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Pioneer AVIC-8000NEX Installation in a C6 Corvette

The CD drive in my factory navigation unit died a while back. While I could have replaced it with another stock nav unit, I decided to take the opportunity to upgrade and gain some new capabilities, such as Bluetooth hands-free and iPod integration. I wanted the process to be as plug-and-play as possible, with no permanent modifications to the car or its wiring. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) there are many excellent choices for the C6 Corvette. While prowling the Internet looking for options, I stumbled across this video:

That cinched it: I wanted a head unit that could integrate with my smartphone and allow me to control it using the head unit's touch screen. While several Pioneer models have this capability, only one has a capacitive touch screen: the flagship AVIC-8000NEX. After all, GM's flagship car should have a flagship stereo, right? So I went over to my local dealer and purchased one.

Installation

Installation of a double-DIN head unit in a C6 is pretty straightforward, thanks to all the pioneers (pun intended) who went before me, figured out how to do everything, and then took the time to post how-to articles; thank you all for your kind assistance! My car had the factory navigation system without XM or On*Star; to replace the head unit, I needed a mounting kit, an antenna plug size adapter,  and a PAC C2R-GM24 interface module. This interface plugs into the 24-pin factory wiring harness and generates the warning chimes that used to generated by the factory nav unit. Wires coming out of the C2R-GM24 connect to the wiring harness supplied with the 8000NEX. Prior to the install I connected these wires together on the bench using Lineman's splices, solder, and heat-shrink tubing.



While most of the wires from the Pioneer harness have direct counterparts in the PAC interface, there are 4 wires which must be connected directly to various places in the car. These are the "VSS speed pulse" input, the "illumination" input, the "reverse gear selected" input, and the "parking brake engaged" input. Note that, although there are two orange wires coming out of the PAC interface which ostensibly provide some sort of illumination circuit, on the C6 these leads are not connected to anything and thus unusable. Other GM cars may provide these signals in their 24-pin radio harnesses, but in the C6 they are useless so I just cut them off. For connecting these wires to the existing wiring in the car, I used Scotchlok squeeze tap connectors. While some people don't like squeeze taps, claiming that they are unreliable, in my experience they work just fine as long as they are sized and installed correctly. Squeeze taps come in different sizes to work with different gauges of wire; the smallest size is colored red and is suitable for the 22AWG wires I needed to connect.

There are many excellent write-ups which describe how to take the C6 interior apart; here is one example; here is another. Here is how to find the reverse gear, VSS, and parking brake wires that are not provided by the C2R-GM24 interface. Since the details of how to tear things apart is so thoroughly covered elsewhere, this article will not go into great detail on those aspects of the installation. For the illumination input, most people suggest tapping the illumination circuit at the Traction Control/Active Handling switch. However, on my car, which lacks the F55 option, the connector for the MSRC switch is just sitting there unused. According to the C6 service manual, pin 1 of this connector has the same circuit number and the same color code as the oft-used TC/AH wire, so either one will work. I chose to tap the illumination circuit here rather than at the TC/AH switch.



The reverse gear wire was well-hidden in a large wiring bundle. After carefully slicing open the plastic wrapping, it took some digging to even see it, let alone bring it out front to where it could be tapped. (The add-a-circuit lead to the left of the squeeze tap powers my RADAR detectors and HUD One).



I mounted the new Bluetooth microphone on the headliner next to the (now unused) stock mic. From all reports, this position works well. I have yet to test it with road or wind noise, however, so I left myself the option of moving the mic to the rear view mirror area should that become necessary. Pending further testing the mic is simply clipped into the headliner as discussed in this video. Another option, should I ever get to feeling ambitious, would be to upgrade the factory mic and then connect it to the AVIC-8000NEX using some sort of adapter plug on the factory wiring.



I ran the wiring for the mic across the headliner and down the passenger side A pillar, alongside the wiring for my Valentine One. It's virtually indistinguishable from the factory wiring.



Now the really fun part began. The AVIC-8000NEX has 2 USB ports and one HDMI port which are used to connect devices like iPods and cellular phones so that they can be controlled by the head unit. For maximum flexibility, all 3 of these ports need to be brought out to some convenient place in the car. Unfortunately there aren't many such places in a C6. The logical choice is the center console area inside the armrest. However, getting these three cables out to that area took some doing. After considering many options, I decided to route the cables through the "tombstone" plate.

The first step was to drill a hole in the support piece large enough for the USB and HDMI plugs to pass through. This was easily accomplished using a step drill bit.



The console shell needed a similarly-sized hole. Unfortunately due to the shape it was not possible to use the step bit. So I used a Dremel tool to gouge out the necessary hole. WARNING! Graphic images ahead!!



I know, I suck at the Dremel. Fortunately most of that horrible butchery will be hidden by the tombstone plate. I bundled the USB and HDMI cables together using spiral wrap and ran them out through the new holes.



Again using the Dremel I cut a slot into the side of the tombstone plate to allow the 3 cables to pass through. (The black button on top is the remote mute button for my RADAR detectors). With the plate clipped into place it doesn't look nearly as bad.



The 36" cables I used are a tad long; 30" cables would be about right (assuming I can find some).



AppRadio mode on the 8000NEX requires yet another adapter to break out the MHL connector on the phone into separate USB and HDMI connectors for the head unit. When it's all connected this rat's nest is the result. At least none of it is visible once the armrest is closed.


The installation is now complete, at least from a functional perspective. I'm not yet satisfied with the aesthetics of the USB and HDMI connections; ideally I would have some sort of custom dock which fits neatly into the armrest cavity and into which my phone and iPod would neatly slip (and which would hide the rat's nest underneath). But that's a whole 'nother project...







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