Destroy Your Volkswagen Touch Adapter For Bluetooth’s Sake

[Mansour]’s Volkswagen Polo has a touch-screen adapter with voice recognition to control a bunch of the car’s features, but he wanted it gone.

Voice control of your car sounds like a great thing, right? Well, the touch adapter blocked other Bluetooth devices from connecting directly to the car, and prevented him from streaming music from his phone while he’s connecting it through the adapter. But if you simply throw the adapter away, the car won’t connect to any Bluetooth devices.

So what options are left? Other than a couple of expensive or complicated options, [Mansour] decided to open up the device and desolder the Bluetooth chip and antenna. Admittedly, it’s not the deepest hack in the world, but we’ve gotta give [Mansour] credit for taking the technology into his own hands.

Disabling unwanted functionality is not uncommon these days. Who hasn’t stuck tape over their laptop’s camera or kept an RFID card in a Faraday wallet? What other devices have you had to “break” in order to make them work for you?

52 thoughts on “Destroy Your Volkswagen Touch Adapter For Bluetooth’s Sake

  1. Honestly, the whole tape over the camera thing is ridiculous. Of the few people who could do it, why would they? And what would they get from it, a picture of your face? I find it ridiculous that people are afraid of The Governments peeping in on their face, or whatever. That’s just a little too paranoid.
    The RFID thing, however, can be a problem.

        1. All those CCTV cameras give me nightmares sometimes, and they always keep me feeling uncomfortable, in shops on the street, everywhere.

          Thanks for making my life unpleasant ‘security’ fuckers, may you get your dues.

    1. A few years ago one school got into ugly spotlight when they tried to report a kid who was seen on laptop’s camera eating what looked like drugs but it was Mike n Ike candy. The school provided laptops to kids but spied on them through the camera as “security precaution” in case of stolen or misused laptop. I’m sure someone has asked this touchy question: did the school record any kids in a state of undress. I haven’t heard anything further but I’m sure parents were not happy about the implication.

      I generally don’t get dressed or undressed in front of my laptop but I have mine physically disabled (unplugged inside) just to be sure. A properly set up laptop should prevent snoops but hackers will find a way somehow.

  2. I got a smoke detector a few years ago that had the ability to go into self-test mode when zapped by an IR remote. Any IR remote. Consequently every time I did anything with my home entertainment system the alarm went off. I had to cover the sensor with black shrink tubing so I could view movies in peace.

  3. I’ve stabbed the trace from the “radio disable” pin in a (cheap) miniPCIe wireless card because the bios in a laptop wanted a specific set of models and disabled any that were not – but just disabled the radio with that pin. The lack of a hardware wireless switch was not really a big deal.

      1. More of a “vaguely remembered that such a thing existed, and looked up the pinout” sort of thing than knowing the standards in a lot of detail. Mostly I was just surprised that the thing still showed up on the PCIe bus when it wasn’t “allowed”, and it seemed worth a go.

        1. The key is the “knowing something exists” part and that’s what I meant. I have a rule where I scan every page of the manual of everything I buy and if it has a menu interface, I navigate every option even if end up never using the majority of them.

    1. Whoa. I’m going to have to try that! Locked-down BIOSes are stupid.

      I get that they’re trying to prevent consumers from putting out more power than they should / only using cards that are tested with the machine, but if I bought it, it’s now my responsibility, not theirs, right?

    1. If they are on the board, find the one hole in the case for the “beeper” to get sound out. take a strong heavy paperclip and a small hammer. put the paperclip through the hole and tap. It will shatter the piezo element that is used for beeping.

      I did this to 100 APC large power strip ups’s that we installed for cubicles. worked great.

  4. I had a Hafler stereo pre-amp with both a tape input setting and a tape monitor. (Actually both Tape1 and Tape2.) Careless switching meant shattering feedback so I cut the traces on the tape inputs.

  5. I saw the word “Destroy”, saw what appeared to be a PDA in a spot where the steering wheel should go and immediately thought someone made a tablet controlled car. Did anyone else think this…?

  6. I used to suffer hearing loss, now I have flac in my phone and pod and things sound good again. I tried bluetooth and have found that it creates hearing loss again…
    Don’t all or most digital cameras have a lens cap or cover? I have black tape on too.

  7. When I was in the high school and living with my parents, we had a land line phone in every room, including mine. Because I enjoyed sleeping long in the morning in the weekends, the phone really annoyed me, when someone called my parents when I was sleeping, as the ringing would wake me. Because I actually used the phone sometimes, I couldn’t just get rid of it. So I just opened the phone and cut the wire to the ringing speaker. I did not care about the ringing functionality as the walls were not too thick, so I could hear the phones in other rooms ringing, although that ringing was quiet enough to not to wake me.

  8. @mansour, memory serving I think that could have just been turned off via vagcom allowing you to connect your mobile device instead of the touch deal. Though living in the states we don’t actually have that accessory to play with hands on. Just curious if you had done any discovery down that route.

    1. Ye, that was one of the two solutions but the hardware and software needed to do that costs around $300. I could find someone on a forum who would lend me their equipment but doing what I did was still easier. Just lazy here. =]

  9. I understand his motivation. For me its easier to count things that is “unmodified” than all the rest, and if something “annoys me” it will be modified very quickly. I have voided a LOT of warranties, and quite a lot before the stuff make it home from the store, not counting the things I buy just for taking parts from. I’m a bit proud that many people around me now too have started to see improvment possibilities instead of just getting by with stuff as it is (as long as they know their limitations).

  10. He did not remove the bluetooth chip (summary). He only removed the antenna circuit (matching IC + chip antenna). Removing the bluetooth IC may have caused software problems.

  11. Guilty of cheating. Aside from unplugging the internal web cam to my laptops, I’ve also “broke” things for my purposes. My car probably bears the most noticeable sign of hack. I really dislike how the warning chime sounded to me, it sounded like someone was torturing a banshee. Low gas? MY EARS!!! Low tire? MY EARS!!! Door ajar? MY EARS!!! Since I wanted to retain radio and CD, and the chime are integrated I had to pour over the schematic to find the right wire to cut. One snip later, sound of silence! Of course no warning for seat belt but I always used it. One of these day I might find a way to wedge in something that “listen” to the old warning and play back something much nicer.

    1. The door ajar and seat belt warnings are the only ones that are required. A low gas warning is just a convenience. The noise the auto maker chooses though is what eludes me. Fords have a soft ding, Toyotas have a harsh beep. Eventually as the computer systems of cars becomes more advanced, we will have a voiceover instead of a noise for each warning.

    2. Similar here: I love my Subaru’s factory remote door locks, but they didn’t bother to give the lock system its own beep/cheep maker, so it’s tied directly to the car’s horn. Used to scare the piss outa my girlfriend, so I pulled the receiver box open: what my amazement was a clearly labeled pcb with silk clearly proclaiming “horn”. SNIP! Problem solved :-) some day I’ll go back and add a piezzo beeper.

  12. My Subaru has “the radio from hell”. First, although it is not paired, if you hit the wrong button on the steering wheel (e.g. while turning), it will interrupt music, a broadcast, anything.

    Cutting some wires helped.

    Worse, it wouldn’t let you do much if the car was moving (as detected by the CAN bus, also clipped). This included changing the brightness down from blinding at night.

    But while I was snipping things, I added a switch so the rearview camera now has always on, always off, normal (on in reverse gear). Sometimes I need to pull forward but would like to see, or if it’s loaded and I can’t see out the back window. And sometimes I would like to control the radio although I’m in R.

    1. My dad had a Ford pickup when I was a kid, The radio did not work without the ignition key in the ACC or ON position, EXCEPT when the Emergency Flasher was engaged. Then the radio turned on and off with the Flasher lights! B^)

  13. I have a cheap Korean monitor from when those 27″ IPS panels were all the rage. It has a couple of audio outputs including optical so I thought it’d be nice to use it as an audio switcher. Now with a digital audio input to the monitor and a digital output you’d think it wouldn’t change the sound much or at all but it honestly did. I dug in and found that the digital input was being converted to analogue to drive a headphone output and internal speakers, then being converted back to digital for output. Lo and behold whenever I had the volume too high the internal speakers would make a noise and irritate me, plus the load was causing weird stuff to happen to the audio. Ended up just cutting the wires to the internal speakers.

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