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BMW TFT Screen and Connectivity Challenges
With my new GSA and its TFT screen I have had some challenges in getting all the electronics to work together. Bluetooth is pretty good these days but there are some issues with connectivity especially when you have multiple devices being used. Also BMW TFT software is not 100% perfect either. In the below paragraphs I will try to explain the challenges I have had, how I have overcome these and also a couple of links to help others.
Linking your Bluetooth connections together so they work
Recently I traded in my old 2016 GS for a new 2021 GSA. All good and I must say I do like the new TFT screen that the recent GS (A) models have but it does take a bit of getting used to especially when you are linking all your electronics together in a way they all work. I have Sena SC1 helmet comms system, the BMW NAV 6 navigation, an i-phone and finally the Sena handlebar remote to work them all together. Not forgetting the TFT itself which is able to connect to your Bluetooth systems as well. All this makes it a bit of nightmare when it comes to pairing and getting it all to work.
My problem was on my old GS I could link everything via my helmet and it all worked. The new bike recommends that you use the TFT screen as the hub. I do see why. With the scroll wheel and the interface with telephone it does make it a lot easier to make phone calls etc.
I am not advocating using the phone whilst riding as a priority but I do like to see who is calling and decide myself by easily and safely using the scroll wheel to accept or reject any calls. All this is now clearly visible via the TFT.
However the big challenge is that rarely does anything all work together. Phone calls via TFT is fine but everything else does not really link and I cannot drive the various Bluetooth applications properly. This is a big frustration and I spend more time trying to reset or fiddle with the various buttons than focusing on the riding. Not good!
Below is basically the explanation and ideas that I have used to make things sort of fit together. It does not always work and sometimes you need to reset / or fiddle with it but its the best I can get so far.
Apparently the trick is in the linking of your various Bluetooth connections to the TFT screen and in a particular order. Also if you are using the Sena SC1 comms system this also has a Bluetooth ranking system. Ranking means the order in which signals are handled and used.
Rather than going too much into explanation please have a look at the video below which I think explains it quite clearly.
So if you've watched the video here is a quick summary.
1, Delete all pairings on your helmet, NAV 6 and TFT and basically start again with a clean slate.
2. Pair your helmet and the NAV 6 using the second mobile phone connection in your Sena set up. To do this you have to enter the configuration menu of the SENA system in your helmet.
3. Pair your phone to the NAV 6
4. If you are using media via your phone via Spotify or the like then you'll need to disable the mdia link between the NAV 6 and your headset. Once the helmet is paired to the NAV 6 click on the SENA linked headset icon in the Bluetooth menu and disable the media option by touching the check box.
5. pair the NAV 6 with your iPhone.
6. Enter the Bluetooth menu on the NAV select the iPhone icon and uncheck ''media'' and ''phone calls''.
Moving to the bike
1. go to the settings menu and go to ''reset all''. This does actually reset all the setting on the TFT but ensures you start with a clean slate when setting up any comms links to the TFT.
2. Go to the connection setting and wait for this to light up ready to start pairing devices.
3. Pair your iPhone to the ''mobile device'' option in the TFT.
4. Scroll down to ''riders helmet'' on the TFT and enter the configuration menu in your SENA comms in your helmet.
5. Select mobile phone pairing. This is the first mobile phone pairing option.
6. When the SENA system appears in the TFT link the two together.
So to conclude there is an order you should be using to connect everything together. Although not mentioned in the video the recommendation is to connect the remote last and also to the helmet when the pairing menu advises.
As I tend to listen to music be it radio or music via my phone or preloaded onto the NAV 6 it is useful to be able to use the remote more than the wheel. So far all seems to fit together well enough.
One final point which is not insignificant is connecting your iPhone to the TFT. I actually put my phone in my top box which is aluminium. What I have noticed is if the top box is closed there is no connection between phone and TFT. Seems quite odd however I did learn that by putting my phone in the top box this acts as a shield to any signal. So if you want to have a connection either put it in your pocket or handlebar case as I do. This is only with the all aluminium cases. if you have plastic or canvas ones - no problem.
NOTE - there is a side note to all of this as mentioned in the video, make sure your TFT is updated with the latest software. I have reliably been informed that the last update to date (read end of 2021) was brought out in November. This is something you dealer has to do and it a bit time consuming but if you have issues with connectivity please contact them and explain and get them to perform the TFT update.
Any issues again please drop me a line and let me know if you find any other information that has helped you with this problems.