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I'm a military dependent stationed in Germany. I recently purchased a new American Spec 2002 C240. I've read on just about every forum that I've been on that the D2B Fiber Optic Ring on all new Mercedes doesn't allow for aftermarket upgrades of the head unit. Needless to say, after reading everything I could on just about every forum, I was pretty well convinced that I would not be able to install the Alpine CDA-7878 CD/MP3 control head I ordered. Better yet, if i even tried I'd probably end up voiding manufacturer warrenties and screwing up every other device hooked into this ring. Well, I'm not one to give up so easily, so, I went down to one of the better install shops in my area to get the low-down. I was informed that IT IS OH SO VERY POSSIBLE to connect an after market control head to the Fiber Optic Ring. As a matter of fact he wasn't phased in the least by my request and thought I was crazy to suggest that it could not be done ('BAH! Stupid American'). He also gave me the names of the suppliers from whom the necessary parts could be gotten. Not surprising is that both of the Companies are German and they will only deal directly with dealers. So if you were thinking about getting everything on your own, good luck. He told me that what was required was some sort of wires and/or adapter assembly that hooks into the factory harness and then into the control head. The Adapter is provided by a Company called Dietz GmbH, PHONE # from states is: 011-49-6359-93310 price is around $90. You'll also require a mounting kit due to the fact that the OEM heads are not quite the size of a regular single Din control head. The mounting kit is a combination of the storage bin below the radio as well as the radio area itself. This is provided by a company that goes by the name of ACV Auto-Communications-Vertriab GmbH, PHONE # from the states is: 011-49-6359-93310. No price available at this time. I believe the part # is 281190-02 (for a Mercedes W203 C-Klasse 2000>). I was told that the 2000> means 2000-2002 models. Now, I must tell you that I haven't had it installed yet since he had to special order the adapter (they don't carry them in stock 'do to the cost' he said). But, as soon as the install is complete i will be sure to post another message. I'll try to watch as much as they let me and report back to the best of my ability. I forgot to ask about the steering wheel controls but I'll ask on that. To me, I could care less do to the fact the stereo is within arms reach anyway. I hope this message gives people hope and If you have any questions let me know so I can ask the guy when I go in to get the install done.<br>
<br>
Peace out,
 

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Thank you very much for the detailed message with the good news. I have a 2002 C240 without Bose and have lost sleep over how to get mp3 capability. I don't dislike the sound system of the car, but can't go back to juggling CDs after getting used to mp3s. Ideally I would like a system that would integrate with the steering wheel control and that would display on the radio panel and/or speedometer panel (such as the PhatBox http://www.phatnoise.com/products/), but would live if I could get an aux input. I have tried an FM modulator and the background hiss rules it out as an option. Perhaps those guys installing your radio would know if some adapter is available that would convert the CD changer input signal to an aux input (or the cell phone input signal for that matter).<br> <br> I would ideally use a 20gb Archos MP3 player (http://www.archos.com/us/products/product_500205.html) as my music source (no need to juggle MP3 CDs) through the factory head unit. Can get both analog and digital (SPDIF) output from the player. Small enough to fit in the ashtray compartment.<br> <br> However, if I have no option, I would go as far as replacing the head unit as you are doing. I have read in forums that there are equalization issues in addition to D2B issues. It would be great to hear how things work out for you. A picture of the dash with the CDA-7878 installed and your feelings about the sound quality would be valuable.<br> <br> Thanks again for sharing the info.
 

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Re: Re: Answer for Mercedes Fiber Optic Debate

My experience is with a C320 (production date June 2001 - I guess that makes it a 2002 in US terms) with COMAND:<br> <br> There is an Aux input in the glove compartment. For a small MP3 device, there is enough space in there, and you don't need to do anything 'bad' to the car. Steering wheel control works for volume only, Aux input can be chosen from the COMAND SYS menu. <br> <br> A more sophisticated way would be to move the Aux input (and power) to a more strategic place and 'professionally' install the MP3 device or it's docking station.<br> <br> An option that is slightly better than the usual FM modulators is one that I have seen somewhere on the Internet that plugs directly into the antenna input of the radio. This should (hopefully) eliminate the hiss sound. Unfortunately I don't recall where I saw it ...<br> <br> My choice would be the PhatBox (because of it's capabilities of displaying the song information on the head unit) in combination with an FM modulator of 'good enough quality' ... with that combination, the steering wheel controls would work for volume and switching between MP3 and all other inputs, as it would be just another radio station. Unfortunately until now the Phatbox only works with the Kenwood head unit. Maybe in a few month I'll be able to upgrade ... until then I'll have to live with a tiny little MP3 player in the glove compartment ...<br>
 

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Re: Re: Re: Answer for Mercedes Fiber Optic Debate

Unfortunatey, the aux input is available only with the COMAND. The non-COMAND system does not have an aux. You are lucky. I would have added the COMMAND just for that... I've tried both types of FM Modulators: over the air Radio Shack, and direct interception of antenna cable Clarion. It is astonishing that that the over the air Radio-Shack works better as far as hiss is related, but is not reliable because the performance varies as you drive along.<br> <br> I have spoken to the PhatBox people and they have no plans to enable MB connectivity. If they did, the system would be better than a FM Modulated alternative because they would provide sound via the CD-Changer input. The PhatBox works by making the head unit believe that it is a CD Changer. Responds to change disk with change directory. Displays as the changer would.<br> <br> The biggest obstacle right now is the lack of some auxiliary input. The ash-tray compartment is perfect for the ARCHOS mp3 player, it is big enough to snuggly hold the unit and a 3ft audio cord, you can even close the door to make it unnoticeable. You can also take it out and put over the cup holder area where it fits almost as if it were designed for it.<br> <br> I cannot believe that MB has made it practically impossible for us to enjoy MP3's in the new Cs without COMAND. If they had an altenate head unit that would integrate with the car and include an aux input I would purchase it immediately, even if I lost the cassette playback and had to shell out the $500. If it were possible to instal a COMAND head unit I would also do that.<br> <br> Of course, the dream system would be the PhatBox... Or maybe if MB came up with a single CD/MP3 that would install nicely below the head unit and would hook up exactly as the changer...
 

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Re: Re: Re: Re: Answer for Mercedes Fiber Optic Debate

I read something about an FM modulator from Kenwood (KCA-R42FM). It's suposed to connect to their CD changers. As the PhatBox is supposed to connect to Kenwood had units, it should theoretically connect to this device without any problems. According to the Kenwood homepage it costs between $100 to $150 (but I saw it for $99). You should ask the PhatBox guys, maybe this would work.<br> <br> Some months ago (when I started to get interested in PhatBox) I read something about an FM modulator from Sony (I think) that connects to their CD changers and what make it outstand from the crowd was a feature to transmit the title information in the same way certain radio stations broadcast some text information. Because I would like to have this information on the COMAND display and not on some add-on display panel as with for instance the Kenwood solution. Unfortunately I can't find this product (or any information) anymore. But anyway, the PhatBox guys would have to mimic Sony (or whatever other brand it was) CD changers, and that seems still far away ...<br> <br> Regarding a COMAND upgrade. As far as I know, in the US the cars come almost completely prewired, therefore the upgrade costs basically the price of COMAND and very little work. Here in Europe this is a different story, as you get only the wires that you really need in your car and any upgrade basically adds many, many hours of taking apart your car, adding / replacing the wires, rebuild your car. If you were happy with COMAND and the Aux input, you should ask your MB dealer. You could even tell him to put the Aux input in a more intelligent place than the glove compartment.<br>
 

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Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Answer for Mercedes Fiber Optic Debate

I found the Sony device again. It's an RM-X69RF (about the same price as the Kenwood device) and it doesn't solve the issue of the separate display. The only advantage is that it can display the song title on it's own display and not just a track number.
 

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Please post a picture of the head unit in your car. I don't know about the C240, but changing out the head unit in my 2001 SLK was no problem, and required no modification or adapters for the fiberoptic system. In my car the fiber optics only loop through the head unit if you have the optional phone or CD changer.<p>adsl-63-187-54.bix.bellsouth.net
 

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It's the 'one and only' 2002 C-Class COMAND system that is slightly rounded and doesn't fit anywhere else (not the same as in the MLs) and I also have Bose speakers.<p>
 

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I likek the idea of being able to tap into the fiber optic ring.....

too bad Eric is not around right now.<br> lets all wish him luck!<br> <br> has anyone else investigated this further?<p>bc-van-wvn-a53-01-32.look.ca
 

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Re: I likek the idea of being able to tap into the fiber optic ring.....

I've been looking for a solution, but so far no luck getting concrete answers. There have been a few people who have posted info about a Fiber to Coax converter, but the only one I've seen is just a physical media converter, not a digital to analog converter, so it won't help us a bit.<br> <br> There has to be *someone* out there who has already tackled this problem and has some solutions. If not, I suspect I'm going to be the crash dummy :)<p>firewall.mfm.com
 

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Re: I like the idea of being able to tap into the fiber optic ring.....

we probably have to wait till this technology<br> becomes more widespread.<br> <br> btw. my cable provider uses an $80.000.00 machine<br> to splice fiber optic cables that carry digital<br> cable tv signals, the machine can make an alignment of the splice to within 99 percent only.<br> <br> which tells me one thing!<br> DONT MESS WITH THE FIBER OPTIC RING<p>bc-van-wvn-a53-01-28.look.ca
 

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Re: I like the idea of being able to tap into the fiber optic ring.....

The problem is much bigger than just copper to fiber. The CAN bus forms a network of 'intelligent' components that talk to each other with a specific protocol. When for instance the COMAND head unit 'senses' the TV module, in fact it is sending something like a 'hello TV module' command to it and if there is no 100% compatible device there responding correctly with something like 'hello head unit, I'm here', then the head unit doesn't switch to TV mode. That's why it is not possible to install any third party TV module and connect it to the RGB input of COMAND. And even if one would manage to mimic the acknowledgment of the TV module, that would only be the beginning, because afterwards you would have to mimic (or emulate) all the further commands, like switching to video input, change channel, etc. So if you don't have the complete documentation of the protocol between the head unit and the TV module, you're lost.<br> <br> As I don't have any interest for TV in the car, but would like to connect a portable DVD player, I offered my services (for free) to MB for trying to develop something like a 'Video and Audio IN' device that would allow anybody to connect any video and audio source (e.g., portable DVD players, game consoles, etc.). I have access to the standard development tools for CAN bus and would only require the documentation from MB in order to make it behave in the same way as the TV unit, so it wouldn't even require a software change on their side. Another benefit would be, that such a module could be very small, wouldn't require much installation hassle (just CAN bus and RGB connectors to the head unit, as well as a video and audio input that could be placed strategically (probably in the armrest between the front seats) <br> <br> Unfortunately they are not interested. <br> <br> Given their behaviour and the complexity of the CAN bus environment, we can only hope that they come out with something in the near future, but I doupt it, and if they do, I fear that it will be as with the current modules: Order them with your car - or forget it, as retrofitting would be too expensive. <br> <br> And well, whoever wants video now, just has to order a new European MB with COMAND and TV module ;-)<p>
 

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Re: I like the idea of being able to tap into the fiber optic ring.....

And if you wonder why I elaborated so much on the TV module, while we are talking about MP3s ... it's just because with MP3s it's even worse:<br> <br> Apart from an intelligent CAN bus module that would interface with an MP3 player, the software of the COMAND head unit would have to be enhanced in order to communicate with this new device.<br> <br> If MB is not interested in somebody doing the first half of the job for free, I guess they would even less want to do some development themselves or allow anybody to enhance the existing COMAND software.<p>
 

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Re: MB has a bad attitude

I realize that they have better things to do than listen to customers complain (or offer free design services :), but I'm really irritated that they are so aloof to the entire issue. It would have cost them a few bucks (at most) to add an analog Aux In to their standard Bose head unit that's in my car ('02 C32). That one simple thing would have allowed me to add my own gear without disrupting their precious D2B fiber system.<br> <br> It just seems like they've made a special effort to confound third party audio system mods. I don't get why they're so anal about it. If they had their own MP3 or Satellite radio deck I could see why they'd protect their turf, but they don't, so we're screwed into accepting their comparatively lame system. In the grand scheme of things it's not a huge deal, but it is annoying nonetheless.<p>firewall.mfm.com
 

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Re: MB has a bad attitude

Its not only MB, <br> Its Microsoft and its crappy operating systems<br> Its Drug companies that are allowed to patent genes they discovered. <br> etc. etc. etc.<br> <br> <p>bc-van-wvn-a53-01-07.look.ca
 

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OK! ...so screw the fiber optic ring...

MB wants $2400.00cdn to install a cell phone<br> in my SLK, this would use the head unit and<br> existing speakers. A friend of mine got that<br> done in his Accura for under $250.00cdn <br> excluding phone. <br> <br> So rip out that technical marvel <br> the 'MB head unit'& park it <br> next ur old 486 computer.<br> <br> I figure $2400.00cdn can to buy a lot of traditonal typical am/fm/stereo/mp3 player/speakers/amp stuff.<br> <br> <p>bc-van-wvn-a53-01-09.look.ca
 

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Re: OK! ...so screw the fiber optic ring...

When I first saw how much they wanted for things like the integrated phone, that was exactly my thought!<br> <br> The problem is, I'm not sure we can rip out the head unit without screwing up a bunch of other stuff (like Tele-Aid). What we need to find out is what other systems directly or indirectly rely on the head unit. I'm afraid it may be more than we realize. I'm sort of surprised that NOBODY has really figured this out yet. Everyone seems to give up as soon as they find out it's a fiber system.<p>cvg-29-22-174.cinci.rr.com
 
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