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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I’m new here and this is my first post. However, I’ve posted on other forums for years based on whatever car I was working with at the time. My new-to-me 2015 SS (regal peacock green, stick shift, spare but no sunroof) isn’t here yet so I am thinking in advance about the audio system. I’ve read related threads on this forum so I have a general sense of the problems faced if wanting to install a better head unit in the SS. While the 2016-2017 cars lost the simple 3.5mm aux input jack, I’m not seeing where the head unit or its wiring changed, but I’ll keep reading.

For me, the newer Pioneer modular head units DMH-C5500NEX (8”) and DMH-WC6600NEX (9”) seem to give us better options. With modular units we no longer need to source and use 30-pin ribbon cables as we separate the screens from other one-piece units, for example. I have the 8” version due in to me in a couple days, along with the iDatalink kit that I will program for my “2015 Malibu.”

The Pioneer DMH-C5500NEX features a 8" capacitive LCD touchscreen display with a resolution of 800 (RGB) x 480, for a total of 1,152,000 pixels. The LCD touchscreen monitor measures 8.445" (w) x 4.945" (h) x 1.0" (d). The chassis unit measures 7.025" (w) x 3.945" (h) x 6.845" (d) - this is a classic “double-DIN” box.

The Pioneer DMH-WC6600NEX features a 9" capacitive LCD touchscreen display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 (RGB), for a total of 2,764,800 pixels. The LCD touchscreen can be attached to the chassis body using the included brackets and hardware or separate from the chassis body.

The 8” modular Pioneer screen is basically 8 1/2” wide by 5” tall. The 9” version is 9” wide by 5 1/8” tall. By the way, the 10” non-modular version is 10.1” wide by 5 3/4” tall but that requires the screen be secured to the chassis, even if offset up to the limits of the unit’s design. The SS design may not work with this unit Even though it seems to have a single-DIN chassis.

So, it seems I need to resolve a few problems and gather some data.

1). What is the relative size (in 16:9) terms of the factory bezel in the SS? If the factory opening is 8” as an OP wrote when they worked with a 7” aftermarket screen, then how much bigger can we go before pushing the screen edges out too far?

2). Would a 10” (or even newest 11”) unit be tall enough to cover the hole in the factory bezel if we remove the factory buttons that no longer operate? Something tells me that a custom block-off plate will be required no matter what screen is used, unless I find one of those Australian home market FP9353K kits. Holden Commodore 2013-2017 VF | Aerpro

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3). Seems we still need to provide for the seat heat/cooling buttons in any case.

4). If keeping the seat buttons and retaining the stock bezel like I want to do, then a radio button block-off plate seems in order. I’ve fabbed things like this before so I’m willing to make one here to suit. As for keeping the function of those buttons intact, it seems like the early OP’s here dismantled the OEM screen frame and kept just the circuit board that connects those buttons to the car through the factory harness - that they then had to keep plugged in. Nobody got the button lights to work though.

5). Button lights - what is it that made them work when the whole screen was intact? For $15 you get 24 hour access to a GM repair database that offers schematics and pin outs of various connectors in GM cars. I did this recently on another GM project but don’t recall seeing if the SS was in their database. If it is, then the light button connector - that plugs into the OEM screen - can be reviewed and each wire followed. By splicing, perhaps the signal the buttons need to see can be restored.
 

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Welcome to the family, and please keep us posted on your stereo journey. Its been a Holy Grail topic around here for quite awhile!
 

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My friend reworked his head unit for his 15 SS a few years ago. I looked up the harness specs and found an idata to support the pioneer he uses.

He modified the factory bezel and took apart the pioneer to do a remote display [similar to the SS radio set up]. A lot of material removal was done to the factory bezel and some reforming. He put some notes up in the FB group actually.

He made a block off to remove the factory buttons for the factory radio/NAV but kept the seat buttons. The side project is looking through the schematic so i can let him know what to trigger the lighting back on the seat buttons. The seat functions still work, FYI.

It was not easy but came out nice I'll see if i can snap a pic when i get back there today likely to work on the LS swap driveline for my project that's in his garage haha.

His unit, from what i recall, is the non wireless carplay pioneer. I know he updated the head unit but i think it was for his truck [as i run the same unit in my truck actually].
 
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Word of caution here ---
There is an aftermarket product that for good cause has been banned from promotion, reference or mention on this site.
If it shows up in this discussion the whole thread will go in the garbage bin.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
As I’ve seen happen on the older threads. Let’s all stay focused on the narrow topic I brought forth - use of newest tech to integrate into the SS. The aftermarket products of interest to me are made by AERPro (just the bezel), Pioneer and iDataLink Maestro. The rest is good engineering and fabrication in adaptating these products to our cars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
I spent a bit of time reviewing schematics on the repair web site. The first of the two schematic photos shows the Info Display Module as P17. I think this is the 8” screen. Don’t have the car yet so can’t confirm any of this yet! Notice the single wire running on circuit #6133 with two-way arrows? It appears to come out of a 10-pin connector that could be what is shown a flat 10-pin on the side of the display frame by one of the OP’s here. Remember this photo from one of the threads?

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I am still trying to pull up that connector designator with its full pin out. However, we do see that there are off/on and three levels for each of heat and cool depicted. The signal wire is colored L-GN/L-BU (or light green w light blue stripe) and it runs to connector X1, pin 1 of the K29 seat heating control module.
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Now, the second photo shows the radio A11 - what I think is the silver box - and a 10-pin (two rows of 5) connector X4 (pins 1 and 10 control the signal + and - to/from the touchscreen itself) coming out of the radio A11 headed to the same P17 8” display.

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Much more to do but it does seem that the seat heat/cool buttons expect to send and receive info on that single L-GN/L-BU (or light green w light blue stripe) wire that runs to a connector X1, pin 1, under the seat where it joins the K29 seat heat module (under the passenger seat cushion?). To get to the seat it first has to pass through the P17 display screen and then pass through the A11 radio itself. There are components # K54D and K54P for the driver and passenger “Seat Temp Control Module” listed as part of the seat blower assembly (K55D and K55P) in each seat cushion. Complicated, eh? If that connection was lost then it would appear that no indications would be present on the switch buttons themselves.
 
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Dodge?
 

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Word of caution here ---
There is an aftermarket product that for good cause has been banned from promotion, reference or mention on this site.
If it shows up in this discussion the whole thread will go in the garbage bin.
Yep. Especially after how they treated a lot of people with their classy "customer service"

I think there are a few trim kits, as already mentioned, that would supply the bezel etc.

I used to like the stock radio but the NAV is poor really. I had issues with the radio and GM would update the radio but not the maps...big eye roll there.
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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Ambitious project - good luck!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I got my Pioneer unit today along with the iDatalink Maestro RR2 and the harness. By laying everything out on a table I can see that the big radio connector (X1) and a smaller X4 connector are what the RR2 hooks up with. Everything else on the factory radio is either connected to the new unit or left off. Note indeed that the seat button connection seems omitted as others have pointed out.
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Note that the signal from Seat Heating Control Module to Info Display Module looks to be CANBUS. The heated portion looks to be controlled via voltage directly from the Seat Heating Control Module while the ventilated fans are notably more complicated. Within the seats themselves, ventilation signals are PWM (pulse-width modulated) with logic circuits and a Seat Temperature Control Module within the lower seat cushions of each front seat.

As such, my initial questions are:
Is the Info Display Module the actual screen portion of the stock radio?
Is the Seat Heating Control Module integral with the radio, or somewhere else?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Re: the questions just above: #1, yes, I believe so. #2, read on. I got some more details in reading this from the repair web site:

The driver and passenger heated and vented seats switches are located with the radio controls. The body control module (BCM) monitors each switch activation to determine whether heat or ventilation mode has been requested and to what level. With each press of the switch, the system will cycle through High, Medium, Low, and then back to Off again.​
When a heated seat switch is pressed, a GMLAN serial data message is sent from the radio controls to the body control module (BCM) indicating the heated seat command.​
Revising what I wrote earlier to fit in with this new information: [A single L-GN/L-BU (or light green w light blue stripe) wire is shown at K29 connector X1, pin 1, which corresponds to the K29 seat heat module (under the passenger seat cushion?). To get to the seat it first has to pass from the switch through the P17 display screen, and through the BCM]
The BCM serves as the heated seat system master to determine the requested operating mode. The BCM then sends a LIN bus serial data message to the seat heating control module indicating the heated seat command.​
The BCM also controls the seat temperature and mode indicators, via the serial data line, used to provide the operator with feedback as to the operating status of the system.​

Now with the car available, I will pull the screen and radio out to examine and photograph wires in the connectors. I will also look further into the BCM, its connectors, and their pin outs to locate the GMLAN serial data wire (incoming signal from the switch via the display) along with the LIN bus serial data wire (outgoing wire from the BCM that sends a) message to the seat heating control module. We’ll get this sorted.
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I’ve dug some more in to the repair web site and it seems like circuit #6133, a GN/BU wire, is that GMLAN serial data wire. The photos below show it being traced from the info display P17 all the way to the front passenger seat and the seat heat control module K29. I still cannot get details about the 10-pin connector from the seat switches themselves that plugs into the side of the info display, P17. It’s almost as if the tech manual considers that to be part of the P17 circuitry without further detail. Perhaps that’s why folks gutted P17 enough to retain the frame and the small PCB that carries the 10-pin switch harness on to the rest of the car In order to retain seat heat and cooling. Somehow I have to believe that if they then lost the lights in the buttons in doing this, it was because the GN/BU circuit #6133 wire was left out of the loop it needs to be in to tell which buttons to light up on the seat heat/vent switches up near the display. I’ll soon open up my dash and start my own work to trace things in the car itself and not just in schematics. Until then, here’s what I’ve got for details on circuit #6133.
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It starts here by reference to a data connection running between the P17 info display and the K29 seat heat control module.

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From the P19 Info display to the body control module at Connector X6, pin 9.

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Here we see that circuit at Pin 82 in the instrument panel to body harness connection point.

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And here we see the circuit running through the body harness out to the right front seat area where it connects at X324, Pin 25 in the Passenger Seat Harness.

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At last, the circuit makes it out to Connector X1 Pin 2 in the K29 Seat Heating Control Module.

The electrons need to be able to flow along this path all the way from the seat heat/cool buttons in the dash center to the K29 Seat Heating Control Module for them to light up and show what level of heat or cooling is currently in effect. Now to see if I can back this up with some wires in my car.
 

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With the detached screens on the aftermarket H/Us could you in theory keep the factory silverbox and build your own setup back to the aftermarket box? Do you need the factory screen for the silverbox to function? You could use the factory wiring for the speakers or run your own and find a place to store the aftermarket box maybe the glovebox and place the screen where the factory screen mounts?

Basically this is a hybrid setup
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
With the detached screens on the aftermarket H/Us could you in theory keep the factory silverbox and build your own setup back to the aftermarket box?
I’m thinking of going the other way because the stock silver box is a known weak spot in these otherwise great cars. I want to retain what I can of the factory screen to preserve full function of the seat heat/cool buttons. If I gut the screen as others have, leaving only the metal frame surrounding it, then I can nest that behind the new screen which will by necessity stick further out in front of the stock opening, just touching the chrome surround at the bottom edge. If I use a black (AU) bezel, then that won’t be so obvious. I now have the Pioneer 6600NEX and the optional screen mount kit - basically a black plastic frame for that 9” screen with brackets projecting rearward. Those brackets just clear the stock opening in the dash bezel. Running a pair of screws through the stock plastic behind the opening on each side ought to secure it fine.
 

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I’m thinking of going the other way because the stock silver box is a known weak spot in these otherwise great cars. I want to retain what I can of the factory screen to preserve full function of the seat heat/cool buttons. If I gut the screen as others have, leaving only the metal frame surrounding it, then I can nest that behind the new screen which will by necessity stick further out in front of the stock opening, just touching the chrome surround at the bottom edge. If I use a black (AU) bezel, then that won’t be so obvious. I now have the Pioneer 6600NEX and the optional screen mount kit - basically a black plastic frame for that 9” screen with brackets projecting rearward. Those brackets just clear the stock opening in the dash bezel. Running a pair of screws through the stock plastic behind the opening on each side ought to secure it fine.
You need the factory screen for the lost functionality if you gut everything not the silver box? I figured the silver box was taking care of those functions. Sounds like which ever direction someone goes a hybrid setup will be the end result if you want to keep everything working 100%.

The fastest solution so far was the tablet mounted to the dash in front of the factory screen :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
I have soldered the Maestro connections to the Pioneer chassis harness. That part is ready to plug into the car in place of the factory silver box. I also put the 9” display into the cool “frame” that Pioneer offers for these. They also offer one for the 8” 5500NEX units. Just for purposes of scale, I held the frame up to the dash this morning to see how it looks. I don’t have to use that back part with the two flanges projecting out. I can attach the back of the frame directly to the car’s bezel. Now that I see how much vertical room I have before interfering with vision I may well mount it halfway up the bezel opening and fabricate a plate for what’s left below. Triple gauges anyone? Maybe even that cool triple set that JHP used to offer for the Monaro/GTO. As I recall they offered various color gauge faces on that one. I had one of those in my 2005 dark blue stick shift GTO. I miss that car!
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Quite (too) wide when kept at the very bottom of the opening. However…

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Here it’s just resting on top of the dash. If I mount it aligned with the bottom of the current screen but on the surface of the bezel I can leave the stock screen/frame in place and not mess with the seat controls - fingers crossed. Even better if I went with a blacked out piece of surround trim, the new screen would blend in better. The 9” screen will block the view of what’s behind it. Because the chrome edges of the bezel define an (almost) planar (flat) surface, I think a simple block off plate could go under and accommodate three gauges. Existing radio buttons would come out. The new look would be of a flat plate rising up from where the radio knobs were with a big screen resting up against it, projecting slightly above the top edge.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
I’ve now got the radio screen mounted onto the stock bezel. I cut out a lower filler plate from 0.020” styrene but I’m going to wait to finalize that part based on what gauges I decide to install. Truly simple: pop a few clips, remove two pieces of trim, then a total of 8x 7mm screws later you’ve got the car’s radio and display out.
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Two 7mm screws hold the HVAC controls in at its top. After removing the screws, carefully pull out on the HVAC controls to get those two lower clips to come out.

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Two more 7mm screws and you can pry out the display.

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The display has a seat control flat 10-pin on each side and third connector (only one with different color wires in it) goes to the radio hard controls.

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Two smaller Phillips-head screws hold in the radio controls.

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I have not finished up the insert block-off plate. That E6000 adhesive is good stuff when I do. There are a bunch of small Phillips head screws that secure that chrome bezel to the black screen surround.

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For now, remove the screen and the HVAC vents so you can fit the 9” display box in. You’ll drill four holes into the face of the stock bezel for 4x flat-head bolts with lock nuts.

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9” display back frame had the flat head screws running into the OEM bezel. Secure those with lock nuts and adjust for exact position as you tighten them snug (only). Put the Pioneer screen in and use the 4 screws they gave you to screw the display into this cool frame. That will snug the back down onto the flat-head bolts you used to secure the frame to the bezel. The factory screen has room to go right back where it came from because I made sure to keep the bolts out as far laterally as I could from the opening. Reassemble everything. Next post will show it ready to out to the car for a try out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Ready to go out and try it all out once the hot sun drops a bit into the western sky.
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Pioneer 6600NEX 9” screen affixed to the factory bezel. The OEM screen rests in its stock location right behind it. I’ll plug the two electrical connectors back into the stock display and hope that I’ve retained full function of my seat heat/cooling buttons.

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Here’s the new radio with the Maestro and other connections made. This unit comes with its own GPS antenna for time sync but I will try to plug the OEM blue FAKRA lead [update - was a no go as I need to source another adapter for this connection, doable but not tonight.]. into the Pioneer so it can benefit from using the factory shark fin for its GPS needs. The factory black FAKRA lead is terrestrial radio (AM/FM/HD AM and HD FM) and the mustard FAKRA in the car is for SiriusXM radio. You can see that I obtained the necessary adapters to use the factory leads with this aftermarket unit. See that flat 90-degree connector resting on the radio chassis? That is the (only) plug that goes in the back of the 9” screen. Neat modular setup here.

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It’s in and working. What an upgrade over the stock UHQ head unit. The 9” screen offers true high resolution unlike their 8” version In the 5500NEX.

However, like others who have tried this, my seat heat/cool buttons no longer show the red bars and they no longer illuminate at night with the other buttons. They do operate though. One press of the seat cool button still gives me a good shot of cool air at the lower back. I hooked both harnesses back up to the stock screen, but left off the USB cable that goes between it and the stock head unit. So, somehow this serial data link requires the silver box to be present. Of course the Maestro is silent on even asking me if the car has heated/cooled seats as the 2015 Malibu didn’t offer those. Wonder what would happen if I used the Impala as a choice to re-program the Maestro? Not sure the Impalas had the heated/cooled seats either though.

Anyway, it’s a nice upgrade already even with work left to do. Also, I stuck the single-DIN Pioneer head unit in backwards, with the cables facing out towards me. That gave me more length in the 12” cable to the remote screen. There was so much stuff to wad in there I didn’t even bother with mounting flanges either. It is pressed down and back tightly by all the Maestro harnesses into OEM plastic that no noise or rattles will ensue.
 
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