Apple, iPod

How to connect your iPod to your car

Toyota Rav4 Norwegian Mountains

…or rather how to connect your iPod to your 2001 Toyota Rav4
So, time has come to find a soultion that gives me an ability to listen to my iPod in my car. It’s a 2001 Toyota Rav4 with a standard Toyota factory mounted stereo. And a 60GB Apple iPod Video.

Using one of the several FM Transmitters out there is not an option. That’s just not good enough. I want to connect the iPod to the car stereo through wires. I want the best sound quality possible with the combination of a car stereo and an iPod.

Someone out there would immediately say: “Then you have to start by getting rid of the factory mounted Toyota stereo.“. I know. It’s not very good. With the original speakers only it’s actually close to terrible. But after adding a subwoofer and an extra set of tweeters it’s much better.

The options
It cooked down to these two:

The iPod2Car
The Dension iceLink Plus

I found both of them at BestBuy for $199,- I could not find any reliable confirmations that a system bought in the US would work in my European Toyota Rav4. In addition to this I could not find any detailed description of how to install it in my particular car.

Before starting on this possibly complicated project I called an installation company in my hometown of Oslo and asked about the price of a complete system with installation. For starters, he could not confirm that he had a system for my Toyota. Secondly, it would set me back about $550,-

OK. I take the chance. I buy the Dension iceLink. Mainly because of the very nice docking cradle that is included with this solution. I want a system where I can simply dock my iPod in my car as easy as I dock it in the Apple docking cradle on my desk.

Back in Norway. I find a description of how to dismount the stereo in a Rav4. My stereo is not identical, but it was very easy. You need these tools:

Allen screw driver

All you need is to unscrew eight screws. Simple as that.

Unscrew Unscrew2

Pull the stereo towards you just enough to reveal the back of it. Several connections here. My iceLink package came with two cables, the small device that contains the electronics and the docking. I only had to use one of the cables.

Back of Toyota stereo

It fits into the socket at the left in this picture. This socket is actually already taken, but you disconnect the plug that’s there from the factory and insert your iceLink cable. The iceLink cable comes with an extra connector where the original plug fits in as well:

Extra connector

Then you simply arrange the iceLink device and the cables so that you can put the stereo back in. Should not be difficult and you should not have to use any force.

At this point I connected it just to see if it worked. And it did. No problem at all. Loud and clear sound from the iPod to the stereo. Pressing “Next” on the stereo skips to the next song on the iPod. You can choose to do give all control to the iceLink and the Toyota stereo or keep the control locally on the iPod. The first option lets you switch between the first five playlists in your iPod with the CD-changer function on the stereo. The last one gives you complete control locally on the iPod in addition to be able to skip previous and next from the stereo. I prefer the last one.

The next step is to buy a backet to mount the Dension iceLink docking cradle on. I guess it would be possible to find a place on the dashboard and just mount it there using tape or screws, but I don’t want to destroy the dashboard and I want it to sit properly.

I am going to order one of the ProClip mounting options from a Swedish company called Brodit. Probably this one: 852841.

So I guess this post will be continued. With information on the final mounting of the docking and how it all will work together with the video output on my iPod.

Update:
Here’s the story on the final mounting.

An important possibility of having a video iPod in a car is of course to feed the kids screens in the back seat with cool movies…

Video in car

A happy kid with a crappy screen. I bough it on eBay for $40. Works fine for now but has to be replaced at some point. And, as you can see from the picture I will soon need two screens back there.

For the people that actually have read all of this post, a quick competition: What movie is he watching? (You can click the picture for a bigger version).

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