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Subaru navigation system -- tips, tricks, lockout override

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Hi all, this is my first post on the subaruoutback.net message board. I've actually been quite active on several other popular message boards, but I recently discovered this site and have found it to be a nice community of practical Subaru fans and owners, not full of raging angry die hard enthusiasts! :p

So, I'm anxiously awaiting the delivery of my new 2010 Outback 3.6R with nav, and it is set to arrive around the beginning of October. While I have obsessively researched it for many months, it seems that I overestimated some of the capabilities of the nav system.

While I knew that it does not have a 3D view, I was disappointed to find out it does it offer text-to-speech for street names. And while I knew it locked out some functions while driving, I am learning that it locks out almost everything (supposedly even changing playlists from an iPod). And even worse, I understand it even locks out some of the functions of the voice activation.

So here are my questions... I'd love to get a nice discussion thread going on this.

1) Can any current owners who are using the system provide a review of the system? Likes and dislikes? Tips and tricks? Pro/con comparisons to handhelds like Garmin?

2) Please expound on what is locked out when driving. To what extent can you program it using the voice activation while driving? Does it understand free text like addresses and street names or does it just have a fixed vocabulary? Can you do things like change albums for music on a USB stick while driving? Does it show album art?

3) Has anyone found a source or technique for hacking or unlocking the lockouts while driving? There are many stores on the Internet that sell plug-and-play harnesses for doing just this, but I haven't found anything for the Outback?Legacy. I recently contacted www.CoastalEtech.com who specializes in Toyota overrides and others, and they said they have no current plans to support Subaru but could in the future. I understand that the Subaru software is very similar to Toyota's, so I'm hopefully something will come out soon.

Thanks!

Elliot

EDIT 20-DEC-2009: IF YOU ARE READING THIS THREAD FOR THE FIRST TIME, SAVE SOME TIME AND SKIP TO THIS POST -- I have just posted a 9 page comprehensive illustrated guide on modding the nav on the 2010 Outback/Legacy to override the navigation lockouts while in motion, and also to add a trick mod to view the rear camera even if you are not in reverse:

http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&postid=209308#post209308
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eps105 said:
1) Can any current owners who are using the system provide a review of the system? Likes and dislikes? Tips and tricks? Pro/con comparisons to handhelds like Garmin?

2) Please expound on what is locked out when driving. To what extent can you program it using the voice activation while driving? Does it understand free text like addresses and street names or does it just have a fixed vocabulary? Can you do things like change albums for music on a USB stick while driving? Does it show album art?

3) Has anyone found a source or technique for hacking or unlocking the lockouts while driving? There are many stores on the Internet that sell plug-and-play harnesses for doing just this, but I haven't found anything for the Outback?Legacy. I recently contacted www.CoastalEtech.com who specializes in Toyota overrides and others, and they said they have no current plans to support Subaru but could in the future. I understand that the Subaru software is very similar to Toyota's, so I'm hopefully something will come out soon.
1) I will stick with Pro's on this one since the biggest con is #2.. The bluetooth hooks up with my iPhone 3Gs and my wife's 3G fine.. Both the phone and audio are able to remember 2 devices paired to the system (obviously only 1 can be used at a time, however audio and phone are independent.. i.e. I can use my phone as the "phone" and my wife's phone for audio at the same time.. Ok, not at the EXACT same time.) Using the USB cable with the iPhone and iPod works great.
You can burn a DVD full of MP3's and it will play on the system.

2) This is obviously the part of any integrated system. This is just not Subaru's fault, this is the legal system in action... Enough lawsuits have caused this to happen. Anyway, once driving it is easier to say what does work... The navigation system pretty much works fine (i.e. you can search for items, zoom in and zoom out, set way points, etc.). On the audio side you can control play/pause on the screen, next / previous track from the steering wheel, and you can change to a preset equalizer setting (you have "default" and 3 user pre-defined settings). That's it.. (No playlist changes, no ability to navigate the play list, you can't even scroll the list!)

3) Right now I have been waiting for someone to determine what model system is in the vehicle. I know it is Kenwood, and that is it.. I am hoping with a model number, finding any chance at hacks will come more from knowing the model.


In the end, I am still happy that I have the built in system.. I was so tired of wires hanging from GPS to power adapter, obviously you can have the bluetooth without the Nav system, and that was also bare minimum...
 

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eps105 said:


Phillychuck: Thanks for the detailed information! Obviously, I'm less than thrilled to hear all the negatives after I blindly dropped $2k after repeatedly hearing the system is "much improved" over the 2009's.

I'm still Googling on a weekly basis trying to find an override hack, which is probably only a matter of time given their availability for virtually all other cars.

I'm still awaiting delivery of my new Outback (hopefully this week!), so I was wondering if you could clarify if the lockouts include the voice activation. I was under the impression you could program POI's while driving by saying things like "I'm hungry".

I plan on petitioning Subaru via their customer service line to reconsider some of their lockouts -- locking out changing playlists via USB/iPod is likened to them locking out the Load & Eject buttons on the CD player... preposterous!!

As far as the freezing up -- I'd be willing to wager there will be software upgrade in the near future. Seems that it's the way of the world now that early adopters are essentially beta testers. Let's all make waves by telling our dealers and Subaru customer service about the problems any chance we get and maybe something will happen.

Elliot
So far I have had my Nav system lock twice on me.. The audio would still work, but the screen was frozen on whatever page it was on.. (i.e. if I was on the Map screen, the map stayed there no matter what button I press.. The map still updates fine, so it isn't a "total" freeze, more of a "I can't get off this screen" freeze.. (At least for me.) And both times until I could shut the car off there seemed to be no other option.. (EDIT: I have had the vehicle for almost 2 months.)

As to the lockout's... If you say "I'm hungry" (i.e. "Find restaraunts") the nav system will gladly turn on the restauraunt's "POI" mode.. However then selecting any of those restaurants via voice can not be done.

So then comes the "Find nearest restaraunt" mode, which indeed pulls up the nearest restaraunt and allows you to set it as a way point or destination via voice command... However, if you don't want that one, you want the NEXT restaraunt you can't (or at least I have yet to figure out how to do it via voice)..

So long story short, if you throw "nearest" into your phrase (i.e. "Find nearest chinese restaraunt") you can set the destination to the single nearest restaraunt, that is it..

Unless someone else has figured out something I haven't.. (Possible since I don't use the voice options much - would if it over rode things like switching playlists and such, but can't!)
 

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diverdan said:
Good call Nipper--I have just changed my order to a Limited without the NAVI. I went to 6th Avenue Electronics and saw the top of the line Pioneer 7" in dash system. That is the one I want in my new car. It has an SD card that you can get updates on your PC and load into the unit. It has every feature plus more than the NAVI unit. It also has a tilt screen. One still has to buy the camera, which mounts on the rear license plate frame, and a kit to match steering wheel controls. It has 3D views too, unlike Subaru. Only 2 concessions: there is no recognizing a CD changer, you can only load one in. Also, there is no template for the 2010 outback, yet. Could be months away, depending on demand. I spoke to an installer and was told a custom job could be done. However, that is a few extra hours of labor.
There are several videos on youtube about this unit. Just do a search for AVIC411.com Demo of the Pioneer AVIC-Z110BT It is a 2 part video that puts the issue to rest.

Last week I called Kenwood to ask about future upgrades to the Subaru Navigation. The technical customer support line was anything but. They refused to answer ANY questions. You would think they were Iranians guarding nuclear secrets. The spokesperson kept telling me to call Subaru, which I did. I am turned off to Kenwood forever.
Subaru customer service was a bit better- only because the man I spoke with had some limited experience with the unit.
Bottom line, I'll wait for a much better unit and also save money.
And THIS is why I bought the NAVI. It will be good for 5 to 6 years for sure, at the time will there be something new and better? Absolutely! And by that time anything you buy for your new Outback will be as out dated. That never ends in technology.

But for NOW, I have the convinence of a unit built into my car that looks good. That like any other unit today can be upgraded via software and has all the needed hardware for the 5 to 6 years. At that point my Outback itself will not be new and I won't care at all if I want to buy a new "toy" and it doesn't look exactly "right" in my Outback.

As with everything, just my two cents worth.
 

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diverdan said:


I would agree with you, EXCEPT, your Navi can only be upgraded with new Discs. Subaru told me if there is an upgrade within a year or so, you will get them for free. You will have to pay hundreds of dollars for any upgrade after that. The Pioneer has weekly map upgrades via their website and a SD card that you load into the unit.

That, plus all of these problems (frozen screens, etc) have made me rethink this unit. I wanted to like it and ordered it.

Good luck with yours though.
Panasonic will support your unit for about another 2 years tops. As with all manufactures of navi / tv / blu-Ray / game console / etc. The cost of supporting something 2 years old becomes greater then the cost of pleasing the customer.

Anyway, I am just saying "support" is a limited factor in any choice in technology. I know, I am in the field.
 

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Peter_Headland said:


He said Pioneer, not Panasonic.

If you are referring to maps updates, Garmin's map updates work on their mapping units that are many years old. I expect to get map update support on my (new this year) Garmin Nuvi for at least 5 years, and a lifetime map update subscription was only $90 - Kenwood charges about $250 per year. And the Nuvi didn't cost anywhere near $2,000, can be used in other vehicles (such as our minivan, and rentals when we travel), on other continents (we'll get the European map set for a couple hundred $$ when we travel to the UK next year), on foot in cities, etc.

I can also hook it up directly to my PC to add waypoints ("favorites"), add to the Points Of Interest database, etc.

Yes, integration with the car's sound system and a bigger screen would be really nice, but...
Pioneer or Panasonic or Garmin, doesn't matter, support for 2 years is lucky, 5 years is pushing it.. Even with map updates, as a geek I know how these work...

As to the Garmin, hope you keep remembering to take it down with the mount every single time you use it.. I have had 4 friends in the past 6 months have thier windows smashed and grabbed at a cost of more then a $200 Nuvi..

And with everything on this forum, everyone has their opinion.. I just don't believe support is a valid comparison in a technology "toy"...
 

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Peter_Headland said:
Unlike you, I am not expressing an opinion, I am describing my experience over many years using a series of Garmin products. Just go look at Garmin's web site to see that you can still update Nuvis and GPSMAPs from six or seven years ago. They will also still service/repair really ancient units.

I would expect Magellan to be the same. I would be far less trusting of car audio manufacturers, who tend to license technology in from different vendors from one year to another.
And as with opinions, experiences differ.

That "I'm the expert, so my opinion counts more than yours" line is so lame. Lots of folks here are in the tech business, probably for a lot longer and at a lot more senior level than you.
My background has been around technology and electronic "toys" (as I like to call them) for quite some time, so, yes my opinion is that compared to the average Subaru buyer, I am an expert in this area.. Just as I know there are people that know more then me in anything engine or mechanically related on a Subaru.

Gotta love the rapid swerve to "anyway, what you own sucks for some totally different reason". And, yes, we don't leave valuables of any kind on display in our cars. On the subject of mounts attracting thieves, we have had permanently mounted GPS mounts visible in our cars for many years and never had a break-in. We are fortunate not to live in a high-crime area, but we have frequently left these cars unattended for several days while backpacking.
I am glad you live in a perfect place and have had only have had great experiences. I'm very happy for you.

Now with that said, this discussion is completely off topic from the original post and I gave my opinion and experience.. Enough said...
 

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mchristsen said:
Sorry all for not taking pics.
I will be happy to answer any questions though.

Good Luck.

M.
By any chance did you, or anyone else, see if one of the other wires controlled the backup camera? i.e. by putting the vehicle in reverse, does that just close the loop on one of the other wires which is what the nav uses to switch inputs to the rear camera?

The reason I ask, is if so, while I am doing the over ride change, I wouldn't mind wiring a switch for that wire so that at any point during driving I can switch the view to the rear camera. Not very useful, but would do so just because I could!

Andy
 

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Re: STATUS UPDATE ... SUCCESS PART 1

eps105 said:
Folks,

Just a quick status update while a take a break, perhaps for the night....

I have successfully removed the bezel and, more importantly, successfully grounded the e-brake input and confirmed that I have overridden the nav lockouts.

Even better, I took an extensive amount of photos during each step and will soon compile these to a PDF file with instructions to share with the world.

I found an EASY way to do this that does not involve removing any harnesses from the back of the unit using a $1 computer cable you may all have lying around (CD-ROM analog audio connection cable -- the pin fit perfectly, just slid right through.)

BUT... before I put everything back, I'm going to first try out the reverse camera override. This is going to take more work, as I am first going to verify the input voltage and once confirmed as regular 12v, then tap into a 12V line and an in-line switch which I will place in the cubby bin.

Again, I will take photos along the way and if it works I'll document everything right down to where to buy the switch I bought.

I'll post an update as soon as I confirm this (sometime tomorrow) and then I'll get the photos posted within a day or two after.

Elliot
:18: Waiting anxiously for the pics.. I have so many computer parts laying around, that I know I have the old analog audio CD cables (of course there were about 3 types, but I won't surprised if I don't have them all!).. Going over some pricing with a local shop to install Sirius and remote engine start after the new year.. Already have them on board to let me in the car when they have the stereo out to make my own "mods".. :)
 

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Re: ILLUSTRATED GUIDE - NAV LOCKOUT OVERRIDE AND REAR CAMERA TOGGLE MOD

eps105 said:
:jump:

ILLUSTRATED GUIDE - NAV LOCKOUT OVERRIDE AND REAR CAMERA TOGGLE MOD

OK all, here it is. See attached... I spent 1/2 my weekend planning and doing the mods, and the other 1/2 documenting it all in a comprehensive, illustrated guide.

Sorry the pix are a little fuzzy, but forum max upload size is 1 MB so I had Acrobat more aggressively compress the photos.

I don't think I've ever spent so much time doing something for complete strangers, but I got a big head that I accomplished it and so I am sharing the love.
:loveawd:

If anyone is a member of LegacyGT.org, feel free to post this over there. I'll put this on NASIOC and Edmunds too.

Have fun and good luck!

Elliot
:7: You rock!

I also didn't consider that the backup camera was actually a direct feed from the backup lights and that by throwing the switch you are completing the lights circuit... Hmmm, has a cool side effect.. But I am also wondering if might be able to use a double pole switch that when "switched" would actually complete the circuit to the nav system, but cut the wire to the reverse lights... Might give this more thought...

By the way, anyone know the source of the switches that Subaru uses for the heated seats? It would be assume to grab one of those and put it in the "cutout" right next to the tray next to the cupholders... (I am going to make this even more complicated for myself.. :) )
 

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Just out of curiosity, for any that did the "hack".. Did anyone happen to see if the model number for the Kenwood system was on the back?
I want to start looking for parts outside of the mainstream Subaru source, and having the model number would be a BIG help!

Thanks,
Andy

P.S. I WANT to do the hack, but it has all been on me adding the Sirius module also.. But I am just hung up on the > $300 for a Sirius module when I can buy the whole **** radio for under $100 if I wanted the stupid thing hanging on my windshield!!!
 
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