Introduction: Adding a Headphone Jack to an IPhone Dock

About: As long as I can remember I've been building stuff. I think it's high time I shared these projects.

During the fall of 2016 I received a complimentary iPhone/Apple Watch dock from a company called 1byone. While I really liked the dock and overall gave it a good review, I realized that I could improve it with some simple modifications. Several of these modifications were very specific to this dock, as you can see in the video above. While I won't go into the details of those modifications here, one of the modifications could be applicable to many different iPhone docks on the market.

The fall of 2016 will be remembered for many things, but for iPhone users it will be remembered as when we lost the most basic of ports (the humble headphone jack). iPhone 7's ship with special lightning headphones and an adapter to convert from a lightning port to a 1/8" headphone jack. However, if you want to charge your phone while listening to music, you're out of luck with these included adapters. While Apple's docking stations have a headphone jack built into them, third party docks often don't have this feature - yet. In this Instructable, I will show you how to add a headphone jack an iPhone dock.

Step 1: The Lighting to Headphone Jack Splitter

There are numerous inexpensive lighting to headphone jack splitter adapters on the market. These splitters split a male lighting jack into a headphone jack and female lighting jack, which allows the phone to be charged while simultaneously playing music. I purchased this splitter adapter from amazon. The first thing I did to the adapter was cut the wire leading to the female lighting jack in half. The female lighting jack was set aside for some potential future project.

Step 2: Tear Down the Dock

I removed the bottom cover of the dock and found a circuit board inside, which handles all of the electrical connections. This board was connected to the existing lighting connector (dock) by four wires. The lighting cable dock assembly was fastened in by a plastic bracket held down by two screws. After removing this bracket, the lighting dock and board could be removed from the dock. Finally, the four wires connecting the dock assembly to the circuit board were cut to separate the dock from the board.

Step 3: Drill Hole in Dock

A hole was drilled in the side of the dock to accommodate the headphone jack connected to the splitter cable. I placed this hole in a position where there was sufficient room inside the dock for the headphone jack. If there isn't sufficient room inside of your dock for the headphone jack, you could always run its wire through the side of the dock and leave the entire headphone jack outside of the dock.

Step 4: Paint

Paint makes any project better. I decided to make the entire dock satin black to match my iPhone and Apple Watch.

Step 5: Remove Lighting Cable From Dock

The existing lighting cable end was removed from the dock by grinding away the back of it with the Dremel. I literally chopped right through the cables and plastic holding the lighting cable end into the dock. Once I had cut through sufficient material, I lightly pushed on the back of the lighting cable end it to dislodge. It could then be easily pulled from the dock.

Step 6: Enlarge Hole in Mounting Bracket

The hole in the plastic piece used to hold down the lighting dock assembly was enlarged slightly. I made the hole large enough that the headphone jack could slip through it after everything was wired up.

Step 7: Remove End of Splitter Cable

I removed the metal sheath around the end of the splitter cable by cutting along one of its edges with the Dremel, and then peeling it off with a pliers.

Step 8: Epoxy

The newly exposed end of the splitter cable was epoxied into the hole left by the old lighting cable end. I only applied epoxy to the white plastic at the end of the new cable before carefully pushing everything together. If I had applied epoxy inside of the dock, I would have risked getting epoxy onto the lighting connector.

After the epoxy set, I fastened the dock/lighting cable assembly into the dock using the plastic mounting bracket. Note that the outer wire casings were stripped off of the cut wires leading from this dock assembly. I also removed a portion of the outer wire from the wire leading to the headphone jack. The reason for this was to allow the cables to be more flexible. The dock assembly is designed to pivot and thick wires would hinder this motion.

A similar epoxy procedure was followed to secure the headphone jack into the hole prepared for it. Epoxy was applied to the jack, which was then placed into the hole from the inside of the dock.

Step 9: Solder the Power Wires Together

The circuit board was fastened back into the dock and the red and black wires from the lighting dock assembly were soldered to the red and black wires connected to the board. After covering the joints with small sections of shrink tubing, I closed up the bottom of the dock.

Step 10: Test and Enjoy

It's always a bit nerve-wracking to finish and test a project like this as you hope you didn't mess something up. Fortunately, both functions of the updated dock work. The phone still charges when connected to the lighting cable, and if a speaker or headphones are connected to the 1/8" headphone jack they receive audio from the phone. I completed several other modifications to this dock, which you can see in the video at the beginning of this Instructable. Overall, I was very pleased with how this small project came out!

* Note that all amazon links were made using my affiliate account. You pay the same price, but I receive a small commission to help in making more projects like this. Thanks!

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