iTrip Mini – Universal Modification – Part 1

As the iPod craze hit the world a few years ago I found myself one of those people like many others that went out and1 purchased an iPod and accessories. I purchased an iPod Mini and an iTrip for transmitting my music to an FM station.The iTrip turned out to be a great little device by Griffin but the limitation of only being usable on the iPod Mini deemed it useless when it came time for me to upgrade to an iPod Nano.

After reviewing prices throughout various online auction sites such as eBay it became apparant that these older style iTrips were going for as little as $5.00. As this was the case justifing the cost compared to $5.00 just didnt cut it for me. So what shall i do, open it up!

The theory behind this mod is actually quite simple, the iTrip runs from 3.3V supplied from the minijack next to the headphone jack on the top of the older iPods. The iTrip has been programmed to switch itself off when it recieves the appropriate data from the TX and RX data lines also in the mini jack.

Basicly what was needing to be done:
1. Open the iTrip
2. Take note of RX,TX,3.3V,GRND and the L,R,G audio connections.
3. Desolder the RX and TX wires.
4. Solder a length of wire with a seperate 3.5 stereo connection attached.
5. Construct a 3.3V DC Regulator circuit to power the iTrip.

During the disassembly of the iTrip I could clearly see that it was not made to be pulled apart once it has been built. Using an xacto knife you can pry open the casing. Remove the white strip located at the top of the transmitter to reveal the antenae first. Do not worry about how much the iTrip housing is butchered unless you plan on using it later.

In my case I didnt actually plan on using the original iTrip housing but then found myself to change my mind later.
Once opened the PCB will be revealed.

Here is a very high resolution photograph of the exposed PCB: Exposed PCB Click the image to enlarge.

In the image it becomes aparant the locations of the 3.3V, the Ground and the 2 data lines on the minijack. After confirming the voltage over the 3.3V and GRN connections on the minijack I could conclude that the iTrip causes a voltage drop of .7V. Therefor the voltage must be 3.3V or heigher to power the iTrip. [Tested with 2 x 1.5V AA’s proved this as the iTrip would not power up (3.0V)]

Comparing this image to an image found from an iPod hack known as the iTrip Range Booster from ipod.hackaday.com we I could identify that the reason for the incompatibilities with the iTrip Mini in an older iPod, the same as with having an older iTrip in an iPod Mini. The minijack wiring is in reverse in the 2 generations of ipods, this is show below:
Older iTripClick the image to enlarge.

From here I desoldered the connections for the audio jacks and the 2 data lines. After that I soldered a stereo jack from an old pair of headphones to the iTrip PCB. This was so that I could power the iTrip from my sisters iPod Mini whilst the audio source is my iPod Nano. I did this to see the effects on the iTrip when the data lines are not connected to the iPod.

iTrip powered by Mini! Click the image to enlarge.

The results I can conclude were that, when the iPod is turned off, data is transmitter to the iTrip alerting it to turn off. This however to will not make any impact at all to my project as I will switch the power on and off to my iTrip as needed.

The next step was to fix up that shocking job of soldering [ dont curse me, I had to start a shift at kmart 5 minutes after I had done that]. After fixing the soldering, I extended the power jack from iTrip using some good ole 33awg kynar insulated wire that I had lying around ( im a local modchip installer for xbox and playstation 2 ).

The iTrip was then mounted back into the badly butchered housing and tested with impressive results, especially now that the antenae had been revealed.

Currently the iTrip has to be powered by my sisters iPod to function but in the next step I will construct a 3.3v regulated power supply using some free samples from my good friends at T.I! Also this will give me some time to design or think of a good way of containing the Power Supply, Batteries and iTrip.

Kynar Powered

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52 Responses to iTrip Mini – Universal Modification – Part 1

  1. john says:

    when are u gonna make the 3.3v adapter?

  2. Josh Mason says:

    Adapater will be documented before this Friday, stay tuned. I have recieved a shipment of regulators from TI, just deciding wether to go for the micro sized 200ma regulator or the larger 500ma. This will be able to support 5-12v input. Stay tuned.

  3. London Dude says:

    Looks to be an interesting project.
    Just wondering, upon completion, will it then be compatible with any kind of mp3 player or still just the iPod?
    Also, although I dont really know much about the technical aspects of what you said about the voltage regulators, I would have guessed a lower voltage might be more practical and would most likely make it that little bit more portable because you could use batteries still (3 normal batteries making 4.5V). If I am mistaken then please disregard
    Thanks
    Mitchel

  4. Josh Mason says:

    Mitchel you have made a good point and yes I have decided to go with the 200mah regulator as it is significantyl smaller and has better heat dissipation to the 500mah. Im not to sure how to work out how much current the iTrip draws but im guessing 200mah will be sufficient. If it isnt i can always change to a 500mah reg as the space is there.

    I will convert the iTrip by installing the 3.3V regultor inside its current circuitry therefore making its voltage input between 4v and 5v.
    This will then allow me to use a 12V Car adapater with a 7805 regulator to make an output of 5 to power the iTrip in the car.
    Yes this will be universal and will work with all mp3 players, and 3 normal batterys at 4.5v will be suffiecent to power the device.

  5. Wiebs says:

    I wil be attempting the same project, but with a 30gig. The process should be the same, but I’m an inexperienced at soldering. Any pointers, it looks difficult.

  6. joshmason says:

    Wiebs, soldering and work like this can be a difficult job without necesarry tools or an easy job with the proper tools. Dont take shortcuts, make sure you have everything you need first. As for the soldering, try practising on some old motherboards ect lying around. You will find the more you practise the better you will get at it.

  7. Paul says:

    I have an older 3rd generation iPod with an iTrip like the one in the second photo. I opened it up to lengthen the antenna, but I might end up doing something like this. Do you know what the voltage for this kind is? If not, how should I go about testing it?
    Thanks,
    Paul

  8. joshmason says:

    Paul, use a Digital Multimeter to measure the voltage over the red and black wire, btw a little update to the upcoming part2.
    GRIFFIN wired the pos and neg in reverse to fool people like me, this results in static transmission. Very sneaky.
    Also I will have to house the iTrip in an external small hobby box as a voltage regulator causes interference. An RF choke is also used to cut the interference down as much as possible. You can find this clip type chokes on older AV cables ect.

  9. Paul says:

    are you talking about the red wire from the accessory plugin thingy and the black wire that is connected to the big resistor (also from the accessory plugin thingy)?

  10. mark says:

    hi, i saw a project where you can get 3.3v out of the dock conector on your ipod nano by moding a firewire and usb dock cable so you wont have to use the ipod mini to get power … http://ipod.hackaday.com/entry/1234000393065371/

  11. Lulu says:

    LOLLL Josh…mate, as if ya can be stuffed doing all this..i just been doin science at skool (ew) and we did like shit on ohms law and resistors and crap..i didnt get it ONE bit…i cant belive u do..AND DO THIS FOR A HOBBY! ur a crazzzzzyy man..omg omg omg..my 16th on saunday :D like hello!!! :D:D ud betta get me sumthing good..;) haha joke..anyway…um yeh nice site and project thingy i guess..i was at shoppo (uleh) yesterday and tried 2 find ya in kmart..but noo..i didnt see u..if ya there on saturday ill come say howdy

  12. Mary says:

    Wickedly cool!!! :P

  13. Matt says:

    Did you ever finish that power supply. I am trying this mod but with the LCD version. I have all the connections but my LCD will only power on for 1/10th of a second and then power off quickly. Any idea what this could be?

  14. Blake says:

    Hey man, the iTrip will power up with 3.0V no problem, here’s what I did. I connected the + terminal of a 2 X AA battery pack to both the pos wire and the Rx wire, and the neg terminal the same way you did, this way, when the audio jack recives signal, like when you play the first song from an mp3 player, the itrip will then power up because the iTrip likes to power on when the Rx wire recieves a transmission, If you want some pictures, just let me know. But, this should help you eliminate the need to plug into a secondary ipod.

  15. [...] [josh mason] is in the process of converting his iTrip mini FM transmitter (cache) so that it will work with any device. The iTrip uses the iPod’s accessory port for power and control. The acc. port is what Apple used before settling on a standard dock connector. After he cracked open the iTrip, Josh compared it to an earlier hack we featured and noticed that the wiring was backwards which explains why the acc. port devices won’t work on different generations. He’s got a new headphone jack attached but still needs to construct a power supply. If he wasn’t making the device universal, he could get 3.3V out of his nano’s dock port. [...]

  16. Pablo says:

    My frend busted he itrip insid ther audio wire which1 i soder for audio out to meny red wires and 2 blacks

  17. ed says:

    how will you choose the fm station though
    because on an itrip you choose the channel with the ipod???

  18. Josh Holmes says:

    I did this trick with my itrip, i unsoldered the port apart from the 3.5mm plug, then connected up a battery holder for 2aa batteries. this way i can just change the batteries when they run out which to be honest is never since ive made it. i can just load the config mp3’s onto whatever device i want to change the frequency off. in my case the laptop in the car :)

  19. George says:

    I’m trying to do this with the itrip lcd but its not working for me. I’m using 3.0v and the lcd turns on and stays on but there is nothing on the lcd.it just turns green thats it. the wiring is different than the one posted on here.I’m trying to get mine universal too so i can use it with my laptop in my car. can someone help me. I need guidance.
    thanks

  20. [...] [josh mason] is in the process of converting his iTrip mini FM transmitter (cache) so that it will work with any device. The iTrip uses the iPod’s accessory port for power and control. The acc. port is what Apple used before settling on a standard dock connector. After he cracked open the iTrip, Josh compared it to an earlier hack we featured and noticed that the wiring was backwards which explains why the acc. port devices won’t work on different generations. He’s got a new headphone jack attached but still needs to construct a power supply. If he wasn’t making the device universal, he could get 3.3V out of his nano’s dock port. [...]

  21. Giorgio says:

    Josh,
    Any word on that part II with the 3.3V external power supply? Do you have any updates available?

  22. Jason says:

    So, I was tinkering with my iTrip nano and accidently knocked something off of the pcb which was labeled R43. Any idea how to fix it now? It just cycles from the menu to the “Ok to disconnect” screen over and over. Any help would be appreciated.

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  24. John says:

    What are you taking about Willis

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    my fucking god go get a life and find a fat ugly girl like you and fuck the shit out of her and discover that there are other things in life

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  30. Daniel says:

    hey, have you ever thought of using an iPod firewire cable to get sound and power from the iPod? so therefor you would be able to use the iTrip on any iPod aswell aslong as they have the 30 pin port. if i’m not mistaken the battery in the iPod gives off 3.7 volts, thats reasonable enough to power the iTrip, and i’ve seen other projects or even accessories that can get analogue sound directly from the 30-pin port… If you did that you could possibly also house everything inside the original iTrip enclosure. I recently got a 2nd gen ipod nano, and had an iTrip mini laying around, i want to try doing what i just said, but i’m just not sure which wires to use from the ipod wire

  31. gerard says:

    Can you send me a reversed copy of PIC0216 so I can see where the black wire should be soldered to the headphone jack?

    Thanks

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  33. Spyke446 says:

    What’s the max amount of volts the Itirip’ll run on?

  34. Spyke446 says:

    Hey Blake, if you ever come back here, can I get those pictures of your mod that you were offering?

  35. Alex says:

    Blake! I also need those pictures too if you ever come around here. I don’t understand how your configuration for tripping the data wire. Leave a dl link for the pics?

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  38. wcidioti says:

    hi all !
    i was attempting to merge my itrip into my nokia n-gage and use the power from the battery of my phone which is 3.6 v. the problem is.. i couldent figure out how to turn it on… when i connect the power source (3.6 v) the backlight of the itrip turns on for about half a second and then turns off.. during which the screen is completely blank.. i suppose it has something to do with the rx tx signal wires..
    btw the itrip i have is different than yours, it is white and cylindrical in shape… any help is appeciated !
    thanks

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  40. kendall r. says:

    you should know that hackaday.com has instructions on using the ipod nano’s dock connector to power other devices at. 3.3v

  41. Sebastian says:

    So i kind of built this. except instead of connecting the power to the ipod mini i soldered wires from a cell phone “cigarette lighter charger” to the itrip. When i connected everything all i heard on the radio was a high-pitched frequency in the background of weak channels. Can i send you a picture of the connections i made? please email me your email address if you can help me out.
    thanks,
    Seb

  42. [...] iTrip Mini – Universal Modification – Part 1 « Josh Mason [...]

  43. eric says:

    maybe you all know this but its better to share.. i used 2 AA batteries and only used positive and ground from the iTrip..then i played a song from my iPod touch to power on the iTrip.. it worked fine also with 3.7v battery from nokia cellphones.. no problems except that i cannot change the freq(only on 88.0MHz) and when i put the volume to max on ipod the sound is terrible.. maybe its because of the antenna on iTrip..

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