Saturday, June 18, 2011

2005 Subaru Outback AUX-IN Hack Via Radio Module

Single CD (no 6CD changer) Manual Climate Control
MODEL NO. 86201AG64A
Manufactured June 2004 by Matsushita in Japan

I believe that the 2005 and 2006 Legacy and Outback had the same stereo, so this mod should work for them as well. 

I'm going to be spending quite a bit of time on the road for an upcoming vacation and wanted to be able to plug in my own audio without spending a lot of money on a replacement faceplate and new head unit. The CD player had previously stopped reading/ejecting discs so if I could not do this mod I would be be listening to static filled radio the entire trip... *horror*

If you have a functioning CD player and don't want to solder anything I would recommend the JazzyMT mod which you plug in to the ribbon that connects the CD player to the mainboard. A CD that plays silence is needed for the JazzyMT aux input board.

If you don't mind soldering small things on a circuit board, don't want to spend much and would rather not have a CD spinning when you listen to your iPod, read on!


First remove the radio!
I found this youtube video very helpful when removing the radio:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_wmPo91kIM I first had to remove the chrome trim around the automatic transmission stick using a screwdriver with some tape on the end (to prevent scratching) which is not shown in the video.
Back of the stereo, I mainly took these pictures so that I'd be able to see how it all went back together!
Model No. and other information.
Removing more screws

Front faceplate removed showing control/display circuit board.
More screws removed and CD ribbon disconnected and we can finally see the main circuit board.



I was inspired by a great post by Jordan found via Hack-a-Day about doing this to an older '04 Subaru stereo, it helped me locate the radio module and begin searching for the audio interface.



To find the Left and Right interface I hooked the mainboard and faceplate back up in the car and turned the radio on. A Zune was playing audio and hooked up to a couple wires via the 3.5mm interface below. I held the ground wire to the casing and touched each leg of the radio module with the audio out wire until I heard sweet crystal clear audio from the Zune coming out of the car speakers... well it was still mixed with the FM signal, but we'll fix that soon!

As you can see in the the above picture, I've used a sharpie on the two legs that output audio from the radio module to the mainboard, Red for Right and Blue for Left.

Underside of the mainboard at the radio module area. I did not see a good way to patch in here.



3.5mm interface
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2103451#

There are only 3 wires shown in this picture, but there will be 5 when it is finally installed.
Diagram of which audio wires connect to where.


The Left and Right radio output legs were carefully clipped and bent outwards.

Be extremely gentle and use a low heat solder to attach these two wires. I felt one of the legs loosen from the radio module when I was applying heat to it and I have no idea how hard it would be to reattach if it detached completely.

Important: It is not shown here, but I also soldered the ground wire to that blob of solder on top of the radio module.
The Aux input wires are soldered to the underside of the mainboard. I placed some electrical tape over the nearby capacitors and used hot glue to hold the wires in place.
The stereo re-assembled and ready for final soldering to connect 3.5mm jack. I marked the wires from the radio module with sharpie so I would be able to tell them apart. (I only had 3 colors of wire!) Also, may I draw your attention to the can tab which I used as a washer to hold the wires in place as they exit the main assembly :)
Everything ready to be put into the Subaru!
I hand drilled a hole for the 3.5mm jack into the back of the cubby above the stereo and quickly found out that the plastic there was just a bit too thick to fasten the jack. I had to use a 1/2" spade drill bit to carve out a circle of plastic from the front. I could have taken the entire cubby out and thinned it from the back if I wanted it to be a bit cleaner look.

Update: I recommend choosing a different location to put the plug, it is fairly tedious to insert the jack into the back of such a small compartment!


Everything works great! To use the Aux-In I just switch on the radio to FM. When the plug is inserted to the 3.5mm jack the radio audio cuts out and the audio from my device is played through the speakers instead.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any damage that arises from people attempting to replicate this hack, there are many things that could go wrong and I have not described every single step in detail. It is up to you to decide if you have the expertise to undertake this project.

Thanks to http://www.subaruoutback.org/forums/ for having a ton of info available while I was researching this project.

Cheers and good luck!!

50 comments:

  1. Nice. But now you dont have FM radio anymore, do you? Maybe you could have taken the CD audio lines, since the Player is broken anyway. Great job anyway!

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  2. Anon, you didn't read his article.
    The jack that he plugs into disconnects the radio -only- when its plugged in.

    Otherwise, he still has his radio.

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  3. Thanks for the inspiration. I was able to do this myself, and I love it.

    http://jasperblacketer.blogspot.com/2011/07/car-stereo-aux-input-hack.html

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  4. Did this myself over the weekend and it turned out great! Thanks so much for the write up!

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  5. BlacketJ & Nick: So glad I was able to help you out!

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  6. Hi My stereo is a little different. With the modulator in a different position. I am unsure which points to solder on, any clues to find out? thanks, would a picture of it help you? thanks

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  7. Jamie, if you are fairly sure you are looking at the radio module just do like I did: Grab something that outputs audio (iPod, etc.) turn on the radio and test each pin with the Left or Right line from the iPod while you have the Ground held to the radio module case. You know you have either the left or right channel when you hear it coming out through the car speakers.

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  8. Something I am unclear about- how does the system you installed selectively turn off the radio input when a jack is in place but allow signal when the jack is out? Is this a specific feature of that particular 1/8" connector?

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  9. Yes joe, it is a feature of that headphone jack. The contacts inside touch the radio output to the mainboard input until you connect the plug and it pushes those contacts apart and connects the plug to the mainboard input instead. Good luck!

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  10. Awesome work! I will try it on my outback as well. Also one question - what about sound from navi system? It works when you listening something through aux?

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  11. LSlackware, I don't have a navi system installed in mine so I really couldn't say where it patches in to the audio. I would imagine it's past the radio module and you'd be fine but I'd do some research first.

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  12. Just did this on my 2006 Subaru Outback with cd changer, auto climate and navi. The radio and pins on the module are exactly the same as in the write up. It works perfectly! Thanks Mukmuk for posting this!

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  13. worked like a charm. awesome and thanks! quick weekend project. was helpful to use the jazzy instructions to open up the dash.

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  14. Volume seems to be really low. Any suggestions?

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  15. could be because you have the volume down on your iphone/ipod. I've installed my own stereo (head unit and all speakers/amps, etc) on 3 different cars, but never done the soldering into the actual player... I mean how difficult is this really?

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  16. I just finished today and its works great, I have been looking for this solution shortly ever since I bought my 2006 Outback. I was a little hesitant to clip those legs from the radio module but once you do you are pretty much committed! Great hack.

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  17. If you have clipped the pins wont that mean the FM would now no longer work , how does it continue to send fm signal when the pins are clipped ?

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  18. NickNickNick: Some people don't seem to understand that part. Look at the RadioShack audio jack, it's special. You have to solder wires to the radio module legs and connect them to that jack. Good luck.

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  19. I have a question I want to hook up RCA inputs for my aux input which could be theoretically the same but I was wondering if you clipped the power pin for the tuner and put it on a toggle would this produce the same effect to turn just the radio signal on and off or would it shut down the whole portion of the radio?

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  20. onecallaway: Only one way to find out! Ha. I would guess that clipping the power pin to the tuner (I have no idea where this is) would shut down the whole thing. Why not put a switch on the audio lines like I did? I think you'd need a 2-Way DPDT (Double Pole Double Throw) switch, it has 6 connectors on it. http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2062499
    Good Luck!

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  21. Mark: I thought of that but with all the electronics around that area I also thought about the great possibility of interference but if it won't matter if you run unsheilded lines to a toggle that just runs the power to it. Ill have to see if i can get to messing around this weekend and let everyone know what I come up with

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  22. Good point about the interference. I don't have access to the car right now so the following is speculation: I think that the system might turn off radio output when static is encountered, if this is true you could just tune in to an FM station with no signal when you want to use the AUX connection. I'm interested to hear what you come up with!

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  23. Well I just ripped apart an old surround unit I had laying around I managed to get 2 headphone jacks from it and they have 5 solder points on them so hopefully they are the kind in this post if they are then I will hook up one on the front of my unit. I have the 2din p-133 but I also want to have the race on the back with a toggle for my iPod connector that also charges my iPod while playing hoping to rip out the CD plarey tomorrow will post with results

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  24. OK change of plan instead of using a switch to cut off the audio I'm just going to use the auxiliary port with a mock headphone plug and run the RCA input along with the auxiliary input

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  25. I was attempting this on my focus but the radio module obstructs any chance to cut in between the radio signal. All i have access to is the underside of the board where the through hold pins are available, but no board traces. I noticed then when testing my ipod on the pins that if my input signals was applied over the radio signal i only got clear input audio. Thought that was a little funny, was expecting a garbled mix. I was wondering if you would advise against just patching my signal in on top of the fm signal. I didnt want to damage anything if i make this a permanent set up. Thanks for the post and any help you can offer!

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  26. Hi,

    Outback MY2004 EU model owner here. Head unit is a Kenwood GX-201 LE. After many, many hours of struggle and different attempt, the only working solution for me has been the GROM Audio module. It required a firmware update to work, but FINALLY everything works as it should, including iPod charging + control from steering wheel. HTH.

    That's the kit I bought: http://www.carputer-shop.co.uk/ipod-iphone-kits-c-1/subaru-ipod-iphone-integration-kit-v3-p-68

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  27. TonyP: Hmm... the signal from the iPod is causing the radio module to stop sending it's own signal out somehow. I think the worst thing that could happen is that you destroy the radio portion of your system but you'd still have aux-in. What model radio/focus is it? Maybe there is a simpler solution for you.

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  28. Mark,
    Do you know if the modification you propose in the posting is similar in the Stereo with 6CD changer and auto climate control?

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  29. I took my radio into docs autosound in Chico California he does custom mobile electronics. He did a fantastic job on mine. He didn't have to solder anything on the back of the board! He did all on the inside with 5 strand shielded wire which he insisted was a really good idea. A super cleanl job for only $150.00!. And it sounds great. I took the dissaaembeled radio in to him. Tony is his name and his # is 530 894-8268.

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  30. Good idea to use the 5 strand shielded wire, it should cut down on interference. Do you know if he found a way to bypass the radio module without clipping the legs? In my opinion that was the trickiest part.

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  31. Idid this mod on my 2005 Outback XT/the 6CD model (same main board) this 1$ mod tutorial is great. Works like it should with crystal clear sound! Thanks Mark.

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  32. For those that have done this mod based on the above directions, did you find that the L & R Leg pins were the same ones as detailed in the write up...I.E. 5 & 6 from left as shown in the pic. I am assuming that they are all the same but would be nice to hear from some others that have done it.

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  33. I did it. It was a little more than I expected. But it worked out nicely. You should practice soldering very tiny connections first if you have no experience. Taking the whole lower dash and the radio apart is the most tedious and time consuming parts. The first attempt I had left side radio only and full left but a weak right side playback from the phone. I went back in a cleaned up the solder on the return connection that had contacted the next pin over on the right out. Now it works beautifully. I mounted the jack on the passenger side, just to the right of the stick because I like to set my phone on the cup holder door so it's connected to the charger in the console compartment. It looks very clean this way.

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    1. Glad you were able to get it working! The soldering is indeed fiddly and would be rough for a first timer, pictures of circuit boards always look bigger than they actually are ;).

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    2. So as a first timer... uhm... Question on the pins underneath the board. The picture is pretty good - but I'm having a hard time isolating the pins to hookup the AUX in to...

      Suggestions?

      How many from the left/right/top of the board?

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  34. Thanks a lot for sharing, I've completed this today on my 2006 Outback XT 5spd/6CD changer and everything works great. Per suggestion above, I bought 5 strand shielded wire here (http://www.allelectronics.com/make-a-store/item/5CS22/5-CONDUCTOR-SHIELDED-CABLE-W/DRAIN/1.html). I was able to cut the two legs on radio module rather low; then I cleared the holes on PCB with solder sucker and soldered new "extension" legs (made from a diode I had laying around) so that they're sticking out on the front side of the board. That allowed me to solder all five wires from the front side; I also used electrical tape and hot glue on the board and at the end I just had one shielded wire coming out of my radio. I think the only weak link is the headphone jack itself - it seems to hold fine for now but I wonder if it's going to come loose over time due to various road vibrations. Maybe I'll just glue it in when/if that happens. Anyway, thanks again - I've been missing two things since I bought my Outback 6 years ago: AUX jack and 6th speed and now I am down to one! :-)

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    1. Yeah, mine actually did come loose and fall out. Had to re-open the dash to fix it. Like you mentioned, glue or maybe a thread-locking fluid like Loctite would provide a more permanent solution.

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  35. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  36. Just did this today. Had everything I needed except the jack. It cost me $2.79 to get an aux input jack in my stock saturn L-200 stereo! Same pins (by the way) as in your picture. Thanks!

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  37. Thanks for the info. Just did this on my car thanks!
    http://i.imgur.com/7XDcN.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/FcLKN.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/daSyf.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/4PVcW.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/oPmdD.jpg
    http://i.imgur.com/3KZ7U.jpg

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    Replies
    1. Nice work! I appreciate the alternate uses of the tape deck and cup holder. I am curious what model car you have.

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  38. upd: I've deleted my previous worng comment.

    Thanks for manual.
    I've done the same for my Alpine CDE-9845RR.
    But seems radio signal still coming (with very low level) if the jack _plugged_ to connector.
    And if you increase the volume - the sound of radio channel becomes clearer (without jack)
    If jack unplugged - radio works without problems.
    If jack plugged - mp3 player stream sound and if I increase volume I can heard radio signal..

    It seems because Im using wire from old keyboard - there is 4 wires in one shield.
    Will try to change it to separate wires.
    And maybe it because of connector - if jack plugged it disconnected some contacts inside but these contacts still near each other so maybe its good idea to use two switch for R and L channels instead such connector.

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    1. I think you are on the right track with switching out the wires. I haven't had any problems with the radioshack jack, so that's probably not it. If you can get the FM output to be silent by switching to an unused station when using your AUX setup that could be a simple workaround.

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  39. Well, I went through this closely and something is wrong. The radio still works great, however when I plug into the jack I get silence. I've tried a couple of devices (phone, iPod, etc.), and adjusted the volume on everything to try and pick something up. Nothing. I'm using the same Radio Shack jack. I assume I soldered everything in the correct positions: L-out (top 5th pin), R-out (top 6th-pin), L-in (bottom 5th pin), R-in (bottom 6th pin), GND to top of radio module solder blob. I'm wondering if the out pins should be on the bottom pins and the in to the top pins? When the headphone jack is inserted into the jack, it pushes the #2 (L-out) and #5 (R-out) contacts out to interrupt the radio. Since these are the contacts touching the headphone jack from the phone or iPod, should these be he Aux-in (L and R) wires going to the radio module? Anyway, not sure what the issue is. Can I just use any regular headphone extension cable? Any help is appreciated! Thanks!

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    1. I think you have probably figured out your problem. Should be easy enough to desolder and test the jack before resoldering anything. Yes you should be able to use any standard stereo extension cable. If I have time I'll draw a picture showing the entire circuit and add it to the end of the post.

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    2. Yep, I guess I had figured it out. I went back into it this morning and fixed it as I had thought. Works like a charm now. Thanks for the confirmation.

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  40. Hello! I am curious about the best way to clip the heads on the radio modular!? Any help and suggestions would be much appreciated!

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