The penguin's motorcycling and Jeep blog

Thursday, September 3, 2009

My new iTunes radio

Yes, I actually did install that Sony CDX-GT630UI iRadio that I unboxed in the last post.

The instructions from Crutchfield were complete enough. I popped the top trim panel off, then the two screws for the center console cover, and voila, the old radio was just there. Take out the glove compartment, unbolt the security screw at the back as described in the Crutchfield instructions, unplug the two connectors -- the main harness connector and the Sirius radio connector -- and voila. Finally, I unbolted the soft steel "security bar" (a piece of thick wire little thicker than a clothes hanger) and removed it to make more room, since the new Sony radio has no way of attaching to it and it was just in the way. At this point the center of the dash was as empty as it would be:

I then unplugged the Sirius module from its antenna and pulled the Sirius module out from where I'd stashed it under the dash when I put my Kenwood TM-D710A radio where the Sirius module had originally been stashed.

The next thing I had to do was figure out how to put the new Sirius module in. The old one would not work with the new radio. The new Sirius setup was actually two boxes each a little bigger than a deck of cards, one of which hooked to the antenna and one which hooked to the radio and allowed the radio to control the half that hooks to the antenna. But a Jeep Wrangler dashboard is about 8 inches from the front of the dashboard to the firewall, meaning it's already got 10 pounds of shit stuffed into a 5 pound bucket especially since I already have a ham radio and CB radio stuffed under there. First thing I tried to do was re-use the existing Sirius antenna. No go -- it had a different plug than the new Sirius radio. So I unplugged the old antenna up on the rollbar where it lives (remember, the roof of a Jeep is simple cloth or resin-impregnated fiberglass cloth depending on which on you put up there and thus radio-transparent), and put the antenna that came with the Sirius module up there in its place (it just stuck on the existing bracket with a strong magnet). I then ran the wire up front. Next I had to figure out where to put the two halves of the Sirius radio. I found a place for the antenna module at the top of the driver's side kickpanel, and a place for the radio interface module above the heater box vacuum control motor. So I wired everything together -- no way in hell I was going to be able to wire them *after* I got them in place -- and ran the wires that were to the radio out the radio hole, then stuck the boxes in place with double-sided 3M mounting tape, the heavy duty outdoor-use stuff. No way in hell I was gonna be able to get a drill up there to drill holes to mount them, 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bucket, remember? So they were now wired and everything that had to go to the radio, plus the two power wires, was hanging out the radio hole in the dashboard.

Then came the easy part: mounting the radio. The hardest thing there was taking the adaptor Crutchfield sent and soldering it to the pigtail that Sony sent, but it was a matter of soldering blue-white-stripe to blue-white-stripe, brown to brown, etc. until all the wires were connected. As a matter of principle I checked things out against the Jeep service manual's pinout for the connector and Sony's pinout for the connector to make sure I was soldering the right things together, but it turned out that everything soldered correctly. I also soldered in wires to connectors to provide power to the Sirius radio at the same time I soldered in the power wires for the new harness adaptor I was building here -- I used the same "bullet" connectors that are used on all the Japanese motorcycles, simply because I have bags and bags of them. And finally, I plugged in the antenna adaptor that Crutchfield supplied. So now all the wires I needed to plug into the Sony radio were hanging out the dashboard.

So now all I had to do was mount the Jeep-to-DIN adapter and the Sony radio's DIN mounting bracket. The Crutchfield instructions were complete on how to do that. Once I'd done that, I had a nice Sony-sized hole in the dashboard with wires hanging out. Plug wires into Sony, slide radio back into its little cubby while guiding the wires in the directions I wanted them to go (via sticking my hand behind the radio through the glove compartment hole and guiding/tugging wires in the desired directions), and voila. Fire it up by turning the ignition to the accessory position, and... it worked! Except the Sirius, of course, since the Jeep and I are still inside our garage, but the Sirius at least reports "No Signal" rather than nothing at all.

So now I got to put the dash all back together and test out the iPhone/iPod functionality. And here is what it looks like at the end:

My iPhone now plugs directly into my radio and charges from the radio. I can play my iTunes via the radio, and use either the radio's next/forward buttons to move between songs, or the iPhone's screen. I now have a Griffin Windowseat to hold the iPhone over at the left corner of my windshield, so it can serve as a GPS too if I need one in a jiffy or just have a convenient place to let the phone charge and play tunes during long trips. All in all, it just works -- this is a great radio for those with iPhones. I am quite pleased to no longer have to deal with that clunky Chrysler-provided radio.

Oh yeah, the Sirius? I called them and had my account moved from the old ESN to the new ESN and it just works too. I am pleased. And while the Crutchfield directions weren't as complete as they could be, clearly they were good enough for this project. The only real problem was finding a place for the Sirius radio, the Crutchfield directions were absolutely silent on the Sirius install. But it wasn't all that hard at the end to figure it out myself based on Sirius's own directions.

-- Badtux the Radio Penguin

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