Monday, April 6, 2009

Alpine A/V System Install

The first major project I tackled after getting my Jeep Wrangler Unlimited was installing an Alpine Audio Video System.

Here's a YouTube video demoing the amp: 

As you can see, the system rocks! My neighbors can hear me coming a mile away -- especially with the top off ;)

NOTE: I didn't take many pictures when I installed the system.  I'll do my best to explain what I did and the parts I used. If you have any questions feel free to send me a message. 

The first step in the process was to determine what system to install.  I wanted an all in one Head Unit (HU) that had GPS, Video, XM Radio and various other goodies.  I decided on Alpine because they are well known for sound quality and reliability.

Alpine Parts:
  • IVA-W505 Multimedia Head Unit
  • NVE-P1 Remote GPS Navigation Drive Module 
  • TUA-T550HD High Definition Radio Tuner Box Module
  • RUE-4190 IR Remote Control
  • SPR-17S 6 1/2" Component -R Speakers (Front)
  • SPR-17C 6 1/2" Coaxial -R Speakers (Rear Soundbar)
  • PDX-5 5 channel Digital Amplifier (@900W Actual)
Other Parts:
  • JL Audio Stealthbox 13" Sealed Low Profile 600W SUB
  • Lipstick Camera .5 LUX (backup cam)
  • StreetWires UFX420R 4 AWG Power Cable Red (positive)
  • StreetWires RTC4L 4 AWG Crimp Ring 8mm 
  • StreetWires 4 AWG Black High Current Power Cable (negative)
  • StreetWires ZN5220 Zero Noise 5 6.5-ft. Stereo Patch Cables
  • StreetWires SCP16500BL per foot 16 gauge Blue Speaker Wire 
  • XMDirect2  Alpine XM Radio interface module.
  • Pro-Clip 915240 iPhone Padded Mounting System
  • Optima Deep Cycle Yellow-Top Battery 
  • CAN-BUS Radio Interface Box (provides ACC power & Vehicle Computer Integration)
  • Misc parts from Radio Shack, Parts Express, L-Com and others that include heat shrink tubing, ring clips, solder, SNA crimp connectors (GPS antenna), etc.
The Alpine install is more complex than a normal car radio.  There are a ton of parts that have to go in perfectly.  Crossing a wire somewhere could nuke some very expensive components.  This job is best left to an experienced installer if you are not comfortable with soldering, cutting into vehicle wiring, running wires to the battery, etc. 

The first part of an install like this is to plan it out carefully.  I spent about 3 weeks researching where to put what.  The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is longer than the 2-door and has a trunk, but it still has limited space.  It is a challenge to have a factory looking install with a system that has so many components.  

The Alpine head unit was easy.  The DD size is a perfect fit to the factory mount. It is also quite capable:

HD Radio 

XM Radio

Global Positioning System (GPS)


Backup Camera

Tire Cam

The Wrangler dash doesn't have much room behind it, so I mounted the amp under the passenger seat. The cables are hidden under the carpet.

The XM radio Direct2 unit and the HD Radio Module wouldn't fit by the radio, so I made an Aluminum panel and mounted it to the chassis with rubber shock mounts. 

The JL Audio Sub was designed for the JK Unlimited and mounts in the cargo bay.  It is truly a stealth box.  The Carpet matches perfectly and unlike most subs it takes minimal space.

The Jeep speaker mounts are designed for 3-holes.  Alpine and most speakers mount with 4 holes.  Fortunately, the Alpine speakers come with the adapter plates, so this job was easy. 

The -R component tweeters are quite a bit larger than stock.  It took a dremel tool and some time, but I was able to modify the stock tweeter pod to fit the Alpine speakers.  They look like they've been there forever.

The final upgrade was to install an Optima deep cycle Yellow-top battery.  The amp is so powerful it needs a deep cycle battery or the headlights will flicker when powering the sub. 

NOTE: The wires are a bit of a mess right now. I will be upgrading the electrical system in a future project.  I will be installing a second battery, power busbar and an isolator circuit that will cut off the add-on electrical draw if one of the batteries falls below a defined power threshold.  This will keep me from being stranded because of a dead battery. 

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