Subaru Outback Forums banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
2016 Outback 3.6R Limited with Tech Package. Venetian Red Pearl/Ivory Leather.
Joined
·
32 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
As attached pictures show I added an Android head unit with 9" HD screen to my 2016 Outback. This is an add, not a replacement to the existing head unit which I want to keep. Audio output connect to the Aux input of the Outback head unit and nothing of it is touched.
Running Android 8 one can install any app but my main motivation is to have audio/video players, GPS map of a higher quality. Audio app is Superamp, video is Maxplayer, GPS is OsmAnd. All OsmAnd maps are installed into memory. Performance is excellent.
Also added a rear camera. This is not a backup - the Outback already has a good one tied to the rear 'radars'. The rear camera can be turned on continuously. (Note rear video is clean, artifact due to interaction with my camera.)
Android allows future additions. Not shown is the OBD scanner which is analyzed by the Torque app.
The head unit feature powerful hardware - 8-core ARM CPU, Mali GP, 4GB RAM, 32GB SSM, 4 USB ports, Wifi and BT. It is only 2" deep and thus allow installation into this non-standard location. Although available I don't want steering wheel control.
A little I/O panel is installed to mount the 6 USB ports, AV inputs, rear camera switch, a charging USB port and master power switch.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
2016 Outback 3.6R Limited with Tech Package. Venetian Red Pearl/Ivory Leather.
Joined
·
32 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
I made a few changes since last post.
Rear camera - Original centrally mounted position show a thick line in the middle that is the window heating element. This bother me too much. A new acrylic panel is made to mount the camera off to the side. This way the video is clean. Camera lens span 120 degrees with auto exposure. See pic.
Radio antenna - Original antenna has not worked to satisfaction especially in fringes. Decided to make my own - a closed-loop dipole using thick copper wire. Mount to the new acrylic panel. See pic. Result is completely satisfactory, lots of channels and good sound. Better than the Outback radio.
Engine parameters - The Android app Torque show running engine parameters. Head unit connect to an OBDII scanner via Bluetooth.
Time - Head unit clock is calibrated from GPS data within one minute of a cold power up. Boot up time is about 20 seconds.
The biggest satisfaction of this Android head unit is the music. Able to play uncompressed FLAC files, the sound quality, flexibility of EQ, excellent internal electronics deliver a sound that is just amazing. It more than solved many problems of the Subaru head unit while using the premium H-K amplifier and loudspeakers.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
2019 Touring (Canadian Model) with Eyesight
Joined
·
398 Posts
Wow, great work!

I had forgotten about Torque. Wish that was something that AA could run on the HU. There are so few apps that do run on AA in a HU, but Torque would be on top of my wish list.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Which Android unit is that? Did you do any custom fabrication? It looks very slick - I'd love to do this in my Outback too.
 

·
Registered
2016 Outback 3.6R Limited with Tech Package. Venetian Red Pearl/Ivory Leather.
Joined
·
32 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Which Android unit is that? Did you do any custom fabrication? It looks very slick - I'd love to do this in my Outback too.
Hi Aeiro thanks for the interest. Yes it looks slick. But its what it can do that matter. Its a wonderful combination with Outback HU, each has own strengths. Indeed, I tried installing the Android Auto app but it is of no value to me so I uninstalled it. The combination exceed what Android Auto can do, while keeping the powerful Harmon-Kardon amplifier/speakers which deliver premium sound. HU can connect to the Internet using my smartphone as WiFi hotspot. I tried and it works. For phone/text I prefer using the Outback HU.

Attached are a few pics showing some internals and customization:

Head unit as delivered - You can see unit as delivered including brand name. I will say no more because I am not a seller. You have to search to find this one, or find other HUs that might work for you. Key to the whole thing is the 2" thickness of the electronics box because it is not being mounted into a standard DIN size opening. The thinness of the electronics box, which is made of die-cast aluminum acting as heat sink, is because the unit does not have power amplifier. Only line level audio outputs. So much the better! The 9" screen, which is high resolution, fit perfectly.

Head unit with rear bracket - In order to facilitate the many connections into the HU, and the fact that the thinness of the box yields lot of space at the rear, I decided to bend a piece of sheet metal to make a U-shape mounting bracket. Into this bracket I installed a 12V DC-DC 10A regulator & filter, a connector block and various RCA connectors. This make everything easy, neat.

HU with new OBD2 app - Today I settled on this latest version of OBD2 app, which work to my satisfaction. Note it even display GPS accuracy! You can see the way I mount the HU into the car. Two small pieces of wood are made to fit onto the plastic pieces of the center box opening. The HU mount onto the wood pieces clamped by a metal piece, and a handle. Finally a matching anti-reflective tempered glass screen protector finished the project.

I do caution that this is not an easy project for beginners. The center console has to be modified and many folks might not want to go that far. But if you are already good in doing mods, motivated, you know this can be accomplished.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
2016 Outback 3.6R Limited with Tech Package. Venetian Red Pearl/Ivory Leather.
Joined
·
32 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
After some research and driving tests I installed the Agama Android car launcher as my prime interface. See pic.
The purpose of a launcher is to run apps from one screen, and have that screen designed for vehicle operations. Agama does that pretty well. It has an innovative design concept I like. Everything work except the volume control. It is of no concern to me because I prefer to use the lighted touch buttons on the panel. One surprise feature is its integration with the Poweramp music player which I already use. One can run Poweramp full screen, then switch to Agama where basic controls and album art are displayed, as shown Very nice during driving.

Note I do continue to use the Outback HU for casual music playing. Because it has three major deficiencies: 1) play only MP3 while its MP3 decoder is of poor quality, 2) the EQ control lousy, 3) only 2 USB ports limiting size of music library. The Android HU deliver excellent sound because it plays uncompressed files like FLAC with the excellent player app in Poweramp. It has 4 USB ports to hold my large library of FLAC files. In both cases the Outback premium Harmon-Kardon power amplifier and speaker system is excellent.

The Outback GPS map is basic and good only for overview of roads, for navigation. The Android OsmAnd map has far more details, more accurate and I use it for situation awareness, detailed info on surroundings beyond the roads. The two works together like a charm. And of course for anything requiring Internet the Android HU is the one. And that include Google Maps & navigation which I have setup as a backup.

I continue to use Outback HU for all phone and text. It works just great.

Overall this head unit project certainly had its challenges. But I like challenges and the results made me one happy camper.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
2016 Outback 3.6R Limited with Tech Package. Venetian Red Pearl/Ivory Leather.
Joined
·
32 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
I tested this head unit on-the-road Internet performance. HU Wi-fi connect to mobile phone with Wi-fi hotspot and mobile data connection turned on. That is the phone act as a wireless router for the Internet - Wi-fi on one side, 4G LTE on the other.

1) Internet radio. Installed a few Android Internet radio apps. Work like a charm. But quality depend on the radio station output, not on the connection. **** I got superb jazz from Poland while so-so from a LA station.

2) Google Maps navigation. Fired up the app and select a particularly challenging destination. At the same time fired up OSM map/navigation app to the same destination. Put gear to D and go with both apps running, with Poweramp playing music, Agama interface. OSM maps are internal while Google Maps require high-speed and reliable Internet connection. Google Maps set to display 3D realistic pictures of terrain. Result: both work perfectly even after I deliberately made a few wrong turns. Google Maps consume maps/navigation data at a rate of 60 MB/hour. OSM consume none. Both apps talk to the sound system but Google Maps voice is more sexy. Running both of these very demanding apps where one also require mobile data processing, router function test the HU to the max. It passed with flying colors. This justify powerful HU computer hardware. Need that 4GB of RAM for sure.

3) Music streaming from home server. A home computer is turned into a music server by installing the Subsonic app. Compatible Android player app installed in the HU. HU get mobile Internet connection. The setup is controlled by Subsonic. Does it work? Yes indeed I can find and play from the music library sitting in my home computer while on the road. Like some kind of magic. But there is a definite loss of quality compared to the same music file stored in the HU USB drive. (I blame this on occasional dropped bits and large jitter due to network) What about video? Works too but if I select a high quality (high bitrate) video the demand on the wireless just too much. Also video file type must of the few it support. I think for video it is better to put into a USB drive and play from there. Let me CAUTION: Never play video while driving. It is stupid.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Mad props for the imaginative work here! Love it.
I'm curious about the dipole antenna - did you work from a kit/plans? Further detail photos/info much appreciated.
 

·
Registered
2016 Outback 3.6R Limited with Tech Package. Venetian Red Pearl/Ivory Leather.
Joined
·
32 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I'm curious about the dipole antenna - did you work from a kit/plans? Further detail photos/info much appreciated.
Such a simple dipole is easy to figure out and I did it. The ideal antenna length for FM frequencies is about 4'-6' each pole. Because rear window limit the length I decided to use a folded design. I bought two 1/8"x4' copper or brass rod from Home Depot. I put shrinkable tubing into the rods. Fold each rod with a separation of 2" to yield an antenna length of 4'. But the folding give it an effective length of about 7.5'. The distance between the fold, which control antenna impedance to match a standard TV coax cable RG-59U cable of 75 ohm, is 2". One end of the 2 rods are solder joined. The other ends are open with a gap of about 1". The RG-59U coax cable connect to the open ends. The other end of the cable connect to a standard car antenna plug. Works pretty good.
 

·
Registered
2016 Outback 3.6R Limited with Tech Package. Venetian Red Pearl/Ivory Leather.
Joined
·
32 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
No need for 300-75 ohm converter. Antenna is 75 ohm so just use any 75 ohm coax cable such as RG-59U to connect to radio. Note a dipole is directional so when the car move reception will vary. If this is not what you want use a ommi-directional whip antenna but that must be mounted externally. The folded dipole is good only for FM. A whip is good for FM/AM, especially when it is long enough like 4 feet.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top