Testing an Android Headunit – on the bench

Testing the new android headunit ‘on the bench’ before installing it to the vehicle has several advantages.

New Package

Your new package has arrived and contains your new Android head unit. Your first thought is to grab some tools and fit them in the car. But wait, it may have come from China on a boat.

First steps

It doesn’t take much time, but it can save problems later. Have a second pair of hands video record that you are inspecting all sides of the package and carefully opening and removing the headunit. Show any labels or stickers clearly on the video and show it was the first time opening the box (top and bottom).

Second step

Particularly useful for a universal fit Android headunit with ISO connectors, this is relatively straightforward to power up. Some information will be needed for the custom-fit Android headunits to discover which pins need the power to get it to boot.

The power trick

Getting power to the Android headunit while not in the car may seem impossible. With this simple tool and any old yet working PC ATX power supply (you knew you could find a use for it one day), you can easily connect the RED, YELLOW, and GND wires to the correct supplies. This will give the Android headunit power to boot up. The first boot may be slower than the next, so be patient.

Convert ATX PSU to Bench Test supply adaptor
Use an old ATX PSU or ‘borrow’ one. Connect just the +12v and GND connectors. (YELLOW and RED both to the same +12v, BLACK to the GND connector).

A Universal android headunit will connect like this as the minimum required to boot.

A custom-fit Android headunit is more vehicle-specific. You may need to contact the particular vehicle forums for assistance in identifying the correct wires for power and ground on the headunit loom.

Android Headunit Tip

The power trick box is a simple device but proves useful for bench testing. The wide connector will accept a 20PIN or a 24PIN ATX power supply. There is a switch to energize the ATX PSU, and each output has an indicator LED wired to the power line. This gives good proof that the power is good. Testing outputs include +12v and -12v, 5v, and 3.3v, with a useful USB port for powering USB devices. It is useful not just for Android head unit testing.

Circuit Diagram

bench tester circuit diagram
Bench tester circuit diagram

Bench Test

The boot is suitable proof of DOA – dead on arrival. This is more prominent on the universal Android headunits because they only need the 3 wires mentioned above to boot. The custom fit may need a different configuration, including the CAN BUS BOX, but it’s worth a try to power it up.

You may have removed the Android head unit from the car to isolate the fault. With the unit on the bench, checking voltages and proving it will work out of the car can be more accessible.

You can connect speakers if you have some spare, but this isn’t often the reason to boot on the bench. You are getting the Google account configured and set up correctly, which is more easily performed from a comfortable bench height.

Everything OK

With the Android headunit booted up. The Google account set-up, wifi passwords configured, maybe the DAB+ adaptor attached to see if that is detected, and the launcher installed. You can be confident that it will boot in the car, and it won’t be time wasted to find that you received a dud. Or you just found it more comfortable to do the bulk of the app installation and configuring from the bench rather than the dashboard.

Android guy who loves his android head units as much as he loves his cherry pie.

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