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Toyota Corolla iPad Install

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  • Toyota Corolla iPad Install

    I started working on a Mac Mini install for my 1999 Corolla over a year ago, and things never really worked properly. I decided I should move to a simpler install, something where there was less to go wrong. So, despite the fact that I absolutely hate it, I bought an iPad. I decided it was the most appropriate device for my needs, which are really quite simple: music, nav, and Internet. But because I just can't allow myself to settle for the simplest setup possible, I decided I had to build a dock into my dashboard. This was a problem, for two reasons: 1. there's no real place to put an iPad in the dashboard at all and 2. I have absolutely no experience with fabrication. Before I purchased the iPad, I built a cardboard mock-up and realized that if I were to install it in portrait mode (the mode it would need to be in in order to dock anyways), I could have it in place of the radio, vents, and hazard buttons and it would stick out of the dash a few inches but not obstruct my view. Here's a picture of the stock dash so you can see what I'm on about:

    In addition, since I was buying the 3G iPad for the GPS capabilities, and the receiver is located behind a plastic bar on top, I should receive better reception than if I were to build the entire iPad into the dashboard.

    I still haven't got a true solution for my complete lack of fabrication experience though. I've come up with a way to minimize my need for fabrication skills, but it isn't perfect. This is an extremely rough drawing of my intended design:

    Basically, the aircon vents and the hazard switches and clock will go behind the iPad (yes this means I'd need to remove the iPad to use them) with a small opening on either side of the iPad so air can come out. I am a little concerned about using the heater though, as the backside of the iPad does tend to heat up quickly.

    I'm going to use ABS for all the long, flat pieces I need and superglue metal "L" brackets to the back to hold it all together. I'll cover up the seams by layering everything in felt. This would mean the only bit I have to actually fabricate... is the bit that will be most visible, to match the curve of the stock trim piece. But what am I going to do.

  • #2
    The first step was to remove all the equipment from my old Mac Mini install. Funny how it took me only minutes to undo what had taken days of planning, preparation, soldering, routing, placing, connecting, and mounting.

    Then, for audio out, I decided to reinstall the aftermarket headunit my father had installed after the stock unit broke. It was only a cassette player, but it had the proper Aux In connector I would need. I installed the unit in the double-DIN bracket found underneath the heater controls, along with a CD jewel case holder I overpaid for at Best Buy to fill in the unused DIN slot.

    I installed it in the car, but when I tried to play my iPod through the stereo, I found I couldn't get it to go into the Aux position. Some research turned up that Sony (the maker of the stereo) uses a controller called BusLink to control equipment connected through the Aux-In. Apparently, BusLink is a proprietary Sony connection that is only compatible with other Sony equipment, and to ensure this, Sony decided to disable the Aux-In if a BusLink component is not attached. From everything I read, it seemed I had three options, two of them costly and one of them that would provide inferior audio quality. Then finally, in the last post on the last page of a thread, someone mentioned that I could buy a device cheap off of eBay that would trick the head unit into thinking there was a CD changer connected, thus enabling the Aux In ports. Less than $20 later I was in business (the gray dongle in the photo below is the device that saved my life).

    Everything remounted:

    The next step was to set up a charging system. Like a factory nav system, I planned to leave the iPad screen on whenever it was in use, so I could change music or check the nav app without needing to re-unlock the iPad. This meant I needed a way to provide power unless I wanted to be recharging every night. I decided to install a cigarette lighter inside the dashboard, and plug in an iPad car charger. However, I went one step further and bought a dual-USB adapter capable of charging my iPad and my phone at the same time. Since I would be tethering my iPad to my phone for Internet (AT&T? Hah!), I figured the battery would take a hit and I'd best be prepared. Getting a dual-USB charger also meant I'd have no cables showing externally unless I was charging the phone. The unit I picked up is a Scosche, with one USB connector rated at 2.1 amps (for the iPad) and one rated at 1 amp (for the phone).

    This is the cigarette lighter:

    At the moment, the cigarette lighter has been mounted, but only the grounding wire has been connected. I need to splice the positive wire into another positive wire, but I haven't gotten around to it. I'm also not sure if I should splice into the wire for the factory cigarette lighter or not, since I'm not certain it can handle the current draw. I remember awhile back I plugged my 85-watt MacBook Pro adapter into an inverter and the fuse went, so I know it hasn't got a really high amperage rating. I'll need to check the fuse to know what it can handle.

    Below is a picture of the grounding screw for the cigarette adapter-- the thinner black cable with the red extender. I wanted to reuse an existing grounding point, but the only one I could find close by was this screw, which proved damn near impossible to remove. It doesn't look it, but that screw is actually slightly behind the trim piece in front of it, and I don't have a tool that can fit in there that provides me with enough leverage to loosen the darn thing. After about an hour, I finally got it out with a combination of an offset screwdriver, a socket wrench, and a forked crimp-on connector, which meant I didn't need to remove the screw entirely

    The last thing to do before the iPad arrived was to cut out everything from the bezel that would go in the upper section of the dash. I had to be careful here, as everything I cut out would be reused. I bought a backup bezel on eBay just in case.

    I would have preferred to fabricate a new bezel from scratch to make it easier to cut everything out, but I wanted to reuse the mounting clips and tabs from the original so I could remove it later on if necessary.

    The two holes in the first picture below needed to be cut out, but the clip needed to stay in. You can see how close I needed to make my cuts. One slip and I'd need to cut into my backup bezel-- which I really didn't want to cut into. Fortunately I managed to complete the job with a combination of a jigsaw and a dremel.

    The bezel installed:

    I did a test-fit with the cardboard iPad mockup, and it didn't quite fit. Fortunately I had a little bit of wiggle-room, and I managed to make it fit. Now the actual iPad has arrived, and it fits, but just barely. The problem is there are clips on either side just millimeters from the iPad, meaning I can't put any ABS there. Those areas will just need to be covered with felt so the cutouts in the ABS can't be seen (hopefully the felt is thin enough to fit in the gap).

    And that's pretty much where I am right now. I've been using the iPad in the car these past few days, just testing out the glare, GPS reception, size of the hole, etc, and so far it seems okay. It's extremely annoying just how easily the screen scratches though. I bought the iPad Saturday, and on Thursday, it got a number of scratches towards the bottom of the screen. Not a huge deal, I'll probably buy an antiglare screen protector for it anyways, but it's annoying just how weak and fragile and susceptible to damage the glass is.

    Also, my ABS arrived today, but I have yet to cut it up, or even measure the pieces I need.


    • #3
      You should definitely buy a screen protection AND a skin for the back of your iPad, for that type of mount, that's a necessity IMHO.

      Are you using a dremel to make all the cuts? They look pretty rough, I wonder if it will make your work harder later.
      Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
      Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

      07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)


      • #4
        I'll need to get a plastic protector for the back, else it won't fit in the dock. And yes, I'll be getting an antiglare protector for the front. The glare isn't too bad with the brightness up, but as long as I need to prevent the glass from further damage, I might as well go AG.

        And yes, I used a combination of a dremel and jigsaw to make the rough cuts, but I'll be covering the cuts and molding with bumper repair later, and after that I'll only sand.


        • #5
          Today I finished setting up all the "infrastructure." As I said, I had already set up an audio connection from the iPad to the stereo, but today I finished wiring the iPad and phone for charging. I spliced my in-dash cigarette lighter into the wiring for the external cigarette lighter, and I plugged in my dual-USB charger along with the phone and iPad chargers. Unfortunately it's rather difficult to see in the image:

          I also dremeled/drilled a hole in the back of the ashtray, so I could run the phone charging cable through:

          I left about 1.5 feet of cable sitting coiled in the ashtray, which is enough that it can reach a business-card-sized compartment near the shifter that holds my phone. Should I need more cable, I have another 2 feet of slack still in the dashboard itself.

          Of course I can tuck it away nicely:

          And I think that means I'm done with the entire bottom section of the dashboard. As you can see, I've reattached the trim piece, and it fits nicely, with the exception of the uppermost left tab. No matter how hard I push it in place, it keeps backing itself out. I may hot-glue it from the back, so it stays in but I can still pop it out later on if need be.


          • #6
            For smoothing those edges on the bezel where you cut it out roughly, I use a dremel to smooth it a bit, then a flat metal file to make it straight. If you take your time, you can get it pretty close to straight -especially if a bumper or edge is going on it.
            Originally posted by ghettocruzer
            I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
            Want to:
            -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
            -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video


            • #7
              Thanks-- I think I'll try that. Thing is I don't have much room to remove any more material. I'll see what I can do though.


              • #8
                Also, I've had great results using a soldering iron to 'weld' the ABS plastic together. I will create a divot but if you first tack a couple of spots in place, then smoothly and slowly runs the tip along the seam, you get a strong joint that beats glue any day. Not sure I'd use it on the outside of your install where people will see it, but on the backside, it works great. (Outdoors or in a very well ventilated place. Don't breathe the fumes!)

                I also used model airplane glue in addition to the welding treatment. The glue melts the plastic and is pretty strong -better than epoxy, which also works but can be snapped off because it doesn't really bond with the plastic.

                I did a lot of filing to make the mating edges smooth, weld/glue, then bumper plastic for gaps and filing, followed by sanding. Using a sanding block you can remove material faster, then switch to a sanding sponge or handheld piece of sandpaper. After that, I've been using glazing compound to get it real smooth.

                Not sure about that stuff, though. It is awfully soft and appropriate just for filling very small cracks. Bondo is probably better for slightly larger areas.

                I'll post some more pics in my iPad install thread soon. I'm still fabbing and filling but painting is coming up real soon - a couple of days at the most.
                Originally posted by ghettocruzer
                I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
                Want to:
                -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
                -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video


                • #9
                  Just a quick update: I haven't started fabbing anything yet, but I did manage to (finally) get my iPad to tether to my Droid Eris. I learned that there is no way to tether an iPad to an Android phone; you need to set the phone up as a wifi hotspot and have the iPad connect to it. This requires rooting the phone and flashing a custom ROM (in my case, I just got a stock ROM with root access, no need to do anything fancy for now). This means that I can finally use my GPS app (which requires a data connection for routing, since it doesn't store map data locally). I'll test it out on the way to school tomorrow.