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Thanks to the folks here, I finally got my Pioneer AVIC-D3, GEX-P10XMT XM radio with NavTraffic, and ND-BC2 back-up camera installed in my 2007 Xterra S. I'm not one for posting a bunch of pics, but here's a write-up and review of the system... along with some helpful links.

Links

AVIC-D3 lock-out bypass
Reverse signal
VSS signal
Pioneer GEX-P920XM XM radio tuner install
Nissan On-line Service Manuals
Airbag Light Turn-Off


The Install
The first thing I'd recommend doing is buying a single day of access to Nissan's on-line service manuals. You can buy a printed manual for $295, a CD-ROM for $210, or you can download as many PDFs as you want in a 24-hour period for $20. I used the PDFs for info on tearing out the interior as well as a cross-reference that the on-line instructions for locating the VSS and Reverse signals was correct. And they're all saved to my hard disk should I ever need to do anything else on the vehicle.

When the actual installation rolled around, the first thing I did was mount the GPS and XM antennas at the rear of the roof. I removed the passenger-side cargo hook from the roof and then popped out the plastic tab that keeps the headliner in place. I pulled off the weather strip and pulled the headliner down at the rear of the vehicle. I used a piece of plastic to keep the gap between the headliner and the roof open. I then went to the passenger door, pulled off the weather strip, and ran a metal fish tape from the passenger door to the back of the vehicle. I then taped each antenna cable to the tape and pulled it to the passenger door. Tried doing both at once, but there wasn't enough room to pull them through at the same time. I used electrical tape to attach the cables to the fish tape, making sure that the forward edges were taped over to avoid any snags.

Note: You could also pull the cable for the back-up camera at the same time. I didn't... but it would save time and make things easier. I originally thought I'd end up running the cable for the back-up camera somewhere else.

Pulled all the excess cable through to the rear passenger door, then went back and reinstalled the headliner and the weather strip along the rear door. Once that was complete, I went to the front passenger door. Pulled the weather strip off along the top of the door and removed the grab handle so I could get access to the head liner. Again, I used the fish tape to pull the cables from the rear door through the headliner to the front door. I re-installed the weather strip around the rear passenger door, then ran the cables around the front passenger door and down the 'A' pillar to the glove box area. I pulled off the lower glove box and ran the wires toward the center console, securing them with clips and zip-ties along the way to prevent them from falling down into the passenger footwell.

Note: the antenna for the XM tuner just barely made it for me! If you install your tuner in the same location I did, you want to minimize the amount of slack you leave in the cable as you run it from the back of the vehicle to the front. I mounted my XM antenna on the left (driver's side) of the roof; if you're concerned about the cable length it might be better to mount it right next to the GPS antenna or at least closer to the passenger's side of the truck.

At this point, I was ready to start the install of the head unit. I bought a Scosche NN03 wiring harness to connect to the harness that was included with the AVIC-D3. I used the cable/color guide that came with the Scosche harness to connect the appropriate wires to the D3 harness. I soldered all of the connections and put clear heat shrink tubing over the junctions. Note: I used 3/32" heat shrink and, obviously, you need to slip it over one of the wires before you solder the connection. FWIW, I had two soldering irons (12W, 40W) and neither was perfect. The 12-watt iron didn't generate enough heat, and the 40-watt was a bit too hot. A 20-watt, or better yet adjustable, soldering station would probably work best.

I installed the headunit without connecting the XM radio, back-up camera, VSS, or reverse leads. I did do the lock-out bypass. I used one of the screws directly behind the head unit as a ground. I wasn't actually planning to use this ground permanently, but it worked well so I didn't change it. Once I had everything installed, I turned they key and gave it a a try! Basic radio and navigation seemed to work, so I decided to move on.

Next step was to connect the VSS and Reverse signal wires. VSS is available on the wiring harness that connects to the dash, which meant pulling off a bunch of the dash panels to get access to it. It was a bit of a pain, but not as bad as I'd thought it would be. I stripped the pink wire that Pioneer supplies for the VSS and shoved it into the connector in the appropriate place. Zip-tied the VSS wire to the connector, thought positive, and reinstalled the dash. Took another short test-drive to ensure that the VSS signal was working. It was.

Reverse is in the kick panel near the driver's left foot. For those of you following along in the Service Manual, it's the M40 SMJ (Super Mega Junction... or something like that). I don't remember the pin number... 58J, maybe? I connected a vampire tap to this wire, ran it back to the head unit, and then ran a test to make sure it worked. It did. Hurray! I now had all the basic functions of the head unit working: radio, navigation, etc.

Installation of the GEX-P10XMT was next. Like BuckeyeNavy, I have a manual transmission and decided to install the XM box directly behind the shifter. To be honest, the tuner box was larger than I was expecting and I'm not sure where else you could put it! I'd already run the antenna wire, so the XM install was pretty easy. As noted above, the antenna cable barely made it to the tuner in my case! I ran the IP Bus and Data cables up to the head unit. Ran power and ground too and used vampire taps to connect them to the rest of the D3 wiring. The mounting space was too large to use the brackets supplied with the XM tuner, so I put down some Velcro and sort of wedged it into place. Also zip-tied the wires to keep them from interfering with the shifter. Once installed, I put the head unit back in and gave the system another test. Sure enough, the XM radio worked like a charm!

The final item was the back-up camera. I wasn't sure where I was going to mount the camera or how I would run the cable, so I left this until last. To get the mounting figured out, I threw the cables from the back of the truck to the front, temporarily connected them to the head unit, and tried a couple of different mounting locations including the top of the rear door and the bumper. Ended up mounting the camera under the rear bumper approximately centered with the license plate. Pulled up the plastic step that covers the rear bumper which allowed me to get the cable to the weather strip. Didn't want to mess with trying to pull off enough plastic to run the cable under the floor, so instead I pulled the weather strip off and ran the cable up to the headliner. Luckily, it was plently long enough! From there, I repeated all of the steps I used to run the XM and GPS antenna cables.

I used velcro to attach the power/signal box for the backup camera under the dash in the passenger foot well. The data cable went through the headliner along the doors, then down the 'A' pillar, and connected to the power/signal box. Ran the signal and power/ground wires up to the head unit.

The final task was to deal with the large gap between the sides and bottom of the D3 and the center console. Pioneer supplies a black plastic face plate... but it doesn't seem to fit tightly to the D3! The D3 sits snugly against the center console at the top, which means you can't use the supplied trim piece without modification. I was worried about screwing the trim piece up, but grabbed a pair of scissors and cut off the top side, leaving me with a rectangular U-shaped piece of plastic. I ran some double-stick tape down the sides of the D3 and attached the trim piece to it. Not sure this is a permanent solution, but I put the center section of the dash back on, the trim piece stayed in place, and it actually looks pretty good! So I'll leave it there as long as it continues to work. The only remaining thing to do was the airbag reset.


The Review
Now that everything is installed, how does it work? And how does it compare to the two other in-dash navigation systems I've used (those being the factory-supplied nav in my Acura 3.2CL Type-S and the Kenwood DDX7015+KNA-DV3100 system in my Subaru WRX STi)? Pretty well... especially for the price. I bought the head unit from Comp-u-plus for $700, along with $155 for the XM tuner and $187 for the back-up camera. In comparison, the system in the Acura cost $2000 and the Kenwood was around $1500 when I bought it.

Unlike the Kenwood and Acura systems, the Pioneer used the double-DIN LCD to provide a nice, graphical user-interface to normal audio and video functions. Where Kenwood LCD simulated a 1970's push-button radio, the Pioneer uses large buttons and icons for everything. Most common options are easy to find, but you may need help from the manual to find some of the more obscure features. I like the fact that it has a real volume knob, as opposed to the small volume buttons on the Kenwood. The Pioneer's larger on-screen buttons mean they're easy to press while driving, unlike the Kenwood.

The XM radio is much easier to use than the XM Roady I'd had in my Subaru. It features three "bands" of presets, each of which has six stations. There's a dedicated preset button ('TRFC') for the traffic station of your choice. Pressing it switches you to the traffic station you've saved and there's a 'Back' button for returning to whatever you were listening to before you switched to traffic. Nice! Browsing stations by category is, unfortunately, a bit slow. The system tries to retrieve the station logos from the navigation DVD and it refuses to move to the next category until it's retrieved all of the logos for the current category... which it seems to promptly forget when you move to the next category. I don't consider this a huge problem, since I mostly listen to presets.

The back-up camera may seem like a bit of a gimmick, but if you tow a trailer often I can see it being very useful. Of if your neighbors kid's like to drive their remote control cars in front of your house like mine do. Image quality is pretty good, though it does seem prone to flare if the sun is shining directly into the lens or reflecting off a metallic object. Objects are much closer than they appear on the screen, so I would not rely on the back-up camera as your sole means of navigation when driving in reverse! The field of view is pretty wide, which is nice, and I was surprised to find that the image is almost as good at night as it is during the day!

The fixed-position display on the D3 is perhaps it's greatest weakness when used in an Xterra. It seems like the sun is always shining on mine, which makes the screen fairly difficult to see. I need to play around with the mounting bracket and see if it's possible to tilt the head unit down at all. I doubt it can be moved enough to make a big difference, though. The display looks great when the sun isn't shining on it, though. I tried adjusting brightness, contrast, etc. but it didn't seem to make much difference. I'm not sure that a tilting display would make a whole lot of difference though, since the entire dash and center console seem to get hit by the sun.

The D3 is also a bit slow to start-up compared to the Acura and Kenwood systems. They both gave the impression of being "ready to go" almost as soon as the key was turned. The AVIC-D3, on the other hand, seems to spend some time chewing on the DVD before the navigation is ready to go. Audio is on almost immediately, however, and the back-up camera is generally ready to go by the time I put the truck in reverse. Maps are usually ready by the time I'm done backing up and shifting to a forward gear.

Navigation is a bit hit or miss... Feature-wise, I think the AVIC-D3 is just as good as the Acura system and better than the Kenwood. The Kenwood navigation I had lacked a vicinity search feature, which is almost a requirement in my mind. One of the things I loved about the Acura system was the ability to find the closest gas station or ATM no matter where I was. The Pioneer has this feature too, which is great. It also has all of the other standard navigation stuff: destination entry, Points Of Interest (POIs), voice guidance, destination address book, and so on. Maps seem very up-to-date; there are several streets in my area that were added within the last 12-18 months and they're all on the map DVDs I received with the unit.

The map display is a bit disappointing, however. Both the Acura and Kenwood used white as the background for their maps, which made roads very easy to see. The Pioneer uses a gray background with green roads, which reduces contrast and makes things more difficult to see. Especially when the sun is shining on the display. I haven't found any way to change the color scheme, unfortunately. The other annoyance, though minor, is the size of the icons. The arrow that represents the vehicle's location is huge in comparison to both the Kenwood and Acura systems; easily twice the size. Zoom-in to the highest level of detail and the vehicle icon seems to be about a half-block long! Icons for POIs are small and somewhat difficult to distinguish. Larger isn't always better, though. The Kenwood's POI icons were large enough that they made the display look cluttered if there were multiple POI icons displayed in close proximity. Ideally, I think you'd want small icons when you're zoomed out and slightly larger icons when zoomed in. I haven't yet seen a navigation system that does this, though. Both the Kenwood and Acura systems were better at using color or texture to show the function of a particular area of the map: green for parks, blue for water, grey for shopping, or whatever. The Pioneer maps do this... sometimes... but the colors used often tend to blend in with the standard background color.

Voice guidance is a bit annoying, but I found voice guidance in the Acura and Kenwood to be equally annoying; I'll turn it off eventually. Both the Acura and Kenwood systems had a chime that played when you were supposed to turn. The Pioneer will tell you to "turn left ahead" but there's no audio indication when you reach the turn point. In addition, the "count down" meter that shows you how far you are from the next turn is smaller and more difficult to see on the Pioneer than on either the Acura or Kenwood systems. I've never relied on it anyway, so I don't expect that to be a big problem.


The Conclusion
The install was actually a bit easier than I'd expected and I'm pretty happy with the system. Glare on the screen is a bit of a concern, though. I'm tempted to see if I can build some sort of hood that will surround the screen and reduce the amount of sunlight that hits the LCD. It will probably look like crap, but hopefully can be easily removed. Based on what I've seen, I don't think there's another in-dash navigation system that would be significantly better than the Pioneer AVIC-D3. Navigation is easy to use, if a bit pokey to start, and the UI/controls are as good as or better than anything else I've seen.
 

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Well Done!!! Good information and thorough discussion. Just what we need. Thanks!
 

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Nice!! Too bad I already installed mine, lol. I had to hunt all over the place for this information. :)

I haven't hooked up my Vss wire yet, but the navigation seems to be working pretty well without it. I found that at least where I'm at, you don't need to run the GPS antenna to the rear of the vehicle. Mine's stuck right on top of the unit itself, under the dash. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
mudpuppy000 said:
I haven't hooked up my Vss wire yet, but the navigation seems to be working pretty well without it.
The VSS is really only necessary when you can't get a GPS signal. In my experience, this happens most often in: parking garages, urban areas with many tall buildings, mountain areas where canyons or tree cover may block the signal. Still, once you know the location it's simple enough to do the hook-up...
 

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AVIC-D3 installed!

Many thanks to ScottS on his thorough install instructions. I spent the weekend putting this unit (Unit, sat antenna, lock-out bypass, Ipod adapter) in my 05 S. It was my first stereo install ever, and the first major mod I've done to a car. I used a harness with the unit purchased from Crutchfield.

I was able to get the dash taken apart fairly easy, and I had no problems finding the reverse and vss wires. The only thing that gave me trouble was getting the latch pulled down on the cover for the reverse wire (down on the floor, behind the left foot kick panel, driver's side). It just wouldn't budge. But after some fine cursing I got the bad boy pulled down and off.

I ended up running the sat antenna across the dash (underneath) to the driver's side, up the pillar and through the weather strip (had to remove the grab handle and pillar cover). The antenna is attached just above my head on the roof, above the windshield. Hopefully I don't get a jack-a walk by and pull on it.

I ran the ipod cable through one of the extra button plates next to the VDC Off button. I'll figure out a way to clean it up later (just removed the plate cover completely and ran the cable through) or I'll run it into the glove box.

I also bought the add-on Pioneer USB module that allows you to play music and video from any USB device connected to the AVIC (using a USB extension cable connecting to the module) . I'll have to find a place for the module, too (maybe under the center console), and maybe I'll run that cable into the glove box as well.

Of course it took longer to get everything back together. Plus, I have two screws left over, ha! I'll have to do a where's-waldo and find out where those go.

I am still having an issue with the lockout bypass. The instructions were easy, but somthings still not working. I'm getting the message that the brake wire wasn't installed correctly. I'll have to check my taps, mute wire move, and grounding. I didn't know whether to connect the ground wire coming from the unit to the harness-provided ground wire, or just ground both grounds (that sounded confusing, ha). I grounded both separately, behind the stereo. I'll have to play with it later today.

Also, there was a noticeable gap below the unit and dash once installed. I bought a mounting kit from Cructh that makes it look a little better, but not sure I really like.

I did get the air bag light flashing after the install. I'll be doing the reset later today. Thanks, MC, for that!

One final question, the USB module requires power and it comes with the necessary wire and fuse. I just don't know where to connect it or what to tap. Any ideas?

Thanks again for the combined effort. This site effing rocks! Hopefully I grow some bigger balls and finally do the PRG spacers, shackles, mini deaver lift. I've read through the how-to's a million times. Well, that's for another time.

Thanks again guys.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Also, there was a noticeable gap below the unit and dash once installed. I bought a mounting kit from Cructh that makes it look a little better, but not sure I really like.
Didn't your AVIC-D3 come with the plastic frame? My double-sided tape install is still holding up and makes the dash look perfect...

One final question, the USB module requires power and it comes with the necessary wire and fuse. I just don't know where to connect it or what to tap. Any ideas?
I have two auxiliary power plugs in the dash (one switched, one not), one in the compartment behind the hand brake, and there are other non-switched power wires running to the head unit. I don't remember what the wiring colors are, but I think they're pretty obvious (especially on the aux power plugs). Just tap into the closest one and you should be good.
 

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Didn't your AVIC-D3 come with the plastic frame? My double-sided tape install is still holding up and makes the dash look perfect...
It did. I might switch back to that. I tried it first, but still had a gap. But I just let it sit on the unit. Maybe the tape is the trick.

I have two auxiliary power plugs in the dash (one switched, one not), one in the compartment behind the hand brake, and there are other non-switched power wires running to the head unit. I don't remember what the wiring colors are, but I think they're pretty obvious (especially on the aux power plugs). Just tap into the closest one and you should be good.
I'll look for those wires today. Thanks for the quick reply! The AVIC is pretty sweet.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
bigbellyfoo said:
It did. I might switch back to that. I tried it first, but still had a gap. But I just let it sit on the unit. Maybe the tape is the trick.
Give it a try. I had to futz with the positioning of my frame a bit. Tape was a requirement for me, since I cut the top bar off the frame in order to make it fit my dash. I just went out and looked at my install and the frame fit is just about perfect. There might be a gap of 1/32" between the frame and the bottom of the screen, but it's really only noticeable if you're looking for it. Unfortunately, the only way to get the positioning right it to keep popping the dash on and off while nudging the frame around...
 

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Awesome, thanks for checking. I'll be doing that later on today, then. The frame/mount I bought looks cheap to me and takes away from the AVIC, I think.
 

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I took the other mount out and threw the frame in. Looks better. I also changed my grounding points and now the ipod video works while driving without the disclaimer popping up (took a short drive around the neighborhood). I haven't played a DVD just yet.

I did have one question about the grounding for the bypass. I originally had the brake and mute wires tapped to the ground wire coming from the HU. This didn't seem to work. I also had the ground wire coming from the harness I bought grounded in a separate location.

I ended up crimping U connectors to the brake and mute wire and grounded those to the X body, and connected the ground coming from the HU to the ground wire on the harness.

Questions:
1. For the bypass to work (which I think it is), do the brake and mute wire have to be connected to the ground wire, or is grounding them to the X body the way I have now the same thing?
2. Was I right to assume that connecting the HU ground wire to the harness ground wire would somewhere lead to a ground connected to the X body? Should I ground both ground wires separately?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
bigbellyfoo said:
Questions:
1. For the bypass to work (which I think it is), do the brake and mute wire have to be connected to the ground wire, or is grounding them to the X body the way I have now the same thing?
In theory it should be the same thing... If connecting to the wire doesn't work, it may be because it isn't actually a ground wire. I seem to recall there being a couple of wires under the dash that look like they should be black ground wires, but in fact there's a faint spiral of some other color around the insulator to indicate it isn't a ground. If you have one, a volt meter can sometimes help figure these things out.

2. Was I right to assume that connecting the HU ground wire to the harness ground wire would somewhere lead to a ground connected to the X body? Should I ground both ground wires separately?
Yes, the harness ground wire should lead to the body somewhere.

In theory, a ground is a ground is a ground; it shouldn't matter whether you're connecting to another ground wire or directly to the chassis. To be honest, I don't remember how I did my wiring. I think I connected some things to a common ground wire, if one was available, and other things I grounded directly to the chassis because there wasn't anything nearby.
 

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One thing, you said the map displayed is a dark gray with green streets. Mine is only lke that when I have the head lights turned on. otherwise its a light tan color with gray streets. You may have the night dimmer on. Or have the wire that is supposed ot control that hooked up incorectly. Worth looking into, I don't have much of a problem even with the sun shining on it.
 

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cowboy119 said:
One thing, you said the map displayed is a dark gray with green streets. Mine is only lke that when I have the head lights turned on. otherwise its a light tan color with gray streets. You may have the night dimmer on. Or have the wire that is supposed ot control that hooked up incorectly. Worth looking into, I don't have much of a problem even with the sun shining on it.
You guys rock. Thanks for all the tips. I was wondering about the dark gray w/ green streets, too. I always drive with my headlights on, even during the day, just habit I guess. I'll have to take a look at that.

Any of you guys go with the ipod adapter? If so, where did you run the cable? Glove box, maybe? Center arm rest/junk box? I'm thinking about having it run to the left of the gear shifter, down on the floor by right leg. I'll have to figure out how to mount it. Or maybe I'll run the cable to the center console. Don't know yet.
 

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TXterra37 said:
All this and NO PICS?!?!?!?!?!?!
Pic1 - D3 install with tribute to thenewx.org. Notice the iPod cable coming out of the dash below the HU. I'll be moving this in the future, not sure where??



Pic2 - Close up of the D3 radio screen


Let me know if you want any pics of the wiring...
 

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bigbellyfoo said:
cowboy119 said:
Any of you guys go with the ipod adapter? If so, where did you run the cable? Glove box, maybe? Center arm rest/junk box? I'm thinking about having it run to the left of the gear shifter, down on the floor by right leg. I'll have to figure out how to mount it. Or maybe I'll run the cable to the center console. Don't know yet.
Run it to the glove box. out of sight, out of mind. Control it from the D3.

 

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About the dimmer for the screen, you can turn it off where it does not switch to "Nighttime" with the headlights on. Go to the NAV menu, then I think its system settings, then Map Display, then Daytime/Nighttime. if you put it on Day time, the map will stay the light tan color with the headlights on. It still kinda dims, but not near as bad. as far as the IPOD cable goes, I have mine ran down to the little cubby in front of the shifter. But I think I am going to re-run it to the glove box. My post about the alarm explains that.
 

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i want to but this sooo bad
699.99 on crutchfield!

im just still a little confused on the bypass, VSS, and reverse signal things.
what exactly are they used for?
im not a dumbass when it comes to car audio- but i am with gps, as this is my first expirence with one.
 

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125ina30zone said:
i want to but this sooo bad
699.99 on crutchfield!

im just still a little confused on the bypass, VSS, and reverse signal things.
what exactly are they used for?
im not a dumbass when it comes to car audio- but i am with gps, as this is my first expirence with one.
I am not sure about the VSS but I think bypass is for enabling DVD while the vehicle is running. Someone correct me if I am wrong! And the reverse signal is used to activate the camera input/mode so that you can see the feed from your reverse camera while you are reversing.
 
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