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iPad Mini in-dash install [996 MkII]

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  #1  
Old 02-24-2013, 10:56 AM
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Post iPad Mini in-dash install [996 MkII]

I've mentioned some of the work I've done installing an iPad mini into my '04 996 in several threads and recieved several pm's asking for more details. *
Posting the information in its own thread. Sorry if the thread seems a bit choppy, much of this is cut and paste.
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Objective:

Enhance a MkII 996 with a custom-integrated iPad mini as a music source, navigation system, and in-car internet access. Have the installation appear as OEM as possible, and allow car to be potentially returned to 100% stock with minimum cost.


Overview of tasks:
  • Relocate HVAC to lower slot in lower center console.
  • Relocate head unit to upper slot in lower center console.
  • Replace head unit with Pioneer single din with USB input and enough charging current to keep iPad mini operating properly.
  • Create custom mounting mini in upper dash.
  • Modify iPad software for better in-car integration.
  • Select best iPad apps for in-car use.

Design decisions:
  • Where is the best place to custom mount the iPad mini? I looked at installing it in the lower front console (where the CD-holder and empty shelf typically are) and the upper dash (where the HVAC controls and becker radio typically are. The upper location provided a better fit, was easier to see, and easier to access the touchscreen.
  • What is the best way to amplify music from iPad to speakers & control volume? I chose to use an aftermarket single-din head unit, a Pioneer DEH-X9500BHS, and use the USB input on the pioneer to connect the mini to the head unit.
  • What is the best way to keep the mini charged? One of the reasons I went with the pioneer head unit... It provides enough charge current to keep the mini charged, and when combined with jailbreak, automatically switches the mini on and off
  • How can I mount the mini with minimal and reversible modifications to the vehicle and still have it look as oem integrated as possible? I ended up disassembling most of the center dash. It turned out that I only needed to modify the horseshoe bezel trim (about $60 to replace if I return to stock) and a minor, reversible modification borrowing the cup-holder trim piece.

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On the hookup, you could eliminate the head unit and go directly to the amp, but there are several considerations...

Head-unit solution:
  • A top-of-the-line Pioneer single-DIN head unit (DEH-X9500BHS) was only $182 on Amazon.
  • It has dual USB inputs with adequate charging current for an iPad mini, three sets of high-voltage RCA outputs if I want to drive an amp, HD radio, Sat-radio ready, and adjustable illumination color so I can exactly match the OEM amber lighting. It also has full bluetooth integration with my iPhone for calls.
  • A volume **** rather than some slider is very nice.
  • The head unit's built in amp is adequate for my current needs, though I might upgrade to an external amp in the future.
  • Easy to mount into one of the existing DIN openings.
No head-unit solution:
There are various ways to do this, but they all have some limitations. IMHO the BEST way would be
  • iPad mini
  • iStreamer digital-analog converter (DAC) ($230). This will allow you to bypass the relatively low quality DAC's built into the iPad to get a higher quality signal and simultaneously charge the iPad.
  • Audiocontrol three.2 equalizer (~$300), fed by analog output from iStreamer. This will provide a real volume control **** as well as a front/rear fader (though still no balance control). *1/2Din form factor, so it will need a bit more custom work to install.
  • Four channel amp. On the inexpensive/small/light side, something like the Fosgate punch PBR300X4 ($150) would be fine.

My original intent was to not use a head unit, but as you can see, it might seem simpler to eliminate the head unit, but it actually requires more stuff and is significantly more expensive to do correctly. It just didn't make sense with all the great low cost USB input head units now available to try and work around it.

You could do nothing more than take the headphone output of the mini and use a headphone jack to RCA cable and run it right to the amplifier... It would likely not have sound quality, and quickly adjusting the volume is difficult. And it *still* would cost as much as a decent USB input head unit.
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Last edited by pfbz; 02-25-2013 at 04:42 PM.
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  #2  
Old 02-24-2013, 11:06 AM
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One of the things I've had been waiting on was a working jailbreak for the mini with IOS 6.1., which was recently released. The thing I really wanted jailbreak for was to eliminate the 'lock' slider and have the mini immediately go live to the last app in use when the ignition is turned on, and immediately go to sleep when the ignition is turned off, just like it works with the smart cover. Simple enough, but impossible to accomplish without jailbreaking the device!

The jailbreak should also allow me to use the less-expensive generic OBD2 bluetooth devices to feed data to Rev, harrys lap timer, etc. (still testing this)

--------

I just got out to the garage to do a final test fit. Everything seems to fit perfectly, though I still need to purchase the lower HVAC trim bezel (996.552.339.00-01C).

Sorry for the crappy garage-at-night photos. I'll get some better pictures once everything is finished and cleaned up, but this will give you the general idea...

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Last edited by pfbz; 02-24-2013 at 02:16 PM.
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  #3  
Old 02-24-2013, 11:06 AM
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-----


Cup holder could be retained...
Click the image to open in full size.

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More details on the horseshoe bezel modifications... *After modifying, the iPad is sandwiched tightly between the front bezel and the radio support bracket.

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Software load for the mini:
  • IOS 6.1
  • Jailbroken with evasi0n
  • (Cydia) Activator: Auto-lock and auto-unlock on USB power; Custom keypresses for sleep and reboot since I don't have easy access to the main sleep button. To auto-launch PodCar.
  • PodCar: This is now my main auto-launched screen. Really surprised how well it works. It has a nice clock/info screen, integrates in nav and maps, plays all your iTunes music, has a pretty nice streaming radio app, and a few other features. Best part about it is it is designed for use in a car, so the buttons are big, text large and readable, and you can use coarse gestures to do many things.
  • Slacker and Pandora: Very similar streaming music apps. Hard to go back to FM or even sat radio after getting these guys set up.
  • (Cydia) SBSettings: Allows easy toggles of things otherwise hidden in multi-level menus, like Bluetooth and a bunch of minor tweaks. Not essential, but handy.
  • Waze: Hands down, my go-to map application, both for traffic/accident/police info as well as turn-by-turn routing.
  • Google Maps, Apple Maps, MotionX GPS, MotionX Drive, Beat-the-traffic: These are my second tier map applications... honestly the very rarely get used. Apple/Google maps once in a while if I need to search for a particular *type* of place, like 'hardware store'. Both of these do this type of search better than Waze.
  • Harry's Lap Timer: This is really a dedicated track road course race track application, but is an great application. It does have some functionality that is useful off the track as well, including reading/displaying OBD2 parameters if you have a bluetooth or wifi OBD2 connection.
  • Evernote: Evernote keeps my life on track... I can make notes/clippings on my phone, computer, or or iPad and automatically and seamlessly access them from anywhere.
  • (Other): Of course I have other things like weather, browsers, my calendar, email, etc. but I don't really need to access these things on the car-mounted iPad most days.
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Last edited by pfbz; 02-24-2013 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 02-24-2013, 11:07 AM
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[Final Install pictures pending...]
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Old 02-24-2013, 12:56 PM
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Pfbz thanks for opening this thread. I really appreciate learning from your experience. On the horseshoe what did you have to modify? Mine is covered in leather and I'm trying to figure out if I'm going to have to grid down the inside edges ( if you are looking at straight on). It doesn't appear you had to from the pictures. FYI- For some reason not all of your photos are visible in the thread.
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Old 02-24-2013, 01:15 PM
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Great write up cant wait to see the finished project. I was looking to do the same with a Nexus 7.
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Old 02-24-2013, 01:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slopeslider2 View Post
. FYI- For some reason not all of your photos are visible in the thread.
Thanks for the heads-up on the pictures... This forum does some weird things when you are linking to externally hosted images. Hopefully they are all appearing now, but let me know if they are not.

Quote:
. On the horseshoe what did you have to modify? Mine is covered in leather and I'm trying to figure out if I'm going to have to grid down the inside edges ( if you are looking at straight on).
Yes, you have to remove almost all of the inner lip of the horseshoe. Hopefully with the pictures now showing this is more clear. If you have the expensive leather covered horseshoe, I'd suggest buying the 2002+ matte black plastic version (996.552.233.06.A03, ~$60) and modifying it instead. If after fitting everything you decide you want to cut apart the considerably more expensive leather version (~$350), go for it.
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Old 02-24-2013, 02:03 PM
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Great write up cant wait to see the finished project. I was looking to do the same with a Nexus 7.
I also have a nexus 7 and considered installing it instead. It is slightly smaller in length and width, but also considerably thicker. I spent quite a bit of time test-fitting both devices, but the nexus extra thickness made it more difficult to work into the upper console area. It certainly could be done as there is a ton of room behind the panel, but you are going to have to modify that rear radio support bracket in addition to the horseshoe and build a support for the nexus.

The other major issue I had with the nexus was the lack of audio output through the USB port... You could use the standard headphone jack and run it into an amp or radio with an aux input, but it would not be as clean of an install. You also would loose all of the app integration features, like the radio showing the song that is playing, pandora control, etc.

I think ultimately the iPad mini is better suited for in-car installations.
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Old 02-24-2013, 02:11 PM
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I received a few questions about power for the iPad, do I have to remove it to recharge, etc.

----

While the ipad can be removed relatively easily (pop off the horseshoe trim), my installation is designed primarily to leave it in place...

Power:

The iPad mini takes significantly less power to run and charge than the full size iPad. On par with the iPhone 5, and my pioneer puts out plenty power to the iPad mini to keep it charged while running as well as charge it. Slightly slower than a wall outlet, but no need to remove it for charging. The only time it is a problem is if you let it run 100% out of power (with the radio off). The mini will then will not power up until it recharges for 15 minutes or so from the Pioneer. My mini is 'jailbroken' and I use an application called activator to unsleep/unlock when it gets USB power (when the ignition/radio are turned on) and sleep/lock when it loses USB power, when the ignition turns off. I also have it set to never sleep, so the only way to really run it 100% out of power is to intentionally turn it on with the car off and forget to turn it back off.

As a side note, I tested quite a few different head units to verify how well they charged/worked with the iPad mini. All the new pioneers worked great. The new blaupunkt charged fine, but could not operate in data mode with the iPad. None of the Alpine's I tested had enough charge current for the iPad mini. Clarion's had enough charge current, but some had difficulty with music playback with the ipad. At ~$180 street price, the Pioneer DEH-X9500BHS seems hard to beat. I especially like that I can match the display and button colors to match the rest of the Porsche amber lighting making it look a bit more OEM.

Syncing:

When I pull the car into the garage, it picks up my house wifi. The iPad can sync music, download updates, and back itself up all over wifi, so again, no need to ever really take it out of the car. But there is one little glitch in my plan.... Lets say I want to download a bunch of updates in the garage. I don't want to leave the ignition on, so I'll turn on the ipad manually with no usb power and tell it to download all the updates. If I forget to go turn it off after an hour or so, it will keep running till the battery is gone, then I won't have iPad access for 15 minutes or so when I next get in the car.

Extension USB cable:

I just made a minor modification to my setup to help out.... On one side, the iPad cable plugs directly into the USB port on the back of the Pioneer, the other side is hidden behind the dash trim. What I just did was connect a USB extension cable to the back of the pioneer, and join the extension cable and iPad cable just behind the little carpet trim panels on either side of the lower front console, just tucked out of sight. Now if I want to plug the iPad into a cigarette adapter for continous charging when downloading, or even plug it into my computer, I can easily do it by untucking the wires, disconnecting the ipad, then using another USB extension cable to connect either to my mac, cigarette lighter, whatever.

AC trim bezel:

A few noticed the missing trim piece on the relocated AC controls... The part is on order. (996.552.339.00-01C, about $5)

Last edited by pfbz; 02-24-2013 at 02:14 PM.
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Old 02-24-2013, 11:32 PM
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Great Post ... THANKS!!!!

I noticed that you have a 2004, how did you make the Pioneer DEH headunit to work with the existing (stock) amp / speakers?

Any issues or shoulda/woulda/couldas?
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Old 02-24-2013, 11:51 PM
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Great Post ... THANKS!!!!
I noticed that you have a 2004, how did you make the Pioneer DEH headunit to work with the existing (stock) amp / speakers?
Any issues or shoulda/woulda/couldas?
I had the non-bose stereo system. Same (crappy) Becker CD head unit, but no MOST connected amp, no funky subwoofer, and no odd-ball 2 ohm speakers to deal with. If you do have a Bose system, I'd suggest dumping the amp and replacing the speakers with even some inexpensive conventional 4-ohm speakers. Drive them off the head unit or add an amp if you want. Some people use the bose speakers and add an amp that can handle their very low 2-ohm impedance, but my guess is that the sound quality isn't worth the effort.

The stock speaker wires ran right to to an ISO plug behind the stock radio, and I just used a simple ISO wiring harness adapter so I didn't have to cut any factory wiring.

I'm driving the speakers directly from the Pioneer with no external amp at this time. I could also the stock speakers, but I chose to replace them with some upgraded speakers. I used Polk Audio DXi460p 4"x6" plate 2-way car speakers and modified them to mount to the factory grills. They don't sound bad, apart from the obvious lack of bass, but I think I might try some new ideas and possibly an additional amp as well... If you have the bose system, you probably can fit larger 6" separates into the door speaker pockets. My car only has the dash and rear side speakers and I didn't want to add anything into the doors.

Here are a few pics of the original speakers and how I fitted the polks to the OEM dash and rear side speaker grills...

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Metra harness, $5 on Amazon
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Last edited by pfbz; 02-25-2013 at 12:04 AM.
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Old 02-25-2013, 12:01 AM
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So that explains it ... unfortunately, I have the OEM nav ... so I assume it comes with the beautiful 2 ohms speakers ... and yes ... I have the OEM sub.

I did acquire a pre-MOST amp though ... would it be possible to just swap that in so I dont have to change the speakers ...
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Old 02-25-2013, 12:08 AM
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So that explains it ... unfortunately, I have the OEM nav ... so I assume it comes with the beautiful 2 ohms speakers ... and yes ... I have the OEM sub.

I did acquire a pre-MOST amp though ... would it be possible to just swap that in so I dont have to change the speakers ...
I don't really know... Is yours a "Bose" system? Does the amp you aquired have the same mounting and wiring as your existing amp but with conventional RCA inputs?
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Old 02-25-2013, 12:19 AM
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Its either a 2001 or 2002 996 amp.
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Old 02-26-2013, 02:50 PM
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PFBZ -- great post! I'm looking to buy a 996 and plan to make this mod as I'm a bit of a tech guy. Question -- I'd ideally like to operate the iPad Mini without using the cellular connection and paying for a data plan. Shouldn't be a problem for music as I can sync in the garage but I'd still like turn by turn navigation. Does your Nav program allow you to download the maps so that it works without internet access? Any other comments/thoughts on using the iPad Mini without an internet connection while driving? Thx.
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Old 02-26-2013, 02:50 PM
 
 
 
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