Dash Mounting a Nexus 7 – #ProjectN7 by @mr_bridger

One thing that’s bugged me for a long time is the lack of Android based in-car entertainment systems. Android is the perfect platform for this, its open source, very customisable, and lends it self well to cloud based music apps and internet radio. Manufacturers only need to build some hardware and then slap Android on it! So why are there so few?… this got me thinking… could I make my own?

I was sitting in my car, a 1995 Toyota Celica, playing games on my Nexus 7, and just decided to offer it up to the dash. the screen is almost a perfect fit into a double DIN aperture. this had potential! i did a quick sketch on my Galaxy Note 2 of how i thought it could look..

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I ordered a spare dash panel off eBay, and set to work, tweeting my progress on the #ProjectN7 tag. Fortunately for me, the rear of the dash panel had a rib all around the Double DIN slot that almost exactly matched the frame size of the Nexus 7. the first step was to remove some ribs and then sand / grind back the plastic from where the Nexus 7 was going to sit. i did this with wire cutters, just for the extra control.

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This took a bit of trial and error, as i didn’t want to accidentally take too much off, or damage the clips that hold the panel into the dash. but eventually i got to a point where it would actually fit in and sit flush with the front.

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The next step was probably the most difficult, as i had to remove the central section of the air vents, as this is where i needed to move the head unit to. This bit would be on show so i had to be really careful trimming and with a little sanding i got it as good as i could hope.

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With the Panel as good as i could get it, i had some other problems i needed to address… namely the fact that i now had no way to power the tablet, or get the audio out of it, as the wires would come out directly where the clip was that retains the dash panel! i do have a fair bit of electronics knowledge, so set about finding a broken Nexus 7 to take some required bits out of. there seems plenty of broken screened ones on eBay!

Once the broken one arrived, i removed the back, battery and lots of tape and shielding to remove the Power/Audio PCB and associated ribbon cable. this was to be used so i could move the micro USB outside of the tablet, without damaging the one in the tablet. This will not come out without taking out the battery and pulling off lots of shielding, so it definitely would affect warranty!

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Next up is the power button. One issue with the Nexus 7 is that it powers down when flat (no surprise there), but when you plug it in, it only goes into charging mode. Without a power button, there’s no way to turn it on!?!?! Wrong! there is a Fastboot command that you can issue to the bootloader to make the tablet power on once plugged it.  “fastboot oem off-mode-charge 0” makes the unit power on the instant its connected to AC. “fastboot oem off-mode-charge 1” returns to normal state,  so fitting an external switch isn’t 100% necessary, but i decided i wanted one anyway. I’m using Tasker to switch the unit on and off  with the ignition, but having the external switch is a handy addition.

To do this i carefully removed the power switch PCB from the broken Nexus 7 and then peeled off the top layer exposing the contacts. i then (carefully) soldered two wires onto the board, what would be run to an external switch. i put a dab of hot melt glue over the solder joint to help relieve any strain on the wires,  and then ran them in a loop to avoid strain, then back out of the original power button hole.

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For the power / audio connectors, i carefully opened the zif socket and taped back the original flexi ribbon, then i inserted the one from the broken Nexus and, as luck would have it, it runs straight out of the volume button hole. this was then taped so it didn’t get snagged on anything

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I used Hot Melt glue to secure the Power / Audio connectors to the back of the Nexus7, mainly as it was easy, and also because i could glue the USB cable in place too, damaging the back cover isn’t really an issue to me as i now have a spare from the broken one :-) i angled the 3.5mm Audio jack up slightly so the cable wouldn’t be running straight down at the heater controls once fitted. i then put a matt screen protector on to stop glare and make it look more of a factory fit.

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So the Nexus 7 was all wired ready to be put into the dash panel,  question was… how! My old trust friend the glue gun came to the rescue again. its not the best i suppose, but I’m very limited for space, and brackets would have nothing to screw into. I decided to put masking tape around the whole tablet, to make sure no glue got onto the front bezel, i then glued it in place.

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in the mean time, i was back in the car, getting the head unit into the right place. this took lots of trial and error, a lot was done before gluing the tablet into the panel, just to get the alignment right, having the bog hole helped. with a few brackets and screws i got the head unit into place. i also took the opportunity to fit my power button in a nice convenient location.

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all i needed to do was make up some blanking plates to cover up the end of the aperture. i found an old plastic case and made these up pretty easily.

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All was left was to wire in the switch, and put the panel in the car! I bought a AUX+ cable to 3.5mm jack adaptor for the audio (KCE-237B for my head unit, an Alpine CDE102Ri), and i wired in, behind the dash, a 12v USB car adaptor. This was a 3 Amp version, so has more than enough juice to keep the Nexus 7 topped up. I also wired in the illuminated green ring on the power button into the dash illumination circuit so it comes on with the headlights. Time to fit!

And here we have it!

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Hope you like it! I’m really pleased with it. I’ll do another post soon with a few details of the homescreen / launcher and other tweaks i have used software side. :-)

Ross … aka @mr_bridger

About Ross

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  • Athea Kong says:

    Just amazing…

  • Simon Osborne says:

    Hope you don’t mind but I just had to share this on reddit! http://www.reddit.com/r/Android/comments/17bm09/really_nice_nexus_7_car_installation/

  • Glen Yerkey says:

    Not bad

  • Ryan Norris says:

    Going to try this

  • Nny says:

    Looks great! If I may make a suggestion you could always make the clock port a vent later so you still have an outlet for the heat/ac in the console area. Seems superfluous and a bit dated compared to that awesome tablet interface.

  • Claye Stokes says:

    Nice work! Hope it doesn’t get too hot or cold where you live – I couldn’t block those vents in my car, I need them. If you use your heater, are you worried about overheating your head unit?

  • statto says:

    Loving the Knight Rider interface. :-)

  • Check Out These Super-Clean Nexus 7 Custom Car Mounts [Updated] says:

    [...] Update: The modder posted a detailed account of his installation here. [...]

  • spamelita says:

    what about leaving this in the car in extreme temps? wouldn’t a warm summer essentially ruin the phone?

  • Check Out These Super-Clean Nexus 7 Custom Car Mounts [Updated] | Free Applications says:

    [...] Update: The modder posted a detailed walkthrough of his installation here. [...]

  • Android Mania - Check Out These Super-Clean Nexus 7 Custom Car Mounts [Updated] Free says:

    [...] Update: The modder posted a detailed walkthrough of his installation here. [...]

  • Kay-Michael Köhler says:

    Great job!

  • Simon says:

    soI’m guessing your going to carry a mifi in the car with you do that you can have the nexus connect to the internet for navigation maps/routes?

  • The Nexus 7 In-Car UI Guide – #ProjectN7 by @mr_bridger | Land of Technology says:

    [...] Some of you have probably already read the guide i made to fitting the Nexus 7 in my car, if not here’s a link http://landoftechnology.com/2013/dash-mounting-a-nexus-7-projectn7/ [...]

  • Belgian Android says:

    You should look into an OBD connector too (bluetooth), gives a lot more info than just the speedo with an app like Torque https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.prowl.torque&hl=en

  • Zenón Monge says:

    Nice setup

  • ilparduino says:

    That’s pretty awesome, maybe if you need those air vents where you live, you can use a N7 with a data plan and pandora or another radio app, combined with an amplifier that supports aux-in. Or simply find another way to hide your stereo, maybe in the glovebox…

  • Bigwavedave25 says:

    Very nice! I really want to pick up a second used N7 now to retrofit in my car now. Awesome writeup!

  • Nexus 7 en un coche al estilo Michael Knight | Androizados.com says:

    [...] el blog Land of Droid nos llega este espectacular montaje, @mr_bridger consigue montar en un Toyota un Nexus 7 y [...]

  • Awesome dash mounted Nexus 7 project by @mr_bridger says:

    [...] project and a step by step with more pictures of everything Ross did to achieve this, head over to landoftechnology for the complete post. You can also watch this video of the final [...]

  • Happy says:

    That my friend is some fantastic work indeed!!

    I want one for my GT4 dash :O)

    Will you make another one for me ?? :O)

  • Nexus 7 als Car PC im Toyota says:

    [...] Quelle; via [...]

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  • BigHawk says:

    Ross you exceeded the threshold on the “You Rock” meter and topped the “Cool Sh!t That Wont Happen If You Cant Check Your Girlfriend” list. If you don’t like this your an Afghan rebel (your camel wants this in its hump)!

  • Jason Clelland says:

    Looks great, I wonder if Android has an app that would allow streaming of radio on the Nexus 7. Maybe Iheart radio. I live in AZ and would find it very hard to sacrifice my air vents, especially during our summer months just to have a radio, and maybe I could add a usb using the Nexus media importer app and then just listen to my mp3 on my thumb drive. Thanks for sharing, you have sparked some great ideas. BTW where can we find the Knight Rider theme interface?

    • grit says:

      you can just use a simple/cheap bluetooth audio receiver (or a more expensive bluetooth enabled car radio) and wire it to an amp. BT-audio is standard supported by android

  • DIY Dash-Mounted Nexus 7 And Custom Launcher | Lifehacker Australia says:

    [...] Dash Mounting a Nexus 7 [Land of Technology via Android Police] [...]

  • Deca says:

    Now you need to find out how to tie it into the climate controls.

  • PurpleWombat says:

    Looks great; well done. Where the stereo has remote controls, people could always consider placing it in the glove box or some other close location rather than losing the air vents. I’ve seen this done in other DIY installs. Also, there’s the option of using a Bluetooth Audio connector – basically uses a 3.5mm plug to connect to the AUX port on the front of the stereo. May save some people some trauma from connecting inside the Nexus. Of course, doesn’t solve the power issue, but one less thing to worry about, especially if the stereo is in the glovebox. I’d also echo the OBDII via Bluetooth comments. Once again, great DIY install. Congrats

  • Build a Knight Rider Powered by a Nexus 7! says:

    [...] it? Then follow this guide : Dash Mounting a Nexus 7  (Note : The device will be attached to the vehicle so do it only if you have a [...]

  • ThatGuy says:

    Did you end up using the broken one or your pristine one (with pieces from the broken one) as the Nexus in the Dash?

  • starmutant says:

    good luck getting the insurance company to pay out…

  • Charmie Pujalt says:

    Awesome!

  • Blog de Electromanuales » Integrar dispositivos Nexus en el coche, ¿más cerca de lo que pensamos? says:

    [...] Fuente | Land of Technology [...]

  • Grit says:

    Great job, I’m worried about the glue gun though. I would have taken some power-fix or something, it’s elastic, available in black ( ;-) ) and can withstand high temperatures. Would be a shame if the Nexus fell out while pushing the screen on a hot summer day.

  • Nexus 7 Android tablet in 07 Range Rover Sport | Jon Love (www.jonlove.co.uk) – My personal website says:

    [...] talking about the topic, but I do have to give credit to @mrbridger (on twitter) for his install HERE and also some other examples on YouTube, most specifically this one by Sonic Electronic which [...]

  • Range Rover Gets some Nexus 7 Love | Land of Technology says:

    [...] know, here at LoT we love a good Car/Gadget mod. Especially when that said mod involves an Android device. [...]

  • Mick says:

    How do u transfer files to the nexus 7 in this particular installation?
    USB, not available.
    WiFi, only when car is close to house??
    Bluetooth, tediously slow.

    Please elaborate.