Double Din head unit on a budget

Hi MX5ers


My car (in sig) has the Bose 6 disc changer and, as I understand it, a Bose amp behind one of the seats somewhere. I’m upgrading to a Double Din android head unit and having looked at the eye-watering prices of top brand names such as Pioneer and the like I’ve decided to take a more budget friendly Chinese route! I don’t want massive bass beats, I just want to run Torque Pro, Google maps and occasionally listen to music.

This is arriving on Monday:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/ATOTO-Android-Navigation-Stereo-Bluetooth/dp/B07B7K1NR7/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8&th=1

Now I know many people will turn their noses up at Atoto, probably having never heard of them and wanting to go with a tried and tested brand, but many of the miata folks over the pond love this thing and I’m willing to give it a go. Theres a standard model with horizontal physical buttons for £179 and a Pro model with more features and a higher quality screen that covers the entire Double Din space with no physical buttons for £299. I went for the standard model because not only is it cheaper, but also because I won’t be using the extra features, and I like the idea of a few physical buttons that I can jab at rather than having to make careful touchscreen presses. Also I’ve heard that another bonus about these Atoto units is that all of them have a very bright screen compared to other brands, even the standard model, so that’ll be great for roof down driving. Finally I’ve read that at night when the cabin buttons are illuminated they glow orange and match the illuminated buttons on the MX5.

I’ve got the Double din fascia which apparently matches the matt interior for an OEM look:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/CT24MZ20-Stereo-Single-Double-Din-Matt-Black-Fascia-Surround-For-Mazda-MX5-09-15/250905427831?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649

I’ve got the wiring adaptor which I think is the right one:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ISO-Car-CD-Radio-Stereo-harness-adaptor-wiring-connector-for-Mazda/171829070709?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649

I’ve never used one of these harness adaptors before, normally I label everything up, cut off the car plugs and connect and insulate as required. Saying that the last time I wired in a stereo was about 15 years ago! I’m reluctant to shell out too much on wiring adaptors because the Atoto reportedly comes with a few wiring adaptors in the box, but once I have the old unit out and I can see where everything needs to go I’ll improvise where I can and if another wiring purchase is needed then so be it.

I’ll be using the Bose amp, so instead of using the speaker out wires on the atoto which will have already been amplified I’ll need to use the line out sockets that are fitted to the unit. Looking at some threads on flyin miata the trend is to use two sets of these:

https://www.amazon.com/IEC-1-Feet-Speaker-Wire-Males/dp/B003U48NIY/ref=pd_cp_23_1/278-2287846-4069559?currency=GBP&ie=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B003U48NIY&pd_rd_r=53406137-936c-41da-8d03-65723b45b301&pd_rd_w=eDX3c&pd_rd_wg=M1BUR&pf_rd_p=0e5324e1-c848-4872-bbd5-5be6baedf80e&pf_rd_r=W3KPGZHCED0ER8V6XW38&psc=1&refRID=W3KPGZHCED0ER8V6XW38

But being a skinflint I decided to buy one of these for £2 and cut it in half (hopefully the result will be the same):

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2m-Twin-Phono-RCA-Cable-Speaker-Amp-Lead-Male-To-Male-Plug-RED-WHITE-Double/401950912198?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2648

The last concern is steering wheel controls, apparently the Atoto unit can be “taught” the correct steering wheel functions provided the unit is wired to the steering wheel correctly. There’s 2-3 wires that need clipping from the Mazda haness and wiring into the Atoto in a certain configuration, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

So that’s the plan and here’s the cost:

Atoto A6 Standard £152 (normally 179 but bought it in a Christmas sale)
Double Din fascia: £29.90
Adaptor harness: £3.09
RCA plugs: £1.99
Total £186.98


I’ll update the thread, no doubt there will be a few challenges along the way and I imagine it’ll be a case of removing the old unit, getting the new one powered up and running with the basics, then maybe getting it out again a few days later to do some final wiring tweaks.

Not long now until Spring folks :slight_smile: !

 

 

There will be many of us on here that are cowering in the corner at the mere mention of cutting into your genuine harness to get steering wheel controls working. I’m one of them!

I always try and avoid cutting into the cars original wiring wherever possible simply because you add another point of failure and once you have cut into it your can’t undo what you’ve done [you can but it leaves a scar]. Probably over cautious but it’s always easier to unplug something you’ve bodged on than something cut in. To this end I would grab myself on of these:

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/p/MAZDA-Mx5-2001-Parrot-Bluetooth-Handsfree-Car-Kit-SOT-Lead-T-harness-Mz-100/1143857157

It should have all the wires you need in a nice easy plug in package. You can cut and chop at it while it’s out of the car and if you break it then £8 is not the end of the world. And when the sad day comes that you have to sell up you can just unplug it and put the old unit back in.

 

That’s what I’d do anyway

 

Edit: The eBay item linked says not for Amplified systems. You know about the need to use line level outputs from the new unit so this should be fine as you are basically using it to create something bespoke.

Watching with interest, I’m going to buy a new head unit and was looking at the Atoto as a possibility. I’ve got my sights on a DAB unit ATM with Android auto feature (JVC) but I’m waiting for a bit more discount on it but I think I’ve missed the boat on that now.

Please let us know how you get on, for me with the Atoto unit. I’m already kitted out with facia adaptors and SW controls as I already have a aftermarket unit fitted but functionality is limited and it’s beginning to have glitches.

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The Atoto is installed :slight_smile:

I’m really pleased, the fascia is a perfect match with the car interior. The side plates that secure the unit to the fascia took some fettling because 4 screws which hold the unit together stood proud and stopped it sliding in, but 20 minutes with a dremmel sorted that out. Also the optional bezel which comes with the fascia is a millimeter perfect fit around the Atoto, but the 4 tangs on the horizontal sides get in the way of the unit so also needed dremmelling off. By the way all this dremmelling is behind the scenes, only a lovely matt black fascia is visible.

It took me a couple of hours to wire the Atoto harness into the Mazda ebay adaptor, but with some careful labelling and patience it was all ready to go with only 2 wires needing to be spliced into the wiring leading from the car. @BrilliantBlackBirdy I didn’t cut any wires inside the Mazda but used a few of those little piggy back connectors, so nothing a little insulation tape won’t solve if I do change it back :slight_smile:

I was a bit disappointed when I found that the physical buttons on the unit glowed white, not orange to match the car control switches… Then I realised I just had to change the colour in the settings! This adds to the OEM look. It’s supposed to have a 2 sec boot time but I’d say it’s more like 1 second: It’s nearly instant.

Using the Bose amps and connecting them via the line out plugs on the Atoto went fine, as did connecting the amp activation wire.

I also connected the dimmer wires so the screen dims when the headlights go on.

It’s still early days and I haven’t finished learning how to set it up properly but I’m really pleased and will add some pictures later.

 

 

Interested to seeing some pics in situ! Have you downloaded any apps for navigation yet, and if so how is it?

Here’s some pics of the Atoto, sorry about the poor image quality. Unit switched off:

Unit on (autodimmed because I had sidelights on):

Close up:

 

Hello all! I thought I’d let everyone know what’s good these days for Android Auto head units and hopefully provide some useful info.

I read this thread and others with interest. We got our NC a couple of years ago and instead of replacing the head unit straight away I add an 3.5mm aux input and used my phone audio with it. I had a magnetic mount for the phone above the hazard switch and used it there for navigation too.

Fast forward 2 years and the standard radio started behaving… Strangely. Worst issue was not turning off after the ignition was off - none of the buttons did anything unless you restarted the car when it would turn off!

So, time for a new radio. I’d already stuck some JVC speakers in the doors as a little project last year. My NC isn’t the Bose version, so probably a bit more straight forward.

I bought this head unit from Amazon for £186, it was reduced on the day. The reduced price made it the same cost as the ‘standard’ 7" version but I figured bigger is always better, right? I’ve got a roadtrip to Spa in Belgium planned with my son in August so I thought we’d both appreciate the massive screen for navigation.

Atoto F7 10.1"

The unit itself is pretty basic. No DAB, no CD player etc. BUT - it’s awesome for Android Auto so I genuinely don’t miss the DAB function - BBC Sounds etc works really well. And I didn’t have to fit one of those hopeless stick on DAB antennas. It starts up quickly, detects your phone straight away and jumps straight into Android Auto. Switches instantly back to FM too, switching between modes is a lot faster than my 2 year old Renault. Has Bluetooth phone connectivity too and a handsfree mic.

The apps I use the most are Waze/Googlemaps for navigation, BBC sounds for radio and Amazon music for listening to stuff. It’s pure Android Auto (and Apple Carplay as far as I know) so it works exactly the same as you’d expect if you use your phone in other cars, reads your texts/whatsapps to you, allows you to voice reply etc.

This is the fascia and wiring adapter that I bought:

Came with everything I needed and more for only £93.90. Crucially included is the Connects2 module for sorting out your steering wheel controls. All plug and play, just needed to crimp the 3 connectors from the radio kit for the wheel controls, the connecters were already on for them. There are a couple of wiring adapters in the Atoto kit - one marked A and a B one. It’s the ‘B’ one that the MX5 needs, it’s wired differently. It didn’t remember your saved radio stations using the ‘A’ loom.

The steering wheel controls are programmable on the unit so I’ve got volume up and down, mute, mode (radio/android auto) and the seek buttons all mapped in. I’ve programmed the seek controls so pushing up answers phone calls and pressing down hangs them up. Feels like I’ve brought the car right up to date!

£280 all in plus a couple of hours of my time. A lot more expensive than the original poster but for me I really wanted the steering wheel controls to work. It was quite amusing pulling the old radio out as it’s so bulky and heavy. The new unit is really shallow and light.

I’m pleasantly surprised by the sound of the Atoto and it’s great in use. It’s a little difficult to see in really bright sunshine with the top down but still not bad. One of the advantages of going for such a stupidly big screen I guess. A worthwhile upgrade at a reasonable price.

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Good work on getting the steering controls sorted. I’ve still not bothered doing mine over 2 years later, but the unit still works perfectly.

Any pics of your Atoto big screen installed?

Pitchers you say? I’ll attach a couple. It’s stupidly big - does block the heater controls a little. But I like it! It’s not really as glarey/reflective in real life, looks worse on the pics. I did install it without the steering wheel control box initially - I’d read another thread which suggested cutting and soldering a couple of wires off the loom would do the same job but it didn’t work. I restored it all back to as it came and then installed the interface box which was dead straightforward. The couple of times I drove it without the steering wheel controls working drove me a bit nuts - especially with passengers in. Probably easier on yours with it’s physical buttons but the F7 only has screen ‘buttons’ - so making big changes to volume was rubbish. Much easier now it all works as Mazda intended :grin:

Loading screen:

Imgur

In situ:

Imgur

Waze:

Imgur

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That’s a big en🙄

wow that is large. not sure i could get on with that.
glad its working out for you

How did you get the screen to show live data streams of the car systems ; e.g. coolant temperature , etc ?

Thats pretty neat

Install an app called Torque on the head unit, and plug an OBD Bluetooth dongle into the OBD port:

In the settings of Torque you can set it so that Torque starts when the head unit is started. So, when you start the engine, the head unit links with the OBD dongle, Torque starts up and the data is displayed.

I picked a font colour in Torque to try and match the colour of the instrument lighting of the mx5, and you can change the lighting colour of the Atoto head unit buttons too, so I chose the orangy red colour to try and make it all look OEM.

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OK had a little google search and get the gist of how you achieved this.

Unfortunately i dont have any head units in my cars, with Android built in, however i do use an android phone and have Android Auto capable head units so hopefully might find a work around.

Can you leave the OBD dongle plugged in all of the time without it flattening the battery ?
Just curious because some of the newer cars have the OBD always live and a dongle plugged in can drain the battery.

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Any car after 1996 is likely to be OBD2.

OBD2 has pin 16 permanently live (it’s part of the OBD2 specification), so any dongle left in the socket will risk eventually draining the battery - especially if it’s Bluetooth. I know that some Carly adaptors have an on/off switch on the dongle to prevent drain, but you still have to remember to switch it on and off.

This unit and the OBD dongle have been in the car now continuously for over 3 years, and it’s just part of the car now in my mind.

The OEM battery began to weaken in winter 2021, and I replaced it, but with the original battery being 12 years old, I that’s a good innings.

My car is driven daily 5-6 days per week though, so an occasional user might encounter a problem.

Cheers - I could stick a switch in to the pin 16 wire as you mention.
Just means switching it on for it to work ( no more hassle than a hidden immobilizer switch )