AVIN Avant!
Though I am a bit confused on a few things:

Is the audio quality diminished at all by this setup?
How do I know if my steering controls are analog or digital? (2000 328i)
and how would I wire that if it was analog?

Thanks in advance!
I was wondering the same thing about determining the analog vs. digital steering wheel controls.
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Old 02-22-2015, 12:18 AM   #13
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Well done...thank you
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Old 02-22-2015, 01:39 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndreBXP View Post
All the tracks are in the video description.
Sweet. Thanks, I'll get the tunes.

Found the old install pics for when I did my setup back in 08, when there were no tablets around . Still in the car now. Still works flawlessly. Runs Windows XP on the back end, CentraFuse on the Front end. Virtually anything can be added via usb. http://assets.akagc.com/customs/330carpc/

I used the AUX port from the business CD port to maintain steering wheel controls for the PC, have AM/FM radio, and tuned the HU AUX gain + mixer tools on the pc to load my custom audio presets frequencies for extra tuning on mids, lows, and highs to unlock even more sound of the business CD. Also have the Ipod connector somewhere in there.
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Old 02-22-2015, 01:47 AM   #15
ZSabotage
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It just occurred to me that this forfeits radio capability. Unless theres someway to rig the Nexus into playing FM.
i know some older android phones will tune radio stations if something is plugged into the headphone jack, i wonder if theres a way to rig the factory antenna to the nexus to gain that function back.
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Old 02-22-2015, 03:04 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndreBXP View Post
Time began to become a constraint so some of the details had to be cut out, but I think the part your referring to is where I solder the positives/negatives to the rest of the components. I agree that it wasn't as clear as it could have been, but the gist is that you want to solder the positives from all the accessories(The charger, JoyCon, and preAmp) to the main harness' positive(red), and all the negatives from the accessories to the main harness' negative(black). I hope that helped clear it up for you!
That helps a lot. Thank you.
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Old 02-22-2015, 03:40 AM   #17
Ceric
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This will add FM radio to any Android device:

www.sdrtouch.com

You can tune in to a lot more than just FM radio tho. You can listen to Aircraft traffic, ham radio, weather radio, radar, everything!


Last edited by Ceric; 02-22-2015 at 03:48 AM.
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Old 02-22-2015, 08:37 AM   #18
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The video was well done. Overall, a comprehensive and clear presentation of needs to be done.

A couple of comments:
- hot glue? I think a short "wall" of epoxy would work better
- I would drill a hole in the DD bracket in the area of the ambient light sensor
- I would have epoxied 4 nylon nut + nylon rod assemblies onto the bracket and then used plastic "bar" to hold the tablet in place
- I didn't see any use of soldering flux

Nice job!
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Old 02-22-2015, 10:40 AM   #19
AndreBXP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markusmarkus View Post
The video was well done. Overall, a comprehensive and clear presentation of needs to be done.

A couple of comments:
- hot glue? I think a short "wall" of epoxy would work better
- I would drill a hole in the DD bracket in the area of the ambient light sensor
- I would have epoxied 4 nylon nut + nylon rod assemblies onto the bracket and then used plastic "bar" to hold the tablet in place
- I didn't see any use of soldering flux

Nice job!
Thanks!

Everything you said would work, but I tried to figure out a way that anyone could do it. Epoxy would probably be much better. The radio shack 60/40 rosin core solder solders well enough on its own that I didn't worry about flux, but its certainly better if you use it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ceric View Post
This will add FM radio to any Android device:

www.sdrtouch.com

You can tune in to a lot more than just FM radio tho. You can listen to Aircraft traffic, ham radio, weather radio, radar, everything!
Because the radio stations around me only play garbage 98% of the time I decided to forgo radio and just use Spotify + Pandora + TuneIn. I completely forgot to mention this. If you wanted to add radio, this is how you'd do it. Because the hub I used has 2 free ports, 2 more accessories can be easily added.

I'll post a DIY soon.
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Old 02-22-2015, 10:44 AM   #20
fn42
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nice, thanks for the post! I just picked up a cheap tablet the other day for this purpose =)
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