The A2DP hardware mods are set, I have the parts and am shipping new Bluestars with them starting the third week in January. Still awaiting a software switch to turn power on to A2DP amp.
Those with Bluestars already will be able to send them back for hardware mods for cost of parts and return shipping, about $20.
Also in the works is a voice audio line-out op-amp sub board to increase the default line-level to a usable volume and reduce amplified background noise/static.
New A2DP-enabled, line-out amplified Bluestars will probably be ready the week of the 28th. Early orders get first units. Expected price will be $329, including shipping.
Last edited by keithwbloom; 01-06-2012 at 10:19 PM.
Some feedback on my install:
1. Turns out that removing the whole overhead panel is exceedingly easy and there is no need to remove the rearview mirror, FAQ notwithstanding. I had to do this because the car's female jack where the modified keypad plugs in retracted into the cavity and I just did not have the patience to fish it out after 15 mins of trying to do so. Recommended also for unplugging the darned plug so you can send your keypad to Keith for voltage modification.
2. I can emphatically assert that if you play with the Bluestar unit's settings via USB cable, the Bluestar does remember such settings across starts and across time off. My car was parked unused for three weeks from Dec 19th to Jan 6th and just today I confirmed my settings Volume +11, line out gain +24, mic gain +0 are still there since Dec 10th or thereabouts.
2.1 The above only makes perfect sense, insofar as the Bluestar does have a 3.2V battery inside, of which the USB connection will provide its curiously varying voltage within 1 second intervals! By the way, I do not recall seeing instructions on how to replace this battery, and this concerns me in the long run.
3. I wasn't able to understand how to create or import ringtones, and can further report that the one ringtone preexisting on the Bluestar does not work:
3.a) Does not work at all when the Play button is depressed
3.b) Does not work over the car's speakers when someone calls you
Fortunately, the iPhone still rings loud and clear, plus the Phaeton progressively and elegantly turns down to zero any music source currently playing (except Nav audio prompts) upon phone rings.
4. Quality with my settings leaves quite a bit to be desired. With the volume control for phone at max (and which is separate from Nav audio prompts and from radio, etc volume), caller volume is still too low, and my counterparties say I sound like I am speaking from the bottom of a barrel.
4.1 Simple conversations can be had OK, but I would not hold a conference call with this system with my current settings under any circumstances. By way of contrast, I have had quite a few conference calls with the Parrot Mki9200 on our Touareg, because of its superb mic and audio quality.
5. The software version on my Bluestar is completely different and seems to follow a difference sequence from that of the software versions available on the Costar website, and which are: ver. 0201, 0215, 0422, 0614, 812, 0904, 0927, 1028. 11-0401. I am therefore a bit puzzled.
Also, without knowing whether my software version is up to date/certified I would be deathly afraid to try and use the COSTAR DSP Programming Utility - ver. 1.0 (DSP upgrade for improved echo and noise cancellation). Don't want to brick my Bluestar.
6. People wanting to install their Bluestar module and have easy access on a temporary basis to the diagnostic/update software can easily remove their ski bag from their trunk passthru and leave an USB cable dangling, like so:
7. There are quite a few bits of functionality available for those interested in learning the key combos available with all three OnStar keys in the car's ceiling. I'll say that learning to use the white dot button for starting a call with Siri ("call my wife") and for ending calls is plenty easy and enough for light phone users such as myself. Or just start/end the call from the phone; but I recommend be safe and use one button. Knowing that depressing the OnStar button while on a call transfers the call to the handset is also useful.
8. All in all, I heartily recommend this mod for all 2004/2005 North America Phaetons. This was my sole car without Bluetooth and this was beginning to irritate me from a safety standpoint. Keep your OEM look, get a Bluestar while these things are still available.
The only thing better than this would be for someone to figure out what exact components and how to do a factory phone prep, like jkuisma did for the heated steering wheel. But I don't think anyone ever did.
Last edited by Itzmann; 01-09-2012 at 12:26 AM.
Flash/update your bluestar with the 11-0405 update. It should solve many of your reported issues. I only became aware last week that at least one other Bluestar had been shipped to me with an outdated firmware version, and it was a brick from the start. So I have since tested my entire inventory and will test and update any that I receive in the future to 11-0405, which works as designed and reported. It should definitely add a couple of ringtones too, and if you want to program you own ringtones, instructions on how are downloadable from the CoStar website.
On the sound quality issue, when you have updated to 11-0405, then reduce your mic gain -12dB or -18dB to see if it helps. The sound cancelling program will be more effective and your voice quality on the other end should be noticeably better. ON the matter of the sound level in the car with the output gain set to max, I am working up an op-amp sub board to piggyback on the BlueSTAR PCB to fix this problem—the parts should be on my bench when I get back from my travel this week, and I hope to report success after the weekend. Retrofits will begin as soon as I can get PCBs made with the working circuit pattern. For existing owners, I will also be applying the A2DP upgraded circuit components to prep for A2DP amplifier software switch. To answer Dennis' question, you need only send me the BlueSTAR module itself, I do not need the button controller again to complete the mods.
On the subject of the battery—the BlueSTAR does not have an internal battery, the level you are seeing is the battery in your paired phone.
I'm relatively pleased with the performance of the BlueStar unit. When I set the speaker volume to maximum, the sound is sufficient. Of course, a more amplified signal would be nice to have.
I'm receiving several complaints about the quality of my outgoing voice, sounding like I'm "digitized" or that "I sound like I'm speaking from the bottom of a barrel". I tried to set the microphone gain at the low, medium, and high end of the 13-step range using the Onstar controls with little improvement. FYI...I'm linking to a Blackberry Torch. Are there any further adjustments to be made using the PC software? I received my unit from Keith just about a month ago. Could it have an old version of firmware on it?
As I cycle everyone's BlueSTARs through the line-out op-amp mod and A2DP circuit prep, I will be sure they are all flashed with latest DSP and firmware versions. It seems now that two have been found that are older firmware versions (current is 11-0405 or newer). And the really old firmware versions are certainly going to be lacking current DSP. Sorry about this guys, I know now that I have to check them all as they come through.
Will be op-amp circuit bread boarding tomorrow!
I am so pleased to let everyone know that the low default line out volume level is FIXED. I just installed the newly modded BlueSTAR, replete with the A2DP circuit upgrades and the voice out op-amp bridge in my Passat and I had to return the BlueSTAR volume setting to 5 and turn the phone volume setting on my head unit down to about 25% of max level, and the volume of my caller was still louder than the previous unamplified line out with everything available maxed to 100% (BlueSTAR volume, phone mode volume and output gain).
So get ready to live without bluetooth again in your Phaetons for a week upcoming so you can send your unit back to me for the additional hardware mods. At the same time I add the voice out op-amp bridge, I will also upgrade the A2DP circuit to prepare it for quality music reproduction, upping the capacitance on the four stereo channels and increasing the resistor values to better handle the low frequency ranges in music. Once Chris has completed the A2DP control interface, we will get the software upgrade and be the first BlueSTARs to have the feature enabled. For the curious, the BlueGiga chip in the BlueSTAR can maintain more than one active connection—up to 3 or 4 I think, e.g. your phone and your iPod, or your phone and your iPad, or your phone and your wife's phone and your child'd iPod. The control interface needs to be modified to allow a user to switch between sources using the three button OnStar keypad. It is easy enough to set the phone to override all when a call comes in, but the trick is how do you pair your phone and your iPod, and then choose to listen to a playlist on your iPod? So when that is solved, it will be a software flash using Costar Programming Utility.
Lastly, when everyone's unit comes through, I am going to confirm the DSP program is up to date and then flash the unit with firmware version 12-0117, released yesterday, just for us, to enable the voice out op-amp.
OMG - I didn't even get to rant and rave over the unit I have and already you've improved on it? How much do we (my Phaeton and I) love you!?!?!
PS..I've probably bragged more about Keith (My own resident Nerdy Genius (lovingly)) than the unit!! But seriously, this has breathed new life into my riding experience, and those guys out there that know me know I use my Phaeton over my other cars or bikes!!!
I'M IN LOVE!!!
I have to say, it really is great to have hands-free conversations in the Phaeton. The cabin is so quiet that even with the low volume problem, conversations are fine in a host of environments except highway speed.
I must have driven the P more in the last week and a half than in the whole last quarter of 2011.
Of course then there will be the problem of tackling the source switch mechanics from A2DP audio to CD changer on the head unit harness, but Victor R approached me about a related issue a few months ago and I've been cooking up some clean, nearly invisible solutions. Not to worry!
Heard it with my own ears. The A2DP out on my BlueSTAR finally works. I was able to listen to Pandora Radio from my iPhone through the 3.5mm audio jack. I am going to run a few sound quality checks later today, but the heavy lifting is done.
I am also going to run some real-life scenarios with Dave Passmore (local Phaeton owner) when he comes to upgrade his BlueSTAR to rev 2. I am going to check the audio source signal switching to make sure the phone overrides the streaming A2DP audio when a call is placed or received. I am going to also test to see if a second paired appliance using the A2DP input will be able to playback, e.g. an iPod/iPad paired while your smartphone is paired for phone functions. In theory, this should work because the phone audio signal has priority.
Control of streaming programming will initially be limited to the touch controls of your A2DP source (iPhone, iPod, iPad, etc.), however if you have an iPhone 4S paired, I expect Siri will be able to call up your playlists by request. ;-)
Yes, A2DP is working now. And I completed some wide ranging sound quality tests this afternoon, listening to some Mozart piano concertos, some Marilyn Manson, some Annie Lennox and some Flo Rida. I listened using various stations on my Pandora Radio iPhone App. All genres reproduced beautifully when the phone volume was set to peak volume as well as at mid volume. Keep in mind the A2DP signal is going to be further amplified by your head unit, so I was listening primarily for reproduction quality and line noise. I am very pleased to report the former was excellent and the latter was non-existent.
And I tested multiple units, a few from inventory and one from an upgrade return... Congratulations Itzmann—your BlueSTAR rev2 with A2DP enabled is good to go and I'll be dropping it in the post tomorrow!
So those who have been fence-sitting, it's time for you to stretch your legs. ;-)
To get yours, PM or email me with your email address. My email is keith at keithbloom dot com.
Last edited by keithwbloom; 02-01-2012 at 06:56 PM.
Now that things are sorted out for NAR vehicles, how could this bluestar device that allows to pair cell phones using bluetooth be adapted to ROW vehicles ?
If I am only missing the bluestar buttons, I could maybe buy the overhead bluestar thing from a scrapeyard in the US ?
But would this interface with ROW vehicles (mine was manufactured in May 2004).
Bluestar addition and upgrade on volume are terrific. When I called my wife on my linked cell phone and asked "How do I sound?" she said "You sound normal" - That's a rare response but I won't pursue that! Hoping to find time to try out the A2DP and the iPhone 4S.
I recommend this product! Thanks again to Keith!
The OnStar Telematics units in the NA Audis and VWs use the phone audio input on the the head unit and a hard wired mute signal to tell the head unit when to override whatever programming source is playing and put the phone audio over the loudspeakers. So it stands to reason that those leads exist on the head units of all ROW Audis and VWs, because the phone kits available from the factory would not function at all without them either.
So an adaptation of the BlueSTAR would need a keypad to control it (you can possibly get them from a NA salvage yard, then have it modified by me), a mic (which can be concealed in the overhead console in the factory mic bay), and a harness with leads to connect to the phone audio and mute functions of the head unit. I have been toying with the idea of developing a discreet button controller, something along the lines of an array of momentary tactile blister switches packaged in a flexible pod colour-coded to the VW interiors. Such an array would be about 2.5cm x 6cm and maybe 3 or 4mm deep. Since all VWs with premium sound from the factory since 2001 have this phone input capability, it is a sizable market in NA and ROW. And discreet/invisible is always appealing to us dubbers.
So if you think that is a good idea, ROWers, let me know. I have kit here to get cracking on a prototype, I have just been fiddling with getting this A2DP sorted and in good order. Fait accompli.