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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
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! :thumbup:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KjlvHGIK6g

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. :thumbsup:

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!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
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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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
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. :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
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.

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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Discussion Starter · #23 · (Edited)
Great video! I will be collecting parts to do this. A few questions though:

Did the tablet require a custom ROM to enable charging during OTG operation? seems like there may be some issues with this from the research i've done so far.
On that same note, what brand is the OTG cable you used? I have found a few but would like to just buy the same one.

Is the BMW launcher part of a custom ROM or will it work on a stock Nexus 7?

Did you get an LTE version of the tablet or are you tethering it with a phone for internet access?

Thanks for inspiring me to do this...I'm a device junkie and I was about to order a boring bluetooth adapter for the stock radio but this will be so much cooler
Depending on the tablet you use it might be necessary to flash a custom ROM in order to get it to charge while using the OTG(On The Go USB).

On my 1st gen Nexus 7 I flashed a ROM called AutoDroid(Link: http://forum.xda-developers.com/nexus-7/3g-development/rom-slim-kat-t2826317) and that has a slew of features that make it perfect for use as a head unit. It sleeps when power is disconnected(showcased at the end of the video), audio out via USB, and charging while using OTG are all included in that ROM. Depending on the tablet +ROM you use YMMV.

There are tons of guides online on how to root and flash a custom ROM on every tablet. Google is your friend for this. IIRC Nexus devices have a one click tool that can be found on the XDA forum.

The OTG cable I used was just a generic China-Made cable. You can even make your own cable if you don't want to buy one.

The launcher I used is just a regular Launcher. I put invisible buttons on top of my wallpaper that was made in Photoshop. I also removed the bottom buttons from the taskbar and replaced it with a Pie Control. You may be able to use a steering wheel button as your home key if you mess around with the JoyCon software. Read the JoyCon manual for more info on how to do that.

I'm cheap, and most of my music is stored on Spotify, so I opted for the 16GB WiFi only option. LTE will work too, but I would hate to pay Verizon $10 every month just to use the same data I already pay for with my phone. That $10 is much better suited for a Spotify premium subscription.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Ok, I've got all my components together and im soldering bit by bit, but I've gotten myself rather confused.

The orange cable in my adapter is labeled Dash Light Illumination, however in the video you use that wire as the communication line with the Joycon.
Is that correct? or is that the wrong wire/connector on my adapter?
Check this wiring diagram. Very possible that you have to move one of the pins to the IBus pin(#7). I'm pretty sure all E46s are the same wiring wise.

 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Great idea and write up! Just finished mine today but to my surprise, after connecting everything and switching the power on, I get a constant static/noise from my speakers. I have the factory HK and bought the exact same components as you did (found your YouTube before this thread). Nexus 7 wasn't even the issue as I disconnected it but still the same sound. Any ideas??
Start disconnecting things one by one until it goes away, then you've found the culprit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 · (Edited)
Possible with ipad?
An iPad isn't the best choice for a head unit IMO because of the lack of customisability and high cost of purchase. That being said if you are keen on using an iPad (mini) you would have to find a besel that fits, as the iPad mini is a bit bigger than double din. A nexus 7 is the same height as double din and only about 20mm less in width. If you get a besel that fits its almost the same install. A jailbreak would probably be a good idea to get the functionality you need.

Instead of using a USB DAC you would have to buy an audio breakout cable for iPad and then just connect that to the preamp left and right input channels. Plug the USB cable in the charger and that's really the only major difference. The rest of the wiring would be very similar.

Feel free to PM me for more details if you're attempting this with an iPad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
So I check things out and determined it's the 12v power adapter (cig adapter). When unplugged, it doesnt make a sound but the moment i plug any usb cable into the cig adapter it makes static. I've gone and cleaned up my soldering but no luck. Should i use a better one??
Try using an adapter plugged into the wall to determine that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
Look up "ground loops" on google so you have a rough idea of what you're dealing with.

First check all your grounds and make sure that everything is plugged in all the way. You might be able to use ground loop isolators and or ferrite chokes to eliminate this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #43 ·
Hi can u advise how to setup the output to run a1000w amp for a subwoofer at all?
You would probably have to replace the factory amp with one that has the ability to run subwoofers or one with an output for a dedicated amp for subwoofers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
hey all i have got everything i need for this install but cant for the life of me find how to install the auto droid on my nexus 7. do i download it to my laptop or the tablet and then what sorry if this is just me being stupid just stuck.
Auto Droid is a ROM for a first generation Nexus 7. Go online and look for tutorials on flashing android ROM's.

Basically, after the .zip file is on the tablet and the tablet is rooted you no longer need your laptop. From there you use a custom recovery, like Clockwork Mod or TWRP, and flash the .zip after you've made a backup of the tablet in your custom recovery.

Look online and on the Auto Droid page for more info.
 

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Discussion Starter · #48 ·
I want to do this so I can listen to audio files from an app on my phone that I need data. But how would that work? Is tethering the only way? What if I don't have tethering or just want to listen to regular mp3 from my phone?
This is a non-issue because of Google Music. Upload all of your mp3 to Google music; its free for like 20,000 songs. After you upload it, all of your music is in the cloud and can be accessed from the Google Music app on the tablet. From there you can set the tablet to automatically download any new songs from Google Music directly to it's storage anytime its in WiFi range(in the driveway for example).
 

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Discussion Starter · #58 · (Edited)
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/B00LP3AMC2?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_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-40...F8&qid=1434507271&sr=8-3&keywords=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-Serie...005-/121439745401?hash=item1c465f7579&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-RT...for-E4000-A-/321641280968?hash=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!
 

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Discussion Starter · #62 ·
Thanks Andre for returning and giving us an update.

I followed your video pretty much to a T, except I have a 128 gig flash drive plugged into my USB hub. My only remaining issue with this setup is that when the Nexus 7 loses power, the USB flash drive (and all other USB devices for that matter,) unmount from the Nexus and then have to be re-mounted when the Nexus wakes up. I tried a powered USB hub also and it still happens. I guess this has something to do with the Autodroid ROM or possibly the OTG cable. I have read and read over at the XDA forums and cannot find an answer on how to keep these USB devices mounted. If you have any info on this, your help is appreciated.

And also major thanks for this info too. I was wondering about this.
Are you running either the AutoDroid ROM or Timur's USB ROM on your nexus? If that's the case its simple. Go into the settings and look for the USB host options. There should be an option for USB Disk Lock that should keep everything mounted.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #64 ·
Yeah I am running Autodroid and in the Power Event Manager settings the "Lock USB Disk" is on, but it still comes unmounted.

If you have used both Timur's ROM and Autodroid, which do you prefer?
I originally was on Timur's, then switched to AutoDroid, and now i'm back on Timur's after I had a couple of issues with AutoDroid un-mounting things randomly, along with battery drain issues, and bad lag. These issues, however, took a few months to manifest themselves. I like that AutoDroid is on a new(er) version of android, but Timur's ROM seems to like my setup more. Plus I think you can set up USB tethering on Timur's so that when you plug your phone into the USB hub it not only charges, but it also tethers to the tablet. Lot's of unexplored ideas are still in my head.

Good luck with your setup, and I'd give Timur's a shot.
 
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