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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Alright, so I have been toying with this idea for a while, and I think now that I have everything down that I will need to complete the process. This is my first time posting a thread, so bare with me. Install pics will be up in a few weeks once I start and complete everything, I just want to work through it all and get any advice.

So, I like many, have an iPhone. I have probably used my CD player 5 times in the past year, and play all of my music and news off my phone. And it is SUCH a hassle to plug the Aux cable into my phone in every time I get in the car and then unplug it when I have to make a call (sarcasm.) It's an even bigger displeasure that you have that Aux cable floating across the passengers area (double sarcasm.) So I wanted to find a wireless solution. The goal is stealth set up, native usage, and low phone power consumption. Apple's Airplay came to mind.

Quick history, then a run down of how I plan on attempting this. Apple first introduced Airturnes back in 2004. If you had an Apple Airport Express, you could hook up a 3.5mm cable to it, and direct your music to that output from your computer in iTunes. An Airport Express is basically a small wifi router/ ranger extender. Great device for party stereos, range extension, or travel. Now, in 2010 Apple came out with Airplay. Basically the exact same thing, except now it was being made and integrated into all of the hardware (iPhone, iPod, iPad) and 3rd party products. Pioneer just came out with a Receiver that uses Airplay, and there are a few standalone stereos that use it too.

The benefit to Airplay is that whenever your phone detects an airplay device, it prompts a new icon that allows you to wireless play your music through that device without hooking up to it, pairing, turning Bluetooth on, any of that stuff. This saves you from turning on and off bluetooth, saves battery, and saves you from taking the time to plug tour phone in. It also allows you to do all kinds of cool things like have multiple devices submit songs and for one person to DJ. Glad to explain all that later, could be fun on road trips.


THE SETUP:
The goal is a stealth install. The plan is to take a Airport Express (APE from now on), and mount it right behind the dash utilizing the Aux and 12v hook ups. I plan on taking the Aux cable, and splitting it off with a Y, and then reinstalling the Aux port so it looks normal. I will then splice a 12v connector off the 12v socket (behind the dash, leaving the front to look stock) and connecting that to a small power inverter. The APE will then be plugged into the inverter, and the spliced Aux will then be connected into the APE. Seal it all up and SHAZAM, WiFi Airplay.

Supplies:
- 3.5mm 1ft Cable off eBay (3$)
- 3.5mm Y splicer off eBay (4$)
- 12v Splice line I made (5$)
- Socket/ USB Inverter (20$)
(Plan on routing a USB cable to my center console to charge peripherals)
- Airport Express, 2nd Gen, off eBay (45$)
- Zipties
Total: 57$

Notes:
-The WiFi will automatically turn on when you turn the ignition switch (or if you installed a party switch to just run the stereo and 12v :)) and will turn off when you turn the car off. No worry at draining the battery.

-You need to use a 2nd or 3rd gen APE with this. This way you can edit the settings of your APE via the Airport Utility App (Like name, password, firmware, settings.) The 1st Gen does not work with the WiFi formatting App. Oh, did a new APE (3rd Gen) just get released? 2nd gen models are flooding eBay? How convenient, I didn't plan that at all........

- What about the fact that your wireless signal will take over as the dominant source of data on your phone, and then you won't be able to get text, stream music, or get email while in your car???
I have researched the crap outta this one, as I didn't see this as an issue until I did some preliminary set ups. Two options here.
1. Connect to the WiFi and write down the IP address and subnet mask your router assigned you. Then, select static tab instead of DHCP and fill in the IP address your DHCP server assigned to your iPhone. Next, fill in the subnet mask but leave the rest of the fields empty. You now have access to your wifi as well as 3G.
or 2. Set up the APE as new with Airport Utility, but click manual setup. Set it on bridge mode. then go to tcp/ip and set it configure to manually, then delete everything but the submask and click save. And ignore any error reports and save.

-Heat should not be an issue, as this is an enclosed device in the first place, and I've never felt one get too hot anyway.

-I know there are a ton of Bluetooth Dongles that will do this with A2DP, like Belkin's Aircast and TuneLink's Potato, you have to turn Bluetooth on and off to use it, or drain your battery running Bluetooth the whole time. I haven't seen one with Bluetooth 4.0, that uses a whole lot less power. The goal again is stealth set up, native usage, and low phone power consumption.

-While there are a TON of other options out there for basically doing the same thing (Harmon Kardon Drive+Play, upcoming Kivic One, recent announcement that Apple will be putting Siri in cars, and several Bluetooth Options) I felt that this was the best for keeping a stock look, keeping the project costs low, and utilizing the lowest power draw on your phone.




A final note is that this is on my to do list, and may take about a month to get done. I wanted to write it all out and trouble shoot it first. I'm studying for the Bar right now, so this is my side project to take my mind of things when I need a break. This is just my place to track the project, get ideas and trouble shoot, and try share a cool mod. Think of it, NO MORE CABLES!


Let me know what you think!
 

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Wow great first thread ! I like the idea of a stealth/stock look and especially no cables all over.
Look forward to more and everyone here likes pics !
 

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Yeah, the Belkin Aircast totally gets the job done for waaaayy less hassle. I push one simple button when I get in the car. Works with music, calls, Siri, etc. I love it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yeah, the Belkin Aircast totally gets the job done for waaaayy less hassle. I push one simple button when I get in the car. Works with music, calls, Siri, etc. I love it.
Aircast is a great product, however I didn't want to go with this for a few reason.

1. Bluetooth. You have to turn it on and leave it on (which will drain the battery more quickly), or turn it on and off (which takes a few moments to guide through screens). The new iPhone 4S and a few other smart phones use Bluetooth 4.0, the new protocol. It uses a ton less power to receive and transmit, as well as being able to "wake" a device. That would solve the issue of power drain. I haven't found a Bluetooth transmitter that uses 4.0 yet. It's still pretty new to the 3rd party market.

2. Stealth. You have that extra button sticking out! I understand you could do the whole setup as I have it, with the Bluetooth 12v plug and Aux cable behind the dash, but you would still have that button to pair and use the system. I want it to look completely stock.

3. Native usage. I really don't want to make calls through my speakers while only using my phone as the mic right now. I realize some people have to use hands-free due to state laws, but if you don't have a dedicated mic that knows you are using a speakerphone, the other caller can hear the echo and reverb. Until I figure out a set up to mount a mic in my car to use for hands-free calling and Siri, I plan on using my phone as a handset.

Still, a great leap at doing this whole thing in about 15 minutes and a whole lot simpler, as opposed to the hour or two I will inevitably spend!
 

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any update yet?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Small Update

Actually, after you mentioned it I got tired of waiting to make a parts run so I decided to look at exactly where I'm going to place the Airport Express.

I took out the glove box, and there seem to be two easily accessible spots, on the right and the left. The left one looks snug, so I'm not sure if it will fit there. To the right there is plenty of space. It make work better over on the right, but there is less to Zip Tie it to. I couldn't get a good shot of the way back, just over the A/C pipe (I assume..), and there is some space there, but I want to be able to get to it easily if I need to.


Left:
Auto part Technology Automotive exterior Bumper Automotive lighting


Right:
Windshield Automotive window part


I also am toying with placing my crossovers in this area when I do my speakers this fall, as opposed to under the seat. If anyone has advice on one place over the other, let me know!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Alright, so I've run into some problems here that may make the project a scrap. I'm sad because is seemed like a sellout great idea, and worked well besides the following problems, which are actually kind of big.

1. The airport express takes about a minute to warm up. S you have to get in the car, turn it on, wait a minute, and then you can play music. Not a big deal, but when you have a 4 minute trip down the road and it takes while to get any music playing, that isn't a plus. Yes you could say that's not that long or. A big deal, but that gets annoying over time.

2. From what I 'm guessing is interference from the inverter, I get a humming noise through the stereo while the stereo is starting up, and sometimes when there is dead air and it's at full volume. I tried it on my mounted inverter, and on a hand held one. I might try it on an even smaller one to see if it is just the larger inverter that is doing it.

3. This is the biggest problem. The Airport Express and comply cuts out. Often. Like every 5 minutes I'll lose the signal, even though it's plugged in and right next to me. I'm unsure of why this is happening. I'm running the most current software, I've tripled checked my settings, and it's getting steady power. Until I can figure this out, the project is on hold. It's pointless to have a wireless lotion of it you have to hit play again mid song every few minutes.

Any trouble shooting help is welcome!
 

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Alright, so I've run into some problems here that may make the project a scrap. I'm sad because is seemed like a sellout great idea, and worked well besides the following problems, which are actually kind of big.

1. The airport express takes about a minute to warm up. S you have to get in the car, turn it on, wait a minute, and then you can play music. Not a big deal, but when you have a 4 minute trip down the road and it takes while to get any music playing, that isn't a plus. Yes you could say that's not that long or. A big deal, but that gets annoying over time.

2. From what I 'm guessing is interference from the inverter, I get a humming noise through the stereo while the stereo is starting up, and sometimes when there is dead air and it's at full volume. I tried it on my mounted inverter, and on a hand held one. I might try it on an even smaller one to see if it is just the larger inverter that is doing it.

3. This is the biggest problem. The Airport Express and comply cuts out. Often. Like every 5 minutes I'll lose the signal, even though it's plugged in and right next to me. I'm unsure of why this is happening. I'm running the most current software, I've tripled checked my settings, and it's getting steady power. Until I can figure this out, the project is on hold. It's pointless to have a wireless lotion of it you have to hit play again mid song every few minutes.

Any trouble shooting help is welcome!
1. A remote start system that also has some auxiliary functions could be programmed to start the car, and separately apply power to the APE if necessary...

2. Try a ground loop isolator-type product. These are typically made for pro or home audio usage but companies like PAC make models with 3.5mm jacks/plugs/leads, intended for car usage.

3. Very strange. Maybe you've got a defective APE? Maybe it's overheating? Try to see if you can replicate this issue with a friend's unit, or perhaps buy one with the intention f returning it, just for troubleshooting purposes.

Also, just an FYI, WiFi uses a TON more power than Bluetooth, even pre-4.0 spec. If that's a major goal of yours, Bluetooth really is far superior in this aspect. You can also leave it on and idling (not connected to anything) with far less resulting power drain than doing the same w/WiFi. You mention pairing being a bit of a hassle, but it only has to be done once and then you're done. Some food for thought...
 

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I've got a question that you may be able to answer. When your connected to the air port express can you still stream pandora? Im guessing that when you connect to the air port the phone thinks that is your Internet connection and doesn't use the cellular connection.
 

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3. This is the biggest problem. The Airport Express and comply cuts out. Often. Like every 5 minutes I'll lose the signal, even though it's plugged in and right next to me.
It's likely an RF interference issue. Given how close your phone is to the access point, you may well be getting interference as the RF signal bounces around the metal structure of the dash and car. If the phone can't reliably track a primary signal it will drop everything and try again.

At a very different scale this is similar to what happens when your phone will sometimes show a few bars of cell signal but still not work. It's hearing a reflection rather than a primary signal from the tower, so it doesn't actually work properly.

I can't remember if you can control the transmit power on the APE but if you can, set it to the minimum and see if that helps.

twj
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Also, just an FYI, WiFi uses a TON more power than Bluetooth, even pre-4.0 spec.
So I've abandoned this project. There didn't seem to be a feasible way for me to easily speed up the turn on time of the APE and not have to do any extensive install. Kind of sad, but it was a fun process.

Do you know of any BT 4.0 car modules?

FYI- I could still access the internet and stream music while on my APE. It realized through the settings that it was on a wifi network, but was not receiving an internet connection and used 3G
 

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Just use bluetooth. I've been using bluetooth for audio streaming and hands free calling in my car for years now.

When I get out of the car it automatically pauses the music I was playing (internet radio for example). When I get in the car again it resumes play. Same pause and resume for receiving a call. I can pause, play, skip tracks, all from my head unit.

I have no cables, no extra buttons, no start up procedure. I can do everything without taking my phone out of my pocket. I have never had an issue with battery life even on long trips when I'm running GPS and streaming music.

Maybe I missed something but it kinda seems like you're trying to reinvent the wheel here. Maybe you need to look into a phone with better battery life?

For reference:
Phones used - Motorola Droid X, Motorola Razr Maxx
Head units used - Kenwood eXcelon KDC-X994, Pioneer Pioneer FH-P8000BT
Internet radio app - Slacker
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I think I may end up just doing a Bluetooth module behind the dash. Should be simple enough.

I was totallyyyy trying to reinvent the wheel. Airplay just seemed easy, and it was a fun project to try, but ultimately didn't work out fully.

And as for battery usage not being affected, your reference section tells me why! Razr Maxx HD?? You've got the biggest battery with a 3300 mAh LiIon! That thing is a monster at staying alive.

Thanks to everyone for their contributions.

(Mods, could you close this thread?)
 

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I'm actually doing this right now. I wanted a package that could easily go with with me, be used in multiple cars, allow multiple users to connect and play, and provide high quality sound. I'll get all of that from the Airport Express (AP).

Right now I'm just waiting on a few small electrical components to come in so I can begin my project. My AP will run on 5v usb, so I removed the original power supply and soldered in a custom one. Mine will take advantage of the rear 12v outlet and I will run a long aux cord to the front. After some testing in the house modified Ap took about 30 seconds to connect to my iPhone 5c (and since that network is programmed into my phone it will connect automatically, just like Bluetooth). I'll post some pictures when it's all said and done.

It's a cheap project, much cheaper than installing a new head unit that doesn't match the E's interior. No clutter from cables everywhere. No dongles or attachments on the dash. Nice, clean, factory appearance. If it's possible I'll probably put another 12v source where the aux in was in the dash.
 

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This $30 thing supports Airplay and runs off of USB power

[ame]http://www.amazon.com/Sabrent-Receiver-Supports-Portable-WF-RADU/dp/B00L26YDA4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1424782086&sr=8-2&keywords=airplay[/ame]
 
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