Categories
Android Screen Electronics

Install Android Screen in Mercedes CLS C218

Original Screen on the CLS 2011-2014
Original Screen on the 2014 CLS

So there's been things I've needed to do, and I haven't done for too long.  There is a specific category that is at or near the bottom of the list on my life to do, but  high in terms of what I should post or write about.  I think perhaps every car guy knows what I am talking about, that point where the house could be on fire and you wonder if you should change something on the car.

I know I need to do a video about USB Sound

This aftermarket android screen install is just one of videos I needed to do.  Prior to upgrading the android screen I mulled the decision for a while. The three phases of my decision was awareness but uncertainty in terms of keeping a stock look, research into previous experiences on forums and FB, and finally the install.

IWC Clock Upgrade for Mercedes-Benz to AMG
Aftermarket Android Screen in CLS

The first year I ran my new to me with less than 5k miles on the odo 2014 MB CLS 550 completely stock.  And loved it. Coming from a Range Rover it was nice to have the leather (or MBUX?) on the dash and most surfaces, like an Autobiography.  There were terrible rattles over rough road or with music loud.  I felt the power delivery could be weird.

EuroMotorcars Bethesda did hook up a map update which was really useful in terms of actually finding things.  I love Aki and the used manager over there.

But... I did miss CarPlay. There was a way to hook in car play into the factory screen, but that screen wasn't really worth writing about too much.  Although the way it was integrated means the aftermarket screen could be install salubriously.  Talking to Aki about the mods on my car thinking about stepping up to a 2018 CLS 63s, he didn't even catch it wasn't OEM.

Android 10 Split Screen Capability Waze and Youtube

Actually installing the screen

Ok so on the Facebook group there were some great informational write-ups about installing the units.  I'll see if it is ok to post some of the downloaded ones I have here.

In summary though the screen works by piggybacking the existing unit and interfacing with it by capturing the video, and outputting audio to the Aux in port on the COMMAND unit.

Step by Step

  • Remove dash*
  • Remove OEM brackets
  • Remove OEM screen
  • Loosen lower COMMAND unit
  • Unplug some wires
    • Carefully unhook the fiberoptic in/out connector and plug it into the screen provided connector
    • Plug the existing unit plug into the female end of the screen provided connector
  • Route Aux and USB Wires Down
    • USBs toward footwell or mid section
    • AUX toward mid section in CLS but some models have the AUX in near the glovebox
  • GPS and Cell antenna toward a pillar wings adjacent to glove box
  • Run aftermarket (not included) 3.5mm mic to screen exit (can mount on back of screen or steering wheel for optimal pickup to USB area
  • Test function with audio set to aux if it works proceed
  • Remount COMMAND unit
  • Mount aftermarket bracket
  • Remount dashboard piece
  • Remount side piece
  • Hook in USB Carlinkit adapter
    • Take note of linked page to find the app to download for the Screen
  • Hook in USB Soundcard
  • Hook 3.5MM mic into the mic input and hook a male to male (or as needed) 6-10 foot 3.5mm cord from USB sound card aux out to the AUX in of the MB (remove the screen's provided 3.5mm)
  • Test the sound.
  • Begin to remove center mid console pieces
  • Loosen cup holder
  • Remove the console opener
  • Remove console lock trim piece
  • Unscrew several torx screws
  • Pry up surround near center console buttons unhook electronic connectors
  • Remove ~ 4 torx lift up the center COMMAND wheel but do not remove or put much stress on it
  • remove trim by lifting upward from forward trim two tabs left and right then pull up and forward on rear
  • Route the 3.5mm to the AUX port (from MMI connector)
  • Join facebook and discord group
  • Remove volume limiter (android will pick up the usb card but resets it each time)
    • With some code from github (sections of the below code are copied or edited from the previous link)
    • More to come
      • In general set up ADB
        • Some info here
        • and more from google here
      • Connect the device with ADB to the same WIFI as the powered on android screen
      • pull the build.prop
        • adb connect SCREEN_IP_ADDRESS:5555 
          adb root
          adb disable-verity
          adb reboot
          
          adb connect SCREEN_IP_ADDRESS:5555
          adb root
          adb remount
          adb pull /system/build.prop
          
      • edit the build prop by inserting  the  following  code
        • # Safe Media Bypass for External USB Sound Cards
          audio.safemedia.bypass=true
      • push the build.prop back
        • adb push build.prop /storage/emulated/0/
          adb shell
          mv /storage/emulated/0/build.prop /system/build.prop
          chmod 644 /system/build.prop
          reboot
  • Note the position for the AUX in on the COMMAND screen and configure that into the AUX position
Categories
Android Screen Electronics

Eliminate Rattling from Aftermarket Android Screen

While the electronics in the aftermarket android setups are fairly good although I would use a usb dac or sound card and usb external dongle for wireless apple car play or android auto.  Both of those usb dongles are superior than the stock implementation.  Although, I feel that the internal sound could be good potentially, it just isn't out of the box.

There are some issues.  For me the biggest is the screen would rattle on rough roads or across bumps.  I took off the screen which is held into place above by two screws.  You may need to pry open the screw covers with a knife. The screen pulls upward after the screws are undone.

The screen has a few cables in it. 2 Coax type for the GPS and Wifi, a USB, 2 multi connectors.  I would remove them all but I guess it is possible to do it without it.  If you do please have blankets or towels protecting the dash, the radio, everything.  It is really easy to scratch stuff.

After the screen is off you often remove two more screws often holding the mount to another mount.  It is often this plastic outer mount that rattles. 

IWC Clock Upgrade for Mercedes-Benz to AMG
The area between the plastic display mount bracket and the factory dash is prone to rattle

Apply black silicone to the outer edges of the plastic mount and let it dry

or Use small amounts of butyl rubber on the interior. If you use butyl rubber, a small amount to the inner most parts of contact is often sufficient. The silicone is a cleaner install, but the rubber butyl (like the backing of dynamat), does provide some adhesion and actually makes the whole install a bit tighter.

I also added some dynamat to the metal retaining bracket that the plastic mount attaches to.  The plan of attack being two fold, stop the plastic on wood or plastic plastic rattles with the silicone and actually use the dynamat to slightly provide more rigidity more resistance to harmonics.

The install is the reverse, mount the plastic into the metal.  Plug in the connectors to the screen.  Slot the screen in downward.  Ensure it is slotted then use screw the screws and replace covers.

Categories
Android Screen

Use a DAC or USB Sound Card to Upgrade and Fix Audio and Phone with an Android Screen

2000+ Mercedes owners have a option of upgrading their Mercedes Command Screen with something more modern.  My car had a 7" screen in it, which was fairly good.  Not bad.

I wanted to keep what the stock unit could do because it wasn't bad.  But I found myself becoming addicted to using CarPlay and more modern apps.

But the audio wasn't great.  There was a hiss at high volume and it just wasn't as deep as the stock system.  It should have been better.  I saw a post on the 10.25" Android Screen group about using an external USB sound card.


Please note the picture above is the sabrent sound card I used from Amazon for $7.99.   I used it because it was recommended for use in this application but others on the android screen discord group have mentioned it will work with higher end DACs but perhaps not the separate microphone which does help call/siri quality.



After fiddling with all sorts of resistance and ground loop isolators.  I did what I should have in the beginning and ran a USB Sound Card.  If you are going to install an android screen run a USB Card and aftermarket microphone.

It is super simple.  You hook up the USB sound card to the AUX in of the Mercedes and the separate microphone to somewhere near the steering wheel or right behind the screen.  The sound is 100% better but still perhaps not quite as good as the original system.

You will have to write some code in ADB but it isn't too big of a deal:

Get ADB

First get ADBI used homebrew to set up ADB.

Get the device IP

Android Settings > Network or something > Wifi > YourWifiConnectionNetwork > Advanced

Here are the lines of code that you enter into the command line ADB. Please see this link for more information

adb connect REPLACEwithDeviceIP
adb root
adb disable-verity
adb reboot

adb connect REPLACEwithDeviceIP
adb root
adb remount
adb pull /system/build.prop

Search/open the build.prop then add this line at the bottom and save.

# Safe Media Bypass for External USB Sound Cards THX N.C.
audio.safemedia.bypass=true  

You now need to push this modified file back to your device.

adb push build.prop /storage/emulated/0/
adb shell
mv /storage/emulated/0/build.prop /system/build.prop
chmod 644 /system/build.prop
reboot

Set the volume under the android settings now.  Any time you update please repeat the same steps.  Which pull the latest build properties and then push it back to your device.

Categories
Android Screen Electronics

Update Navigation and Entertainment Electronics with an Android Screen

On Alibaba there are quite a few direct sellers of Android Screens.  These android screens take the place of your existing Merceredes screen and integrate with the existing system keeping all original functions accessible.

Beyond the original functions it is also possible to run android 10 apps including some which allow the usage CarPlay and Android Auto.  If you do want to use carplay.  I would get a usb dongle to run it: https://amzn.to/3m4L6XJ (affiliate link).

It will run faster and better than the inbuilt unit.  Additionally I would also run a seperate usb sound card and mic.

There are several things to know about and drawbacks before jumping on this purchase, which is a great way to update late 2000s through mid-2010s Mercedes to feel like a much newer car.

The first thing to be aware of is that android 10 systems are snapdragon 625 with at least 4GB of RAM for official support although it is possible to run android 10 with 2GB with a performance penalty.

The systems are not exactly perfect, and out of the gate I would buy an external usb sound card which is very easy to run and a dedicated microphone.  I would also pick up a dedicated carplay usb if you like to use carplay as the included Zlink apps are finicky.

There is a growing community with a discord server, forum presence, and facebook group. Several of the top resellers are DMPCardesigns.com and CMKCarDesigns.  

For some models there are multiple sizes available including 12.3" and 10.25".  I have heard the 12" screens are nice.  I went with a 10.25" in my car.

Look out for a few videos, install tricks, and setup as well as links in this new category.