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Hello everyone! I want to share with you a quick little DIY project I did today. I have a factory radio in my 2004 X and have wanted to get AUX in my car for a while now so I can always have my music. I could have bought a new head unit that has bluetooth, AUX and all that, but I hate aftermarket head units. I don't think they look good and too many of them forgo physical buttons for a touchscreen, which I really don't like. Plus, I love the look of the OEM unit. This was a really simple project that I was able to complete this morning and with my very lackluster DIY skills. I've hardly ever soldered in my life, yet with some patience and care, I was easily able to make this work. This modification does require a somewhat functional CD player to work. I had a spare radio with a broken CD player that I used first, but the end result was impractical. The mod would work when the CD player was working, but the player I had had a broken load/unload mechanism, and would often throw an error when I switched to CD mode. It became a hassle, so I took the working player out of my other radio to make this work. On the bright side, I no longer have to load and unload CDs, so as long as the disk stays in place, this will continue to work. A word of warning: you will lose your CD player functionality if you do this the way I did. But who uses CDs anymore, right?



I'm not going to go into detail on how to remove and disassemble the radio, mostly because I forgot to take pictures but also because it's really easy and there are probably dozens of tutorials out there already. Once you have the radio out, just remove the face plate and every screw you can see and the thing just comes apart. Just know you have to get the entire board to do this. When you have the board removed, turn it over and you'll see the connectors for the ribbon cable leading to the CD player unit.



It's pretty simple, you'll be hijacking the CD's audio output and adding in your own audio stream. You'll need an aux cable. You could get fancy and get a female jack and mount it somewhere nice, or you could just use a male jack and leave it dangling. I used a male because it's what I had laying around. Cut one end off and tin the ends to make it easier for yourself. You'll also want to make sure you know which wire is which channel so you can make the proper connections. I did this by taking a pair of earbuds, and just touching the ends of the wire to different sections on the earbud connector to find out which was which. I recommend you play this video:
to isolate each channel. The cable I used ended up being white for right and red for left.



Next comes the hardest part, connecting the wires. Before you solder, make sure the wire is either run through the bottom metal plate of the unit or that the other end of the connector can fit through one of the holes on the radio housing. You don;t want to solder it all together only to find out you can't fit the wire through the case! Carefully solder the ends of the AUX cable to the connectors on the board, making sure nothing is touching anything that it shouldn't be. Once I was done with this, I used some electrical tape to hold it to the board, and it seemed to make a pretty solid holding point. There is no play in the connectors, and the bottom of the metal housing seems to push up against the wire, further holding it in place. Only time will tell how solid it actually is.



After this I put everything back together and put it in my car to see how things worked. You actually need to put a CD in the player for this to work. I tried a blank CD first, but no luck. Putting an audio CD allowed me to hear the sound coming from the AUX, but it was overlaid on top of the CD's audio. This next step is a permanent modification that will break the CD player's functionality, though I imagine you could probably just solder the connectors back together if you so desired. You will need to cut the leads coming from the ribbon cable connector to the board so the CD audio doesn't play on top of your audio. The connectors you need to cut are the second and third from the left side.



Cut them like so:



Now for the fun part of putting everything back together! I drilled a hole in the top corner of the storage pocket (I love that thing by the way, so roomy). to run the wire through. It's nice and out of the way, and is convenient to where I keep my phone. The cable I used is long enough to stretch to a mounting point on the dash, or to keep my phone in the cupholder if I want to use it for navigation. This is personal preference though.



And there you have it! A working AUX connector to your 2004 car keeping everything factory! From here, you could do any number of things. You could add a Bluetooth adapter to play music over Bluetooth, get a satellite radio receiver, or anything you could normally do with an AUX cable. In the future I'm planning to get a junction box that allows me to switch inputs so I can swap between satellite radio and AUX from my phone.




Now whenever you switch to CD, you will get the audio from whatever device you have connected! As long as a CD is in there and working, this will function as it should. I imagine there is some way you could trick the unit into thinking there is a CD in when there isn't, but I haven't found that method yet. If the CD player I have no craps the bed and stops working I imagine I'll look into doing that.

Enjoy!
 
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