[How-To] Bluetooth streaming in your car

Discussion in 'Android General Discussions' started by qoncept, Feb 10, 2010.

  1. qoncept
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    qoncept Guest

    One of the best features of our phones is the options it gives us for music on the go. 16gb of storage, streaming from Pandora, Slacker, iheartradio and others. I've spent the last 3 months finding the best, most affordable way, and I think I've got it now. My priorities were functionality, ease of use and cost. I want to share what I've learned. You can do all this with an OEM or aftermarket stereo.

    Simplicity
    When you listen to the radio or a CD in your car, it's as simple as getting in and going. It plays where it left off. I wanted to stay as close to that level of effort as possible. If I have to get in the car, plug in the charger, plug in the audio, set up volume, start an app and select a song, I'm going to get lazy and stop doing it.

    For example, I tried this Bluetooth adapter. It was dirt cheap, but my Droid wouldn't automatically connect to it. I had to enable Bluetooth, open the settings, go to Bluetooth settings, choose the device, then go start my music. For my 15 minute drive to work, it didn't make sense.

    Cost
    There are a number of solutions out there, but many cost over $100. A simple Bluetooth receiver for my Pioneer stereo costs $180. Trying to balance the cost with everything I wanted was really the toughest part. Without my cheapskate mentality I would have spent 5x as much money and been done with it.

    What I didn't use, and why
    The MOTOROKR T505 looked, at first glance, like it did everything I wanted. It's a Bluetooth receiver and RF transmitter with hands free capability. The problem is, wireless RF transmitters generally suck. It's a low power analog signal that reduces sound quality. And hands free just doesn't really interest me.

    I also decided pretty early in my planning that I didn't want to use the 3.5mm audio jack on the phone. I have a Seidio car dock that I can slide the phone in to easily with one hand to charge it, and reaching over to plug in an additional cord was just one extra step I wanted to avoid. I hoped to be able to pull the audio from the USB port, like many phones are able to do, but with the Droid it's just not possible. So I needed to use Bluetooth.

    Also, as I mentioned above, I didn't use the Pioneer Bluetooth adapter for my aftermarket stereo. The $180 price was just ridiculous.

    The parts
    I ended settling on the Blackberry Bluetooth Gateway for $35ish. It uses the A2DP protocol, so it's compatible with any phone that can stream to wireless headphones or speakers, and it has a 3.5mm output.

    If you have an aftermarket stereo with auxiliary input, that's all you'll need. If you have an OEM stereo, you'll probably need an RF transmitter. I realize I said they are worthless -- but what you really want is a wired RF transmitter, such as this. This works the same as a wireless transmitter - you set it and your car stereo to the same frequency, but it is wired in line with your antenna and doesn't rely on weak radio waves to transmit the sound. Simply put, the quality is better. Installing it is simple enough - all you need to do is pull your stereo out, plug the RF transmitter in to your stereo and your antenna in to the RF transmitter.

    The caveats
    The biggest gotcha with my setup is that the Blackberry Bluetooth Gateway uses a USB charger (not included) for power. This means 1) you'll need to buy one and 2) you'll need to have 2 cigarette lighters in your car to power both the gateway and your Droid charger.

    In my case, I have an old power adapter that I've torn apart and wired directly to the harness for my stereo. My main reason was to keep everything as hidden as possible, but it has the added benefit of not using up my lighter ports.

    The pictures
    Ok, I don't have any yet. I'm working on building a new mount for my car dock and while I'm in the dash, I'll take pictures to document what I'm doing.

    Hopefully someone will find this useful. It was an unnecessary pain in my butt to figure all this out, so if I can save people from that, I'll be happy. Let me know if you have questions.
  2. qoncept
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    qoncept Guest

    OK, I started putting everything together tonight but it turns out the DC adapter I bought off eBay was junk. I'll need to get another one and try later.
  3. jobambo
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    jobambo New Member

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    Good luck on your install

    I recently installed a bluetooth system in my car. I used this little gadget. Kensington LiquidAUX Bluetooth Car Kit - Car audio Bluetooth adapter

    It has an AUX connector which i have an RCA adapter on. It then goes straight to my cheapo EQ which splits the RCA to proper channels (Front, rear and sub) while giving me full control of the equalizer which my droid was not able to do.
    It also has a USB charger port so i can charge my phone if needed.

    I picked mine up for about $27 new from ebay. Just make sure you see an actual picture of the product because some models do not come with the USB port.

    The only issue i currently have with this is the microphone. Maybe its the placement of the unit but the microphone is lacking. Callers complained about not being able to hear me properly.
    Sorry if this advice is a little late on your project, but it might save you some headaches.

    Edit: No idea why there is a thumbs down icon next to the title.
  4. nickb34
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    nickb34 Member

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  5. eTiMaGo
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    eTiMaGo New Member

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    I did a similar thing with my old G1, I have an old Motorola bluetooth stereo adapter, it has RCA outputs, so I hooked it up directly to my amplifier (took out the head unit which was pretty crap)

    [​IMG]

    But, the G1 kinda sucked for this, music output skipped and paused a lot, not to mention the battery drain! And, manually pairing the devices each time was a PITA.

    I will re-do this system once I get a windshield mount for the Milestone, but using the actual headphone jack, no more wireless crap :p
  6. qoncept
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    qoncept Guest

    Yeah, I decided early if I didn't have a charging dock, this wasn't an option at all. I did get it set up but not wired yet - the dual USB charger I had was junk. http://www.droidforums.net/forum/droid-accessories/22583-my-car-dock.html

    The pairing thing was another no go, which is why I ordered the Blackberry BT gateway. Just crossed my fingers hoping it would autoconnect, and it worked out.

    I'm looking for a right angled mini-usb (not micro) that I can connect to my Seidio dock, anyone know a source? The only thing I've found that is angled the right way is this: http://www.gpsdeals4u.com/gps-Gilss...ht-Angle-MiniUSB-Connector--GIL-GUSB-110.html Too much money and I'd have to hack it up to connect it to my cigarette lighter adapter.
  7. gentlefury
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    gentlefury New Member

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    I got a pioneer headunit with bluetooth...i get in the car, put my phone in the cradle and press play on the console....done.
  8. jimmiem
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    jimmiem New Member

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    Thanks for posting! I've been wanting in-car BT audio since the first pair of BT headphones came on the market. You've definitely presented a couple of ideas that I think will work in my situation.
  9. Stigy
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    Stigy New Member

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    Exactly how mine works.

    If you have a Pioneer radio with Bluetooth and "register" the phone with your radio it will auto-pair every time you turn your car on. Then I just hit the play button on my phone for Pandora or whatever and it streams right to the radio. Best part is if I have Navigation running at the same time, it will lower the music I am listening to and stream the navigation prompts over the Bluetooth as well.
  10. MNTNBKR
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    MNTNBKR Member

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    I just picked up one of these from Amazon too. I haven't received it yet though. I have a Bluetooth head unit on one of my cars, and in my other I've been using a direct wire from the 3.5mm jack. I actually prefer the direct wire method, but I don't like the wires hanging from the dash.

    The only reason I don't like Bluetooth is because from time to time, for some unknown reason, the pairing gets screwed up and I have to manually go into Bluetooth settings and un-check and then re-check the "Use this connection for media" (or something along those lines). It's too much trouble and worse to do while driving than texting. If the LiquidAUX doesn't work flawlessly, I'll go back to my wired setup.

    Also, I should mention, I'm using this in conjunction with a PA11-VOL auxiliary input adapter. The Volvo recognizes this unit as a CD changer. It allows me to have my Droid (or any other inputs source) connected in parallel with my ipod and I can switch between the two by simply changing the disc number. It's pretty slick...although I haven't used my ipod once since I got the Droid. :)
  11. qoncept
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    qoncept Guest

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