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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > ConnectedDrive / I-Drive / Navigation Related Discussion > Combox and BMWApps in 2010 E92 questions.



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      01-29-2018, 09:18 PM   #1
Emilime75
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Combox and BMWApps in 2010 E92 questions.

Have a 2010 E92 335i with USB/Aux in the arm rest and CIC I-Drive/Nav.

Would like to retrofit a Combox for USB audio, primarily Spotify from an Android to include Album Art and all that.

I see Comboxes on ebay from different years and model cars. Is there a specific year/model Combox I need to get? Or, will any of them work?

If I am understanding the hardware part correctly, I need a Combox and an adapter harness. I remove my TCU1.5 and replace with Combox and harness. One thing I see mentioned a lot is MULF. I'm not sure if I have one and/or where it might be located if I do. It isn't in the trunk where the TCU is.

Any info would be greatly appreciated.
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      01-30-2018, 12:11 PM   #2
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So there are a few things you may need here:

1) update your CIC to a firmware that supports Combox. Combox wasnt available until I think 2011 so you need a firmware on your Nav that supports it to begin with.
2) Combox controls bluetooth as well as audio and telematics if you get one with it. The Mulf unit is your bluetooth and audio controller and the TCU is for your BMW SOS...they both have to be removed in order to wire in the combox so you will need a harness to do this as well as close the MOST loop.
3) You will need to code the car for the new unit by changing the VO and coding the options that you would like as well as enabling FSC codes on the CIC for BMW Apps
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      01-30-2018, 09:02 PM   #3
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Great info, thank you. To expand on your points...

1. I've read that updating the CIC firmware beyond a certain point(date) causes issues with FSC, potentially other aspects of the retrofit. Is this true? If yes, what is a safe date range/firmware version that should be used?

2. Since both the TCU and MULF are being replaced, is the harness used only to wire the old TCU wiring and new COMBOX connectors, and the MOST loop is used to bypass the MULF? Is this correct? The MULF is no longer necessary and it's wiring can be left alone and unused?

3. This brings me back to #1 and the date/firmware version. I've read that after a certain point BMW started locking out and charging for FSC codes...maybe I misunderstood, the info is so scattered and often contradictory.
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      02-02-2018, 01:54 PM   #4
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So to answer some of your questions:

1) That is true although I do not know what version firmware you need to be running in order to avoid using an FSC code for apps as I have proper FSC's loaded for my VIN
2) The wiring for the combox combines both the wiring for the TCU and MULF2 into 1 harness. No wires are left out, all wires are used as well as all fakra connections should you choose to wire in a telematics combox. The MOST system is a close looped fiber optic bus that allows all modules on it to communicate with one another. Any break in the loop will cause all modules and computers on the loop to stop functioning. You are therefore removing 2 MOST enabled units and replacing it with one, so you use a MOST loop adapter to close the system on either the MULF or TCU fiber optic run (it really doesnt matter which) but that is a separate wire harness altogether.
3) addressing the 3rd question, the information is scattered mostly because there is not really a "one-size fits all" solution as most of this is very car specific. Each module requires specific coding with specific options and enabling codes to function correctly in addition to the necessary wiring.

***I will add one bit of information as I think it is very necessary, to do things correctly, I would suggest familiarizing yourself with how to load the proper FSC codes needed as it will allow you to run the newest firmware without losing any functionality. Also I would recommend that before doing this and doing and build year changing or VO coding that you update the car completely because once those values are changed BMW Service will no longer be able to code or program your car since the VO will no longer match what they have on record****
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      02-02-2018, 02:51 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emilime75 View Post
Have a 2010 E92 335i with USB/Aux in the arm rest and CIC I-Drive/Nav.

Would like to retrofit a Combox for USB audio, primarily Spotify from an Android to include Album Art and all that.

I see Comboxes on ebay from different years and model cars. Is there a specific year/model Combox I need to get? Or, will any of them work?

If I am understanding the hardware part correctly, I need a Combox and an adapter harness. I remove my TCU1.5 and replace with Combox and harness. One thing I see mentioned a lot is MULF. I'm not sure if I have one and/or where it might be located if I do. It isn't in the trunk where the TCU is.

Any info would be greatly appreciated.
You would need combox version BN2000. You can repin your current harness to fit the combox as an option. Easier to get a harness though. The Mulf unit should be mounted to the same bracket holding the the TCU. One atop the other kinda thing. You also can reconfigure the MOST adapter loop to take out one leg that will not be used.

If you really that interested in BMWApps; upgrading the CIC to latest software by virginiizing and getting FSC codes specific to your car is possible now. it may be a pretty penny however to find someone capable of doing it.

IMO - Do the retrofit of combox unit first and then try operating spotify by Bluetooth. You get steering controls as you would to skip songs and the album and song name is displayed. No Album art for as I can remember. That's the way I play music currently though I have BMW Apps. Come to think of it, I'm not sure BMWApps is capable of working with Android devices so that maybe a mute point.
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      02-02-2018, 09:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emilime75 View Post
Is there a specific year/model Combox I need to get? Or, will any of them work?
Get a BN2000 Combox

DO NOT get a BN2010 as it will not work on your car.
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      02-04-2018, 12:52 PM   #7
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Thank you all, great info.

In an effort to find what is necessary to update my current CIC software, I am seeing references to firmware and software. I see those as 2 different things with different amounts of difficulty to each.

Firmware=what the hardware runs on behind the scenes.
Software=the OS that includes the GUI.

Are these, in fact, 2 different parameters, or are people just using different terms to describe the same thing.

The whole BMWApps thing isn't a huge necessity for me. It would be cool to have and modernize the car as much as possible, but the main goal is to get Spotify in the car without using the AUX jack along with steering wheel controls. Few of the reasons I want this.

A. I want to avoid the headphone jack and internal DAC of my current phone.
B. Headphone jacks on phones are going away, my next phone will likely not have one and I hate adapters with mobile devices.
C. I tend to plug my phone into the USB jack anyway, to charge the phone while I'm driving, so I may as well use that to get Spotify into the car.

What I'm finding...
1. It looks like getting the right(BN2000) Combox isn't the hard or expensive part.
2. There are wiring diagrams available to re-pin the existing wiring, should I choose to go that route = free.
3. There are adapter harnesses available, should I go that route.
4. There are How-To's available with part numbers of all connectors to make my own adapter harness, should I go that route.
5. There is a MOST loop bypass connector to take care of that, since 2 boxes(TCU and MULF) are being replaced with 1(Combox).

It looks like the hardware part can be done for less than $400 USD. The tricky part is the CIC update, coding and possibly FSC codes for BMWApps to work. My hardware cost estimate is based on the fact that I already have BT phone capability along with USB+AUX in the center arm rest. For those who don't, you'd need to add the arm rest jacks+harness and microphone.

PS I'm using this thread not only to gather information, but hopefully help others in the future who may be interested in the same upgrade and are finding lacking info in other threads. From the countless info sources I've looked at so far, many have various useful nuggets, but none that answer it all.
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      02-04-2018, 03:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emilime75 View Post
Thank you all, great info.

Firmware=what the hardware runs on behind the scenes.
Software=the OS that includes the GUI.

Are these, in fact, 2 different parameters, or are people just using different terms to describe the same thing.
Actually they are misusing two different terms that are almost the same thing.

Firmware: Computer code run by a processor that is stored in a non-volatile (hence the term "firm") storage device/system. It can be used to provide initial startup capabilities (as in BIOS), provide core functionality (Operating System), and/or end point functions (a program or dedicated single use application).

Software: Computer code that can be run on a processor. Usually loaded into volatile memory (hence the term "soft") and can be replaced or overwritten by other programs or code. Software DOES NOT require an operating system. Single task devices may contain all of the required operational code within a single program/software... (e.g. Computers on a chip for dedicated devices, etc.)

And the above are being confused with "Coding".

In tech speak, coding is the term used for actually writing code (AKA writing a program).

In BMW speak "Coding" refers to setting parameters on the car that controls how the software/firmware responds or acts once it is running.

Thus "Coding" on BMW cars does not mean "to code". It really means "to set parameters or defaults, and/or adjust variables.".

Last edited by opjose; 02-04-2018 at 03:44 PM.
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      02-04-2018, 03:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emilime75 View Post
but the main goal is to get Spotify in the car without using the AUX jack along with steering wheel controls. Few of the reasons I want this.

What I'm finding...
1. It looks like getting the right(BN2000) Combox isn't the hard or expensive part.
2. There are wiring diagrams available to re-pin the existing wiring, should I choose to go that route = free.
3. There are adapter harnesses available, should I go that route.
4. There are How-To's available with part numbers of all connectors to make my own adapter harness, should I go that route.
5. There is a MOST loop bypass connector to take care of that, since 2 boxes(TCU and MULF) are being replaced with 1(Combox).

It looks like the hardware part can be done for less than $400 USD. The tricky part is the CIC update, coding and possibly FSC codes for BMWApps to work. My hardware cost estimate is based on the fact that I already have BT phone capability along with USB+AUX in the center arm rest. For those who don't, you'd need to add the arm rest jacks+harness and microphone.
I elected to purchase a pre-wired harness to do mine. This made the process reversible in case I ran into issues and I would not have to contend with re-pinning the connectors.

You DO need the Most loop bypass. The Mulf and TCU sit on the long MOST "Data highway". You are eliminating one of these modules, since the Combox does more than both the Mulf and TCU, leaving a missing segment on that data highway. The Most loop bypass patches the missing segment.

You should first check to see what the Integration Level is on your car. My Indie raised mine for me for free when I asked, while my car was in for other work. It is easier to have this done before you start.
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      02-04-2018, 09:29 PM   #10
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Great, so then what is it that needs to be updated on my current CIC?

1. Firmware
Or
2. Software

Furthermore, to what level. One aspect of this retrofit that isn't clear to me yet is based on other references stating an update is necessary, but updating to a "too new" version results in other difficulties and cost...like FSC codes. It's my understanding, and it could be wrong, that there was a window where BMWApps could be made to work without needing an FSC code, but somewhere along the lines BMW made it so that you do. Is this true?

Also, opjose, where did you purchase the adapter harness from? Cost? Link?
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      02-05-2018, 12:52 PM   #11
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So the actual operating software (firmware) needs to be upgraded which must be done with an ICOM system. Not terribly difficult, just an expensive tool, and again my recommendation is that that you take the time to completely update every module in the car as its much easier to code properly later.

***The only downside is you will have to get an FSC code for BMW Apps and load it or load all new FSCs and wipe your unit like I did so you can get them all to match***
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      03-05-2018, 03:43 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Emilime75 View Post
Thank you all, great info.

PS I'm using this thread not only to gather information, but hopefully help others in the future who may be interested in the same upgrade and are finding lacking info in other threads. From the countless info sources I've looked at so far, many have various useful nuggets, but none that answer it all.
I really appreciate Emilime75's post. This is a great summary for the E9x owners who love and need to do the Combox retrofit on their own.

I have been researching on this issue for a while. To me, the hardware works are comprehensible and doable. It is just like building Lego. However, I am deterred by the software works. Those cic.c08 / cic.c10 / cic.c16 / v41 / v42 / FSC codes / flashing / coding / ICOM confuse me.

I would need some more research before I will go ahead with this retrofit project.
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      04-07-2018, 09:54 AM   #13
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I've stepped away from this for now, too much life happening at the moment. It is still high on my to do list, so I will get back to it.
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      06-04-2018, 09:05 AM   #14
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Following post. Interested in carrying this project out myself. Although still a bit to learn.
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      06-04-2018, 03:47 PM   #15
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I haven't had much time to get back on this. I've read about other options, like simple BT receivers with built in DACs that plug into the AUX...not the option I want. A couple of CD changer emulator options are also available, but they, too, seem buggy and not quite what I'd like to end up with. So far, everything points back to a ComBox retrofit as the most complete, and least troublesome solution once it's all said and done.
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