How can I hear Navigon Directions via Car Radio?

Discussion in 'iPhone Tips, Help and Troubleshooting' started by iMacMad, Jul 28, 2009.

  1. iMacMad macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2009
    Just a mo I'll check the Blue Dot
    Fairly extensive searching, here and elsewhere, has failed to throw up what I am looking for so please direct me if you know where the answer lies.

    I have a Bluetooth system built into my vehicle which is successfully paired with my iPhone.
    Running Navigon Mobile Navigator App on the iPhone is a real pleasure but I am seeking to increase the volume of the Navigon Voice Directions to combat road noise in heavy traffic on the motorways.

    The vehicle dealership tell me the installed Bluetooth kit cannot supply the functionality to route the Voice Directions through the vehicle radio.
    The current unit does not have an Auxiliary Jack or USB Connector.

    Does anyone have experience overcoming or resolving this problem?

    Items considered thus far:

    1. Placing the iPhone in the corner between two hard surfaces improves the sound level dramatically, much like the AirCurve device available commercially.
    My thoughts are that perhaps a suitable plate, the width of the iPhone and about 175mm long, with the centre 125mm section remaining flat and the ends equally spaced curved gently upward will project the sound in the desired direction. This would need mounting to a suitable in car support.

    2. The next consideration is an FM Transmitter, on manufacturer has confirmed that their product will do what I am asking.

    3. Lastly looking at Bluetooth Headphones, although I am happy to accept a single Earpiece, one manufacturer has declined to recommend on driving safety grounds [I applaud the view to be as safe as possible whilst driving]
    and await replies from other suppliers.

    Any input or alternative ideas on the subject will be gratefully received.
  2. sjdigital macrumors regular

    Oct 21, 2008
    The Caucasus
    Essentially what you need to be able to do is connect your iPhone so that it could play music through your car audio system, and thus the voice commands of the Navigon app, and the ability to do that will vary from car to car and audio system to audio system.

    An FM transmitter would be the easiest, but there are lots of other options. Try having a look at this web site and see if there is something there that will suit your car.
  3. iMacMad thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2009
    Just a mo I'll check the Blue Dot

    Thanks for your input sjdigital :)

    I visited the site you directed me to and appreciated the range of items on offer, but as I am in the UK the $ symbol price tags spoilt the idea of acquiring any of their solutions.

    A week or so ago I came to the conclusion that a FM Transmitter would be the easy option but all usual outlets and eTailers were reporting an Out Of Stock situation.
    I located one today and journeyed to collect it, on the basis that if it failed to function I would be able to return it. Fortunately testing would be possible in the store car park. Following a successful trial the item did not need to be returned.

    Having just made a special trip to purchase this item a Text was received from a Supplier advising that a stock of 40 had arrived, typical!

    For the benefit of anyone interested the item purchased was a Cygnett GrooveSafari FM Transmitter. This comes with a Charger Unit and Connecting Lead. The Charger plugs into the Cigarette Lighter socket and the Transmitter plugs into the bottom of the iPhone G3 <. The Lead is USB into the Charger and a Proprietary Plug into the Transmitter, the lead is quoted as being 800 mm long which is about 200 mm too short for my present set up.

    The short lead dictated the task for what remained of the afternoon, fashioning a Plate out of stainless steel to mount one section of the Griffin Window Seat support and iPhone cradle. The Plate is wedged between two air vent outlets in the centre of the dashboard and the supplied lead is just long enough to connect up.

    This brings the screen closer to the driver and does not obscure any instruments, switches or the in car information screen. Apart from applying a 'Brushed' or 'Turned' finish to the Plate, all that remains to be done is to conceal the Lead which means obtaining a short USB M to F Lead.
    The alternative to this was to order a Brodit Mounting Plate and iPhone Cradle.

    The Navigon Directions can now be heard loud and clear with Radio Programs or e.g. Music from the iPhone being silenced appropriately.
    Of course Music from the CD Player is not silenced as it is not party to FM.
    I can live without Music when negotiating the trickier parts of a journey or make do with a selection from the iPhone.
    The bout between the Telephone Calls and Voice Directions contest will be refereed as soon as I receive a Call which conflicts with Directions, or VV. In reality I will probably use a house DECT Phone to call the Moby whilst forcing Navigon Mobile Navigator to repeat Directions over and over.
    As I am prepared not to receive Calls during journeys the outcome is not likely to be life threatening?
  4. sjdigital macrumors regular

    Oct 21, 2008
    The Caucasus
    That's certainly a very neat little FM transmitter and it sounds as thought it fits the bill for your in car situation. I wouldn't be put off by the USA site though as I kitted out my car with one of their iPod adaptors as I wasn't able to get anything suitable in the UK and their prices and delivery were very good.

    But that aside, how can you play your car radio and still get the navigation instructions coming through the radio? Do you set the FM channel to be the same as the radio channel you are listening to? Or are you listening to the radio on the iPhone over 3G?

    I've also been experimenting with my set up and certainly when a phone call comes in when playing the iPod and navigating, it turns down the sound of the music and shuts down Navigon. Both resume when the call finishes, but of course Navigon is actually shut down and has to do a full restart which takes a little time although it does come back to the place where it left off. The answer to that is to jailbreak your phone and install Backgrounder. Then once the call is finished Navigon simply pops up again almost instantly.

    The next thing to test is whether the phone call can be routed through the radio speakers and if the iPhone microphone is sufficiently sensitive to pick up speech in the car. The former probably needs the loudspeaker on the phone activated when the call is answered (which perhaps isn't ideal), but there isn't much can be done about the latter if the microphone isn't up to it. But in the meantime I'll continue to use my Bluetooth car device which works well in the scenario described above with both iPod and Navigon going at the same time.

    When I think of the excitement when my Dad got a Radiomobile radio installed in his car back in the mid 1960s, what we have available today is just mind boggling - thousands of music tracks, voice navigation system and a telephone, all in a device the size of the iPhone.

  5. iMacMad thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2009
    Just a mo I'll check the Blue Dot
    Built in Bluetooth:
    As the iPhone is paired with the Bluetooth system the iPhone is automatically recognised as soon as it enters the vehicle. The vehicle Information Centre Screen can then display my Contacts list if required. Both Calls and Contacts can be manipulated by the vehicle controls.
    Incoming Calls silence the Audio regardless of what sound is being produced, either directly from the Audio system or via the FM Transmitter, although due to persistent heavy rain today I have not proven that Telephone Calls will take precedence over Voice Directions. There is little doubt that this will be the case.

    FM Transmitter and Navigon Voice Directions:
    The FM Transmitter cannot control the CD Player output as the CD Player is not using FM to produce its sound.
    [Error] If the Radio is in use either directly or for playing music from the iPhone via the FM Transmitter the Radio output will silenced in favour of the Voice Directions.[End Error]
    The above should have read:

    If the Radio is in use for playing music from the iPhone via the FM Transmitter the Radio output will silenced in favour of the Voice Directions, in use tuned to any other frequency Voice Directions will not be heard.

    Also see Post #8 below.

    Tuning the FM Transmitter:
    Using the Radio an empty Frequency with only static being produced is the target, preferably the Frequencies either side should also only be producing static. The FM Transmitter is then set to the same Frequency chosen on the Radio.
    Other FM Transmitters are capable of automatically selecting the best Frequency to use and lock on to it, unfortunately over the last few weeks the OOS [out of stock] situation has been ridiculous.

    Navigon Operation during a Call:
    With regard to a Call shutting down and restarting Navigon, if indeed that is happening, it is so smooth and quick it has not been noticed.
    I will observe this very carefully tomorrow and report back.

    iPhone-FM Transmitter Mount
    A small portion of the Cradle had to be removed to enable the FM Transmitter to fully engage with the iPhone socket.
    I decided that the Mounting Plate for the iPhone Bracket and Cradle should match the iPhone Trim and set about polishing it. Unfortunately the material was a scrap off-cut and in consequence is badly marked so may have to be 'brushed' to conceal the defects. You cannot win them all.
  6. sjdigital macrumors regular

    Oct 21, 2008
    The Caucasus
    This is the bit I don't understand. If the radio is in use, say tuned to BBC Radio 2, how can the FM transmitter, which is tuned to a different channel, override that to give voice directions?
  7. Tiffy macrumors member

    Jul 15, 2009
    I can confirm it is happening. When a call is received, if you don't answer or reject the call then Navigon is not stopped, but if you answer the call, Navigon is closed and restarted after the call. The restart can take up to 25 seconds, depending on you Iphone (3G/3GS). So if you are in a zone requiring many changes of directions, it's better to reject/not answer the calls !
  8. iMacMad thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2009
    Just a mo I'll check the Blue Dot
    Error in My Post #5 Above

    Regarding FM Transmitter and Navigon Voice Directions:
    The statement 'If the Radio is in use either directly.........' after reading the message from sjdigital I rechecked this and it should have read:

    If the Radio is in use for playing music from the iPhone via the FM Transmitter the Radio output will silenced in favour of the Voice Directions, in use tuned to any other frequency Voice Directions will not be heard.

    Thanks for drawing closer attention to this sjdigital, you are right and I fouled up, probably due to the fact that I tend to listen to only one genre of music and confused iPhone output with Radio output.
    iPhone seems to automatically run Music from the iPod Player when the FM Transmitter is installed. Not being aware of this added to my confusion.

    If this Forum system permits I will point to this Post from the erroneous Post #5 above.

    Thanks for that info Tiffy I have not let 'test' calls actually connect for long so that it probably why my observation is off?
    I usually drive with Aircraft Mode switched On, if someone needs to contact me that urgently they have to send a Text and that way I remain in control of communications and can answer when it is safe to do so. But with the Sat Nav in use it is problematic, but I think there are other issues at play in this respect.

    So whilst the set up is not the be all and end all it does what I wanted i.e. produces audible clear Voice Directions when needed.
    I will probably run with listening to Music on CD in MP3 format and kill that when important directions are due to be broadcast.

    I do not understand the technology but it would be great if the Voice Directions could be heard via Bluetooth in a selectable order of preference?
    Well I can dream.
  9. iMacMad thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2009
    Just a mo I'll check the Blue Dot
    Late Edits - Not Possible?

    I see that I cannot amend Post #5 above :eek:.
    Perhaps a kind Moderator could and add a Pointer to Post #8? :cool:
    Thanks in anticipation :).

    When I Logged On this time the 'Edit' buttons on my posts were visible so I have done the obvious.
  10. iMacMad thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2009
    Just a mo I'll check the Blue Dot

    I have just gone on a very short local trip, no Sat Nav needed, but there is a need to check a few more things thoroughly.

    1. Almost every time the FM Transmitter is deployed in conjunction with Navigon, the GPS has difficulty locking on the current location.
    If the FM Transmitter is removed the position is found very quickly.
    This is repeatable too often.

    2. About 33% of the times that the FM Transmitter is used the iPhone warns that the device is not compatible and asks if you want to turn on Airplane Mode.

    3. These events have shown that it is very unreliable to work using Simulation Mode, this mode being deployed in order to generate Voice Direction whilst safely being able to carry out operations deemed unsafe whilst driving.

    4. At this moment I am contemplating packing the FM Transmitter into its packaging and returning it for a refund.
    I am trying to balance this with the fact that the repositioning in the vehicle may have some bearing on the apparent GPS reception issues, and that it may not be a problem due only to hooking up the FM Transmitter.
    The weather is foul at present and the few trials made completely out in the open have been inconclusive.
    If the supplier is prepared to allow me to return it next Tuesday rather than today, I will contact Cygnett and ask for help. Cygnett have been very responsive to all of my enquiries but allowance has to be made for Time Zone differences.

    5. The good that has come from this experience, thus far, is that the iPhone position in the vehicle should make it easier to see and hear.

    I will be particularly interested to hear if Tiffy has had any similar experiences, or of course anyone else?
  11. m3coolpix macrumors 6502a


    Dec 24, 2007

    This is most likely because the FM transmitter attachment was not designed/produced to specs of the 'Made for iPod/iPhone' program by Apple. Might want to ask them about that.
  12. iMacMad thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2009
    Just a mo I'll check the Blue Dot
    I think that aspect was well covered when I exchanged several eMails with Cygnett Support m3coolpix?

    I was assured that the Cygnett GrooveSafari FM Transmitter would function as desired with the iPhone 3GS.

    The Packaging carries a sticker proclaiming that it is compatible with iPhone 3G.
    It is evident that many items of Hardware are available that cause the warning message to flash up, but it seems that the great majority do function properly with the iPhone. This seems to indicate that Apple are not doing an 'Uncle Bill/Balmer/whoever it is currently' trick, but are actually checking that third party hardware does function fully with their kit before removing the warning flag?

    I have 28 days in which to return the FM Transmitter, for refund, and await a response from Cygnett to an eMail sent earlier today.
  13. sjdigital macrumors regular

    Oct 21, 2008
    The Caucasus
    Or jailbreak and install Backgrounder which neatly solves the problem. Navigon resumes instantly the phone call is concluded just the same as the iPod.

    Surely the answer to this is to use the iPod that's in the phone for your music rather than mp3 CDs and adjust the volume of Navigon to be heard over the music. And then both will fade into the background if a call comes in. Playing mp3 CDs is so last century!
  14. iMacMad thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2009
    Just a mo I'll check the Blue Dot
    Sad Day - Bye bye FM Transmitter

    I spent a lot of time, spanning 12 hours or more, carrying out tests at 3 hour intervals in an effort to determine what was happening to the iPhone-FM Transmitter in the hope of resolving the problems.

    Cygnett Customer Service were very supportive and gave extremely prompt responses, as they did with all my pre sales queries.
    Their suggestion was that probably too much current was being drawn and that it was degrading the GPS signal.
    They offered, if I lived in Australia, to exchange the unit to avoid the need to deal with a remote supplier. Sadly I could not take up this offer.

    My tests revealed that in my location, almost completely encircled by low rise buildings and low walls, that the iPhone minus FM Transmitter works as expected in and out of the vehicle.
    In my case, the time to lock onto the GPS signal varied dependant on time of day. The best case scenario was less than ten seconds and the worst a few minutes. Using the FM Transmitter outside, pointless except to prove that GPS could be locked onto, took up to five minutes.
    I also found that a couple of metres position change made a lot of difference, so a minor relocation may be all that is required to get a lock on GPS.
    At certain times of the day the GPS wrongly positions me 20 metres or so to the North. If I lose one or more Satellites, by moving under cover, the distance can be off by a Kilometre plus.
    With the FM Transmitter installed it functions after a short delay outside the vehicle.
    Inside the vehicle although it has on some occasions locked on to the desired route after a short time the GPS signal fails.

    Local journeys did not improve the In Vehicle experience, even stopping in an area with extensive open views and making several attempts to lock onto GPS did not improve matters.

    There was only one thing left to do, return it to the supplier and the local branch now had the item in stock.
    Intent on trying a replacement I visited the local outlet and was given a whole list of reasons why the setup would not work. Apparently what I needed was a unit that would connect to the iPhone by a 3.5 mm Jack Plug......blah......blah....blah......
    I think the reality was that although their web pages said they had stock of 1 GroovSafari, it had been sold. The branch opened only a week ago and the Assistant Manager was obviously keen to increase his sales count. Unfortunately for him I know what I want or need and hard selling just makes my barrier to pressure selling stronger. I had already carefully considered most other options of which this was one.
    The cost of the item was refunded after a lengthy ear bashing I could have better survived without.

    I will still be very pleased to hear if anyone is having any luck with a similar set up.
    Please remember there is not a lot of point in comparing apples [no pun intended ;)] with pears?
    Of course if anyone as a neat, one charging lead, FM Transmitter of any brand - iPhone 3GS set up that functions satisfactorily please let me know.

    sjdigital in reply to your Post:
    I totally agree.
    The reason for this is that as a new user of iPhone I am having problems in that volume differs considerably between tracks. I will start another Thread on this subject so as not to drag this one off topic.
    Of course without the FM Transmitter, and lack of an Auxiliary Input into the vehicle Radio, I would have to listen to the output direct from the iPhone.
    No contest with a CD being played on the ICE equipment in my view.
  15. Tunnelrunner macrumors regular

    May 9, 2009
    First off, let me say that I didn't read this entire thread; I speed-skimmed through most of it--especially the really lengthy posts - so forgive me if what I say has already been mentioned. But let me make a few quick points:

    -RE: The warning signal about the device being incompatible with the iPhone - I've gotten that warning with just about every FM transmitter I've ever used. I just disregard it since the device has always worked with the iPhone.

    -RE: Taking a long time to lock a GPS signal - IMO, this is more of an issue with Navigon itself, which of all the GPS apps i've tested for the iPhone, Navigon seems to take the longest time to find an iniial GPS signal.

    -I live in the US, but my favorite FM transmitter is the Griffin itrip - you can play your music and it will project the voice of whatever GPS app you use over the car stereo. There's also the Belkin Tunecast, but I found the reception/signal to be quite crappy -- at least in my part of the country (Chicago).

    ADDENDUM: Both the itrip and Tunecast will also charge your iPhone; a must for GPS navigation.
  16. iMacMad thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2009
    Just a mo I'll check the Blue Dot
    Thanks for the info Tunnelrunner :)

    I looked at the Griffin iTrip previously and discounted it due to it being described for use with the iPod and absolutely nil mention of iPhone.

    My knowledge regarding the various iPod models is very limited, I only know that the 'dock' has undergone changes and that the latest versions are similar to that of the iPhones.

    I have already started looking again at the Griffin iTrip and notice a startling difference in pricing [UK market].
    When I confirm the items being considered are like for like, and not old out of date versions, I will be happy to purchase from the low end suppliers because even if it fails very little cash will be involved.
  17. Tunnelrunner macrumors regular

    May 9, 2009
    No prob, Dude.

    I neglected to mention which specific itrip model to order: the "itrip Auto" with smartscan feature.

    Here's a link:
  18. iMacMad thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2009
    Just a mo I'll check the Blue Dot
    You read my mind - Spot on with the Griffin Link

    Thanks for the update, I found the Cygnett GrooveSafari lacking in the auto tune department so I have been looking at that aspect in particular.
    I was just searching for the link to the Griffin site to get info, so that is very much appreciated.

Share This Page