Custom audio input hack for XM ready car stereos

If you’re reading this, we probably have the following in common:

  1. Love for music
  2. Dislike for the number of dollars in your bank account.

I have a huge collection of music that I can transfer to any sort of mobile mp3 player.  Many radios are now coming stock with input jacks to plug in your mp3 player so you can rock your whole Huey Lewis discography through your bumpin system.

But what if they don’t?  Yes, you can buy a new stereo for $200+.  But a lot of new car radios(like mine) are also DICs(Diagnostic Information Centers) that monitor your oil life, give trip meters, adjust what your key fob does…basically change all the bells and whistles of your car.

So I decided to do this:

Pirated tunes go here.

Note the input jack below the screen.  Looks stock right?  Pimp My Ride.

*This was pulled  from my 2007 Pontiac G6.  From system to system, the wiring is going to be different, but if you have an XM ready radio, the basic process will be the same.  This is for information only…don’t cry to me if you fry your radio.  You live, you learn*

To use it, you just switch to the XM channel.  Plugging an MP3 player into the input jack will cut out the XM signal and replace it with your iPlayer, Zume, or Sony Walkman.

Requirements

  1. XM Ready radio
  2. Solder and the skills to use it
  3. 1/8″ Panel-mount headphone jack
  4. Patience
  5. Very tiny tools
  6. Electrical tape
  7. Thin gauge solid wire

1) Disassemble the radio

Grab hold of the dials and pull them straight off.  They will click straight out of the radio face.

*Not pictured* : remove 2 tiny screws from the left and right sides of the radio holding the face on.

Once the screws are out, pry the face straight off with a small screwdriver.

*Not Pictured* : The bottom is held on with another tiny screw.  Take this out and pry off the bottom metal plate with your little flathead screwdriver.  This will expose the circuitboard underneath.  If your palms are getting clammy, maybe you should think about another project.

You’ll have to find some wiring diagrams and pinouts to figure out which inputs are what.  The large solder points run to the back of the radio and connect to the wiring harness that runs in from the XM receiver.  I found out what mine were:

Basically, the XM signal comes in through the receiver and into the back of your radio.  The connection on your radio runs to the points I’ve labeled “Left in” and “Right in” on the above picture.  The signal follows the traces up the board(like a very simple maze…you can do it…) and up to the “In to radio” spots.  The simple idea of what we are doing is breaking that signal and replacing it with our own MP3 signal.  Note the Cut trace.  I just scraped along with the tip of my pocketknife for a while until it was sufficiently dug into the board and breaking the line.  Professional, I know.

Now that the signal cannot reach the radio, we will be replacing the link with our own wiring.  This is where the input jack will go.  I found this great program “MSPaint” to help me illustrate:

The input jack has 5 pins.  One will go to the ground point.  When nothing is plugged in the circuit is completed and will work exactly the same as before the trace was cut.  The spring connections inside will let the audio pass straight through from the receiver and into the radio board.

Once you plug in the cable from your mp3 player, the spring contacts are pushed away from the XM signal wires and make contact with your headphone plug.  Now the XM signal is cut out and your Britney Spears live in Stockholm album is replacing it and will be passed into the radio and out of your speakers for everyone’s enjoyment.

Here you see the wires soldered to the points.  The black wire leads to the ground point on the jack, while the other pairs attach as shown in my totally pro diagrams.  (Seriously, who needs a Mac for multimedia?)

Throw some electrical tape over the connections so when you replace the metal bottom it doesn’t short out.  I also like to put a dab of hot glue to keep the wires steady while you’re hot rodding around.

Once you’ve made the connection its up to you where you’d like the input to go.  You could use very long wires and route it to your glove compartment.  If you’ve got a ’97 Camry, you could just hang them out anywhere.  I went for the stock look and mounted it to the front faceplate.  Didn’t get pics, but there were some 6 very tiny screws holding the board to the plastic front.  I removed those, drilled a hole and threaded the input jack through.

FOR YOUR SAKE!!!  REMOVE THE BOARD FROM THE FRONT WITH THE BUTTONS FACING DOWN!!!  IF YOU DON’T THEY ARE ALL GOING TO FALL OUT AND YOU’LL HAVE TO PUT THEM ALL BACK IN AND SWEAR AND NOT BE HAPPY.  I’VE GOTTEN OVER IT…DON’T LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU!

Now reassemble everything in reverse and you probably won’t be good to go.  It most likely won’t work right the first time so plug in what you can and try it out before you put your stuff together.  Trust me, I do half-assed work like this all the time.

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11 Comments »

  1. Tim Said:

    Anyboody else try an attempt this yet? I am currently in the process.

    • scuba264 Said:

      Let me know if you try it out and get it working. Hopefully this helps you out. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll tell you anything I can. Good luck!

  2. Tim Said:

    Awesome! And yes I will be needing help…thank you in advance. =)
    I’ve actually had it all hooked up already but I messed up somewhere. The sound isn’t coming out quite right.

  3. Tim Said:

    What problems did you have with the wiring? I believe that I have all the connections correct on the circuit board but not so sure about the jack. The sound was ok on the left side but faint on the right. So I took everything apart and rewired it. At first (second rewire) when I plugged in my mp3 player I got a fluttering sound….then nothing. Now I’ve got a “service air bag” on the display and no sound or anything at all. ???

    • scuba264 Said:

      Its hard to say and that is the main problem I’d come across. All I can say is make sure your ground connections are connected well. Try using the input jack without having it mounted to the faceplate. I think sometimes if its mounted too deep the pin doesn’t go into the jack far enough and isn’t making a good enough connection.

      Also double check your pins/wires on the jack itself. It can get a little confusing and easy to mix up.

  4. Tim Said:

    Here’s how I’ve got mine set up…the ground goes to pin #1 (on the wiring diagram for the jack), “left in” (on the bottom, next to the ground terminal on circuit board) goes to pin #2…then “left out” (directly above the ‘left in” terminal) connects to pin #4. “right out” same thing but on pins # 3 and #5. So the circuit is “normaly closed” when the plug is not inserted. Is this how your’s is set up?

  5. […] […]

  6. Oleg Narush Said:

    nice set up! its torrent or equinox? i have XM ready radio but no XM module. on the radio i have AUX/XM button. but when im pressing it it shows “not available”. i think that radio is not swithing to XM mode because there is no power signal on XM hrness(because there is no harnes pluged in). by idea it have to be simple signal as remote for the amplifire. but which pin it is on the XM plug? so whant to have AUX.

    • scuba264 Said:

      That was from my 2007 Pontiac G6. She’s since been traded in, but hopefully the post helps someone out still. Search around for the pinout of your radio, some good googling can usually help you find that. Join a forum for your car and ask around, thats is by far the best source of any info on any car you own.

      • Oleg Narush Said:

        hi. thanks for response. i have chevrolet equinox. my radio is exactly the same as yours. did not found any thing on the forums. the people that have XM module doing this without a problem but without no one even try’s

  7. Rich Said:

    Or an alternative would be to just connect a 3.5mm left, right and ground wires directly to the points – just piggy back the xml signal. Thereby eliminating the need to cut the trace and using a 3.5mm circuit. From there you can turn the xml dial to 00 (no xml radio sound is played) and listen to just your ipod/mp3 player. Less wires and no trace cutting.

    Same concept as doing this on the CD traces. Then play an empty track CD so that your ipod/mp3 players sound can come through the CD channel without the CD music.

    http://www.instructables.com/id/Add-an-auxiliary-MP3Ipod-input-to-your-cars-st/?ALLSTEPS


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