Aston Martin V8 Vantage iPod Install

Aston Martin V8 Vantage iPod Install
The Aston Martin Vantage was the perfect step up from her
Porsche 997S. A totally new level of driving experience came
with the car. Never a day goes by without people giving her
Aston the thumbs up. That rarely happened with her former
Porches. But, still, something was missing for fun cruises… an
Leather everywhere and the jewel-like instrument panel absolutely
required the install neither detract nor permanently mar.
The question was where to mount an iPod. The instrument panel
and dash are completely taken up. Attaching a normal iPod mount
would creately an ungainly appearance. The glove box would hide
the iPod, but make controlling the iPod too difficult. I decided to
try mounting a Nano inside the “coin holder” That trifling space
would need to hold the iPod and all the needed circuitry to feed a
signal into the radio system. I would have preferred a direct
connection. I’ve previously hacked in a direct connection in a
Lexus, but probing cables and injecting signals in hopes of finding
the right wires was more surgery than I was willing to do in an
Aston. So, a FM transmitter was the practical choice.
Kensington produces an FM RDS transmitter/car charger (model
33364). The RDS feature allows track information to appear on the
radio display. The challenge was fitting the entire adapter and iPod
into a volume which is perhaps half that of the adapter itself.
Taking the circuit boards out of the casing, shortening the
interconnecting wires, trimming away excess PC board, and
chopping the power plug short enough to fit flush with the power
socket allowed everything to fit. This installation is NOT for the
feint of heart. Good general mechanical and electronics skill are
needed. I’m presenting this to show it can be done, but by no
means is this a step by step guide.
I won’t be posting more detailed instructions. If you need more
detailed instructions, you don’t have the basic skill set needed to
attempt this installation. Get someone who has the skills to do it
for you.
This is how the Aston looks AFTER the iPod is
The Nano is revealed by opening the door. Otherwise the install is
completely invisible. No permanent modifications were made. The
iPod and the FM transmitter circuitry can be made to fit into that
tiny space. The iPod controls are easily accessed to pause, play, go
forwards and backwards. I strongly discourage selecting tracks and
playlists while driving.
Here you see the Kensington adapter’s circuit boards removed
from their casings. The smaller board is has the plug which goes
into the iPod. Because the length of the iPod Nano plus the circuit
is longer than the coin holder, the plug board must be extensively
modified to make it fit. By the time I was done, a significant
portion of that circuit board’s rear was removed and the cable
reattached to exit the bottom of the board. Luckily, the main board
did not require physical modification.
The power plug portion of the casing was cut free from the rest of
the casing to form a plug which is much shorter than normal. It
needs to fit flush with the socket once inserted or else the iPod and
support shelf won’t fit. A flush fit plug also means you need a way
to remove the plug once inserted. I placed a loop of nylon fishing
line through a hole drilled in the plug’s plastic. Pulling on the loop
allows one to remove the plug.
Next you see the modified parts and shortened wires mounted on
the bottom of a plastic shelf using hot melt glue. The shelf was
fashioned from a plastic electrical junction box and sculpted to fit
within the coin holder. Copious grinding and beveling was needed
to make the front edge of the shelf thin enough. You’ll notice the
portion of the shelf which would otherwise lie over the power plug
was cut away to allow more space. The shelf was intentionally
sculpted slightly too small, then covered with rubber fusion tape to
make a nice black, non-slip surface for the iPod to rest upon.
Viewed from the top, you can see the black rubber fusion tape. The
shortened power plug with removal loop is connected to the main
board with a short length of flexible wiring. Of course, the fuse is
still in place within the plug. The iPod dock connector board is
much smaller now and covered with black electrical tape. Hot melt
glue was used to secure the cables to the PC board after
resoldering. Note, the switches for setting FM frequency are very
fragile and one can easily destroy the yellow plastic tape which
holds the switches together. I wrapped the connector with black
tape to help hold the switches together. One needs to use the tip of
a pen to actual the switches, but that is a rarely done operation.
The power plug is inserted into the power socked and the shelf
lowered into position. Once in place, the shelf is level and will
support the iPod. Here the iPod is about to be docked.
The Nano is docked in a neat looking install that is stealthy and
completely reversible.
Power to this socket is normally always on. To solve this problem,
cross wiring at the cabin fuse box was done to tap a circuit which
switches off when the key is removed. I chose the passenger seat
circuit because it turns off and is a relatively non-critical circuit.
One hurdle was finding which fuse feeds to the power socket. The
owner’s manual does not list that circuit, but I found it through a
process of elimination. I presumed it was a high current fuse, so I
checked the higher amperage fuses until I found the right one.
Sorry, I don’t recall the fuse number and was too annoyed with the
manual’s circuit omission to stop and take picture.
I disconnected the plug from its original current source by
substituting a blown fuse for the normal one. Then I used brass
fuse taps and a jumper wire to cross connect the socket circuit to
the passenger seat circuit. Be sure you connect to the fused side of
F61 and not the hot bus side. Because the iPod is a very low drain
item, it won’t overload the passenger seat circuit. However, once
this is done, you must never plug in a high amperage item into the
power socket.
There you have it. An iPod neatly installed in an Aston Martin
Vantage. The sound is enjoyable and it is nice having the track
information show up on screen. I would still prefer a direct
connection, but already the wife greatly prefers her iPod over
shuffling CD’s.
Guy Kuo
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