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2006 Ridgeline + Xenarc MDT-X7000

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  • 2006 Ridgeline + Xenarc MDT-X7000

    Kind of strange to start this log after I've nearly finished the project, but I took pictures all along and wanted to provide them as (1) evidence that I did this myself and (2) to help the next poor guy looking for a place to run a power cable.

    For starters, here's the general history. When I bought my Ridgie in the spring of '06, I really wanted the built-in nav. Honda wanted $2000 for the nav upgrade. But in order to get the nav, I also had to buy the moonroof ($1000), which I knew I'd never use. For $3K, I thought, I probably can do it myself, save some major bucks, and get much more functionality than the nav alone could provide.

    In retrospect, I was right to think "probably." There were a lot of fits and starts - things I tried that didn't work - returns to the store and stuff I bought I've not used (and will get around to returning). And the time investment... considering that I need to drive this car every day, there's a time investment in pulling off the dash (ridiculously easy in the Ridge), center console, and panels every time I wanted to move a wire. It meant that unless I could find a couple of uninterrupted hours at a time to work, nothing got done... for months.

    But here we are, and it works. Here's a link to the finished description, pictures, and wiring diagram. As if these things are ever actually "finished."

  • #2
    Running Power

    First, I decided to install the PC under the back seat. There's plenty of room back there in the Ridgeline, and I was only using it for an extra diaper bag and umbrella. The seats split unevenly to flip up, so I put the PC under the smaller split, which is (conveniently) not where the baby seat is installed but is (inconveniently) on the passenger side of the car.

    To use the PC back there, I needed power. I used 8ga Streetwire cable (came in a kit with a fuse), attached the fuse assembly to the plastic box that the battery sits in, and ran the cable through a rubber grommet in the firewall. This was easier than I expected: a small "X" incision made with an Xacto knife was enough to just push the wire through. The picture shows where it enters the car - the vertical black bar is the gas pedal. This is an easy spot to find in the engine compartment; I just pushed a coat hanger wire through the "X" and it was obvious where to push the wire.

    The next three photos show the wire run coming under the carpet on the driver's side and down the side of the car under the kick panels. I had to remove the driver's seatbelt to get the panel off between the front and back doors. Once the panels were off, it was an easy run. The power lead then runs at the base of the back seat and comes up into the plastic underseat pocket - and into the PC.
    Attached Files


    • #3
      Wiring the console (1)

      This was the worst part. My original plan for this install was to use a Xenarc 700IDT panel and to integrate it into the console using a custom bezel. However, the aspect ratio was wrong for the opening, and I diecided that it just wouldn't look right. About that time, the MDT-7000X was offered, and I decided to try that instead.

      When I thought I was going to use the 700IDT, I figured I'd need to run speaker wires from the PC to the front end so I could then patch them into the radio harness via a speaker-level output adapter (Wal-Mart, $17). The white wires you see in the next pictures are the dual speaker wires I ran the length of the car - what a pain.

      In this picture, the dash is off (amazing - it just pops off and you unclip about 7 harnesses from the back) and the stock radio is still in place (barely). You can see some of the wires I ran: VGA, USB, and the whte speaker wire. The stock hazard light is hanging there since the pocket in which it fits has been removed, and the white box right under the radio is a free aux input port coming off my HD Radio (invisible).

      My plan was to patch the Xenarc into the spare input to the HD Radio, and use its input switcher to control access to the stock radio. It never worked - I don't know why. And since the new Xenarc has a radio built-in, I pulled the HD out when I gave up on the stock radio. Not a great loss - I really liked the HD quality, but it only worked well when I was in metro areas.
      Attached Files


      • #4
        Wiring the console (2)

        Here you see the wire runs down the center pillar and down the middle of the truck. Getting the center console out is a nuisance and it's surprisingly heavy. Also, the retaining clips that hold the plastic panels on to the frame are surprisingly flimsy...

        The second pic shows the wires sitting on top of the carpet. The run to the under-seat compartment is only another foot, so I used a coat hanger to pull them through.
        Attached Files


        • #5
          Installing the Xenarc *and* the Stock Radio

          Now to the fun part.

          The stock bracket that connects to the OEM radio includes a bracket to mount a pocket; you can see it in the "finished" photos. That bracket, amazingly, turns out to be the right width for a single-DIN accessory - like my Xenarc. I did have to go to Lowe's to get the right length metric screws, but it fit like a champ.

          In the second picture, you can see the "assembled" radio and screen and the various spaghetti coming out the back. The Xenarc has an amazing cable load - 28 different wires come out of that thing.

          One important lesson learned: I had always intended to use fully-insulated disconnects for the electrical connections, but I had a hard time getting enough of them at my local Radio Shack. So I ended up with some from the local auto parts store and some from Radio Shack. Turns out they're not compatible - the insulated shells are slightly different, and they wouldn't interconnect. More cutting and stripping and crimping.

          Also, the Xenarc comes with the leads already terminated in insulated bullet-style connectors that look to be 10-12ga size; they're huge, and I couldn't find matching connectors anywhere, so I had to clip all of those and replace them with retail connectors.

          Picture three shows the splices I had to do into the constant power and switched power leads for the OEM radio to power the Xenarc. This is kind of ugly ; I was worried that I would have a power draw problem, but it worked fine. And it turned out to be a non-issue when I removed the OEM radio.
          Attached Files


          • #6
            "Final" Install

            After putting it all back together, it worked... kind of. The pictures show the setup with the OEM radio still installed, screen in and out.

            - No way to mount the hazard switch. I could build a bezel, but it would take some precision work to get the opening for the switch just right.
            - The audio setup was just too hard. To switch from analog radio to PC, I'd have to turn on the HD Radio unit from the OEM radio console, switch it to the aux input, and open the screen. That's a 60-second process - too much in a moving car. Furthermore, I couldn't listen to the radio while using the nav.

            So I decided to take the factory radio out and use the radio in the Xenarc. The "completed" log here shows that setup; I have lost the HD and the ability to use the steering wheel controls by going this route, but it works better for me so far (and I can get a SWI-X for the steering sheel problem). Also, I remain hopeful that the Streetdeck FM issue will be resolved, or I'll find another frontend I like as much.

            End of this log... hope it helps someone.
            Attached Files