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A Jeep TJ gets Android

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  • A Jeep TJ gets Android

    Hey guys, I started this worklog on my own forum as well as Jeepforum, and realized that I'm overdue for getting it posted here as well. I'll start from the beginning to catch things up to where I am right now. I've still got work to do, and I'm already changing a few things from what you see below. A modders work is never done!

    I've always placed great sound systems as a priority in all of my vehicles. Of course, when you have a Wrangler, you've got to do a little more creative thinking when it comes to the install. Reliability, SQ with volume, and relative stealth were very important. As such, I chose some very good quality parts almost 8 years ago and only now am I looking at changing things up. Of all my original components, only the sub has now failed me. After 8 years of slamming hard, I'd say it's done it's job. So, I'm going to recap what I installed all those years ago, and then move on to the new stuff.

    Let's start with the head unit. I chose a Clarion DXZ725 for its's features, good looks and simplicity of operation. I was reluctuant to spend a lot of money on a possibly easily damaged or stolen head unit, so the Clarion was a perfect choice.

    Moving a little further back, I have a set of DEI Studio 3065 components in the doors. I built custom fiberglass door pods to mount them in and with the shallow mounting depth of the DEI's and the small Neodymim magnet structure, clearance was not a problem. All interior door surfaces were covered in Dynamat as well.

    In the sound bar I have a pair of Eclipse 3061 components with Rockford Fosgate speaker grills. These required only minor trimming to fit. The sound bar is poly-filled and deadened with a layer of dynamat.

    Under the rear seat I have a trio of JBL amps. A pair of P180.2's power the front and rear components and a BP600.1 powers the subwoofer.

    On to the subwoofer... The subwoofer is a 12" Audiomobile EVO-R in a custom down-firing sealed box. I had originally planned on a ported design, but the desire for some cargo room eventually won out and I designed this box. It is 1 cubic foot in volume, made of MDF, and completely sealed and reinforced with fiberglass and resin. You can see how well it fits behind the seat. I chose the EVO-R because of it's ability to play in very small sealed enclosures and the possibility of ported applications as well. While it was running it was absolutely stunning. Slam with tremendous low end extension. We're talking about the ability to set off car alarms in parking lots. If the company hadn't gone out of business, I'd buy another one in a heartbeat.

    Now, the system diagram...

  • #2
    Now, with that out of the way, I started working on my new 'stereo' install last night. When I start most projects, I like to have a pretty good plan in place. With the TJ, I decided to take a different approach. Although I had the concept outlined, I knew there were so many things that would get adjusted on the fly. Compared to some of the other things I've done, this is a relatively simple project. That said, I'm a perfectionist when it comes to the details, so we'll see if can make myself happy the first time around. I gathered the parts I though I'd need, and decided to just jump right in.

    A car dock for my phone attached to a Bracketron mount was a good start. I'll be able to tether the phone's internet access with the Android tablet I'll be using as a head unit. This mount was made just for Jeep TJ's, and fits perfectly to the side of the center bezel. All screws are hidden behind the bezel itself, so it makes for a very clean looking install.

    I'm going to be using a rooted Nook Color, and in order to fit it in place, I needed to move the HVAC controls. After pulling the center bezel off and looking around, it appeared that the controls could be moved down after a little cutting and duct modification. Here is the end result after fabbing a pair of new brackets. I've still got to make a new surround to fill the gap.

    In addition to the Nook, I'm adding a Hifonics HFEQ. This will allow me fine control over the signal being sent to the amps. I can switch between inputs and use it as the main volume control.

    The approximate position of the Nook...

    I'm using a tablet mount from RAM, and I've got to figure out a good way to mount it. That's coming up soon!

    Now one last thing. I have a bluetooth OBDII reader installed for the Nook. I reversed the plug and bent it up slightly to keep it out of the way. I'll be able to use an Android app called Torque to read all relevent Jeep data.


    • #3
      I needed to get the Nook mount in place, and modify the center bezel. I had a lot of options when it came to mounting, but I wanted to keep it simple, and by default reliable. If it won't take abuse, it's not worth putting in a Jeep. So, I decided to utilize my existing Quadratec iVault. It has served me well for the past year or so, and now it was getting a few more holes... The idea was to eventually make a storage compartment behind the face, and use the face itself to hold the RAM mount. Now, I do realize that nothing is ever truly safe in a Jeep, but there are times I need to stash something quickly while running in to a store. The Nook itself would likely get put in there.

      So, let's start with the mods. Due to the mounting points in the RAM, I needed to move the existing iVault lock to the left. I drilled a hole, and shaped it with my Dremel. This was the result.

      Now I needed to make a few holes for the RAM mount.

      Now finally the mount and iVault face are bolted together.

      It was time for a test fit. As you can see, it attaches nicely. Now one could argue about the aesthetics of it's spacing away from the the bezel as it is, but it works well for me. It's within easy reach, and most importantly, nothing is blocked. That was a priority here. I've seen installs where the vents are unusable, or the HVAC controls are inaccessible. That may technically work, but I couldn't live with it. There was no way I wanted to sacrifice any function just to do something cool. That's also the reason the Nook isn't more tightly integrated into the bezel. It needs to be easily removable, and make for easy maintenance should it be needed.

      Now, let's take a look at the Hifonics EQ. It's very easy to use in this location, but I'm not sure the pic is doing it justice. I have to do something about the gap above it though. I can't just shove a fill plate in there and call it good. I've got to fix it the right way. You can see the hole I added for access to the iVault lock.

      So, it was time to do a little cutting. I've got everything marked out and ready for the Dremel.

      After the cuts...

      Let's clamp that piece in place...

      I cut a piece of plexi to fit behind the hole, and epoxied it in place. Once the epoxy cures, it will get smoothed out with a fiberglass reinforced Bondo.

      After a few light layers of Bondo and subsequent sanding, I gave it a quick shot of primer. Here you can see the fresh primer still in the process of drying. A few more coats and it will be like glass. I dare you to say it doesn't look completely OEM.

      The last thing I did was reassemble everything to triple check fitment. It all looks good, so it's on to mounting the EQ solidly, and getting a fill plate made for the HVAC. Then it's painting and final assembly!


      • #4
        Here I swapped cases on my Nook Color to something more appropriate for the Jeep. I still need to get some hardwiring done, and also build custom touch contacts for docking. I'm just waiting on some parts from


        • #5
          I managed to get almost a decade of hard service out of my original Audiomobile sub, but it recently gave up the ghost. I new setup was in order, so here's something I've whipped up in my spare time. It's a low-profile sub box. I will fit a pair of 10" subs, and is just around 1 cubic foot in volume. To get some idea of scale, it's only 6 inches tall. It's designed to fit in the rear of a TJ with a Bestop Instatrunk installed. If you don't have an Instatrunk, it will still fit of course. The rear seat will still fold and tumble without any interference. Although this is just the CAD drawing, it is sitting in my garage almost finished. It's ready to be sealed with resin and will get a coat of Monstaliner before installation.

          Now the real thing! This was actually one of the quicker projects I had to do. After the initial box construction, I was able to get it sealed with resin, and a coat of Monstaliner. I then added handles for ease of handling, and they will also double as tie downs once in the Jeep. In the pic below you can see I added electrical tape the under side to eliminate any unwanted vibration. The handles were easily installed.

          Now, a sub box isn't of much use without subs. Due to the low profile of the box, and a volume of slightly less than 1 cubit foot, the sub choice was critical. For years I've only bought relatively high end audio gear, Alpine, Clarion, Eclipse, and etc. It's because of quality gear that I've had almost a decade of hard use out of my current hardware. That said, here is where I deviated from my past line of thinking. I decided to take a chance on something much cheaper based on very solid reviews. I bought a pair of Boss D10F Phantoms. My next choice up was almost triple the price per sub. Not that money was an issue necessarily, but audio wasn't the priority for me that it used to be. I don't need to wake up the neighborhood, I just want something solid that can be heard/felt on the road with the top off.

          As I installed the subs I noted a few things. They are relatively heavy, and seem well built. There is an ominous 'Made in China' sticker prominently placed on the back, but no obvious design shortcomings. I did note that a gasket wasn't included. For what little they cost, I was disappointed that one wasn't in the box. The subs bolted right in the box and otherwise hooked up with ease. There were nice push connectors as opposed to spade terminals which was a nice addition.

          So, moving on to the installed box... While it drops right in, it must be noted that it only installs one way. The rear seat must be folded forward, and in my case, the Instatrunk had to be removed. The box sits in place, and the Instatrunk goes back and is bolted in place. Also, the box is intentionally too wide to pull out the back. This was done for security purposes. You will never do a slash and grab on this thing. It's going to take some effort, and even then it isn't plainly obvious as to how it comes out. Sure, I can't remove it on a whim, but nobody else can either.

          That's all well and good you say, but how does it sound? Let me say this... I am simply amazed! These things hit low and solid. There is no obvious distortion or bottoming out. Although they are rated at 800watts max/400 watts RMS, they are taking a solid 700 watts from my JBL BP600.1 and loving it. To think, I've bought RCA cables that cost what these subs cost. Time will only tell how long they last, but as long as the power stays clean, and I don't overdrive them, I think they'll be fine.


          • #6
            So, that catches you all up to where I am now. I'm currently working on revising the tablet mount and hope to have that done in the next few days. I'm sure I left some things out, so feel free to fire away with any questions or comments.


            • #7
              Loving the project. I just bought a Nook Color too rooted w/ CM7.1 and Honeycomb theme. Coincidentally, I've been searching today on ways to mount it in my next project. I narrowed it down to either a hard poly case w/ a custom mount or that said same RAM mount, but from the perspective of ease of removal the RAM mount won of course and you sir just confirmed that. I don't like the look of the adapters for use w/ the cases so I think I'll run mine w/out a case and use the small adapter that just holds the corners. Are you gonna be hooking it up to charge while in the vehicle or just take it out and charge inside? Also audio will be sent out through the headphone jack I'm assuming and not over BT? SUBSCRIBED!
              Last edited by dna59; 08-14-2011, 12:44 PM.
              Project X10 Belazer
              Progress: NEVER ENDING!!!


              • #8
                Thanks! I'm looking at loading up CM7.1 as well. Phiremod isn't updated as often and I'm missing out on some of the new changes. USB host support being one of them. I do like the RAM mount a lot, and it's just so dead simple to pull in and out. I'm trying to implement a USB plug in to the mount, but have hit a wall. The plug I've got has a 5 wire connection, and the receiver I have for the other end has 4 wires. For some reason I can't get the Nook to charge when it's plugged in. I'm guessing I need that 5th wire hooked up, but have no place to do so. What I'd really love is some sort of micro-usb extention cable. I'd be set then, but I've looked and can't locate one. I'll also be using a plug and touch contacts for the audio. No bluetooth if I can help it. I'll hopefully get some pics posted of what I'm talking about so it's much clearer.


                • #9
                  Im loving cm7.1 especially for the better battery life. To get usb host u gotta use the new nightlies. I think i will just wait for the final 7.1 before jumping into usb hosting.

                  Sent from my NookColor using Tapatalk
                  Project X10 Belazer
                  Progress: NEVER ENDING!!!


                  • #10
                    Yes, I've heard it's worth the install, but I'm in no hurry to do it yet. I've got my Nook tweaked and set up the way I want it. I'll hold off for a while longer. I've got to focus on wrapping up all the install details anyway.


                    • #11
                      Alright, let's get back to the Nook! When I last left off, I was waiting for a few parts to arrive. Once they did, I set out to make the Nook easily docked in the Jeep. A lot of the more expensive tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, make docking a breeze. Of course you have to spend nearly twice as much on the tablet to do so. That would defeat the purpose of doing this mod in the first place. Affordable and durable are 2 very important criteria here, and I've got to stick to the concept.

                      So, let's address the power issues first. The Nook needs to be able to be charged once it's in the cradle, and there's no way I was willing to plug/unplug in a power cord every time I wanted to take it in or out. The tablet is supposed to simplify things while bringing more features. If I can't accomplish that, then I was better off leaving a regular head unit in place. I wanted to just grab it and go.

                      Getting power to the Nook started with one of these. It's a micro USB plug with a board and solder points. You can see a test fit with the Nook in the cradle.

                      Next I had to mark out a small area that needed notching. This would allow the USB plug to seat fully in the Nook.

                      After the notching...

                      Okay, so now it was time to figure out a way to mount the plug to the cradle. I needed something simple, strong, and clean. I decided to bend some plexi and cut it to size.

                      Now that I had a mounting system in place, it was time to wire the plug. The method you see below allows for a USB extension cable to be added easily to the cradle.

                      In the next update I'll finish the power dock, and move on to a revised dash mount (I'm never satisfied!)


                      • #12
                        I've got a sneak peek at the almost finished install here. The biggest addition is stainless steel bar that now sits in front of the EQ. This bar will help protect it from bouncing and stray objects or people. The bar also serves a secondary purpose. It does a pretty good job of hiding the EQ from anyone peering in the windows when the top is on. Although I didn't get pics of the process, the bar is fastened to aluminum plates that are epoxied behind the bezel. It's pretty strong, and certainly isn't going anywhere.

                        It may be subtle, but you might also notice the tablet and mount are now sitting closer to the dash than in previous pics. I redesigned the mount and made it more secure while giving it a cleaner look.

                        With most of the work done, I'm now going to focus on a few smaller details. I'll cover that and finish this update in an upcoming post.


                        • #13
                          looks really good!

                          i could tell once i saw the cleanly routed amp cables that you try to do it right.
                          My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
                          "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"

                          next project? subaru brz
                          carpc undecided


                          • #14
                            Thanks! I tend to be pretty OCD when it comes to organization. If something is visually off, it drives me crazy.


                            • #15
                              Nice update. Very useful info since whenever I do another install it will be almost exactly like this.
                              Project X10 Belazer
                              Progress: NEVER ENDING!!!