EC Offroad CarPlay Solutions For 2016+ 200 Series LC (NEW SEPT 2020 MODEL) (1 Viewer)

greynolds

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A few of us have recently upgraded from the previous version of EC Offroad's Android module, discussed here to the new version of the module that was released in September of 2020. This new thread will cover dicussion of the new version of the module since it has a number of enhancements and differences.

Here's the main page for their 200 series LC products:


They also have products for 2013-2015 200 series and "Tesla" style options, but I'd suggest starting separate threads for those if there's interest so we can keep this one focused on the 2016 and newer models.

Some feature / functionality highlights:
  • The Android device supports running native Android apps without having to pair a smartphone to it, (other than to use the smartphone as a personal hotspot for Internet access). It can also get Internet access through a USB dongle or any sort of device that provides a WiFi Internet hotspot.
  • The device runs Android 8 and is compatible with pretty much any app from the Google Play Store that will run on Android 8.
  • Netflix is supported and can be routed to the rear screens, if your LC is so equipped (someone other than me will need to test this as the HE doesn't come with the rear screens).
  • An external microphone is included. We are initially mounting it on top of the center speaker, but are not done with determining the best location (EC Offroad recommends the driver A pillar, but we're trying to go with a simpler install option). The microphone comes with 2 mounting options - a small stand with double sided tape on the bottom and a clip mount. Both have a small plastic ball mount that the microphone connects to so you can adjust the angle a bit once mounted.
  • A GPS module is included so that Android apps that require GPS (such as Google Maps) will be able to function. It uses a magnet for mounting rather than double sided tape.
  • There are 2 USB ports that can be used to add storage to the unit, connect a USB keyboard or mouse, attach a USB WiFi dongle, etc. USB2 is also used for wired CarPlay and Android Auto.
  • Wireless CarPlay has been tested by several of us and has worked well so far.
  • The device also has a MicroSD card slot that can be used to add storage. This will be behind the screen, so plan on installing what you need for a card during the initial install unless you want to take things apart multiple times. We have successfully tested microSD cards up to 512GB formatted with the FAT32 file system and have confirmed that the exFAT file system does NOT work.
What's new and different from the older module:
  • This new version of the hardware no longer shows the front driver and passenger temperature setting on the touch screen when using the dashboard controls to change the temperature. Since the older version of the module always displayed "LO" this isn't a problem.
  • This new hardware version no longer resets the HVAC settings on my 2020 LC after the car has been shut off for more than a few hours.
  • The new wiring harness and connectors on the module are better thought out. All wiring connections are on the same side of the module, which makes it easier to mount behind the screen.
  • Wireless CarPlay works.
  • The boot time is significantly faster.
  • App install times and performance are significantly faster; all around performance is much better.
  • Runs Android 8 instead of 7.
  • The home page now supports 2 pages of apps in the default app launcher instead of 1.
  • The home page and settings user interfaces has received a major face lift and has a nicer look and feel.
Notes and links:
  • Installation instructions are attached to this post.
  • This YouTube video (thanks @stolikat) has excellent instructions for taking the dashboard apart to remove the screen and head unit to get access to the connections that need to be made. The rest of the video is not relevant to the EC Offroad product, but I found this extremely useful to follow along with when I installed mine.
  • Re-connection to an iPhone personal hotspot requires going into the iPhone > Settings > Personal Hotspot (or going to the Control Center and enabling discovery of the Personal Hotspot) each time you start the car. This appears to be an iOS quirk, not an issue with the EC Offroad unit as it auto connects to my house WiFi just fine when within range.
  • Some of the factory buttons can be used to control the EC Offroad device:
    • Press and hold the HOME button to switch between showing the factory infotainment and the video from the EC Offroad device.
    • When in the EC Offroad mode, press "HOME" to get to the App Launcher; if already on the App Launcher it will switch to the previous app
    • When in the EC Offroad mode, press "NAV" to go to your configured Android mode navigation app
    • When in the EC Offroad mode, press "SETUP" to launch the EC module's setup page
    • The steering wheel next/previous buttons work while in Android mode
    • Of course, the steering wheel volume up/down buttons work to adjust the volume
Suggested Android Apps:
  • The Torque Pro app combined with the Veepeak Mini WiFi OBD2 dongle can provide a display showing current speed, throttle position, and a bunch of other info as well as provide useful OBD2 diagnostic information. @DomSmith provided some additional info and sample photos here. This hasn't been tested with the new module yet, but should work just fine.
CarPlay Tips:
  • If you exit CarPlay, connect to a WiFi network and try to launch the CarPlay app again, you will need to go into the Bluetooth settings on your iPhone and select the EC CarPlay entry to initiate a new connection. This is because CarPlay uses Bluetooth initially and switches over to WiFi and since the module only has 1 WiFi connection, the CarPlay connection gets interrupted if you tell the Android unit to connect to a WiFi hotspot. We don't believe this to be a defect in the module, just an expected side effect of how the CarPlay interface works.
Known Issues:
  • Music apps for playing local MP3 files aren't working well. We have tried a few so far and Media Monkey and "Muzio Player" both crash as soon as you attempt to play a music file.
  • Spotify seems to crash somewhat frequently when starting to play music.
 

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greynolds

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Jan 20, 2006
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Billerica, MA
 
 
@technopato - @seajeff and I have both had our new units installed for about a week and I think it's fair to say we both agree with your assessment of them being a night and day improvement overall.

We have run into a problem, however, with audio apps for playing files on USB drives and the microSD card and were wondering if you have tried any yourself. @seajeff and I have both tried Media Monkey and I have also tried Muzio Player - with both apps, as soon as we try to play a music track, the apps crash. We have also had trouble with Spotify crashing frequently as soon as we try playing anything. What's kind of odd is that the music does play, despite the apps crashing. If you haven't tried any of these, it would be appreciated it you could give it a try when you get a chance so we'll have more data points to work with when we contact the guys at EC Offroad.

Other than the issue with music apps, the new module is a HUGE improvement.
 

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