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(Going to try) Adding AUX to my stock Headunit.

Discussion in 'Explorer Audio & Navigation' started by Huntsman06, March 9, 2017.

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    1. Huntsman06

      Huntsman06 New Member

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      So. I have a 2004 XLT with the most basic stock head unit. Single CD, no tape deck. Looks exactly like this.

      [​IMG]


      There is an AUX connector (a 20 pin ford plug to be specific) in the back and I have found various kits that [should] allow me to pipe audio directly into the stereo. I have a question, however. All the kits I find specifically mention the head unit MUST:

      1) must NOT have a 6 CD changer built into the head unit.
      2) needs to say "COMP" on preset 5 and "SHUFFLE" on preset 6.
      3) any rear entertainment system will stop working when unplugged (I don't have one, so that's fine).

      The stereo described (from what I can find) looks like this:

      [​IMG]



      I've verified that both of my existing head unit and the "correct" unit have the exact same connectors in the back. I've also been told on good authority that none of the stock head units can switch to the external audio device without having something plugged in to tell the unit "HEY SWITCH TO ME".

      Anyone who has ever connected some kind of kit or CD changer to this connector, I'd love to hear what head unit you have/used and how you switched to that device. I tend to think my existing head unit actually supports the external device (originally intended as a external CD changer) but I am afraid that, since its the lowest model, it lacks the "brains" to switch to it once installed.

      [​IMG]

      Soon as money and I are on the same page I'm gonna buy the kit and get started. Unless someone can sure for sure one way or the other, I'm likely gonna try using my existing head unit and if it doesn't work look into which one I need to get instead.

      Thanks!
       
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    3. Huntsman06

      Huntsman06 New Member

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      Change of plans, sorta. I came across a 6CD changer head unit for a whopping $35 and couldn't resist. It is only a single disc unit but is identical otherwise to the 6CD, same interface & every other bell and whistle. It also has the 20 pin connector in the back, but this is one of the (rare?) units I've found for sale that has an AUX button.

      [​IMG]

      This one isn't officially supposed to support audio input (which makes the aux button even more strange) but after reading through this thread http://www.explorerforum.com/forums...s-with-03-sport-oem-cd6-pioneer-radio.297089/ I think its worth a try. The iPod kit I'm going to get is plug-n-play (save a power and a ground wire) and I have a hunch that my iPod will be able to play sound to the radio without splicing the wires in since they, far as I read, should only be provide charging to the iPod. That being said, I am going to try using my current head unit with the kit to see if I can make it switch to the iPod. Should also be able to use the same test on the new one to see if the "unsupported" aux button does indeed work support an iPod kit. All in all, I should be able to do a fair bit of testing of both without splicing anything in.
       
      Last edited: March 24, 2017
    4. Huntsman06

      Huntsman06 New Member

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      Mores news--but not good news. I've been using my new headunit (with CDs) for about a week now and it is working well. Today I got the rest of my parts in the mail and was going to hook them up. However, the interface I bought (picture below) simply cannot be used with either of my headunits.

      [​IMG]

      The picture doesn't show it, but the connector on the back has 12 pins and is meant to go to the vehicle's harness. No big deal, I have the harness that fits my headunit(s). However, the ford PAC 20pin harness has a 11 pin connector on the other end (is 100% identical to an ATX cable, i plugged it into a computer just out of curiosity) cannot fit into the iSimple Gateway--it's too big and has too few of pins. So, out of luck. There IS a ford harness for that iSimple, but I (after a few hours of looking online) only can find ones that use the 12 + 16 pin ford harnesses (aka, 1-model year newer head units than mine). Without a totally new harness (or god knows how much splicing and rewiring) I will not be able to make this think work with my headunit. But not all is lost! There is one more, older interface that iSimple made that (from what I can tell) does use the harness I bought. Looks like this:

      [​IMG]

      Sadly I won't have a second input option nor be able to check if that mini usb port would spit out the 5v to power my phone. Also, sadly, that 8 pin connector can only be converted to an AUX instead of the iPod cable--so music is a maybe, but charging is a no for my android phone. I'll get this new one later in the week and try to see what I can make it do. At the very, VERY least I should have the proper wiring harness AND an iPod touch sitting around (which, I might add, on airplane mode and not using it has lasted a full week and is at about 50% battery. Not bad if I decide to leave it in the car full-time.) so I should have more fun next weekend than I did this one.

      For now I'm going to hold on to the Gateway + wiring (cost me around $40 everything) in hopes that I might someday find a vehicle that can use it.
       
    5. Huntsman06

      Huntsman06 New Member

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      The new kit arrived today and I plugged it in to see what happens. First, sadly (due to the way the harness is set up) it indeed must be sliced into power somewhere to operate. On another note the manual it came with listed it as version "1.0" but mine has a label which reads "1.2.1", so I had to look up the correct manual. Not a big deal, but good to know. Sadly the peripheral box is just a touch bigger than the other one and I can't fit it where I want it. I'm thinking I'll get a ATX extension cable (it has a standard ATX end, so plug-n-play) to see if I can move it either below the center console or in/behind the glovebox. I won't have the time today to try and splice the power in, but I am hoping to do it tomorrow evening. I might still test the original head unit with the box, but the manual talks about how it tricks the car into thinking it is listening to satellite radio and my original head unit has no such abilities. So, tomorrow I should have some [good] news once everything is spliced and powered!


      ...Ya know If I had the newer style gray plugs, this whole thing would have been easier. No splicing, better iSimple box with 2 inputs, and a smaller box to stash behind the empty 4x4 button holder.



      *****UPDATE 3/23/2017*******
      So I put the box in and I'm a bit perplexed. The ipod attempts to charge (I'm sure its a firmware thing, iOS 6.0.1 doesn't like the power BUT it knows its plugged into a dock and cuts music from the speaker and is in dock mode). That being said, the box itself IS getting power or else the iPod wouldn't react. I cannot, however, make the car do anything in response. The AUX button and the SAT button both just say they detect no inputs and no (that I've found) button combo can invoke the radio to change to the external CD changer (I have proof it supports it though).

      I'm gonna fiddle with the wires in the radio and see if something isn't plugged in all the way but I just can't see anything wrong. The radio supports MP3 files (or at least the software in the diagnostic mode says so, I'll burn some to a CD and try it for proof) and I know that the box is getting power, and I've got the dipswitches in the correct configuration for my vehicle.


      On a slightly different note, I actually found an adapter online that converts the main stereo connector I have (in my first post) to the gray Phase II connectors and allows newer radios to be plugged into older cars. Looks like this

      [​IMG]

      I CANNOT, however, find such a thing going the opposite direction nor can I find one fort 20pin port I have. It makes me think I could rig a wire up to go from the the iSimple box instead (in case I still can't get this one working). If all else fails with the peripheral box, I am going to see if I can figure out which pin does which and possibly make my own cable.

      This "attempt" started out as a nice, not especially practical upgrade but now I'm determined to find a way to get an audio input to this headunit.
       
      Last edited: March 24, 2017
    6. Huntsman06

      Huntsman06 New Member

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      More news! As I said before, he iSimle Gateway has a smaller ATX connector than what I have in my current harness. I bought one of these [​IMG]

      and, somewhat to my surprise, it fits in the Gateway and my previous harness can (sorta, I'll have to cut one of the clips due to it having an extra pin) fit into the back! Now the downside, of course, is I have no idea which wire should go to what. I am going to try to find a pinout of the "correct" iSimple harness and see if I can determine which pin does what, mainly power and ground. Once I get the power & ground wires correct, there is not a ton of harm I can do to the device and I can try out all the combinations until I get it right. In the meantime, I'm going to swap my better head unit in the Explorer to the old one and do some testing on the other unit so I can work on a desk rather than in the car.
       
    7. Jacob Linder

      Jacob Linder "Roadhouse" - Peter Griffin Elite Explorer

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      For all this effort, why not just put in an aftermarket...? Seems tedious and labor intensive for a simple fix.
       
    8. Huntsman06

      Huntsman06 New Member

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      Part of it
      I've thought about that a lot actually. At this point, I'm just approaching the point where I could have bought an aftermarket for around the same price. The biggest reason I avoided that option was because I've been (slowly) gathering up and adding various OEM options my explorer could have had/was missing when I bought it. It's sorta like what people do when they buy and restore a classic car to how it was originally, but not nearly as dramatic or cool. Now I know none of the hardware I've gathered (aside from the new head unit itself) is actually OEM, but, if all goes well, it will look and function exactly like OEM. 3rd reason, I'm 19 and have some kind of stupid determination to make it work :D

      On a side note, I didn't find a pinout for the iSimple itself, but I did find a pinout for the unique cable it uses. So I'm going to bite the bullet and buy it (like $7 so not bad). I should be able to probe the pins to see what goes to what and, using the diagrams I've slowly found, wire it all up except changing the connectors to the ones I need. Unless Ford did something dramatic in 2004 or 2005 when they switched the Explorer to Phase 2 radio plugs, and I get it all wired properly, it should work--well in theory anyway. If ford did change something big electronically when they changed the connectors on the stereo mid-production year, then I'm basically SOL.

      If that happens and still no dice, I'll have to put this whole thing on hold for a while. I could (don't want to, really really really don't want to) buy yet another stock head unit--from my original post, the one with the tape deck, and try one of those with the 2nd peripheral box.
       
    9. Jacob Linder

      Jacob Linder "Roadhouse" - Peter Griffin Elite Explorer

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      You do you man. Interesting idea and curious to see if you can get it to work! I hope it works for you! However. You can not go wrong with a new updated DVD head unit. Good for those long road trips!
       
    10. Razzius21

      Razzius21 New Member

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      This sounds eerily similar to my current ambition, except I'm trying to add bluetooth functionality. The biggest problem thus far is the same problem you're having, getting that god forsaken aux button to do it's thing. I'm hoping to use everything as stock just because I don't like aftermarket aesthetics, so if I can get the aux input to function, I'm going to get a bluetooth adapter to feed the aux in, wire in custom controls and still be able to use my steering wheel to control the volume and FM/AM/CD functions. I haven't torn mine open (which is the same as your new one it seems) to see what I can trick the unit to do, but if you find an easier harness alternative, keep me updated. Heck, if I can get my hands on another radio I'll tinker with the guts and see if I can't make some magic happen. Good luck bro, hope it works out!
       
    11. Huntsman06

      Huntsman06 New Member

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      Little update. I have yet to get to slicing and fusing my harnesses together (but college semester just ended so time should be getting better!) but I have learned a few more things. First, went to the junkyard (looking for a subwoofer, another thread floating around here) and, to my delight, all 4 of the Gen 3s the yard hard had their factory radios untouched. Two were 6CDs and Two were Tapedeck models. I elected to take one of the 6CDs from a 2003 since it looked to be in the best health. Took it home, wired it up, works perfectly. I tried the radio self-test (pressing 3 and 6 at the same time) and it physically displays "No CD-DJ found" at the end of the test. Bingo, it supports and external CD changer and should be compatible with various kits.

      Now the bad news, I wired up my ipod2car kit since I all the wiring I had for it was still in 1 piece (planning on cutting it up later still) and NOTHING. I get the exact same behavior out of this one as I did with both of my other radios. The box was supposedly new and listed as "old stock" on eBay but there are some heavy signals it's been used. My bet guess is it was either broken and returned or DOA to begin with. So that sucks, but the good news is I have a 6CD changer now (which also has the subwoofer port on the back, which is great) and I have 100% verified that this unit can function with an external CD changer. My quest continues!
       
    12. Jacob Linder

      Jacob Linder "Roadhouse" - Peter Griffin Elite Explorer

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      As neat as this all is.... I still think you're putting more work into if than it's worth. I'm almost 100% positive it would be cheaper and you'd get better quality if you went aftermarket D:
       
    13. Equine Explorer

      Equine Explorer Elite Explorer

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      I was going to attempt this mod in my truck, but seeing as my cd and tape unit is not in working order and the display no longer works, I've decided to put in an aftermarket digital media player with FM receiver. Much easier and will last longer. Good luck.
       
    14. Huntsman06

      Huntsman06 New Member

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      So I have been taking a break from this a while. I've been working on (and finished last weekend) getting the factory subwoofer installed and I was in an awkward spot. I was planning on making a proper harness for the iSimple box, but, I forgot it's intended to emulate a Satellite radio. I have a headunit with such a feature, but the new(est) headunit I have does not--but I had to get it for the factory subwoofer. So I thought I was screwed, either lose the sub or get audio input.

      However, today I have the biggest/best news of all!

      [​IMG]
      That little device is the one I've actually been needing since day 1! It converts a CD changer or Satellite radio to an audio input jack. Now the trouble is these things have been out of stock for like 7 years now EVERYWHERE. There are a few remnants floating around eBay from time to time for the Toyota and GM versions, but I've never, ever find a Ford one actually for sale. Even scouring the deep pages on google for anywhere, suspicious or not, not a single site online had these for sale. Well, today I checked like I usually do and came across one of these PIE FORD adapters on Amazon from a 3rd party seller. Here's the link,

      https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001KM0746/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      Now I know lots of people are hesitant w/ Amazon 3rd party sellers--I am too, but this is literally the only time in the last year I've ever come across these little gizmos. I've already ordered mine and am anxious for it to arrive. I wouldn't advise anyone to jump and buy one yet--let me be the test subject first. If they send me the actual device (it's listed as "new" so we'll see about that too) AND it works, I'll report back. I know there is another one or two people around the forums these days who is trying to get AUX in on a stock radio such as my own, and if this does the job then we're all in luck!

      Crossing my fingers! ...And yes, with this purchase I've spent more than it would have cost to get an aftermarket radio, but by now this is basically a (semi-expensive) hobby for me. Don't care really how long it takes me, I just want to do it!


      So I went ahead and ordered the kit and also reached out to the seller to reassure me that I was indeed getting a new item and that it would also work with my radio. Sadly, they clarified what this particular pie adapter does. Later Ford Radios picked up XM Radio support but lost the External CD Changing feature, so this adapter allows a radio with XM (well at least support for one, you'd lose the XM if you actually installed it) to be a connector to an old external CD changer, specifically a pioneer one. Sadly, as this is not what I wanted, I canceled the order. However, they DID suggest another product to me (that I'd never heard of or even found online yet) that could do exactly what the PIE originally did. They didn't stock it anymore but they said it would be at least one other thing to look around for. I'll make a new post with the entire story, but it's a good one so stay tuned!
       
      Last edited: June 3, 2017
    15. Jacob Linder

      Jacob Linder "Roadhouse" - Peter Griffin Elite Explorer

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      Despite the amount of time and money that's been put into this I'm extremely impressed with the effort! I'm glad it's working out for you!
       
    16. Huntsman06

      Huntsman06 New Member

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      So, as of about 3:00 p.m. today, I have an original Ford Radio (6CD) + the original Subwoofer installed in my 2004 Explorer AND I now have an aux audio input in my radio. No FM transmitters or modulators, it emulates the external CD changer and sounds perfectly (if not a tad bit quieter, but I blame my phone for that) the same as when listening to a CD. Now since I've been on this adventure, I've bought a Peripheral, an iSimple, and (now, yes a 3rd) a "USA SPEC" trying to achieve this.

      Sadly, the peripheral either didn't work or was broken. It was "new" in the package but appeared to have been opened and maybe returned. Not gonna blame the eBay seller, but it was probably DOA. It also required a special PAC audio harness that needed to tap into power and ground somewhere, which isn't an uncommon or bad thing, but it is more work and more time. This was my first attempt and it failed, but I wasn't deterred.

      2nd I bought the iSimple Gateway adapter. Now this one I cannot confirm or deny if it works, but what I can say is that there is no way connect it to an older Ford Vehicle that has the T100 stereo connectors radio rather than the newer "Phase II" style plugs that began appearing on models around 2004 and 2005. The Explorer had a weird year back in 2004 where some (I'm assuming the earlier) models came with the old T100 radio connectors and some other models came out with the Phase II connectors. Now the iSimple I have probably works fine, but the company has never produced a harness to connect it to the older radios. I looked into building one myself, which I am told does work, but that didn't work out. Plainly put, the iSimple can only emulate the XM radio, not an external CD changer. Now that is also okay, but I had taken a break on this project and got the OEM subwoofer (and a compatible OEM 6CD Radio) installed and, despite having 6CD slots and subwoofer support, it lacked the XM radio. So I could have gone through the trouble of slicing the harness to plug in, but I don't think that the radio would have been compatible. So it was either go back to the no-subwoofer radio and slice a Frankenstein harness or stick with the better radio and find a different solution.

      (Little side note, the Peripheral adapter has 8 dip switches and the iSimple has 4. Basically they aren't designed specifically for a Ford--just the wiring is, so you have to set it to the compatible vehicle which is a bit "meh". Depending if you go by the website, the included manual, or the manual on the website you'll get 3 different answers as to how the dip switches should be configured. Nothing a little trial and error wouldn't fix, but a bit more annoying on setup. Although I couldn't find out if a bad configuration can harm the device, they simply say it won't work. If it does ruin the device to be configured for the wrong car that's a big problem, but I can't confirm or deny that)

      That's how I ended up here. Following the suggestion I received from the seller I almost bought the PIE adapter from, I looked into getting one of these:

      [​IMG]

      This little guy is designed to do the same thing as the old PIE adapters. Honestly I think this came out around the same time as the PIE adapters and they are still largely discontinued, but I found this complete kit brand new (I took it off in the picture but it had the original plastic) on eBay for $45 and, according to the manual I found online, it would convert a compatible Ford Radio (with T100 connectors, as you can see) and emulate the CD changer and allow *2* independent audio input lines. Better yet, it came with a harness (very similar to what I built to make the subwoofer work) that was already pre-wired so no cutting of any kind was required AND, that cable on the left, that wired the box back to the harness so that you could do the wiring and find somewhere to put the box since there really isn't any good spot near the radio--it's too crowded as it is. It also came with 4 mounting screws, which is a nice touch. The honestly only thing it didn't include was a headphone cable, but that's fine really.

      Installation was a breeze since it's all just plug'n'play, I spent longer getting the stupid wires out of the radio since the thing was sitting in the sun and the metal on the radio was almost burning my hands. The Interface powers up with the radio and there is barely 1/2 a second of delay from the moment the radio's on to the instant the device is powered and sending audio back to the car. It emulates the CD changer, so when it's powered and plugged in the Radio "sees" a changer with 2 discs in it, "DJ 1" is for the first line, and "DJ2" is for the second and switching from them is down via the stereo at the push of a button. Really handy if you want to wire up a bluetooth audio reciever for one line and then have the aux available for another when you need it (Might do that, might not. Probably won't). In fact, USA Spec made a very similar box (although with only one input connector) with bluetooth built in, but it uses Phase II connectors so it wasn't an option for me. At the end of the day, the quest is done and I have won the battle!

      Best of all, it sounds perfect and I get to keep my unmodified, OEM radio. Modern convenience without sacrificing the "classic" (or perhaps outdated is a better word :p) style and sound of the original radio.
       
      Last edited: June 3, 2017
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    17. Jacob Linder

      Jacob Linder "Roadhouse" - Peter Griffin Elite Explorer

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      Awesome write up man! Glad you stuck it out and found what you were looking for. Definitely not something i could stay committed to, way to much going on behind the head unit lol .
       
    18. regis101

      regis101 New Member

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      This is one of the best threads I have ever read. Kudos to you sir.
       

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