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Thread: Later Double Din Radios Into Older GMs

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    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    Default Later Double Din Radios Into Older GMs

    I've owned my loaded '84 black Caprice since new. It was a no radio car (which is what I wanted, last year of the awful OEM stereo in B-body) and I've had my Mitsubishi component stereo in it since new.

    I found that some 2002-2005 Buick's had RDS and XM radios that almost look period correct, but they are miserable class 2 serial bus communication units.

    Here is the 'original' radio. On it's last leg, I've repaired it so many time in 32 years and 257K miles in this car. The original pictures aren't the greatest.





    Here is the new radio with LED back lighting (missing knobs in this picture);



    The whole monstrosity ready to go in the car;



    The final fit. The XM antenna is just sitting in the defrost opening at the moment. That is the aux input in the radio surround on the right;



    Unlike the A-body, the room in the dash of these cars is unbelievable.

    I've got lots more pics and info if any one is interested. It sounds fantastic to me!
    Last edited by CorvairGeek; 01-24-2019 at 12:20 AM. Reason: PB Sucks!
    Jerry



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    Senior Member SexySilhouette's Avatar
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    I'd love to know more about this install.
    Jay

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    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    In this particular radio (2005 LeSabre), the actual off and on is controlled by the Dash Integration Module (DIM). It is the Power Mode Master (PMM) in this car. It will not turn on with power applied when the off/on switch is pressed without the DIM connection over the single wire, class 2 serial bus. I assume this is part of idea behind the silly Theftlock scheme. Removing the EEPROM, which was common on many of the class 2 radios to bypass the Theftlock, only results in a radio that will not turn on normally and loses presents in this style (the seek >, preset 5, and power will turn it on for 10 minutes, like all of the class 2 series).

    The Instrument Panel Integration Module (IPM), sometimes mistakenly called the Body Control Module in aftermarket literature, is programmed to match the VIN in the radio (or vice versa), other wise, the radio Theftlocks. It is programmed with the GM Tech II scanner via the OBDII connector, which I included in my installation for possible future needs, even though I have a matched system (which only costs me $50). Other than that, the only other function of the IPM in the radio application is to control the dimming of the vacuum fluorescent display. Without the IPM, the display darkens as if the lights are on. The light sensor in the dash of the original car controls the lighting scheme for the entire car. This module does have many of the car body functions in it, but I only included it to keep from implementing my own design to control the brightness of the display internally in the radio. To get away from using the light sensor, I put a 2.2K resistor across the connection of a cheap, Bosch type relay. This makes the IPM tell the radio to brighten the display over the class 2 bus. When the dash lights come on, the relay opens which causes the IPM to darken the display. The normal, button back lighting is controlled by the dash lighting dimmer, though I have replaced all the miserable 3mm bulbs (8 of 14 were burned out in a beautiful car that only had 95K miles). The radio face has 2 voltage regulators that darken 6 of the bulbs (where 5 of the 6 still worked), which I jumpered out to make all the lighting the same brightness. I replaced all the bulbs with LEDs and left them in parallel (bad idea, Kirchhoff's law), with 660 ohms of resistance in the wiring harness to drop the 12 volts. They look good with even brightness, we'll see if and when they start to fail. I am running them considerably darker than with their intended full voltage because of the 660 ohms of resistance, so I may get quite a bit of life out of them.

    You can see the original light sensor in my messy test set up on top of the IPM in this picture (top left)



    The IPM is on the right with the DIM on the left. You can see my lighting relay behind the DIM.



    The XM module is behind the glove compartment, above the 'hush panel'

    I added the aux input by interrupting the audio input from the XM module (but the XM module had to be detected, or it will not select it, radio is too smart). Allows me to have the aux cable plugged in and still listen to terrestrial radio, the CD or cassette (unlikely). I have found that XM is awesome.
    Last edited by CorvairGeek; 01-25-2019 at 01:00 AM. Reason: PB Sucks!
    Jerry

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    Senior Member occupant's Avatar
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    Beautiful job, actually. Usually I don't condone cutting up a dashboard to fit a non-stock radio, but in this case the car had no radio and then had a 2-shaft aftermarket, and now it at least has a stock GM stereo.

    What I would have done was probably locate a later 80s Caprice center dash piece that would fit the 1.5DIN radio and then use one of the 95-01 or so truck/Lumina/Malibu radios with the speed controlled volume and all that. Wouldn't need that much computer gadgetry to run it, but you also wouldn't have RDS or satellite or an aux input without some fooling around. But I would be happy with a simple AUX input in a stock stereo because while I own some tapes and CD's, I don't listen to them. I'm the guy who runs around with 5GB of music on his phone and 28GB of music on his laptop and that's all I want to hear...

    At least with the 02-05 Buick radio it's a higher end one and it has a lot of functions you just couldn't get a scant few years earlier. I would think other models like Regals, Park Avenues, Impalas would have similar units.
    Alan Moore - TOAD Roadside - Worthington, OH

    08 Cobalt LT sedan, black, 209K, Doordash and UberEATS beater

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    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    I appreciate the compliment, and I can certainly appreciate the sentiment about cutting up the car. Fortunately, the plate I cut is aftermarket and I still have these;



    I had given a lot of thought to going to a later style Caprice center radio area, but they are surprisingly incompatible with my '84. The later cars moved the rear defogger control (the '84 rear defogger switch location is one year only), the control head for the HVAC is different and unique to the '85 - '90 Caprice/Impala, same as the radios (I've actually wondered if it was the same idiot behind the '84 Corvette and '88 Pickup dash). The wood grain is different after '84, including the 'brushed stainless' look that was awful and unique to the Caprice/Impala too. The dash center (which is actually all pot metal behind the whole plastic panel) after '84 and dash bracket (which I have) are a royal pain to work with. I think they may have improved it after '87, but I haven't had one of those apart (or a donor).

    Oddly enough, the '85- '90 Pontiac Parisienne has a compatible (with 77-84 Caprice/Impala) face plate for GM DIN 1.5, and the wood grain is close. I haven't seen one in years and regret not getting the one I did find. I probably would have gone with this (below) that I have, but it just didn't excite me like all the features in the 'new' radio.



    I was actually leaning towards going with the above until I found the Buick unique radios (and I have searched a lot, and bought a number of them that were more compatible, without the class 2 non-sense).







    Anything with RDS was equally difficult to implement (very similar electronically/internally to the Buick units) but I didn't like the appearance.

    Even was checking for 'A' compatibility (my daughter loved the newest radio), but it would be a terrible hack job;



    I thought maybe matching knobs on the radio would add to a more period correct look, but it just didn't do it for me.

    Last edited by CorvairGeek; 05-19-2019 at 04:36 PM. Reason: PB still sucks!
    Jerry

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    Senior Member SexySilhouette's Avatar
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    I thought 1986 was the last year for the Parisienne. There's 2 in a local yard right now.
    Jay

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    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SexySilhouette View Post
    I thought 1986 was the last year for the Parisienne. There's 2 in a local yard right now.
    You are correct. I was thinking the B-body station wagons lived on longer in the Pontiac, like it did for Buick and Olds. I didn't realize the last Parisienne wagon I saw had to be that old (it had a Canadian instrument cluster too).

    Does remind me of why I've found so few of them. The B-bodies did not sell as well in the NW, as they did in the mid west and SE. Even though we are relatively rust free here, they are like finding 'hen's teeth' now.
    Jerry

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    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SexySilhouette View Post
    I thought 1986 was the last year for the Parisienne. There's 2 in a local yard right now.
    I finally remembered and verified it. The 1987 - 1989 B body wagon sold as a Pontiac was called 'Safari' with no 'Parisienne' designation. I knew I had seen a later Olds 307 'Y' (mid year '86 change) powered Pontiac wagon, my middle age memory just couldn't come up with the name change (at least without sending my processor to 100% for a while )
    Jerry

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    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Jerry, this is just fantastic! If I get this correct, you pretty muchly pulled most of the infotainment system from the 2005 Buick to keep the radio TheftLock free. I would imagine that the sound was quite adequate for the car...superior actually. Did the 2005 radio still have the 10 ohm speakers?

    Thanks,
    Ken T.

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    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    Essentially yes! I forgot I had a picture of the XM module before I put it up above the hush panel (where the Mitsubishi amplifier had lived since 1984) after initial install when I still reworking and adjusting the stereo mounting bracket.



    I had only intended to use the DIM with this setup like older Class 2 units I had read about and researched. The lighting scheme with the ambient light sensor threw a wrench in that, and I really didn't want to fool with regulating the VFD power supply via the dash dimming, since the matched module (VIN) was still available and $10. If only using a DIM in this exact setup, there may not be a VIN match issue, as new DIMs do not require programming. However, it could be a case of the DIM marrying to what else it 'sees' on the first power up, like the XM module allegedly does. The IPM definitely requires programming with the GM Tech II tool.

    I had toyed with the idea of using the class 2 bus to implement keyless entry on my car, but it would require the addition of the Driver's Door Module and the Rear Interface Module (trunk pop), and another door module if I wanted the progressive unlock feature. The GM Tech II tool is also required to match remotes on these series/era cars, though Dorman offers an innovative (limited times usage) tool with replacement remote fobs. Ultimately, I'm not sure this would be worth it. I also risked the wrath of triggering the anti theft system and chime system, which did start chiming (left front speaker) incessantly as I started disconnecting minor components and verifying what they did and didn't do (in between my little 12v battery connects and disconnects) . The car was hit badly enough that the right front door wouldn't fully latch, so it always had a door ajar warning. I don't believe there is a single switch in the car that actually electrically switches anything. They are all low current, discreet signal inputs that feed modules and other modules through the class 2 bus.

    It's funny you ask about speaker ohms (I feel like an old person with a story about everything). The General (in their infinite wisdom) put 6x9 8 ohm speakers in the rear of the LeSabre and 4 ohm 6.5" speakers (I checked a few times in disbelief and against other LeSabres) in the doors with separate tweeters (I believe this was classified as a Concert Sound II or III). I'm running 6x9 three way and new CV 4x6 two ways in the front (all 4 ohm as usual). These stereos (and some of the sister division models) have a simple aluminum plate for the amp heat sink. I had noticed the heat sink heated up quite quickly in operation, so I test fit a Socket A processor heat sink to the plate. I was amazed at being able to shoe horn it into the dash like this!





    As you may notice, the connector on the back is rather unusual. This is the Dock and Lock system which is unique to the 2000 - 2005 Bonneville, Aurora, and LeSabre only. The physical attachment of the radio holds it over the fixed connector mounted in the dash. If I could have found a Century, Regal or Rendezvous (had one of these, 2002, incompatible with XM) with this radio, I could have gotten away from the connector and implemented the keyless entry easier. The module system would have pros and cons compared to how I did this one.

    The amount of time I have in research and studying bad aftermarket schematics is sad. The XM was kind of an after thought I realized would be pretty awesome. I think it sounds fantastic too! I don't think I could be any happier with it.

    If I had found something I didn't think would have looked terrible in the car, even without cost being an issue, I might have gone a different route. Aftermarket radios just don't look as good to me in old cars as I thought they did when I was young.
    Last edited by CorvairGeek; 05-19-2019 at 04:41 PM.
    Jerry

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    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    Jerry,

    Thanks for fleshing that out. I was wondering about the impedance. At the speaker options are a bit more open. That heat sink you described doesn't sound as good as the old Delco ETRs of the 80's/90's, but your modification looks up to the task! Did you add the heat sink paste?

    I am with you on the aftermarket vs. stock head unit appearance. I was out of the after market stuff by the time I was in my mid 30's. And, the later ones are just too "busy." They seem to say "look at meeeee! Watch me flash!" I just want clean sound with legible controls! I know what these head units are capable of with good speakers; I have a setup in the garage. Plenty of power, and pretty clean as well.

    Ken T.

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    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    My impression is that it isn't as good a heat sink than the old ETRs either. I noticed it early on when you see the cavity in which it is originally crammed, and the reason for the Dock and Lock setup.

    I did not apply any thermal compound. I was just test fitting it, and once I got it it, I said good enough. Unlike with a processor, the entire heat sink (except the little notch at the base as seen in the last pic) is against the original heat sink. I figure it is dramatic improvement (and it seems like it when I reach up and check by feel) over original. I did apply new thermal paste when I had the main board out and the chassis completely apart, but that is because of my error (long and aggravating story)
    Last edited by CorvairGeek; 07-16-2016 at 07:19 PM.
    Jerry

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    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    How often to you see a car with an ODBI and an ODBII connector? Very disturbing in some ways!



    I do have one of these for both ports;

    Jerry

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    Senior Member Century7667's Avatar
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    My father's '95 LeSabre has an OBD-II connector, but it's all OBD-I internally. Used OBD-I scan software with the OBD-II connector. Worked fine.

    Ken T.

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    Senior Member CorvairGeek's Avatar
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    That's good. I've wondered what they were thinking with some of the '95 models.
    Jerry

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