The iPontiac, May-July 2005

iPontiac Arrow

Here's the idea, take the last iPod in the car setup and put it in the new car. In that chapter, I installed an FM modulator in the old Saturn. Only instead of an audio cable sneaking out of the swampy carpet of the Saturn we are going to make this ride carry mp3s with no exposed wiring and a user friendly setup.

The car

1990 Firebird
The old Firebird

It's led a wild life. In case of mind loss there are reminders on how to behave
Sit where?


The wiring diagram

I need a switched 12 volt power lead for the modulator (the dock will be unswitched for charging) and the audio piped to the car stereo.ipontiac schematic


Parts list

iPod 20gig.
iPod 20g

iPod dock.

ipod dock

Belkin F8V7058. This will provide a regulated charging voltage to keep the iPod topped off, and will route the audio to a mini-jack.

12 volts DC to the Belkin provided by a sacrificial extension cord. The other end will be tapped into a switched 12 volt lead on the car. Since this will be mounted out of reach, a more quality one was chosen.
Belkin F8V7058 with 12v socket

Mini jack with audio cable. 1/8" stereo plug on one end . .
1/8" Audio patch cord

. . 2 RCA plugs on the other end. Feeds the FM modulator.
RCA plugs to modulator

Later found I got no audio from the Belkin thingy. Kept it for a safe regulated power for the IPod. I took the audio from the dock instead. iPod audio tapped from dock

Control side of the modulator. Can choose several frequencies and adjust the level. This installs permanently in-line with the antenna lead to the in dash receiver, it cuts off the car antenna and injects the audio signal. You need to be right next to a strong transmitter to make this fade.
FM modulator configuration switches

Modulator coax, In from antennal, out to receiver. This era of Pontiac requires an adaptor to fit the miniature coax plug.
FM Modulator coax

Cut & Paste

I will relocate and possibly replace the power window switch(es). Mask over the cutout, flip it over and fill the hole with JB Weld.
Firebird console

Allow to cure.
Cured epoxy

To cut out a hole for the ipod I need a template. I used the dock. Put a sheet of paper on it and rub the edges, use the creases left by the edges to cut the template.iPod dock template

Remove console from car. Trace template onto masking tape on the console.
console layout

Up close.
console cutting guide

Cutting wheel in the Dremel + plastic car part = instant hole.
hole in console

Test fit the dock. Yes the hole is a bit bigger. When the iPod is in the dock it needs room to tilt. Plan is to line the edge with weather strip or sliced hose to better hold the iPod.
test fit the ipod dock

The FM modulator needs a power switch to cut it off when you want to hear FM radio. Not that there is much on FM radio worth listening to, but you never know.
power switch

A bit of alignment and cut out a hole for the switch. It snaps in. Comment on one aspect of this project - the little grid pattern on the console comes in very handy to keep things straight.
hole for power switch

Power switch snapped in it's hole.
power switch installed

To attach the dock, we use JB Weld epoxy. Best stuff in the world.
mixing jbweld

Slather it on & iPlop in down
gluing dock to console

I used a real accurate test measurement to assure the dock and the console opening line up. I held it over my head and looked up. Don't use too much epoxy when using this method.
dock glued to console

Test fit. Did a little smoothing of the epoxy that oozed.
test fit ipod in dock


Power is tapped from lighter. Use spade plugs and lugs to make it detachable.
power tapped from lighter

Plug in the Belkin adaptor to the dock.
belkin dock connector

First snag was in the audio feed. I plugged in a set of headphones to the Belkin power adaptor, but got no sound. OK, I can still tap the dock for sound. tight fit, but it cabling

The cabling is zip tied and routed to the front of the console. Spots of hot melt glue hold the wires to the console
.Console wires secured

Another test - this time for power. I put the thing on a bench power supply and dropped the iPod in the slot . It sprung to lifetesting the electrics

I tuned the VX2 to 89.9, put it next to the plug that will plug into the car stereo. Heard nothing but static until hitting the console power switch. About two seconds later comes the oomphs and wacka wackas of the kid's music.
testing FM signal


Time now to relocated that power window switch.

Lots of room under the brake handle . ..
ebrake handle

Yah, it will fit there.
sizing up the new switch location

First cut a template for the hole.

Trace Template
tracing template on console

Yeah! Power tools, cut up cars!
Dremel cutting new switch hole

Was a knuckle scraper to reach in there to re-connect the wires.
Power window switch relocated

The cavity to fill.
Firebird console

The wiring should run down the left side, avoiding anything that would pinch the wires.
firebird console

Fit the console cover back on, taking care not to pinch wires.
Console covered

Dock the iPod. Power up the modulator, tune stereo to 89.9
iPod installed & working

Now that's a custom job, eh?
Wide view of install

At Barovelli Labs, we bring tunes to excitement.