View Full Version : Successful External Drive hookup to HU

01-02-2008, 07:33 PM
I am posting this out of frustration to the car audio industry's lack of support on getting USB devices to properly connect to a car's head unit. I'm sharing my story with those of you who are looking for the same answer that I have been seeking since I first purchased my head unit a month ago.

First of all... I wanted to be cool and get an iPhone just so i could have an all-in-one device to use as a phone and a storage device containing mp3s that I could easily hook up and charge while simultaneously listening to them in my car.

It sounds like a great idea, but after a lot of research, I realized that the technology between iPhones and head units are best left separate until apple releases an iphone that can store a crap load of songs. (i have 40 gigs of mp3s... i want my entire collection on one device.. not 8 mb maximum.)

I have a 160gb western digital external hard drive

So... I purchased a Kenwood Excelon KDC-X891. the unit will not work with a large amount of data on an external disk... even if you format it into FAT32, it would not start up my western digital.

I returned the Kenwood and got a Pioneer DEH-P690UB. I'm still having the same problem.. no connection.. I even went out and purchased an 80gb external laptop drive with low power, fearful that maybe my western digital is just too powerful...

so if you're like me and you're at your whit's end about resolving this issue.. even after formatting into fat32, trying different drives, different connections, etc etc (its much easier to format through a mac's disk utility by the way)


your cable to your hard drive is too long or too many cables are being hooked up between the device.

For instance, if you have a kenwood excelon, the cable is approx 5 feet and is connected TO the unit. you cannot replace this cable. Because of this, you will only be able to successfully run thumb drives or flash drives on your kenwood.

If you have a pioneer, the cable comes out of the back of the unit and stops about 6 inches. When you have this installed, you will obviously need an extention to get it into your glove box.

If you have a western digital hard drive like me, you will notice it has a MINI USB hookup to the drive. If you plug your unit's 6" cable into a short cable on the unit, it works! In other words, If you have a head unit with a SHORT cable coming out of the back, using 2' or less cable that directly connects to your hard drive will solve your problem.

SO in conclusion. If you have your files formatted to FAT32 and it still wont work, follow the instructions above. Avoid using converters! You literally can only use ONE SHORT CABLE outside of the short cable that comes out of the back of the HU.

Good luck and don't lose your temper like I did! ;)

01-02-2008, 08:57 PM
Sorry but I think you are mistaken as far as the kenwoods go. Also the cable is said to be 39"'s long by there specs I believe. There is a guy posting here how his HD worked no problems. Are you sure it was'nt that you needed an extra power source? I do not claim to know anything more than what I have read. There is a whole post dedicated to the use of hardrives here if you search. I just think you are not doing enough research into the whole scenario. Please dont mistake my post as a bash on you. I am just posting knowledge from what I have read through the research I have done. Book smart not experience smart.

01-02-2008, 09:30 PM
I knew that my guess as to how long the cable is from the kenwood's was incorrect. All I'm trying to say is that if you are looking to use a hard drive that isn't powered by an external source and is only powered through the USB connection, Kenwood will not be able to fulfill this because of the 39" cable. It is simply too long, alone. When Kenwood releases a unit that has a shorter cable (like Pioneer)

I haven't done much research on using alternative power sources because I don't want to have to worry about buying a power converter for my cigarette lighter. On top of that, who wants to worry about always having to keep something plugged into your cigarette lighter?

I don't take offense to what you're saying since I haven't been geeking out on car audio until recently. :)

01-02-2008, 11:37 PM
Yes this is all new to me also =) The Kenwood supplies 500ma of power. I dont know what the Pioneer supplies though. I know from reading the owners manual online for the Kenwood unit I bought and havent recieved yet that they dont suggest using any additional cable longer than 5m. I think that statement would be for the reg thumbdrive/Ipod use only and def not apply to HD use. They suggest not using or running anything longer than the cable that is attached to the deck. At the end of that cable its rated at the 500ma. I think its a good idea nowadays with the internet being so handy to DL the user manual prior to a purchase to make sure of that any product you buy meets the requirements you have for it. Then alot of research for reviews on line is in order.

01-03-2008, 03:39 AM
i have a KDC-X591, and i'm using an external drive with the added 1' of cable the drive came with and no problems. AND, according to the spec sheet on the drive, it says it needs 550mA to power (IIRC). the thing is, it's a 1.8" form factor drive. it is a Soyo SlimEx Onyx 40GB (http://www.soyo.com/product/Portable_Storage/11/USB2.0_SlimEx_Onyx_40GB_Portable_Hard_Drive/360) drive. although the case says Soyo, it is loaded with the same Toshiba drive found in iPods. to be exact, it's a Toshiba MK4006GAH (http://sdd.toshiba.com/main.aspx?Path=HardDrivesOpticalDrives/1.8-inchHardDiskDrives) drive. you can buy these separate and get your own case if you want. now i still have 7 gigs left, so when i upgrade i'll find out if larger drives will still power up, but so far so good. this is just my theory, but i think 2.5" drives, mechanically larger, may need that extra juice. try a smaller 1.8" and see if that works out better

01-04-2008, 04:28 PM
i dont know a whole lot about hard drives.. when i went to microcenter (computer store) i asked for the least-powered drive available besides a thumb drive. i was directed to the 2.5". if i knew about smaller than 2.5 that worked on kenwoods i would have stuck with kenwood.

01-04-2008, 05:27 PM
why not get an externally powered drive? Your car and your computer are roughly 12 volts... Or you can run the ac/dc adapter that comes with it through an inverter in your car (which most new cars already have, mine does).

01-04-2008, 08:15 PM
The little research I did on the subject for my Kenwood x591, is to get a small drive like 40gigs that is 1.8 inch drive. The 1.8 should have a draw of roughly 450ma.

I spoke with lacie and the dude in tech support recommended


I asked about the rugged all terrain he said it would draw too much power