USB Car Power Bar




Introduction: USB Car Power Bar

About: A geek traveling the world!

When my USB car charger died for the 3rd time in a year (Luckily previous were all replaced under warranty, Jimmy at the Telephone Booth is awesome!) I knew it was beyond replacement time now and I really wanted something more.

With the plethora of USB-powered/charged devices, I wanted something that could do more than one device and be more reliable that the retail ones in the store.

I had an idea, just needed a few parts/suggestions and I'd be all set.4-port USB Hub

Step 1: 4-port USB Mod

Ok, so this step isn't totally necessary but I figure I was exploring and wanted to see what it looked like inside any ways.

Ideally I wanted to polish the plastic scratch from the clear surface and re-paint the body to match the car.  I can still do that later if I really want to.  Also, since we have a lazer at Thinkhaus ( I had dreams of getting all fancy with etching the logo into the plastic and lighting it up with either the existing LED or add more.  I settled for a printout of the logo set behind the clear cover.  Best not to completely over do this :)

Step 2: Fixing Cheap Crap

This is the underside of the 12V Power Accessory USB charger.  My $2,99 device wasn't working when I got it, so being the hacker that I am, I took it apart.  It seems this here quality product was rather hastily put together.  The USB port itself has a total of 6 prongs that poke into the ciruit board.  Two on the outside are large and are meant to hold it in place while the 4 smaller ones are in the middle and two of which are soldered into the circuit.  Well one of the large ones wasn't even through the hole in the board (bent) and one of the smaller ones was also bent.  So basically it wasn't even hooked up.  I desoldered it, cleaned it, straightened out the pins, resoldered it and then hot-glued the pins for more stability.  Worked just fine.

Step 3: The 12V 4-port Power Center

This handy little $20.00 4-port power station was an awesome find at Canadian Tire.  I was happy that the switches were integrated, saves on mounting my own.

Step 4: The Bench Setup

This is the complete setup that is going into the car.  Power goes into the 4-port switched power station, then I plug in my 12V USB charging unit and that run to my 4-port USB Hub-turned/power-bar.  Seems kinda complicated but really is simple to install.

Step 5: The 12V 4-Port Power Station Failure

Well, first install and I got no lights from the Canadian Tire power station.  Ugh.  So back inside.  I debated about simply exchanging it but decided 'screw it, I'll fix it' and opened it up.  Well, I was rather confused.  Red is always the power cable and here it is connected to the outside, that I always thought was the ground.  That wasn't even an issue because when I lokked closer, the two middle red wires were actually being pinched by the casing!  It's a little hard to see but if you look along the metal ridge between the circuit board and sockets, you'll see some 'grey' sections.  Those are actually divits cut into it to allow the red wires to pass through without 'getting pinched'  Cheap ass labourers.

Step 6: 12V 4-port Power Staion Fixed

There, rewired and then another continuity test.  Hmm, every thing seems fine.  Ok, put it back together and test again.

Step 7: If One End Is Bad....

Decided to check the plug end as well, you never know.  All seemed good and again, the (red)power wire is hooked to the center.  I figure the lazy buggers just switched red/wire wiring on the other end

Step 8: The In-car Setup

And here is the setup.  Nice and neat for the most part.  Maybe I'll move the new USB Power Bar elsewhere but for now, this'll do.  To open my center console I just unplug the left cable.

Step 9: I Have Power!

I have power!  Got the USB Power Bar plugged in and the 12V FM transmitter for my MP3 player.  Still two switches left for future use (got two sets of fog lights to hook up still!  Waiting for warmer weather.)

Step 10: My Dream Cradle

Top part of setup where my HTC Dream cradle sits.  Cable isn't too intrusive.  Still working on an idea to eventually move the cradle to a better spot once I figure out a good mounting method.

Step 11: That's It.

Well, that's it.  Hope it gave you some ideas about doing one for your own car.



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    16 Discussions

    No after market deck yet, maybe later tis year. I just heard abut a 12V Fm transmitter that takes a USB drive....might be able to use my Android phone  on it.  We'll see :)

    I've got an FM transmitter that can use a USB memory stick, SD card (up to 8GB for sure, since that's the size I'm using) or it can use an analogue patch cord (which it comes with) It works ok, but, would likely work better if my car's antenna was a front fender type, rather than a rear quarter-panel type...since the transmitter has very limited range...I should rig up a cigarette lighter power port in my workshop, run of the same 12V supply that I'm running my AM/FM/TAPE stereo that I have up there (the one that was originally in my car), since I can have the transmitter closer to the antenna, just so I can see if my theory works...

    The 12V supply is actually an old 6V/12V 10A battery charger that used to be my grandfather's, then my father's, and now mine, though it doesn't charge batteries the way it used to, it still works well enough to power a few 12V accessories in my workshop. It uses an old Selenium rectifier, and has a current draw "rotor" as it calls it, on it, as well as an indicator light, although, the light doesn't work...

    Ya, I saw those AFTER i had already bought this one. Also, by the time I decided to get one, they were all sold out from the local 'cargo store'. Wasn't willing to spend a lot of money on this, it just would have been nice to be able to use an SD card.

    The one I have is branded "Hip Street" Don't know the mother company or anything like that, but I have an mp3 player that is branded by that name too...and at a quick glance, people who don't know any better would think it was an

    try searching "fm usb" on ebay. they have them as cheap as a dollar and most have remote too! :) nice instructable btw

    Thanks for the note. Selling the car now as I'm moving to either Korea or Taiwan. I'll be able to get such things from the source ;)

    OMG! That's the SAME splitter I have...I bought it solely to turn the transmitter on/off when the car is on/off, since my power outlet is constantly powered...though, only 3 of the outlets work, one somehow came unhooked, and I re-soldered the other outlets so that they're always powered, for 12V chargers, which shut themselves off when they're not being used...the only one still switched is the one for the transmitter.

    2 replies

    Yah, damn cheap parts. But at least the majority of us on this site are skilled and willing enough to fix such crap. I was tempted to return it but it wasn't worth the effort.

    I just wish I had have upgraded my splitter so that it could put out the full 15A that the power outlet is capable of, so I wouldn't need to unplug my splitter to plug in my air compressor...and now, my splitter is epoxied to my centre console...and the modified, non-switched ports all have the passenger seat against, likely, to remove the splitter now, I'd have to remove my front passenger seat, and use a hacksaw to cut the epoxy. Although, being required to remove several other things to remove something that should otherwise be straight forward to remove is nothing new with my, let's say I want to do something with the front door latches, the part that's in the door...first, I need to remove the window winder, which is a task in itself, because of the way the clips that hold them on are...then, remove the speaker grille, remove the speaker, and any screws I find under the grille/speaker, THEN I can remove the other screws for the door panel, and hopefully the panel comes off...
    Don't get me started on changing any of the belts in the car...or the dash lights...

    Is that an Acclaim you have??
    I've got a Plymouth

    1 reply

    Nope, it's a 1992 Chrysler Dynasty LE. Incidentally, it's for sale as well.

    Yes, mine was the same well as one of the wires had broken off the metal collar that it was supposed to be soldered to...and I couldn't get it to re-solder, so I said f**k it...and decided not to use that one...which, it so happened, that I couldn't use it anyways because the front of my transmitter was in the way to be able to see what was on the screen (though, it only shows numbers, it is helpful to be able to find a certain track, if you know what number it is from scanning through them), and still have something plugged into the port next to it...without also unlatching the SD card...