Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Inexpensive Compact Subwoofer and Amp for 2 Door Jeep Wrangler

I was looking for a way to add some inexpensive bass to a 2 door jeep wrangler JK without sacrificing the already tiny jeep trunk space.    I looked at several under-seat compact subwoofers including the Kicker Hideaway 8" subwoofer that bestbuy sells.   Unfortunately, I quickly realized that while the Kicker hideway has good ratings, it doesn't exactly fit under the front seats.   First, you have to remove the seat to install it.  Second, you have to move some wires (if you have an airbag)  Third, in the 2 door JK Jeep, when you slide the seat forward (to let kids/dogs in the back), the speaker is slightly exposed and makes it a target for stepping on or being kicked.

So ultimately, I figured out that the only place that I could install an all-in-one (sub and amp in one) compact sub was to do it on the rear tailgate.   I was a bit concerned with the overall dimensions of the Kicker unit, and having just dropped a small fortune installing the NEX 4200 and idatalink Maestro into the 2011 JK  into the Jeep, I thought it best to see if my good friend Amazon presented any cheaper alternatives.

So, searching Amazon produced a (low cost) cheap alternative to the Kicker hideway sub and amp combo.  I stumbled across a company I'd not heard of called Rockville, who had the perfect subwoofer product for a 2 door Jeep JK.   So, I wound up ordering the 10" all-in-one amplifier and custom low profile subwoofer for my Jeep Wrangler 2 Door JK.   
See Rockville Sub

After receiving the product, here were my impressions.
  1. Price is outstanding, it hoovers between $110 and $125 and ships free with Prime
  2. Build quality, on the surface, is amazing.  It feels solid, made of metal.  Doesn't feel cheap in any of the materials
  3. It has a nice paint color (bonus, it compliments the 2011 Cosmos Blue Jeep very well)
  4. It includes everything you would want with the exception of the power wiring for the amplifier.
  5. It includes a remote wire and knob. This remote subwoofer knob cost $40 alone in my Alpine/JL setup in my other ride; and adds $25 to the kicker option mentioned above.

So, next was installing the cheap integrated low profile subwoofer onto the rear tailgate of the 2 Door Wrangler JK.   I'm not going to walk you through all the basics of installing a sub/amplifier here, if you don't know how to do it, you should follow a guide online, or pay the $125 or so to have BestBuy install it for you (buy your parts/wires ahead of time; don't buy them at BestBuy!).   However, I will provide the pictures below of what it looks like.    I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND at least a single piece of Dynamat for sound-dampening behind the Rockville subwoofer, or your Jeep will sound like one big rattle can (whatever that is).   I bought a GTMAT ONYX sound dampening kit, and only used a single sheet.  A bonus is that it was self adhesive and I didn't even need to cut anything, it was the perfect size!

The verdict: I'm happy.   Now, let's be real... This thing is not going to shake the neighborhood.  In fact, with this sub, you'll barely feel the thump in the jeep at most normal volumes.   But, turn up the stereo loud and you'll get a bit of that bump going.  The sub does a really good job of filling in what the 6.5" and tweeters in the JK are missing.  Keep in mind, I have aftermarket speakers/head unit/and an Alpine power bar; so I'm not just working from stock.  I find the dynamics of the Jeep, especially with a soft top and half doors not to support good sound.  This compact sub helps fill in what's missing at a low price point, without sacrificing your valuable trunk space.  It's not for an audiophile, and not great for heavy beats, but to feel in rock music, it does the job.  For $150 total cost installed for the do-it-yourselfer or under $275 total to have it done for you at your local BestBuy.

Parts list for a compact sub and amplifier install of a Jeep Wrangler 2-Door JK:
1.) Rockville 10" 800 Watt Slim Profile Sub:  ~$115
2.) Boss Audio Amplifier Wiring Kit, 8 Gauge:  $11.00
3.) Dynamat Alternative: GTMAT:  $24.99

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pioneer AVH-4200NEX with idatalink maestro rr and a Jeep 2011 JK 2 door Sport

Installing a idatalink maestro RR into a JK Jeep Wrangler 2 Door Sport with a Pioneer 4200 NEX head unit.

I recently bought a 2011 Jeep Wrangler Sport 2 door (standard transmission).  Overall, it is a no-frills vehicle missing pretty much all of the power options.  It does however have UConnect connectivity package (using steering wheel controls and Bluetooth), heat and AC.

For what it is, the standard stereo on the JK Jeep is not too bad.  It came with the standard setup, 4 speakers and two tweeter separates.   Basically, it could get loud, but the quality is poor and base and mid-range is non existent.   One thing is though the bluetooth speaker works excellently.   The pairing and uconnect commands/interface are a bit of a mess though.

I decided that I wanted to swap out the head unit with something that had a little bit more function, as well as the ability to drive some new speakers better.  (The old speakers are paper cones).   I looked around, and ultimately felt that the Pioneer AVH-Pioneer 4200 NEX was the most cost effective solution that I could get that had the functionality of Android Auto.  (It also supports Apple Play.)

As I was swapping out the unit, I did want to maintain the factory radio controls, and was looking for what the appropriate mess of wiring harnesses and adapters would be needed to make it all work.  This is where I learned of the maestro RR for the first time, by a surprisingly competent BestBuy installer.

The maestro RR is a simple box that interfaces directly with both the existing systems/controls of your car as well as the car's OBD-II (computer) and the head unit itself.   What's really cool about it, aside from being a substitute to traditional adapters/harnesses, is its ability to interface with the vehicle's computer.    This means that (paired with the  Pioneer 4200 NEX or other suitable head unit) that it can do creative things, such as access engine diagnostics and other features that a stripped down car like mine doesn't have by default.   Since the Maestro RR only added about $80 total to the install vs. traditional adapters, I decided to take the risk.   I was really curious to see what a stripped down version Jeep Sport like mine would show in the interface.

So, long story short, I wound up getting the install done at BestBuy because I just don't have the time or energy anymore to do these myself.

 The whole install took a full day, that's for the 4 speakers, 2 tweeters, head unit, alpine power bar (mini amp), maestro, and a Pioneer backup camera.

So, what's the verdict?  What can you expect to see on the idatalink Maestro and Pioneer integration with a JK Jeep Sport circa 2011?    Well, I wasn't expecting to see too much, but I was happy with the results.   You can:
  • Get alerts and read engine codes if a problem pops up
  • See if your doors are ajar
  • See RPMs
  • See Fuel level
  • See instant MPG (real time based on driving habits)
  • MPH gauge,
  • Range until empty
  • Engine intake temperature
  • Battery condition
  • And the most exciting thing for me was the ability to see individual tire pressures!

So, even in a base Jeep sport, the Maestro RR and Pioneer 4200 NEX have some pretty useful information to display.  I definitely was satisfied with the purchase.

Buy cheapest at Amazon:

Update:  I added a cheap subwoofer and amplifier combo into this JK set up.  Check out the thread.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Inside Photos of Dell Latitude E7470 Laptop attempted install of 2nd SSD m.2

I needed to see some interior shots of my Dell Latitude E7470 notebook computer to see if I could put a second ssd in it.  However, I could not find any detailed ones anywhere, so I took off the back plate and took some photos of the inside guts of a latitude e7470 computer.   Here you go boys and girls, the interior photos of a latitude e7470 with the back cover removed....

There really is not a lot of space inside the Dell Latitude E7470.  I've never seen a dell latitude with so little to work with.   Even the battery is screwed in (and not accessible without removing the cover).

This is actually what I was looking for.  I was trying to determine if I could add a second drive (msata) to this Dell latitude e7470.  Turns out that there is no traditional mini-pcie slots anywhere to be found on this unit.   Instead, everything seems to use the m.2 standard; including the wireless card and the ssd drive.    Specifically, (under the green sticker in above photo) I did find a spare WWAN port that has the m.2 connector free.

Nothing to see here (top right of the latitude e7470)

Lower right interior photo of the latitude e7470.  you'll notice that the ssd drive is the m.2 standard

Lower left interior photo of e7470 Dell.  This is the ONLY spare room in the entire chassis, and it is so tiny you would not be able to put anything in it bigger than a bluetooth adapter

Middle photo inside dell latitude e7470

The m.2 spare opening in the latitude e7470.  I peeled the green sticker back.
I am mostly curious to see if I could use this WWAN port as a ssd connection for a second ssd drive.   As you'll see, there is definitely not enough length to put a standard m.2 ssd drive in there.  However, there are options, like this 42mm length one: that may just work (provided Dell activated the port).   At less than $90 for a 256GB ssd, and around $50 for a 128 GB m.2 ssd, it might be worth the risk.   Has anyone had any experience installing a second m.2 drive into the latitude e7470 and have it work?

Well, here is an update everyone.   I wound up purchasing a ZTC 256GB M.2 SSD drive that was 42mm in size, as seen in below images.
While the drive did fit (fyi, it did NOT come with the screw), I was NOT able to get the drive loading in bios or windows.  I tried turning off safeboot and enabling legacy, but I still did not see the drive showing up in BIOS.  I will play around with it a bit more; but preliminary indications is that you cannot put a second m.2 ssd drive in the wwan port of the Dell Latitude E7470 laptop.
A 42mm m.2 drive is the right size (if you plan on installing a WWAN card only)

Here it is installed, but unfortunately it is not recognized by the E7470 laptop.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Cannot install amazon updates after marshmallow (fixed on Samsung Note 5)

I recently updated my Verizon Wireless Samsung Galaxy Note 5 to Android Marshmallow 6.0. While the upgrade to the Note 5 was pretty painless and seamless, I did experience one, sort of major problem.  After upgrading my Samsung Note 5 to Marshmallow (on Verizon), I am unable to install updates to any Amazon apps.

Get an inexpensive new case for your Note 5!

After the marshmallow upgrade to android on my samsung note 5, I found that I could not install updates to the amazon music app nor the amazon alexa (echo app).  Specifically, if I tried to install an update to the amazon music app from google play, it would get to about 4mb downloaded and then give me an error Error: -505 cannot install app.  I tried rebooting, clearing the appstore crash, and even made the mistake of removing the app and trying to reinstall it (that did not work).   I also had the same issue with trying to upgrade that amazon alexa app, it would fail to install updates as well after the marshmallow update.   

I tried removing both apps and reinstalling them from the amazon app store, and that failed too.   Finally I found a solution, and it worked quickly.   I had disabled the Amazon Audible app previously in the phone.  I went back into the application manager and re-enabled the audible app.  Then, I installed the updates to audible.  Once I completed updating audible, I was able to update my existing amazon music app and was able to reinstall the alexa app that I had previously removed.

If you are trying to update amazon music or amazon alexa echo on a phone running marshmallow, make sure you first enable the Amazon Audible app.