How to build an iPhone car cradle

iPhone Car Cradle

This is the EASY way I built an iPhone cradle for my car – using the ashtray.  I’m using a JVC KD-800 deck because it was cheap, had built in head unit control for the iPhone* (not just ip0d), and most importantly had 2 USB ports, one in the front and one in the back.  On a side note, I’m quite happy with this JVC deck.  It has all sorts of extras I don’t use, like bluetooth and is HD and Satellite radio ready (with an extra adapter).  I use the front USB port with a thumbdrive and have wired the back port to my DIY car cradle hack.
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I plugged a standard iPhone charge/sync cable in the back of the deck when I installed the head unit, and ran it down behind the ashtray, which in my car is located in the same center console.  I pulled the ashtray out and removed the tray itself leaving only the drawer that held it.  I then needed a cradle to hold the iPhone.  I think you could use any standard iPhone/iPod charge cradle, but it would have required cutting to fit in my ashtray, and they’re only available in white.

iphonecar_3I wanted a shiny black cradle, so I got this Scosche charge adapter which is supposed to help with charging issues in old cradles.  Why you wouldn’t just buy a new cradle if you had that problem I don’t know, since they cost about the same as the adapter, but it was perfect for my needs.

I pried the cradle part with the cable port in it out of the plastic base and it was almost a perfect fit for my ashtray – I expected to have to do some drilling to hold it in, but lo and behold, the two screw ports that held the ash tray in matched up with two wholes in the Scosche adapter.  I just plugged in the cable, attached the cradle to the inside of the ash tray drawer and popped it back into my console.  There are a few things I intended to fix about this installation, but since it ‘just works’, I’m not sure if I ever will.  This is what the ashtray looks like without the phone in, I haven’t bothered to hide the cable yet since it doesn’t interfere with the tray sliding in and out and the phone covers it when its in the cradle.

Here’s on more shot of the phone in the cradle.  It covers part of the ventilation controls, but you can still access them and I don’t find it inconvenient.

iphonecar_1

*a head unit built for iPhone control is important because decks built just for use with the iPod can pick up interference from the mobile phone causing extra static and stress while listening to music.

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