I finally put a touchstone in my car. For those counting at home (minus my almost two year departure from webOS to Android), it took me 3 years to work up the chutzpah to try the install. But I did it. What took me so long? I’m glad you asked.
You’ve seen it done a lot I’m sure. And so have I. But something always bothered me about the installs I’d seen. There were too many wires, the Touchstone was glued or stuck onto the dash using adhesive, and I always thought using the cigarette lighter (12V socket), or worse, a 3-prong power inverter was ugly (and kinda lazy).
What kept me from installing one in my car was that I told myself if I was ever going to do it, it had to follow 3 rules:
1. No wires! It had to be clean.
2. It had to be modular. I might want to sell the car but keep the Touchstone set-up.
3. It must be powered from the car’s battery or fuse box.
The problem was, I didn’t know where to begin.
I knew adding power to the car was possible from stuff I’d read online. But everyone made it look so simple and I’m a car-wiring n00b. So I did what every online-savvy I-want-to-learn-something-new person does, YouTube. This video will teach you the fundamentals of installing an Add-A-Fuse or Expandable Circuit as it’s called in the video.
The other important thing to know in all of this is how to splice cables. With my time as a musician and tech hobbyist, splicing cables is pretty standard stuff. I did have to read up on splicing the USB cable that I wanted to use to ensure I could hide the cable. Google was my friend.
What I used to do it
The parts I ordered:
- Bussmann BP/HHH ATM Add-A-Fuse
- Hardwire Barewire Power Micro USB Cable
- StarTech.com 0.5m 1m M/M Micro USB Cable Cord
- 5 Pack 5 Amp Automotive Mini Blade Fuse (I actually got these from AutoZone, link for example only)
- SCOSCHE IUH3R Mobile Grip-IT Swivel Mount Kit (the item here now looks a little different than it did when I bought it)
The tools I used:
- Solder/Soldering Iron
- Wire cutter/stripper
- Ratchet set
- Heat shrink
I ordered the Add-A-Fuse twice. I also ordered the Hardwire Barewire twice. Why? Because I never truly had it all grounded properly to begin with and I thought my parts were broken. I ordered new parts. And unsurprisingly, those didn’t work either. Until I tried a different spot for the ground that followed the instructions for bare metal in the video. Tada! Power.
I originally used electrical tape, the crimp joint that comes on the Add-A-Fuse, and left the ground wire bare. These are all areas that are recipes for disaster in a vibrating car. To overcome those areas, I opted to solder each splice and add heat shrink over it. I even coated the bare ground wire in solder to get a better connection behind the bare metal bolt.
Getting the USB cable through the holder was a pain. I tried carving with a knife, using a small dremel cutting wheel, and then finally opted to melt my way in there with the soldering iron. Don’t judge me. It worked. 😀
Super quick summary on how I got power
- Cut USB ends off Barewire and USB angled cable, soldered and heat shrinked together
- Stripped loose wire end of Barewire back, snipped off crimp connector and stripped Add-A-Fuse wire back, soldered and heat shrinked positive leads (red wires) together
- Added solder to ground wire from Barewire and secured it to the bare metal bolt
- Found a switchable fuse port in the fuse box of my car and bare metal bolt for ground
- Popped out the fuse, installed that fuse into the Add-A-Fuse, installed a 5 amp fuse into the second port of the Add-A-Fuse and plugged it into the port in my fuse box
- Plugged the USB cable into my touchstone and started my car. IT’S ALIVE!
Each photo has my notes as well. Enjoy.