Nexus 7 Dashboard Install

Nexus 7 Dash InstallShortly after the Nexus 7 was first released, I saw reports of people replacing the head unit in their car with the tablet. Apparently the Nexus 7 is almost exactly the correct size to fit in a double-din space. I’ve been thinking about doing something like that ever since and this past weekend, I finally did.

I specifically purchased a 2012 model Nexus 7 for two reasons:

  1. It is less expensive. I picked up a 32 GB refurbished model for $150. Since this is going to live in my car, I don’t need the fantastic display of the newer model and the extra space will be extremely useful for storing music and things.
  2. It works with USB Rom. This basically does all the hard work of making sure usb works correctly and sending the tablet into a deep sleep when the car is off. It isn’t being updated anymore, but is based on CyanogenMod 10.1. I haven’t found any missing features yet.

Gotchas

  • The Nexus 7 is almost exactly the correct size. My particular double din adapter thing had screw holes that would have been perfect if the device was about 5mm smaller. So it’s a jury rigged attachment using screws, plexiglass, coat hanger wire, and duct tape. Also a bit of Sugru and strong glue. It should hold pretty well, but we’ll find out.
  • The plug for a car antenna is very different from the one for the usb dongle. I ended up splicing the cables together. Someone might make an adapter, but I wasn’t patient enough to figure that out. Splicing antenna cable is a pain. It’s basically a coax cable but tiny.
  • The usb otg y cable I bought didn’t quite fit in the car. It has a straight micro usb connector. I had actually ordered another one with a right angle connector from ebay, but wanted one sooner that I could play with. That worked out well since the ebay one wasn’t quite what I needed (my fault, not theirs). I ended up cutting of the straight connector and using the right angle connector from the ebay adapter. Soldering usb cables is also a pain. Again due the general tinyness of the inner cables. On the plus side, I’m better at soldering now than I was three days ago.
  • The amp I bought was huge. Way bigger than I expected. Big enough that it doesn’t fit behind the dash. It lives in the glovebox now. Fortunately, I don’t really use the glovebox so that isn’t a problem.
  • When connecting wires, make sure things are off. I definitely blew a fuse (and then spent about an hour figuring out which one) because I left things on while wiring up the amp.
  • The radio doesn’t work as well as I would like. I’m not sure why. I’m going to experiment with a different app to see if that makes any difference. I also might not have done a good enough job splicing the antenna cable.

Apps

Useful Links

About

Application Developer at the University of Iowa. Works mostly with PHP/Oracle, but doesn't like the Oracle bits. Also an avid gamer and tinkerer.

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4 comments on “Nexus 7 Dashboard Install
  1. Rip says:

    Thanks for posting this Brian, after I saw that this was your weekend project I was very curious exactly what you were doing and how it would go. It looks like a really nice project, well done!

    A couple of thoughts:
    1: Keep and eye on the temp of that amp and your glovebox. Typically amps are meant to be mounted in spaces with at least some airflow to keep them cool, not in confined spaces. Ironically it will likely be a larger concern in the winter than the summer due to the routing of the heat/defrost ducts through the area under the dash and the fact they will be carrying hot air instead of cold.
    2: When soldering fine gauge wires I’ve found that “tinning” the wires individually then using the iron to remelt the solder while they are in contact works reasonably well most of the time.
    3: You think antennae cable is bad, try the double layer coax they often use for laptop power connections. If you continue to suspect problems with your antennae splice you might try getting some solderless spade connectors and once you have them crimped on use your soldering iron to heat the connector and wire up to the point where you can use the wicing action of the wire to draw the solder down into the connection (before putting the connectors on slide some longer pieces of heat shrink tubing onto the wires, often times the heat required at the connector will cause some damage to the insulation of the cable). Doing this will make a really solid connection between wire and connector that will last really well while being jostled down the road, we used this technique on the control systems for the service trucks when I was working for Halliburton.

  2. Helios says:

    Hey there!

    I am not sure, but did you maintain the Fireborn.org fan comunity/forum perhaps?
    After the forum was already dead (couldn’t join, just see what’s on it), it had been completely removed at some point, and redirects to this blog.

    Don’t mean to intrude, but I was wondering if the resources on the forum (mostly downloads) are still available somewhere?
    I would like to archive them (if I can have permission) for future use, relating to the Fireborn rpg.
    I understand it’s not amazingly popular or actively played, but there remains interest and some are playing it still.
    (or only recently starting it up)

    Thanks in advance!

    • Brian says:

      I posted a Dropbox link to the Google+ community you linked to. Glad to see there are still people playing.

      • Helios says:

        Thanks a lot! :)

        Also for having kept the message board/community running before my time.
        I sadly found out about Fireborn rather late, and only through coincidence (I pick up rpg’s occasionally out of interest/curiousity, and it was cheap on ebay), but after picking up the book and after a long period till finally getting a group together, it seemed to have kicked off better then expected.

        Still running Fireborn as GM monthly, and excitement only seemed to have grown over the last few sessions.

        again, thanks for your help!