Saturday, January 30, 2010

You Can Only Record Songs But Not Extract It from the Head Unit

The head unit on the NFL model has a firewire port. I have always wanted to see if I can connect to the hard disk in the head unit via a firewire interface. If it is possible I want to know if I can either copy the tracks out from the hard disk or copy songs from external storage device into the hard disk.

For a long time I have been trying to get the firewire interface to work and to recognize the hard disk controller on my notebook. However despite trying different firewire device drivers I was not able to make it work. The hard disk controller on the head unit always give a "device unknown" message. Since then I have given up on it.

A reader of mine is currently in Japan and he visited Toyota Osaka showroom with his Japanese counter-part (who act as a translator for him). They were told by the Toyota representative that it is not possible to download or upload song to the head unit through any kind of connection via computer. The firewire port in the head unit is solely for the the purpose of updating the GPS maps.

I am not convinced but I guess without knowing what kind of interface they used for the connection, there is no way to confirm this. Also I consider both songs and GPS maps as just data passing through the firewire cable. There must be another reason for the representative to give the this answer.

The obvious reason must be due to copyright infringment issue. Knowing that the Japanese is very strict with any copyright issue they don't encourage anyone to find out how the interface work hence downloaded the copyrighted songs illegally. Also in Japan, the G-Book function allowed copyrighted songs to be downloaded from the G-Book Center over-the-air by paying customers. Therefore Toyota will want to protect these copyrighted songs from being downloaded from the hard disk illegally.

The alternative for us in the oversea market is to record your favourite songs on the a CD, play it on the head unit and then the songs are recorded into the hard disk. Once the songs is recorded it can only be erased and not extracted.

Do note that the head unit in the Toyota Alphard is manufactered and tested to accept original CD cater for the Japanese domestic market only. If you are going to put a CD-R (either you buy it or burned your own), there is no gaurantee that it will work well with the original head unit. There has been cases where owner inserted non-original CD and it get stucked in the CD cartridge.

Therefore if you love Japanese songs and your giant comes with many Japanese songs then consider this as bonuses. I lost mine when I was tinkering with the head unit configuration settings! Not a biggie but I just couldn't find those nice Japaense songs anymore as I don't know their titles.

Friday, January 29, 2010

You Can't Open the Power Door When You Are Fueling

I had an email from a reader saying that he has a problem with the left side power door when he was fueling the car at the petrol station.

Well this is a protection mechanism built into the power door to ensure that the power door doesn't hit the petrol tank inlet cover. When the left hand side power door is fully opened, it cover the entire petrol tank inlet cover. If the power door is allowed to operate when the cover is opened it will hit it which is something we don't want.

Therefore when the petrol tank cover is opened you cannot operate the left hand side power door either with the power door button on the dashboard or the power door button on the remote control unit. If you try to open the left hand side power door manually it will open but you need a bit of force to do that. As you start to slide it toward the rear of the car it will stop half way without hitting the petrol tank cover (smart). This is the fail-safe mechanism built into the power sliding door..

The right hand side power door is not affected when the petrol tank cover is opened.

There was another question on whether the buzzer sound of the power door opening and closing can be eliminated. Well I have been trying to find an answer to this and so far can't figure out whether this can be done. I highly doubt it but until I get an official answer I'll keep this in mind. Some people suggested to disconenct the speaker that emit the sound but I think that just counter-intuitive.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Can The Sound Proofing in the Toyota Alphard Be Improved?

It has been a while I met with a fellow Toyota Alphard owner in person. I seen a lot of giants on the road around my area but it is just like another car on the road that you gave a glance but never come into contact.

The last time I met with a reader in person is to help him to look for his giant.

Last weekend I met up with anohter of my reader of this blog in a secluded place.

The place is just nice to have a private chat on our giant without anyone bothering us. The shade is just right to protect us from the hot sun.

The meeting was arrange impromptu as this reader was asking me through email what can he do to improve the sound proofing of his gaint. He recently acquired a '06 AS and he found that he can hear quite clearly a lot of noise from passing vehicle or motorbike either in low speed or high speed.

Since I don't faced such a problem I thought it would be better to meet up and then check out his AS. At least we can compare note as both of us are driving the NFL model.

Well we had a very pleasant chat on everything Alphard. Being new to his car he has a lot of questions and I tried my best to answered them. Both of us drove each other giant and we concluded that his giant sound proofing is not as good as mine.

I did check the rubbers on al the doors and they look ok to me.Other than the noisy tires that he had I couldn't find out why his giant is slightly less sound proofed than mine. After a long discussion, we concluded that one possibility if that the source of the intruding noise could be coming from the privacy glass.

His privacy glass was taken out to do the Puspakom inspection and then later was sent for tinting before refitted back to the giant. There might be some gaps that are not properly sealed that cause the external noise intruding into the interior. Still this is only our speculation and we can only ascertain if he goes back to ask his dealer to look into the fitting of the privacy glasses.

Another annoying thing he pointed out to me is that whenever the giant is going over rough patches of road, the rear seats will be making a lot of rattling noise. He think that his previous Toyota Vios has less rattling noise than his giant.

Well this is expected since the rear seats are sitting on the rail track so there is always some free movement hence the rattling noise. There is a common problem where the clips holding the base of the third row seats can come loose hence causing consistent rattling noise when the car is on the move. I sat at the back row and didn't find anything unusual. The seats on a sedan is permanently fixed to the floor so the chance of it moving and making rattling noise is very rare.

There are some shops that does special rubber lining for the doors and boot to reduce the intrusion of external noise coming into the car. However I feel that unless it is absolutely necessary no point spending the extra money just to get a little improvement.
We spent quite a bit of time checking out the features in each other giant. I let him audition my ICE setup and planted a bit of "poison" to him on ICEing his giant!

One interesting note is that this reader is really following my blog to the dots. He even show me his printout of all my blog posts that is relevant to him and binded them into a (so-called) maintenance manual. I really appreciate his patient and passion in doing that.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How To Find The Information You Need?

Lately as I read and responded to private emails from my reader, I realized that some of my readers are having a bit of difficulty in finding the right information to help them with their ownership of their giant (Toyota Alphard).

As the number of blog posts increases, some of the useful posts is no longer easy to find from the index page. As in any blogging platform the latest posts will go on the first page while the older posts will not be visible unless you go through the pages or search the archive.

The archive in the platform is display by month and only the recent month entries are expanded by default in the index page. Therefore going through the archive to find the information you need is tedious and time consuming. This is one of the drawback of a blogspot blog compared to a hosted WordPress blog. I can't complain much since is FREE.

I have recently included category into the my index page but then the category doesn't give you the context of the posts it linked to. Clicking any of the category link will bring you to all posts categoried under it. You still have to go through each pages to read through the content to find the information you need.

Therefore I decided to create an index page for all the posts that are relevant to help my reader with their ownership experience. This index page is like an FAQ related to our giant.

Please note that the FAQ apply mostly to the NFL model which I own.

You can find the index page here.

Hope this help

Monday, January 11, 2010

One Year On With My Toyota Alphard

Today is the one year anniversary of my ownership of the giant. Can't believed that time flies so fast and now the car is one year older. Mileage wise it is still pretty low as I hardly drive the car nowaday. So far I have only clocked about 10,000km for the full year in 2009!

Overall the ownership experience has been very pleasant. The giant hasn't given me any problem so far. Other than that once in a while crackling sound from the steering knuckle in the morning there is no other problem encountered so far. That is probably a testimony to the quality of Toyota car that I have heard off but never experienced it until now. It is funny that I have been a Honda fan for so long (I owned 4 Honda cars before) and none of them have given me the same ownership experience as my giant.

Other than the mis-fortune of an attempted break-in which cost me quite a bit, the maintenance of this gentle giant is very low. So far I have only done one maintenance service which cost me about RM400, I have not spend any other amount on maintenance other than the routine petrol costs. Out of the RM400, more than half of it is for the fully synthetic engine oil that I have chosen. Anyway I can't argue much about this as my ownership of my previous SUV costed me 3 times more within the same duration.

I have also installed a set of ICE into the giant for my own my passenger entertainment. However most of the time I drive the car alone and I thoroughly enjoyed the enhanced sound systems listening to my favourite CDs.

I have only driven the giant outstation twice! The first time was with the AOC members for their durian trip and the other was to Ipoh to attend a relative dinner function. This year I plan to take the giant for more outstation trips as much as I can.

I just change out the roadtax sticker this morning and then send the car to my regular accessory shop to fix the angel eyes. Yes one of the mod I did to the giant was to change the HID light bulbs in the front light cluster to projector lamps and added 4 angel eye rings (2 on each side). One of the ballast blown so the shop change it for me under warranty. This is the effect of the angel eyes when it is on.

Throuh 2009 I have really learned a lot about this car. I started this blog with the intention of just writing about my owership experience of the giant but it ended up more of technical know-how blog site for Toyota Alphard.

I have gotten a lot of queries and comments from my readers of my blog. I appreciate their times and efforts in readingmy blog. I hope my answers has help the readers in their ownership experiences. I have also received emails from reader asking for assistance to find their dream "giant". I am glad that I have managed to help a few of them in their purchase of their giants.

I know I haven't been blogging much lately as I am starting another project. I have a few technical posts that I wanted to finish up but have been postponing them for quite a while. I will try to find more time to write about the giant and will continue to respond to those who is looking for help on acquiring their own giant.