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Old 05-13-2017, 04:37 PM   #1
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Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 3,064
Installed new Kenwood headunit and USB/miniplug port

This wasn't a very sexy or terribly hard project, but maybe someone might find the info useful. The short story: installed a new Kenwood head unit with much better back-up camera functionality. Also, added a separate USB/miniplug jack on the dashboard, interfacing with the head unit. Installed this in my 1998 E250 SMB.

New Headunit with Better Backup Camera Functionality

Several years back I installed a Kenwood double-DIN flat-screen head unit, along with a Kenwood backup camera. The unit worked fine, but was missing a few more modern features. Most annoying, though, was that the backup camera wouldn't come on right away when I started up the van and put it in reverse (the whole head unit had to boot-up first for the camera to show up).

Newer Kenwood models have it set up so that the backup camera displays almost immediately, even if the head unit is still in start up mode. This was a big-enough deal for me that I decided to swap out the head unit for a newer Kenwood DDX-393 unit (great Black Friday deal at Crutchfield). Thankfully, the wiring harness was the same as the previous unit, so that swapped over easily. The new unit also supports a front camera input, which I may add at some point. I also added an XM radio module ($32 at Amazon) and got rid of the external XM tuner that cluttered up the dash.

BTW, the Velcro on the sides of the head unit is there to support my fake faceplate mod that I did several years back, designed to make the dash look like it still has the old-school OEM cassette deck (won't fool anyone looking really closely, but hopefully is good enough to get a would-be thief to move on).

As an aside, it's scary how easy it is to get into older-model E-van dashboards. I could literally have a stereo out in two minutes, without tools, if I wasn't worried about breaking things. Newer models are harder.

Added USB/Miniplug Access Port on Dashboard

The Kenwood head unit supports USB-in (of course) via a long USB cable that you just kinda feed out of the dash. This offended my "clean install" sensibilities, so I decided to add a USB flush-mount panel jack to the dashboard. Also figured I might as well have a dual-function port, with a miniplug connection, too. Got this USB panel mount jack at Amazon for $10 and ran the extension plugs to the back of the Kenwood head unit.

Where to mount it, though? There isn't much flat real estate on the van's dashboard (I have a 1998). If you measure VERY carefully, though, you can squeeze it in on the bottom right corner of the panel (see pics). I considered removing the bottom 12v power port (there are two) and putting the USB part there, but I like having both power ports available. I think it turned out pretty well, and has a nice OEM look.
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