Thursday, March 24, 2011

Weekend Hack: Adding an Auxiliary Input to VW Radio with Satellite and iPod Adapter

I've bought cars over the internet for the past decade without ever seeing then, so when I bought a 2009 VW Jetta TDI with an iPod adapter I thought, "that would be a nice option." However, VW's iPod interface is terrible. For example, albums and playlists are treated as CDs and even basic mp3 tags such as album or song names are displayed as Folder N or Track N. The iPod option also removes the auxiliary audio input. After trying to hack an auxiliary input on to the iPod adapter and failing because the the adapter needs an iPod attached to work, I decided to try a different route.
The car came with a Sirius satellite radio (pre XM acquisition) that I don't use for a number of reasons, but mainly because Sirius pissed me off with the way they handled pre-merger XM contracts. It occurred to me that I could use the satellite radio audio output as an auxiliary input.

The satellite radio box is mounted in the trunk. The speaker outputs from the radio are on a plug with a group of three purple wires and two orange striped wires.
I originally thought about running a line with 3.5mm mini stereo plug to the center console, but I decided to add a blue tooth receiver instead. This offers more flexibility and I can play music from multiple devices including Pandora on my Android phone.

Parts list:
Bluelink Bluetooth Music Receiver
USB Car Charger
A to A USB Cable

The Bluelink Bluetooth Music receiver is an inexpensive bluetooth receiver that can run on either 110 volts or through a USB cable. The Jetta has a convenient 12 volt socket in the trunk so the Bluelink can be powered with a USB car charger connected via a male A to A USB cable.
The Bluelink comes with a 3.5mm mini stereo to RCA cable which I used to make a new cable connecting the audio wires fron the satellite radio to the Bluelink input.
The wiring schematic from the satellite radio is:
  • purple w/ blue stripe > ground (black)
  • purple w/ white stripe > right channel (red)
  • purple w/ green stripe > left channel (white)
After the wires were soldered, they were covered with heat shrink tubing and wire connectors were added. I've found that electronics in cars are constantly vibrating and using connectors improves the reliability of the installation.

The Bluelink was ziptied to the rear deck frame and the cable from the satellite radio and USB power cable were tucked away and ziptied as needed.

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