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. It contains your new android head unit. You first though is to grab some tools and start fitting it in the car. But wait, it may have come all the way 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 you 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 in opening the box (top and bottom).

Second step

Particularly useful for a universal fit android headunit with is ISO connectors this is quite straight forward to power up. For the custom fit android headunits some information will be needed to discover which pins need the power to get it to boot.

The power trick

Getting power to the android headunit while it is 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. First boot may be slower than the next, so be patient.

12v bench test android headunit
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 conector).

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

A custom fit android headunit is more vehicle specific and you may need to reach out to the particular vehicle forums for assistance to identify the correct wires for power and ground on the headunit loom.

Android Headunit Tip

The power trick box is a simple device but it proves itself useful for bench testing. The wide connector will accept both a 20PIN or a 24PIN ATX power supply. There is a switch to energise the ATX PSU and each output has an indicator LED wired to the power line. This gives a 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. Useful not just for android head unit testing.

bench tester circuit diagram
Bench tester circuit diagram

Bench Test

The boot is a good 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 it can be easier to check voltages and prove it will work out of the car.

You can connect speakers if you have some spare, but this isn’t often the reason to boot on the bench. Getting the google account configured and set-up properly 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 dash board.

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

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