As author of the world's best-selling iPod book, Secrets of the iPod, people who do cool things with and to iPods occasionally get in touch. Such is the case of Jesse Melchior, an amateur special effects artist and filmmaker. This is his story:
I recently purchased an iPod mini and decided to do a custom install into my 2001 Ford Explorer. A few people suggested I send the pictures of my project to you to perhaps publish for other readers to see and give some incentive to try something like this on their own.
I used the center console of my car to sculpt an add-on piece that would house the iPod mini and connect it to my existing car stereo. I took a mold of the final sculpture using L-200 latex and backed it with an Ultracal 30 plaster shell to hold its shape. I then cast the piece using dental acrylic. Using the Belkin car charger, I connected it to the iPod mini and placed the iPod into the acrylic piece at the angle I wanted, then flipped the whole piece over and poured another layer of dental acrylic over the protruding edge of the iPod mini and the car charger, creating a perfectly snug fit for the iPod to rest into and connect to the charger.
I drilled holes on an angle in front of where the iPod mini would sit, and inserted fiber optics that ran to two blue LED's under the console. This would light up the front of the iPod at night for easier operation. I sanded the entire piece and painted it with a coat of automotive primer, then placed it into the original console. Using automotive bondo, I blended the edges into the console for a smoother look. When that was dry, I sanded it and then painted the entire console using automotive paint to match my existing interior. I also added a silvery-white Apple logo in the center of the piece.
I connected the iPod mini to my Pioneer car stereo using the CD-RB10 adapter, which connects to the L+R audio output RCAs from the iPod mini using the line-out from the Belkin car charger. I added two extra cigarette lighter adapters to plug in the car charger and the LEDs. Everything was nicely hidden below the center console.
The entire process was time-consuming and took approximately four days to complete, but at the same time it was fun and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
You can view pictures of Jesse's work here.