This is my first indestructible, I wouldn't have posted this because I always do things like this and I lose site that sometimes they can be cool or useful to others, but a coworker told me I should, so here I am. Also I underestimated the current draw and capabilities of the original design and had to correct it. This gave me the opportunity to take pictures and such for illustration. Before I get started let me say that while this indestructible will tell you how to start your car with a flash drive; this will be a reengineered flash drive and should never be plugged back into a computer or plug an un-engineered one into the car for fear of what might happen. The reason for this indestructible is quite simply I am cheap (new part is $100 and labor is $200) and I love creatively fixing things around the house with junk I have laying about. So the problem is the ignition stopped turning in my car, a '96 BMW 328i (this makes the problem more complex later). I will cover the unique challenges my car represented but also instruct the general techniques needed to adapt this for any vehicle. A side from the three automotive relays (purchased to solve the current draw issue) everything used was found lying around in my junk bins.

My parts list is:
1x Front panel USB plug from an old computer case
1x Old 2GB USB SanDisk Cruzer flash drive (who uses 2GB flash drives these days anyways)
2x automotive relays with two normal open contacts
1x automotive relay with one normal open and one normal closed contact
1x 12v relay with one normal open and one normal closed contact for electronics (had it laying around but could have used another automotive one as well)

Step 1: Remove the vehicles interior panels

The first step is to remove the interior panels in the car to gain access to the wire harness used for the ignition. This varies for every vehicle and is outside the scope of this indestructible.  While you are removing the panels take note and plan where you are going to mount your USB plug. I chose to mount it on the lower panel that covers the steering column. Keep in mind that your wire length will also be a limiting factor in your placement. Carefully measure and cut a hole where you wish to mount the plug, keep in mind there needs to be clearance from other parts in the vehicle when you reinstall the panels. You may want to double check multiple times to ensure you have chosen the right placement. A wrong choice will lead to multiple holes in your interior panels which never looks good.

By the way, the interior plastic is very tough to cut so if you chose to do it by hand as I did please be extremely careful not to cut yourself. I used a hobby knife to carefully cut the hole in the plastic, but what you have or choose to use is up to you. I thought about using a Dremel but chose to do it by hand so I had more control and provide a more accurate result.
the future and the past. Turn it on with flash drive and with cassette player yet... <br>and by the way, 27&ordm;C??? (about 81&ordm;F) what a chilly man!! <br>just joking, great instructable!!
How do you turn ACC on?
When I plug in the flash drive it is the equivalent of turning the key to the on position. So if I want to just sit in the car with the radio on, I just plug it in and don't push the button to start it. The only bad part is when I stop and want to listen while I wait, I have to unplug it(to shut the engine off) and the plug it back in. However the like I said this is the &quot;on&quot; position so everything has power the engine is just not running yet.
Great Instructable!!! <br> I am definitely going to try this out when my 325xi is paid for. I do have a warning for anyone wanting to recreate this though, If this Bimmer is 17 years old then it is very likely to be a lot easier to hack than a newer model. My mom's X3 is an '07 and they are on the new D-CAN system as opposed to OBD-2, this means that all the modules are completely integrated into the DME through the diagnostic port. If one thing changes that car will get very, very cranky. Speaking of which, did you have to reprogram the car or did placement of the RFID chip completely bypass the security system? I know you said it but I also know that if the car figures it out (They're smarter than some sapiens haha) it will throw codes, beep a lot and die on the highway.
I have been driving the car around for a while now, a little longer than the post has been up. I have had no problem with the placement of the RFID chip yet. I haven't done anything to the car that wasn't posted here, so no further bypassing the security system. I have thought of a slight upgrade I plan to do to this and will post it when I do. I am going to add a LED back light to it. it is alot harder to get a flash drive in the plug at night then a car key. Also one word of warning. You must fight the habbit of turning the flash drive to turn the car off......just pull it out.
Hey, cool idea, but I am a bit confused. There is no data on the flash drive, right? You have disassembled the drive and turned it into a switch?
It looks like he did. As long as the wiring is correct and the chip is in place, the car 'shouldn't' know the difference.

About This Instructable


72 favorites


Bio: I am a Soldier in the US Army. My main hobby is tinkering with everything and anything. Most times it's free other times it ... More »
More by Hillbilly1019: Start your car with a flash drive.
Add instructable to: