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Bavarian Soundwerks' Mobile Electronics Forum
Have all your A/V and electronics questions answered here. Ipods, A/V, Radar Detectors Oh My!
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Old 02-19-2012, 02:50 PM   #1
McGary911
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Post DIY Center Armrest iPod mount.

I recently installed a DICE media bridge. I really like it, but wanted the best solution possible for the iPOD location. I had thought about making an ashtray mount, but decided I didn't want to even see the thing. A guy who works for me, just got a brand new M3, and had a trick mount in the center armrest. It seemed like the perfect solution. My iPod fit perfectly in the tray on my 46.

I couldn't find a how to on how to do it, so I just dove in...and took my time. I think it turned out great. It's a truly invisible install.

Sorry I didn't take more pics, but only had my BBerry, and wasn't taking pics from the beginning, as I didn't know if I'd be able to pull it off.

I'll start off by saying, that my media bridge had already been installed. I had the female USB dongle sitting in the ashtray. I was also going to install a mini-USB hub. This way I could have either my iPod hooked up, or a thumbdrive. The media bridge works fine with the hub, including the charging piece. I wouldn't hook both the iPod and the thumbdrive up at the same time. I could see that causing a problem. I only hooked up the iPod cable today. I can do the USB later....it's simple to get to.

For this install, one of the keys is cutting and splicing back together your iPod cable. The wires are VERY fine, so this probably shouldn't be your first attempt at soldering.

I've included an exploded view diagram as a reference (pic1)

First, take it all apart:

Remove the cup holder and change tray. This doesn't require any tools. Just squeeze the sides of the cup holder insert closest to the shifter. It'll then lift out, front first. You can do the same with the change holder. Now is a great time to clean out the cup holder. It's a lot easier to do in the sink, than in the car.

Remove the rear ashtray. At the bottom of the remaining cavity, you'll see 2 black plastic screws. These are a lot like body panel fasteners. Just unscrew them and pull out the inserts. Now you can remove the ash tray insert. There'll be a little plug on the passenger side that powers the light. Unplug it.

Now there's a rear trim piece that comes out. There are 2 more screws you'll see after removing the ashtray insert. These are real screws, not plastic things. Remove them. (pic2) The front part of this piece are the "ears" that cover the sides of the center armrest pivot. This will come off with some gentle wiggling.

Now for the springs. On the ends of the pivot, there are 2 springs that give the clamshell lid the proper feel. You can remove these by grabbing the part that goes across the diameter of the spring with some needle nose pliers and twisting it out of the slot in the middle of the pin. BEFORE you do this, get a good look at how these things work and feel. Take a picture (I've included one, but it's pretty crappy, pic3). These springs are side specific, so make sure you keep track of drivers and passenger side spring. Notice that the last part of the spring before it crosses the diameter, is toward the FRONT of the car. That's a good way to keep track of the sides.

Once those are off, you can remove the hollow plastic pins at the pivot. Just use a big screwdriver. There'll be a touch of resistance at first, but that's just a little tab on the inside. It'll pop out right after that resistance. Notice there's a keyway @ 12 o'clock. They'll have to go back in the same way later. Left and right pins are identical. Only 2 more pieces. Toward the outside of the pivot points, you'll have 2 U shaped pieces of plastic about 3/4" wide. There are raised pieces on the inside ends of the U. Pry them off at the back first, then it'll be easier to do the fronts, as there's better access to the back ones. Now you can pull off the part with the armrest padding (top of the clamshell). You can also lift off the tray portion (bottom of the clamshell).

I think that's all you'll need to remove. I also removed the entire center tunnel, which is pretty easy. The rear will already be unattached at this point. Now, just unfasten the hand break boot from the console starting with the rear. Remove the piece of trim around the shift boot. There are 4 plastic tabs that hold this on, 2 on each side. A gentle squeeze allowed mine to come right off. Mine's an SMG, but I've read it's the same on a non-SMG car. At the bottom of that opening, you'll see the last 2 screws that hold on the console. Don't forget to remove the plug for the hazard\lock buttons.

Now I needed to snake the wire. I pulled the female USB wire from the ashtray, and ran it all the way back, just past where the hollow for the coin insert would be. I attached my mini hub to it there. (pic5) There's plenty of room. I wouldn't be surprised if the entire media bridge would fit in there.

Time to cut the cable. Grab an iPod cable and make a nice clean cut. I made it about 6" from the USB end, as I want to be able to run out a couple of feet of cable from the armrest from time to time.

To snake your iPod cable, first drill a small hole, just larger than the cable into the back lip of the armrest tray. This is the only cutting you'll have to do. (pic5 with cable threaded) There's a small slot underneath the cylindrical part of the armrest pivot. It's toward the back of the car. I used a piece of bailing wire (pic6) to snake the iPod wire through the hole. Rather than tape the cable to the wire, I just jammed the bailing wire about 3/4" into the insulation. This didn't increase the diameter of the cable much at all, and allowed me to keep the hole in the tray smaller than if I'd used tape.

Now it's time to solder the cable back together. Do this outside of the car. There are 4 color coded wires in the iPod cable, along with a braided shield wire. The 4 wires will additionally wrapped in some foil shielding. Stripping these things takes a ton of patience. I just nicked the insulation, and used my fingernails to pull off a bit of the insulation exposing the hair fine wires. (pic7) Do this for all 4. Twist the like cables together, being careful that none of the super fine wires are mixed in with ones from a different color wire. Solder them back together (pic8), and carefully tape them up. Don't forget the shield wire, which is much easier to deal with. Then wrap the whole thing again, as you don't want the exposed shield wire grounding against any metal in your console (hand brake). Carry the rig and plug it into the car to test. (pic9) Make sure it not only plays as expected, but charges too.

Now, it's really just a matter of putting it all back together. The only real tricky part are those stupid springs.

When putting back the plastic pivot pins, ensure the channel\tab is at the 12 O'clock position.

For those springs, insert the protruding end into the slot right around 12 O'clock (armrest down). Now you're going to have to pre-load the springs by grabbing that center piece with your needle nose pliers again. You'll do this by turning the spring about 1/4 turn in the direction that'll make the spring smaller in diameter. That should make the cross piece vertical so you can place it in the center slot.

If you have the springs installed and they don't sit nice, and the clamshell wants to close like a beartrap, you did it wrong. consult your pic and do it again. Remember which part of the spring points toward the front.

The rest goes back together pretty easily. I also put a wire tie on the iPod cable just before the splice, so if I'm pulling out cable up top, I'll know when to stop. I think it's about as professional of an install that I could have done. When I figure out where I want the USB, it's really easy to get to my hub by pulling out the cupholder\changetray.

The whole ordeal took me about 2 hours, but I went slowly, as I didn't know exactly how to take everything apart, and didn't know how I'd ultimately be routing the wire.

Pic 10 on the next post is the final product.

I didn't find this DIY anywhere on this forum, but I did get a few hints from some threads I ran across.

Good luck.
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Old 02-19-2012, 02:51 PM   #2
McGary911
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Last few pics....
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:33 PM   #3
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Good work. Had to move mine to the golvebox for the iPhone and ipod touch since they were too long for the compartment with the Dice plug. I may see about a different plug for the Dice or make my own and put it back in there.

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Old 02-19-2012, 04:23 PM   #4
McGary911
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GCoop View Post
Good work. Had to move mine to the golvebox for the iPhone and ipod touch since they were too long for the compartment with the Dice plug. I may see about a different plug for the Dice or make my own and put it back in there.

I used the cable that came with my touch. It's a low profile one that fits perfectly. I've seen taller ones from Apple that wouldn't work as well. The slim ones are cheap, even at the Apple store.
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Old 02-19-2012, 06:45 PM   #5
delmarco
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Nice work guys!

I did mine like so:





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Last edited by delmarco; 02-19-2012 at 06:54 PM.
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Old 02-20-2012, 07:32 PM   #6
GCoop
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McGary911 View Post
I used the cable that came with my touch. It's a low profile one that fits perfectly. I've seen taller ones from Apple that wouldn't work as well. The slim ones are cheap, even at the Apple store.

Good to know! Thanks for the tip.
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Old 03-11-2012, 06:33 PM   #7
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I like this very much! I originally had a black usb car charger that I hardwired into the coin tray infront of the coin wheel. It went great until i lost the actual charger after i painted it lol. I think I'm going to slide in the rubber piece and just go ahead and do this one! I like how concealed the wires are
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Old 03-11-2012, 06:38 PM   #8
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I have the older style iPod, but here is how I installed mine:














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Old 03-13-2012, 05:36 PM   #9
illestminimike
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I have an aftermarket head unit. My cable is in the glovebox. I hate it there. So I just have the wire out and I'll put my iPhone in the cup holder. I considered the euro tray but I use my cup holders a lot. I think I'll try putting it in the arm rest.
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Old 03-14-2012, 07:11 AM   #10
McGary911
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TKC, that looks great in the Etray. I've seen a lot of installs there, but I like that you went the extra step and made a nice insert out of what's that? a grout sponge? It finishes it off nice.

Gotta admit, how can you go wrong with an Imola interior and the brushed aluminum, right?
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Old 03-27-2012, 10:37 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McGary911 View Post
TKC, that looks great in the Etray. I've seen a lot of installs there, but I like that you went the extra step and made a nice insert out of what's that? a grout sponge? It finishes it off nice.

Gotta admit, how can you go wrong with an Imola interior and the brushed aluminum, right?
Thanks for the compliment! Yea, I just used a big sponge I got at the hardware store on sale. I didn't want the iPod sliding around as I drove and wanted it to look nice, so I cut the sponge to shape, covered with some black cloth, and cut a slit in the bottom for the wire connector to go through.

And thanks, yes, I love the color combo. It's what sold me on the car!

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Old 04-11-2012, 11:00 PM   #12
dttaylor_19
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DIY iPod dock for BMW 330 ci

Dear friends,

Thanks for the helpful post. I was also sick of opening the glove box to change my iPod playlists as this could not be done from the stock head unit controls. During my installation process, I found I need to make a few modifications in order to be able to move the arm rest clamshell up and down without pinching the iPod dock wire. I took some pics with my iPhone to illustrate what I "learned".

First, the iPod cable extension I bought from Amazon for about 12 bucks had 10 tiny wires! There was no way I was going to solder 10 tiny wires together so I bought some butt-joint crimps from Radio Shack for less than 3 bucks for 24 of them! I saw that telephone wire crimps could work too, but those are too big for these wires. It was still a painful process but it was easier than soldering.


Wires cut and twisted together:
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I also found that if I ran the dock wire through the arm rest and reinstalled it as described in the original post, the wire would get pinched between the pivot points. I don't know if this is unique to my BMW model year 2001 330 ci or I put the wire in the wrong place. I troubleshot the situation for an hour before I figured I'd had to cut some plastic. Therefore, I did the following modifications. I used a surgical hot temp , aka "Bovie" (a fine point soldering iron would work well too) to cut a goove in the removable plastic trim piece in the middle of the arm rest. I left a small portion of the plastic tab so it would reinsert into the hole next to the wire.

Existing hole in center of clamshell with iPod wire:
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Trim piece shown removed with arm rest:
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The problem!
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The solution: Groove cut (melted) in trim piece:
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Additional plastic cut to allow wire to pass when assembled.
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Finished solution!
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Next I had to cut a groove in the base that supports the arm rest pivot point. Below you will see a picture of the cuts I made with a small hack saw in the black plastic below the pivot point.

Beginning cuts:
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Finished cuts looking from rear ashtray to front:
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Finished product:
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I hope this helps someone because the prior post were very helpful for me. Thanks again.

Dave.
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Old 04-12-2012, 10:34 AM   #13
McGary911
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Dave, Thanks for filling in that blank. I checked mine this morning, and I remembered I had left that trim piece off, as I didn't want to cut more holes than needed, and you really couldn't see the part that piece was covering. Since then I saw that the piece is readily available for about $6. I'll likely order one and do the same as you did. I may use a dremel for my slot.

BTW, that's a heck of a thick ipod cable. Guess it needs to be to fit those 10 wires.
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:17 AM   #14
BigDRick323
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I want to do this for my 4G portable WIFI device. Plus would make nice place for passenger to charge their phone if needed.
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:59 AM   #15
Jimbow
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Great DIY did the this last night after reading this tread. Great write up
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:27 AM   #16
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I did that on my old car. It makes the armrest even creakier than it was to start out with.
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