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Fitting an iPAQ SatNav system to a BMW MINI Cooper

19th November 2002

Article by David Anderson for Pocket GPS

 

The new BMW MINI can be bought with a built in CD-ROM based Satellite Navigation system with the Navigation display built into the central speedometer housing, the speedometer being moved to a position in front of the steering wheel alongside the Tachometer. This system though nice is however is rather expensive and cannot be transferred to another vehicle.

 

Compaq iPAQ mounted in a Mini Cooper

 

BMW plan to release an iPAQ based SatNav system soon which will also include other communication and entertainment services. Pre-release photos show the iPAQ mounted above the central speedometer in a horizontal format. This system does look attractive but it is not yet available in the UK and prices are not yet known.
 
I decided that I wanted a SatNav system in my Cooper and the ability to also play MP3 music files would be a bonus. Here is what I installed and how I did it.
 

Details of Equipment fitted

  • Compaq iPAQ 3870

    • Pocket PC with an additional 128mb Secure Digital Card for storing the GPS Maps.

  • Tom Tom Navigator

    • Navigational software with UK Maps. (GPS driver 1.41,  Navigator version 1.40) Website Link

  • Holux GM-210 SuperMouse

    • GPS Receiver including the appropriate VersAdapter iPAQ charger and serial cable.  Website Link

  • Dashmount Carphone bracket

  • Arkon  Univeral PDA Multi Angle Mount Kit.

  • Cassette adaptor

    • for feeding audio from the iPAQ to the Car Stereo audio.

 

My Requirements for fitting the equipment in the car

The iPAQ

  • Must be securely and rigidly fitted to the car in a position where it will be visible to the driver.

  • Must not get in the way of any controls or the passenger.

  • Must not obscure visibility through the windscreen for the driver.

  • Must not intrude into the airbag deployment area.

  • Must be easily removable so that it is not a magnet for thieves when the car is parked.

The GPS receiver

  • Must be securely mounted in a position where it can get a good view of the sky for best reception of the satellites.

  • Must also be easily removable if necessary for use in other vehicles.

General

  • Cables must be neatly hidden.

  • No holes must be drilled in the car!

 

 

DashMount

 

 

 

 

Cable running through Door

Now the details of how I achieved the above

The spot chosen for the iPAQ was to the left of the radio in the centre console of the car below the Speedometer.

 

The Dashmount bracket which is designed for fitting a mobile phone was mounted on to the radio mounting screws as shown in the photo on the Dashmount product page.

 

The instructions supplied with the Dashmount Bracket indicate that it is a simple matter of removing a couple of screws and the left vertical pillar of the console to gain access to the two radio mounting screws.   Unfortunately it isn't quite as simple as this in practice!

 

In order to get the left pillar off requires a considerable amount of work and care.  The problem is that even though the bolts for the pillar are removed, the pillar cannot be extracted because it is firmly stuck into pieces of polystyrene under the gearshift/cup holder console.

 

Fortunately a couple of threads in the MINI2 forums came to the rescue.  Details were found on how to extract the pillar by partly removing the gear stick console and the dashtrim around the speedo.  Some Torx screws need to be removed, so a set of small Torx wrenches were purchased from Halfords.

 

The next step was to fit the Arkon PDA mount to the Dashmount bracket:

 

The Arkon multiangle mount kit consists of two parts, a holder for the iPAQ with adjustable sidegrips which clips on to the adjustable mount via a sort of keyhole clip arrangement.

 

Originally I had planned to bolt the multiangle mount on to the front of the Dashmount bracket.  When I tried this I found that iPAQ was too low down and got in the way of the gear stick. It was also fairly wobbly with a fair amount of play in some of the joints.

 

 

I found that I could bolt the mount onto the rear of the dashmount  bracket and then swivel the mount over the top of the bracket, this put the iPAQ at a much better height and also reduced the wobble and play considerably.

 

Further investigation showed that the PDA holder could move about on its keyhole mount, this was cured by a drop of superglue between the multiangle mount and the  PDA Holder. The PDA holder can still be removed from the mount because the front face of the mount unclips from the rest of moveable part.

 

The PDA holder grips the sides of the iPAQ and also has two adjustable feet at the bottom to support the weight. These feet can be slid up against the iPAQ connector at the bottom.

 

I felt that the naked iPAQ 3870 looked a little vulnerable in the mount, so I decided to leave it in its protective sleeve.  I had to remove the screen dustcover completely since it got in the way.

 

If the metal pin that holds the dustcover in place is removed then the cover can easily be refitted when the iPAQ is not fitted in the car.

 

The iPAQ screen has had a WriterRight screen protect film applied to it. A tip to fitting this is to dip the protective film in some water that has one drop of washing up liquid in it and then squeegee the film into place. This way you do get a second chance to align it properly. After a couple of hours the water will dry out and no bubbles will be left under the film, a perfect job!

 

The Holux SuperMouse GPS was mounted onto the top of the dashboard with self adhesive velcro strips in the centre just behind the front screen vents.

 

The cable runs to the left side of the dash and then is neatly tucked into the gap between the dash and the side.  The cable then runs down the side of the front passenger door frame behind the rubber sealing strip and back out into the passenger parcel shelf.  It continues along under the rubber mat on the passenger shelf, hidden from sight.  All of this can be easily removed if the GPS is needed in another vehicle.

 

The cable supplied for powering the Holux and the iPAQ consists of a cigar lighter power adaptor which has a Y junction, one half going to the iPAQ connector and the other to a PS2 style plug which mates with the PS2 socket on the end of the Holux lead.

 

 

The power cable can be hidden out of sight by tying it up into a neat bundle behind the centre console.

 

I found a small black 'P-Clip' in my junk box and fitted that to one of the dashboard mounting screws below the passenger shelf, this was used to hold the cable with the PS2 connector coming from the cigar lighter.

 

Finally the cassette adaptor was fitted into the cassette player slot and the excess wire was wound around the metal part of the dashmount bracket leaving just enough to allow the 3.5mm jack plug to be put into the socket on the top of the iPAQ when required.

 

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