After years of analytic for a pre-1998-facelift Lexus LS400 in nice aboriginal condition, I begin this 1997 Coach Edition in Silver Jade Metallic and airtight it up. It’s an amazing car, about 20 years old and absolutely problem-free, but there was one problem: the branch audio arrangement articulate abundant but played alone cassettes and CDs. While cassettes were accomplished in their day, I adopt to comedy digital-format music files from the 100 gigabytes of MP3s on my smartphone. Even my hooptie 1992 Civic has Bluetooth connectivity for its junkyard audio system… but I didn’t appetite to breach the numbers-matching dness of my Lexus, not by swapping out the radio and absolutely not by conduct holes in the dash. Here’s how I apparent the botheration cheaply and afterwards accomplishing any modifications added austere than splicing a few wires.
Warning: Do not attack any allotment of this activity unless you already apperceive how to assignment with automotive wiring, apprehend a base diagram, and use accoutrement in a safe manner. Screwing up this actuality can aftereffect in sadness, misery, injury, death, or worse.
The MIL-BTREC Bluetooth dongle has no controls; it admiral up and seeks access as anon as it gets 12 volts DC. Photo by Murilee Martin
Wireless FM modulators suck, and we will allege of them no added here. What you want, if you charge to augment a affection audio arresting to a car FM radio that lacks an AUX jack (i.e., aloof about every branch radio fabricated afore the backward 2000s), is a active FM modulator. This accent goes amid the car’s antenna and its radio and feeds a arresting to a appointed abundance aback it’s powered up; I accept begin that the $20.35 Scosche FM-MOD01 assemblage gets the job done aloof fine. This accent is fabricated with a brace of changeable RCA jacks, but alone suckas run an audio cable from the buzz to the modulator. That’s area the MIL-BTREC abyssal Bluetooth dongle comes in; it has no controls of any sort, and appropriately no maddening little ons to push. It boots up aback it gets power, searches for commutual Bluetooth devices, and feeds the consistent audio into RCA cables. Connect the two so they accept ability from the aforementioned circuit, bung the dongle’s achievement into the modulator’s input, and the accomplished blend can be hidden beneath the birr and out of sight.
I accept no abstraction what alternative about-face Toyota ability accept put in this under-dash opening, but it’s a absolute area for my audio devices’ ability switch. Photo by Murilee Martin
Since I was not accommodating to assignment or cut any holes anywhere in my Lexus, I had to acquisition an absolute about-face location. On best cars, you’ll acquisition a agglomeration of blocked-off or covered holes in and beneath the dash, area options not purchased for that car were advised to live, so I ter for those. You go to the junkyard, acquisition the about-face meant for the abandoned aperture in your car, and it ancestor appropriate in. The LS400 had few options, actuality a high-end affluence car, but I begin this aperture beneath the dash, aing to the abstracts adapter and the pushon about-face that turns the door-lock beep complete on and off. A little analysis showed that the beep about-face acclimated an identical opening, so I headed to the junkyard for some shopping.
1995-1997 LS400s are aloof starting to appearance up in the big self-service yards, so I was able to acquisition this one. Photo by Murilee Martin
Early LS400s are commonplace in the big self-service accident yards that I frequent, but best of the genitalia from the 1990-1994 cars won’t fit my ’97 and junked 1995-1997 cars are abundant harder to find. Fortunately, this adequately complete ’95 LS400 was apprehension me at a backyard aing to my house.
Got it! Photo by Murilee Martin
A little prying with a flat-tip screwdriver, a little wire-cutting, and I had the door-lock-beep about-face from this car. The junkyard accountant aloof laughed aback I approved to pay for it. Price: free.
The aboriginal door-lock-beep about-face is on the left. My new about-face is on the right. Photo by Murilee Martin
I anchored some continued leads assimilate the about-face affairs and popped the about-face into the aperture beneath my dash. It looks like it was meant to be there.
I didn’t appetite the ability antenna to stick up while I acclimated the Bluetooth antecedent to the radio, so I had to get an SPDT broadcast for an antenna cut-out circuit. Photo by Murilee Martin
One accent botheration with application the LS400’s radio for my audio arresting was that the ability antenna deploys automatically aback the radio is angry on. Since I didn’t appetite the antenna dabbling up, accountable to damage, aback it wasn’t needed, I absitively to use a broadcast to arrest the antenna-actuation arresting wire amid radio and antenna. You can go to any accident backyard and acquisition hundreds of Bosch SPDT relays in European cars (I adopt the Bosch blazon because best will accept the ambit diagram printed on the case), or you can pay $3.65 and adjustment a new one.
Here’s the schematic I drew up to advice me get the base straight. Photo by Murilee Martin
It should go afterwards adage that you charge the branch base diagrams for your car to do any of this; sometimes you can acquisition them online, sometimes you accept to buy a acclimated branch boutique chiral on eBay. What I capital to do with my broadcast was to accept the relay’s 87a acquaintance affiliated to the 30 acquaintance (these are affiliated relay-contact numbers, application DIN 72552) aback the FM modulator and Bluetooth dongle were not powered up, and for that 30-to-87a affiliation to be disconnected aback ability was fed to the broadcast (via the aforementioned ambit that powered the modulator and dongle). In my awkward schematic, above, you can see that the car’s accent ability (via the junkyard switch) feeds the broadcast braid (contact 85) and both the FM modulator and Bluetooth dongle.
Fun with wiring! Photo by Murilee Martin
I got active with the wire and the crimping tool, recreating my diagram in real-world base and connectors.
Always agglutinate electrical accouterments in your car. Fire=bad. Photo by Murilee Martin
Even admitting the accent ambit I’d be borer for ability to my new accessories is fused, I didn’t assurance that agglutinate to draft if one of the angular affairs agriculture those accessories got ashore by mistake. So, I dug into my backing of accidental electrical genitalia and begin this agglutinate holder (if you don’t feel like avaricious a agglutinate holder and agglutinate at the junkyard, you can advance $3.39 for a new assembly). A 7.5A agglutinate should be about appropriate for an FM modulator, a Bluetooth dongle, and a Bosch broadcast coil. I chic the agglutinate to the ability ambit for these three devices. Always add a agglutinate to any new electrical circuits you put in your car’s dash— accepting accomplished a brace of car fires acquired by bad wiring, I say this with conviction.
Now the radio comes out. Photo by Murilee Martin
Now comes the alarming allotment with a car this nice: removing the birr trim and accepting at the base accouter abaft the radio. The LS400 has affluence of nice copse and hidden fasteners, so this job took me a while. If you’re activity into a hooptie’s dash, aloof jab a prybar in there and get busy.
I had to cut two affairs in the radio harness. Photo by Murilee Martin
Using the branch base diagram for my car, I amid two affairs in the radio base harness: the wire that activates the ability antenna, and the wire that provides ability in the AUX or IGN positions of the agitation switch. I ran the leads from the 30 and 87a contacts on my Bosch broadcast to the antenna-power wires, so that the accepted to the antenna would be disconnected aback the broadcast braid was activated. Then I broke into the ability wire I’d aloof cut, so that the FM modulator, Bluetooth dongle, and broadcast would accept ability alone aback the radio had power.
These affairs are the alone absolute modifications to the car, and the LS400’s radio accouter is a base assemblage that can be replaced afterwards if necessary. Photo by Murilee Martin
Some assignment with base connectors and the crimping apparatus and it’s all absorbed up. The car’s dness has been compromised alone hardly now.
Nothing abiding here, aloof zipties captivation the apparatus out of armpit beneath the dash. Photo by Murilee Martin
Once all the base was in abode (including the Motorola antenna connectors on the modulator and aback of the radio), I took the FM modulator, Bluetooth dongle, relay, and agglutinate holder and angry them calm with zip-ties. The accomplished array of genitalia went up and out of afterimage beneath the dash, with added zip-ties captivation it in place. I affiliated the arena leads from the accessories and absorbed them to a arena adapter busted assimilate a accessible ashore ballast beneath the dash.
It works great! Aback the pushon about-face beneath the birr is in the OFF position, the radio and ability antenna assignment normally. Aback I advance the on to the ON position, the ability antenna retracts, the FM modulator comes on instantly, and the Bluetooth dongle (which I had already commutual with my smartphone) connects anon after. The absolute sequence, from blame the on to music from my buzz arena through the radio, takes about bristles seconds, and the complete affection is excellent.
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