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      01-05-2021, 03:51 PM   #1
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DIY Carplay/Android Auto Carsara Install and Setup Tips

Last Update: July 10, 2021

Update - Since writing the original Carsara Box which this DIY details appears to be replaced by a new part. The link to purchase and the DIY + Video below do not match this new unit. I will update or add information as it becomes available

There have been a lot of posts and discoveries on how to install Carplay/Android Auto boxes in the E9x. There are a lot of existing great resources, but I thought I would try to consolidate as much as possible in one up to date post so that it isnt expected to search through 80+ pages of content and so new people who are interested can find that info more easily. (Im looking at you Facebook Groups).

This thread will focus on the OLDER Carsara (Available BEFORE Summer 2021) CIC Carplay box specifically. There are a number of Carplay boxes available under various resellers (Joyeauto, Andream, Kremersino, etc) based on pictures of the device internals, most of these boxes are the same or similar, using the GPLink processor to do most of the work. The Carsara is one of the latest revisions of these boxes (my unit was dated 8/2020) and seems to have the most reliable combination of software and features.

----------------------------------------------------

What is it?
If you made it this far, these boxes allow for in-car specific UI from your smartphone (Carplay/Android Auto) as well as screen mirroring (Airplay/Screen mirroring) which displays what is on your phone screen, but does not allow you to interact with it from your phone:
This allows you to run specific CP/AA apps like Google Maps, Waze, Pandora, Spotify, SiriusXM, messaging, and more, while providing direct access to your phones assistant through the steering wheel and iDrive controllers.

Its important to know that these boxes do not eliminate your existing iDrive your existing radio, CD player, navigation, onboard diagnostics etc will all remain in place. This is different from some Android headunits which replace the iDrive completely.

My installation including the Induktiv Wireless Charger.
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Compatibility

The only pre-requisite for these units is a CIC iDrive system (2009-2013 E9X) cars. These instructions may also be relevant on other E chassis cars, but will focus on the E9x info here.

If you have a CCC (2008 Idrive with the silver knob) this solution is not recommended. The display is too low resolution to effectively display the UI and an all in one solution which replaces the screen would likely be a better choice. https://www.android-car-dvd.com/coll...33378244952200

A combox, Bluetooth, and other specific features do not change the compatibility of the box. If you did not have Bluetooth, you will be able to use Bluetooth through the Carplay box using the included microphone.

Where do I buy it?

The latest Aliexpress link for the LATEST Carsara unit for CIC is here:

****UPDATE 7/10/21 - This newest unit linked is NOT the same as the unit in my writeup, and may be similar but not an identical installation procedure. Keeping this guide for reference only, your installation may differ slightly. Refer to the manufacturers installation guide before starting.


Shipping to the US from my experience took approximately 10 business days. Your results may vary.

----------------------------------------------------


Want to add a backup camera?

There are many camera options that will work with this system. I used this camera, Option D:

It was a high-res sensor and wide angle view, but does NOT have a thin connector making routing a bit more difficult (see installation instructions for more details). Shipping was longer however at close to 4 weeks.
I also tested this camera which is more expensive ($65 via Amazon), but has the slim line connector making it easier to route and shipped via Amazon Prime.


----------------------------------------------------

Installation Tips and Videos

There are lots of videos for installation available, but Bimmer-tech is most similar to this unit and suggested to watch to understand the complexity and steps.


For tools it is recommended to have:
  • Plastic trim removal tools
  • A small metal pick set to remove connectors
  • 10mm socket
  • T-20 Torx Bit
  • A thick towel for protecting your dash and console
  • If installing a rear camera, electrical tape, wire cutters, a metal hangar or wire fish
  • An OBD cable or dongle for coding your headunit. Bimmercode, or NCS Expert. Coding advice can be found in existing threads here and on E90post.

Tips

***Before beginning, its important to note a key feature of the Carsara box is allowing audio input directly through the Quadlock connector. This requires coding for most vehicles. BEFORE installing the Carsara box it is recommended you change the following parameters in the CIC module: Thanks cannyjock for this discovery.

CDMM_AUX_HU
aktiv

CDMM_USB_AUDIO_SINGLE
nicht_aktiv

CDMM_USB_AUDIO_DOUBLE_0B
nicht_aktiv

Note: Coding these changes will disable the USB data port and aux input inside of the console. It is a concession for having a higher quality audio source. If you do not want to code, you can skip this step and run the 3.5mm cable as shown in the video, but be aware there is some audio degradation using this approach.
  • Make sure to put a THICK towel or blanket down on your console and seats to protect them. The CIC headunit has sharp edges and can knick or dent your dash or seats.
  • Do not mount the antenna on a metal surface. I recommend mounting the antenna to the plastic directly underneath the iDrive screen. There is a flat open surface and this will ensure good RF connectivity. Do not stick it directly to the Carsara box.
  • E9X M3 Note: The iDrive extension cable does not work for everyone. I recommend removing it entirely, the Carsara box should pick up the iDrive signals directly from the Quadlock (labelled L#->B# for Canbus High, or A#->B# for Canbus Low.). The white jumper terminator loop (D#) should be removed entirely. Note: You will not able to code the CIC headunit after this change is made. If you wish to try the iDrive connector, connect it to your iDrive controller, then connect it to either A# or B# and see if your iDrive menus respond. Multiple people have responded that they may have faulty harnesses, but it is not clear and is not needed.
  • F10 Note: user reports car required the CIC-KT connected to iDrive and connection to A#, with B# having the loop D# connected.
  • The quad lock connector is very bulky. You should be able to gently pass it through into the a void near the glove box on the back right corner behind the CIC head unit. It is important to neatly dress the cables with Zip ties to get them all to sit snugly and not be crushed or cut when reinstalling the head unit. Take your time to clean this up when youve confirmed everything works OK.
  • The connection to the microphone is important. The AIRBAG flap which covers the A pillar screw was very difficult for me to remove, try using a pick or guitar pick to pry this out It will take some force since it is thin metal. Make sure to route the wire neatly behind the airbag.
  • If you do not have factory Bluetooth, you will use the included microphone, otherwise you will piggyback on the OEM microphone. I recommend removing both center sun visor clips to get enough room to remove the overhead light/microphone compartment. You will need to press both metal clips in blindly to easily get this down. The sun visor itself does not need to be removed.
  • If you experience issues with navigation audio playing much louder than your music, try modifying the alter volume setting from the audio settings.
  • I recommend routing the USB cable either into the glove box, or into the hole where the 12v outlet goes on some cars if you want it out of the way.
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----------------------------------------------------

Backup Reverse Camera installation

There are several guides for this, this video does a decent overview for routing the cable itself, however when it comes to installing the MMI box I recommend following the Bimmertech steps. You do not need to remove the screen, or cupholders to route the cable. I found it most easy to route the camera wire underneath the glove box just by removing the floor kick panel and that was it.


For squeezing the RCA or 4 pin connector through the rubber shroud that connects the trunk lid to the inside of the trunk, I recommend putting lots of vaseline on the cable, using a good wire fish or hangar, and rather than trying to pull the cable THROUGH the rubber shroud, apply upwards pressure and slowly roll the ribs of the shroud over the thickest part of the cable. This will let you slowly pull it through smoothly. I rolled it on like this and it went very quickly. (Remove the shroud from both ends in order to do this, don't try to push it through with the rubber still installed).

Wiring the camera should follow the Carsara instructions.

For DCT: There should be a red wire bundled with your long wire extension (either the RCA cable or 4 pin mini cable). This connects to the yellow Carsara wire and provides 12V switched power to the camera. The black cable should attach to ground. For my E90 I ran an extension wire down to the chassis bolt inside the battery box. Many older threads recommend pulling power from the tail light, but this will cause issues as that power source is ~11.6v not 12V and will cause flicker issues.

NOTE There is a default setting that needs to be changed for the camera work. Reverse Line Detect->Off for DCT cars. Camera should be set to Aftermarket.

For 6MT: Additional details Post 6
----------------------------------------------------

I will work on keeping this thread as up to date as possible, and add FAQs as they come up.
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      01-05-2021, 04:32 PM   #2
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Thank you for the write up! Maybe I missed it, but how does the Carsara compare to the unit offered by Bimmertech?
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      01-05-2021, 05:02 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NitroBiz View Post
Thank you for the write up! Maybe I missed it, but how does the Carsara compare to the unit offered by Bimmertech?
They're functionally the same. There seem to be some slight differences in the basic software UI (only the device main menu) but the Bimmertech you are mostly paying for stateside shipping and support, not the hardware or functionality.

It is unclear if the MMI Prime supports audio via the headunit itself.
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      01-05-2021, 05:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyberdemon View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by NitroBiz View Post
Thank you for the write up! Maybe I missed it, but how does the Carsara compare to the unit offered by Bimmertech?
They're functionally the same. There seem to be some slight differences in the basic software UI (only the device main menu) but the Bimmertech you are mostly paying for stateside shipping and support, not the hardware or functionality.

It is unclear if the MMI Prime supports audio via the headunit itself.
Would you happen to have a video of the differences between the two UI's?

I made a call to BimmerTech about a month or so ago and they told me that their software was more reliable and less glitchy.
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      01-05-2021, 05:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NitroBiz View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyberdemon View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by NitroBiz View Post
Thank you for the write up! Maybe I missed it, but how does the Carsara compare to the unit offered by Bimmertech?
They're functionally the same. There seem to be some slight differences in the basic software UI (only the device main menu) but the Bimmertech you are mostly paying for stateside shipping and support, not the hardware or functionality.

It is unclear if the MMI Prime supports audio via the headunit itself.
Would you happen to have a video of the differences between the two UI's?

I made a call to BimmerTech about a month or so ago and they told me that their software was more reliable and less glitchy.
If you watch the Bimmertech video you can see their UI.

The carsara unit is newer. I've experienced no issues with glitch. The main screen is just a simple black and white UI. Since you only see this during setup it's not worth $500 to me.

I've had very few glitches. The only time I had issues was when switching between AirPlay screen mirroring and CarPlay, my phone didn't like jumping hot spots.
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      01-05-2021, 05:58 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyberdemon View Post
For 6MT (Needs update!): The Carsara instructions state to use the purple cable. I can not confirm if this works for switched power. If you need to tap power from the reverse light, it is recommended to use a relay. For anyone who has installed on 6MT, let me know and I can update this section with your setup..
I can share some notes for the 6MT install.

I installed this camera and am happy with the quality, price, and ease of install (connector size):
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GE7NQH6/
I suspect there is not much, if any, difference between something like this an an "HD" camera given the CIC screen resolution, but have not compared cameras directly to say for sure.

I used this relay because I like that it comes with a pigtail harness connector for easier wiring, but any standard 4-pin relay will work:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078T8CMF6/

Other shopping list items that I collected from Advance Auto (or already had) include:
- Mini inline fuse holder
- 7.5A Mini fuse
- Blue 3/8 ring terminal connectors, T-tap connector, butt connectors
- Scraps of 16 gauge wire
- Heat shrink tubing and electrical tape

I connected one end of the RED camera positive wire to the PURPLE Carsara harness wire, then wired the relay harness like this:

BLUE (30) -> 7.5A mini fuse -> Battery positive
RED (87) -> Camera positive wire
*BLACK (85) -> Combine with camera ground wire and ground to chassis
*WHITE (86) -> T-tap into reverse light wiring (black/blue wire, middle of connector)

*85 and 86 are interchangeable and it will work either way, but I prefer having black as ground.
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      01-05-2021, 07:39 PM   #7
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Thank you for the write up! Much needed.
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      01-05-2021, 08:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iyzmi View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyberdemon View Post
For 6MT (Needs update!): The Carsara instructions state to use the purple cable. I can not confirm if this works for switched power. If you need to tap power from the reverse light, it is recommended to use a relay. For anyone who has installed on 6MT, let me know and I can update this section with your setup..
I can share some notes for the 6MT install.

I installed this camera and am happy with the quality, price, and ease of install (connector size):
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GE7NQH6/
I suspect there is not much, if any, difference between something like this an an "HD" camera given the CIC screen resolution, but have not compared cameras directly to say for sure.

I used this relay because I like that it comes with a pigtail harness connector for easier wiring, but any standard 4-pin relay will work:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B078T8CMF6/

Other shopping list items that I collected from Advance Auto (or already had) include:
- Mini inline fuse holder
- 7.5A Mini fuse
- Blue 3/8 ring terminal connectors, T-tap connector, butt connectors
- Scraps of 16 gauge wire
- Heat shrink tubing and electrical tape

I connected one end of the RED camera positive wire to the PURPLE Carsara harness wire, then wired the relay harness like this:

BLUE (30) -> 7.5A mini fuse -> Battery positive
RED (87) -> Camera positive wire
*BLACK (85) -> Combine with camera ground wire and ground to chassis
*WHITE (86) -> T-tap into reverse light wiring (black/blue wire, middle of connector)

*85 and 86 are interchangeable and it will work either way, but I prefer having black as ground.
Great info for the 6MTrs! If you don't mind, I'd like to pm you if I run into any hiccups whenever I purchase this Carsara unit.
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      01-05-2021, 11:49 PM   #9
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Anyone try the CCC replacement version?
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      01-06-2021, 03:09 AM   #10
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I bought the option D camera per your recommendation. Did you do any wire cutting based on the included documentation? Will this improve resolution? According to the paper, if you cut the white wire, it goes from 720p to 1080p.
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      01-06-2021, 07:35 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magungo View Post
I bought the option D camera per your recommendation. Did you do any wire cutting based on the included documentation? Will this improve resolution? According to the paper, if you cut the white wire, it goes from 720p to 1080p.
I didn't, I don't think it will help much. The 720p camera is already higher resolution than the display so these cameras were a bit sharper than the cheaper cameras (which are a bit below VGA resolution). You could always cut it and experiment and just twist it back together if it doesn't work. But the unit may not support the higher bandwidth signal. The CIC display is only 480 pixels high so it's diminishing returns.
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      01-06-2021, 09:55 AM   #12
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this is a great thread, Thank you Mike!

I am torn between this unit and AVINs offering for a CCC version... Any guidance on which would be best outside of price point?

also, you mentioned and from pics here, that it does allow for screen mirroring however while going through their site under "Description", it states this unit does not support airplay and screen mirroring..

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      01-06-2021, 07:33 PM   #13
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Thanks for making this thread.
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      01-06-2021, 09:19 PM   #14
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This is awesome!

I've been contemplating on adding the CarPlay on my E90 (either with BimmerTech or one of the AliExpress options). However, I've read some people's posts in the other thread about the lower quality of audio so I was leaning more towards adding the Bluetooth audio functionality to my existing Combox that only has the AUX port.

I'll definitely be referring to this thread since you've basically done everything that I was planning to do -- CarPlay and backup camera.
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      01-07-2021, 03:50 AM   #15
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Any thoughts on how to adjust the system for echo during phone calls? The person on the other end said they can hear themselves.
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      01-07-2021, 05:49 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magungo View Post
Any thoughts on how to adjust the system for echo during phone calls? The person on the other end said they can hear themselves.
I have had zero Bluetooth phone issues tested with my iPhone 10 on this box. I believe that issue was only with the earlier Kremersino units. I make regular conference calls in the car.
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      01-07-2021, 06:09 AM   #17
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On Google maps, the voice instructions sounds is very distorted. I have tried two phones and same issues.

Does anyone else have this issue?
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      01-07-2021, 08:06 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E60525d View Post
On Google maps, the voice instructions sounds is very distorted. I have tried two phones and same issues.

Does anyone else have this issue?
I have this intermittently, but it seems to be only while music is playing. If you search the web this seems to be a frequently raised issue with how Google is handling their audio stream, but no one seems to have a recommendation that is a guaranteed fix and it appears to happen both on Carplay and Android auto.

It seems like there were a variety of suggestions including it only happening when the volume on the phone is set too high, reinstalling/re-pairing the phone, or just using a different app.

People report this happening on factory and aftermarket head units with both AA and Carplay, so unfortunately it seems to be a Google specific issue. If it happens constantly, perhaps try tweaking the volume to see if anything makes it better or worse. Does yours happen constantly, or only while audio is playing?
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      01-07-2021, 02:01 PM   #19
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Well, I'm giving this a shot. Carsara unit + rear-view camera (via Amazon) purchased.

I've watched a few videos including the Bimmertech one in this thread. A couple preliminary questions:

- In the scenario where one does NOT have factory bluetooth (i.e. no microphone), where is the suggested placement? I see recommendation of drivers side A pillar but would you be able to place it near the dome light (to avoid running the wire across the entire drivers side)?
- Does wire need to be run in the center console (where the shift knob is) to the iDrive controller? I see the quad lock should pick it up but I'm not certain.

Cheers!
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      01-07-2021, 02:28 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noremaC View Post
Well, I'm giving this a shot. Carsara unit + rear-view camera (via Amazon) purchased.

I've watched a few videos including the Bimmertech one in this thread. A couple preliminary questions:

- In the scenario where one does NOT have factory bluetooth (i.e. no microphone), where is the suggested placement? I see recommendation of drivers side A pillar but would you be able to place it near the dome light (to avoid running the wire across the entire drivers side)?
- Does wire need to be run in the center console (where the shift knob is) to the iDrive controller? I see the quad lock should pick it up but I'm not certain.

Cheers!
-The carsara box should include a Microphone that can be installed in the OEM location. I believe that plastic housing is just not populated when Bluetooth is not included and the microphone provided should fit (have not confirmed this).
-If you code Aux before installing the unit, you can avoid running any wires through the center console. The iDrive can be picked up from the quadlock, and the sound as well.
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      01-08-2021, 12:41 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyberdemon View Post
I didn't, I don't think it will help much. The 720p camera is already higher resolution than the display so these cameras were a bit sharper than the cheaper cameras (which are a bit below VGA resolution). You could always cut it and experiment and just twist it back together if it doesn't work. But the unit may not support the higher bandwidth signal. The CIC display is only 480 pixels high so it's diminishing returns.
I reached out to the carsara seller and he told me that the RCA input only accepts CVBS. So that means the camera comes already set up for best conditions.
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      01-08-2021, 11:39 PM   #22
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Great summary! Thank you OP for taking the time to complied the info.
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