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Has anyone upgraded the USB ports to support faster charging?

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by BrettS, May 2, 2017.

  1. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    The general consensus seems to be that the factory USB ports only allow a max of 1amp to be drawn for charging phones. There are times when I would like to charge my phone faster, but using a cigarette light adapter is ugly and I'd rather retain the factory look. I'm trying to figure out how much work would be involved in opening the console and connecting a 2.1 amp DC-DC converter to the existing USB ports to allow them to charge my phone faster.

    Has anyone done anything like this before? And on a somewhat related note, are there instructions for disassembling the center console anywhere?
     
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  2. Lloyd

    Lloyd Well-Known Member

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    #2 Lloyd, May 2, 2017
    Last edited: May 2, 2017
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  3. Nosken

    Nosken Member

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  4. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    Well, I just spent a few minutes looking around and it looks like this is going to be increadible easy to do. I saw the post here about spare switched power in the passenger footwell here:

    Spare Switched 12V Circuit on Model S built after July 2014

    In the picture they showed I saw two additional connectors that I suspected might be from the USB ports in the console, so 5 minutes later I pulled out the trim in the passenger footwell and disconnected those connectors and not only do they go to the USB ports in the console, but they have a standard mini USB connector (not micro USB). So without disassembling the console or cutting into factory wires I can simply get a 12V to USB adapter, connect it to the spare switched circuit that's right there in the footwell, and then use a USB to mini USB cable to connect it to the USB connectors in the console. This way it can easily be undone and reverted back to the factory config if I ever want to do that.

    The potential downside to this is that the USB ports will then be for charging only and you will no longer be able to connect a USB drive or your phone to the radio through USB, however, I've never done that anyway... I just use Bluetooth for music. But if this is a concern for you then you could always 'upgrade' one USB port for fast charging and leave the other as is for music.

    IMG_4342.JPG
     
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  5. jimmyz80

    jimmyz80 Member

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    Someone must sell a USB cable that splits off the data and charging wires into two separate connectors. Then you could connect the data wires back into the car's harness, and connect the other to your new 5V supply. Just a thought.
     
  6. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    Yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if something like that exists and might be a good option. For me, though, I honestly don't see myself ever using the data connection to the car, so I'll probably just skip it.
     
  7. jimmyz80

    jimmyz80 Member

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  8. jimmyz80

    jimmyz80 Member

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    Although I see this on the Molex page :(

    upload_2017-5-2_14-39-50.png
     
  9. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    Well, I've ordered all the bits I need from amazon and they are set for delivery tomorrow. I also got one of those little USB power meters so I can see exactly how much current the stock USB ports deliver and verify that my modifications work as well.

    I'll post another update when everything comes in tomorrow.
     
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  10. JasJ

    JasJ Member

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    Please post links to the parts you used.
     
  11. bob_p

    bob_p Active Member

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    I use a dual USB fast charger plugged into the DC socket, connected the console's charging cable into the socket, so I get the fast charging for the phone placed on the USB connector in the console, plus a second fast charging connector for the passenger's phone.

    That's a simple enough solution (at least for us) to address the charging speed without having to modify the car's USB ports.
     
  12. BigD0g

    BigD0g Member

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    This is fantastic! Please keep us posted and lots of pictures!
     
  13. JPP

    JPP Active Member

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    That's what I did. I just leave my small USB 32Gb SanDisk drive in the 'factory' USB port for music, and use the 2 ports on the cigarette lighter adapter for charging devices.
     
  14. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    Just a quick update on this. I was planning to work on this during the day yesterday, but for some reason the post office conspired against me. Normally my mail is delivered between 10 and 11AM, but for some reason yesterday it wasn't delivered until 5:30PM. Unfortunatly I had dinner plans for yesterday, so I didn't get home and get a chance to play with the new stuff until about 10:00PM. :: sigh:: I'm typing this at 10:12AM and today's mail was just delivered. I have no idea what was up yesterday.

    But anyway, I spent a few minutes playing around with the USB power meter last night and the first thing I discovered was that I couldn't get my iphone or ipad to charge at 2 amps at all... just a bit over 1amp was the best I was seeing. Even using a real apple charger and cable. I was a bit concerned that my meter wasn't working properly or didn't support i devices (which wouldn't have surprised me at all because apple always does their own thing). But in looking around online a bit it seems like the devices automatically reduce their charge current as their SOC increases (which makes sense... we're all well aware that our cars do that too). Both my iphone and ipad had a pretty high SOC at that point, so I decided to leave them unplugged overnight to try to reduce the SOC and see how I fared in the morning.

    My phone wound up completely dying overnight (which was good in this case), but my ipad still had like 70%. I did some tests this morning and with the apple charger and cord and a dead iphone it was drawing about 1.9 amps. Close enough to 2 amps for me, so it looks like my meter is working with the iphone:). For comparison, I used the meter on the stock usb plug in the car and the apple cord and saw that it was providing about 1.1 amps.

    I figured I'd go with baby steps and connected my new 'high power' USB adapter to power in the car and still used the apple cord and again saw a power draw of about 1.9 amps, so I was pretty happy about that. I replaced the apple cord with the little tesla cord that goes between the USB plugs and the dock and again I was getting about 1.9 amps. Then I plugged in my USB to mini USB adapter and attempted to run power to the USB plug in the console and I was only seeing about 1.4 amps, which was a bit of a disappointment. I suspect that it may be the cheap USB to mini USB converter that I'm using. I had a mini USB to USB converter also, so just for fun I tried to connect my USB adapter to the USB to mini USB converter, then my existing mini USB to USB converter, then the apple cable and with that configuration I was only getting 1.1 amps. Of course it's also possible that the cable going to the stock USB port is causing the power drop as well.

    So now I'm not sure if it's worth continuing. 1.4 amps is better than 1.1 amps, but not significantly better and I'm not sure it's worth going through a lot of trouble for only a .3 amp gain. I may also see if I can find another USB to mini USB adapter, but it's kind of a weird adapter that has a male USB plug and a female USB socket on the other side.

    The other thing that's worth noting is that my Anker 4 port cigarette lighter to USB adapter that claims to be able to provide 2amps of power to each port was also only showing about 1.4 amps with the stock apple cord.
     
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  15. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    Well, being the glutton for punishment that I am, I went ahead and ordered two different brands of usb to mini USB female adapters (interestingly, one is advertised as a way to utilize the stock USB ports in certain brands of cars). Since I got the order in before noon, thanks to Amazon same day shipping I should have these by this evening. If I can't get better results with either of these then I think I'm going to give up and live with the 1.1 amps of the stock system.
     
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  16. JasJ

    JasJ Member

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    Hope it works. What is the brand of the high power 12V to USB adapter? I might just run a cord from that to the phone dock connector and leave the two USB connections alone. Would Make the phone charge faster at least.
     
  17. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    This is what I used...

    Motopower 0609A 3.1Amp Waterproof Motorcycle USB Charger Kit SAE to USB Adapter Amazon.com: Motopower 0609A 3.1Amp Waterproof Motorcycle USB Charger Kit SAE to USB Adapter: Cell Phones & Accessories

    There were some other 12 volt to USB adapters on amazon, but they didn't get great reviews and there were some reports of them failing with smoke, so that seemed less than ideal. Assuming I can get it to work, my plan is to use two of these (one for each port). There were a few dual USB adapters, but every one I saw only provided a total of 3.1 amps to both ports, which meant that I couldn't get 2 amps out of both port simultaneously by using one adapter. Since I was going through all this trouble I did want to make sure I had that option.

    Your idea of only providing high power to the phone dock connector is actually very intriguing. If I can't get this to work as I had originally planned (or maybe even if I can) I might try to do that as well. It would open up the second factory USB port and make it look a little cleaner, plus then I wouldn't have to worry about the weird USB to mini USB adapter there. I'm wondering if I have enough of the side trim off now that I could get to the phone dock connector without having to remove more of the console.
     
  18. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    Well, I just checked and unfortunatly there's really no good way to get to the cable coming out of the dock connector. Under the plate that the dock connector cable normally runs through is actually just the inside of the console. You can close the cover on the dock connector side and reach your hand in the other opening of the console and touch the bottom of that plate. There are no pre-existing holes to get it out of the inside of the console.

    That said, it would be possible to drill a hole in the side of the console to run a cable through and that could be done in a hidden area under the plate that the dock connector cable runs though, but obviously drilling holes is a bit less than ideal. I'll have to keep thinking about this idea.
     
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  19. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    Well, my new adapters arrived and I did some further testing, but unfortunately the results are the same. Even with the new adapters I'm unable to get more than 1.4 amps out of the car USB ports. Although the interesting thing is that it seems to be just giving me about 25 or 30% less power than the stock apple adapter. When the battery in the phone is basically dead and it pulls 1.9 amps from the stock adapter I could only get abut 1.4 amps out of the car USB ports with my adapter. But when the phone battery has more of a charge and it's only pulling 1.4 amps on the stock adapter I was just seeing 1.1 amps with the car USB ports and my new adapter.

    I'm seeing essentially the same degradation, but to a bigger degree with the car configured as stock. When the phone was basically dead and my new adapter could charge it at 1.4 amps I could only get 1.1 amps with the car in it's stock configuration. When the phone was charging at 1.1 amps with the new adapter it was down to only .9 amps in it's stock configuration.

    The somewhat good news is that plugging the phone dock connector directly into my new adapter does allow the phone to charge at the same rate as the stock apple adapter. I can get the full 1.9 amps with a dead phone battery. So now I'm looking at options to route the dock connector wire in such a way that it will be easy to run and invisible. I'm thinking Jas's idea might be the best option here.
     
  20. BrettS

    BrettS Member

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    Well, it's done. I was able to wire the dock connector to the new USB adapter without drilling any holes and leaving the wire pretty much invisible. Since the dock connector cable wasn't very long I attached it to the new USB adapter and mounted it with mounting tape under the plate where the dock connector wire usually runs. If you close the cover for the dock connector you can reach under from the front and stick it up there. The bottom of the front part of the console is just a rubber mat that easily comes out and has a nice channel for the wire underneath it. So I ran the wire from the back of the console where the dock connector is all the way up to the front. At the top of the front there are some holes, so I was able to get the wire out one of the holes and down to the spot where the cable connectors are in the passenger footwell. That was the most difficult part. I took out the little cubby from under the 17" screen and that helped a little. There was a tiny little sliver of space where I could see the wire and guide it over to the right with a screw driver. Once it was there I used some tap connectors to connect it to the switched accessory circuit and buttoned everything back up. My phone can now charge at a full 2 amps in the dock connector and the two factory USB ports are open for other things (although still charge slowly, unfortunately).
     
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