Integrating USB ports - dash cupholder cubby?

UhOh

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I'm looking at replacing the stock HU (Head Unit) in my Golf. Replacement units I'm looking at have Android Auto and I'd like to take advantage of this. Issue is, this requires a physical USB cable. Most units have the USB connectors off the back of the units, in which case it becomes necessary to run these leads/cables (with, perhaps, extensions) toward the front of the dash.

I started angling toward using an empty dash spot (I don't have ESP, so there will be one spot available- I'm putting in heated seats, which takes up the other two available spots) but before I do this I'm self-checking whether I actually know how I'll be placing and using my phone. So...

For those that have some sort of wire connection between their phone and the HU (could be for an RCA jack, or, perhaps USB for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay), where are you placing your phone?

I know that some folks use the dash cup holders to set their phones in: it's even a popular thing to use these VW cup holders in other vehicles for this purpose. Issue, for me (and anyone with a double DIN HU), is that when the cup holder is out it masks off some of the HU, which if one were using the HU for CarPlay or Auto this would tend to defeat the purpose (block the screen). So, I got to wondering...

Is there such a thing as a cubby for that cup holder spot? I know that it's really pretty small, but a phone would slide right in there: nothing, however, like the lower cubby slot which exist when there's only one DIN slot in use. I don't think that I could use this cup holder slot for the USB ports I have in mind (it's a double port- I "think" I can manage to cut it down to fit inside one of the dash blanks); but, still leaves the issue of where the phone can go. Keep in mind that with CarPlay or Auto you don't have any need to actually touch/access your phone, in which case being tucked out of the way isn't a concern.

I don't like the vent mount solutions: I'll have to be straight here, I don't operate any of this currently, I'm just familiar with my wife messing around with this stuff in her car (though it's not wire connected, other than using the cigarette lighter for a USB charging port- messy). Same with anything that looks to attach to the windshield.

The HU I'm looking at provides two USB connectors, and while I wouldn't be using the Apple CarPlay cable for an Apple device, that connection can still be used for charging. So, I'd prefer to be able to have the two USB ports available.

Here's the cable that I'm going to try working with (I already have it):

https://www.amazon.com/USB-Panel-Flush-Mount-Cable/dp/B073SQYP3W/ref=pd_sbs_107_1?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=2HBMMREH6JZT7E66E6ZC&dpID=41alrXDxPEL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=detail
 

where2

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So, I got to wondering...

Is there such a thing as a cubby for that cup holder spot? I know that it's really pretty small, but a phone would slide right in there: nothing, however, like the lower cubby slot which exist when there's only one DIN slot in use.
Find a friend with a 3D printer and the ability to print using ABS filament. Then design your own cubby. Alternatively, I've seen some pretty creative stuff made from polyester resin and fiberglass mat. If you're used to playing with body fillers, it's not much stretch to let the imagination run wild with things you can do with mat and resin.
 

KLXD

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ABS Sheet is pretty versatile. Solvent welds well. Easier to work with than glass.

Since you brought the subject up, what idiot designer at VW thought it would be a good idea to put the USB port and cigarette lighter on the floor of the cubby in the '16???

And where's the ash tray??? I don't smoke but I want the ash tray. Politically correct BS.
 

UhOh

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Appreciate the replies.

I'm going to take a close look at an extra cup holder that I have to see if the form factor could even work (there's the bracketing to be concerned about).

3D printing would probably work really nicely to create a good dash plug. I'll likely first take a Dremel to an existing plug/blank.

On the lighter down below [MKIVs], even WITH ashtray, it sucks that you have to expose everything in order to access that plug.
 

UhOh

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With the Andriod HU, would you need to access/see the phone once it's connected?
No, the control is handed off to the HU, so the phone is pretty much out of the picture (but needs to be USB tethered).

I'm just trying to figure out a clean way to facilitate the USB connection and of stowing the phone. I'm kind of hung up on things going toward the upper part of the center console. I could just toss the phone down below on top of the ashtray area, but I don't like things shoved in there (always seems like there's crap there- my wife is notorious [perhaps because there's a traffic jam with her using the socket for a USB power supply]).

Best would be to have that cup holder cubby be a docking station of sorts (plugging in the phone in such a slot would also provide a bit of traction/hold so that the phone would be less likely to want to jump out). Seems something like this could be marketable.
 

UhOh

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Further thinking about utilizing the cup holder as a docking station...

Seems that one could get two phones side by side in this slot (my and my wife's phones would fit- based on general dimensions I find for these cup holder assemblies [will need to verify]). Phones, ours, would stick out a little (maybe 1 1/2"). Trick would to get the port matched to the plug, which would be at the far back of the cubby. Possible solution would be to utilize one of those magnetic USB connectors, like this one. The magnetic pickup could be mounted in the back so it would kind of float a bit. I think that I'm going to shift toward this as my solution. I'll update with any new progress.
 

RexNICO

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No, the control is handed off to the HU, so the phone is pretty much out of the picture (but needs to be USB tethered).

I'm just trying to figure out a clean way to facilitate the USB connection and of stowing the phone. I'm kind of hung up on things going toward the upper part of the center console. I could just toss the phone down below on top of the ashtray area, but I don't like things shoved in there (always seems like there's crap there- my wife is notorious [perhaps because there's a traffic jam with her using the socket for a USB power supply]).

Best would be to have that cup holder cubby be a docking station of sorts (plugging in the phone in such a slot would also provide a bit of traction/hold so that the phone would be less likely to want to jump out). Seems something like this could be marketable.
I asked as I was wondering if you could run the USB conx all the way to the center armrest (if you're still using 1).

Another idea i had was to modify the removable lower trim section to act more like a shelf, but not sure if that would interfere with the shifter??

1 other crazy idea was to run the USB cable all the way to the drivers door pocket, obviously that would be LOTS of work.

Good luck
 

PGM jetta

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Why not just run the USB cable from the back of the head unit into the glove box?
This. A lot of new vehicles come with USB in the glove box.

That would be an easy route, a more convenient route would be to the armrest. That's the route I would take as my armrest is always empty
 

UhOh

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Regards to locating the phone in the glovebox or the armrest, no, I don't like that. I'm looking for a cleaner solution, one that is easier to grapple with as I ingress/egress.

I'd briefly thought about sticking a usb outlet at the small panel piece that's just above the ashtray area (Rex, I think you were thinking of this spot?), but that's still an area that gets stuff/busy: but, maybe it would still be possible to use that spot in a similar fashion as I'm contemplating for the cup holder? (I'll give it some though; but, that would tend to be a second choice, being lower and having to look down and reach etc..).

I played around with the magnetic USB charger that my wife uses for her phone: she messed up the USB port on the phone and the amount of work to replace/repair the USB ports was just too much, so this was kind of a last-ditch effort- it works! What's cool about these things [like this one] (though you need to stick a connector stub into your phone's USB port) is that it doesn't take careful aiming to connect, you can just kind of get close and the magnetic pickup will pull things together. I can see having something in the cubby, assuming it reasonably closely lined up, and just pushing the phone (USB end first) in and have it make the connection. My main concern would be how well the connection would maintain while driving (bumps and stuff).

When I get some time I'm going to try and remove the guts from a spare cup holder I have. Anyone ever do this? Retaining the flap/door would be kind of nice.
 

Mike_04GolfTDI

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UhOh

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Before you put too much effort into this, Google is working on wireless Android Auto.

https://ausdroid.net/2017/05/30/google-still-actively-working-wireless-android-auto/

Nobody knows exactly how close this is, but they've been at it for over a year. It would be unfortunate to go through a lot of trouble, and then a month later find out it can work wirelessly.
Yeah, I'd read up on wireless. Current problem is is that the power consumption is huge, meaning you'll likely end up having to plug your phone in in order to offset the power drain. Wireless is finicky, it's just the nature of radio waves. Whenever I can I'll opt for the more robust functioning that wired provides.

I've got the wireless version of VCDS (shelled out some big coin for it) and I do NOT like it (though not sure what improvements have been made to that software). I opt to go wired; sigh, requires I maintain a copy of Windows (whole reason I went after the wireless was to completely rid myself of Windows). I found that the wireless would tend to drop communications, which when out running on the road doing logging kinda sucks (have to restart logging).
 

BobnOH

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I'd take that old broken cupholder and make something. The cast support for those fits good enough to support the phone in an upright position. Rip the plastic cover and plastic cup support off. Maybe a dense foam or even wood.
I'd also be sure the USB is carrying power (it should).
 

UhOh

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I managed to expunge the guts out of the spare cup holder (w/o any harm). My phone fits PERFECTLY side to side and top to bottom; it stick out a couple inches, as already figured- not an issue. I'll need to dremel out some of the inner case as it has a worm rive track and such in the bottom. Once done with that I'll start analyzing how to affix one of those magnetic USB cables to the rear of it (looks very promising). I'll also verify that both our phones can dock at the same time: it's very close, but I think that it'll work- need to do the griding first before I can really tell for certain.

Seeing as this holds promise I'm going to go ahead and order one of those magnetic cables.

If I get this to work reliably I'll post some pictures.
 

hskrdu

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You can also use one of the flip-up covers (that usually come with the above-radio cup holders) with the cup holder delete. That's what I have in my Golf. When closed, the space is hidden, but you can access it with a push, just like the cup holders. If you keep the plastic from the delete, you lose some space, but with some creativity you could likely create your own storage cubby. (Her) Jetta has a Dension unit (the BT model that attaches to the back of the OE Mk IV 2DIN unit. I wired it for USB, so that it could power up when needed, and ran the cable through the cup holder delete (no above-radio cup holders on late '03s). She uses a magnetic phone holder attached to the vent next to the delete cubby, so that the phone is visible, instead of sliding it into the delete area.
 

UhOh

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hskrdu, so the non-cup-holder blank has a sort of cubby already?

I've essentially gutted and cleaned up the spare I have. So far things look really promising. Ordered one a magnetic USB cable, so that'll be the next challenge (how to fix it to the back of the cubby.

Windex, if you were asking me, I don't have an HU yet, but I'm thinking of getting a JVC KW-V830BT.
 

hskrdu

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hskrdu, so the non-cup-holder blank has a sort of cubby already?

I've essentially gutted and cleaned up the spare I have. So far things look really promising. Ordered one a magnetic USB cable, so that'll be the next challenge (how to fix it to the back of the cubby.
Yes, AFAIK there are at least 2 types of cupholder deletes. What I think are the first series, cover the the space with (too much) plastic and either a flip up cover or stationary cover. The flip up is harder to find, but if you visit the junkyard enough, you'll see them on occasion. What seems to be the second series are the late Mk IV versions, much less plastic, and are essentially just solid covers which pop out easily. I think the thread that has all the ways in which owners mounted their scan guages shows both types- I'd post a pic, but every time I try I get an error message (for three years now).

The space behind the original delete is prolly not large enough for what you are thinking of- not for 2 phones, that is. It is cool, though, to have a flip up cover- makes it look very OE.

Just a note: With the flip up delete, I don't think it is ever spring loaded, since there is no cup-holder mechanism. Mine just "pulls" up.
 

UhOh

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hskrdu, side-by-side it appears (will be testing shortly when I see my wife) that I ought to be able to get two phones in this cubby. My phone even has a case on it: so does my wife's, though it's a different style (same phone though). I've noted what you say about the door/flap, that it'll need to be pulled up to open and pushed down to close: I suspect that it'll mostly just be in the open position (though, if I wanted to leave my phone in the car -why, I'm not sure!- I could fit it totally inside by turning it sideways (and then close the door/flap).

Hwycruiser, this thread is about mods for stowing and connecting up my Android phone to a new HU that is running Android Auto. I've already committed to improving the sound in my car- a new HU; since the HU I'm interested in has Android Auto I'm going to use it (HU display is a good 40% larger than my phone's display). I've never bought a new car (and don't ask how old I am!), don't have car payments, so the expense of a new HU isn't going to break my bank. I'm trying to reduce clutter, not add to it.;)
 

Hwycruiser

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You said you are “ interested in” so I assumed you have not bought yet. You can use your android device with the cassette adapter but would sacrifice the display. If you want a new head unit their are models that have the usb in the front panel. Check out www.crutchfield.com for a good selection. As for mounts and storage I like the magnetic mounts, they make it is easy.
 
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UhOh

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Got my magnetic USB cable WOW! It's pretty impressive. Need only have the cable in the general vicinity (and correct side up) and it auto-connects. I am now leaning toward securing this cable using some chunk/block of rubber within the back side of the cup holder cubby.

One little gotcha is that I'll have to put my phone in the right-hand slot as the power button (on the phone's case) tends to bump the side of the cubby.
 

UhOh

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It WORKS!

Might be the only one that's done this.

I'll try and fish out some pictures (my phone was in the "docking station," so I had to use my wife's phone- need to get pictures off of it).

I can push my phone into the docking station and it docks right up with the magnetic USB connector. My stereo (JVC KW-V830BT) sees it and I then hit the Android Auto icon and that's that.:cool:

So, total success. If only Android Auto was as impressive! Music access is horrible. The default is Google Play (or whatever). I don't store stuff on the cloud (nor purchase music from the Internet), so that. apparently, kind of derails things. I'm currently messing with a developer app [AnyAutoAudio] that can access other music players from inside of Android Auto; it's not quite what I'd like but there's some promise, in which I may feel better about Android Auto. Google Maps and easier phone management IS, however, a plus.

Back to the cup holder mod...

I gutted the stock, dash cup holder. I ground out the worm tracks and other ridges on the inside bottom of the tray. I fixed the magnetic USB cable's end in-place with JB Weld for Plastic; at the back of the holder there two rectangular frames (where the cup holder's coil springs wind up in to and past), open spaces; set the phone in place with USB connected (masked the phone and taped it down) and smooshed in that JB Weld stuff to lock that cable's position in place. Fat end of the USB cable fed down (had to carve out a bit of the dash cage that the cup holder slides back in to) to the HU and plugged in. I also fed up a loose USB cable for whatever.

An interesting thing to note is that I had to locate the phone on the right side of the holder because on the left side (closer to the driver) the power button would hit on the holder and turn off! Turns out that it's all for the better because there's more room behind the dash cage on that side; might not be enough room to accommodate a fixed USB cable end on the left side. ALSO, on the HU there are physical volume buttons and key menu things on the left side that would be a bit harder to access/see with a phone docked on that side.

The downfall, other than the work involved, is that this is totally custom, only good for the phone and the cable I'm using.
 

UhOh

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This one picture pretty much tells the story.

To the left side of the gutted holder/docking station is a loose USB cable (attached to the HU). Looking back in there and just to the right you can make out the notching for that cable (not sure if that cable is running through that cutout as it kind of flopped around a bit); it's the cage that's behind the cup holder that is notched and not the cup holder itself; one can make out the rectangular holes in the rear of the cup holders, barely. The more interesting, and relevant, part is farther right and you can see it- the white area. That's the JB Weld for Plastic (there's two kinds- I used the putty type), it's framed by the rectangular hole in the back of the holder. If you zoom in on that white blob you can see the end of the micro USB connector.



Oh yeah, that extra Hazard switch is for the backup camera:D I'd like to replace it with an ESP switch (better fit, and less confusing; plus, "ESP" makes sense as the backup camera is Extra Sensory Perception!:D)

Next time my wife is with me in the car I'll snap a picture of my phone in the docking station and operating through the HU.
 

BobnOH

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Nice work!
If it was me I wouldn't use google play. I imagine the HU accepts a usb or flash drive.
 

UhOh

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Nice work!
If it was me I wouldn't use google play. I imagine the HU accepts a usb or flash drive.
There's JetAudio, but I couldn't get it to really do much for me. Someday someone (I contributed some funds to help encourage further development) will get something worked out here. In the meantime I'll probably stuff everything on a USB and plug that in.
 
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