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How to mount an apple Ipod in the Saab 93 Sport Saloon/Sport Wagon Saturday, 17/09/2005 by nik

An easy, tidy and unobtrusive way to carry your Ipod in your Saab (Saab Ipod Integration).

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In many ways Apple and Saab share a very similar brand essence. They both major on usability/ergonomics as a primary design feature, and also engender a certain quirky distinctiveness. They are both the type of brands to lust after - being non-mainstream but very desirable.

So, it stands to reason that linking your Ipod and your Saab together makes good sense?!

The question is, how to do this easily and tidily? Something I've been wondering for a while. Now the SAAB 93 SS (or at least the model I have) comes with a 12v Power supply and an MP3 player auxiliary input in the centre console. On other 93SS models you can order the AUX port as an optional accessory (see here). (You can also buy it as a post-fit accessory, and fit it yourself if you feel up to it).

Plan 1 was to simply use a combined power supply and audio cord (from Belkin - see later) in the centre console, set the Ipod Mini playing, and then also stow it unseen in the centre console. In the end I figured this wasn't so great - it starts to become a hassle if you want access to your ipod, say to forward/rewind tracks or choose a new music selection, pause it and so on. You end up fiddling with your arm behind you and it is pretty unsatisfactory and possibly dangerous.

Desired Characteristics

What I really wanted was a way to mount the Ipod in the cockpit that met all th following criteria:

  • secure - does not flap around or get in the way of anything
  • no damage required - i.e. no drilling, and preferably no sticking of unmovable substances
  • Tidy - avoiding lots of trailing wires. Looks reasonably professional rather than a botch job.
  • Makes use of the power supply/aux input in the centre console.
  • Does not require fiddling around behind you - i.e. Ipod is in view and controllable while driving and looking forwards

options

There are many various "car kits" and mounts on the market for the ipod, from the likes of Griffin, Belkin and so on. Some of them consist of "mobile phone" style mounts for the vents, another is the Belkin "Tunebase" which is a flexible mount that fits in your 12v lighter socket. Others are just power cords. One that intrigued me for a while was the belkin "tunedok" - which basically fits a cup holder. Although rather large and obvious this looked like it might be an option to try.

Failed Solutions

As a starting point, I had already bought a Belkin 12v Auto Kit Car Charger for the Ipod. There are a couple of types of charger cable from Belkin, The Belkin Mobile Power Cord is designed to power the Ipod and a second accessory, such as an FM transmitter. However, the belkin auto kit charger cable has a built-in audio amplifier and 3.5mm jack socket. The relevance of this means that you do not need an audio cable for the top of the Ipod. Instead all you need is a 3.5mm - 3.5mm stereo cable a few inches long and you connect from the neck of the charger straight into the AUX socket. It's very neat, and it never gets seen.

The SAAB 93 has two (and a third optional) cupholders in the main cockpit, so the TuneDok seemed like a possible solution - although in the back of my mind I didn't want to sacrifice a cupholder if I could help it.  The dashboard cupholder was quickly ruled out for a couple of reasons. First, it's too far away from the power supply and aux socket. Second, it's difficult to get the angle perfect and still provide access to the Ipod multi-connector on the base. Third, this is the most handy cupholder, so I didn't want to sacrifice it.

Another choice would be the optional cupholder module add-on in the centre console (the "smart slot", as Saab puts it). But I don't have one, and they are quite expensive. So that was ruled out. Thirdly, I tried the temporary cupholder in the storage bin (behind the handbrake). This worked pretty well, it's close to the power supply, and everything was stable and tidy. However, it left me with a niggle - the Ipod is more or less facing in the wrong direction, and it's also using up valuable storage space..

Then a brainwave....

The solution

What I really wanted was some way to use the space in the convertible accessory module (smart slot) in the centre console, but without damaging it or drilling holes. So, here's what I did.

First, remove the cover from the smart slot accessory module. (see the picture).

The lid on this module simply clips off (and by the way, if you haven't figured out what it does, it appears to be a CD holder which you can use while you are changing CD's - you slot an out-of-the-box CD into the slot to hold it temporarily).

Next, I configured the TuneDok in "desk stand" mode. This means unscrewing it from the inside of the cup and re-screwing it into the outside. I squeezed the edges of the tunedok together so that they would fit into the accessory module.

Voila! Job nearly done. Last thing to do was mount and connect the iPod to the mounting clip.

You can see in the above picture the charging cable to the Ipod Mini (which as discussed before, also provides the audio). For the purposes of the photographs I have left it visible, but it would be very easy to run it along the side of the centre console, out of sight. In fact there is a nice lip along the console where is would rest nicely - or indeed you could probably feed it inside the console. This bit of the project I leave up to you.

One of the great thigns about the above Belkin solution is you do not need any visible audio cables. The ipod mini audio is fed from the charger main unit an inch or two into the AUX socket. Better still, the volume level is controlled independently by a control on the charger itself, not by the Ipod volume level. This works brilliantly, because it means you can have full volume piping into the AUX socket (which you need to get the right levels) without having to adjust anything on the Ipod itself.

Finally, a couple of pictures to show you what the cockpit as a whole looks like (complete with obligatory SAAB baseball Cap :-) )

saab 93 SS cockpit with TuneDok and Ipod Mini

Finally, a picture of the entire installation. You can see the power cord running to the Ipod here, but that will eventually hidden. For the "no DIY" option, just tape or glue it along the passenger side of the console. I'm planning to actually take it through the console (the sides should be removeable) and then up through the accessory mount to keep it neat. If I figure this out, I'll update the instructions here.

Let me know what you think!

Summary of components used

By the way - I saw written on a bulletin board that someone "had heard this installation may fry your IPOD".... What utter nonsense! It cannot possibly fry your IPOD - it is using items specifically made for the Ipod. That's the whole point of using the Belkin Ipod Cable - it's designed for the job. The only way you'll fry your ipod is if you start making your own cables!

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