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Hey there folks, :)

So, I finally got the time to compile a topic of my own. To be honest, when I started this project, I had just entered the Android "world" and barely explored it well enough, to even have a clue on how to begin, what proved to be, such a tremendous task. Fortunately, some of you guys had already posted about your own projects and give away valuable info, that helped kick start mine. I hope, I may help others as well now, since I'm almost done with it.

I'd like to express my thanks to all of you, especially to Timur, naiku and Kookie for their excellent work and contribute to this community.

This is my ride, a 2003, 4WD Audi S3 (8L body) 1.8L petrol engine, turbocharged:

image.jpg


And some photos of the stock dashboard/symphony 2 head unit:

S3int.jpg


symphony2.jpg


1 - Background (feel free to skip this if you don't care :p)

I bought this car a few years ago, because it overwhelmed me how I loved it. It really suits me and I found pretty much everything to be perfect about it. However, though the stock head unit does probably more than enough for the average joe, I quickly felt bored an unhappy wih it.

As you can see the Blaupunkt unit, has a built-in 6 CD-changer, tape deck, digital RDS FM tuner and is quite well produced. The buttons are well placed, functions are easily accessed and the interface felt both solid and very intuitive, wich is a common thing one can find in every Blaupunkt head unit, anyway, and the best thing about the stock installation. The sound is ok too, speakers deliver crystal clear treble and rich bass, there is even a factory woofer mounted in the trunk (all of those by Blaupunkt and not Bose btw). But after a few months, putting up with the CD changing rattling noises, carrying CD collections around every time flooding the glove and arm rest boxes, draining battery of cell phone for GPS navigation and the lack of an AUX input for it, or an ipod/mp3, etc... I decided I was fed up and done with the stock head unit.

The tape deck, was good for my grandpa, don't need it. The CD-changer was cool, my father has one in his car and he's quite happy with it, but I think everyone of my friends has replaced those with USB/MP3 player units, or FM modulator, by now. DVD/Nav units are still a good choice and what most people end up replacing their stock head units with (If you're not on a budget) but, Its really hard to find one that suits all of your needs, and has a nice price/quality relation.

I quickly measured what options I had on table:

Option 1 - Remove the stock head unit and replace it with an ordinary 2 DIN DVD head unit.

This one could work out, but the car has a CANbus system and the stock head unit is connected to it. The speakers are connected in a strange fashion as well. Cables an speakers would have to be replaced/hacked. A bunch of adapters would be required, meaning an extra cost. Plus, the cheaper 2DIN head unit market tends to be filled with jerky touchscreen, poor quality res LCD, awful slippery key pads, non intuitive crappy UI's, weird/ugly theme and lighting color schemes, lack of customization, poor connectivity, you name it... So, that's a no-go.

Option 2 - Remove the stock head unit and replace it with a decent brand DVD/Navigation head unit.

Well, it wouldn't change much about 'Option 1', except for the fact that brands like Pionner have, by far, the greatest quality and built-in integration, of all, and that could make up for about 90% of the cheaper unit's issues, wich is nice but still, It wouldn't free me from having to get extra adapters and stuff. Even though, 1DIN fold-out units are usually cheaper, a single DIN unit wouldn't work in my case for several reasons, one of them being the lack of after-market fascia/cage adapters for my car model (8L), and stock is way too expensive to even think of it. Also the cup holder and both, ESP and parking light buttons would be probably covered by its LCD, all the time. Plus, even within Pionner product range it is not so easy to find a fully integrated solution at a reasonable price. Most of the popular head units are way too overpriced (over $1200) for their functionality, and Appradio which is one the most similar (and cheap) to what I have now, has very limited Android operation and far away from nailing it. Still a no-go.

Option 3 - Remove the entire stock sound installation and fit a whole new one.

Not really an option, I would probably have to spend about $500 alone, in amplifiers and speakers/woofer to match the stock sound, whatever solution I came up with, for a head unit replacement. Pretty much useless, in the end. Not a chance.

Option 4 - Fit a tablet/car PC into the dashboard and try to salvage the stock sound installation somehow.

I confess, initially this felt like a pretty bold and wild idea at the time, but ultimately it proved to be the wisest and cheaper solution for me. I realized, being so picky about hardware, I would have to ditch the usual picture of a classic DVD player head unit away from my mind, and build a Car PC entertainment system from scratch, on my own.

So, I started the research on how would I do this: I observed many nice examples of people projects over the Web, and some were running closed source software over a mini PC/Windows OS environment. The thought of closed source crap, malware mayhem and hardware compatibility issues, all combined, was a quick turn-off. But then I wondered: What if I could make it Linux based, instead? Ubuntu is a nice distro but not so touch/portable friendly, nor it has a wide range of apps to chose from. And how about hardware related? An all integrated solution seemed the best, without any shadow of doubt, ofc. A couple of months before, I had ordered an Android tablet from China (Ainol Aurora 2), my first android device, and was marveled with its capability as a portable entertainment/utility system. Ever since, I had been wondering how could I possibly integrate that into my car dashboard. Until I ran into some guy's topic, at mp3car.com forum, which showed a Nexus 7 installation made in a 2001 Audi A4, using Timur's rom and it hit me - I can do this, too!..

Some more goggling, and I later arrived at rootzwiki. This forum and mainly Timur's discussion topic, allowed me to faster comprehend the whole concept and what would be needed to accomplish such a task.

2 - List of mats and hardware/software used or planned and cost.

1x Google Nexus 7 (2012) Tilapia 32GB -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 290 €

1x Mitsai 7-port USB hub (https://www.worten.pt/hub-7-portas-usb2-0-aliment-et3635-pret.html) ------------------------------------------------------------- 13 €

1x Hifimediy Sabre USB DAC (http://hifimediy.com/sabre-dac-uae23) -------------------------------------------------------- 37 €

1x Audi Symphony II Audio Aux Input+1998 up splitter (http://cdchangeremulator.com) --------------------------------- 50 €

2x Belkin 12v-5V 2.1A cigarette lighter adapter (http://www.fnac.pt/Belkin-Carregador-Viatura-USB-10-Watt-2-1-Amp-Acessorio-Informatica-e-Tel-Acessorios-Tablet/a756149) --------------------------------------------- 32 €

2x Mitsai gold 1,5m USB extension cable ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 10 €

1x Mitsai gold 3m USB extension cable ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 8 €

?x Spare old cables laying around ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "free"

1x Audi A4 2001>2007 2DIN Fascia adapter (http://www.distriacustica.pt/acessorios-por-marca-audi-a4/730-01au08pro-aro-adap-12din-audi-a4-281320-12-1-4026724832129.html) *no fascia produced for A3/S3* --------- 37 €

(....and more...)

Tasker ---------------------------------------------

Poweramp ----------------------------------------

Ultimate Custom widget-------------------------

Desktop Visualizer-------------------------------

newsQuickal--------------------------------------

Nova Launcher-----------------------------------

(....and more...)

(I'll be updating this as soon as I recall, please bear with me) :)

(chapters 3 to 7 continue in the next posts, due to image posting limits - sorry about that)

8 - Some tests and final impressions, pictures

Before, the interior look of stock Symphony II, in the dashboard:

symphony2.jpg


a4symphony2.jpg


And after finishing my Symphonynexus project: ;)

DSC_0043.jpg


DSC_0041.jpg


After struggling again, with a damaged OTG cable for the 3rd time, I realized I had to completely take it apart and build one of my own, this time with 24 AWG power+28 AWG data, shielded, usb cable and those angled micro usb spares i got from ebay, a neat soldering job, some final tests - FIXED FOR GOOD! Took some time to drill and file/smooth the holes for the camera/ambient light sensor. Then the knobs, and hold them in place for good too, with some glued rubber and nylon o-rings. I'm really happy with the way those worked out.

Still have a few things to work on and improve, like the placement/leveling of the tablet inside, the grounding of the head unit, UI tweaks and fix some minor glitches... Plans are being made to bring some of the head unit's controls, (like the CD and FM switches) up to both of the blank button covers, near the ESP switch. I may post some more updates soon!

Cheers. :p

(had to save adding more to this for another update, sorry)
 

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3 - Project start - Hacking the stock head unit, Symphony II

Removing the head unit and placing an after-market amplifier proved to be troublesome and not any better on economy, so I dismantled the stock hardware and reverse engineered it to try and figure out, and learn about, how I could salvage some, if not all of it, as I also needed to make room for the tablet. Turns out, not only it was a viable solution and I had a few options on how to pass the N7 sound output onto it, as well I could even "keep" the internal 6 CD-changer connected, just for the fun of it: Here´s how I did it: :p

removablemodule.png


Out of curiosity, after taking apart rhe head unit, I took only the main board (FM tuner) module to the dash, plugged all the connectors back in, holding the LCD/keyboard PCB in place. Tried to turn it on and - voilá - tuner sound came out from all speakers, It worked! Apparently, these head units were built with independent, removable modules, so as to prevent complete failure of the head unit, if one of the secondary modules got fried somehow. This finding was great and allowed me to swiftly sort a way to fit in the N7, and get to work.

img021.jpg


The 6 CD-changer module is connected to the main board through both PCB and ribbon cable extension. Seems like some sort of power/data/audio link and, can be hacked by means of any communication cable with 15 separate wires (26 AWG or thicker).

IMG_20050716_004851.jpg


I figured, this way I could, more or less, easily salvage the CD-changer and place it somewhere in the trunk. I chose to use 2x 3m of FTP network cabe for this. It's easy to find and great for this! It has a total of 16 insulated wires, plus 2 stripped ones for the ground and aluminium foil to prevent electromagnetic interference. Bought also, at a local dealer, 4x D-sub 15 pin, male and female connectors, to fight the emergent, obvious plug in and out, practical issues. Fitted some screws to keep looseness away. The easier part of the next step, was to trace the leads back to the PCB's source and find a nice soldering spot. The hardest part was to solder the cables into the correct leads, without making a mess of it, without melting the D-sub plugs, etc... Some patience and steadiness was required. Took me a LOT of time (and I can't stress this enough) to finish this, but after being done with it, worked like a charm. I was stroke with happiness! Pictures bellow :D

IMG_20050716_002144.jpg


This picture is from the FM tuner/pre-amp PCB.

IMG_20050716_001924.jpg


And this one from the CD-changer PCB.

Symphony_Nexus.jpg

Above, the schematic/draft I used as soldering guide.(click on pictures to zoom)

img009.jpgimg011.jpgimg012.jpgimg014.jpgimg016.jpg

img020.jpgimg023.jpgimg017.jpgimg018.jpgimg040.jpg

img037.jpg
 

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4 - Fitment of the head unit behind the N7, the tablet itself and fascia(bezel) troubleshooting

img041.jpg


Thanks, for keeping your fingers crossed! Took me some time to deal with the guys at Distriacustica. The workshop, itself is located about 10 miles, north of Leiria and its relatively near my home town. I payed them a visit, but they were already closed. I went home and send them an email, asking if they could get me only the 3 piece kit in rubber, and they said - no problem - just had to wait a week or so, cause they needed to order it directly from their supplier, Connects2. Costed me, 42,44 Euros (around 58 USD), shipping included.

http://www.distriacustica.pt/acessorios-por-marca-audi-a4/730-01au08pro-aro-adap-12din-audi-a4-281320-12-1-4026724832129.html

Eventually I wanted to see some work done and I started experimenting with what I had ATM... Ultimately I found out, both the A4 fascia models had roughly the same size and, I needed to cut exactly the same amount for the newer model. This is like, what everyone has to do, in order to have an 8L A3/S3 fascia fit: cut 8mm (0.315in) parallel with the bottom and 1,5mm (0.06in) along the sides, perpendicular with the top. I did some marking lines first, with the help of a caliper, a square and a precision ruler.

Here are some pictures:

Foto_075.jpg
Foto_070.jpg
Foto_073.jpg


Above the initial work with the 1st bezel, that I didn't enjoy that much. Moved on from it.

IMG_20000101_002620.jpg
IMG_20000101_000316.jpg
IMG_20000101_000654.jpg


IMG_20000101_002459.jpg
IMG_20000101_171520.jpg
IMG_20000101_171447.jpg


This one ended up looking much better (close to stock)

Next on the list - drill the holes for the Symphony volume+power switch/tone knobs and sort out a better placement for the N7 inside, while combining other fixing and cooling elements, around or in the back of it, such as: aluminium foil, corrugated or perforated aluminium plate, rubber sticks, dual lock(velcro), sticky foam, leather, magnets, etc...

(had to save adding more to this for another update, sorry)

5 - Why the N7 should be factory fitted with mini, instead of micro usb charging input

(had to save adding more to this for another update, sorry)

6- The "Audroid Multimedia Interface" - Recycling of a concept

(had to save adding more to this for another update, sorry)
 

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reserving this one for further posting :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
And an additional one for whatever... I'm sorry i couldn't post all at once. This is very time consuming!! :D
 

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Cool.. I wanted to do that too.. take the OEM headunit I have and incorporate my Nexus into it, meaning, bury the head unit but expose the Volume/Balance and Tone controls.

I have a unit apart at home I should look into doing this too as my next stage for my car. That would give me back some features I miss..

HMMM

Kudos on the install.. looks good
 

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Ahhhhhhhh... Alter Bridge!!! Cool!!!

IMG_20130331_151231.jpg

lol :winkP:

Dude... my install is kiddy stuff compared to yours. lol Very nice... I like the UI too... very stock-like.

Keep us posted on the physical buttons upgrade... :D
 

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Ahhhhhhhh... Alter Bridge!!! Cool!!!

IMG_20130331_151231.jpg

lol :winkP:

Dude... my install is kiddy stuff compared to yours. lol Very nice... I like the UI too... very stock-like.

Keep us posted on the physical buttons upgrade... :D
I've been following Tremonti's career from the start, he's great!.. I love all about classical guitar, btw.. :D Oh, and nice pic of your install!

There are already some updates on that. I started modifying one of the blank buttons in the dash, drew a schematic of the desired, final result, and took some pics of the work done so far:

symphonynexuscontrol.png


My car has no steering wheel controls (no big deal as I never really felt the need to have them) so, I am resorting to this, to be able to control the stock radio, more basic functions, without having to pull out the N7 enclosure.

I want to keep it simple and straight forward. Of all the buttons in the head unit's panel, I need just 6 (see picture above). I could be using more functions, but I'll be just switching from FM tuner to N7, or CD, most of the time so...

Switches are connected through parallel cable and some, 2 pin fast connectors in the middle, soldered at the end in the panel circuit board. Similar to the knobs (see below)

img041.jpg


The CD track, skip forward/backwards and FM fine tuning functions are already controlled by the right knob, and power on/off/volume with the left knob, both already transported to the front bezel. Obviously, most of the head unit's buttons assume different functions, dependent on what mode (CD or FM) is set, which is cool! :D

Audi_pixel2.png


Also, the lack of visibility to the the head unit's LCD is somewhat compensated by the Instrument panel DIS (Driver Information System, see pic above). I wish it could be more complete and close to the real thing, but until I figure out some way to pull data from the car's CAN to the N7, this will do fine, I think.

DSC_0239.jpg
DSC_0235.jpg


DSC_0233.jpg


I'll post some more photos when I'm done with this step of the project..

cheers :)
 
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