MyGIG: fixing the REN MyGIG (Media Center 430) touch-screen head unit
It's 2008, and consumers have become more demanding than ever. Not only do they want to be able to show the kids a DVD on a long trip, but they'd also like to be able to bring a respectable collection of music along, too. And if their new Mopar's head unit should be able to play multiple sources all at the same time, so much the better.
Chrysler introduced the MyGig head units in 2007, and at the time they were among the most advanced decks you could get in a new vehicle. With DVD playback, navigation, Sirius satellite radio, and even a hard drive to store music on, the MyGig was Chrysler's answer to the growing problem of keeping their customers happy with the stock entertainment system in their new vehicle. Not only was the MyGig meant to consolidate a number of features previously serviced by several different modules into one box, it was among the first to incorporate a hard drive right into the unit itself for storing those newfangled MP3s all the kids were talking about.
There are several flavors of MyGig units out there. Some had Sirius tuners, some did not. Some had navigation features, some did not. European models were different than domestic. Some were built by Harman-Becker, some by Mitsubishi (Sircodyatl wrote that if the icon with a face is on the right side, it’s made by Harman; if it’s on the top left, it’s made by Mitsubishi).
The 2008 version I’m looking at today bears the sales code REN, as you can see in the bottom right corner of the above picture. Also known as the “Media Center 430,” there were two versions of this deck produced: one with a Sirius tuner, one without. It is the latter I'm looking at today. [Sircodyatl wrote that the REN is an RER unit without navigation.] Photos of the Media Center 430 / 430N include other versions, particularly the RHB, which came out in 2010.
All MyGig units that I'm aware of support fancy features such as a backup camera and rear vehicle entertainment system. This one came out of a 2008 Grand Caravan SXT with both options. I won't get too deep into the features of these units, as the manual can be downloaded at Chrysler's website, but these can do a lot. You can play music off the hard drive while the kids watch Finding Nemo for the hundredth time in the back seat through headphones. You can listen to the radio while the kids in back listen to the stuff on the hard drive. You can even watch the kids' DVD with them on the main display of the unit, as long as you're in Park.
But what if this very complex head unit fails? What if you need to replace the hard drive? How do you go about fixing it? That's where this article comes in. First, I'm going to tell you how to perform an emergency eject on it, in case the unit crashes with a DVD or CD in the drive. This has been known to happen, and the eject is needed even if you can’t go about fixing it.
To get the unit to eject, we must first gain access to the loading slot. It is behind the touch screen, so we need to move it out of the way first.
These instructions only apply to the Harman-Becker built REN and RER units. The Mitsubishi built ones, like the RBZ, may be different.
To move the LCD out of the way, gently pull the bottom of the screen forward, as shown, until it stops. You may find a credit card can help move the LCD around without marking it up. Then, push down on the top of the screen in the direction of the arrows until the loading slot is clear.
Now, we can force the deck to eject. Press seek up, seek down, and audio all at the same time, and it should eject. For the RER navigation unit the button combination is seek up, seek down, and nav. If it does not eject, you may need to remove power for a time.
Before we go on, yes, you can find software and firmware updates here and there on the Internet for these head units. A great resource for this is the Unofficial MyGig Information Site, where you can find the aforementioned software updates and other useful information for fixing the Media Center 430.
Me? I'm less interested in cataloging the software side of things than the hardware, so I'm going to start taking this unit apart. This particular unit will not load discs, so I'm going to find out why. You will need a Torx T-8 screwdriver to do anything inside this deck, so go find one now. [Editor’s note: it’s a common size for Mac laptops and other electronic equipment and prices range dramatically based on where you get Torx screwdrivers or bits.]
Here's a look at the back panel. Red arrows indicate two of the four screws that hold the DVD drive to the top cover. Remember those - we'll be removing them shortly. Blue arrows indicate two of the screws you will need to remove to get the mainboard out.
This is the top panel. The whole panel swivels up and back as an assembly, and is held in place by the red arrowed screws.
The bottom panel. The green arrow holds the heatsink to the case - that will become important later. Blue arrows indicate the hard drive mounting screws. Don't remove those yet if you are replacing the drive... refer to the red arrows instead. The hard drive is bolted to an access panel, which is retained by those red arrowed screws. Just take those out, then the access cover unclips with the hard drive attached to it. More on that later.
For reference, I'll show you the side panels now. There are no screws we need to be concerned with yet on either side, but these pictures will show you how the various clips and tabs go together.
On this side, we can see that the unit is fan cooled.
Now, remember what I said about the top cover and DVD drive hinging up and back as a unit? This is what I was talking about, here. Remove the two screws up by the faceplate, and it just unclips and flips back like this. You can then easily remove the top cover and DVD drive as an assembly. That ribbon cable can be disconnected on either end... down by the mainboard, it is simply secured by a press fit connector. Unplug and go. But on the DVD drive end, it is secured by a connector with a flip catch. Just flip the black part of the connector up, and pull the cable out.
Because I want to see why this unit will not load discs, we'll get into the DVD drive first. Red arrows indicate the four screws that must be removed to get the drive out. It is not necessary to remove the drive unless you want to clean the laser, but I will do so for the sake of better access for pictures.
To access the loading mechanism, the circuit board must be removed. To access the laser sled, both the PCB and the black cover on the right must be removed.
Removing the circuit board isn't hard. First, disconnect the two ribbon cables up near the top of the above picture. They are secured with connectors that have a small plastic catch on them. You will see two small ledges on either side of the catch - push them with a fingernail towards the ribbon cable until they click. This will release the cable. To re secure them, push them in the opposite direction. These connectors are pretty intuitive to use and very common. I'll give you a closer look in the next picture.
There is one ribbon cable connected to the underside of the drive PCB, as you see here. As promised, here is a better look at one of those connectors. This style is used on both ends of this cable. The black part is the catch - just unclip it in the direction of the blue arrows. You can then set aside the circuit board (preferably onto an anti-static mat or other static safe surface).
We've found the failure in this deck - a broken straight gear, dead center in this picture. The first tooth has broken off, rendering the drive useless. The gear can be replaced easily enough by removing that one screw and pulling it out with tweezers, but good luck finding a replacement for it. I have not been able to.
How can you tell if this gear is broken? Well, this deck would take the disc, pull it in, make a clicking noise, and spit it out again. Over and over. Reports from around the net indicate this is not an uncommon failure. If yours has these symptoms, now you know why.
Now, a look at the laser sled. To gain access to it, remove the single screw in the black cover and unclip it. The sled will be right under there. Laser power potentiometers are indicated in red. One affects CD reading, the other affects the DVD laser. I do not know which is which. Experiment with these at your own risk.
And now, we'll look at the bottom of the unit and remove the hard drive. Unscrew the hard drive access panel and remove it. You should see this view.
The hard drive itself is a 30GB automotive rated parallel ATA 2.5" device. A Samsung, in this case.
Can you replace the drive with a bigger one? Yes, you can. But it is not easy. First, the deck runs on the QNX operating system. This is no Windows based carputer, here. You need to be familiar with that operating system to do it. Second, you have to be willing to accept the consequences. What consequences? Well, consider this: the MyGig software is not exactly the most intuitive out there. You have no advanced search features to help you navigate the 250GB drive you just bought for this thing. Furthermore, the hardware is old and slow by modern computer standards. It will take ages for it to sort through all the files on the drive, let alone the time it takes you to page through a thousand songs to find that one you just have to hear right now. Maybe consider buying an iPod, instead of trying to hack the MyGig with a larger drive. These do have auxiliary inputs, after all.
That said, if you simply want to replace the drive with a new one, it is relatively easy and can be done by any advanced partition management software program; like Ranish or Acronis. You just clone the drive, whether you're in Windows or not. [Editor’s note: Mac users with recent machines, you will need a PATA to USB (or Firewire) adapter first, these start at around $15. QNX might accept standard DOS (FAT) formatted drives. It might be possible to run QNX from VirtualBox, etc., and do the formatting or copying from there.]
Now, you might be reading this because you need to replace a broken front panel LCD. I'm going to show you how to do that. First, we need to remove the faceplate assembly. See the red arrow? Remove that screw. Unplug the two connectors next to the screw by pulling them upwards.
Take a look at the blue arrows. What you need to do to release the faceplate assembly is ever so slightly nudge the side panels right up by those arrows in the direction they are pointing. This will release a pair of catches up inside the faceplate. Once you do this, the whole faceplate assembly unclips and hinges downward. This is probably not going to be easy... the catches on this deck were good friends with the faceplate. It took some force to get the face unclipped.
Here, the faceplate has been removed and is ready to be dismantled.
A close-up of the LCD loading motor assembly. In this picture, I am holding the ribbon cable for the LCD. It is secured to the metal by tabs - just pull it up and out of those tabs.
To remove the LCD, we must cycle the loading mechanism manually until we get this view of the pins that hold the LCD in place. It is very easy to remove the LCD from here - just retract the pins as shown in the inset. Mind the ribbon cable, so the connector doesn't get caught as you pull it through the access hole.
Harman-Becker provided an easy way to remove the LCD as long as you took the whole faceplate apart, buttons and all. They provided a channel on each side for the guide pins so you could pull the LCD straight out. But, we don't have to get that far into the deck to do it, if we manipulate the LCD on an angle, as shown above. This will give you just enough clearance to pull the LCD out. Be gentle, so you don't mark up the plastic.
The LCD has been removed and is ready for replacement.
Here's the backside of the LCD, again showing the retracted pins. I could get further into it that this, but there is not likely to be anything inside here we can do anything with. LCD's, especially touch sensitive ones like this, are finicky creatures. They are easy to break and impossible to fix. If your LCD has failed, really the only way to deal with it is to replace it.
You might be waiting for me to show you how to get at the button contacts on either side of the deck, so I'll show you how to access those too.
Observe the blue arrow. Unplug that connector so you can remove the faceplate loading mechanism. Now, remove all the yellow arrowed screws and remove that loading mechanism. The red arrows indicate the screws that hold the metal to the plastic. We'll get to those soon.
The mechanism hinges out of the face like this. Watch the springs on the ends - they are loaded by the metal tabs on either side, and you will have to put them back the way you found them.
A close-up of one of the springs. They're not hard to figure out, just don't lose them.
Remove the screws holding the metal panel in place, and remove the metal panel. Now you can access the two circuit boards on either side.
I'm only going to look at one of these boards. First, we need to unplug the ribbon cable. Undo the snap catch in the direction of the arrows and pull the cable out of the connector. Then, remove the three screws. You can now remove the board.
As is the case with most modern decks, illumination is done using LED's. There are no bulbs to replace. You may find yourself having to clean this area up, however, if Junior sprayed his Dr Pepper in the direction of the MyGig.
This is the rubber contact strip found below the circuit board. Red arrows indicate the locating tabs that hold it in place - these help make sure you get this back in properly.
The contact strip removed. If you are dealing with a soda nightmare, this is the part likely needing clean-up the most. Observe the rectangular holes - those are there to let the LED light get through to the buttons.
Getting further into the deck, we will now remove the mainboard. Note the blue arrows - those indicate the heatsink mounting screws. It is not necessary to remove those to remove the mainboard. It will come out with the board. Remove all screws indicated in red. Note that the one on the bottom left is found underneath.
With all screws out, the board lifts out like so. Watch the FAKRA connector (antenna connector) on the back - it has a tab that will try to catch on the metal. There are also two metal pins at the back that hold the board in place - you will have to lift up at the back as well to clear those. The board should come out without much fuss, though.
The mainboard has been removed. The fan used in this unit is a Sunon 45mm unit. If this has failed, you will need to remove the heatsink. Undo the two screws I indicated in blue two pictures ago.
Then, you will need to undo this clip, which holds the heatsink to the amp chip (a TDA8595J). This clip will fight you, so be patient with it. Once it is off, you should be able to remove the heatsink and replace the fan.
This concludes my look at the MyGig REN unit. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to look for a parts deck so I can repair the DVD drive.
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