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Project - Concealing Phone Connection to Infotainment.


Grompix
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I was a bit disappointed (another niggle!) to discover that my recently acquired 2020 Yaris Excel did not have the mobile phone charging mat that the later Excel trim (supposedly) has. Not only that but the Android Auto feature (or Apple Car-Play if you are that way equipped) does not work through bluetooth. The phone must be plugged into the meagre single USB port that the Yaris is fitted with.

Now, this discovery coincided with a set of magnetic USB charging cables and plugs I recently purchased for my mobile phone as I was needing to use a toothpick to regularly clean out the fluff and other crud that was building-up in the micro-usb socket.

I’ve been pretty impressed with these. Easy to attach / detach without risk of wearing out the phone-socket either. My better-half was impressed too - she snaffled two cables for her own phone!  

I wondered if I could use one of the shorter magnetic leads from the pack in my Yaris, to make it easier to attach the phone to the infotainment system without having to mess about plugging in the USB wire and pulling it out all the time.  

The magnetic connection worked a treat. Not only did Android-Auto kick in OK on the infotainment head-unit but the phone charged too. Smashing!

Pity about that magnetic USB cable still floating about though…

I was suddenly afflicted with the insane idea of hiding the cable behind the dash of the car. Feeding it under the USB ‘module’ (for want of a better word) and perhaps behind the climate control unit and up into the top shelf of the dash. I had already decided that the bottom shelf (near the lighter socket) was not really the right shape (or even the right size) for my phone. The top shelf was just perfect for a mobile phone. It would mean rashly drilling a hole in the side of the top shelf though - hmmmm!

Anyway, after much indecision, I decided to go ahead.

Despite much trepidation, it has turned out very satisfactory IMHO.

On entering the car, I now can just chuck (well, perhaps place!) my phone on the top shelf.
Power on, and Android-Auto kicks in on the head-unit (I suppose Apple Car Play would do the same).
The phone charges - no need for a charging mat.
I have access to my music and maps.
No cables strewn about and no need for one of those mobile phone docking stations. 
Bingo!

These are the pics of my progress in case anyone would like to have a go at something similar themselves.

Just a note about the magnetic cables - I was careful to get the fast-data type. You can get cheaper cables but they are only good enough for charging and often tend to be problematical with simultaneous data transfer. 

I ended up making a kind of 3D printed 'housing' to prevent the phone occasionally moving around and disconnecting itself when driving. Looking back, this was probably a bit of 'overkill'. The extra rubber blue matting I've subsequently used seems to achieve the same thing perfectly well.   

1.TOPK1 (Copy).jpg

2.BlackFitOK (Copy).jpg

3.USBCableHookedUp (Copy).jpg

4.USBStickHookedUp (Copy).jpg

5.Bottom of USBTray (Copy).jpg

6.CableClipped (Copy).jpg

6a. CableRoute (Copy).jpg

7.HoleGrommet (Copy).jpg

8.TopShelfWideView (Copy).jpg

9.MobileHolder (Copy).jpg

10.HolderBlack (Copy).jpg

11.TestHolderFit2 (Copy).jpg

12.HolderBlack&Phone (Copy).jpg

13.RubberPad (Copy).jpg

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Wow, that's brilliant! :biggrin: :thumbsup:

And thanks for putting in all the steps!

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Excellent work again Grompix. It’s quite disappointing that the top of the range Excel model doesn’t have a wireless charging mat or the footwell LEDs you install on your previous post.

Does the standard USB connection still charge the phone when using relatively power hungry applications like Apple or Google maps?

I have been looking at wireless dongles for connecting my phone without having to plug in every time. 

 

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2 hours ago, Cjohnston1982 said:

Does the standard USB connection still charge the phone when using relatively power hungry applications like Apple or Google maps?

I've been travelling round using Google Maps and Musicolet together on Android Auto, and the phone charges up fine. So far, I haven't worked out how fast the charge is - only that the phone always has more battery power available at the end of a journey compared to the beginning.  😉

"I have been looking at wireless dongles for connecting my phone without having to plug in every time". 

I had a look at the wireless dongles too but haven't been too impressed by the issues (and prices) that seem to accompany these things. I suppose at some stage (when/if the issues are sorted) I might look at wireless dongles again.    

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4 hours ago, baxuz said:

I wonder what would happen if you installed a USB hub

I've heard (or read) somewhere that the single USB port in the Yaris is incompatible with USB hubs. But I intend giving it a try at some stage. 😉

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On 8/16/2021 at 10:41 AM, baxuz said:

I wonder what would happen if you installed a USB hub

I've heard (or read) somewhere that the single USB port in the Yaris is incompatible with USB hubs. But I intend giving it a try at some stage. 😉

Just casually flicking through the Mk4 Yaris Multimedia Manual OMK0019E (as you do on a Saturday evening!).
Came across this interesting little snippet which refers to the Yaris's single USB port: -
Apparently you can connect a hub - something worth pursuing I think.  😁

 

USB-HUB (Copy).jpg

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  • 3 weeks later...

I thought I needed to post an update on a couple of issues I’ve had using a magnetic mobile-phone connection for Android Auto (and I presume the same thing might apply to Apple Carplay too).

This is in case some people have hit similar snags.

Some time after posting the above project, I started hitting connection problems. Occasionally Android Auto would connect just fine and other times - no response or the message: -

“Cannot Connect the USB Device” would appear on the head unit screen.

At first I thought it might be a cable issue (and Google does go on about using high-quality data cables) but I knew that the magnetic cable I used worked fine before: -

But before what?

Then I realised that Google had updated the Android Auto app on my phone to 6.7.######.

A search on the internet showed that lots of people suddenly had problems with this version (particularly connection issues) and the consensus was to back-date the app to an earlier (working) version.

I used this YouTube guide to try that out: -

How to downgrade Android Auto and rollback to a working version with AAAD - Bing video   

Unfortunately my mobile kept uploading the latest version of AA every time I ran it so back-dating the app did not work for me.
Instead, I used the same guide to upload the
newest 6.8.###### (beta) version of the app, bypassing the troublesome (for me) 6.7.######.

Bingo!

No issues - everything works as it should.
I know beta versions of software are not fully tested and might have issues but I have found no probs so far.
The process is a bit fiddly but carefully following the video should get positive results. If your mobile won’t allow you to back-date your AA app then you can upload the next (beta) version.

The next thing to hit me was another connection issue. This caused me to upload the newest beta version of Android Auto (6.9.######). Still no luck even after doing that however.

Twiddling the magnetic connector would sometimes result in a connection then it would be lost again after driving for a while. It was only after looking (very) closely at the connector that I noticed some pitting around the gold rings (see picture). I wondered if that might be the issue.

Swapping the magnetic connector on the phone with a new one instantly solved the connection problem.

How had the rings on the connector become pitted?

I had a recollection of seeing a tiny blue flash that occurred a few days ago when I attached my phone to the connector in the car. Maybe that was an unwanted spark that caused the pitting?

So, now I connect / disconnect my phone when the car ignition is off - just to be on the safe side.

Hope this helps someone.

Chris 😉

TOPK Magnetic Connectors.jpg

1.TOPK1.jpg

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I would always prefer to use a proper cable for charging/data. I think the magnetic style connectors are quite convenient however the latter part of your post proves the reason why I have avoided.

Perhaps in someway you are lucky it didn't blow the port on the phone.

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44 minutes ago, Yugguy1970 said:

You know you can set all apps to not auto update?  I never auto update.

I would say the update in this case is a red herring, the cable (connection) was the source of the problem, is how I read it.

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1 hour ago, Yugguy1970 said:

You know you can set all apps to not auto update?  I never auto update.

My phone is set to never update without my permission too. But Android Auto refuses to run without first uploading (and installing) the newest version first. Something I assume is now built into the app that bypasses user settings on the phone.
A real nuisance whatever the cause.    

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36 minutes ago, bewA said:

I would say the update in this case is a red herring, the cable (connection) was the source of the problem, is how I read it.

Thousands of AA users worldwide would disagree with you that the 6.7.###### update was a red herring.  

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40 minutes ago, Grompix said:

Thousands of AA users worldwide would disagree with you that the 6.7.###### update was a red herring.  

Never had a problem, and literally millions would probably agree with me 👍

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1 hour ago, bewA said:

Never had a problem, and literally millions would probably agree with me 👍

You are so fortunate.

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