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How-to add USB ports for more power

Discussion in 'Model 3: Interior & Exterior' started by ChrisPDX, Jul 19, 2018.

  1. ChrisPDX

    ChrisPDX Member

    Mar 19, 2013
    Hillsboro, OR
    I had an issue where I never seemed to have enough USB ports in the car. One was always used by a thumb drive with my music. I would then have to swap between an iPhone and micro-USB cable to keep different phones charged or my wireless earbuds. What's worse, I soon planned to add the Jeda wireless charging pad which would make the swapping even more frequent. So I decided to add two additional 1a USB ports. My requirements were that there was no visible wiring around the outside of the console and the 12v accessory port would remain fully available. My plan was to run wiring on each side of the console and into the area under the phone docks. The wiring would then go under the cup holder and into a 5v power regulator wired in on the same circuit as the 12v accessory port.

    I tried looking for USB cables that were very thin yet could carry 1 amp of power and be easy to cut/strip, but couldn't find any. So I decided just to make my own. I ordered a bag of female USB connectors off Amazon and stripped wire out of a CAT5 network cable. Since this is for power only, I only needed to run a single pair of wires per connector. The CAT5 wiring was thin and being twisted together made it very easy to run both in tight spaces. Once the connectors arrived, I assembled the cabling. First I connected the two USB data pins together. This tells the device connected to it you can draw up to 1 amp. If left unconnected, the device may only draw .5 amp result in slower charging. I then soldered the wiring and put the covers on with some superglue to keep it all together. This is the result:
    20180621_212646.jpg 20180621_213223.jpg

    Now time to move on to the car. I'll skip the explanation of removing the trim pieces on each side of the console as it's been documented in other threads and YouTube videos. Make sure to remove the plastic chrome part as well. With those removed, you can remove the cup holder cover. It's critical you don't try to do this with the trim pieces on! They overlap the edges of the cover, so if you try this, you'll break things! There are clips that hold the cover in place so carefully pull straight up. Once released, disconnect the card reader. You'll now see the accessory port and its wiring that you'll be taping into later.

    While looking for a place to drill into the storage area under the phone dock, I discovered the driver side had a lot of gears and levers for the covers. So I decided to run the wiring on the passenger side only. I picked a spot that would be covered by the trim but not conflict with the dock tray going all the way down. So I then drilled a hole just big enough for the 2 pairs of wire and ran them through like so:

    Next I tackled the difficult part of running the wiring to power under the cup holders. I discovered this area was in a separate tray like area. So it had to be removed so I could drill a hole to bring the wiring back in. To do that, unplug the light and accessory wiring. Next unscrew the 4 screws holding it down. Note these are different screws then the side trim, so keep them separate! You now have to lift really hard upwards as there are two clips under the cup holders as well. With it removed, I drilled a hole. (there's a pic later in the directions that show where the wiring comes in).

    I put the tray back in and screwed it into place. Being careful not to nick the insulation, I took a sharp utility knife and cut back the cloth shielding around the accessory power cable exposing the positive and negative wires. I then used taps. Some may consider this controversial, but considering it was in a sealed area away from direct moisture, I wasn't too concerned. Now it's ready for the 5v voltage regular. Here you can see it with a fuse for extra protection (should something happen, the fuse in theory will blow and the car's monitoring system will hopefully not notice any issues). I got this 3 amp 5 volt voltage regulator off Amazon as well.

    I then plugged it into my taps and tested the voltage to make sure everything was working.

    With the regulator confirmed working, I connected it to the 2 pairs of wires going to the USB connectors making sure the polarity was correct. I also then plugged my phone into the connectors and confirmed the power was good there. It was then a simple matter of tucking it all in and under the tray like so (note where I drilled for the wiring to come in).

    With it all connected and working, it was time to put things back together! The cup holder cover went back on (make sure to connect the reader wiring). Press firmly to make sure it all snaps back into place. The driver side trim pieces also went back into place (see the other guides out there for doing this). The passenger side I had to be careful as there was one part that had a lever moving when the cover opens/closes. So I ran the wiring outside the chrome trim here and then back under it for the rest. Unfortunately I didn't take a picture of it, so just make a note and wire around it. Also make sure the wiring doesn't get in the way of the clips for the outer trim piece.

    And with that, it's done! I know have plenty of power up front and no signs of additional wiring in the car other then the two ports themselves. Here it is connected to the Jeda pad and working great. I have my thumb drive still plugged in and one more port left for my wife's iPhone.

    Total cost was $15! Except for the following two items, the rest of the parts I had laying around, but even then they are cheap if you need to purchase them (such as the fuse holder, fuse, taps and wiring).

    USB connectors (you'll have enough left over to do 9 more cars):

    Voltage regulator:
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  2. V2sj

    V2sj Member

    Oct 21, 2018
    Wow, thank you for sharing this instruction.

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