Adding Wireless CarPlay

John Petroviak submitted an interesting question today, and after enlarging the only photo I could find of Mazda’s implementation of wireless CarPlay for MY 2021 Miatas, and if I’m seeing it properly, it looks like they’ve changed the airbag message panel/seat-warmer switches to include a shelf for the wireless charging pad. That is based on the assumption that wireless phone charging is included in that option, which is possibly incorrect.

Consider this a discussion article, and at least for now, not an authoritative how-to… 🙂

I am guessing that rather than producing a different USB hub, since it only needs power without wired connectivity to the CMU*, the wireless charger is a unique assembly with a slimmer message panel / seat-warmer switches and a phone shelf, independent of the cubby below it. I’m thinking that the power feed would be via the seat-warmer connectors though, so a car without that option might need a power wire run from the lower fuse panel, possibly resulting in 2 powered switches for seat warmers that might be otherwise useless, but if you do have seat warmers (and the CarPlay USB hub), it may very well be an easy mod!

[UPDATE 1/9/2021]
Ash8, has reported today, that Wireless CarPlay will require firmware 74.00.200+, and although the CMU seems to be the same unit, by MY 2022, he expects that an upgraded CMU (expected to cost around the $2K mark), that includes a different display screen (no touchscreen ability), will be the norm. He surmises that perhaps by MY 2022, these upgraded CMUs will be standard in both the Club and Grand Touring Miatas.


* I admit I could be wrong, as I’ve read that the CMU is automatically triggered into CarPlay mode when attaching your phone into the top USB port, so perhaps the USB hub is tied into the wireless pad, unless Mazda requires that the CMU be manually triggered into CarPlay mode, when using the wireless option?

Miscellaneous accessories, compatible with your 124 Spider

John M. submitted a source for properly adding a mounted fire extinguisher in his vehicle, and it reminded me that others may have inspiring solutions and accessory suggestions that might prove helpful to a few other 124 Spider owners. 


For instance, I recently procured a BougeRV 30-quart portable 12-volt compressor fridge/freezer, (along with a Jackery Explorer 300 portable power station) for outings/SHTF/road-trips/food shopping, and although I had my Jeep in mind as the usual vehicle to bring these items along in, I selected a size that would also fit in my 124 Spider.  My Jeep Grand Cherokee has a dual AGM battery setup that includes a 20-amp fused 12-volt outlet in the trunk, that powers the fridge great, but if I plan to keep it powered for an extended time while the engine isn’t running to keep those batteries charged, I’ll hook it up to the Jackery unit instead.

Rather than installing a dedicated 12-volt power lead into the 124 Spider’s trunk, again the Jackery, which is capable of powering the fridge for an entire weekend (unlimited if a solar panel or other input power source was also plugged in), will provide power to my fridge for a Fiat Club picnic, a tailgate party or a shopping excursion for seafood. The fridge fits very nicely in the trunk (thanks to the rectangular well in the bottom that seems custom-made for accommodating a cooler), albeit not much else will fit in concurrently. The height of this unit is a good reference point as being close to the max if you are shopping for other brands; smaller capacity units will usually be shorter.

The YouTube vlogger that I got all my promo codes from, and who’s reviews I depended on for my purchase decisions, is Hobotech.


BougeRV 30-Quart Fridge/Freezer Specifications

GENERAL

Weight:                                   
22.82 lbs

Dimensions (LxWxH):         22.7 x 12.6 x 15.5 in

Cooling Range:                      -7.6°F to 50°F

Voltage:                                    12V / 24V (DC); 120 – 240V (AC)

Capacity:                                 28 Liters / 30 Quarts

Refrigerating System:          Compressor; (not ammonia absorption)

Warranty:                                24 Months (36 months, if you register your purchase)

The Wancool compressor in the BougeRV unit is from China, which helps explain why the price of the BougeRV fridge/freezer is so much lower ($269; $215 using a promo code) than the equivalent ICECO JP30 fridge/freezer ($499) with the acclaimed SECOP (Danfoss) compressor made in Denmark.


The Jackery is ideally suited to power CPAP units, small AC appliances that use no more than 300 watts, 12-volt accessories (like my very energy-efficient fridge with it’s variable-speed compressor), and charging phones and drones. It actually fits along side the fridge in the 124 Spider trunk, making this a perfect duo, and it has so many other uses as well.

Now all I need is a solar panel, and I’ll be a “prepper” 😉

Jackery E-300 Specifications

BATTERY INFO

Capacity:                                 293Wh (14.4V, 20.4Ah)

Cell Chemistry:                     Li-ion NMC > Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide

Lifecycles:                              ≥500 cycles to 80%

PORTS

AC Output:                              110VAC, 60Hz, 300W (500W Surge)

USB-A Output:                        5V, 2.4A

Quick Charge 3.0 Output:   5 to 6.5V, 3A / 6.5 to 9V, 2A / 9 to 12V, 1.5A

USB-C PD Output:                  5V, 9V, 15V, 20V, 3A

Car Output:                             12V, 10A

DC Input:                                12V to 30V (90W Max)

RECHARGE TIMES

AC Adapter:                          4.7 Hours

12V Car Adaptor:                  5 Hours

100W Solar Panel:                 5.5 Hours

Electric Generator:              4.7 Hours

GENERAL

Weight:                                   7.1 lbs

Dimensions (LxWxH):         9.1 x 5.2 x 7.8 in

Operating Usage Temp:       14 to 104°F

Warranty:                               24 Months (36 months, if you register your purchase)


Added 1/1/2021

The trickle charger that I ended up ordering, while the car is wintering in my garage, is the NOCO 5-amp Genius5 fully automatic charger, since it is in a sealed plastic unit (much safer when sitting under the hood near the battery) with LEDs that inform you of what it is doing, and is designed for 6-volt and 12-volt lead-acid automotive, marine, and deep-cycle batteries, including flooded, gel, AGM, and maintenance-free, plus lithium-ion batteries.  It is an all-in-one solution – battery charger, battery maintainer, trickle charger, plus battery desulfator.  There is an optional OBDII adapter cord available too, that can be used as a “keep-alive” battery maintainer while replacing your battery, and also allows you to charge your battery without opening the hood.

allows you to connect NOCO charger to the OBD2 port under your dash

Added 3/16/2021

mx-5-speaker-grill-set-behind-seats-3

I saw this on the Miata forum today, and thought I’d throw it out there, just in case someone might find them useful – speaker grilles from I.L.Motorsport to replace the trim covers hiding the storage cubbies behind the seats (some 124 Spider owners don’t even know that these cubbies exist). I actually use the cubbies for their intended purpose – the cup holders (that I’ve never used), are stored rattle-free in one of the cubbies (just in case), and I’m happy with my non-Bose system, so the grilles are of no use to me.


Added 3/22/2021

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photo (and instructions) courtesy of Gregory K. Lipscomb

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I saw this in the 124Spider.org (2017+ FIAT 124 Spider) Facebook group today, where Gregory posted great instructions on how to install the CURT (11435) receiver hitch (a MX-5 accessory intended to accommodate bicycle and autocross wheel/tire racks).


Added 4/10/2021

infoscreen hood

photo+ recommendation courtesy of j.c. parks

Glare hood for the Infotainment screen

Replacement Vehicle Battery

Many of us will soon be looking for a replacement vehicle battery, and John M. has been doing a lot of research to find the ideal replacement.   The Mopar battery (BB0H5500AB) identified in both my Specs section and my battery articles written a few years ago, has apparently been discontinued, and superseded by one or two others, and like most Fiat parts, seems to be overpriced. As Stefan reminds us in the first comment, Fiat has simply selected an existing Jeep battery that is a little smaller, so that it fits in the battery tray.

So what ended up being John’s best solution?  The exact Q85* replacement battery obtained from a Mazda dealership.  He writes:

I found an actual original factory battery source for our Spiders. Once again, it’s as simple as Mazda dealers.  The Q85 battery in our Fiats is the same factory battery as used in recent year Mazda 3’s equipped with something called “i-ELOOP”  (start-stop).

And apparently there is no substitute that will work for those cars, so Mazda dealers stock them – but in very small numbers. My closest Mazda store stocks just one and doesn’t order another until it sells (which they do regularly).  Local price here is $425.  Also online for about $320 not including what must be very expensive shipping.

The Mazda part number for the battery is PE1T-18-520-9U.  It is a Group 35 size battery.  The batteries that Mopar lists are in larger size groups and I don’t see how they could fit into the Spider battery tray.

Panasonic developed a Q85 battery exclusively for Mazda’s i-ELOOP vehicles, to be used with a non-standard alternator and a capacitor, as explained in this article that John found.

The i-ELOOP system uses a unique variable voltage alternator that can produce up to 25 volts during deceleration. The electricity that is generated during deceleration is not sent directly to the vehicle’s battery, because the battery cannot store more than 12 volts. Instead, the capacitor stores the electricity, up to the 25 volts produced by the alternator.

The Q85 battery that Mazda has installed in our cars is more generic, is only designated as Stop-Start, and is a flooded cell lead-acid battery apparently produced by a few companies, one example of which is shown in the top photo. If the price is right (and you can find one), that battery, made by Bosch @ 620 CCA would fit perfectly!

Replacement Battery: As an alternative to the spec battery, Fiat has recommended that U.S. dealers  install (Mopar) H5 batteries, which fit fine, although they are shorter in height and are rated @ 500 CCA. I will be happy to add other alternatives as they become known, but for now, the Mazda and Mopar batteries are good replacements for Fiat’s design choice.


*  Q85 Specs

q85

There may be some 124 Spiders produced for MY 2021 after all, but the end is near

maserati-alfieri-concept_100458631_m

photo of the Maserati Alfieri as presented back in 2014

According to Hotcars, Mazda will still be producing a few batches of  124 Spiders on their Miata assembly line as 2021 models, so the Spider isn’t done yet.  It remains to be seen which ports these cars will be shipped to though, and as Hotcars states:

… the 2021 124 Spider Abarth will need a serious marketing team to dethrone its opponents.

It has been confirmed that dealers can still take deposits for special-order 2021 124 Spiders from the factory for customers.

My Fiat dealer also sells Maserati and Alfa Romeos, so even if they are not allocated any sales bank 2021 Spiders (I think they still have a handful of 2019s to sell), the Maserati Alfieri (shown above), which I think looks so much like a conceptual hardtop version of our Spider, will soon be proudly displayed in the dealer’s showroom.

Equipped with a 4.7L V8 Ferrari engine, the Alfieri is expected to hit the streets by the beginning of 2021. First introduced in 2014, the concept car is finally becoming commercially available.

As an effort to revive the Maserati brand, the FCA decided to keep the luxurious aspect that naturally comes with a Maserati (unlike Ford with Jaguar). The Alfieri will be competing with low-grade Ferraris, Lamborghinis, as well as the BMW M6 and the AMG C63 S.

[UPDATE 12/15/2020]
As for new Spiders, one is in the works from Maserati  –  the MC20 Spider, a full-electric planned for MY 2022, according to this article.

2022-maserati-mc20-spider-looks-very-sexy-for-a-rendering_54


[UPDATE 11/21/2020]
After reading this article today, where they’re auctioning off the last 124 Spider produced for the Japanese market, I think it’s safe to assume that there won’t be anymore coming out of the Hiroshima facility, so any new arrivals at the ports (if any), will be the last ones. The article doesn’t state what model year was assigned to these last vehicles though (2020 or 2021?).

P.S.
I love some of the sketches that were assembled for this “Sayonara” charity event!

Towing your 124 Spider behind a motorhome

towing behind motorhome1

ND being towed on a Futura 13′ single-axle lowering trailer

A blog reader asked me to provide some answers to the title question, and not knowing if this subject has ever been covered before, I decided to start my search at various ND Miata forums, and write an article for discussion.   Since our platform is RWD, towing with the front wheels on a dolly, or with a tow bar and all four wheels on the ground (aka flat towed, or 4-down), is generally forbidden.

Manual Transmission

Since the 6-speed manual transmission in the ND has no synchronizer on the countershaft, unlike the previous generation 6-speed manual transmission (NC) which does have one, there is nothing on the rotating output shaft to slosh oil about, so there will not be sufficient lubrication of the internals, as the vehicle is being towed with the rear wheels on the ground, and premature failure would be inevitable.

I have however, seen some discussion that there is evidence that the NC 6-speed manual transmission (which is the one in our 124 Spiders), did indeed lubricate the internals while being flat-towed (or, alternatively, with the front wheels on a dolly), because of a synchronizer on the countershaft that is continuously rotating in the gear oil residing in the bottom of the transmission, throwing oil on the main shaft and tail bushing.  As an example, healeyman discusses his flat tow setup here.  He also has instructions for removing the steering wheel lock on a NC, as well as instructions for fitting a Roadmaster baseplate and brackets on a NC, and my guess is that the 124 Spider is very similar (at least regarding the steering wheel lock).  millsj mentions fitting a baseplate with an intercooler here.

rvmiata2

healeyman has “flat towed a 2012 NC Retractable over 30,000 miles”

cimg1613

That is good news, since although the housings differ slightly to accommodate the respective engines, Fiat made the wise decision to use the tougher NC-era manual transmission internals in our 124 Spiders, so there is a good possibility (requires further research) that we might be able to “flat tow” the car with a tow bar, even though officially, Fiat maintains that this is NOT an accepted practice.

Automatic Transmission

There is no chance of towing these vehicles with the rear wheels on the ground, if they have an automatic transmission, which leads to the next question:

How can these cars be towed?

One possibility is to pull the vehicle on a dolly, with the rear wheels on deck, and the steering wheel lock disabled.

towing behind motorhome2

Other options include an open car-hauler trailer…

trailered-spider

or an enclosed car-hauler trailer, which tend to be quite large, heavy and involve cumbersome ramps.

f512d8913609266524ff3e76e5241303


aha4aiconI was pleasantly surprised to discover that Futura makes a single-axle version of their lowering trailer, which seems to be custom-made for our light vehicles, since it has a 2,620 pound load capacity (see the first photo at the beginning of the article).  The trailer can be operated (lowered/raised) via remote control, which is probably necessitated by the fact that you can’t open the car door while the trailer is in the lowered ramp position.  A video on their website implies that, most RV parks will agree that, since no ramps are required, this particular trailer will usually fit in the allocated parking spot, and not be considered a third on-site vehicle, as long as you agree to park your car on it, when returning to your site.

Since it is less than 18′ long, you should be able to park the trailered car in your garage, and yet, retain the ability to drive on and off of it in-place!

single-axle-specs

single-axle-overview-new

Futura single-axle trailer shown lowered with optional tire rack and stone guard

Addition of a screen to the HVAC inlet

HVAC inlet grille

What is labelled as a side cowl grille, is in reality, a bezel desperately in need of a metal screen mesh to keep critters, leaves, twigs, etc. from finding their way into the cabin air blower fan, unless you are quite confident that your car is kept in a clean, critter-free garage, when not being driven.  I doubt that the one integral strip of plastic serves as a beneficial barrier against anything other than perhaps your fingers.

Goaterguy was probably quite surprised to find a mouse nest in his, and added a metal mesh screen to prevent that from ever happening again (they chew through plastic, so don’t go through all the work of adding a screen made of plastic).  I know from experience in a camping trailer, that the urine smell never goes away, but hopefully his mice that spent the winter left the nest (and vehicle) for that activity.

HVAC inlet no-grille

photo courtesy of Goaterguy

And since the air-flow needs to be unrestricted, I would suggest also avoiding the installation of any “filter” meshes, like window screen,  as it will clog with dirt just like the air filters for your engine and furnace, and become another maintenance task (will need to be checked and cleaned periodically – not ideal).

Continue reading

The convertible I had prior to my 124 Spider

dune_buggy_crop

In case anybody might be interested in another fun car that I had prior to my 124 Spider (from 2004 to 2014), I’ve duplicated a somewhat hidden page that I’ve had on my blog for some time (4 years; based on an article I wrote 16 years ago, back when I owned the domain hunterdunebuggy.com), but apparently because it is now a stand-alone wordpress.com web page, rather than a blog post, I’ve never been able to add the tags that Google needs for it’s search engines, so although the vehicle is pretty obscure, this article may outperform that page (get a few more hits).

Presenting my 1965 Hunter Dune Buggy, a limited-production clone of Steve McQueen’s customized version of a Meyers Manx vehicle he’d purchased from Bruce Meyers, for some of  his driving scenes in the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair.

hunter_banner

written by Dan Adkins

Bruce Meyers started the dune buggy industry in 1964 when he designed a fiberglass dune buggy and started producing the Meyers Manx in his tiny shed on the Balboa Peninsula outside Newport Beach.  It was a monocoque body with a Beetle engine, transmission and suspension bolted to it and Meyers hoped to sell 20 or 30 (then priced at $985) just to cover the cost of the project.  Instead, he would receive more orders than he could fill.  Soon thereafter, in order to make the buggies easier to manufacture and more affordable, he redesigned the Manx bodies to bolt onto shortened VW floor pans (with front seats, suspension, beam, wheels, transmission and engine already attached beforehand, if so desired) and when magazines like Hot Rod and Car & Driver featured the fiberglass buggies on their covers, they took the country by storm.

In 1967, after Steve McQueen won his favorite lead role as Thomas Crown in the original production of the United Artists film The Thomas Crown Affair, for which he earned $750,000, and apparently aware of how well the Manx dune buggy performed on the beach, decided he wanted to use a souped-up Manx buggy in the beach racing scenes with co-star Faye Dunaway (who bravely remained seated at his side), rather than a Jeep as the script called for.  The film was released on June 18, 1968 and it helped further boost the dune buggy industry, as all of the driving scenes and stunts were done by McQueen himself in the buggy he had customized, known as the Queen Manx (which indeed started out as a Meyers Manx kit purchased from B.F. Meyers & Co.).

the-thomas-crown-affair

thomascrown

Continue reading

Adding reverse camera to 124 Spider Abarths (U.K.)

back-up-camera

I don’t know why Fiat chose not to include the reverse camera in 124 Spider Abarths sold in the U.K., but since the Infotainment System is designed to accommodate the camera, it is only a matter of adding the wiring and the camera itself, should you wish to have the popular option that Fiat fortunately included for most of the other 124 Spiders sold around the world (I’m sure the US requirement for including the cameras in all 2019+ automobiles was a major factor).

Stuart has started a blog promoting his reverse camera retrofit kit, along with instructions, which is at https://124spider.uk/reversing-camera, and asked that I share this with my readers.

Seat Lowering Rails

seat lowered

photo courtesy of james.today

Happy New Year!

The photo above in the “Seat Lowering Rails” thread on the 124Spider.org forum caught my attention, in that it appears that a good 2″ drop was accomplished on this driver’s  seat, by substituting the factory seat slider rails with new brackets from Paco Motorsports, created expressly for taller drivers needing a little more headroom (or auto-crossers needing to wear helmets 😉 ).   Although Recaro seat bottoms are said to sit a little taller than the stock seats, this could be a substantial improvement – regardless of which seats you have!  You can get a good idea of what is involved in installing these brackets, by reviewing Paco’s installation instructions here.

I remember writing an article back in 2017, that involved lowering the seat height by “meshectomy”– unfastening one side of the load-bearing seat-bottom mesh, which essentially transfers all of the seat support to the outer covering only, allowing the occupant to sit only a ½” lower.  By giving up the ability to readily adjust the position of the seat, these brackets provide a significant gain in headroom (along with a 6½ pound weight savings per seat), and seems to be a much more practical solution.  You will need your wrench to alter the position of the seat with these brackets, but it can be done.

seat rails

these photos courtesy of murix

seat with new brackets

I’m plugging in a link for a very informative guide for replacing the driver’s seat with a racing seat, since it has so much information regarding the electrical connections (did you know the wiring is there for seat warmers?), bolt hardware, etc.

seat2bharness2b2

Murix’s comments:

The good,
Feels really good, i need to test fit with my helmet but i’m sure i can fit with the top closed and pass the broomstick test. your butt is lower with your thighs higher, its alot like a fixed back racing seat, you feel “in” the car. no wiggles or rattles. feels like a sports car seat now. reminds me of the BRZ i test drove when i cross shopped these two. these rails and the 2in steering spacer makes the car feel so right. you are in the car and have a touch of recline.

The meh,
I had to remove the plastic guard to the right of the recline lever. exposes this shiny tube thing, i think it has to do with the airbags from what the plug looks like. might need to trim the plastic or paint the “tube thing” black. aesthetically unpleasing.
The second meh has to do with adjustment. all the bolts that need to be loosened and tightened are in hard to reach area where you have to use and open box wrench to twist 1/32 of a turn at a time. not impossible but if you can stay focused i’d figure at least 5 min per bolt to loosen and then 5 min minimum to tighten. not alot of room to work.

The ugly,
the bolts on the rear of the rails that bolt to the car. i would love if Paco can reply with the exact tool he recommends to tighten these. mine are half-arsed tight at the moment. you will need some sort of 14mm stubby open end wrench and alot of blue collar language. they are very hard to get started and you cannot see a darn thing.

Now Homer Simpson will fit 🙂 (art courtesy of Serge Maillet)

Serge Maillet and Bart Simpson