Subaru Sambar - fitting an Android Nexus 7 tablet.....

We imported a Subaru Sambar from Japan a couple of years ago.  It was a replacement for a Bedford Rascal van that I purchased as a run around for hosting our 2 basset hound dogs.  They could get as muddy / grubby as they wanted and we could just stick them in the back of the van, wash them off and not get the interiors of our cars full of mud and dog fur.


After a year or so, I finally decided that I'd replace the Japanese radio (that didn't pick up anything anyway) with a cheapo head unit from ebay.  That wasn't that good either.  I then got to thinking, I wonder if I could "modernise" it a bit.
A few years back, I fitted an amp to my MG Midget, so that I could plug an iPod into it, instead of using a radio head unit.  I thought I'd do the same but update it a bit.
I was also going to fit a set of "wireless" parking sensors and give the engine a service, oh and underseal the bottom of the van....and whatever else I could think of doing whilst I was there.

Parts all ready to go...

[I have a feeling this is going to contain a LOT of photo's]

Out with the old stereo...

thankfully, along with the Japanese, someone had put some english tags on this twisted spaghetti set of wiring.

This was going to be the original end goal....I have a couple of Android Nexus 7 tablets knocking around not doing anything, they'd fit in that gap rather nicely....

First job, get the back bumper off.  5 minute job.....
 apparently not!
 That "pain-in-the-butt" screw just turned and turned, annoyingly if you gripped the casing with plyers, it did not help.  What made it more difficult was the fact I had to "borrow" something from my missus to be able to see around the corner, that's when it became clear that I needed to get the dremel out and do some hacking.....
Whilst laying underneath, I noticed that there was a lot of surface rust appearing everywhere - I guess sitting outside on a gravel driveway in the UK in, mostly rainy conditions was not doing the underneath of the van much good.  I'll come back to that with later.
Finally, the rear bumper was off:

Time to clean up the engine and change the plugs, drain the oil and fit new oil and air filters.

I then found a very interesting connector that says "BOOST" - I got excited for a bit, did this 660cc engine have a hidden turbo tucked away somewhere?  I know that some came with super-chargers.
After a bit of a google, it turns out that it's just an air/temp inlet sensor for the ECU.

After twisting my hands into un-natural positions, I managed to get the plugs out... the look rough as old boots.  They said "Japan" on them too, so I guess they've been in there a while.  As you can see, they were all in rough condition.

then onto the oil....so black it was like a mirror:
While the van was up in the air, I decided to get handy with the underseal.... "apply liberally", no problem there.  Wire brush time first, then a bit of sanding back the surface rust and then out with the paint brushes....




Everything got a proper coating, front to back, in and out, up and down.  That should keep it in better condition for a few more years of UK rainy weather.

Right, what was the original mission? Oh yeah! Time to plan fitting the right parts for the Tablet.  First thing, I needed to work out how to fit a bracket to hold the tablet in place.  There was this wonderful plastic putty that you can buy that bonds anything to anything.
(Accidentally, I initially stuck this tablet holder the wrong way around, d'oh!).

I then found this wonderful device that allows you to connect 2 Bluetooth speakers to 1 output.  think about that for a minute.  From your phone/tablet, you can normally only connect to 1 Bluetooth speaker.  This wonderful device from China allows you to split this and connect to 2 speakers.
 I then found these really cute mushroom bluetooth speakers, they are awesome!

They are not loud, at all, they would be okay if the van was not moving, but driving you cannot really hear them at all.  Still, they looked cute, so they are staying.  BTW - the "eyes" are volume controls!

Next job, was the parking sensors.  Now, these did come from Japan.  Whilst you can see a "lot" of wires, they are actually wireless.  That just meant you didn't need to feed wires from the rear of the van to the front.  Here's the "before" photo:
Here's the "I got brave with a drill bit" photo:
 and here's the parking sensors snuggly fitted into place:
I noticed that there was an electrical wire coming from the front of the van to the rear light cluster...I "assumed" that the bottom light was the REVERSING light, so I tapped into it...
 and snuggly fitted the controller unit to the sensors.  This way, the sensors should only work when the "reverse light" was active.
Turned out that was wrong!  It was the FOG LIGHT... d'oh!
I decided to spin the light clusters around, so I could see them from the drivers seat
I switched sides and noticed that the reverse light bulb had actually blown, as you can see, so it was pretty handy that I did this anyway, otherwise come MOT time, it would have failed...

Ah ha, now we have a reverse light...


Now time for a test fit of the Tablet.... seems okay-ish...

Then I started to ponder power.  Hmmm... I really need to fit a better way of powering everything.  I managed to get a great little unit that has 2 cigar sockets, a full size USB and a mini USB.  Now to mount it.  It came with 2 screws.  Now, here's a top tip, get a hammer and a nail, use the nail to whack a guide home into the dash....
 and then pull the nail out...
 that gives a perfect guide hole to screw the screws into and the unit fits, spot on:
I decided to mount the "wireless sensor" head unit in this location, as it was the only flat place on the dash and it was in the right place for the driver to see it.

..and finally, back to the Tablet, there we go, plugged in and booting up.....

What happened to the "amp"?  Yep, I fitted that upside down, tucked away quite nicely, but still within easy reach.  The 500w amp actually plays music from a USB stick, it also has an FM radio built in and an AUX connection.
I have a double-ended cable to connect the tablet to the aux connection of the amp, that way, when playing music from the tablet, it'll play through the amp and through the van speakers.

And there we have it, I purchased (for £2.39) "Car Launcher", which boots up on start up and allows you to have shortcuts to start "other useful apps".  It also shows some useful info, such as speed, etc...
Why do we need that? surely we have a speedo....yep, but that is in KPH, not MPH.  Now, we have both.... I installed VLC and as I have WiFi, I connected to the "home network" and pulled down a variety of music to play "offline".  As you can see, as we have Spotify (and I can WiFi connect to my phone), we can stream Spotify whilst "on the move" too.


Genuinely, here's a first run with everything working.  (It was a dead-end road, with little/no traffic or people about, so nice and safe) and "Road rage" was randomly selected!!!

video



Right, well, that was all a bit of a distraction, but the Lil'Van is now Android tablet enabled, armed with wireless parking sensors, fully undersealed and fully serviced, ready to take the basset hounds off on many more adventures!


(that's a bubba gump shrimp that the bunny is holding!)

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