IPod Integration For Factory Radios


Most factory radios in cars don’t include a line in. alfaGato decided he wanted to integrate an iPod into his system, but wanted to maintain the factory functions. His Saab 9-3 came with GM’s OnStar system (not activated) which he thought would make a decent in road into the radio. His instructions should work for most radios with a factory cellphone integration option. He opened the radio and cut the traces for the phone input to get separate left and right channels. These were wired to the external CD changer input. He didn’t have the factory changer and the phone input also had amplification on the line that would interfere with the iPod. He designed a circuit with two possible inputs: iPod connector or AUX. The circuit is designed to mute the inputs if OnStar is activated. The circuitry is contained within a Saab factory phone mount with an iPod holder attached to it. Check out alfaGato’s blog dedicated to the project and our previous auxiliary input projects.

14 thoughts on “IPod Integration For Factory Radios

  1. I did this over a year ago. But I connected the line level output directly to where the cd fed into the amp, so that if I wasnt playing a cd, i could use the ipod(maily, because I dont like external switches) anyway, I never took pics or wrote about it because something simliar was on engadget or hackday before.

  2. I’ve never heard an FM modulator that sounded nearly as good as a direct line input connection from a CD player. Maybe it is because FM just doesn’t have the frequency response. Although as my age continues to advance I might not be able to hear that difference as much.

    I’ve thought about trying to reverse engineer the changer inputs to the factory in dash CD player in my 2001 Ford Explorer so that I can trick it into thinking that there is a changer present. This should allow me to use the line inputs for whatever I want. A bonus would be to figure out how the dash unit sends signals back to the changer so that I could use those signals to control whatever I plug into the line inputs, like an iPod or a car PC.

  3. I wonder how easy/difficult other cars would be.. I know in some Mercedes this wouldn’t be possible because the cd changer is connected fiber back to the head unit (only reason I know is because I once tried to find a cheaper unit for a friend of mine rather than have her shell out the 1000 bucks the dealer wanted, needless to say they didn’t exist at the time I looked) Anyone want to make one for a VW with the Monsoon deck? :)

  4. He went through a lot of work trying to detect when the iPod was active, and in the end just went with a switch because he couldn’t figure out a way to do it from the dock connector, but (unless I missed it) it seems he overlooked what I would think would be the easiest method, testing the audio out from the ipod for a signal.

    If there is a signal, sound is being made, no signal, no sound. Of course, then it would cut back to the radio when you muted the ipod.

  5. actualy, it’s easier than detecting audio. simply detect current consumption with a very small resistor across the positive supply line. use the voltage drop across the resistor and a transistor to boost this to a usable digital signal and you could drive anything you want when there’s something pluged in.

  6. the fm mod sounds great b/c it actually CUTS out all other signals, when you muteq the ipod, you hear nothing, and NONE of the radio stations work-

    BUT— if you desire radio, just switch off the mod and it no longer cancels out radio, and all your stations are easily accessed-

    Im telling you this is the easiest way to do it, on ANY car– AND for 4 bucks you can buy a gold plated female-female coupler and mount it in your dash- then with a male male plug you can connect any device, or unplug it and just have a nice clean jack outlet on your dash that any device can plug into-

  7. I have a new deck that I put into my car but it did not have a line in as it was made a bit before the ipod revolution. Instead I went and ordered a cable that converts the CD changer to RCA inputs. To this I attached a RCA to mini plug and put that into the back of the Ipod dock. The Dock was then mounted to my dash.

    And Voila. My deck even has the option to change the CD changer name on the screen to say “Portable”

    – Quantis

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