June 9, 2004:

More iBus circuits – iPod control using MFSW

After designing the HKenabler circuit, I prototyped a similar circuit for my friend Gavin (GadgetGav on MINI2). He has an iPod installed in his car using the Belkin kit (reviewed last year on MotoringFile). This kit provides power & sound, but no control.
So we built a simple circuit that monitors the steering wheel MFSW buttons (track up/down and the unused middle button) and puts out signals when the buttons are pressed; these signals are then wired into an iPod remote to simulate button presses. This might sound complicated but it is inexpensive and effective:

(UPDATE: The above pic is *during* the install – afterwards all this disappears and the car looks tidy again!)
The result allows Gavin to control his iPod track up/down using the steering wheel buttons; in addition the middle button now does play/pause on the iPod:

I don’t have any plans at the moment to make more of this circuit – if there was reasonable interest (10 or more people) something could be done. Realise however that the iPod remote is sacrificed by this install (although I believe a replacement is not too expensive).

Comments: 14 (post new comment)
  1. Todd Pearson (2004/06/09 @ 9:46 pm)

    I would love a circuit board that would allow me to control my iPod via the MFSW. Check out my iPod mods here – http://homepage.mac.com/dmpproductions/PhotoAlbum51.html
    Let me know if you get enough interest – otherwise, tell me how much for a custom job : )

  2. Chris (2004/06/10 @ 8:06 am)

    Ian, I’d be up for one of these, and happen to have an iPod remote that was defective (cable pulling out of the assembly) that I could sacrifice to the MFSW gods…..

  3. Rich Hall (2004/06/10 @ 8:23 am)

    Sign me up.

  4. Jason (2004/06/10 @ 9:36 am)

    I’d be in for a MFSW/iPod thingy too. I’ve got a remote I never use, so that’s not a problem. I’ve never soldered before, though 🙂
    I’m contemplating trying to mod a dock to fit inside one of the front cupholders… I know I’ve seen pictures on mini2 of someone doing this using some sort of foam and “implanting” the dock pieces in the foam.

  5. pezboy (2004/06/10 @ 9:03 pm)

    Are there any pics of a cleaner install? Do they wires hang out all over the place or is there somewhere nice you can tuck them?
    If it’s pretty much invisible, I am in.

  6. Ian C. (2004/06/10 @ 9:04 pm)

    If I go anywhere further with this project, I envisage either acquiring a source of the iPod connector, or linking the circuit to a supplied iPod remote rather than expecting the “customer” to do it.

  7. Ian C. (2004/06/10 @ 9:06 pm)

    When Gavin finished, all looks normal in the car:
    Gallery link

  8. pezboy (2004/06/10 @ 9:16 pm)

    Okay cool. I don’t have the Belkin stuff so what is needed here? Right now I use an iPod dock with line out and plug in my aux to that. Does it control through that or what?

  9. Randolph Lee (2004/06/11 @ 12:16 am)

    Count me in for one Ian

  10. Bentley Skeie (2004/06/13 @ 10:02 am)

    I just found your site from Todd’s web site.
    I am also interested in the MFSW iPod circut.
    Please let me know if you have enough interest to produce these!

  11. Josh (2004/06/13 @ 7:38 pm)

    Can you get that to work through the Dock port at the bottom instead of the remote control jack at the top? Thats one thing I like about the belkin, I only need one cord for sound & power.

  12. Ian C. (2004/06/13 @ 7:46 pm)

    If the Belkin can do it, it is possible. However, without owning either a Belkin adaptor or even an iPod, I cannot know how the interface works, so I cannot mimic it …

  13. Gavin (2004/06/13 @ 8:42 pm)

    (I thought I posted a reply to Jared’s comments on Friday, but it doesn’t seem to be here…)
    Regarding using a dock rather than the Belkin kit, that should work fine, the MFSW control goes in through a second cable in the top – the normal remote connection. Since the sound is taken from the line out on either the dock or the Belkin, there’s no problem with plugging something into the headphone jack.
    As far and making a one cable solution going in through the 30 way connector on the bottom, this is what I was originally hoping to do. However, after a lot of internet searching and readind this thread on mini2 (http://www.mini2.com/forum/showthread.php?t=56459) I now know that the info about that connector and its pin-out are know as the Holy Grail..! Apparently you have to be an established manufacturer with products on the market before Apple will let you sign the NDA needed to see that information. No-one has reverse engineered it yet and posted it publicly – at least none I could find. So, yes, a one cable solution would be neater but is it worth the extra effort… I don’t know.
    As an aside, the ICE-link came out as a two cable system in its first incarnation, then switched to one, presumably to satisfy the Apple requirements

  14. Ian C. (2004/06/22 @ 9:11 pm)

    It looks like I won’t need to make any more of these circuits, now that Apple/BMW have got together …
    MotoringFile link

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