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How I built an iPod Connector

post #1 of 106
Thread Starter 
This post is in response to a few people expressing interest when I previously posted that I had built an iPod connector.

This is a draft and I do welcome constructive feedback. I hope this helps someone out there.

This is an account of my experience and some instructions on how you might be able to achieve a similar result. I accept no responsibility for anything that you do with these instructions or information. This is not professional advice.

iPod dock connectors can be found at either:




- an iPod dock connector (internal height 6.5mm (0.256"))
- a small 3.5mm jack socket (6mm thick)
- thin wire

The shell and the Connector:
On this particular connector shell, the top is marked with 3 raised bars. The top of the connector is indicated by the cutouts at each of the two top corners.

It is important to have the connector the correct way up so you don't remove the wrong pins, connect the wrong pins, or attempt to put the connector back together the wrong way. I marked the connector with pencil before I opened and disassembled the connector to ensure that I always knew which the upside of the connector was.

Step 1:
Open the connector.
The Type E connector has two snaps at each of the front and rear of the bottom of the shell. Remove the dock connector from the shell. The iPod retention clips can be a bit tricky, but be gentle. Lift and slide the connector out forward rather than straight up if you get stuck. Different connector types open in slightly different ways.

Step 2:
Remove the spare pins. (Optional step)
The iPod connector pin 1 is at the left of the iPod. That is, your left as you face your iPod if your iPod is in its typical orientation (screen at the top and facing you).

To enable line-out sound from the iPod you need to use pin 2 for the ground, pin 3 for right channel line-out and pin 4 for left channel line-out. These can be confirmed at the following URL.

Read this carefully: If you are going to remove pins. Do not start removing the pins until you are confident that you have the correct orientation and that you are 100% sure which are pins 2, 3 & 4. The pins are relatively easy to lever out, but seem almost impossible to get back in (maybe there's a trick to getting them back in that I don't yet know) - BE WARNED!!!

You can remove all of the pins except pins 2, 3 & 4. While the pins are vertically staggered, the pin slots are in sequential order (look at the connector in the picture to better understand what I mean).

I found that by grabbing each of the pins with a small pair of cutters, I was able to lever the pin out. They don't require a tremendous amount of force, but they do need some.

Take your time and make sure that you remove only the pins you don't need. Measure twice (or thrice), remove once.

After removing the pins you should have a connector that resembles the one in the next pictures.

Step 3:
Make sure that the connector and the plug socket will both fit in the connector shell and that the shell will close with them both in there.

Make sure that the connector is the correct way up. I found that by positioning both of the retention clips into the slot and sliding the connector backwards, I was able to put it back together quite easily.

Step 3a:
Modify the shell to allow the jack socket to fit. (optional step)
I found that the jack socket I used needed to fit all the way to the outlet of the connector shell. Unfortunately, the shell has a recess to allow for a strain relief boot. This recess needed to go. A sharp wood chisel made short work of this small plastic protrusion on either side of the outlet. Just make sure that if you do need to do this, you do both top and bottom of the connector shell. I have circled in red in the photos where this protrusion was.

Step 4:
Solder the wires to the connector pins.
I used the smallest hook-up wire I could find at my local popular electronics store. As indicated in the pictures, I use black for ground, red for the right channel and white for the left. The colour choice is completely yours. Use whatever takes your fancy – you have to make it fit.

The pin ends have a small amount of flexibility, but not much. One of mine snapped at about a 12 degree bend. Tin the wire and the pins and then solder them together. Mine worked well, but watch out for accidental solder bridges (solder connections to another pin or connection).

As you can see in the photos, I hot glued mine. That was because I had already snapped one pin about half way along (making the solder job twice as hard). Once I had them soldered, I wanted them to stay where they were. Hot glue - ugly but effective.

Step 5:
Refit the connector into the shell
You can now put the connector back into the bottom half of the shell. Once again, make sure that the connector is the correct way up. I found that by positioning both of the retention clips into the slot and sliding the connector backwards, I was able to put it back together quite easily.

Step 6:
Fit the jack socket into the shell and figure how to route the wires.
As you can see in my photo, removing the spare pins (ala step 2) allows you much more room to route the wires. I just moved them around until they fit.

Step 7:
Solder the wires to the jack socket.
Make sure that you know which pin is which on the socket connections; a DMM helps. To determine which of the socket pins was which I simply plug an unused 3.5mm stereo plug in and test for continuity between the plug and the socket terminals. Remember, on a stereo 3.5mm plug, the tip (furthest from the plug body) is left channel, the ring is right channel and the end nearest the plug body is ground.

Cut the wires from the pins to a length that will allow some flexibility, but that you don't have excess length that you need to squeeze into the connector shell.

Tin the wires, tin the socket terminal connectors and then solder the wires to the correct socket terminals.

The plug socket I used had terminal that sat a 90 degrees to the surface of the socket body. After soldering the terminals I had to bend them down to sit flat.

Step 8:
Final assembly.
Fit the connector and the plug socket and get them in their final resting spots with the wires routed as best you can. Fit the other half of the shell. (This can be a bit of fiddling about - but you'll get it).

Step 9:
This is the moment of truth. I will not tell you how to do testing; and remember, this project is your responsibility.

Step 10:
Glue the connector shell halves together. (Optional step)
Once you are happy with the result you can carefully use some strong glue to permanently join the two halves together.

Step 11:
I now enjoy line-out quality sound from my iPod mini to my newly constructed CMoy.

Here is a picture of the connector plugged into my mini and into my new CMoy, which is house is a $0.50 travel soap container.
post #2 of 106
Sweet. That looks very nice.
post #3 of 106
I like the way you integrated the jack socket into the connector. Very creative Nicely done
post #4 of 106
a nice little photo essay "add-on" article here :

post #5 of 106

What did you use to glue the connector together?
post #6 of 106
Thread Starter 
Truth is, I haven't glued it yet because I wanted to use it for a while to make sure that it all worked fine, and continued to work fine. I didn't actually expect it to work as well or to be as robust as it has been. Oh well, sometimes DIY just works!!!

I in tend to glue it today or tomorrow and I will just use super glue (cyanacrolate). I don't expect any particular dramas,but I will post any gotchas I find with glueing.
post #7 of 106
That's really nice work there! Mind telling me which 3.5mm receptacle you used? Thanks.

post #8 of 106
I think that placing the photos near the description would be much easier to follow. you can use imageshack.us to upload your photos! Nice tutorial!
post #9 of 106
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback.

I have uploaded the pics to imageshack and included them in the text.

As for the 3.5mm socket, it was just one that I found at my local electronics store, but part number 161-3504 from mouser look liek it would be quite good one for this purpose. I have been looking for Rapidconn part number RC-035-304, but I've not yet found it - it has a 5mm thick body rather than the 6mm that the current one has.
post #10 of 106
Hi, thanks for the great post, I followed it and managed to successfully make my own connector too.

I am wondering if anyone knew what the difference between the pin 1 ground and pin 2 'common' ground' as seen here:http://ipodlinux.org/Dock_Connector

Would it matter if I grounded my wire on pin 1 rather than pin 2 and vice versa?

post #11 of 106
Nice work. Tagging this thread for later. I need a new mp3 player and have been considering an iPod, so if I do get one, this thread will be useful
post #12 of 106
Thank you for posting this tutorial. I tried to make a line out cable a few times and was always unsuccessful. I finally got one done tonight. The tiny pins make it very difficult.

I wound up braiding my own cable, which was easier to work with than the starquad or mogami microphone cable I had tried before.

If you decide to give this a try, buy more than one ipod connector when you order them, because it's likely that you'll go through a couple before you get one to work.

Thanks again for sharing your experience.
post #13 of 106
Should this be made an sticky?
post #14 of 106
YEs, there ares so many people who would find this useful.
post #15 of 106
Originally Posted by mrarroyo View Post
Should this be made an sticky?
YES! I was looking all over for something like this and I am going to make my own ipod > RCA cable in a few weeks and make a how to post about it here. Should be fun
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