As I spoke about in a previous post (here.) I wanted to install the Apple iPad inside my 2007 Ford Focus. After quite a while and a few iterations, it’s now (mostly) complete! The complete list of components are:

  • iPad 16GB 3G (w/Vodafone Microsim)
  • iPad Camera Connection Kit
  • Cables To Go 22327 USB 5.1 Audio Adapter
  • Random $10 iPhone Charger
  • Kensington iPhone Charge Cable w/Passthrough
  • Audison Bit One
  • Custom Nylon Mounting Bracket (Thanks Carl!)
  • Alpine MRV-F345 (4x75W RMS, Active Crossover for Front Stage)
  • Jaycar Response Monoblock Amp (820W RMS @ 1ohm)
  • Digital Designs DDW6.5 (6.5″ Midbass Driver, 150 WRMS)
  • MB Quart Reference Series Tweeters (70W RMS)
  • 2x 12″ Jaycar Response Carbon Fibre Subwoofers (4Ohm DVC, 350W RMS)

Basically being a bit of a car-audio nut, I decided the only proper way to get audio out of the iPad was using digital/optical out and feeding that into a DAC. After seeing some videos demonstrating that this could be done with the bitone and a USB sound card, I purchased both.

After spending many many hours trying to figure out how I could charge the iPad whilst driving the sound card (The camera connection kit has no dock connector passthrough), I discovered my housemate’s Kensington passthrough charging cable– which worked perfectly! (so I promptly stole it.)

This isn’t *the* perfect solution, as you can’t charge the iPad at the full 2A (or even 1A) due to the way the Camera connection kit works. This unfortunately means that the iPad will only charge at 500mA and display “Not Charging” on the battery meter. It does however trickle charge– however under certain conditions the iPad will drain the battery faster than the charger can keep it topped up.

My solution to this was to hard wire the cigerette lighter adapter into the constant 12V rail in the car, which means the iPad will be given 500mA constantly, which means that every time I get into the car the battery is fully charged!

The next significant hurdle was somehow mounting something some 9-odd inches in your dash, which I can assure you wasn’t easy! I had a problem where if I mounted the iPad high– it would block my center air vents, however if I mounted it low it would block my A/C controls.

I ended up getting some custom nylon brackets made and screwing it into the wooden insert my previous head unit had occupied and spaced it out quite significantly. This means I could mount it low enough not to foul my vents, but far enough forward I could still get to my A/C controls. In the event I need to fiddle more, the iPad simply slides up temporarily, giving me better access. It’s not without drawbacks, but it’s the best idea I’ve had so far 🙂

As an in-car unit, the iPad has it’s flaws (it’s obviously not intended for this use)– some touch actions can be fiddly depending on the situation and it would appear that the iPad doesn’t have an ambient light sensor– as it’s often too bright at night and too dim during the day. (iOS 4.2 Beta 2+ now has a brightness control on the app switching bar, which makes this *less* of a problem). Other than that– it’s a fantastic unit. The ability to run Trapster or TomTom on the 9″ screen is fantastic, Video playback is awesome, as well as having all your music cover art as it’s playing.

Well, enough talking– let’s see some action shots! (apologies for the dust, this car used to live in Kalgoorlie)

If anyone wants any further information on anything I’ve done or wants help– leave a comment below!