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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi guys! I've been gone for a while. Glad to be back!

Just an update for you guys still interested in the factory radio unit in the coupe (and probably the spyder).........

I have been able to remove the NIT (the radio in the arm rest) and reverse engineer the connectors. Here are some interesting observations.....

The connector in the front of he NIT is the one that carries R, G, B, CSYNC and control data to the dash display unit. As for data, there are 2 separate data links with associated ground wires. I haven't attempted to decode the data yet but it is 12 volt, single ended NRZ 9600 baud (line normally high, start bit = low). There is an idle pattern present and pressing any radio/nav button produces data. I believe the 2 data links are transmit and receive (full duplex) channels; one from the NIT to the display, one from the display to the NIT. Should be easy to tap and decode since it's just 9600 baud serial (UART) data. Maybe another day........

The video is standard .7 V analog RGB. The SYNC line is composite sync (CSYNC) and also runs .7 V (not TTL). R, G, B and CSYNC are carried on thin shielded coax cables. This means the display should be easy to interface if you can produce these signals (especially the CSYNC).

The speakers, power, and CDC are all on the standard ISO A, B and C1, C2, C3 connectors (plenty of reference on Google). There is a strange connector on the back, which I believe connects to phone accessories such as an interior (hidden) microphone, etc. Unplugging this connector has no effect on radio, CD or static NAV operation. Not sure, but if there are wheel pos./speed sensors for the NAV then they're probably in there.

Finally, knowing what I know, I'm going to replace the NIT with an Alpine Vehicle Hub Pro. This unit has 4x50 watt amps, AM/FM tuner, KILLER iPod integration and tight integration for Sirius/XM, digital radio, Alpine NAV, Alpine CDC, DVD player, backup camera, etc. The unit is controlled by the tiny "orb" remote, which looks like the BMW iDrive unit.

I'll keep you posted! Buzz
 

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Cool. Quick question. How are you going to deal with the buttons around the display? Are these signals carried by one of the data lines? If so are the signals standard?

Good luck! The stereo was always the most disappointing system. I replaced speakers and added BT and iPod but it never seems as good as factory or OEM integrated.

Tom
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Cool. Quick question. How are you going to deal with the buttons around the display? Are these signals carried by one of the data lines? If so are the signals standard?

Good luck! The stereo was always the most disappointing system. I replaced speakers and added BT and iPod but it never seems as good as factory or OEM integrated.

Tom
Wassup Tom.....

The buttons around the display SUCK! I'm going to use the Vehicle Hub Pro's "ORB" controller. However.... I do have the Ai-Net spec and could (given enough time and money) convert the native controls into something.

We'll see..

Buzz
 

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Buzz -

I've read some of your old posts on your audio mods and would love to get together some time and see what you've done. I live in Plano myself and just picked up a '04 Coupe this weekend with the standard audio system and no nav. (Otherwise a nicely loaded car).

Are there any other Maserati owner's in the area to put together a little tech session? Otherwise can I buy you a cup of coffee some morning so I can see your handiwork? :)
 

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Finally, knowing what I know, I'm going to replace the NIT with an Alpine Vehicle Hub Pro. This unit has 4x50 watt amps, AM/FM tuner, KILLER iPod integration and tight integration for Sirius/XM, digital radio, Alpine NAV, Alpine CDC, DVD player, backup camera, etc. The unit is controlled by the tiny "orb" remote, which looks like the BMW iDrive unit.

I'll keep you posted! Buzz
Right on, Buzz.

Let us know how you make out. If you need to get cables or connectors made, maybe get a couple sets and we'll share the cost (or buy yours, since you did all the hard work reverse engineering this thing).

The big question I have, though, is how you'll control the HVAC without the stock system in place...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Right on, Buzz.

Let us know how you make out. If you need to get cables or connectors made, maybe get a couple sets and we'll share the cost (or buy yours, since you did all the hard work reverse engineering this thing).

The big question I have, though, is how you'll control the HVAC without the stock system in place...
Hi Rick! Here's a little secret I'll share with you..... The HVAC controls are completely separate and work fine without the NIT. Displaying the info on the display is really silly since these are clearly marked analog controls. Now's here's the interesting thing...... It looks like the car's CAN bus is connected to the display unit and is relayed down to the NIT over the serial data lines. That's how the NIT knows how to display the HVAC data. During the time I had the scope hooked up to the data lines, I saw data coming down when I adjusted the mirrors, seats, HVAC and put the car in reverse; all CAN bus activities. Don't know if you can control them but it's cool, no?

The Alpine Vehicle Hub Pro came last night. I'll probably bench it and play with it out of the car. I need to measure the RGB output to determine what I have to do to make it compatible with the Masers display.

Buzz
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Buzz -

I've read some of your old posts on your audio mods and would love to get together some time and see what you've done. I live in Plano myself and just picked up a '04 Coupe this weekend with the standard audio system and no nav. (Otherwise a nicely loaded car).

Are there any other Maserati owner's in the area to put together a little tech session? Otherwise can I buy you a cup of coffee some morning so I can see your handiwork? :)
Oh crap! Another coupe' in Plano? :)
Congrats on the Maser! Nothing like it!

All that previous work has lead up to this point where I'm actually ready to replace the crappy NIT and get some serious integration. Give me a couple of weeks to get something going and we'll get together. Coffee's OK but I'd prefer a beer. My stories get much better after a few ;)

Buzz
 

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Hi Rick! Here's a little secret I'll share with you..... The HVAC controls are completely separate and work fine without the NIT. Displaying the info on the display is really silly since these are clearly marked analog controls. Now's here's the interesting thing...... It looks like the car's CAN bus is connected to the display unit and is relayed down to the NIT over the serial data lines. That's how the NIT knows how to display the HVAC data. During the time I had the scope hooked up to the data lines, I saw data coming down when I adjusted the mirrors, seats, HVAC and put the car in reverse; all CAN bus activities. Don't know if you can control them but it's cool, no?

The Alpine Vehicle Hub Pro came last night. I'll probably bench it and play with it out of the car. I need to measure the RGB output to determine what I have to do to make it compatible with the Masers display.

Buzz
Sweet! I guess I'll have to learn CAN bus programming... ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Well, I hooked the vehicle hub up in the office. It seems my life revolves around reverse engineering because the funky video cable connector Alpine uses isn't documented ANYWHERE! What I found in the cable was a coax cable with 3 wires in it (R, G, B), a coax with a single center wire (composite video) and (drum roll please) Composite Sync (which is what the maser display needs). The only bummer is it's 5 volt TTL and the monitor uses .7 volt so I'll have to resistor divide it.

I had this horrible thought today..... What if the dash display unit turns off if there is no heartbeat message over the serial link from the NIT? Guess I should test that this weekend. Might have to put a little microcontroller in there that sends the periodic message... This project may get complicated, but I'm having fun!
 

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Hey Buzz,

Right on, nice work. I have gotten on and off the road to swapping out the NIT completely on my coupe as well with a vehicle hub. I was always considering killing two birds with one stone and additionally swapping out the factory display and buttons with a newer, larger, higher-resolution display. The added incentive being I wouldn't have to look at the phonepad radio buttons where the black paint was wearing off anymore. The con being the fabrication required to mount the newer screen in place.

Have you considered this route?
 

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Hey Buzz,

Right on, nice work. I have gotten on and off the road to swapping out the NIT completely on my coupe as well with a vehicle hub. I was always considering killing two birds with one stone and additionally swapping out the factory display and buttons with a newer, larger, higher-resolution display. The added incentive being I wouldn't have to look at the phonepad radio buttons where the black paint was wearing off anymore. The con being the fabrication required to mount the newer screen in place.

Have you considered this route?
Yikes! If it isn't hardware or software, I'll pass. I'd hate to think what the dash would look like if I fabricated a new dash panel... :D
 

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Yikes! If it isn't hardware or software, I'll pass. I'd hate to think what the dash would look like if I fabricated a new dash panel... :D
Buzz, maybe you can contact that olde friend of us / forum contributor who sent his car for a complete vehicle integration some, what, 6 months ago... what was his nick, as I can't quite remember now, as he has since dissapeared from sight... :D

His electronics wonderman surely does know some killer tips, as by the looks of it he fitted things here and there (did it included a steering wheel remote?)

Wonder why I have never seen photos of THAT work..? Maybe the car blew-up in pieces after a 6V line short-circuited.

Oh well...

Keep the good, no-BS work on Buzz..! I think the Maser people who troll this forum occasionally (for sure) are watching this space. GT NIT reversing a future possibility? Know some ppl have had issues with it already...
 

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Hey Buzz. Are you still around? Did you ever complete this project? Looks very interesting. I wonder if the same thing can be done to the video screen in the QP - i.e replace it with a high res touchscreen unit that one can switch between the factory RGB-CSYNC input, and an aftermarket input, let's say... Android.
 
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