Tech Article Title Author Date
Installing an iPod  LoS4 2004

A while back I posted asking for help and advice on how to get a direct connection with the stereo without the compromise of a tape adapter or FM transmitter.

Not to my surprise, I got plenty of responses with a lot of great info and advice!

I bought an iPod, and am very happy with it so far. I got it online, so my total price including shipping was lower than the $400 you can find it for at CompUSA (plus tax in brick and mortar stores!!). 5GB storage, and firewire for zippity-fast file transfer. I have 40GB of songs, so the fast transfer is great for swapping songs in and out. I did hear, however, that there will be an updated iPod soon with more storage (10GB?).

There were two main ways of getting a direct connection, as far as I know.

1. Per Jeff Bipes' post (follow his link there to his webpage), you can splice in a mini jack cable to the line-in wires from the cd changer to the head unit (if you have a cd changer -though why would you ever use it again?- He devised a way to switch between the inputs).

2. You can run a cable from the cd changer in back of the car to the front and plug in your MP3 player that way.

Either way, you will need this part:

You can get it at Autotoys.com. They have a TERRIBLE website from a usability point of view, but I found the part, ordered it, and it got here UPS ground in about 5 days or so. Around $75 with UPS ground shipping included. According to Jeff Bipes and others, this is a Blitzsafe cable, sort of a custom made thing by the company. Look it up on the forum search page if you are interested to learn more, but suffice it to say, this works. Here is a picture of the adapter connector:

How does it work? It essentially tricks the head unit into thinking that there is a cd changer there, so when you push the CD changer button on your radio, it will actually listen in. You still need this even if you want to splice into the line-in wires into the head unit. Again, check out Jeff Bipes post on that.

Ok, so this is how I hooked it up. It was very simple to do.

1. Open up your tool chest cubby in the left side of your trunk. You will find this cable (with some foam wrapped around it)

Notice the little nib thing at 3 o'clock on it; That is some sort of catch, and you have to push it to slide the 13 pin adapter onto it. It doesn't seem like you have to push it to get it off.

2. Buy a m 1/8" minijack-to-RCA stereo converter cable. You need bare minimum seven feet, but this Monster Cable I bought ($25 from Soundtrack) is 10 feet long.

3. Plug in your cable into the adapter. The adapter cable RCAs are thin enough that I don't think they get too crimped when you shut the cubby door on them, as shown in the photo below.

As you can see, I am guiding the cable along the edge of the trunk, but under the carpet.

4. Yank your seat up!!! There are two catches that simply disengage when you pull on the seat. Go ahead, it won't hurt your car!



So, that's what kept me from sliding off the side of the road today!!

5. Looking from the cabin into the trunk (seats folded down), I have threaded the cable between the seat and the trunk. I am holding the carpet up.

6. You can thread it enough, and then grab it from the other side and pull it through.

7. This is a "heel's view" of the cable coming out of the seat. Notice the light colored foam, the leather on top, and the felt below that is where your feet go. Make sure your cable is flat here, because it will get a bit crimped, though I think it won't be too bad. Hey, it's only a $25 cable. Also make sure that there isn't one of the wire supports laying on it, and also make sure that the cable isn't where the seat locks into the car (see the ESP shot; the black thing at the lower left is where the seat locks into the car).

8. Move your seat forward all the way. I threaded the cable under the mat, inside the mat-locking post. This keeps the cable more or less in place. I then thread the cable up along the center, squeezing it between the chair and the center. It is really, really tight there.

9. And Voila!!

You can play with the amount of cable you want coming out of there. What I did was stuff any extra cable underneath the seat belt clip, between it and the center. When you or your passenger wants it, you can pull out as much as you need. See the photos below to see just how far I can pull it out.


See how the cord is completely stuffed between the seat and the center

 

I have an iPod case and car charger from Xtrememac . They were very friendly and responsive to my emails, and have a lot of different colored cases. Since the iPod supposedly scuffs easily, a case is a must. It also helps for when it gets banged around.

I have a PC, by the way, though I do like Macs. I use Ephpod to load the MP3s into the iPod. Ephpod is free. But in order to do this, you need some sort of program that can write to Mac drives. Dataviz' MacOpener works well, but you have to pay $50. There is a free trial, linked from the Ephpod homepage.

In case anyone is interested, I have a Escort Passport 8500 hardwired. Here is a shot.

Some notes: I find that there is a hiss in the stereo, and the louder I put it the louder the hiss. I don't think much comes from the iPod because I can hear the hiss during the silence between tracks on the CD player, and on a lower stereo volume setting, if I pump up the iPod volume, I don't get hiss.

I don't know how much better sound quality one would get by going direct into the deck (the other method I mentioned). But when you are on the road, it can't make that much of a difference, unless you are one of those nuts who fills your trunk with $10,000 worth of stereo equipment. But to each his/her own!

Ok! let me know if you have any questions. Otherwise, happy motoring/listening!

Carlos