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    Thread: DIY: USB power outlets in center console

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    1. Member VWFast96's Avatar
      Join Date
      Mar 24th, 2006
      Location
      Lombard, IL
      Posts
      1,217
      Vehicles
      2002 RSM Jetta 1.8T 5MT
      02-21-2011 11:12 PM #1
      Ok, my latest DIY customization project. I got the idea for this after seeing an instructable for the same project in a Prius or some other sort of hybrid/electric POS. http://www.instructables.com/id/USB-...010-Prius-III/

      As with any DIY, undertake this at your own risk, I am not responsible for any damage you do to you, your car, your loved ones, or your sanity. All steps taken as described here are at your own risk.



      So, here goes (more pictures will come later)...

      Materials:
      12V USB chargers http://www.monoprice.com/products/pr...seq=1&format=2
      18 gauge wire, two colors. approximately 6 feet at least of each
      Inline fuse holder (the one I used was 14 gauge wire with a 10-amp fuse), you will need one of whatever style you want, I used glass fuse.
      fuse for inline holder, 1 amp x number of outlets on circuit (so for two outlets, I used a 2.5A)
      "coin holder" from center console of 04+ style Jetta (the little rubber insert that would only hold a couple of coins, and is otherwise useless, this serves as the base of the assembly) http://www.ecstuning.com/Search/Coin_Holder/ES251681/
      small piece of 1/16" thich ABS plastic (color does not matter, you can paint it)
      plastic welder and ABS rod
      soldering iron and rosin-core solder
      dremel with attachments or similar tools
      ring terminals
      spade connectors
      electrical tape
      super glue
      Tools to remove interior trim pieces
      I'm sure there's more, I may add later

      Ordered a couple cheap USB 12V chargers from Monoprice. Quick tip #1: order one more than the number of outlets you would like to have, just in case you are like me, break something, and need to replace a PCB or other component.

      Disembowel the chargers, whatever style you have, it is a slew of electronic components soldered onto a printed circuit board, everything there you need to scavenge for your own personal project. The positive lead is the one going to the spring-loaded tip, and the ground is the lead which goes to the two metal contacts around the perimeter. I found it easier to just cut off the wires and solder in your own.

      Take your small piece of ABS plastic and place the coin holder upside-down on it. Trace the outline of the coin holder onto the plastic, and cut the piece to fit just over the coin holder. To test fitment, install the coin holder into it's place and lay the plastic over it, make adjustments as necessary.

      Take one of your two USB PCB's and lay the opening of the USB port face down on the BOTTOM of the plastic cover piece. trace the outline of the port (if you are doing one outlet, do it in the middle, if two, imagine the plastic cover in thirds from front to back and make your marks at the thirds, down the centerline of the cover piece.

      Use a small drill bit (in a dremel if you can) to cut out the openings for the USB ports. NOTE: you want to make the opening to so that the port will not be able to fit through, but so that any USB plug can fit into it. Later you will melt a bead of plastic on the inside of the "lip" of the port to hold it to the underside of the cover piece). Use a small file or hobby knife to properly shape the openings to your aesthetic pleasure.

      We are now done with the cover piece, at this point, you can paint it. You need to do it now, before you attach the PCB's.

      Moving on to altering the coin holder. I used side cutters to cut out the middle of the coin holder where the PCB's will go. Depending on the size/shape of your PCB's, you will have to figure out how to make room (if you are attempting this, I'm sure you can figure it out).




      Now, looking back, this is when I would have soldered in my wires to the PCB's. so get your soldering iron out, get ready, and GO! I used about 3 inches of wire for each lead from each board (obviously, use the same color for both positives and another for both grounds).

      Attaching the USB ports/PCB's to the underside of the cover piece. I used a little bit of super glue to get the ports to stay in place while I plastic-welded. Do this one at a time. the super glue will not be holding anything permanently in place, so just make sure it will hold the USB port steady while you melt plastic. Go ahead and start melting a small bead over the lip around the metal cage of the USB port, make sure it melts into the underside of the cover piece. Once you have the first one done, move on to the second. the area between the two will be a tight fit, which is why we don't cluster them too close together.



      Once the ports are secure in place, give the plastic some time to cool and make sure they are not going to fall apart on you. The plastic welds are not the only thing to hold the USB ports in place, the rubber from the coin holder will support from below when you push the USB plug in.

      Now turn the cover piece/USB port assembly over and stand it on it's top face (top being the way you will look at it when installed in the car). You can now install the rubber coin holder over the PCB's. NO NOT FORCE THE COIN HOLDER!!! the PCB's components are sensitive and can break. If it's too tight a fit, take it back off and remove more material. Keep going until you get the right fit.

      Now we are getting close to being done. Solder together the groups of leads (positive and positive, ground and ground) and tap them each into a spade connector. For the ground, crimp on a matching spade connector to about 6 feet of wire to mate with the grounds from the PCB's. For the positive leads, you will mate the leads first to one end of the inline fuse holder, which will be connected to another 6 feet of wire (soldered).

      At this point, you should bench test or hook the assembly up to the car battery to make sure it works. Assuming everything is still good, let's move on...

      So now what you have is the USB port assembly with 6 feet of wire leading to nothing. Go ahead and unscrew the following interior trim pieces: both driver's side knee panels, fuse panel cover, shifter surround console (including ashtray and 12V lighter assembly), and the center console.
      You do not need to remove the shifter surround or the center console, just make sure they are loose and can be moved around to route wire.

      I used a dremel with a coarse sanding drum to enlarge the small hole at the bottom of where the rubber coin holder sits, this will allow more room for the PCB's to fit in. Feed both wires through the opening and fish them through however you please so that they end up underneath the steering column (I went along the right side of the center console and shifter surround, behind the ashtray assembly, and up and out the left side of the bottom of the radio cage.

      Decide now if you want the USB's to supply power all the time (CONSTANT 12V) or only when the ignition is switched on (SWITCHED 12V). I did constant, you should too. If constant, you will connect the positive lead to either of the two studs marked 30 on the fusebox (which is located on the left side of the steering column, up under the At this point, you will have to crimp on ring terminals to the ends of the wire.gray plastic tray above your feet while you drive. If you want SWITCHED power, attach to the 75X stud. NOTE: you may have to bore out the ring terminals slightly to get it to fit over the screws. The ground lead connects to one of the two screws holding the fuse panel in place.



      And that's it, make sure the wires are neatly tucked away, zip-tie if you like, and replace all interior panels.

      Helpful tips:
      Even though you add some length to the positive wire by adding the inline fuse holder, I did not shorten the 6 foot wire, what I did was loop the extra length around so that I can access the fuse without tearing apart the whole interior again. I do not have an armrest, so the little pocket behind the USB ports serves as my "access panel" to the fuse, should it blow.

      Yes, I know this is long and tedious, but I put a lot of effort into it, and I think it's worth it.
      Enjoy!
      Last edited by VWFast96; 02-22-2011 at 11:09 AM. Reason: Updated pics

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