At the time of ordering our 2016 Ford Transit, three radio options were available:

  1. No Radio, 6 speakers included with the wiring provision
  2. Basic Radio with 2 front speakers
  3. Sync Radio (Ford’s fancy and crazy-expensive radio)

We went with option 2 thinking it would satisfy us, but it turns out the user interface and sound performance are somewhat left to be desired…

 

So here we are, first day on the road as full-time vanlifers, installing a new fancy head unit in our dash! It’s an Android Radio; to keep things simple, it’s basically like using our Android phones:

  • It got WiFi, Bluetooth, USB port, SD card Port, 7″ 1024px display, yadayadayadablingbling
  • It’s touchscreen, just like a smartphone (we’re didn’t expect it to be as smooth and functional, sweeeeet!)
  • Any Android app can be installed in the radio (Google Maps, Spotify, Waze, Gmail, etc)
  • The screen of our Android phone can be streamed on the radio screen through the USB port or WIFI
  • It’s possible to connect a reverse camera on it
  • PLEASE READ “ON SECOND THOUGHT” AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE FOR OUR THOUGHTS ON THE JOYING HEAD UNIT!

 

Keep reading for the installation write-up!

 

 

TIME SPENT ON THE JOB: 4-5 hours

 

TOTAL COST : About 360$ USD

 

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MATERIAL:

Joying-Installation

 

RESOURCES:

 

Part A: Remove the old radio and fit the new one using the Metra Dash Kit

**Note: The Metra Dash Kit includes comprehensive instructions, but here are our take on it

 

Unclip the dash panel above radio

There are no screws; just use a plastic scraper to pull UP!

 

Remove these two torx screws

Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (4)

 

Unclip the factory trim panel
Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (5)

There are no screws; just pull forward to remove!

 

Unplug the Airbag & Hazard cables from the factory trim panel that was just removed previously:
Ford-Transit-Radio-Upgrade-DDIN-Joying-Android-(6)

Unpluged!

 

Remove the right & left vents from the factory panel and keep for re-installation
Ford-Transit-Radio-Upgrade-DDIN-Joying-Android-(10)

Remove one screw per side, then unclip the left & right vents. (edit: that’s the picture of the new Metra panel, but the factory panel is pretty much the same thing…)

 

 

Remove the Air Bag & Hazard panel and keep for re-installation

Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (8)

 

Install the left & right vents to the new Metra Panel (using the screws provided in the kit)

Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (10)

 

Snap the Hazard & Air Bag into the new Metra Panel

 

Install the 4 plastic panel clips provided to the new Metra dash panel
Ford-Transit-Radio-Upgrade-DDIN-Joying-Android-(13)

plastic panel clips = white things

 

Install the 12 metal panel clips to the top Metra top panel. There are a few different types; make sure to install the proper ones at the right places (refer to Metra Instructions)

Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (14)

 

Optional step (well, mandatory if you bought a Joying Unit like us): The Joying Head Unit is slightly larger than the Metra Dash Panel Cutout, so we had to enlarge the cutout (about 1/8″ left and 1/8″ right). We used a carpenter knife, because this is all we had but you might find a better tool for the job.
Ford-Transit-Radio-Upgrade-DDIN-Joying-Android-(12)

The Joying unit (http://amzn.to/2w04Gvo) is a bit too large for the cutout…

Now, the plastic bracket noted below has to go! It’s soft plastic, a carpenter knife works:

Ford-Transit-Radio-Upgrade-DDIN-Joying-Android-(5)

After trimming the bracket

Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (21)

 

 

Install the left & right Metra Radio Brackets to the Radio Head Unit

Easier said than done! There are MANY holes; the idea is to use the right combination to get the proper radio orientation/depth. This will ensure the radio aligns with the Metra Dash Panel Cutout. It’s a trial-and-error process, it took us quite a while to get it right…

This is how we finally make it works (you might find a different position, we don’t pretend our fitting is perfect…):

Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (19)

 

The radio is secured with four screws:Ford-Transit-Radio-Upgrade-DDIN-Joying-Android-(24)

 

Now, if you fitted the radio properly into the brackets, it’s fairly easy to put the Metra Dash Panel and the Top Panel back in place: there are no more screws, it’s just clips. Here it is!

Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (1)

 

We did it!!
No we didn’t.
We still have to wire the radio.
keep reading.

 

 

Part B: Wiring the new radio

Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (22)

 

To connect the wire from the Metra kit to the radio unit, use crimp cap:

 

Connect the Metra Harness Adapter to the new Radio using the following TAG (COLOR CODE):

Joying Head Unit Metra Harness Adapter
Ground  GND (BLACK) GROUND (BLACK)
Battery Constant Power  BATT (YELLOW)  12 VOLT (YELLOW)
Switched Power (ACC)  ACC (RED)  IGNITION SWITCHED (PINK)
Illumination ILL (ORANGE/WHITE) (ORANGE)
Negative, Left-Front Speaker  (BLACK/WHITE) (BLACK/WHITE)
Positive, Left-Front Speaker  (WHITE) (WHITE)
Negative, Right-Front Speaker  (GREY/BLACK) (GREY/BLACK)
Positive, Right-Front Speaker  (GREY) (GREY)

 

 

The Metra Kit (http://amzn.to/2w08kpj) includes a coaxial cable for the FM radio. Ours was a bit too small for the Joying unit, so it would not stay in place. We used electrical tape to “secure” it in place; it’s working well so far (finger crossed)!

 

Note: The Metra Kit doesn’t have provision for the “auxiliary” cable, unfortunately.

 

Finally, we put the GPS antenna of the Joying unit on the little shelf near the front windshield:

Ford-Transit-Radio-Upgrade-DDIN-Joying-Android-(23)

 

Optional: Dual USB Flush Mount Panel Installation

The Joying unit included two USB data ports that can be used to:

  1. Connect an Android phone and stream the screen to the radio
  2. Connect a USB stick to update the unit firmware
  3. Connect a USB stick to use as an external drive for music

 

We bought a USB flush mount from Amazon (http://amzn.to/2w4lPnQ) and installed it as follows:

Remove the blank USB factory panel. Use a plastic scraper to pry it off. Disconnect the auxiliary jack.

USB Flush Mount Installation Ford Transit (5)

 

Trim the plug at the back of the USB port

Before:

USB Flush Mount Installation Ford Transit (1)

 

After:

USB Flush Mount Installation Ford Transit (2)

 

Make a cutout for the USB Mount (it’s approximately 1″ diameter). Then install and secure it to the panel using the provided plastic nut.

USB Flush Mount Installation Ford Transit (3)

 

USB Flush Mount Installation Ford Transit (4)

 

To route the 2 USB cord, we had to remove some plastic back there. It’s very tight; you will need patience and dexterity to route the cables!

USB Flush Mount Installation Ford Transit (7)

 

The USB cords are routed up to the radio unit and plugged

 

 

That’s it!
The next task is to delete the factory 4″ speakers and upgrade them with 6.5″ JBL GT7-6C. Wait for it!
JBL GT7-6C

JBL GT7-6C 300W 6.5″ Speakers with tweeters. Buy from Amazon.

 

 

 

ON SECOND THOUGHT

 

Short term:

ANDROID OS: We’re glad we went for the upgrade! The Android interface is superb; it’s very similar to our Android phones so we feel at ease. Any app (Google Maps, Spotify, Pandora, Waze, Youtube, Gmail, etc) can be installed on the radio so it’s fun and entertaining to use 🙂 It’s also possible to “stream” our phone screen to the radio screen. Google Maps reduced the number of fights over driving directions; it’s a good thing for a couple 😛 It’s always Google Maps fault now.

 

JOYING HEAD UNIT (http://amzn.to/2wkg480): This is a “Chinese” product. What’s not, right? What we mean is, it’s not a major brand with world-class-everything. The website and documentation is a bit confusing and english is clearly not their native language…  That being said, the final product feels just like a higher-end product. However, there are few bugs and strange behaviors we can live with: sometimes, the apps cannot access GPS data and the Bluetooth disconnect and reconnect every 10 minutes. It can probably be fixed with a firmware update; we will keep you updated. We would NOT recommended this unit if you’re not technologically incline and willing to spend some time troubleshooting/setting.  In this case, you better choose a higher-end radio such as the Pioneer AVIC 8200NEX Android Radio (http://amzn.to/2g1MpKh); you can’t go wrong with this if you don’t mind the higher price tag.

Here are some bugs we ran into and how we “solved” them:

  1. Google Maps grey dot (Grey dot = cannot find location). First fix we found was to select “Start Driving” in Google Maps menu, then the location is updated. But what really works is to set the radio to NOT be dormant (under Car Settings –> Settings (password is 3368)) when we turn the car off. When dormant option is OFF, the radio perform a full reboot at each start and this solved our issue.
  2. Bluetooth disconnection every 10 minutes. This still have to be solved!
  3. We had the GPS go crazy one time, loosing location or being way off. Rebooting the radio solved the issue!
  4. How to stream the phone screen to the radio screen (this is not a bug, it’s a how-to): On your phone, go into Settings –> About Phone –> then press 7 times on “Build Number”; now go back to About Phone and “Developer Options” is now available. Under “Developer Options” turn on “USB Debugging”. Connect the phone to the radio USB port. Select “Easy Connect” app on the radio; it will also launch the app on your phone. Select USB (or WiFi if this is what you wish, but you will have to activate the Hotspot feature on your phone which will drain the battery more quickly). On your phone, accept USB Debugging mode in the notification area. That’s it! Tip #1: Put your phone in landscape mode. Tip #2: Once finished, close the Easy Connect app in your phone because it messes with the auto-landscape/portrait detection.

 

METRA DASH KIT (http://amzn.to/2wk3pSv): Nothing to say here. We really dig it, it looks just like a factory install!

 

Long Term: 

Wait for it! We installed the radio on August 2017, it’s still too soon for the long term review!

 

 

WANT MORE?

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ABOUT US

Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine, a couple dreaming of being on the move and we’re seeking for the ride of our life. We bought a Ford Transit van, converted it to a campervan, sold our house and hit the road full-time to make our dream a reality. We are sharing this in hope of inspiring and helping others to follow their dreams too!

 

 

CHEERS!

 

 

5 comments

  1. Comment by Declane

    Declane Reply August 28, 2017 at 3:03 am

    So you’re… on the road now? And your first blog post is… replacing your radio?

    This lifestyle may not be for you. Then again if you have enough money to slowly turn your van into a moving apartment (but where will you fit the treadmill?) best of luck to you.

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply August 28, 2017 at 8:28 am

      Hi Declane,
      You can’t really understand who we are and our situation just by a few blog posts and some instagram shots. It’s more complicated than that. So far we’ve biked, camped at a lake a few days, traveled through the province; but we didn’t blog about it because we don’t have to if we don’t feel like it. We needed to unplugged a bit.

      We had to leave our house by august 15th (sold) but we haven’t exactly finish the van conversion. So here we are visiting friends, family, finishing the van while we live in it. We plan on crossing USA border by august 3rd: this will mark the “real” beginning of our journey.

      This website generates some revenue by referring products that we installed and tested in our van. More products = more revenue = more time on the road! How neat is that??!!

      So, Declane, the internet might not be for you. It’s complicated.
      Anyway, cheers mate!!!

  2. Comment by Jason

    Jason Reply September 27, 2017 at 5:47 pm

    Does the factory AUX input jack still work?

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply September 27, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      Nope, the Metra kit doesn’t have the wiring, but I heard someone somewhere who has make it works otherwise.

  3. Pingback: GPS - Can I get your input on what you like? - Ford Transit USA Forum

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