Friday, February 5, 2016

Out With The Old.......UPDATE

And in with the new.

Jeep radio, that is.

I finally received the "4-pin" data cable I needed to get the Maestro unit talking to my new Kenwood "head unit", and decided to take the plunge and do it today.

It's not 100% finished, but it's in the dash, all connected up, and everything works!

Had a nice chat with the rep from Sirius/XM, and we killed the OEM Sirius radio that came with the Jeep, activated the new one, went over the freebies that came with the new radio, and got everything squared away.

I still have to find the best place to stick down the microphone for the "hands free"  Bluetooth operation of my cellphone, figure out how to run the cable from the new Sirius/XM antenna into the car, and figure out how to best run the female USB cable that lets me plug in a USB stick and play music and videos on the head unit.

And Kenwood has newer firmware for the head unit, so I have to reflash it, and I still have to sign up with Garmin so I can keep the maps updated for the nav.

After that, I'll just snap the bezels back on the instrument pod where the GPS antenna is located, and the bezel that covers the radio.

Then I have to learn how to use the doggone thing, program my favorite satellite radio channels, FM radio channels, and the couple of AM channels I use.

I stick a few pix on here tomorrow.


 It took me until midnight last night but I finally got the receiver to accept the USB memory stick with the updated firmware.

The manuals are poorly written in regard to this, and assume you already know the menu structure of the radio.

They kept mentioning to "put the radio into standby", with no explanation of how to find the "standby" menu setting. The main menu button takes you to the "Top Menu", and there's three little bars at the top of the screen. In my experience this usually indicates there are a total of three pages to the menu. to get to the next pages? The radio has a touch screen, so I tried dragging the screen to the left. No luck, and this stumped me for a while. I finally figured out that to get off the first page of the menu you have to "flick" the screen to the left at just the right rate to get it on the next page.

There was the "Standby" button, and once I pressed that button, the "upgrade" button on the screen displaying the installed firmware version was no longer greyed out, and I was able to upgrade the firmware from the memory stick.

The next thing was getting updated maps into the navigation section of the radio. Garmin requires you to dump an XML file onto an SD memory card, insert it into a Windows or Mac PC, and then use their web application to read the card, and confirm you have a qualifying product. Then, after you pay your $69.95 for the new maps, it will download and install the new map files onto the SD card. I had the same issue with the nav section of the wouldn't dump the file onto the card unless the radio was in standby mode. About 2345 last night I had the XML file on the card, and was able to get the Garmin web app to accept it, and proceeded to install the "updated" maps on it, but I couldn't find out how to get the file loaded off the card and into the receiver.

This morning I was on the support section of the Garmin website, and finally found out that all you do is install the card in the slot, and it reads the new data from the card. I put the card in the slot, and upon hitting the "upgrade maps" from another obscure menu setting only accessible when in standby, I was rewarded with "Reading Updated Map Info" on the screen.

They don't tell you if it overwrites the existing data in the radio, or if it needs the card in all the time, so I just left it in the radio.

Since the map version was "2014.0", and the new map version is "2015.0", it looks like they don't upgrade the maps very often!

I stuck down the microphone for the hand-free cellphone function, and stuck the bezel back on that part of the dash. I still haven't figured out how I'm going to run the antenna lead-in cable for the new Sirius/XM tuner from the antenna into the car, and then into the under/behind dash area, but it looks like that will be a several hour job by itself, involving pulling a bunch of interior trim panels off, routing the cable, and then putting it all back together.

This radio definitely sounds better than the OEM Alpine radio it replaced, and I'm getting a bunch more satellite channels than I did before, as I upgraded my Sirius/XM subscription.

And the FM tuner not only has regular FM, but also "HD Radio", which lets the broadcasters either deliver higher-quality audio, or multiple channels, similar to what the new Digital TVs have. Where you only had "Channel 5" before, you now have sub-channels like 5.1, 5.2, etc.

Think I'm going to take the dog for a walk....I need to relax a bit, and "wind down" from this project!


  1. LOL, and the learning experience starts all over... :-)

  2. Well.....the basic operation isn't too bad. I mean after all, it's made for 20 year old kids to use!

    BUT....updating the system and navigation firmware is NOT working.

    I've tried 3 different memory sticks, formatted all of them so I *knew* they were empty, and the radio will NOT recognize the fact that there's a USB stick with an upgrade on it.

    I tried copying all the files onto the stick, and hen tried copying the *folder* with the files on it thinking the radio might have been looking for a certain named folder, rather than certain named files.

    And to update the maps, the first thing you have to do is insert an SD memory card into the radio, and then dump the existing file header onto it. Then you connect that SD card to your PC, and run the Garmin "Web App" that reads the card and verifies you have a qualifying product. *IF* you can get past that step, then Garmin will graciously allow to spend money for the latest maps.

    Yeah, that doesn't work, either!

    Both the printed manual and the web manuals show pix of the screens on the unit that bear NO resemblance AT ALL to what's actually displayed!

    SOMEBODY at both Kenwood and Garmin has really dropped the ball on this!

  3. Did you get someone who spoke English at Sirius XM. I'm amazed

    1. Yep, a nice AMERICAN guy who was in Maryland.

  4. Same guys at Kenwood that do the menu structure for their ham radios. Probably former Yaseu employees. The 857 menu structure is actually more obscure.
    The first time I read XML file I saw it as XYL and wondered WHAT?
    I spend way too much time on the radio. :)

    1. Oh, believe me, Kenwood Car Audio is far worse than their Amateur products!

      I've got several menu-driven Kenwood Ham sets, and their not nearly as obtuse as this sucker is!

      And at least the manuals are better written. The manual for this radio is missing some things, and a couple of other things just seem "wrong".


Keep it civil, please....