Dash-mounted Nook Color Is A Perfect Head Unit Replacement


XDA forum member [craigbru] wanted to beef up the audio setup in his Jeep, and thought that his Nook Color would make a suitable replacement. Since he jailbroke the e-reader, the head unit upgrade lets him do just about anything you can imagine, all from the comfort of the driver’s seat.

Seeing that he would continue to go off-road with the Jeep, he wanted to construct a mounting solution that was convenient and sturdy – something we think he did very well.

The dock was constructed using a Quadratec iVault stereo mount, along with a plastic tablet mount he had on hand. Because convenience was a primary goal, he put together a quick release charging solution as well as a simple audio interface using a set of touch contacts. This allows him to connect and detach the tablet from the Jeep without having to fuss with a bunch of cables each time. He also added an audio equalizer along with a Bluetooth OBDII interface to the setup, allowing him to tweak his tunes and monitor his engine with ease.

We think it’s a great-looking setup, and we’d be lying if we said we didn’t want one as well.

[Thanks, MS3FGX]

30 thoughts on “Dash-mounted Nook Color Is A Perfect Head Unit Replacement

    1. That’d probably be considered overkill, the amp is right next to it. :P Next suggestion, inductive charging. (I kid)

      I’m guessing that he used bluetoothfor the OBDII connection because there isn’t really any other way to do it. Torque for Android expects a bluetooth connection IIRC.

      1. I decided against bluetooth, because it’s just one more thing I’d need to pair. I’ve already got the BT OBDII reader, and GPS. Besides, even though the touch contacts may have been more work, I think they should be more reliable. It takes software and one more electrical device out of the equation.

  1. I am hoping to do this with my playbook sometime soon. I need to find a good mounting solution though that doesn’t destroy my dash.. I will have to look into the Quadratec iVault stereo mount. This looks like a good build!

    1. I started with the iVault, but ended up changing direction about halfway through. Someone asked me what was behind that face… That’s not a question I wanted asked. I didn’t want a potential thief to think the same thing. So, I pulled the ‘face’ off and put a blank piece of aluminum there instead.

  2. HAHAH! no.

    Been there done that. Tried running Android as a car stereo. Spent a grand building a the hardware with X86 and ran X86-android on it.

    Android SUCKS for a Car stereo interface. you cant easily with a single blind button push go to mp3 player and easily change tracks. Zero support for steering wheel controls. No tuner control, and I tried. I have a USB FM-HD tuner that works under linux but trying to port it to Android is like pulling teeth.

    And honestly, it has a crappy UI for low attention control that is required for a car. It’s great for a device where you can look at it for 3-10 seconds. but 10 seconds in a car looking at the stereo = crash. See all the idiots that text and drive for statistics on that.

    1. Reading your comment, it looks like you did everything wrong. Everything. There are nice custom programs that are low-attention (only a moron tries to use the built-in audio player app in their car stereo setup with Android, sorry), and trying to use an FM tuner, even an FM-HD tuner, is a “two steps backwards” situation.

      It’s not our fault you couldn’t figure it out.

      1. @Geirskogul – No need to point out @fartface’s mistakes. He’s not truthful in what he says he built.. he just comes onto random stories, and then trolls people.

        Google him: http://www.google.com/search?q=fartface+site%3Ahackaday.com

        To this day I can’t figure out if @fartface is actually a FAN of H-A-D, but suffers from some emotional issue… or if he genuinely hates this site, and tries to sow negativity by trolling just above the moderation threshold. Either way, he is a time waster.

    2. Obviously, you haven’t heard of Car Home for android. Google has made such an application, which can be found here in the Android Market.

      There are also a few other “low attention” car UIs for android on the market. You just need to look for it.

      1. There are indeed plenty of media players with a ‘no look’ function. Swiping in different directions can advance tracks, adjust volume, etc. It’s much easier to hit a 7″ screen and swipe, than it is to hit a button on a normal stereo.

    3. 100% agree with you. The project is cool but the reality of such a system is flawed. To much a/d, d/a to sound good, no ability to tune, lacks essential car environment features. He really should have flush mounted that tablet as well. All this and what does he gain over a decent head unit + a USB hard drive or iPod? Nothing.

      For this to really work, IMO. You need a tablet with spdif output + 3G. Then you could make a very functional rig, with great sound and only sacrificing hands free calling and steering wheel control.

      If anyone knows how to get bit perfect spdif output from an iPad or android tab, I would love to know about it.

      1. Well if he has a rooted android phone he could use wifi tethering and give you Google Nav as well as cloud based streaming. Oh you can also use your GPS on your phone to give a rooted Nook GPS…

      2. I thought the camera connection kit w/ USB allowed bit perfect digital audio to a DAC from the ipad 2.

        I was looking into it for HT stuff, but didn’t want to waste a whole ipad to what essentially boils down to a pandora radio.

      3. What does he gain?

        Integrated Navigation, Integrated ODB readout, and a whole host of features not seen in a head unit that costs 3 times what he has in it. Then there is the WOW factor.

        Oh, and if you want high end audio in your vehicle your probably not driving a Jeep! If you are driving a Jeep and you install one of those expensive head units, it won’t last long off road. Trust me I know!

        Lets not try to compare apples and oranges.

        I am in the process of doing something very similar in my Dodge Cummins truck. Though it will also add security, and a few other features.

      4. Keeping in mind that this is a Jeep, SQ is not the highest priority. Granted, I wasn’t willing to settle for crappy audio, but I had to keep my expectations in check. You can use the Nook’s USB host mode with a DAC and get great audio, but that would be definite overkill. I have nice clean sound, that works will with my audio sources. Namely streaming content, Slacker cached, and MP3’s.

        I also do have a rooted Android phone to tether for those times I need Internet. Which is rarely on a day to day basis.

      5. You can get integrated nav and OBD in an aftermarket head unit. He gains nothing in this setup. The only reason to chose a tablet over a head unit is if you have 3G data streaming. Yes there is a wow factor but just mounting a tab in the car has been done since the first ipad was released, unless it is flush mounted and fully integrated, there isn’t much wow. He has a 1/8″ jack visibly sticking out of the unit!!!

        Any car can be made to sound good, weither it is a Jeep, mrecedes or a 95 honda civic. This is an apples to apples comparison.

        “I thought the camera connection kit w/ USB allowed bit perfect digital audio to a DAC from the ipad 2.”

        There was some work done by soundman to try to implement this but it was abandoned. As far as I know the only official products that provide spdif out for apple products are expensive docks.


        I have yet to find anyone getting spdif out of a Android tablet or iphone so far.

      6. @Pajamasquid I do gain plenty actually. You need to keep the application in mind. This is a soft top Jeep that has virtually no way to keep thieves out, in addition to actually being used off road. So, I’ve got a $200 removable tablet that can do everything a $1000 permanently mounted in dash head unit could. I’ve therefore gained $800 and peace of mind to boot. That’s a pretty good tradeoff as far as I’m concerned.

        Sure, it’s not integrated tightly into the dash. That was never my intent. I love a great tablet install as much as the next person, but it just doesn’t fit this application. I wanted something extremely durable, easy to maintain, and quickly removable.

        The 1/8″ plug is indeed visible, and that is also intentional. I didn’t want to modify the Nook itself. All the mods are done to the mount and the Nook’s case. This means that I can easily swap out for another Nook if needed and not have to re-mod anything. In fact, the new Nook Tablet while drop right in too. I fully expect this thing to take abuse, so it was important to keep it simple. ;)

        So, this isn’t the first tablet install, nor the most tightly integrated, but it fits my Jeep’s application perfectly.

    4. Pics or it didn’t happen! You must not have bothered to do any research or testing either.

      I have been playing around with adding an android tablet to my truck and I have been more than pleased with the results. All it really lacks is Hands Free for my phone. Next spring I will rip out the radio and build it into the dash.

  3. Car Home is only a home screen replacement essentially. It gives nice big buttons for no look tapping, but just opens up the existing media player. “Car Tunes Music Player” has gesture controls, but is in beta, and “Car Music” has huge buttons. Shortcuts for these could obviously be put in Car Home.

  4. Hey,

    Did anyone figure out what bluetooth ODBII-port device he was using?

    I was just interested because I would love one of those, I had no idea they made those in a bluetooth version.

  5. The only problem with this setup is using the Nook, its to good for this, use a cheap Donut (puncher) tablet, they can be had for practically nothing so if it does break its no big deal.

    1. most cheap tablets lack capacitive touch screens and/or bluetooth. nook color is capacitive touch, it has tons of support for software and issues. it also has bluetooth thanks to the wonderful support community. in the end that is why i purchased a nook color.

    2. The Nook Color is currently going for as low as $119 online because of the launch of the Nook Tablet. I can’t imagine why you would suffer through using one of the sub-$100 Android tablets when you can get something like the NC for ~$20 more.

    3. The Nook was ideal for this project. You won’t find a better screen or better hardware on anything close to the selling price of one of these. As I’ve said, it’s a Jeep. I couldn’t justify spending more on something that would take abuse.

  6. I have designs on something similar to this using a ras-pi. The serial pins should allow a cheap gps setup, Bluetooth should provide phone connectivity and use USB for charging. Just need to source a cheap 5 or 6 inch hdmi or composite LCD screen, paired with a resistive touch film. Could even add a wifi adapter and USB fm tuner.

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