Home > garage, listening room, tech > ipod in a MINI

ipod in a MINI

May 1st, 2007


I’ve got a 20g gen 4 ipod, and I have a MINI, so this past Saturday I set out to engineer a solution to the problem of integrating the two. I installed a hidden ipod controller in the Volvo a little over a year ago which operates the ipod via the steering wheel controls through the cd changer input, but it only operates 5 playlists. You can go through the five playlists, and access the tracks only in sequential order. On a trip to STL last weekend I quickly went through all 5 playlists, and if I wanted to hear a song again I had to hit the next or previous track button as many as 99 times depending on how many songs were on the playlist.

I didn’t want a similar system in the MINI – I wanted full (and cheap, since the ipod controllers are all around $150) ipod control that could be operated without taking a hand off the steering wheel. My plan was to somehow mount a Pro Clips ipod cradle to the back of the tachometer – that way the entire ipod can be directly controlled with a finger without having to take a hand off the wheel, and the display is very safely readable while driving as it’s in the line of sight. I got a SIK dock cable/charger/line out, so the ipod’s output is the much better sounding line level out of the dock as opposed to the distorted headphone output. I had to take the MINI head unit out (which only took about 4 minutes) to install a factory aux line input to the radio. Having the ipod as part of the interior seems to fit the MINI as well.

I looked online for an ipod mount that would attach to the back of the tachometer in a MINI, and there is actually a company that makes pretty much what I put in – except it’s $70, just for the mount. It’s made by Craven Speed, and it’s a universal ipod cradle (which usually means it universally won’t work) as opposed to the Pro Clips mounts which are ipod model specific. My solution was to get the Pro Clips 4th gen 20g ipod specific padded mount for $25 (they have cradles for every type of ipod), then I spent another $1 at the home depot for a 5” genuine Stanley steel trim plate. I painted the trim plate in a grey anthracite to match the interior. I then mounted one end of the trim plate to the right side screw on the back of the tach, then mounted the Pro Clips mount to the other side of the plate. The holes that were pre-drilled in the plate worked out perfectly for distance and mounting height – I even put a few neoprene washers between the plate and the tach for scratch/shock resistance, and it all works out very nicely. The ipod charges when the car is on as well. It all went in Saturday evening, and took about an hour and a half, including the painting of the steel trim plate. The entire system goes up and down with the tilt wheel feature, so perfect line of sight to the ipod is available to all drivers, big or small.

The only problem is that my 20g ipod now has over 19g on it, so I now have to start managing content a bit. It’s my own fault though, as I’ve got quite a bit of stuff at 320kbps, and more than a few things in the apple lossless format, which sound extremely good – but the apl lossless files take up quite a bit of space.

Having the ipod so accessible is both good and bad – I made the dire mistake of explaining to the girls that this type of installation allows all of the ipod’s content to be accessed, so yesterday we were listening to “Dress Up in You” by Belle and Sebastian (Ellesse calls it the trumpet song) about 6 times in a row. A few hipsters at a bus stop in Wicker Park liked the B&S quite a bit as well. It also makes me look rather like an apple fanboi, which would ordinarily be a really bad label if I wasn’t, well, uh…..kinda one of them.

This would work in just about any car, as long as the radio has a line/aux input/fm modulator/tape adapter (Pro Clips sells vehicle specific mounting kits too, if you don’t want to use a piece of steel from the Home Depot), and you don’t mind looking like a fanboi.

A few more pics are here:



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  1. Brendan
    May 3rd, 2007 at 01:03 | #1

    Cudos on the sly line dropping from HF…only true Cusak’s in the making can catch that.  There are worse things than uber-cool Scots to listen to over and over…be glad they aren’t growing up during the Chumbawumba era of pop music.  You’ll have to remind them that they loved B&S when they’re listening to some hideous crap in their teens.  And remember, no one worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thouseands of songs about heartbreak and death.  Was I miserable because I listened to pop music, or did I listen to pop music because I was miserable?

  2. May 3rd, 2007 at 03:51 | #2

    Nice catch –

    “I own this store called Championship Vinyl. It’s located in a neighborhood that attracts the bare minimum of window shoppers. I get by because the people make a special effort to shop here – mostly young men, who spend all their time looking for deleted Smiths singles and original, not re-released underlined, Frank Zappa albums.

    Fetish properties are not unlike porn – I’d feel guilty taking their money, if I wasn’t, well…kinda one of them.”

    The girls know the boarded up store at the corner of Milwaukee and Honore (where the scenes from the record store were shot) as Championship Vinyl, as we walk by there 3-4 times a week.

    And I guess it’s also good that Ellesse referrs to “Dress up in You” as the trumpet song, as opposed to the “they are hypocrites so………” song.

  3. neryssa
    May 3rd, 2007 at 12:32 | #3

    Two things:

    1.  I love that you two are HF nerds.  Looooove it.

    2.  Your mini-ipod set up is uh-may-zing.  Uber-cool.  I have an 80G video ipod that would love to have a relationship with my mini.  If only I understood a word of what you were describing.  I think someone need to make a trip down to STL again.


    You could tell me all the things I need to buy to do what you did, then I’d buy them and have them ready for you to install FOR me the weekend of the Cramer/Cosas nuptials.


  4. May 3rd, 2007 at 17:44 | #4

    An 80g videopod? Cool! That way you could watch episodes of The Office during the slow spots of your commute. 

    Kidding on viewing video while driving of course – but it would be quite useful if you had to send big K. into a a store and you had to wait in the car for a half hour or so, as the audio would stream through the H/K while you sat and watched the video.

    I’d be happy to install it faaaar ya. It actually takes about 20 minutes to do – the hour and a half included the painting of the steel plate and waiting around for it to dry, which of course could be done prior to installing everything else.

    I’ll email you the ingredient list. I’ll actually be down May 22nd for the big Morrissey show – I think the next trip will be for the wedding and I might have more time then.

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