TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker or making a Paypal contribution here: paypal.me/SupportTMC

Fix for Alpine problems connecting to iPod/iPhone (Infotainment package)

Discussion in 'Roadster: Technical' started by S-2000 Roadster, Aug 7, 2011.

  1. S-2000 Roadster

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Messages:
    636
    USB 2.0 A Female to A Female Coupler Adapter

    I have a Roadster 2.5 with the Infotainment System. Ever since day one, I've had troubles with my iPhone (not) connecting via the provided connector. Strangely, every iPod and iPhone owned by the Seattle Tesla Store staff would work in my car, but my own iPhone would not work. But my iPhone connects to everything else in the world (I'm an iPhone developer, so I do more than my share of USB connections), including the Roadster Sport on the showroom floor.

    To their credit, the Seattle Tesla Service team ordered a complete new Alpine head unit and then called me in. Swapping the cable did no good. Swapping the head unit seemed to work, but we noticed that we tested it with the iPhone wired directly to the head unit rather than to the Roadster wiring harness. My head unit works just fine, too, when the iPhone is plugged in directly.

    Turns out that the HD Radio unit steals the USB plug on the head unit, and then acts as a USB hub to provide the iPhone/iPod connection. But the HD Radio is a very poor USB hub. My original unit appeared to be bad, and so Tesla Motors replaced it under warranty. The new HD Radio unit seemed to work much better with my iPhone, but still only about 90%.

    The solution has turned out to be bypassing the HD Radio unit completely. Just disconnect the two USB cables that normally plug into the HD Radio unit and then plug them together with a coupler. See the link above for a $0.85 part that solves everything 100%, provided you don't care about actually using HD Radio. In my opinion, HD Radio sounds like crap. Looking up the specifications, it seems that the broadcast standard is 64k MP3 quality, well below the norm for everything else digital, not to mention iTunes AAC at better than 128k.

    Anyway, I changed nothing at all except to bypass the HD Radio unit, and now my iPhone works all of the time. Not only does it work, but it connects much faster than it ever did before. I left a couple of these USB Couplers with the service staff in Seattle, in case anyone else with the Infotainment package is tired of the hassle (and won't miss "HD Radio").
     
  2. smorgasbord

    smorgasbord Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,379
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    Sacrificing one feature for another feature is not a fix, it's a workaround.
     
  3. S-2000 Roadster

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Messages:
    636
    I hear what you're saying, but the Alpine head unit was designed to function perfectly fine on its own, or with any number of accessories. "HD Radio" is just one of many add-on units that come in a separate box. I'm not talking about defeating a built-in feature.

    I never wanted "HD Radio." According to Tom Saxton's blog, the original Roadster options included a checklist for various radio accessories, so that you could choose whether you wanted to pay extra for "HD Radio" or leave it out. One of changes that Tesla Motors made to streamline options was to remove the custom radio configurations and just have 'A' or 'B' (where 'A' is the JVC and 'B' is the Alpine head unit with just about every optional unit except IMPRINT).

    What I'm saying is this: The Alpine-based Infotainment package only causes trouble with iPod/iPhone connections because of the "HD Radio" option. If Tesla Motors were to delete the "HD Radio" unit from all future Roadsters off the assembly line, then they'd have fewer problems. The Alpine head unit works just fine with the Bluetooth accessory, Sirius Satellite accessory, and backup camera accessory. There's no real need to add the "HD Radio" in there, except perhaps for people who actually like 64k MP3 quality sound.
     
  4. S-2000 Roadster

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Messages:
    636
    This just in: The HD Radio unit seems to still function even after the USB connection has been bypassed.

    I tuned in several local stations, and I could hear it switch from Analog to Digital when the 'Digital' indicator appeared on the display. I now have no idea what purpose the USB connection serves, unless Digital FM is somehow different than HD Radio. Reading the Wikipedia entry, I can't see evidence that there is any other digital radio technology that might be working, so it must be HD Radio.

    Note that there were a couple of other multi-wire connectors on the HD Radio unit that I did not remove, and those are probably providing the HD Radio function to the head unit. Again, I have no idea why the USB ports are even there on the unit, unless there is some other function that I am missing.

    Regardless of whether you consider it a 'sacrifice' to lose a feature that is unwanted (in my case), it is apparent that you don't have to give up anything to improve iPod/iPhone connectivity.
     

Share This Page