Sunday, October 14, 2018

Puttering in the Shop - The Junkyard Entertainment System



As I mentioned earlier, I like to sometimes take a bit of a tour of my local auto salvage yard just to see what is new and interesting,

Often during those trips I will see something that make me stop for a moment and think  "I could do something interesting with that..."

On my last trip to the yard, I noticed a number of vehicles (mostly minivans)  that had these DVD players and screens built into them. These systems were meant to entertain back seat passengers during those long road trips.

Being intrigued by this, I researched a little bit about them, focusing on the various makes and models of vehicles that I found in the yard that had one of those systems installed.

The main problem that I had found with a lot of those systems was that they were electronically connected to the main stereo unit installed in the front dashboard of the vehicle. In essence this meant that the DVD player and screen, even though they were physically separate from the car's audio system, wouldn't be able to work without being able to talk to the main stereo unit,

In order to do what I wanted to do, I really wanted the DVD and screen to act as a stand alone device.

Thankfully there appeared to be one vehicle that seemed to fit that bill - DVD units from mid 2000's Ford minivans.

So, grabbing my bag of  tools - I headed back to the junkyard and identified a suitable donor for my DVD player


Our Donor - 2004 Ford Freestyle van


Our prize - DVD and screen combo 

Once we targeted our quarry, I was pleasantly surprised to see that removing the entertainment unit from the van was a very simple matter of just removing 4 bolts with a socket wrench and popping the whole unit out from the van's roof

Removing 4 bolts

The whole unit just pops off 

To complete the removal, we also wanted to make sure that we kept the connector that connected the entertainment unit to the vehicle's wiring harness, The removal of the unit was completed by cutting the wires going into the unit with wire cutters. I made sure to leave a few inches of wire hanging outside of the connector in order to help make things easier for myself later on.

With that, our DVD player and screen was free!

Cutting the wires

DVD player and Screen removed from the van

The next step was to try and see if we can make our new acquisition come back to life.

That is where things started to get a little interesting.

Looking at the wiring for the connector for the entertainment unit, I notice that it utilized a 20 pin connector that was used for many years by Ford for these entertainment units. However an internet search for the wiring diagrams for these connectors showed a connector layout that was much different than the wiring I had for my unit

It turns out that there seemed to be some differences on how things were wired over the various model years.

My entertainment unit had a 2004 manufacturing date stamp - so a quick internet search for 2004 Ford Freestyle wiring diagrams provided my answer.

The DVD unit uses a 20 pin connector 


For the record, the wiring layout for my particular DVD player was this:

Pin #                 Wire Color                                         Function                 

  1                      White with Yellow Stripe                   Voltage on all times
  2                      Light Green with Black Stripe           Audio System On
  3                      Light Green with Red Stripe              Illumination
  4                      Braided wire                                        Shield
  5                      White                                                   Left Audio
  6                       Red                                                     Right Audio
  7                      White                                                   Left Audio
  8                       Red                                                     Right Audio
  9                                                                                  Not Used
10                                                                                  Not Used
11                       Light Blue with Pink Stripe              Audio Protocol A
12                       Tan                                                    Audio Protocol B
13                                                                                  Not Used
14                       Black                                                  Ground
15                       Light Green                                        Left Audio
16                       Black                                                  Right Audio
17                       Light Green                                        Left Audio
18                       Black                                                  Right Audio
19                                                                                  Not Used
20                                                                                  Not Used


Wires on the connector 


Armed with that information, I connected the wires for Pin 1, Pin 2 and Pin 3 together and hooked them up to a positive terminal, and I hooked the Ground wire on Pin 14 to the negative terminal of a 12 volt power source.

Power wires separated out 

Positive wires are connected together

Hooking up the power supply

I turned on the power source - and the entertainment unit came alive


At least it lights up

The screen works!

The ultimate test - playing a DVD, was also successful

Movie Time 


A very promising start. I now have the foundation for an interesting  project.

The next step will be to rearrange the screen and DVD controls to so that we can view the screen with the unit sitting on a table (versus its old life of living on a ceiling). I would like to perhaps add some Bluetooth audio to it too.

Of course we do need to have a much nicer cabinet than it's original plastic one  - but that will be for another post.


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