Sunday 18 December 2011

Stereo Upgrade and Reversing Camera

After having the Audi for a few weeks I was getting really bored with the basic CD player in the car.
It came with a 6CD changer build in but get this... it had a tape cassette player in it too! Who would have thought that a premium brand of car built in 2006 would still have a tape cassette player in it? 
The Audi Symphony II unit
 The cassette player did have its uses though. I honestly hate burning CDs, and this crappy stereo didn't even accept MP3 CDs so I was stuck with 18 songs a disc. I had an iPod Nano that I used in previous cars so I got one of those cassette to MP3 player things from a pound shop and started using that. 

But then there was the problem of taking phone calls whilst being in the car... I almost live in my car. I think I spend more time in the car then I do in bed!
I wanted to get a bluetooth system in the car like I had in previous cars., one that would play the voice through my car speakers. I looked into the solutions that Audi had but I was not prepared to spend £300+ on just a bluetooth unit.

Now on my previous cars I have always removed the factory headunit and replaced it with a stylish screen and added bluetooth and iPod connectivity. 

Audi have something called the RNS-E which is their top of the range Sat Nav.
What an RNS-E looks like in the dash of an Audi A3
It looks great in the car but has very low specs... like no touch screen (you have to use the buttons to go through the menus), no video player or DVD support (without another expensive add-on and a hack). It could play music from iPods but can't show the name of the song that's playing!? Instead it displays songs as 'Track 1' and 'Track 2' etc. And again the bluetooth was that silly £300 extra add-on. The RNS-E would cost only a small fortune of  £450ish from eBay or £1500 from Audi!?!?!??? Who in the right mind would want to pay that sort of silly money for a system that with all the add-ons would have cost about that same of the car its going in, and then still be technologically behind in times? At this point I gave up with an Audi solution and I started looking into the aftermarket stuff that I have always used in the past and always loved. 

I knew that I want good quality sound from my new headunit so it meant I go with either Alpine or Pioneer. The car already had the optional Bose sound system so I didn't need to look into speakers or a sub, its already built into the car. I knew that I was going to be looking for a touch screen unit with bluetooth and iPod, and something that looked decent in the car. After looking into it for a week I decided against Alpine since all the units out lit up with blue lights which looked out of place in the red lights of the Audi. I finally settled on a Pioneer P4200DVD.

I got a good package deal from a car audio store (Dynamic sounds), the Pioneer P4200DVD headunit, the Pioneer CD-BTB200 Bluetooth unit, Pioneer CD IU230V (iPod video cable) and the fascia adapters and connectors to fit straight into my A3 for Just over £650. Compared to Audi's prices that was a bargain. 

It took me just under 2 hours to get it all fitted in with all the wires nicely hidden (OCD issues). It worked perfectly and did exactly what I wanted. Unfortunately I didn't get many pictures of when I installed the unit first into my car.
Pioneer unit installed in my car with the Brodit iPhone 4 holder
 It can play MP3 CDs, DVDs, music or movies/music videos from the iPod, Music or pictures from a SD card or music from a Bluetooth device! It works beautifully with the Bose system in the car too.
I later added to my install with a reversing camera, one of the coolest mods I have done.

 I would definitely recommend one of these units to anyone, great value for money and top quality sound. Not to mention very user friendly.


So after having the camera in the car for a while I noticed that the LED light that comes part of the camera had died, so I opened up the unit and upon investigation I found that the LED had fried itself and was pretty much useless.

The Camera Unit
Opened up -  The red wires have burnt out

Now I didnt want to drive around with no lights on the rear numberplate so I looked for another way of having the camera on the car but retain the original look of having the 2 numberplate lights. 
I found out that Audi have an original camera holder as part of the Audi A6 and Audi Q7 which both those models can have the camera specced from factory, So I went over to Audi and ordered myself the camera holder.

Now when I tried to get the actual camera out of its unit the wires for that came apart too, as you can tell the unit is not very well built.
So I ordered another camera to go into the new camera holder and waited for it to turn up from China.

It took 2 weeks for the camera to turn up and when it did I could not get the new camera into the unit so I got out my dremel and started cutting down the plastic until the camera fitted into the holder.
Here is what it looks like now :)

Camera separated from the light holder
Crisp white LED light

Continue to Sportback Rear End