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iPod dock adapter for the Motorola Droid/Milestone

15/06/2010, by Thice, category Hardware, Mods

—> The PDF version of this article can be found here.

Motorola Milestone iPod dock adapterManufacturers of electronic devices don’t seem to be able to get a global standard on docking connectors, resulting in that you usually end up buying a new dock for every electronic device you acquire. In the past I bought multiple iPod docks (also see my other article about bypassing the Apple video out protection on older docks here), but I own more devices than just the ones from Apple. My current mobile phone is a Motorola Milestone (or Droid if you are from the US), which of course does not fit on an iPod dock. Not willing to buy new docks I decided to build an adapter to enable me to use my iPod docks with my mobile phone. This article will describe step-by-step how I have built this dock adapter.

Because I am from Europe (the Netherlands to be precise) my Motorola device is named a Milestone, but the whole article of course is just as applicable to the Motorola Droid. For the ease of use I will just refer to the ‘Motorola Milestone’ in this article from now on.

Since all the information in this document is gathered from the internet or analyzed by myself it could be that there are some errors in this document, I am sorry if that is the case. Any opinion expressed in this document is solely my own.

Goals

The goal of this project is to create a dock adapter which enables the Motorola Milestone to charge, output music and switch to docking (multimedia) mode. The Motorola Milestone charges through the micro USB connector on its side. To enable charging through our dock adapter we will need to equip it with a micro USB connector.

Since the Motorola Milestone does not provide audio output through the micro USB connector, we will have to use the headphone connector on the top of the device to enable audio out.

To enable automatic switching to docking mode on the Motorola Milestone the device is equipped with a magnetic sensor. When a magnet is placed against a certain location on the device it will recognize the dock type (Media or Car) by the polarization of the magnet. With some testing I found the best location for the magnet is at the back of the device above the micro USB connector and a bit to the right. This location is shown on the picture below which shows the back of the Motorola Milestone.

Milestone dock adapter magnet locationUsing a magnet in our dock adapter will enable us to use the multimedia docking mode.

So, our dock connector will need to have a micro USB and audio connector as well as a magnet in it. The last part to enable us to connect it to the iPod dock will of course be a connector which fits the iPod dock itself. The schematic design for the dock adapter is shown in the next image.
Milestone dock adapter design

Parts

This chapter will list all the parts that are needed to create the dock adapter. The specific parts used in this document might not be the most obvious, but they were cheap and available at the time of executing this project.

iPod dock connector

Milestone Dock Adapter iPod cableSince good dock connectors seem to be quite expensive and hard to find, I decided to buy a cheap Dock extender cable and harvest the connector from that. The Dock extender cable has been bought from DealExtreme for just $3.14:

Dock Extender Male/Female Cable for All iPod/iPhone 2G/3G

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.21892

The dock connector from this cable has almost all the pins available to make use of and provides nice solder pads to connect wires to. Since this is not always the case it is good to keep this in mind when looking for a suitable dock connector.

3,5 mm stereo audio plug

Milestone Dock Adapter AudiocableThe audio cable I used in this project was one I had lying around. It suited this project fine since it had an angled jack connector, which I preferred. An alternative cable could be bought from DealExtreme for just $1.80:

3.5mm Male to 3.5mm + 2.5mm Audio Male Audio Cable

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.39763

Of course any 3,5 mm stereo audio plug will be fine.

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Micro USB connector

Milestone Dock Adapter MicroUSB cableThe Micro USB connector I used in this project has been harvested from a headphone adapter for another Motorola device. I bought this connector with the hope it would enable audio out from the micro USB port of the Motorola Milestone (which it of course did not). This adapter has been bought from DealExtreme for just $2.27:

3.5mm Stereo Audio Headphone Adapter For Motorola V8/V9

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.30099

Of course any micro USB connector will be fine.

Magnets

Milestone Dock Adapter MagnetsTo enable the docking mode on the Motorola Milestone we will need some magnets, the following magnets from DealExtreme will suit our needs just fine for only $2.09:

Super-Strong Rare-Earth RE Magnets (10-Pack 9 mm)

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.3461

I ended up using four out of the ten magnets.

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Polymorph

Milestone Dock Adapter PolymorphTo create the encasing of the dock adapter we will use Polymorph, which is a polymer that can easily be moulded when heated at moderate temperatures. Polymorph is great stuff for prototyping and can be remoulded time after time. I bought my Polymorph from eBay, but it can be found at various places online. Some more info can be found on the website of the company I bought it from:

http://www.c-d-c-shop.com/polymorph.htm

.

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Pin outs

Before we can start to build the dock we will need the pinouts of the various components. This chapter will show the pinouts for all the components used.

3,5mm stereo audio plug pinout

The following image shows the pinout of the 3,5mm stereo audio plug

Milestone dock adapter pinout audio

The pinout for the 3,5mm stereo audio plug can also be found online at:

  • http://pinouts.ru/Home/Tele35s_pinout.shtml

Micro USB pinout

The following image shows the pinout of the micro USB plug from the Motorola Milestone side, not the cable side. The cable side is the same pinout in opposite direction.


Milestone dock adapter pinout micro USB

The pinout for the micro USB connector can also be found online at:

  • http://pinoutsguide.com/CellularPhones-Nokia/micro_usb_connector_pinout.shtml

Dock connector pinout

The following image shows the pinout of the Apple iPod dock connector on the board we will be using to create our adapter.

Milestone dock adapter pinout dock
The pinout for the iPod dock connector can also be found online at:

  • http://pinouts.ru/PortableDevices/ipod_pinout.shtml

Wiring

Now that we have all the pinouts for the components we can now see how we should wire the components together. The table below shows which pins should be connected together.

Component Connector Wire colour Connected to
3,5 mm stereo GND (audio) Metal Dock 2
Audio right Red Dock 3
Audio left White Dock 4
Micro USB GND (USB) Copper Dock 16
Vcc Red Dock 23
Data – Green – Blue Data +

The colours mentioned in the table refer to the wire colours of the components named in this article, when using other components these wire colours will probably be different.

To enable the Motorola Milestone to accept the power on the USB port, the USB Data- and Data+ connections should be linked to each other. Without these points connected the device will not charge.

The following image shows the wiring inside our dock adapter.

Milestone dock adapter wiring

Building the adapter

Having the different components, the design and the wiring schematics, it is now time to actually build the adapter. After soldering the components together I shortened the original dock encasing a bit because it was larger than needed. To hold everything together I filled the dock encasing with hot glue, resulting in the prototype shown below.

Milestone dock adapter bare

Polymorph encasing

The prototype showed above already works as a dock adapter however it does not hold the Motorola Milestone in its place. To build an encasing for the dock adapter that holds the Motorola Milestone in its place we will be using Polymorph.

Polymorph consists of small plastic pellets which can be melted in hot water. My general approach is to melt the pellets in hot water, press them together and making small sheets of plastic of it. These plastic sheets can be cut with scissors to preferred sizes. I personally like to use a hot air gun to melt these sheets again and then use them in the project. The encasing of the adapter has been made of multiple layers of Polymorph which have been melted together. The encasing also holds the magnets for the docking mode option.

Result

The following images show the end result of our Motorola Milestone iPod dock adapter.

Milestone dock adapter

Milestone dock adapter end result 1


Milestone dock adapter backside

Milestone dock adapter end result 2

When the Motorola Milestone is connected to the adapter it will go into multimedia docking mode right away and start charging. After connecting the audio cable to the headphone connector it will output its audio to the dock as well. The Motorola Milestone is standing solid on the adapter and works great.

This article showed how to build an iPod dock adapter for the Motorola Milestone, however this information can easily be used to create adapters for other devices as well. If anyone is going to build a similar adapter for the Motorola Milestone or another device, I am for sure interested to know about it.

The adapter that I have built might not be the quality of an official one, but it is of course a prototype and it works pretty well. It probably is not going to happen, but I would really appreciate if any company out there would just build and sell adapters like this.

Thijs (Thice) Bosschert
http://www.thice.nl

122 Comments

  1. Chad |

    Great job, where did you place the magnets in the cradle?

  2. delsolracing |

    I might have to run through this and see how it works. Thanks for the info and the great writeup on how to do it!!

  3. admin |

    @Chad
    Above the micro USB connector a little more to the side. Slightly closer to the micro USB connector than the ideal location seen on the image above.

  4. Mike |

    What about remotes buttons for docking station? I understand the station can receive and play audio. What would happen if someone tried using the remote to change the song while the motoroal was docked?

  5. admin |

    @Mike
    Nothing, since the remote control wires are not connected (dock pin 12 and 13, Tx and Rx). As far as I have seen the Droid simply does not support any kind of remote control, so at this moment there is no way to get that working. However, I wouldn’t mind to be wrong there if anyone could show me otherwise.

  6. Dave Landry |

    I rarely comment blogs, but this is genius! I built my dock from Lego, but my iPod dock/alarm clock sits empty since my upgrade to the Milestone. And this project gives me a valid reason to play with the POLYMORPH 🙂

    Cheers

    Dave

  7. Dan B |

    Great article! I will certainly be trying this out.
    I wish there was a way to get the data lines connected to also make a connector to convert all these iPod data cables I have lying around.

  8. admin |

    @Dan B
    You can just connect the data lines of the dock connector on pin 25(USB data-) and pin 27 (USB data+). However on most docks this wont do anything since the devices are not compatible with each other. Cables should be a different story, it should not be any problem to connect the data lines there. However, it is probably easier and cheaper to just buy a micro USB cable in that case.

  9. jenna |

    @admin
    hi! man this is fantastic! i have a question for you, i am really hoping you can help..i have a milestone but i have seen an article on the web here, http://phandroid.com/2010/04/21/droid-incredible-does-tv-out-video/ it is about the incredible of course, doing tv out to show movies on the phone on a tv…and i want to get my phone to do this..can i build something to do that? i purchased the cable ,’HTC TV Out Cable – Original (OEM) TVC6850 ACT100′ from a company in the states..their page for it is here, http://www.wirelessground.com/tvoutact100.html
    only problem is their ‘micro usb’ is for some reason different then the milestone micro usb..so im wondering if i just make an adapter for the end which goes into the phone, if that might be all it will take? it’s so frustrating when these companies don’t keep up with their own technology..they give us the phones capable of all this, but then not the cables!!!!! or the docks…. please help with any advice you may have..
    thankyou jenna

  10. admin |

    @jenna
    As far as I understood the Milestone does not support any way of video out, so the thing you requested is simply not possible.

  11. jenna |

    well, i thought perhaps since i can use it through the computer and view movies off it that way, that i may be able to do it…plus i was just on a site here http://www.fommy.co.in/HTC-TV-Out-Cable-ACT100-P84453.htm and they have it listed ..the cable and for milestone as well….im just concerned as to weather or not it will work with mine from canada…..input port…. im waiting to hear back from their support..but if they offer the cable and for the milestone specifically, wouldn’t it mean that it can be done? also, i was wondering if the mirco usb port is different in the states then it is in canada?

  12. Ric |

    Great work bro. I’m a bit confused why you had to use the 3,5mm stereo audio plug instead of being able to transfer the data information through the USB instead. can u please further explain that?

  13. admin |

    @jenna
    The Milestone is made by Motorola and not by HTC. HTC uses a special hybrid USB port which also enables the output of audio and video. The Milestone only has a normal micro USB port and thus does not support audio and video out. As far as I know micro USB ports should be the same in any country, as long as it is a normal micro USB port that is.

  14. admin |

    @Ric
    The micro USB port does not support audio and video, so the only way to get audio out of the Milestone seems to be by using the 3,5mm plug. The USB port can be used to transfer data, for example when connected to your computer, but that is not the same as getting an audio signal from it.

  15. seb |

    Hi fine………have some on trila this for the sonyericsson xperia x10?

  16. admin |

    @Ric
    HTC EVO might sport the HTC USB hybrid port, if that is the case it should be possible to build an adapter which includes audio from that port as well.

  17. admin |

    @seb
    I don’t understand your question and I am not sure what kind of connector the xperia x10 has.

  18. benjymous |

    Awesome – I’ve been thinking about hacking together a device like this myself.

    A while ago I bought a cheap bluetooth stereo audio dongle that works nicely with Android – currently I have it plugged in to the aux in socket on an old set of ipod speakers. The only problem with it is that it needs to be charged over USB, so I have to keep remembering to charge it.

    My plan is to hack it into a device like yours, and have it charge from the dock connector. The biggest question is how complex it’d be to wire up the dock’s play/pause/track skip buttons with the bluetooth dongle’s own buttons (which happily control the ‘droid’s audio player when connected) The dongle I’ve got has tiny surface mounted microswitches which would be somewhat tricky to desolder and replace – perhaps somebody knows an alternative?

    If that all worked, then we’d have a nice universal dock adaptor that should work with any phone (certainly any android phone) without having to worry about the location of the headphone socket (or even have the phone physically docked, unless you want to charge at the same time)

  19. Thurman |

    @admin
    Is there any way to create a similar adapter to connect my droid to my car’s iphone dock?

    I have used this adapter: http://www.cablejive.com/products/Universal-Dock-Converter.html
    but I am not able to get it to work in my 2010 VolksWagon Jetta or a 2010 Mercedes C300.

    I think that the issue is with the car’s dock trying to verify a real ipod is connected. When I connect a real ipod to my VolksWagon Jetta’s dock I see the VW logo on the Ipod screen.

    I was wondering if placing a resister on pin 21 of the ipod connection will trick the VW into thinking a real ipod is connected. Here is the pinout of the Ipod dock connector showing pin 21: http://pinouts.ru/PortableDevices/ipod_pinout.shtml
    It’s labeled “Accessory Indicator/Serial enable”

    Do you think this is the solution or do you have any other ideas?

  20. Mark in Nebraska |

    Great idea! I do have one question regarding your prototype. I note that you are using the 3.5mm plug with 3 contacts and I am wondering if this is producing “stereo” results. Would you recommend using a 3.5MM 4 contact and leave the input channel null? This is the typical stereo headphone and mic set up providing Left channel audio output, Right Channel Audio Output, Microphone input and ground Do you think this will work and produce stereo results? Thanks for doing this it is remarkable work!

  21. Mike |

    Could you please email me, I represent a company that may have some interest in your idea.

  22. James |

    wow ,my god ,you are a talent!I am the supplier of charger and cable ,if you need some samples to do some test ,I will do it free for you .
    Thanks ,my email:

  23. Thice |

    @Mark in Nebraska
    Using a 4 contact plug should work since the normal headset that comes with the Motorola Milestone has 4 contacts as well. My approach should output stereo, and I guess using the 4 contact should as well.

  24. James |

    Dear Friend, maybe you can have it on the market!!!when you acheave ,pls tell me !!congratulations!!

  25. Thurman |

    @admin
    Is that video out protection the same thing that I am dealing with on my Car ipod dock? The protection seems to be from the dock itself and not the ipod.

  26. Thurman |

    @admin
    Is that video out protection the same thing that I am dealing with on my car’s ipod dock? The protection seems to be coming from the ipod dock itself and not the ipod.

  27. Thice |

    @Thurman
    Usually the protection is something between the iPod and the car dock, the dock needs to get the right information from the iPod which will give this after some kind of authentication I guess. Since I don’t own a similar system I can not investigate it further.

  28. Tigron |

    You were talking about this 4th connector from the 3,5 mm’s, wouldn’t it be possible to make the remote of the dock work with that?

  29. Erik |

    So, i decided to make one of these for the hell of it. I got an EVO recently and was saddened by the fact that the ipod dock i had would be useless for it, so I was happy to stumble upon this. I had absolutely no soldering experience, so i was walking in a bit blind. Followed the plans exactly, and used solder that was already there to make it easier. I screwed up when cutting the 3.5mm cord multiple times, kept on accidentally cutting a strand or two of the metal wires, so mine ended up being just barely long enough to fit my evo. I did a half assed job on some of it, had too much solder on the backs of one part, so the casing for the female ipod jack was a little crooked. I really thought it wasn’t going to work, decided i would try again if it didn’t, but i plugged in the micro usb jack first, and wouldn’t you know it, it worked! Started charging and i nearly pissed myself. Tried the audio, and at first it didn’t work, but that’s because the audio was muted on my phone, again to my surprise it worked great! I have yet to put it in a mold, i’m considering making another one since mine is a little short and the dock might not work out so well, but thank you a ton for this guide, here are some pictures:

    the connector:

    HTC Evo Apple iPod dock Erik 1

    the connector plugged in(not to the dock, took pics with phone and one with webcam which is too far away from the dock):

    HTC Evo Apple iPod dock Erik 2

    HTC Evo Apple iPod dock Erik 3

    Note to some people: This doesn’t work with ALL ipod docks, my cousins have a newer ipod dock which goes under cabinets in the kitchen, and it charges it but won’t play the music, recognized it isn’t an ipod/iphone. Most of them have auxiliary 3.5 mm jacks though, so no worries, just buy a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cord and you will be good!

  30. Thice |

    @Erik
    Awesome! Really nice to see that it worked out for you. I took the liberty to host your images on my site so that I don’t have to deeplink.

  31. Gary Baker |

    Dude, you’re amazing. This is just what I need to connect my Droid X w Body Glove case to a nice Altec Lansing InMotion dock. But I’m simply not handy enough to do it myself. Any interest in selling them? Do you know anyone who does? Would def pay for one, if the price was right (maybe under $20). Somebody should be making these things, for sure. There isn’t a single real dock out there for Droids, and there are so many nice ones for iPods.

    Time will solve the problem. But there’s a real market opportunity now.

    Let me know what you can.

  32. Thice |

    @Gary Baker
    I currently have no plans to sell them, I simply don’t have the time to make any and there are probably some legal problems with creating them. However, I for sure wouldn’t mind anyone taking over the project and selling them. I would probably be interested in one myself as well 😉

  33. Eric |

    Thice, very nice presentation. Thank you. I’m wondering…
    I just purchased an aftermarket stereo for my car. It has an iPod setting (as if everyone owns an iPod. I guess I’m not really cool, cuz I just own a Droid). I’d like to run Pandora and I’m wondering if there is a hack (don’t know if that’s the right word) to trick my stereo into thinking the Droid is an iPod. The stereo has USB and 3.5 aux in, but they only run independent of eachother, so it would have to run through usb. Is that possible on the Droid or is USB limited to data only?
    Thanks for the help.

  34. Thice |

    @Eric
    Hi Eric, sadly I have no experience with these car systems and am not sure what checks they perform. If you set your Droid USB connection to data storage only, can the car system see it? Does the car system give any errors or anything?

  35. DOINSND |

    Thank’s Thice, Nice Work.

    Eric I am looking for the same setup. I’m trying to hook up Pandora. It works through Bluetooth. I have the Pioneer Avic 920BT. It has the USB and 3.5 Aux in, I have installed the Ipod cord. I was just wondering if you could hook up the USB to small USB on powercord for the computer to stereo and then hook up the 3.5 wire to Droid.

  36. tesh |

    nice job! great improv to Erik above who tried the same with an Evo4g/Supersonic … I have the same and plan to deduce/find the pinouts from the hdmi dock to figure out how to create a bottom only adapter for ipod docs which could later include an HDMI female port as well (for full size hdmi connections)

    my intention is to use my in car ipod 30 pin male cable to charge/play audio using the micro usb/hdmi-d ports if at all possible

  37. Nash |

    TOTALLY gonna do this! you rock for figuring this out! i have an alarm clock with an ipod dock on the top, but (obviously) my LG Optimus S won’t dock with it… yet. a couple trips to the dollar store, radio shack, and my box of legos should sort this out 🙂 Thanks!

So, what do you think ?