Nexus 7 dash install (OEM head unit unmodified) - Drive Accord Honda Forums | radio-pro.ru
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post #1 of 9 Old 02-12-2017, 08:46 PM Thread Starter
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Nexus 7 dash install (OEM head unit unmodified)

Here's a quick write-up on an install I just completed in my 2013 Sport.

TLDR first....

What I wanted originally: Full-on Android double-DIN head unit running Marshmallow or Nougat, so I can run whatever apps I please. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are crippled in my opinion, and they decide what you can run.
What I realized: 2 companies make full-fledged Android units, and they're totally unreliable
What I ended up with: Mounting my own 2013 Nexus 7 tablet into a custom mount below the AC controls, complete with wireless charging, using tethering to my phone for data, and ability to run whatever apps I please, using BT audio input on the OEM head unit.

Here's the longer version, including pics.

Planning
So as obviously stated at the top, I originally wanted a double-DIN 100% Android-powered head unit. I looked into screen mirroring via a name brand unit (ie. Pioneer), but in the end, realized my choices were to get a standalone headunit or use my own tablet. After realizing that the 2 brand that make true Anroid headunits (Joying and Auto Pumpkin) are absolutely terrible on reliability and quality, I decided I'd proceed with attempting a Nexus 7 install. I wanted to maintain my stock system, so I searched for mounting options.

I lucked out, because a car audio shop in FL makes a for a handful of tablets (namely iPad Mini's, but also the N7 2013). This tablet mount replaces the cubby hole under the AC controls, something that I never really utilized anyway. This seemed like a good choice, because in the end, I'm already pretty happy with my current setup -- Image Dynamics CSX62.v2 front components driven individually by the 4ch's of a Soundstream TN950D, fed by an Audison Bit Ten DSP, and rear speakers fed by stock headunit. I was also happy with the sound quality over Bluetooth, so I had no plans to use the AUX input.

The Challenge -- Charging
I proceeded with purchasing the tablet mount, and had the idea of modifying it to support charging. As delivered, it has no cutouts/slots for AC power, nor would those plugs fit anyway -- it's just too narrow without having to cut into the silver trim rails on either side of the center area, so I decided to go with a wireless charging mount. Not the greatest route since inductive charging generates heat and depletes the battery's overall life faster, but we're talking about a 3.5 yr old tablet that I can easily replace the battery on if I need. The tablet itself is still blazingly fast and is to this day the best 7 inch tablet ever released, IMO. But I digress..

Once the tablet mount arrived, I tested it out in its stock config, and all worked well. It actually fits so well that you have to use a "suction cup device" to remove it. Funny enough, that just translates into them sending you a NERF dart -- hilarious, but 100% effective. With initial testing out of the way, I decided to proceed with measuring out the wireless charger's mount spot, etc. I'm using a Nexus 5 wireless charger (the official one) for this, and that turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the mount has 2 magnets which ended up being inside the hole I had to cut out. The wireless charger essentially replaces that magnetic function.

The Install
Anyway, so after measuring everything, cutting the initial perimeter/square on the fabric with an Exacto, and masking off the remaining material, I proceeded to attack the mount with a Dremel cutting disc. Since the mount is about an inch thick in the center, I started by drilling 4 holes in the corners so I could easily mark my cuts on the backside (since the Dremel disc isn't big enough to cut all the way through). It took a long time and required getting a drywall handsaw to finish the job, but here's the pre-final, modified product:



I secured the charger using JB Weld, then filled in the backside/rear with a layer of hot glue for good measure (had to check that first -- hot glue melts around 220, so no worries about the sun/summer). As you can see, I also had to cut out a little notch to allow the AC cord to pass through. The crappy thing I discovered when planning this all out is that nobody makes a 90 degree bend microUSB cable where the cable goes down 90 degrees instead of up, relative to the "correct" plug orientation. As such, the only option was to make a long notch and feed a standard microUSB cable in. No biggie though, and I went back and smoothed things out with a Dremel grinding attachment, which really came in handy when trying to get the charger perfectly flush with the front surface of the mount. To charge the device, I went with a plugged into the cig adapter up front. I'm glad I went with that, because in the end, it allowed just enough room to feed the USB plug into the adapter without excessive stress/bending.

The Result
It was an afternoon project, so took about 4 hrs total, with only about 1.5 hrs of actual work -- the rest spent curing the JB weld and showering to remove 10 trillion specs of plastic and fiberboard specs.

I ended up automating things quite a bit, which is where Android really wins over iOS -- customization. I have Tasker installed on both tablet and phone.

On the tablet, I have 3 rules:
IF Wireless Charging ON, THEN Airplane Mode Off, GPS On, Screen On
IF Bluetooth near "HandsFreeLink" (by MAC address), THEN Launch app Car Launcher Pro & Spotify
IF Wireless Charging OFF, THEN Airplane Mode On, GPS Off, kill app , and perform System Lock (ie. display off)

On the phone, I have 2 rules:
IF Bluetooth near "HandsFreeLink" (by MAC address), THEN Enable Tethering
IF Bluetooth NOT near "HandsFreeLink" (by MAC address), THEN Disable Tethering


This setup seems to work pretty flawlessly. Questions?

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2013 Accord Sport | Obsidian Blue Pearl
Mods:
  • TRS 5500K HID Bulbs
  • Zenex Ballasts
  • Image Dynamics CXS-62v2 Components
  • Soundstream TN5.950D amp
  • Audison Bit Ten DSP
Previous: 2004 Jeep Liberty 4x4
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post #2 of 9 Old 02-12-2017, 10:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickmv View Post
Here's a quick write-up on an install I just completed in my 2013 Sport.

TLDR first....

What I wanted originally: Full-on Android double-DIN head unit running Marshmallow or Nougat, so I can run whatever apps I please. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are crippled in my opinion, and they decide what you can run.
What I realized: 2 companies make full-fledged Android units, and they're totally unreliable
What I ended up with: Mounting my own 2013 Nexus 7 tablet into a custom mount below the AC controls, complete with wireless charging, using tethering to my phone for data, and ability to run whatever apps I please, using BT audio input on the OEM head unit.

Here's the longer version, including pics.

Planning
So as obviously stated at the top, I originally wanted a double-DIN 100% Android-powered head unit. I looked into screen mirroring via a name brand unit (ie. Pioneer), but in the end, realized my choices were to get a standalone headunit or use my own tablet. After realizing that the 2 brand that make true Anroid headunits (Joying and Auto Pumpkin) are absolutely terrible on reliability and quality, I decided I'd proceed with attempting a Nexus 7 install. I wanted to maintain my stock system, so I searched for mounting options.

I lucked out, because a car audio shop in FL makes a for a handful of tablets (namely iPad Mini's, but also the N7 2013). This tablet mount replaces the cubby hole under the AC controls, something that I never really utilized anyway. This seemed like a good choice, because in the end, I'm already pretty happy with my current setup -- Image Dynamics CSX62.v2 front components driven individually by the 4ch's of a Soundstream TN950D, fed by an Audison Bit Ten DSP, and rear speakers fed by stock headunit. I was also happy with the sound quality over Bluetooth, so I had no plans to use the AUX input.

The Challenge -- Charging
I proceeded with purchasing the tablet mount, and had the idea of modifying it to support charging. As delivered, it has no cutouts/slots for AC power, nor would those plugs fit anyway -- it's just too narrow without having to cut into the silver trim rails on either side of the center area, so I decided to go with a wireless charging mount. Not the greatest route since inductive charging generates heat and depletes the battery's overall life faster, but we're talking about a 3.5 yr old tablet that I can easily replace the battery on if I need. The tablet itself is still blazingly fast and is to this day the best 7 inch tablet ever released, IMO. But I digress..

Once the tablet mount arrived, I tested it out in its stock config, and all worked well. It actually fits so well that you have to use a "suction cup device" to remove it. Funny enough, that just translates into them sending you a NERF dart -- hilarious, but 100% effective. With initial testing out of the way, I decided to proceed with measuring out the wireless charger's mount spot, etc. I'm using a Nexus 5 wireless charger (the official one) for this, and that turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the mount has 2 magnets which ended up being inside the hole I had to cut out. The wireless charger essentially replaces that magnetic function.

The Install
Anyway, so after measuring everything, cutting the initial perimeter/square on the fabric with an Exacto, and masking off the remaining material, I proceeded to attack the mount with a Dremel cutting disc. Since the mount is about an inch thick in the center, I started by drilling 4 holes in the corners so I could easily mark my cuts on the backside (since the Dremel disc isn't big enough to cut all the way through). It took a long time and required getting a drywall handsaw to finish the job, but here's the pre-final, modified product:



I secured the charger using JB Weld, then filled in the backside/rear with a layer of hot glue for good measure (had to check that first -- hot glue melts around 220, so no worries about the sun/summer). As you can see, I also had to cut out a little notch to allow the AC cord to pass through. The crappy thing I discovered when planning this all out is that nobody makes a 90 degree bend microUSB cable where the cable goes down 90 degrees instead of up, relative to the "correct" plug orientation. As such, the only option was to make a long notch and feed a standard microUSB cable in. No biggie though, and I went back and smoothed things out with a Dremel grinding attachment, which really came in handy when trying to get the charger perfectly flush with the front surface of the mount. To charge the device, I went with a plugged into the cig adapter up front. I'm glad I went with that, because in the end, it allowed just enough room to feed the USB plug into the adapter without excessive stress/bending.

The Result
It was an afternoon project, so took about 4 hrs total, with only about 1.5 hrs of actual work -- the rest spent curing the JB weld and showering to remove 10 trillion specs of plastic and fiberboard specs.

I ended up automating things quite a bit, which is where Android really wins over iOS -- customization. I have Tasker installed on both tablet and phone.

On the tablet, I have 3 rules:
IF Wireless Charging ON, THEN Airplane Mode Off, GPS On, Screen On
IF Bluetooth near "HandsFreeLink" (by MAC address), THEN Launch app Car Launcher Pro & Spotify
IF Wireless Charging OFF, THEN Airplane Mode On, GPS Off, kill app , and perform System Lock (ie. display off)

On the phone, I have 2 rules:
IF Bluetooth near "HandsFreeLink" (by MAC address), THEN Enable Tethering
IF Bluetooth NOT near "HandsFreeLink" (by MAC address), THEN Disable Tethering


This setup seems to work pretty flawlessly. Questions?


I was ganna get this kit for the iPad mini, but I backed out when I found out that there's no hole for the lighting cable to charge the iPad mini while it's in the kit.


Sent from my iPhone 7+ JetBlack using Tapatalk


WOP 2016 Accord Sport
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Pioner AVH-4200NEX HU
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post #3 of 9 Old 02-12-2017, 10:34 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arempee26 View Post
I was ganna get this kit for the iPad mini, but I backed out when I found out that there's no hole for the lighting cable to charge the iPad mini while it's in the kit.


Sent from my iPhone 7+ JetBlack using Tapatalk
Yeah I really lucked out with the fact that the Nexus 7 supports wireless charging. There's just not enough room to run a USB cable directly into the device without having to cut into those silver trim rails on the car, which I saw as a big no-no. Not to mention, it would look kinda crappy. I also looked into 90 degree USB cables, which could've potentially solved the issue, but nobody makes a 90 degree cable that has "inverted" plug orientation. In other words, the cable would come out of the device and head towards the driver, instead of back towards the dash.

Another option, if you don't use that tablet for anything else, is to relocate the charging port. Usually though, that means making it external and having wires running out of the side of the tablet, or some sort of other messy-looking setup. I seriously doubt, given Apple's designs, that there's room to simply relocate it internally to the side.

And finally, there's a small chance that you could make a 90 degree side-bend lightning cable work, and cut a notch into the edge of the tablet mount, but you'd have to find a cable that doesn't have much "depth" to that bend, so as not to interfere with the silver trim rails.
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2013 Accord Sport | Obsidian Blue Pearl
Mods:
  • TRS 5500K HID Bulbs
  • Zenex Ballasts
  • Image Dynamics CXS-62v2 Components
  • Soundstream TN5.950D amp
  • Audison Bit Ten DSP
Previous: 2004 Jeep Liberty 4x4
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post #4 of 9 Old 02-13-2017, 12:46 PM
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Isn't this the same thing minus the wireless charging?

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post #5 of 9 Old 02-13-2017, 12:50 PM
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This is very interesting, especially as I'm trying to find a purpose for my Nexus 7 (which I also agree is the best tablet after the iPad Air 2). I have a 2016 EX-L, so I believe that this is also compatible. Question I have though, is how distracting is it to glance so far down to view the screen? Is it awkward to use the controls? Ideally, I'd be using Waze and whatever media player I have on deck, but not sure I want my GPS that low. I'm willing to experiment so I probably should just go ahead and bring my N7 into the car and prop it up and see how it goes now!

Slick install though.
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post #6 of 9 Old 02-13-2017, 01:11 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rawimpact View Post
Isn't this the same thing minus the wireless charging?

Correct -- that's the exact product I linked to under the Planning section. But they don't offer any solution for charging -- no cutouts/holes/notches. They expect you to just charge up the device inside. I didn't like that, so I decided to modify it and mount the wireless charging. An unavoidable side effect is that because my commute to and from work is so short (5 mins), I end up depleting the battery faster than it can charge. That mainly comes from the overnight drainage it incurs. I'm looking into engaging true deep sleep on the device, which essentially blocks every single wakelock, then wakes up for a sec on a schedule (ie. every 8 hours) in order to allow some of those quick tasks to execute, then back to sleep. If I had a 30min drive to work, it'd stay fully charged. Also worth noting that the N7 2013 edition, which features GPS, actually drains faster when GPS is running than the full AC power can even provide, so if you're navigating, there's no solution at all -- even if you had it plugged into the USB cable directly drawing full power. That's probably one of the few flaws the 2nd-gen Nexus 7 has -- it's literally impossible to overcome the power draw if you use its GPS chip. But the wireless charger will drastically slow down that drain, and I don't use GPS on my work commute, or even that often at all within my home city.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mactrader View Post
This is very interesting, especially as I'm trying to find a purpose for my Nexus 7 (which I also agree is the best tablet after the iPad Air 2). I have a 2016 EX-L, so I believe that this is also compatible. Question I have though, is how distracting is it to glance so far down to view the screen? Is it awkward to use the controls? Ideally, I'd be using Waze and whatever media player I have on deck, but not sure I want my GPS that low. I'm willing to experiment so I probably should just go ahead and bring my N7 into the car and prop it up and see how it goes now!

Slick install though.
It's definitely a drawback, there's no denying that. I don't find it really distracting from a music/media standpoint, as Spotify is pretty readable from afar and Car Launcher Pro makes everything big. I also increased the system default font size to the largest possible.

But for GPS, I admittedly will probably have to rely on audio queues from the navigation software more frequently than I will the screen. I knew when I installed this that it wasn't a perfect solution, so my expectations were already set. So I'm pretty happy with it so far, considering total investment was about 120 bucks. Name brand professional head units with Android Auto and Apple Carplay cost $600+ and limit your options, while also requiring a good bit of work to get the wiring right and your original head unit stowed behind the dash so you can maintain iMid. TMVB actually did a writeup where he essentially halved the cubby depth, so that's also a likely modification that's needed.

There's trade-offs for sure. In a perfect world, Pioneer and the other big names would make full-fledged Android units, but I don't see that happening any time soon because they have to drastically limit functionality as a CYA move to avoid lawsuits. I don't use Chrome, YouTube, Hangouts, etc while driving, nor do I plan to. My main choices are Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, Rdio, DSub, Plex, Gmaps, and Waze.

Also, there's a nifty alternate option for a Car Launcher for Android that's called AutoMate. I've installed it and it closely emulates the Android Auto interface. I've only fiddled with it a tiny bit, but it seems pretty solid as well, and integrates GMaps into its interface, as long as you're not using navigation. Apparently Google's terms of service state that you're not allowed to integrate their stuff as soon as you want to use their actual navigation logic. You can use "Start Driving" mode all you want to just get a basic map while you move, but nav logic is off limits.

2013 Accord Sport | Obsidian Blue Pearl
Mods:
  • TRS 5500K HID Bulbs
  • Zenex Ballasts
  • Image Dynamics CXS-62v2 Components
  • Soundstream TN5.950D amp
  • Audison Bit Ten DSP
Previous: 2004 Jeep Liberty 4x4
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post #7 of 9 Old 02-13-2017, 01:13 PM
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Well Nick, all i can say is buy the OBD bluetooth adapter... the Torque app looks great with what you've done. I've considered doing what you have, but my only problem is practicality.

I am not going to be spending money to add a tablet to my phone line and I see limited benefit to it as I too only drive 10 min for work. I do like the look of it... but that's the only pro for me.

I'll have to see, 200 dollars seems better spent elsewhere for me at this point.
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post #8 of 9 Old 02-13-2017, 01:37 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rawimpact View Post
Well Nick, all i can say is buy the OBD bluetooth adapter... the Torque app looks great with what you've done. I've considered doing what you have, but my only problem is practicality.

I am not going to be spending money to add a tablet to my phone line and I see limited benefit to it as I too only drive 10 min for work. I do like the look of it... but that's the only pro for me.

I'll have to see, 200 dollars seems better spent elsewhere for me at this point.
Some clarification...

1. I didn't add my tablet to my phone plan. I'm not sure about your carrier, but on my T-Mobile plan, tethering is included already, so the tablet simply accesses the Internet through a wifi connection to my phone. I automated my phone to engage tethering whenever it connects to the HandsFreeLink bluetooth connection of the Honda stereo, and I can also disable all those automation rules with 1 quick tap on a home screen icon, so it's very easy to control.

2. Agreed on costs -- I wouldn't have done this project if I had to acquire a tablet and wireless charger. As it stands, I just paid for the mount and the mini cig lighter chargers (something I needed anyway) -- that's it. That and a bit of afternoon elbow grease to do the measuring and cutting, which was a good excuse to drink some beers and get into the workshop. Where this project has real value is for folks that have cars made back in the mid-2000s and earlier. Those folks are literally replacing their entire head unit and permanently mounting their Nexus 7s into the dash, using USB hubs and audio DACs and more. Some even have USB antenna adapters as well. The sky's the limit once you start using USB OTG (on-the-go) features and devices.

3. I could see some folks wanting the OBD features, but I don't see much point. That's money, like you said, spent better elsewhere.

2013 Accord Sport | Obsidian Blue Pearl
Mods:
  • TRS 5500K HID Bulbs
  • Zenex Ballasts
  • Image Dynamics CXS-62v2 Components
  • Soundstream TN5.950D amp
  • Audison Bit Ten DSP
Previous: 2004 Jeep Liberty 4x4
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post #9 of 9 Old 02-13-2017, 03:48 PM
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Looks awesome. My friend loaded a Nexus 7 into his BMW. My only hesitation is that the screen is so low.
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