Modernize Your Old Jeep with Android Head Unit

It was bound to happen eventually but my Jeep has officially joined the 21st century at least in the entertainment department.  I know a Jeep’s entertainment is more about where it can take you than traditional entertainment.  Sound, video, Internet!  I’ve been looking at Android head units for years, literally years.  All I do with my 1998 Jeep AM/FM Radio/Cassette/CD player is listen to podcasts.

To do this, from my phone, I purchased a cassette player adapter, for $10, and physically plug the cable in to my smartphone.  I know ancient!  I just couldn’t bring myself to purchase one of these modern day wonders as long as my radio was doing the job.  This past Thursday that changed.  The volume control stopped working.  This is a common issue with the entertainment system in the later mode Jeep Cherokees.  Welp, time to go modern, and nothing says modern than a nice video display, touch sensitive of course with a minimum of 7 inch diagonal screen.  So many choices and prices all seem to scream low quality.  As any of you that have listened to the podcast very long you know I do a lot of shopping at Amazon.

Well Amazon had the ATOTO A6 Double Din Android Car Navigation Stereo with Dual Bluetooth – Standard A6Y2710SB as it’s choice for the Android head unit to buy.  Does this mean they have a bunch of them and they need to move them, I don’t know but so far I haven’t made a bad purchased based on this Amazon rating system.

The radio and Jeep Cherokee harness (connects to the factory harness so no cutting of wires) came in Sunday.  This wouldn’t be my first stereo install and it goes pretty quick once you have the wiring correct.  True to form I didn’t accurately estimate the time it would take to fit a DOUBLE DIN head unit into a DIN and a HALF (1.5 DIN) space!  Some years ago I purchased a center dash bezel so I wouldn’t have to butcher up the original, and frankly give me two chances are modifying the 1.5 DIN opening to a double (2) DIN opening that looked decent.  Since it was 100 degrees about 3pm I decided to get the hell out of the garage and come back after sundown. It took me about three hours to build some adapters to mount the head unit in the now double DIN space.  After that I made quick work of the dash center bezel, notching it so it would fit around the head unit.

Does it look good?  No, but I knew that going in.  I’ll be looking at bondo, or perhaps fiberglass to make the bezel look like a double DIN was always in there.  In the small amount of time I’ve actually used the unit I am impressed.  It responds quickly.  Display dims with headlines on.  Sound is great on my Infinity sound system.  The unit came with WiFi, GPS, antennas.  A USB cable (would assume to run to the back of the head unit to the glove compartment.)  It supports a backup camera, a DASH USB camera for DVR recording, an external mic and steering wheel remote control.  I am very interested i setting up the USB dash camera as a trail camera.  I already have a high quality dash cam.  I’m not overly interested in a back up camera, but I’m going to purchase and install one anyway.  Since I can’t see much out the back of my Jeep (spare tire carrier) it wouldn’t be a bad thing to have.

Keep monitoring this post for future updates!

Synthetic Winch Line Freezes?

A Jeep Talk Show listener recently wrote in with his own experience with synthetic winch line.

On the winch debate on episode 390 or 391 I loved the battle between tony and josh. 
That’s was funny and entertaining. Both of you have great points. But one that I 
experienced you did not mention. I have 3 jeeps and two have synthetic and one that 
I was planning to put on my grand is steel. I am in Southern Arizona and this past 
winter we had an epic snow event ( snow lasted more than 1 day). Pretty rare. Anyway 
we had rain and snow and freezing temps for a couple days. In the bad weather I made 
the wife park the car and drive her JK and I drive the TJ so if anyone needed help 
I had the gear to go do. Now on to the rope vs cable. I went to use my winch and 
the rope and cylinder was one big piece of ice. Rope was wet and froze together. 
Making it non-usable at that time. However the cable was only stuck together minimally. 
But usable. Other that my vote is for rope. I like taking the extra weight off the front end.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us Tom P.

Emergency Communications

While out at a wheeling event on Gold Mountain Trail in Big Bear Lake, one of the Jeeps had a mechanical failure.  Cell phone signals were spotty on some of the phones, and completely absent on others, like mine.  One of the Jeepers had their Yaesu dual band handy talkie.  A new HAM he knew the importance of having secondary communications while on the trail.  They tried making a call to the local repeater, 147.33 Mhz.  Not able to get anyone on the repeater one of the party knew that I had been a HAM for a number of years, and passed the radio to me.

I tried making a call on the repeater and I noticed there was no squelch tail.  I know some repeaters can have a short tail, but you usually hear, or see something after your transmission.  Looking at the radio, that I had never used before, I started going through the basic checks.  Was a transmit off set, set?  Yes, +600Khz.  Was there a subaudible tone turned on, and if so what frequency tone was it?

Well I saw no indication on the display that a subaudible tone was active.  Eventually I did find where you set the subaudible tone, but I didn’t have anyway of knowing what tone this repeater required, and without cell phone Internet access I couldn’t look it up.

Two things we all should learn from this. 

  • Take your radio’s Users manual and keep it with the radio. 
  • Set up and test your radio prior to going out on your wheeling event.  

Even if this means stopping somewhere while you still have Internet access so you can look up the information, before heading out on the trail.

This time the emergency (really wasn’t) was just a broken Jeep, not a life threatening injury.

Oh! That subaudible tone? 131.8