iPod dock adapter for Motorola DROID/Milestone

by Chris Moor on

Manufacturers of electronic devices don’t seem to be able to get a global standard on docking connectors, resulting in that youusually end up buying a new dock for every electronic device you acquire. In the past I bought multiple iPod docks (also see my other article about bypassing the Apple video out protection on older docks here), but I own more devices than just the ones from Apple. My current mobile phone is a Motorola Milestone (or Droid if you are from the US), which of course does not fit on an iPod dock. Not willing to buy new docks I decided to build an adapter to enable me to use my iPod docks with my mobile phone. This article will describe step-by-step how I have built this dock adapter.

Because I am from Europe (the Netherlands to be precise) my Motorola device is named a Milestone, but the whole article of course is just as applicable to the Motorola Droid. For the ease of use I will just refer to the ‘Motorola Milestone’ in this article from now on. However, the methodology that this article contains could, in theory, be applied to almost all Android devices.

Since all the information in this document is gathered from the internet or analyzed by myself it could be that there are some errors in this document, I am sorry if that is the case. Any opinion expressed in this document is solely my own.

Goals

The goal of this project is to create a dock adapter which enables the Motorola Milestone to charge, output music and switch to docking (multimedia) mode. The Motorola Milestone charges through the micro USB connector on its side. To enable charging through our dock adapter we will need to equip it with a micro USB connector.

Since the Motorola Milestone does not provide audio output through the micro USB connector, we will have to use the headphone connector on the top of the device to enable audio out.

To enable automatic switching to docking mode on the Motorola Milestone the device is equipped with a magnetic sensor. When a magnet is placed against a certain location on the device it will recognize the dock type (Media or Car) by the polarization of the magnet. With some testing I found the best location for the magnet is at the back of the device above the micro USB connector and a bit to the right. This location is shown on the picture below which shows the back of the Motorola Milestone.

Using a magnet in our dock adapter will enable us to use the multimedia docking mode.

So, our dock connector will need to have a micro USB and audio connector as well as a magnet in it. The last part to enable us to connect it to the iPod dock will of course be a connector which fits the iPod dock itself. The schematic design for the dock adapter is shown in the next image.

Parts

This chapter will list all the parts that are needed to create the dock adapter. The specific parts used in this document might not be the most obvious, but they were cheap and available at the time of executing this project.

iPod dock connector

Since good dock connectors seem to be quite expensive and hard to find, I decided to buy a cheap Dock extender cable and harvest the connector from that. The Dock extender cable has been bought from DealExtreme for just $3.14:

Dock Extender Male/Female Cable for All iPod/iPhone 2G/3G

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.21892

The dock connector from this cable has almost all the pins available to make use of and provides nice solder pads to connect wires to. Since this is not always the case it is good to keep this in mind when looking for a suitable dock connector.

3,5 mm stereo audio plug

The audio cable I used in this project was one I had lying around. It suited this project fine since it had an angled jack connector, which I preferred. An alternative cable could be bought from DealExtreme for just $1.80:

3.5mm Male to 3.5mm + 2.5mm Audio Male Audio Cable

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.39763

Of course any 3,5 mm stereo audio plug will be fine.

Micro USB connector

The Micro USB connector I used in this project has been harvested from a headphone adapter for another Motorola device. I bought this connector with the hope it would enable audio out from the micro USB port of the Motorola Milestone (which it of course did not). This adapter has been bought from DealExtreme for just $2.27:

3.5mm Stereo Audio Headphone Adapter For Motorola V8/V9

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.30099

Of course any micro USB connector will be fine.

Magnets

To enable the docking mode on the Motorola Milestone we will need some magnets, the following magnets from DealExtreme will suit our needs just fine for only $2.09:

Super-Strong Rare-Earth RE Magnets (10-Pack 9 mm)

http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.3461

I ended up using four out of the ten magnets.

Polymorph

To create the encasing of the dock adapter we will use Polymorph, which is a polymer that can easily be moulded when heated at moderate temperatures. Polymorph is great stuff for prototyping and can be remoulded time after time. I bought my Polymorph from eBay, but it can be found at various places online. Some more info can be found on the website of the company I bought it from:

http://www.c-d-c-shop.com/polymorph.htm

Pin outs

Before we can start to build the dock we will need the pinouts of the various components. This chapter will show the pinouts for all the components used.

3.5mm stereo audio plug pinout

The following image shows the pinout of the 3.5mm stereo audio plug:

The pinout for the 3.5mm stereo audio plug can also be found online at:

  • http://pinouts.ru/Home/Tele35s_pinout.shtml

Micro USB pinout

The following image shows the pinout of the micro USB plug from the Motorola Milestone side, not the cable side. The cable side is the same pinout in opposite direction.

The pinout for the micro USB connector can also be found online at:

  • http://pinoutsguide.com/CellularPhones-Nokia/micro_usb_connector_pinout.shtml

Dock connector pinout

The following image shows the pinout of the Apple iPod dock connector on the board we will be using to create our adapter.


The pinout for the iPod dock connector can also be found online at:

  • http://pinouts.ru/PortableDevices/ipod_pinout.shtml

Wiring

Now that we have all the pinouts for the components we can now see how we should wire the components together. The table below shows which pins should be connected together.

Component Connector Wire colour Connected to
3,5 mm stereo GND (audio) Metal Dock 2
Audio right Red Dock 3
Audio left White Dock 4
Micro USB Vcc Red Dock 16
GND (USB) Copper Dock 23
Data - Green – Blue Data +

The colours mentioned in the table refer to the wire colours of the components named in this article, when using other components these wire colours will probably be different.

To enable the Motorola Milestone to accept the power on the USB port, the USB Data- and Data+ connections should be linked to each other. Without these points connected the device will not charge.

The following image shows the wiring inside our dock adapter:

Building the adapter

Having the different components, the design and the wiring schematics, it is now time to actually build the adapter. After soldering the components together I shortened the original dock encasing a bit because it was larger than needed. To hold everything together I filled the dock encasing with hot glue, resulting in the prototype shown below.

Polymorph encasing

The prototype showed above already works as a dock adapter however it does not hold the Motorola Milestone in its place. To build an encasing for the dock adapter that holds the Motorola Milestone in its place we will be using Polymorph.

Polymorph consists of small plastic pellets which can be melted in hot water. My general approach is to melt the pellets in hot water, press them together and making small sheets of plastic of it. These plastic sheets can be cut with scissors to preferred sizes. I personally like to use a hot air gun to melt these sheets again and then use them in the project. The encasing of the adapter has been made of multiple layers of Polymorph which have been melted together. The encasing also holds the magnets for the docking mode option.

Result

The following images show the end result of our Motorola Milestone iPod dock adapter.


When the Motorola Milestone is connected to the adapter it will go into multimedia docking mode right away and start charging. After connecting the audio cable to the headphone connector it will output its audio to the dock as well. The Motorola Milestone is standing solid on the adapter and works great.

This article showed how to build an iPod dock adapter for the Motorola Milestone, however this information can easily be used to create adapters for other devices as well. If anyone is going to build a similar adapter for the Motorola Milestone or another device, I am for sure interested to know about it.

The adapter that I have built might not be the quality of an official one, but it is of course a prototype and it works pretty well. It probably is not going to happen, but I would really appreciate if any company out there would just build and sell adapters like this.

We at TalkAndroid would like to give a big thanks to Thijs (Thice) Bosschert for creating this guide and allowing us to republish it on our site. Thanks Thijs!

» See more articles by Chris Moor


  • techman

    Do you (or anyone) know how to make an adapter that converts an iPod input to a USB input? I am basically trying to connect a USB device to a stereo that only has an iPod input…

  • Huso

    This is awesome! Thanks a lot!
    Unfortunately I got a Nexus One instead of a Milestone… does anybody know where to put the magnet that the dock-mode will work?

  • Andrew

    Thanks for the pinouts and the part numbers. I made a female ipod to male micro USB so I could use my spare batteries to charge my Samsung Captivate.

    I left the data wires disconnected so the phone wouldn’t try to pull to many amps from the battery pack. Note – it doesn’t work on Moto phones – I think they look for the data wires connected to something.

  • techman

    @ Andrew
    I need an adapter that converts a female ipod input to a usb (or micro usb, or mini usb). I am trying to connect my android phone to an ipod jack on my stereo. I want the data connected to though so the stereo will be able to play the music stored on my phone’s SD card (basically treating the phone like a flash drive).

    Do you (or anyone) know how to make such an adapter?

  • Daniel

    Instead of the Micro USB you could have a female USB extensiion.. That way you coul literally charge anything with a USB cable and with the aduio plug you could hear almost anything

  • Wes

    This is great. Not exactly what I was looking for, but the closest yet. Is there a product I can buy which converts the Dock to 3.5mm only? Charging isn’t an issue, I just want to play music on Ipod docks with other electronics.

  • Erik

    So, i decided to make one of these for the hell of it. I got an EVO recently and was saddened by the fact that the ipod dock i had would be useless for it, so I was happy to stumble upon this. I had absolutely no soldering experience, so i was walking in a bit blind. Followed the plans exactly, and used solder that was already there to make it easier. I screwed up when cutting the 3.5mm cord multiple times, kept on accidentally cutting a strand or two of the metal wires, so mine ended up being just barely long enough to fit my evo. I did a half assed job on some of it, had too much solder on the backs of one part, so the casing for the female ipod jack was a little crooked. I really thought it wasn’t going to work, decided i would try again if it didn’t, but i plugged in the micro usb jack first, and wouldn’t you know it, it worked! Started charging and i nearly pissed myself. Tried the audio, and at first it didn’t work, but that’s because the audio was muted on my phone, again to my surprise it worked great! I have yet to put it in a mold, i’m considering making another one since mine is a little short and the dock might not work out so well, but thank you a ton for this guide, here are some pictures:

    the connector:

    http://7-07.com/image_network/uploads/7ec439e2960ee4747a6a34fe459f522b.jpg

    http://7-07.com/image_network/uploads/d02776d6989621909cfb77b82d907be0.jpg

    the connector plugged in(not to the dock, took pics with phone and one with webcam which is too far away from the dock):

    http://7-07.com/image_network/uploads/407ce2546f9647ddfc65077f3e4e3525.jpg

    http://7-07.com/image_network/uploads/8543bbf1301e5d514f99a8b586660832.jpg

    Note to some people: This doesn’t work with ALL ipod docks, my cousins have a newer ipod dock which goes under cabinets in the kitchen, and it charges it but won’t play the music, recognized it isn’t an ipod/iphone. Most of them have auxiliary 3.5 mm jacks though, so no worries, just buy a 3.5mm to 3.5mm cord and you will be good!

  • biffyg

    So I’ve broken down all the connectors for this although it seems my micro usb has a gnd connected to the metal casing for the plug this then runs down the sheath of the cable, is this the gnd i should be using or the black gnd from the micro usb. I would think it would be the black gnd butthe poster mentions it as silver?? I know they’re all different but I am using a western digital heavy duty hdd cable so it might have some extra protection.

    Any ideas would be great.

  • http://asianstepdad.co.uk asianstepdad

    plz mae me one for my htc desire????!!?????

  • Dave

    This is great!
    Have you thought of buiding this adapter and selling it?

  • Dave

    Erik, I have an Evo too. Did you need to use the magnets?

  • tom

    Can you put this on ebay or something? I want thisss!!! Im not going to make it by myself because i’m going to screw it up.
    Thanks!

  • http://www.talkandroid.com/guides/ipod-dock-adapter-for-motorola-droidmilestone/ Deb Burgess

    You are AWESOME!!

  • Manny

    Can we just make a android app that makes ur phone reconize as a ipod ?

  • Marc Spector

    Love it – where did you get the PC board?

    “The following image shows the pinout of the Apple iPod dock connector on the board we will be using to create our adapter.”

  • NORMAN SPECTOR

    GREAT CONCEPT. WHERE DID YOU GET THE PC BOARD?
    THANKS

  • Gray

    I am using a Samsung Galaxy S.

    I the exact cables as instructed. Stripped the cables down and found that the wire colours didn’t always match the instructions. After a bit of trial and error with a multimeter I was able to get VSS (16 on female ipod) to wire one on the micro usb and USB ground (23 on female ipod) to wire 5 on microsub.

    My phone would not charge (Headphone wiring worked just fine) and my friends HTC Desire had serious issues, (the machine thought it was in car mode, then it decided that the battery was at zero and required a full recharge).

    I am going to try and by a usb extender cable, and attempt to wire that in, and plug in an off the shell usb to micro usb extender, but regardless, I could use some help / advice.

  • The_CEO

    I am manufacturing an adapter cable that will connect to the iPod dock and connect to both the microUSB (charging) and audio jack. I will update once initial testing is complete as to where it can be purchased. There will also be a longer adapter for the new ‘tab’ formats. This will be a tested, proven, and final product. I feel everyones pain on this subject.

    • bob

      So where is this adaptor cable????

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-Lee/1507010813 Charles Lee

        fail? I wonder if Apple has some kind of legal lock down on this. Why else would nobody be profiting from these highly in-demand adapters?

  • aqueenanti

    Hi.. im galaxy s2 user.. do you know the location of galaxy s2 magnetic sensor? and is there any way for me to use the microphone on 3.5mm cable jack (with mic, which have four pin out on it audio jack) thanks before.

  • http://none savoj

    I’d like to start off by saying thank you thank you thank you. I don’t know why there isn’t a company out there making these adapters. How could all these companies be focused only on the NON-Android!!!
    Anyway, here is my question or confusion that you might be able to help me out with.
    Is it possible that the dock connector pinout image information doesn’t match the wiring information just below it?
    In the diagram, GND(USB) is on pin 16 and Vcc is on pin 23. The Wiring information just below it says Micro USB Vcc Red connected to Dock 16 and GND (USB) connected to Dock 23.
    Also, if you ever have information on the pinout for the Samsung Galaxy S2, I’d appreciate it.

    Cheers,
    JS

    • http://www.facebook.com/simonkingit Simon King

      Hi Savoj
      Cablejive actually make this cable, but its $30, and that’s a lot of money, especially since I’m in South Africa.

      Anyways, you probably know about cablejive by now.

      Wonder if you can help, mine doesn’t seem to work. I got the changing to work, but the sound from the cable doesn’t.
      I don’t know what I’ve done wrong, as my setup is exactly as described above.
      Please see my post above for details

      Thanks

  • April

    This is excellent, I have recently upgraded from my old iPhone 3GS to a Galaxy S2. The new phone rocks and Im totally digging the freedom, but my clock radio has this wopping big whole where an iPhone device would normally sit and looks stupid. Why doesnt someone commercialise this?

  • http://www.cablejive.com/products/dockBossplus.html Lyle

    You may want to try this option.

    http://www.cablejive.com/products/dockBossplus.html

    I haven’t bought it yet. I found it the same time I found this forum.

  • Chefkoch

    Hey,
    I have a Yamaha CRX-330 and the same problem. In theory to get the audio signal to the ipod-dock would be as “simple” as it is shown here. However, I think in case your hifi-system has a ipod menu control integrated you will run into some problems – at least I run into a problem with my system. I connect the dedicated adapter to the ipod dock but my hifi system says “ipod unplugged”. I am not sure if it is because of the ipod dock version or the menu control. Does anybody know what it needs to “convince” such systems that an ipod is plugged?
    I do not know if the dockBoss+ is the solution but 30 euros are too much for me – just for a try without the chance of success.

  • Andrey

    I think, to make ipod dock-station recognize android phone is a future and not so far, all what we need – is another application, which will full dock-station device about what kind of device is connected. very small application, very easy to make, for somebody who knows how, and then it will be all over internet… there is a big demand for that kind of applications. just wait, it will be here soon, so far I was using my LG nexus and 3.5 connector, already for 8 months, thru aux input.

  • Duodecim

    To comment on song control, from the connector pin-out site “The connections uses a standard 8N1 (one startbit 8 data bits 1 Stopbit) serial protocol..so with one of these “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBZM4QW5iB4″ in the mix and a driver to run a media player (winamp) for instance… you should be able to make this work with a dock for song control and playlist menus as well.

    Anyone up for the challenge?

  • diskwzrd

    This really doesn’t have anything to do w/ the iPhone but I’m hoping someone could help direct me to the H/W I need or perhaps tell me that it’s not possible.

    I want to connect 2 external microphones into a Droid to record in stereo. The microphones are professional so they have built in XLR (3 pin). I can use mic cables that terminate in either XLR, 1/4″ (TRS), RCA or can even connect the two together first so they terminate as a single stereo mini (headphone) plug.

    I am looking for something that has a micro-USB on one side to connect to the phone and either 2 female XLR, 1/4″ or RCA’s (or a single stereo mini) on the other side.

    Is it even possible to use the USB on the Droid to record?

    And if so, and maybe now I’m really pushing it, I want the app to be able to allow me to adjust the R/L levels independently.

    Oh, at it would need to be able to record either at 44.1kHz or 48kHz (preferably 24 bit, but 16 bit will do).

    Am I nuts?

    Thx

  • Dom

    can i buy one?

  • Dallas Bebout

    Im trying to figure out where the magnets go. It would be a WHOLE LOT easier if u made a YouTube video of u doing it and posting the link. You just saying words and showing pictures doesn’t really help. Its confusing for me if u ask me.

  • Danielchoe91

    hi
    i am make this one and my dock keep saying iPod not docked
    do u know how to solve this problem?????

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cow-Thief/1257324709 Cow Thief

    Hello.
    Love what you have done.
    I simply drill holes in the back of whatever dock and add connections to the dock.
    This allows one to use a dock for anything, including a connection to a computer, external amplifier, any number of differing devices, etc.
    Frequently docks are replaced when the connector goes bad, that 30 pin aftermarket thing is not all that great, so I actually started with adding an external connector that did not need to support the device in the dock, I use a homebrew holder for this.
    But going from there to making any device work was a small step.

    Thank you for sharing, it has given me some ideas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/simonkingit Simon King

    Hi Chris
    Love your idea. I have the Samsung Galaxy S3.
    I bought the ipod extension cable and have begun modifying it. I wanted to test the cable that it worked properly before I go ahead and make my phone holder, but I can’t seem to get the audio to work. The charge works perfectly.
    It’s not the phone jack, cause the phone works perfectly in the car connected via AUX to my head unit.
    When I opened the ipod connector, the only metal wire was on the other side from where you state it is, on pin 29.
    I’ve tried all sorts of combinations.
    1. your way
    2. GND on 29, audio on 3 and 4
    3. GND on 29, audio on 27 and 25
    4. Found another site that stated that the correct pins were 3, 4 and 7, so tried those.

    Nothing is working.

    Last thing I can think of is to join your GND (Pin 2) with the metal wire I discovered on my connector (Pin 29) and try that.

    I’m all out of options

    Please could you help?

  • Ray Perkins

    Thanks – after searching everywhere to find out how the phone enters dock mode, I saw this. Just a magnet! Most phones use a resistor on the sense pin on the USB connector.