Tunes for the Truck

My ’06 Silverado had a Bose sound system in it. With the radio on, it sounded great. There were two huge issues with it, though: 1) the CD player would skip tracks/songs/etc, which was not acceptable; 2) you couldn’t stream anything to it. With that in mind, the wife told me I could get a new head unit for it for my birthday (we won’t discuss how old I am now, lol).

I went online at Crutchfield. I have discovered they provide a lot of great equipment at reasonable prices (no, not the cheapest prices), great attachment products (to ensure the head unit will work with your vehicle), and provide awesome instructions and lifetime product support. I’ve gone back to them twice now and I’ve not been disappointed either time. With Crutchfield, you can plug your vehicle into their website, select the options you want, then boil down your selection to what you’d like and what you can afford. There is a huge selection, though they deal with what seems like just a few different brands … some of them which I’ve never heard of. I tend to stay with brands I know, like Sony, Kenwood, Pioneer, JVC, etc. You can find cheaper brands on their website, but I’m not as much of a stereophile to know if some of these “off brands” are good or bad. I’d rather pay a few dollars more now and not worry about it later. My selection of headunit was no different this time. I selected a Kenwood DDX573BH, which for my needs turned out to be a great choice. I also got their installation kit, plus the little box which allows you to retain the steering wheel controls, the Bose sound system, and the door chime since GM runs their chime through the stereo system.

The Kenwood had the features I was looking for at a price point I could deal with. It has Bluetooth, HD radio, and a USB port. It will let me use the stereo to do hands free calling, which is awesome … especially since I live near DC where it’s mandatory to use. I don’t go into the District very often, but when I do, I don’t want to get a ticket for something stupid like using my phone.

Installation was rather easy for the most part. I took took the “stuff” out of the packaging and made all the connections which would go between the head unit wiring and the connectors which would attach to my trucks wiring. These sure make things a lot easier than when I was a teenager trying to install a basic head unit into my 72 Chevelle! I used heat shrink on the connections to ensure they’d stay together for a long time to come. I really hate taking a dash back apart to fix something which has worked its way loose. Here’s what most of it looked like when I was putting it together:

Yes my desk was a mess as I was putting this all together! Here’s what the old head unit looked like when it was still in the truck:

I don’t have a picture of it, but once the old head unit was removed (nothing more than pulling the outer facing off the dash, removing three screws, and disconnecting the wiring … really simple), there was a small bit of plastic I needed to remove at the back of the orifice. I grabbed my handy dandy hacksaw blade and went to work. When I got that as cut as I could, I grabbed a pair of Vice Grips and yanked out what wasn’t needed. Took a few minutes as I didn’t want to damage anything I didn’t need to. The new stereo fit right in. All of the connections I’d done the night before worked as advertised and the new head unit was in business. Here’s what it looks like installed:

It sounds great and I’m very happy with it.

One thing I forgot to do which the instructions do warn you about, is pulling any CDs out of the old head unit before you unplug it from your system. Uh … whoops! Yah, I forgot to pull my Van Halen CD out. I realized this after getting the new system about half way installed, but at that point, there was no turning back.

To fix my conundrum, I went onto the trusty Interwebz and did some research. While I didn’t find anything directly relating to this, I put the noggin to use and did some thinking. I figured if I could just apply power to the head unit, I could probably get it to eject the disk. I found this diagram, which is for some other GM product, but it sure looked like what my plug looked like:

And here was the back of my old head unit:

With the diagram on my monitor, I found where the Ground and Positive Voltage pins were located. Inside the socketĀ on the head unit, while you cannot see it in the image, all of the pins are marked with the proper pin numbers and row letters. It’s a good thing, too, because the diagram above is backwards to it because it’s actually for the plug, not the socket.

With that, I grabbed a 12vdc battery I keep around for just such occasions (for reference, it’s an old battery out of my garage door opener used for when the power goes out … it still holds a charge, so works great for powering automotive things). I also grabbed some leads which have alligator clips on both ends. I attached the proper leads to the correct pins and OH MY GOODNESS, I heard the CD changer inside make some noises. I looked at the front and pressed the eject button. One CD, freshly ejected. Like butter from a cow … wait … milk/cream comes from the cow … you have to make butter … I digress.

One last parting shot here … something I didn’t mention … make sure you put the alligator clips on the right pins … I put them backwards and superheated one of the two leads, which proceeded to melt in two, rapidly. Only took about 3 seconds and it was like butter. Oh, back to that … sorry. Just ensure you put the right leads in the right place and you’re golden. It wasn’t hard to figure out, nor to accomplish. Just one more thing and now I can play my CDs again. But I can also stream iHeart Radio. Or talk hands free. Or play a DVD … or … or …

Isn’t technology great? :o)

(PS: I would have said “Ain’t” in the last sentence, but the wife would shoot me.)

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