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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)


I recently installed a new backup camera and head unit with wireless CarPlay about a week ago in my 2011 Xterra PRO-4X that originally came with the Rockford Fosgate audio system with steering wheel controls and an AUX in port.





I had researched stereo installations on thenewx.org, xterraownersclub.com, clubfrontier.org and YouTube. Unfortunately, the recent PhotoBucket shakedown has deleted the photographs from many of those threads, so I thought it would be useful to consolidate basic GPS stereo installation in one place and document with new photos. The installation process for any new 2-DIN GPS head unit should be very similar to this one.

I had been growing increasingly frustrated with the stock Rockford Fosgate stereo. The sound quality was never that impressive, and it seemed to be getting worse – especially when playing Pandora from my phone through the AUX input. My teenage daughter will be driving this car soon, and I wanted her to have a backup camera and less distracting entertainment/communication options that would keep her eyes on the road and off of her cell phone. When I read that Alpine had just released the world’s first aftermarket head unit incorporating wireless CarPlay (model iLX-107), it seemed like that would be a good solution.

Having lived with the new system for about a week, I am generally happy with it. The sound quality is much better. I anticipated that I might have to replace some or all of the other factory components (amplifier, subwoofer, speakers), but now that I’ve heard the new system I don’t plan to make any other improvements.

Alpine has done a very good job with the interface, and it works intuitively. The only setup problem I ran into was figuring out how to adjust the guidelines for the backup camera – it turns out that the blue “Rear” lettering when you bring up the camera settings is actually a hyperlink that opens up another level of settings including guideline adjustment. The rearview camera displays almost immediately upon starting the car and shifting into reverse, and after a couple of seconds the guidelines appear on the screen. Camera resolution is good under most conditions, but can get washed out in direct sunlight.

The head unit remembers what you were doing when you last turned off the car and will resume that operation when you turn it back on – even if it has to reconnect to your cell phone. I’ve gotten so used to digging my phone out of my pocket and connecting a cable to it when I get in the car that being able to skip those steps feels like a luxury (when it works – see below).

If I understand the technology correctly, wireless CarPlay uses Bluetooth only to establish an initial connection with the head unit, then it switches to wifi for improved throughput. This means that when your phone is connected to wireless CarPlay, it will use cell phone data even if a wifi network is available. If that’s a problem, you can revert back to using a physical cable when you want to stream music from a wifi connection.

I do have a few minor criticisms. First, I don’t like the volume up/down buttons on the head unit. They’re touchscreen rather than physical, and I have a hard time operating them while driving because they are so small. Fortunately, I have steering wheel controls for volume up/down and tuning/track up/down, so I don’t have to use the virtual buttons at the bottom of the head unit’s screen (the two physical head unit buttons work fine). I recommend installing a steering wheel control module to enable steering wheel controls if you have them.

Second, the microphone and clip are unnecessarily large. Initially I mounted it at the top left corner of the windshield, but it was distracting up there and the long tail of the microphone prevented it from being pointed directly at the driver. After a few days, I moved it above the steering column in front of the instrument panel where it is less noticable.

Third, Pandora is by far the least reliable CarPlay app. It doesn’t always launch successfully in CarPlay when you select it from the head unit even though wireless CarPlay has successfully connected to your phone. It helps if the Pandora app is already open on your phone, but my success rate in launching Pandora on the first try is about 50%. In fairness to Alpine, I think this is an iPhone/Pandora/CarPlay problem and not an Alpine problem because the other CarPlay apps launch fine even if they are closed on your phone and we have similar problems with Pandora/CarPlay in another vehicle that has native wired CarPlay. Unfortunately, the only way to recover from this problem is to kill and restart the Pandora app on your phone. EDIT: I don't know if Pandora would still be unreliable with my new iPhone SE because I've stopped using Pandora and now use Apple Radio which works flawlessly.

Fourth, wireless CarPlay occasionally fails to connect upon startup of the head unit. Referencing the phone’s settings will confirm that Bluetooth is on, but not connected to the head unit. This can be solved by clicking on the Bluetooth prompt for your stereo in the phone’s settings or turning your phone’s Bluetooth off and then on again. The fastest way would be to briefly put your phone in airplane mode because you can do that from the lock screen. The best feature of wireless CarPlay is not having to take your phone out of your pocket, so this occasional error is frustrating. Hopefully this is mostly a problem with my phone (5S), and not with the head unit. EDIT: My new iPhone SE doesn't have any problems connecting, so this issue was probably related to my old phone.

Fifth, wireless CarPlay drains your phone’s battery more rapidly than most other cell phone uses. It’s great for short trips around town, but if I am going to be driving for an hour or longer, I will connect the phone via USB or power it via the cigarette lighter.

In summary, wireless CarPlay is great when it works. But introducing another wireless interface in your life means more occasional troubleshooting. Pandora is disappointing, but the rest of the apps work well – including Apple Music (and its Radio function, which is an alternative to Pandora).
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
This was my first time installing a backup camera or head unit in any vehicle. It took me about 1.5 days to complete, but that included soldering many connections instead of using fasteners, double-checking aftermarket instructions against the wiring diagrams in the factory service manuals and stopping every few minutes to take photos and write notes. I didn’t want to make a mistake, so I worked slowly and double-checked everything along the way thinking that would be preferable to troubleshooting a problem afterward. My OCD approach was rewarded in this case – everything worked perfectly when I was done and I didn’t have to re-do any work. Using this How-to as a guide, I estimate that a novice installer with the right tools could complete this project in one full day and an experienced installer could do it in half a day. Of course, anyone who uses this How-to guide assumes all risk of doing so.

Following are some links that give a good overview of what is involved in this project. Coincidentally, Crutchfield has documented some of their installations on an Xterra and a Nissan sedan. Crutchfield’s documentation was so helpful to me that I decided to purchase everything I could from them. If you buy a head unit from Crutchfield, they also identify the relevant wiring harness, steering wheel control interface, dashboard trim (though I used a different trim) and a basic installation guide for your vehicle and sell it at a bundled price. Their Master Sheet does contain useful information but does not help in locating specific wires like the parking brake, reverse or Vehicle Speed Sensor. Crutchfield offers installation support over the phone, but I didn’t need any help beyond the research I had already done.

Crutchfield Xterra overview: https://www.crutchfield.com/learn/2005-2012-nissan-xterra.html
Crutchfield NAV unit installation tips: https://www.crutchfield.com/S-0eperDAiX4S/learn/learningcenter/car/navigation_install.html
Crutchfield backup camera installation: https://www.crutchfield.com/learn/video-how-to-install-a-backup-camera.html
Crutchfield steering wheel control overview: https://www.crutchfield.com/S-JKrrSHB3IFY/learn/video-installing-steering-wheel-audio-controls-adapter.html?omnews=12385487
Xterra head unit removal demonstration:

The following thread provides information about the various OEM stereo systems for different Xterra model years and provides links to the factory service manuals. If you have the same setup as mine you won’t need them, but if your model year or head unit are different you may want to refer to your model’s manuals to confirm that your wiring is the same. The AV file includes the head unit wiring diagrams, the EXL file includes reverse wiring and the GI file explains how to read the wiring diagrams.
http://www.thenewx.org/forum/12-electrical/138113-factory-radio-information.html

As a shortcut, the color codes used in the service manuals are also here:
http://www.thenewx.org/forum/12-electrical/36973-wire-diagram-color-codes.html

There are two installation kits available to replace the OEM dash trim – Metra 99-7428B (in black or light grey) and Scosche NN1661B. I ordered both, and I’m glad I did (Crutchfield includes the Metra kit for only a few dollars with the purchase of a head unit). Here are the differences:

Metra (right) – The black version is a darker black than the Scosche, less reflective and has sharper angles. The center divider between the 1 and 2-DIN openings must be removed for 2-DIN head units. The opening is larger than the Scosche, so it requires an additional rectangular trim piece on the front of the assembly. The opening isn’t big enough to accept the trim that comes with the Alpine head unit, so you have to use the trim that Metra supplies. The finishes of these two Metra trim pieces are slightly different.

Scosche (left) – Is a lighter black than the Metra, but still darker than the OEM dash plastic. The plastic is more reflective than the Metra. The Scosche opening is smaller than the Metra, so it doesn’t require an additional exterior trim piece surrounding the face of the head unit. The opening is slightly taller than necessary to fit the Alpine head unit. I thought this gap might be noticeable after installation, but it’s not too bad because the widest part of the gap is below the head unit’s face plate and below the driver’s primary line of sight. After placing the different trim kits side by side and testing the fit with the Alpine head unit, I decided to use the Scosche kit because I think it’s a cleaner look than the Metra.





Although many different backup cameras will work with the Alpine head unit, I used Alpine because its license plate mount seemed convenient and the camera didn’t include redundant guidelines. This head unit has its own adjustable guidelines, so you want a camera that doesn’t already include fixed guidelines.

Following is a list of parts and supplies for this project:
-Alpine iLX-107 receiver (Crutchfield Item #500ILX107)
-Scosche CNN03 Wiring Interface (Crutchfield Item #142C4NN03)
-Axxess ASWC-1 Steering Wheel Control Interface (Crutchfield Item #120ASWC1)
-Alpine HCE-C125 Rear View Camera (Crutchfield Item #500HCEC125)
-Alpine KTX-C10LP License Plate Mounting Kit (Crutchfield Item #500KTXC10L)
-6 Pieces Posi-Tap 16-18 Gauge (Crutchfield Item #669PP605) – I used four
-6 Pieces Posi-Tap 20-22 Gauge (Crutchfield Item #669PP641) – I used all six
-Crutchfield MasterSheet Nissan Xterra 2009-2015 (Crutchfield Item #0000390008)
-Scosche Dash Kit Model #NN1661B (Amazon)
-Honbay 3.5mm Gold 1/8 Stereo Male Mini Plug to 2 Female RCA Jack Adapter Audio Y Cable (Amazon)
-Duttek USB Panel Flush Mount cable - 2M/6.6ft USB 3.0 & 2 RCA Male to Female AUX Extension Mount (Amazon) – 3’ cables would be better, but I couldn’t find a shorter version of this with USB 3.0
-Large rubber washer with hole in middle for wire conduit passthrough (ACE Hardware)
-Rubber grommet for ¼” hole in bumper (ACE Hardware)
-Electrical tape
-Gaffer’s Tape (racing tape) or duct tape
-5’ of automotive wire conduit
-Small spool of 18 gauge automotive wire (any color)
-Two yellow ring or fork terminals for ground wires
-Zip ties up to 11”
-POR-15 or another rust preventative coating for hole in bumper
-Silver touch-up paint (optional because the hole is hidden behind license plate)
-String to pull wires
-Fish tape or coat hanger to route wires
-Blue painter’s tape
-Micro USB cable (to update the steering wheel control module)

If you want to solder any connections, then here are some suggested tools and supplies. If you want to use crimp or twist connections instead, you can buy Posi-Twist (different from Posi-Tap) from Crutchfield or other connectors instead of soldering. The Scosche wiring harness comes with 13 crimp connectors, which won’t be enough if you also extend some wires as I did.
- Weller WLC100 40-Watt Soldering Station (Amazon)
- SE MZ101B Helping Hand with Magnifying Glass (Amazon)
- Alpha Fry Fine Electrical Repair Solder with Rosin Flux Core (ACE Hardware)
- URBEST 530 Pcs 2:1 Heat Shrink Tubing 8 Size (Amazon)
- Black & Decker HG1300 Dual Temperature Heat Gun (Amazon) (or another heat gun that has a low heat setting and can be stood on its end with the nozzle facing up)

And some basic tools:
-Drill and bits up to ¼”
-Round metal file
-Flashlight
-Vice Grips or pliers
-Needle nose pliers
-Wire cutters
-Wire stripper/crimper
-Multimeter
-Pomona 6413 Insulation Piercing Clip Set (Amazon) – very convenient for use with a multimeter
-Extended test leads with alligator clips (not necessary, but convenient for connecting to ground)
-Tin snips (for trimming license plate)
-Flathead & Phillips screwdrivers (including one tiny Philips screwdriver for the backup camera)
-Screwdriver with various sizes of star bits including very small
-Automotive trim removal tools
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Step 1 – Install Backup Camera



-Lower the spare tire and remove it from underneath the vehicle
-Remove the storage tray cover
-Pull up and remove the interior luggage floor trim piece that borders the rear hatch gasket
-Remove the five screws attaching the storage tray to the vehicle and remove the tray
-Remove the remaining floor trim piece by pulling up
-Locate the pass-through in the body (35mm hole indicated by screwdriver tip in photo below) and remove the tape



-Position the license plate frame on the bumper and mark the location of the hole for the camera and license plate light wires
-Drill a hole in the bumper at least 3/8” to pass through the camera cable (I tried to get ½”, but my drill bit wasn’t sharp enough so I reamed out my 3/8” hole a little larger with a round file until the backup camera connector would pass through
-Treat the hole with POR-15 or other rust preventative paint and let dry. Top-coat with silver if desired and let dry. (While the paint is drying, you can get started on other installation steps and finish this one later).



-Install the camera into the license plate with the Alpine logo on top. Be careful not to lose the tiny screws.
-Drill a hole in the license plate no lower than the bottom edge of the license plate frame’s upper trim and use tin snips to cut down to it to make a U-shaped cutout for the camera wires to pass through. The cutout must extend to the edge of the license plate or you won’t be able to remove the license plate. You will have to cut every license plate you use with this installation, but the license plate frame will cover up the cutout.



-Pass the camera cables through the rubber grommet and then through the bumper.
-Install the grommet in the bumper and mount the license plate & license plate holder.
-Twist off the passenger side license plate light from underneath the vehicle (1/4 turn counterclockwise). Turn on the parking lights and test for positive vs. negative wire. Set the multimeter to measure DC voltage and touch the leads together to confirm that voltage with nothing connected to the multimeter reads 0. Next, touch the positive lead from the multimeter to one of the wires (piercing the insulation with the Pomona piercing clip) and the negative lead to the vehicle frame and note the voltage reading. Pay attention to the multimeter units – it may display millivolts instead of volts if the reading is low. Repeat the test with the other wire. One of the wires should have much higher voltage than the other, and the one with the higher voltage is the positive wire. Turn off the parking lights and attach a blue Posi-Tap to the positive wire so you don’t get the wires confused.





-Use the Posi-Tap to connect the positive lead from the license plate frame’s light to the positive wire from the light on the bumper. Connect the negative wires together with a second blue Posi-Tap. Test to confirm that the license plate frame lights illuminate with the parking lights. Use heat shrink and/or electrical tape to waterproof the connections.



-Connect the long section of camera cable and waterproof the joint with heat shrink (I used the large piece that came with the Alpine kit and two more pieces of my own) and electrical tape.
-Slip the automotive wire conduit over the wires beginning at the bumper hole until you’ve used up all 5’ of the conduit. Allow the tail of the wires for the license plate frame lights to exit the conduit. Wrap the conduit with electrical tape in a few places to prevent the cables from falling out. Coil the extra license plate light wiring and zip tie it to the existing wires.
-Run the conduit with camera lead toward the passenger side, keeping it away from anywhere the spare tire might rub against it. Run it above the frame cross-bar and then back to the hole in the cargo floor. Zip tie into place. If the license plate frame ever needs to be pulled away from the bumper (e.g. to repaint the bumper), cutting these zip ties will provide a couple feet of slack.



-Install a rubber washer with hole in the middle for body panel pass-through and tape it in place with gaffer’s tape to seal the hole in the body.
-Tape the conduit and video wire to the body panel underneath the storage tray and run the cable toward the left rear passenger door.





-Pull back the weather stripping at the bottom of both driver’s side doors and remove the trim at the bottoms of the door openings. If any fasteners stick to the body instead of the trim, pry them out of the body with a claw shaped trim removal tool and reattach to the trim so they will snap in place upon reinstallation of the trim.



-Thread the video cable underneath the plastic trim, following the existing wiring looms. -The B-pillar trim pulls away from the pillar, starting at the top – look for fasteners and pry them out with trim removal tool if they are stubborn (pull out the top two fasteners on both sides). Route the cable between the driver’s seatbelt and the outside body panel.



-Route the cable behind the kick panel by the driver’s left foot and out the top. Leave the remaining cable in the driver’s footwell for now.
-Reassemble everything from the B-pillar to the license plate.

Step 2 – Splice Main Wiring Harness
This is a service that Crutchfield offers for $30 if you do it at the time of order. Although it would save some time, there is so much additional splicing involved in this installation that you won’t be able to avoid all splicing and might as well do it all. Paying Crutchfield to do it would leave the method of splicing up to them, and I don’t know if their method would provide as much slack in the wiring harness as my method did which makes installation easier. It also requires them to open up a few of your packages, and there is a risk that some piece could be lost.
I checked and double-checked everything in this step while I was completing it. It turns out that the wiring colors are an exact match between Alpine and Scosche (at least for my vehicle), so you don’t really have to refer to the factory service manual if you don’t want to. Just be sure to look at the wire colors very carefully, because some are similar enough that they can be mistaken for others.
-Connect all eight speaker wires (soldering or using fasteners like Posi-Twists or crimped connectors). If soldering, consult Crutchfield’s Master Sheet for proper technique and remember to slip the heat-shrink over one of the wires before soldering the joint.
-Connect the red switched power and yellow constant power wires to the corresponding Scosche wires (you’ll have to cut off the Alpine connectors). I extended these wires with pieces of 18 gauge automotive wire before splicing them together so that the harness would give me the full amount of slack when I connected it later between the vehicle’s harness and the new head unit. That’s not necessary, but I think it made the installation easier and was worth the effort.
-Connect the amp remote turn-on wire (blue/white). The Scosche instructions are a little vague about this, but my vehicle doesn’t have a powered antenna so this wire is meant to connect to the amplifier (again, remove the Alpine connector and extend the lead first if desired).
-Ground the black wire by using a blue Posi-Tap to connect it to the Alpine ground wire with another extension. The Alpine ground wire will be connected to a grounding screw on the vehicle behind the head unit.
-The blue (power antenna) wire from the main Alpine wiring harness is not used. The black (ground), orange/white (reverse) and yellow/blue (parking brake) will be connected later.
-The Scosche harness does not use the orange, blue and black/white wires, so I trimmed off the stripped ends and taped them all individually.









Step 3 – Test for Backup Circuit and Install Red Posi-Tap
The backup circuit tells the head unit when to switch to the rear camera view. On p117-120 of the EXL.pdf factory service manual, this wire is always described as sky blue. I tested three sky blue wires behind the driver’s kick panel and none of them showed 12V when the backup lights were on. Maybe the wire is in there somewhere, but I couldn’t find it. So instead I did what every other documented installer has done and opened up the wiring loom running along the bottom of the driver’s door opening. There are two sky blue wires in this bundle – one of them locks the doors and the other is the backup wire. The only way to determine which is which is to test them. You can do this one of two ways:
-Set the multimeter to test DC voltage. Connect the red multimeter lead to the wire and the black lead to the frame. Apply the parking brake. Turn the ignition all the way on, but do not start the vehicle. Press the brake pedal and shift into reverse while watching the multimeter. If the reading spikes to 12V or close, that is the reverse wire.
-Connect one end of a lead to the wire and tap the other end to the vehicle frame (ground). If the power locks activate, that’s the wrong sky blue wire.
-Once you’ve identified the backup circuit, connect a red Posi-Tap to it (we will connect the Alpine harness to this circuit later).





Step 4 – Test for Parking Brake Circuit and Attach a Red Posi-Tap
The Alpine head unit locks out AUX video and certain settings until it thinks the vehicle is stopped and the parking brake is applied. There are apparently lots of ways to bypass this safety feature, but I decided not to do that - because I don’t want my daughter messing with settings or watching videos when she should be watching the road. Apparently everybody else wants to bypass this safety feature, and I couldn’t find any documentation on how to make the connection the way Alpine intended. So I searched through the factory service manuals until I found a description of the parking brake circuit. The relevant wire always seemed to be green, so I tested every green wire I could find underneath the dashboard and nothing tested at 12V with the parking brake on. Later I discovered that the parking brake tests at 12V when it is OFF and 0V when it is ON, so one of those wires under the dash may have been the correct one after all. It doesn’t matter in any case because I would have disassembled the trim around the shifter anyway later in the installation process to install the new USB / AUX port. Note that the head unit must sense the voltage changing from 12V (brake off) to 0V (brake on) before allowing settings changes. This prevents you from bypassing the safety feature just by grounding the parking brake wire from the head unit. It also means that if the parking brake is applied before the head unit turns on, you’ll have to release it and pull it back on before the head unit will unlock the settings.
-Pull the trim around the center cup holders straight up and remove it.
-Pull the trim forward of the cup holders that surrounds the shift lever straight up (use trim pry tool to release the forward clips). Shift the transmission into neutral (with the parking brake on) and remove the trim piece completely.
-Locate the green wire that leads to the hinge point of the parking brake lever. It’s covered by a black sleeve until it gets very close to the parking brake lever.
-Carefully cut into the sleeve in an accessible location to expose the green wire and attach a red Posi-Tap to it. We will connect the Alpine parking brake wire to this circuit later.
-Thread a string from the Posi-Tap to the driver’s footwell area to use later for pulling the parking brake wire from the head unit to the Posi-Tap.

 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Step 5 - Remove the Head Unit and Mount the New One to the Trim Assembly
-Disconnect the negative terminal from the vehicle battery and make sure it won’t spring back and reconnect to the terminal.
-Apply blue painter’s tape to the dash beside the center section to protect the dash from scrapes from the center section’s fasteners.
-Drape a towel over the gearshift and have another cloth like a folded t-shirt ready to pad the fasteners at the bottom of the unit.
-Pry up the dashboard tray with the tips of your thumbs on the edge just above the radio (there is one friction fastener in each corner).
-Remove the center screw and the screws on each side that fasten the metal brackets (3 screws total)
-Use a couple of trim removal tools to pry up the edge of the center section nearest to the windshield and pull the stereo assembly straight away from the dash (but not very far).



-Disconnect all wire harnesses except the airbag light from the back of the head unit. My connectors were different than the ones in the video and more difficult to remove, so I sat in the drivers seat with a small flathead screwdriver in my right hand to depress each catch and pulled each connector out with my left hand.
-Unscrew the airbag light from the trim instead of disconnecting it (using small star bit). If you’d rather disconnect it and risk an airbag fault, a procedure is documented here that will supposedly clear the fault: http://www.thenewx.org/forum/13-interior/119449-2013-stereo-trim-removal-help-2.html
-Remove the head unit assembly from the vehicle and place on a towel.
-Remove the twelve star bit screws attaching the inner trim piece to the outer trim piece.
-Remove the air vents on each side by prying away the tabs at the top and bottom and lifting away.
-Reach into each empty vent hole and carefully pinch away the outer plastic trim to release the catches at the side and free the inside trim piece from the outside trim piece.





-Remove the four screws fastening the head unit brackets to the inside trim
-Remove the four large silver screws on each side of the head unit that fasten the metal brackets to the head unit. Pull off the brackets.
-Remove the bottom HVAC control assembly from the inner trim piece (4 star screws).
-Set aside the old head unit and old inner trim piece.
-Attach the OEM metal brackets to the new head unit with two large silver screws on each side (the old brackets seem sturdier than the Scosche plastic brackets, and no modification was required to fit the Alpine head unit).
-Insert the new head unit into the Scosche trim and loosely attach the metal brackets to the Scosche trim with four black star screws. Center the head unit in the trim opening and tighten the screws. There will be a small gap between the bottom of the head unit and the trim. That’s OK – it’s less noticeable to have a gap at the bottom than a gap at the top of the unit.
-Attach the HVAC control unit to the Scosche trim with four gold star screws. Confirm that the buttons don’t stick.



-Insert the Scosche trim assembly into the outside trim and attach with ten black star screws.
-Snap the vents back into place. The new assembly is complete and you should have four large silver screws left over.



Step 6 - Connect the Main Wiring Harness to the Reverse and Parking Brake Wires
-Pull back the driver’s door weather stripping and remove the bottom section of A-pillar trim
-Remove two screws and pull back the lower section of dashboard to get better access underneath the steering wheel (the top edge snaps out)
-Carry the main wiring harness into the vehicle and feed the two long reverse and parking brake wires into the dash and down into the driver’s footwell area.
-Connect the orange/white wire to the reverse wire Posi-Tap in the driver’s door area (the sky blue wire previously identified).



-Connect the yellow/blue parking brake wire to the Posi-Tap underneath the center cupholders (the green wire previously identified).



-Protect these connections with electrical tape

Step 7 - Install Microphone and GPS Antenna
-Pull back gasket on front edge of driver’s door
-Remove driver’s grab handle (2 screws), then pull away plastic A-pillar trim
-At first, I located the microphone in the upper left corner of the windshield clipped to the upper A-pillar trim (staying away from the airbag), but after a few days I found that too distracting and the tail of the microphone was too long to be able to point the mic toward the driver. So I moved it just above the steering column in front of the instrument cluster. To do this, remove 3 screws securing the trim around the instrument panel – two below, and one on the left. Pull the trim toward you a couple of inches. The trim around the ignition key socket will also pop off. Since the provided microphone clip was so big, I made my own mount by cutting a small square of plastic using a Dremel and a plastic cutting wheel out of the Scosche head unit mount I wasn’t going to use, driving a small wood screw into it whose head was just the right size to accept the microphone base, cutting the sharp end off of the screw using the Dremel and a metal cutting disk and sticking the mount to the trim piece in front of the instrument cluster with a small piece of double-stick foam picture mount (and also coloring the edge of the foam black with a Sharpie). I think the microphone looks much better there.





-Route the microphone wire down to driver’s kick panel and follow orange/white reverse wire back to head unit. Coil and secure the extra length of cable in the driver’s footwell in case you want to move the microphone later.
-Stick the GPS antenna next to the driver’s dash speaker and follow the same route as the microphone wire. Per Alpine, the GPS antenna is supposed to be located away from the head unit and per Crutchfield at least 5” from the A pillar or any other antennas.



-When finished, there should be five wires routed up through the dash and out of the opening ready to be connected to the head unit – backup camera, backup wire, parking brake wire, microphone and GPS. Zip tie the wires to the cross-beam underneath the steering wheel.

Step 8 – Connect the Main Harness to the OEM Harnesses in the Dash
-Connect the main harness ends for the new head unit to the appropriate OEM harnesses in the dash (but don’t connect them to the new head unit yet). Each of the two connectors has a unique mate, and be sure to look at the ends first to confirm they are oriented correctly. I had trouble with the larger one – a spade would push out as the connectors came together, so I made the connection slowly and kept pushing the loose wire and spade back in as the two halves of the connector came together.

Step 9 – Install Steering Wheel Control Harness
-Go to axxessinterfaces.com and download the PC Firmware Updater. Install the application on PC and connect PC to Axxess box with micro USB cable (the micro USB port is under the sliding hatch on the Axxess box). Run the updater program to check for firmware updates (mine said the latest version 4.13 was already installed).
-The wires on the Axxess ASWC-1 steering wheel control harness are too short to allow the black box to reach the driver’s footwell area like in the Crutchfield video, so I cut five pieces of 18 gauge automotive wire 16” long to extend the relevant wires by soldering and heat shrinking the connections (black, red, grey/red, white/green and one loose ground wire for the OEM harness as indicated). Be sure to label each new wire with its origin color. I attached yellow ring terminals to the ends of the two ground wire extensions (crimped and soldered) to make the ground connections easier.



-Push the Axxess harness from the head unit area down into the driver’s footwell
-Connect the two ground wires to one of the ground screws behind the head unit (between the plastic and the metal so there is good metal to metal contact).



-Locate the OEM harness with the 16-pin connector. The view of the OEM 16-pin connector in the Axxess instructions is with the end of the connector facing you (i.e. what you would see if you held the wires for the OEM connector in your hand and turned the empty side of the plastic connector toward you).
-Use a red Posi-Tap to connect the loose ground wire you made earlier to the wire in pin 3 of the 16-pin OEM harness.
-Use a blue Posi-Tap to connect the red Axxess wire to the red Alpine harness wire
-Using two more red Posi-Taps, connect the gray/red wire to pin 4 and the white/green to pin 12



-For now, don’t bother connecting the Axxess converter box in the driver’s footwell area.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Step 10 – Install New USB and AUX Stereo Ports
The Alpine head unit will accept a 3.5mm AV plug, but these plugs are not standardized. If you want to connect an external video source (in addition to the backup camera, which has its own dedicated port), then pay close attention to the exact configuration of the Alpine jack (see diagram from Alpine instructions below). Starting from the tip of the plug, the order must be audio-audio-ground-video. I couldn’t locate a plug with this default configuration (i.e. with the jacks colored correctly), and Alpine apparently doesn’t make one either. Alpine’s configuration seems to be rare, but it makes sense because if you don’t care about a second video input you can use a regular stereo 3.5mm plug (audio-audio-ground) and it will still work with Alpine’s AV jack. The video section of the jack will align with ground on the plug, but that won’t prevent the two audio channels from working. So that is what I did – just used the stereo portion of Alpine’s AV jack and ignored the video portion. If you really want a second video input, I recommend purchasing a 3.5mm AV plug like in the Alpine diagram, but ignore the colors on the jacks and instead use a multimeter continuity test to identify the correct jacks to use for each connection. You’ll also have to find a different jack than I used at the dash because my combination jack is USB and 3.5mm stereo, not USB and 3.5mm AV.



-Pull back the passenger side door gasket from the A-pillar. Pull up the forward end of the bottom door opening trim enough to free the A-pillar lower trim piece.
-Remove the A-pillar lower trim piece.
-Remove the two screws in the trim panel underneath the lower glove box. Remove two more screws above the lower glove box hatch and a third screw on the right hand side.
-Pull the lower glove box straight back to remove.
-Remove four screws from the lower piece of the console that contains the 4WD controls – upper left corner, upper right corner, lower right corner and lower left corner (the last screw is around the side of the assembly).
-Apply the parking brake and lift the parking lever boot up by pulling the back edge first.
-Slide both front seats forward, then climb into the back seat and remove one screw on each side of the center arm rest assembly.
-Lift up on the center armrest assembly and pull toward you just a couple of inches to free the dash area. The assembly won’t move far before it is stopped by the parking brake lever.
-Shine a flashlight into the crack underneath the lower piece of the console to locate the two remaining screws holding it in place and remove them (it’s a tight fit).
-Pull the lower dash assembly a few inches away from the dash.
-Reach behind the assembly from the passenger side and remove the connector attached to the AUX input port – the release tab is facing you.
-Looking from top down behind the assembly, use a small flathead screwdriver to press down on the release tab at the top of the plastic AUX input cylinder while pushing the assembly out of the dash.
-Once the top of the cylinder is free, push the screwdriver on the bottom edge release tab of the cylinder while pulling the AUX port all the way out.



-Feed the wires from the new USB/AUX assembly through the hole and through the supplied nut that doesn’t have a flange (it’s a tight fit behind the hole in the console). I didn’t use the dust cap. Position the part with the AUX port on top to correctly orient the USB port.
-Hand tighten the nut as much as possible (as it got tighter, I found it easier to turn the plug and nut together and then turn the plug back the opposite way from the inside while holding the nut in place. For the final turn, hold the nut in place with your left hand while turning the inside of the plug behind the dash using vice grips until the plug is as tight as possible and oriented correctly.
-Reassemble the lower dash, center arm rest assembly and lower glove box. To get the two difficult screws started, use a rubber band to keep the screw head from falling off the tip of the screwdriver.



Step 11 – Connect the Vehicle Speed Signal (VSS) Wire
The VSS wire is a sky blue wire located on the same 16-pin OEM harness that was used to connect the steering wheel control module. From reading other posts, it seems that this wire exists only on models equipped with the Rockford Fosgate stereo, but it is possible to run your own wire to a certain pin location behind the instrument panel if you don’t have the Rockford Fosgate system. I believe that connecting to the VSS is optional, but not required for GPS head units. It should improve GPS accuracy, but I've read posts from people who claim their GPS accuracy is just fine without this connection. See the following posts and search the factory service manuals for details:
2005 - 2007+ VSS Wire Install - Nissan Frontier Forum
https://www.thenewx.org/forum/12-electrical/66-gps-install-question.html
-Cut the end off of the green/white Alpine SPEED wire and solder a 12” extension to it (this probably isn’t strictly necessary, but it will make it easier to connect this wiring harness to the head unit).
-Use a red Posi-Tap to attach the Alpine SPEED wire to the sky blue wire in the 16-pin OEM harness.

Step 12 – Finish Connections
-Connect the end of the backup camera cable to its three-wire extension (power/AUX/ground). Plug Video into the Alpine CAMERA cable, attach the ground wire to one of the grounding screws (between the plastic and metal) and attach the red power cable to the existing Posi-Tap on the red main harness wire.
-Connect the MIC In and Steering Remote leads to the corresponding Alpine cables
-Connect the AUX Input and Camera leads to the corresponding cables (using the RCA/headphone adapter for the AUX connection – wrap the RCA connections with electrical tape)
-Attach the ground wire from the Alpine harness to one of the grounding screws.
-Pad the gearshift area again and use a T shirt on the bottom edge of the assembly to protect the dash.
-Bring the new head unit assembly into the vehicle and connect all harnesses and wires to it. I connected the Alpine RCA harness to the head unit and let it dangle even though I didn’t use it because some day it may be necessary and I don’t want to lose it.
-Don’t forget to plug the USB cable directly into the head unit and connect the radio antenna with its unique plug.
-Look all around the assembly to ensure that all required harnesses and cables have been connected before carefully stuffing the mess of wires into the dash and reassembling the dashboard.

Step 13 – Test and Configure the System
-Reconnect the negative battery lead and turn on the ignition



-Release and reapply the parking brake to unlock head unit settings. Note that the head unit has to recognize the parking brake is on, then off, then on again before you can adjust the settings.
-Test the AUX in port
-Connect an iPhone to the USB port. Your phone should prompt you to enable wireless CarPlay and the head unit should complete the configuration
-Confirm that wireless CarPlay works
-Enable the backup camera in the head unit settings and select <Rear>. Confirm that the backup camera displays when shifting into reverse.
-Adjust the camera angle at the license plate and move the guidelines appropriately (press on the <Rear> letters in the backup camera settings to access these controls). I found it was easiest to adjust the guidelines for distance first, and then side-to-side.
-Turn on subwoofer in the head unit settings
-The VDC Off light was lit during my first drive and was initially unresponsive to the VDC button, but after a few minutes pressing the button again turned the light off.
-Reassemble all trim

Step 14 – Enable Steering Wheel Controls
-Attach Axxess control box to wiring harness in driver’s footwell and follow setup instructions. My unit was able to configure itself without error. The call and hang up buttons on the steering wheel don’t work, but I’m not sure what functions they would map to if they did work. I’ll think about that for a while and see if I want to mess with that further. Apparently you can customize steering wheel buttons and there is a procedure to jump wires beneath the driver’s seat to bypass Nissan’s Bluetooth controls, but I’m not sure if that’s necessary to activate the call buttons.
 

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Nice write-up.

Curious, when running the back-up camera to the front, why didn't you snake up up the middle to the center console? seems easier then thru the door kickpanels
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Nice write-up.

Curious, when running the back-up camera to the front, why didn't you snake up up the middle to the center console? seems easier then thru the door kickpanels
Thanks! When I ran the cable I thought I might have to tap into the reverse wire at the bottom of the driver's door (which I did), so that's where I went since the driver's door trim would have to come off anyway and the bottom door trim is very easy to remove. It turns out that I had to remove the center console trim to reach the parking brake wire (because I couldn't locate it under the dash) and install the new USB/AUX jacks, so I could have gone there instead.
 

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I have a wireless setup so I did have to get to the door trim.

I was considering a wired camera. and thats how I would do it, down the center
another option is a camera that could be mounted inside the hatch under the 3rd brake light, then you could run the cable down the headliner
 

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Very nice write-up! I very recently did about 75% of what you've done and ended up with very similar parts(Alpine head unit, Scosche kit, the USB/Aux input part too) so nice choice! Thanks for the pictures of the back-up camera as that's something I have yet to acquire and install pending what would work best. I was considering a steering wheel control retrofit, and your guide also illustrated just how it looks out of the box etc. Once again, very nice write-up and quality work!

One thing to note future readers is that the head unit harness may differ on non-Rockford Fosgate units. I only had a single harness connection to deal with, but it still said, ground this to the vehicle rather than connecting it to the vehicle's harness. If you do ground to the harness, it'll share the same ground as the headlights so it may introduce some noise when they are on.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Thanks, Brett! If anyone else has successfully installed a GPS head unit in a non-Rockford Fosgate Xterra, please post how to locate the Vehicle Speed Sensor behind the instrument cluster. I think that's the only critical piece of information missing from this thread, and everything else should be pretty straightforward even for non-Rockford Fosgate replacements.

One other comment I would add now that I've had a few more days of experience with this head unit. I understand why so many people want to bypass the parking brake safety lockout. In order for the head unit to unlock settings or allow you to change wireless CarPlay sources (to switch to the passenger's cell phone, for example), the parking brake has to be on, then off, then on again. The unit will remember which phone was connected most recently and will automatically reconnect to that device, but switching phones is a pain. I don't care about being locked out of any other settings while driving, but not being able to switch phones is annoying (though you could always plug the new phone in via USB or audio cable).
 

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Thanks for the post @11ORX. I think I could do it, but I will probably leave to the pros. Or it'll never get done.

Let me ask y ou about the ILX107 though. After reading through your review ti seems like there are still a few annoyances for a $500 unit. If you weren't looking to add a rear view camera (and I'm not) would you still consider recommend this unit? It's worth noting that I'm in Canada, so we don't have Pandora and quite draconian data caps. I'm considering just going to a decent bluetooth head unit for a $100 instead.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The iLX-107 is actually $700 in the US ($900 MSRP). Since it's based around CarPlay, you will be using cellular data for everything other than radio unless you plan to play music files that are stored on your phone. It doesn't sound like this head unit is a good match for you.

Do you care about GPS navigation? If not, and you don't want a backup camera either, then you can get a 1-DIN unit instead of a 2-DIN unit and probably save a lot of money in addition to having traditional dials and buttons instead of touchscreen controls.
 

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The iLX-107 is actually $700 in the US ($900 MSRP). Since it's based around CarPlay, you will be using cellular data for everything other than radio unless you plan to play music files that are stored on your phone. It doesn't sound like this head unit is a good match for you.

Do you care about GPS navigation? If not, and you don't want a backup camera either, then you can get a 1-DIN unit instead of a 2-DIN unit and probably save a lot of money in addition to having traditional dials and buttons instead of touchscreen controls.
That's the route I'm taking. All of my stuff (nav, entertainment) lives on my phone. At some point in the future CarPlay is going to get there, but for now my phone's enough.

I'm getting standard 2 DIN unit, no touch control. You mention Vehicle Speed Sensor, how does it relate to head unit install?
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I'm getting standard 2 DIN unit, no touch control. You mention Vehicle Speed Sensor, how does it relate to head unit install?
The Vehicle Speed Sensor helps a GPS navigation head unit figure out how fast the vehicle is traveling. This is helpful if the GPS signal is weak (like going through a tunnel or around tall buildings). If you aren't viewing navigation on your head unit, then you won't have to connect to the VSS wire. I've read that it isn't absolutely necessary, but it should improve GPS accuracy. It also may be used by head units that adjust the volume based on speed.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
After a year of my daughter driving with the new stereo, I can say that we are still pleased with it. My daughter, however, still has not set up the wireless CarPlay feature. Why? Because establishing a wireless connection with your phone makes it difficult for a passenger to play music from their phone - even if connecting the second phone via USB. For some reason, the wireless connection tends to override the USB connection.

If this were still my primary vehicle, I would probably be happy with wireless CarPlay. In the case of a teenage driver, the wireless feature seems to be less attractive. Teenagers are also on their phones so much that they are charging them every chance they get, so a regular USB CarPlay interface is probably sufficient (and that's how my daughter connects her phone to this head unit anyway). The best accessory for her is a long USB cable that can reach a back seat passenger.
 

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Two year update:

The head unit and backup camera are still working. I do find the touch screen annoying - it's capacitive, but it really doesn't work very well. You have to touch it just right using the pad of your finger rather than the fingertip or it doesn't react at all. Your touch also has to be just long enough but not too long. It doesn't work when wearing gloves. If we didn't have steering wheel volume and forward/back controls, I probably would have replaced it with a different head unit and written this one off as an expensive mistake.

If I were doing this again, I would spend some time testing the controls of different head units in person at a stereo shop to find one that I liked better. It would be nice to have a unit with more physical controls - at least a dial for volume and on/off instead of everything being touch screen.
 

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Thanks for your original writeup, I just recently put in a head unit and your writeup helped immensely! I did have one question. In your setup, do your rear door small round speakers work? The ones underneath the handles on the rear doors. In my setup they do not, and I also have the RF system on my 2006 SE. Over all it sounds good so I’m not too concerned but it would be nice if I could utilize those speakers as well. Thanks again!
 

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I just checked, and the small round speakers in the rear doors don't work with my new stereo either. The larger speakers at the bottoms of the doors do work. It still sounds much better than the RF head unit. After six years, the RF system sounded terrible, and not because I abused it.
 
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