At the time of ordering our 2016 Ford Transit, three radio options were available:
- No Radio, 6 speakers included with the wiring provision
- Basic Radio with 2 front speakers
- 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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- Joying 7″ DDIN Android 6.0.1 Head Unit (Buy on Amazon)
- Metra Dash Kit (# 99-5832-G) and electrical harness for Ford Transit 2015-2016 (Buy on Amazon)
- Dual USB Flush Mount Panel (Buy on Amazon)
- Crimp Caps (Buy on Amazon)
- Metra Dash Kit #99-5832-G Instructions
- Joying Head Unit SKU JY-UM135N2 Manufacturer Website
- Joying Discussion Forum
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
Remove these two torx screws
Unclip the factory trim panel
Unplug the Airbag & Hazard cables from the factory trim panel that was just removed previously:
Remove the right & left vents from the factory panel and keep for re-installation
Remove the Air Bag & Hazard panel and keep for re-installation
Install the left & right vents to the new Metra Panel (using the screws provided in the kit)
Snap the Hazard & Air Bag into the new Metra Panel
Install the 4 plastic panel clips provided to the new Metra dash panel
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)
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.
Now, the plastic bracket noted below has to go! It’s soft plastic, a carpenter knife works:
After trimming the bracket
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…):
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!
We did it!!
No we didn’t.
We still have to wire the radio.
Part B: Wiring the new radio
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)|
|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 (Buy on Amazon) 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:
Optional: Dual USB Flush Mount Panel Installation
The Joying unit included two USB data ports that can be used to:
- Connect an Android phone and stream the screen to the radio
- Connect a USB stick to update the unit firmware
- Connect a USB stick to use as an external drive for music
We bought a USB flush mount from Amazon (Buy on Amazon) and installed it as follows:
Remove the blank USB factory panel. Use a plastic scraper to pry it off. Disconnect the auxiliary jack.
Trim the plug at the back of the USB port
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.
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!
The USB cords are routed up to the radio unit and plugged
The next task is to delete the factory 4″ speakers and upgrade them with 6.5″ JBL GT7-6C. Wait for it!
ON SECOND THOUGHT
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 (Buy on Amazon): 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 (Buy on Amazon); 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:
- 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.
- Bluetooth disconnection every 10 minutes. This still have to be solved!
- We had the GPS go crazy one time, loosing location or being way off. Rebooting the radio solved the issue!
- 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 (Buy on Amazon): Nothing to say here. We really dig it, it looks just like a factory install!
Wait for it! We installed the radio on August 2017, it’s still too soon for the long term review!
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Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!
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