User:Woozle/1987 Nissan Maxima/dashboard mods

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This page is about modifications I made to the dashboard of my 1987 Nissan Maxima station wagon so that I could install a standard-sized CD/radio. The uncertainty in some places is due to a combination of circumstances:

  • I can't find the notes I made at the time
  • I originally did the modifications over a year ago, and now can't remember many of the details
  • The CD/radio I installed was stolen and some of the wiring got ripped out, so I don't have all of what I was originally working with (e.g. at least one of the Crutchfield cables seems to have been taken along with the CD/radio)

One of the first things I did was to carefully saw the dashboard in half with a pipe saw, right in the middle of the thinnest part over the steering wheel. [need picture] This makes it much easier to remove and replace, and is barely noticeable aesthetically. Doing this may even help prevent the dashboard from getting broken during future work, as the removal of the complete (un-sawed) dashboard involves some rather scary twisting and creaking noises if I remember right. I had to read written instructions in a 3rd-party tech manual before I felt confident enough that I was even doing it properly.

Faceplate Mods

The adapter kit from Crutchfield came with a metal mounting bracket and some cables. Unfortunately, they didn't quite do the job. For one thing, there was no way to set the antenna's "half-mast" control. For another, I couldn't figure out how to hook in the EQ module. I don't remember whether the CD/radio unit would have worked properly without the mods; perhaps those two issues were enough to make me decide to try to wire it up my way instead of just patching it together with the provided cables.

I mounted two illuminated pushbuttons on the mounting bracket. One of them switches the antenna between half- and full- mast; the other turns on the radio while the ignition is off. The buttons I used are apparently no longer available, but compatible replacements are:

Wiring Mods

One non-standard rectangular connector, I cut off the connector and attached quick-disconnects:

  • yellow / red dots - probably antenna half-mast control - attached to one orange wire with quick disconnect
  • orange / blue stripe / red dots - antenna activation - attached to two green wires with quick disconnects

to be written: wiring/circuits for the custom buttons

Leftover Cables

DIN connectors from EQ

I've had to abandon trying to use the EQ module, for now; unfortunately most car radios don't seem to have a pre-amp out/in (is that a high-end $ thing?), so there's no way to get the EQ into the audio chain. (I did figure out what each of the pins were for, though, as documented on the 1987 Nissan Maxima page.)

The connectors are male 1/2" DIN connectors; you can buy matching sockets from Digi-Key. The 7-pin connector is compatible with Digi-Key's 8-pin connector; just don't use the center pin. Note to self: find part numbers.


The car's antenna has a connector with two pins and a shield; the adaptor from Crutchfield brings this out to two standard antenna plugs. I'm not sure how that is supposed to work; is one of them for when the antenna is at half-mast? Further experimentation is needed. For now, I just plug in one of them and leave the other one hanging.