Can analog Onstar be upgraded to digital? [Archive] - Chevy TrailBlazer, TrailBlazer SS and GMC Envoy Forum

: Can analog Onstar be upgraded to digital?


orangedawg
11-16-2005, 02:45 PM
I have a 2002 Bravada that has the analog Onstar. I would like to upgrade it to the digital system. Can I upgrade this to digital? If so, how can it be done? Can I just use a newer Onstar box and hook it up to my harnesses? Will it hook up directly with no modifications? What would I need to change? Rear view mirror? Antenna (I have the antenna mounted on the driver's side rear glass and the "block" mounted behind my rear view mirror)? Anything else? Any help? Thanks!!

the roadie
11-16-2005, 03:04 PM
I have a 2002 Bravada that has the analog Onstar. I would like to upgrade it to the digital system. Can I upgrade this to digital? If so, how can it be done? Can I just use a newer Onstar box and hook it up to my harnesses? Will it hook up directly with no modifications? What would I need to change? Rear view mirror? Antenna (I have the antenna mounted on the driver's side rear glass and the "block" mounted behind my rear view mirror)? Anything else? Any help? Thanks!!

From the OnStar site:

Q. What different types of equipment do OnStar-equipped vehicles have?
A. All OnStar-equipped vehicles have one of three types of equipment:

Analog-Only: OnStar-equipped vehicles with analog-only equipment were designed to operate only on the analog wireless network and cannot be upgraded for digital network compatibility. Vehicles with this equipment will no longer be able to receive OnStar services beginning January 1, 2008. At that time, service will be available only through dual-mode (analog/digital) equipment. Analog-only vehicles cannot be upgraded to digital equipment.

Analog/Digital-Ready: OnStar-equipped vehicles with analog/digital-ready equipment operate on the analog wireless network, but were designed to be upgraded to dual-mode (analog/digital) equipment when available for that vehicle. Beginning January 1, 2008, OnStar service will not be available on these vehicles unless the OnStar equipment has been upgraded to dual-mode (analog/digital) equipment.

Dual-Mode (Analog/Digital): OnStar-equipped vehicles with dual-mode (analog/digital) equipment operate on both the analog and digital wireless networks and will not require an upgrade in connection with the wireless industry's transition to the digital network.

Q2. What kind of hardware does my OnStar-equipped vehicle have?
A2. To determine the equipment type in an OnStar-equipped vehicle, you may:

1. Press the blue OnStar button in the vehicle and ask the OnStar Advisor to identify which equipment type was factory-installed in the vehicle.
2. Call OnStar toll-free at 1.888.206.0031, or to contact us online, click here. (Please have your OnStar account number or your vehicle identification number (VIN) available.)

orangedawg
11-16-2005, 03:23 PM
I was talking more about whether someone has done it before. I know that Onstar says it cannot be upgraded, but I was wondering if any of the tech guys on this site knew if you could just hook up a newer Onstar box (say from a junkyard) to my analog system and get it to work. My guess was that Onstar was just saying that it can't be upgraded on their site to get you to buy a whole new system or new car.

So, anyone know if I can upgrade the analog to digital?

jimmyjam
11-16-2005, 04:01 PM
The interface to the databus/radio is suspect, but what I am pretty sure won't work is the antenna connection.

jscholl411
11-16-2005, 04:32 PM
I beleive that you would need to change the ant, control panel and vcim. Go to www.onstarforum.com (http://www.onstarforum.com) like here there is alot of information on onstars. They also have sites where you could buy a vcim from a 05+ truck and install it yourself.

Tommy
11-16-2005, 04:42 PM
This article may be helpful...

http://forums.trailvoy.com/showthread.php?t=2138

holstdb
11-21-2005, 12:29 AM
As far as what's physically involved in the swap, it's two things:
1) A digital VCIM (OnStar module)
2) A new antenna that will support digital cellular. I suspect the old window mount job you currently have would work, but it is *designed* for analog

Your options:
1) Wait around and see if/when your vehicle will be officially elligible for the OnStar upgrade. You can go to http://www.onstarenrollment.com and check your VIN. If and when it IS elligible (in other words, they know what they are doing and have a kit for your vehicle) the plan is still kind of a ripoff, because they make you purchase THREE YEARS of Safe & Sound in order to get the "free" equipment upgrade. That's $600 bucks.

2) Take it upon yourself to buy a used 04+ digital VCIM from a used auto parts place (see http://www.onstarforum.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=111 for help there) and buy a new or used roof mount antenna/cables and do the swap yourself. If you care enough to do this, and are handy with some basic tools you should be able to upgrade on your own for roughly $150 if you shop around.

bmm354
11-21-2005, 10:30 AM
The two options holstdb mentioned are pretty much your only choice if you want to upgrade. You can get a "free" upgrade, but then you're locked into having OnStar for 3 years and it still costs $600. But if you want the Safe & Sound pkg anyway, and you think you'd want it for 3 years, it's not too bad of a deal. I think that pkg runs ~$17/month, so 36 mos X $17 = $612.

If you go with option 2 and replace the VCIM, I believe you'll also have to make a trip to the dealer for them do an OnStar reconfiguration procedure. This is to reset two unique numbers: the station identification number (STID) and the electronic serial number (ESN). These are unique numbers that identify you as a user of OnStar and provide the specific vehicle the module is hooked up to. In other words the VCIM might work right after you install it, but all the info would be wrong. But maybe that's not a bad thing if there are minutes left on the old account...

jimmyjam
11-21-2005, 10:45 AM
2) A new antenna that will support digital cellular. I suspect the old window mount job you currently have would work, but it is *designed* for analogWithout trying I don't know for sure, but I've had to work with cellular test equipment, and we have antennas for AMPS, CDMA, TDMA, and GSM. They all look exactly alike but you get no reception if you use the wrong one. :confused:

tblazed
11-21-2005, 10:59 AM
It's not the mode (analog or digital) of the cellular (AMPS, D-AMPS, GSM etc) it's the frequency the different systems operate that dictates the antenna design and what freq the antenna is resonant. Some cell systems operate in the 824-894 mHz band, others 900-950 mHz, 1430-1490 or 1850-1990 mHz (all freqs approximate) bands. An antenna made for the older 800 mHz band won't perform well at all at 1.4 to 1.5 gHz for example and will present a mismatch and high SWR to the transmitter.

holstdb
11-21-2005, 11:35 AM
If you do the VCIM replacement, the dealer -may- be able to gladly plug right into your truck and change out info etc. But likely they'll say "You did what now? You put a used OnStar box from another vehicle in there? And you want us to what now?? I don't think we can..." :confused: :undecided

I'm on my second VCIM on my "custom" install. Both of them were from Chevy Impalas, by coincedence. This most recent time, I swapped in a digital VCIM from an '05, it had 30 minutes remaining so I used those up first. :D Then I called OnStar and asked to speak to Tech Support. I then explained that I just replaced my VCIM and need my account updated. They asked for my new Station ID (STID) and ESN off the VCIM, put me on hold a half-dozen times and then they were done. The only bummer is I got assigned a new phone number now. Otherwise no problems.

My antenna is a roof mount OnStar/XM combo antenna from an '05 something or other. Looks like this:

http://www.onstarforum.com/images/h2-4band.jpg