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Aug 07

Nexus 7 Car Installation




What more could a gadget-addict want than to have all the features of Google’s latest flagship tablet, the Nexus 7 embedded in the dash of their car?

I quickly got bored with off-the-shelf car stereo systems, here is my response:

I have installed a Google/Asus nexus 7 in the dash of my MY00 Subaru WRX. I trialled the optus mytab (AKA ZTE V9) in the dash but it didn’t last more than a day since it was a piece of crap performance and audio-wise.

After spending a few months building a nano-itx double din touch screen pc to go in the dash, i changed my mind (for the millionth time) and decided to stick an android in there instead. The intel PC is now sitting in a box at home doing nothing…

The biggest trouble was finding a tablet that would fit in below the A/C controls nicely.. in the end, the N7 was about 3mm too big bit i broke out the dremel and made it fit!

Parts list:
ASUS Google Nexus 7
4 Channel Nakimichi Amplifier
Single Channel Class-D 1000W Nakimichi Subwoofer amplifier
Four-Gauge power/ground
Gold plated Ground splitter and +12v Splitter/Circuit Breaker
Oxygen-Free Copper speaker cables (around 12 gauge)
(coming soon) 1.5 Farad Capacitor (to stop headlights dimming)
2 x Kenwood 1200W Subwoofers
4 x Focal 6″ Splits
Good quality RCA cables
R/A 3.5mm headphone plug to 2x RCA 30cm cable
R/A Micro USB cable
gutted tomtom GPS charger
(coming soon) RCA volume level control (thanks for the idea ahavens17)
20mm wide metal strips
Hook and Loop velcro
Rubber trimming/edging

Update: Added some more pics showing my crude but effective way of holding the tablet in-place.

To hold the tablet in place, i have used some metal straps cut to size that are screwed on using the screws that hold the top of the ash tray to the dash fascia. I stuck some velcro on to the metal straps and 2 small strips on the back of the tablet to dampen vibration and stop the tablet sliding around sideways. The velcro also stops the metal straps from marking the back of the tablet (not that it matters since it is hidden behind the dash)

You can see how it is done in the pictures above. Also, I am using right-angle micro USB and audio connectors so that they fit nicely in the dash.

Update: Nexus 7 is off for replacement

Unfortunately, i had to return my N7 under warranty because the USB port slowly failed to function. At first, it charged really slow, then it wasn’t able to connect or be recognised on any of my computers and then it stopped charging altogether so i sent it off to google. The good news is that the replacement should arrive in a few days!

11 comments

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  1. Gus

    What’s the software situation like? Are you just using the regular Android ICS interface to control it, launch apps, etc?

    1. James Finniss

      Being a google tab, it’s running the new Jelly Bean Android release. Nice soft-buttons for home/back/etc.
      I like the normal icons on the home screen with a few widgets and i have looked into using android car home
      apps and stuff but nothing takes my interest. I’ll probably write one myself in the coming weeks once i figure
      out exactly what i want it to do.

  2. Nick Bell

    Awesome job! I have been thinking about doing something similar in my 01 Forester. Could you post up some pics of how you fabed up the tablet in the din opening? I know the tablet is bigger then the Bezel but I wanted to figure out how to make the tablet removable .. I dont want to have to leave it in the car all the time.. My head is spinning on how I could do this..

    1. James Finniss

      Hi Nick, thanks for the feedback!

      I’ve been madly playing with the audio side of it, testing DAC’s and setting up my DSP, etc. I will snap some pics as soon as i finish the audio setup and charge my camera. I’ll let you know when i do!

      P.s. Nexus 7 in the dash is AWESOME! definitely a good choice of tab.

  3. Nexus

    I actually thought about use a 7″ tablet as a head unit in my car and the Nexus 7 is perfect for that job, considering the performance and price. My plan was to use a USB-DAC instead of the 3.5mm headphone jack. How is the sound quality using the 3.5mm? It´s awesome to be able to have hte entire google music library in your car. Can´t wait forr the Nexus 7 to be released in my country.

    Your blog is now in my bookmarks.

    1. James Finniss

      The 3.5mm quality is alright but me being a bit of an audiophile, it’s not perfect. Most people would be happy with it. The main problem is that it is only a < 0.9VRMS output so it's a bit weak when connected to car amps. You could easily use an RCA line driver and it will have heaps of kick (about $20 off amazon/eBay). USB DAC is the way to go though if you love your audio quality. I'm using a Fiio E10. Just need to solve the USB host and charge at the same time issue. Good to see you find my post useful 😀 Cheers!

      1. Nexus

        The Nexus 7 have pogo pins right? Is it possible tu use them for power and the micro-USB for audio?

        Yes, the quality is pretty inportant. I have an old Nakamichi CD only for it´s D/A.

        1. Groovie

          According to this youtube vid it would be pretty easy to just make up an adapter to use the pogo pins.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBCW630TbC8

          Good work on the install too, looking to do something similar with my 05 STI

  4. DanBa

    A list of standard USB DAC reportedly interworking with a custom Android-powered tablet Asus/Google Nexus 7:

    custom Google Nexus 7 > digital audio stream >> USB OTG cable (Micro-A plug inserted in the Nexus 7) >> standard USB DAC >> amp >> headphones

    Customizing Nexus 7:
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/627459/use-a-standard-usb-dac-with-a-nexus-7-step-by-step-guide
    http://www.whathifi.com/forum/dacs/portable-dac-for-nexus-7
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/595071/android-phones-and-usb-dacs/225#post_8599585

    . ESi Dr. DAC nano: (Nexus 7 >> USB out >> Dr DAC nano >> SPDIF out)
    http://www.esi-audio.com/products/drdacnano/
    http://rootzwiki.com/topic/30129-kernel-nexus-7-cifsnfsusb-otg-gpu-oc-cpu-oc-072912/page__st__60#entry934016

    . FiiO E7 (USB DAC/amp):
    http://fiio.com.cn/product/index.aspx?ID=28&MenuID=020301
    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=30281733&postcount=83

    . FiiO E10 (USB DAC/amp):
    http://fiio.com.cn/product/index.aspx?ID=37&MenuID=020301
    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?p=29805237&highlight=asound#post29805237

    . FiiO E17 (USB DAC/amp):
    http://fiio.com.cn/product/index.aspx?ID=42&MenuID=020302
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/595071/android-phones-and-usb-dacs/285#post_8696566

    . iBasso D10 (USB DAC/amp):
    http://ibasso.com/en/products/show.asp?ID=39
    http://rootzwiki.com/topic/30129-kernel-nexus-7-cifsnfsusb-otg-gpu-oc-cpu-oc-072912/page__st__50#entry931191

    . Logitech Gaming Headset G930:
    http://reviews.cnet.com/headsets/logitech-gaming-headset-g930/4505-13831_7-34152980.html
    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=30590889&postcount=1409

    . Practical Devices XM6 (USB DAC/amp):
    http://www.practicaldevices.com/purchase_xm6.htm
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/624085/android-devices-compatible-with-usb-dac-audio-out#post_8636550

    . Turtle Beach Micro II:
    http://www.turtlebeach.com/products/sound-cards/audio-advantage-micro-ii.aspx
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/595071/android-phones-and-usb-dacs-how-to-increase-the-issues-priority-with-google/210#post_8565219

  5. javier

    does it turn off and on with the key or how do you turn it off and on im planning on doing this with my acura tl but im stuck on figuring out how to make it turn on and off without touching the power button

    1. James Finniss

      Yeah it turns on and off with the key, i installed Timur’s USB Rom which has some really good power management. It’s powered via a 12v to usb adapter. http://mehrvarz.github.io/nexus-7-usbrom/

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