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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 03-16-2012, 09:14 PM   #1
aj73092
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DIY Built-in iPod Charging USB Port (Lots of pictures and detail)

I know there are already a few DIYs on this topic but I decided to make my own.
This tutorial will show how to install a dash mounted USB port which only be powered when the car is running or the key is in position 2. Personally I don't like the idea of running cords out of the glove box or anything like that, I would rather be able to unplug the cord when it is not in use.

You will need at least 5 feet of wire (I used speaker wire and pulled the 2 wires apart), a USB cigarette lighter adapter, a 5 amp fuse, a USB extension cable, a female wire connector, and some basic tools (screwdrivers, a razor blade, wire strippers, electrical tape, etc.) and a volt meter.

Start by opening your fuse box and finding an open use port that has a metal terminal in it. You will need to find one that only runs power through it when the key is in position 2 or the car is running. I used a volt meter and found an empty spot on the second level that will not be powered when the car is off. You can use the cigarette lighter as a ground when testing this.





At this point you can disconnect the battery to be safe.

Once you have found the port you will be using, you will need to remove some pieces around the dash and shifter. Mine is manual so the steps may be a little different for automatics.
Squeeze the base of the leather shifter boot and pull upwards.



Remove the 2 screws that hold the plastic piece around the shifter. You will need to unclip the window controls at this point.

You will find 2 more screws under this piece, remove these as well.



Now pull the sunglass holder out. (It just pops out)



Remove the plastic piece below the stereo. There are a few wires that will need to be disconnected.
(For this step it helps to shift into 2nd if it's a manual)



On the back of this piece you will notice a plastic strip that inserts into the main piece. It is the same spot that has the DSC control. When I hooked up my aux in I put the plug here, so this is where I will be putting the USB port.



Pop out this piece



For the next step you will be inserting a USB extension into the back of the plastic strip. On my piece there is a square grid on the back, one of the holes was almost big enough for the female side of my USB extension. I used a razor blade to shave down the the USB until it was able to fit. Now cut a square hole a little bigger than the size of a male USB plug.
-At this point I had scratched up the plastic surface while cutting the hole, so I decided to cover it with some carbon fiber fabric.

After you have cut the hole, glue the female USB end to the backside of the plastic strip. It should look something like this. (Minus the hole I cut for my aux in and the fabric I decided to add).



Set this piece aside for now and break open your cigarette lighter adapter. Mine looked like this on the inside.



The metal pieces that stick out are the ground and the single bottom spring is the positive. Figure out where these connect and solder a wire on to each spot. Use a 4 foot wire for the positive and a 1 or 2 foot wire for the ground. (Another way to do this is to get a female cigarette adapter and just plug your USB adapter into it).

After I finished the soldering I taped the broken case around it for protection



Set this piece aside and pull the right dash trim off, and then the trim above the stereo.





Now remove the 2 screws holding the stereo in and remove the stereo. You can either remove the wires in the back or just let the stereo hang down (it didn't seem to put too much stress on mine, that is why I did this).

Now, with the glove box open, remove the 4 screws holding the glove box on. I didn't completely remove it, I just pulled it away from the car a little.

This parts a little tricky, you will need to feed the longer (positive) wire from your cigarette USB adapter up to where the stereo should be, and to the right through a small opening. Reach your left hand through the stereo opening, and your right hand through the area you created by removing the glove box screws. You should be able to feed the wire through, and down to fuse box.





At this point you can put the 4 screws back into the glove box, the one next to the rechargeable flashlight might give you some trouble.

Now you will need to connect the positive wire to the empty terminal you found earlier. This can be done by using an add-a-fuse kit or by using an inline fuse holder. I chose to make it clean and go through the back. Skip my next few steps if you choose to do this a different way.

-------------------

Pull down the fuse box as far as it will go and insert the wire into the back of the empty fuse space. Make sure you are feeding it through the empty terminal and not the one with the metal piece in it.



Attach a female connector to one of the blades on the 5 amp fuse you will be using.



Use a pliers to smash the connector flat where it touches the fuse blade. This will make it possible to insert the connector where the other terminal usually sits in the fuse box. Now connect the wire and crimp that part down with the pliers. After the wire is connected, insert the piece in the empty fuse spot. If it doesnt fit, take it out and tweak it with the pliers until it does.

If you did it right it should sit in the fuse box at almost the same height as the rest of the fuses. In this picture my fuse I added is the one on the left of the upper right row.



---------------

Close up the fuse box and glove box and pull the excess wire through to the opening on the center of the dash. Do the reverse of what you did to remove all the dash pieces, starting by replacing the stereo, followed by the upper dash trim. As you insert the main center dash piece with the cigarette lighter, feed the USB extension through the opening and pop in the plastic insert.



Connect the negative wire to the ground used by the Cigarette lighter. You may choose to solder it, I just wrapped it around and it felt pretty snug.



Plug the usb extension into your cigarette lighter USB adapter and push all the cords into the space behind the main dash piece. Now finish up by replacing the screws and inserting the sunglass holder. Replace the trim around the shifter and remember to plug in the window controls. Once everything is back in place you are all done. Remember to reconnect the battery if you chose to disconnect it.

Here's how mine turned out.





Sorry if I forgot any steps or didn't fully explain something.
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Old 07-30-2012, 11:18 AM   #2
the awakening
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I am looking to do the same thing but wasn't sure where to tap power from. Your DIY was very helpful. Thank you!
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Old 08-20-2012, 11:53 PM   #3
Jperry666
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I'm confused a little on what the two different USB adapters are. Is the first one just used to mock up the hole? Sorry if its a stupid ?
Why not just mount the USB cigarette adapter to the back of the dash piece?

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Last edited by Jperry666; 08-20-2012 at 11:58 PM.
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Old 08-21-2012, 12:34 AM   #4
aj73092
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jperry666 View Post
I'm confused a little on what the two different USB adapters are. Is the first one just used to mock up the hole? Sorry if its a stupid ?
Why not just mount the USB cigarette adapter to the back of the dash piece?

Sent from my SCH-I500 using Bimmer App
I used the extension to attach to the dash piece because the USB cigarette adapter was too large. I found that the extension fit in really nicely to the dash piece after shaving the end down a little. Based on the USB cigarette adapter you use, you may find it easier to just hook it up to the dash piece. However, the area is pretty tight.
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Old 08-23-2012, 08:05 PM   #5
Jperry666
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Thanks for the great write up. I placed mine in a different spot but turned out nice I think. Click image for larger version

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Old 08-23-2012, 08:39 PM   #6
aj73092
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jperry666 View Post
Thanks for the great write up. I placed mine in a different spot but turned out nice I think. Attachment 466137
Attachment 466138
Sent from my SCH-I500 using Bimmer App
You're welcome! That's actually a really good spot to put it. Good work!
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Old 08-24-2012, 09:37 PM   #7
xcar360
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I learned much knowledge
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Old 08-24-2012, 10:40 PM   #8
Dinan91
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Nice! The pics and steps you laid out make it seem like it'll be a snap to DIY. I'll definately be doing this in the near future. Any new tips or add ons?
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Old 08-24-2012, 11:39 PM   #9
omg A e46
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awesome im going to do to this tomorrow !!!!
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Old 04-05-2013, 03:12 PM   #10
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I opted to install mine in the coin tray hidden under the armrest. Works like a charm and I can set my tablet computer in the space in front of the shifter perfectly without worrying about the charging port getting in the way.
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Old 04-13-2013, 12:06 AM   #11
Rezist09
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bump where to get thje usb/
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Old 04-13-2013, 12:13 AM   #12
yetieater
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Nice
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bullet proof one piece at a time
my page on BMW Performance parts for the E46: clicky
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Old 08-05-2013, 03:44 PM   #13
Tbone8ty
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sorry to bring this thread back from the dead...

i guess im confused about wiring up the fuse box part...

can i just crimp the postive wire in with one of the fuses? with out using a female connector? like in spot 24?

your using a 5 amp fuse correct?

this is my fuse box



spot 13 and 23 are free and have one connector and only power on when key is in position 1

Last edited by Tbone8ty; 08-05-2013 at 07:20 PM.
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Old 08-10-2013, 12:21 PM   #14
Tate325xi
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That's how I wired mine, it's a very good way of doing it without cutting up any factory wiring. Great DIY
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sometimes i'm into it and my one hand gets tired, i try switching, but then it's like someone with lou gehrig's trying to peel a carrot.
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Old 08-13-2013, 05:15 PM   #15
Tbone8ty
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is there a good ground inside the glove box fuse box to use?

i ran both pos/neg to the fuse box and forgot to wire the neg to the cig lighter. don't wanna take the center console apart again.

thanks
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Old 08-17-2013, 08:37 PM   #16
Tbone8ty
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found this cool extender fuse plug at autozone. has red positive wire so you dont waste a fuse spot and makes it cleaner looking sorta

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Old 08-21-2013, 02:54 AM   #17
dcw242
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DIY Built-in iPod Charging USB Port (Lots of pictures and detail)

Does anyone know if this will create a ground loop when coupled with the DIY Aux Input mod?


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Old 08-21-2013, 02:33 PM   #18
aahmed2016
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instructions too complicated. got penis stuck in ceiling fan.
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Spends $2000 on car DVD + stereo -> Running 25000 mile oil changes and 87 gas with blown shocks
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Old 08-21-2013, 06:47 PM   #19
dcw242
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DIY Built-in iPod Charging USB Port (Lots of pictures and detail)

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Originally Posted by dcw242 View Post
Does anyone know if this will create a ground loop when coupled with the DIY Aux Input mod?


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For those curious, it does create a ground loop


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