A possible way to get around OEM radio limitations?

Old 03-21-2016, 12:10 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Alexander, AR
Posts: 6
A possible way to get around OEM radio limitations?

If there's one thing I don't like about my new Fit EX, it's the radio. Whether it's the lack of HD radio, the so-so sound quality, the crappy USB support, the lack of CarPlay/Android Auto (heck, the lack of any Android support, period), buggy HondaLink, or, most galling, the fact that I supposedly own hardware that I can't use (GPS, HD Radio, Sirius/XM), I'm ready to rip the thing out and ask for my money back.

Except I can't even do that, because then the car won't work.

But now I hear tales that there's this SD card that contains the radio's firmware. Granted, that firmware's encrypted, so hacking it's not a (legal) option, because being encrypted puts it under the purview of the DMCA.

So I thought, why can't we write our own? Honda (and third party OEMs) may own the software, but you and I own the hardware, and there's nothing that prevents us from running our own software (think Linux on your PC).

Hence, the idea for what I'm calling the SnakeOil OS project ("cures all that ails your radio").

Open Source/Free Software
User updatable/upgradeable: no need to fear obsolescence
No security "back doors"
Full CarPlay (iOS)/Android Auto/MirrorLink support
Add navigation support (or use Google Maps/Apple Maps/etc.)
Unlock Sirius/XM, if hardware present (1)
Unlock HD Radio, if hardware present (2)
Customize audio settings/remove factory EQ, if possible (3)
Better USB support: searching, ordering, custom playlists...
More and better media support (Ogg, FLAC, MP2/AC3, etc.)
Use rear camera any time (e.g., if cargo blocks rear window)
Onboard music storage, if your SD card's big enough
Other user-accessible UI tweaks: custom colors/themes, metric vs. imperial, etc., etc...

Some possible venom in this snake oil:
Enabling illegal activities: odometer tampering, emissions bypass, watching TV while driving, hot-wiring, etc. We don't want to do these, because liability.
Some proprietary bits may be resident in the radio, meaning that there's no way (short of a soldering iron) of removing or bypassing it
How to implement VIN keying/anti-theft
Legal gotchas, such as EULAs you may have (unknowingly?) signed when you bought the car. Whether these would hold up in court is an open question...

(1) Note that this would simply allow use of the Sirius/XM hardware; you'd still need to subscribe--this would not allow you to steal content!
(2) Although research has not discovered a way to enable this via the diagnostic menus, that doesn't mean the hardware's not there--only that Honda hasn't enabled it via this means.
(3) Assuming it's done in software, and not the old-fashioned way (by putting an LC high-pass filter in the amp).
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