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Modifying the Tesla Center Console for phones in cases (Pictures Included)

Discussion in 'Model S: Interior & Exterior' started by Andyw2100, May 30, 2015.

  1. Andyw2100

    Andyw2100 Well-Known Member

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    #1 Andyw2100, May 30, 2015
    Last edited: May 30, 2015
    As you may have read in other threads, I recently acquired the Tesla Center Console. I am one of the people not happy about the circumstances surrounding that acquisition, but we can leave the discussion of that to the other threads. I am starting this thread for others who will be receiving or have already received the console, or those who may be considering it, and who are interested in using the dock to charge their phone.

    First, let me say that I am one of the least handy people I know. I had read in some older threads that it was reasonably easy to modify the height of the charging connector on the center console, but I was still pretty intimidated at the thought of having to take the thing apart and attempt it. With the caveat that to meet my needs, the height did not need to be adjusted much, as my wife's iPhone case does not add much of a gap, I'll say that if I could do this, I can't imagine that there is anyone who can read this post who can drive a Tesla who would have any trouble doing it. I'm not being overly self-deprecating. I'm completely serious.

    The first thing anyone buying or considering buying the Tesla Center Console should know is that due to what I have to call poor design, you won't be able to use a standard USB plug in the 12V port. The folding door (the part that is Piano Black on most consoles and a different finish on a lucky few owners' consoles) is too close to the port. I found that a low profile adapter would work, but barely. The port also has a cover, as you know. That cover is still being pressed on by the console cover, especially as you fold and unfold the console cover, because before the console cover can fold towards the dash, you have to press on the end closest to the armrest to release it and then again when opening it, to lock it open. With the low profile adapter I purchased it works, but I'm pretty sure I can feel the cover making contact with the 12V port cover, somewhat inhibiting the motion required to achieve the "click" to open and the "click" to close the console cover.

    Below are pictures of a standard USB 12V adapter that won't work as well as the one I purchased from Amazon (and the link) that does, just barely, work.


    Too long to work:

    Anker USB 12V.jpg





    This is the one I purchased that does work. Here's the URL to purchase it on Amazon if you like:
    Amazon.com: SCOSCHE USBC242M 12 Watt USB Car Charger for iPhone/iPad/iPod Lightning/Micro - Retail Packaging - Black: Cell Phones Accessories


    Scosche_.jpg



    You also could just plug the USB end of the charging cable into one of the USB ports, but if you do that you waste a USB port, and your device is going to charge more slowly. Since the above costs about $13, I think it's pretty much a no-brainer. The cable supplied with the console is long enough to reach the 12V port.

    Also, before we get into the modification I actually did, let me show you something else that you might expect to work, as I did, that really doesn't, for a couple of reasons. I told you I was intimidated at the thought of having to take my console apart. I was intimidated enough that I had purchased one of these, hoping to completely avoid any modification work:

    cablejive.jpg

    (The first of the following two problems would apply equally well if you purchased an equivalent device for micro USB.)

    There were two problems with this. Neither were insurmountable, but both were annoying enough that I wanted a better solution.

    The first issue is that it is not possible to leave this little adapter attached to the Tesla docking area and also close the console cover. Because when the cover starts to fold, it would make contact with the adapter in such a way that either the door or the adapter would break. There is very little clearance between the door and the top of the Tesla adapter as the door is folding. So if you were going to use one of these you would have to choose between leaving the console door open all the time, or removing the adapter whenever you wanted to close the door.

    Which brings me to the second problem. As it turns out, removing the adapter wouldn't be an issue. The adapter winds up staying in the phone when the phone is removed from the dock, rather than staying attached to the dock.

    With both of these issues, I decided to just jump in and take my console apart. It really was not hard at all.

    The only tool I needed was a Phillips head screw driver. There are just four screws involved.

    This is a picture of the disassembled charging port. I believe the only parts not pictured are the rubbery floor piece that just slides in place and two screws. There is a notch in the rubbery floor piece at the left corner, closest to the armrest, to feed the cable through.

    Disassembled dock.jpg



    Here is a picture of the two pieces that hold the lightning adapter.You can see that the lightning adapter base is flush with the top of the pieces holding it. In this position, an iPhone can be charged if it is out of its case, but even in a very thin case, like my wife's Seidio Dilex Pro, the adapter is just too short to reach in this position.

    Tesla mounted flush.jpg




    This is what the cable looks like inside one of these two pieces:

    Tesla connector flush.jpg



    Playing around with this a bit, I noticed that it was possible to achieve a bit of a gap at the bottom, which would push the adapter out and up a bit:

    Tesla connector gap.jpg



    I thought if I could find a slightly different cable to fit in instead, my problem might be solved. I found this one on Amazon:

    Lightning cable.jpg


    It appeared to me that unlike the cable Tesla supplied, that had the cable coming in pretty much flush with the bottom of the adapter, making the right angle, this one had the cable coming in a little higher, so that the area below where the cable came in might take up the space in the holder, resulting in the business end being just a little higher up. (I couldn't find any accurate measurements.) I knew this cable was three feet long, but I wasn't worried about the extra cable length, as there is room for that underneath the dock.

    Below are pictures of the two adapter ends. The Tesla one is the unmarked one:

    Tesla and other.jpg



    It turns out that they are exactly the same length, and what I had hoped would work to fill that gap did not work.

    On top of that, the non-Tesla adapter, on the left in the picture below, is actually a little thicker, and doesn't fit in the channel the two dock pieces create when they are screwed together. So using that cable was out.

    Two cables width.jpg



    I needed to figure out what I could get into that gap that would stay there, and hold the end of the adapter in place. I went low-tech. I cut off the end of a tooth-pick. It worked perfectly:

    Tesla connector toothpick.jpg



    Here's a shot of the assembled, modified dock. Note the additional height achieved:

    Modified assembled dock.jpg



    Although I took these pictures in the house, the actual toothpick insertion "for real" had to be done in the car. Someone more adept at taking things apart and putting them together than I could probably remove more console pieces and avoid having to do this, but I left as much connected as possible, which meant I had to thread the lightning cable through a small hole, and then pull it up through a larger hole on the other side before attaching it to the holder. The small hole is large enough for the lightning adapter end to fit through, but not large enough for the USB connector end to fit through, so the assembly of the lightning adapter and the dock had to be done once the cable was in place.

    Here's a shot of the reassembled, tooth-picked dock:

    Adjusted lightning connector.jpg



    And here's the payoff shot--my wife's iPhone 6, in its Seidio Dilex case, charging in the modified dock:

    Phone charging.jpg


    If the case you are using has a bigger recess than the pretty small one my wife's case has, you'll probably need to make a more significant modification to the dock. I think I've read of people using tools to carve away part of the plastic in one place or another. While I can give no advice on that, perhaps the pictures I've included will at least give you an idea of what you might need to do. But please don't ask for more pictures, as I'm not taking that puppy apart again!

    Seriously, though, doing this gave me a little confidence and peace of mind. Before undertaking this, I had been at least a little concerned about the future, and what would happen years down the road if Apple had a different connector type, or if sooner than that I wanted to set things up for use with my Android phone and a micro-USB cable instead of the lightning cable. I now know that switching the cable would be relatively simple. I'd just need to find a right-angle cable that fits in the narrow channel, but that really shouldn't be all that hard to do.

    I'm happy to answer any questions I can.
     
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  2. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    Thanks for this very thorough and helpful post. Now all I need is the console:)
     
  3. Phil K

    Phil K Member

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    Very nice writeup. Thank you very much and this is a very good guide for people facing similar issue.
     
  4. Tdriver

    Tdriver Member

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    I read one thread that the owner found that hard acceleration forced the phone off the plug. Don't recall if there was any damage or not. Perhaps there should be some type of retainer supporting the upper part of the phone. i guess you could also just lay the phone on the bottom of the console while it charged.
     
  5. Andyw2100

    Andyw2100 Well-Known Member

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    We haven't had the chance to try it yet, but my wife doesn't accelerate very hard at all, so I'm hoping that won't be a problem. To lay the phone flat in the bottom of the console to charge would mean swapping my android cable that is in the second USB slot of the 12V adapter now for another cable with a lightning connector.

    If I discover any problems when my wife actually starts using the dock, I'll report back. I had the console installed on Tuesday, and immediately ordered the low profile 12V adapter via Amazon Prime, for delivery on Thursday, when I realized the door could not close with the 12V adapter I already had. On Wednesday I took the dock apart, and discovered the issue with the gap, and ordered that other lightning cable, which arrived on Friday, while my wife was at work, with the car. So I only got the dock set up and working as pictured on Friday evening, after she returned from work. We tested it, but haven't really used it. I'm hoping it works without issues.
     
  6. xy46

    xy46 Member

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    #6 xy46, Jul 1, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2015
    So, after having my center console installed, I found several issues in charging my iPhone 6. First, the phone ends up not resting against the back so all the wait was on the lightning connector. Secondly, I use a Tech21 case - it's not very thick front to back, but all around the edges its fairly thick and thus would not connect to the lightning connector because it was not sticking up enough. So after reading this thread, I took apart my connector to try the toothpick fix. Unfortunately my case was still too thick around the edges, so I next pursued a more aggressive modification.

    First, I ended up cutting away part of the clip that holds the cable.

    IMG_2610.jpg

    Because I was not able to cut away enough of the clip due to the screw hole, I then notched out the rubber "collar" on the lightning cable itself. I had to be careful here, as I didn't want to get into the actual wire itself, so less is more. Worse case scenario, if you do cut too deep and expose the wires, this can be dealt with by using a small strip of electrical tape to seal over the exposed wire. Other compounds also exist for this purpose to seal the wires if you need to do so.

    IMG_2613.jpg

    Next, I used an utility knife to cut a small block of wood, notched on the side where the connector has to fit. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the connector inserted.

    IMG_2968.jpg

    Here is the connector put back together.
    IMG_2969.jpg
    IMG_2971.jpg

    And a view from the end showing the exiting cable and piece of wood.

    IMG_2972.jpg

    Next, to solve the issue with the phone not resting against the back rest, I actually used the trusted toothpick solution. I ended up having to place three of these in a row (this photo only shows two) to push the lightning connector clip back far enough.

    IMG_2976.jpg

    Here is everything put back together. I ended up using Andy2100's recommendation for a cigarette lighter adapter that will charge the iPhone quicker (posted earlier on this thread) http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00E1UWA4O.

    IMG_2977.jpg

    Finally, I put the floor back in and added two clear rubber bumpers to the backrest to close the final gap between the iPhone 6 and the backrest.

    IMG_3629.jpg

    And here you can see the iPhone 6 with Tech21 case in place and resting nicely.

    IMG_3630.jpg

    So in summary, this was a relatively easy solution for me to deal with several issues. I am posting it here in case anyone else is having similar issues and is wondering how they might make bigger adjustments than can be made with a toothpick.
     
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  7. Andyw2100

    Andyw2100 Well-Known Member

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    I'm glad you were able to make it work! Thanks for the detailed posting, with the pictures. I'm sure that will help some people!
     
  8. xy46

    xy46 Member

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    Thank you as well Andyw2100. Your initial posting and photos are what gave me the idea in the first place and the direction to go to make it work. I very much appreciate it.
     
  9. llavalle

    llavalle Member

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    Hey guys,

    Anyone know if it's possible to flip the connector around? I have an HTC One M8 and the Mini-USB is reversed compared to all phones on the market. I guess I could flip the connector but I'm not sure.

    Thanks
     
  10. Andyw2100

    Andyw2100 Well-Known Member

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    I never saw the Micro USB connector, so have no first-hand knowledge, but I saw this question asked and answered in another thread, and the answer was yes, it could be done.
     
  11. xy46

    xy46 Member

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    I am fairly confident that you can flip it around based on the they built piece that holds the plug in. As you can see from this photo, the cord can exit from either side - so all you have to do is unscrew it, flip the cord, and I think you would be good to go. Easy to find out as it should only take you 10 minutes to take it apart and put it back together.
    IMG_2610.jpg
     
  12. llavalle

    llavalle Member

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    Alright, I'll try it out tonight. How does someone remove the rubber mat? Simply pull on it?

    Thanks
     
  13. Andyw2100

    Andyw2100 Well-Known Member

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    That's what I did. If there's a better way, I'm not aware of it.
     
  14. xy46

    xy46 Member

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    I found it easiest to get the little mat out by pushing on the front part where it bends up and kind of getting the back to flip up a little. You can then get something under it from the back and pull it up. Make sure to have the USB unplugged or it will get in your way. Then pull it out.

    Next pull the wire out of the track under the mat so it is lose. Undo the two screws being careful they don't fall through the holes (if they do, you can get to them, just difficult). Once the screws are out, pull out the whole adapter with your connecter in it. If you feed the other end of the USB cord down through the hole, you can pull the adapter further out making it easier to work on. On the backside of the adapter are two more screws. Remove these which will expose the cable. You should be able to move the cable to the other side, and then put it all back together.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes.
     
  15. llavalle

    llavalle Member

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    Went well. Took 5-10min max. I flipped the connector (which looks exactly like the Lightning one) around the put cut pieces of zip ties at the bottom of the connector to lift it so that it connects on my phone using the case. That's it.
     
  16. xy46

    xy46 Member

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    Great - glad it went well.
     
  17. lakerholic

    lakerholic Member

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    I owe you guys a debt of gratitude. Without this thread I'd be seriously out of luck when it came to getting my iPhone 6S+ in a big case charged! The directions and pictures were great and I got mine done in about 30 minutes :)

    Thank you again!
     
  18. Andyw2100

    Andyw2100 Well-Known Member

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    I'm glad to have been of assistance! Thanks for the note!
     
  19. f-stop

    f-stop Member

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    I want to thank Andyw2100 and also xy46 for the detailed photos and instructions in this thread.

    I have an iPhone 5 in an extremely thin case, and I originally thought there should be no problem at all using the dock with the center console. But to my surprise when I picked up my new MS the other day I discovered even my thin case didn't let the iPhone seat correctly on the connector. Luckily I remembered reading this thread several months ago while researching the Model S and bookmarked it, just in case.

    Since my case is very thin, I expected I would only need a very slight extension of the connector. In looking at these photos, it seemed that the thickness of the strain relief rubber at the 90degree connector was all I would need. So I shaved off a little bit of the rubber strain relief with an xacto knife and diagonal cutters, being careful not to damage the wire itself. Then I inserted a regular flat toothpick underneath, thinner than the one Andyw2100 showed in his original photos - and that's all it took to push the connector out a little bit and make good connection with my iPhone. A few minutes later, problem solved! Thanks again
     
  20. Andyw2100

    Andyw2100 Well-Known Member

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    You're very welcome. I'm very happy that my efforts are helping others.
     

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