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The knights who say Ni!
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just received the used automotive homelink module that I bought of of EBay. It obviously came right out of a vehicle sun visor. It's fairly small and thin, and came with the molex power connector:



I popped off the decorative trim piece and opened the unit up to see whether it was worth just reusing the bare pcb or go with the entire unit. The metal bar on the right side of the pcb is the loop antenna. I decided that it was compact enough for me to mount the entire unit:



I then cleaned up the trim plate with alcohol and painted it black (paint is still wet in this pic):



My goal is to mount the homelink towards the driver side on the trim plate that is below the climate controls and above the ashtray area:



Here is the rough positioning that I want to go for:



Now, here is where I need some help. I would like to find switched power (on in accessory) and ground somewhere behind this panel. Briefly scanning visually, I see these various cable bundles, but I don't want to start ripping things apart unless I know what I am looking for and where I should look:



I assume that I am looking for a violet w/strip wire for accessory power? Any idea which of these bundles I should look at? Also, what should I do about ground? Thanks for helping me with these basic questions!
 

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The knights who say Ni!
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456 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Well, I am getting closer. My first attempt was to disconnect the harness going to the center of the climate controls so that I could inspect it closer. After lots of peering through a mirror with a flashlight, I finally figured how the connector latch worked and managed to disconnect it:



Unfortunately, this did not turn up much interesting, at least to my inexperienced eyes. Realizing that there was pretty easy access to the ashtray area, I decided to check it out. Removed the single philipps screw that holds the ashtray assembly in place:



Then gently prying the front of the ashtray assembly up:



Once the front of the ashtray is completely clear, the rear edge unhooks from its pivot points. Now, its time to go inspect for a likely wire that I can tap for switched accessory power. Ground is easily available from the cigarette lighter.

 

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The knights who say Ni!
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456 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Once the front of the ashtray is completely clear, the rear edge unhooks from its pivot points. Now, its time to go inspect for a likely wire that I can tap for switched accessory power. Ground is easily available from the cigarette lighter.

Found purple/white stripe switched power going to pin 22 of the big brown connector. Tapped it and tested fine with DMM and also using aligator clips to the homelink module. Time to dress everything up and gradually put it back together. I've held off actually mounting the homelink module to the trim panel until I had the electrics sorted out. Time to get out the dremel now...
 

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The knights who say Ni!
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456 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I know it's kinda cheesy compared to the way some of you do your mods, but I had some spare speaker zip wire lying around that I put to use. Soldered ground to the back of the cigarette lighter and used a small blue Radio Shack self-tap connector to tap into the accessory power:



Ran the wire up from the ashtray to the access panel below the climate controls, then buttoned the ashtray assembly back up. I attached the molex connector that came with the home link module and reverified that I had proper connections:



Now, the tricky part. With my dremel, I routed out a rough hole in the trim panel to accommodate the homelink pushbutton plate. I started by tracing the outline of the button plate on the back of the trim panel and then staying well within the lines, expanding as necessary. It was quite an ugly mess, so I won't embarrass myself by showing any photos. I then tried to press fit the button plate onto the module, sandwiching the trim panel:



This is where things got a bit dicey, the trim panel as-is is just way too thick for the button plate's short posts to latch onto the module. My first step was to use the dremel to sand down all the reinforcement ribs on the back of the trim panel in the area that was keeping the homelink module too "aloft". This still was not enough, so I then used the sanding disc to thin the edges of the trim panel from around the backside of the hole I had made for the pushbuttons to pass through. This proved to be better, but by just a hair I still cannot completely latch the button plate onto the homelink module.

Unfortunately all this mucking about with the buttons proved that I had not let the black paint dry long enough :tsk: So, I repainted the button plate and am letting it completely dry overnight before continuing. My plan at this point is to press the button plate onto the module while leaving the clamshell open. From the inside of the clamshell, I can dab hot or silicone glue onto the tips of the button plate's 2 posts to keep them mated. It's amazing how the electrical stuff which you think is going to be the most difficult part becomes overshadowed by something so simple.
 

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I know it's too late for this .... but if you have a spare piece of plastic lying around...... try cutting just the holes for the bottons into the panel piece, using the original home link trim piece as a pattern. I have done this on other projects and it ends up being a much nicer looking finished project. Hot melt glue layered on the back side to hold the module in place, worked well for me.
 

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The knights who say Ni!
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456 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I know it's too late for this .... but if you have a spare piece of plastic lying around...... try cutting just the holes for the bottons into the panel piece, using the original home link trim piece as a pattern. I have done this on other projects and it ends up being a much nicer looking finished project. Hot melt glue layered on the back side to hold the module in place, worked well for me.
Thanks, I originally thought about this approach until I got the module. There is not just the buttons, but there is also an led that illuminates the little triangle inside the homelink logo. Via long and short flashes it indicates proper code learning, etc. That's the main reason I decided to retain the button trim plate. Won't have a chance to do the final fitment until later today, got other stuff going on,
 

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You can make a very nifty indicator by obtaining a piece of fiber optic cable, ebay... or I'll send you a piece, drill (using you fingers) a very shallow hole into the face of the led and place a drop of super glue in... place the fiber end into the glue and hold until set. drill another hole into the panel where you want the indicator to be....push, not glue, the fiber through the hole then super glue from the back side. After it dries build up a puddle of hot melt glue around the fiber going through the back of the panel, when that dries take a very sharp razor and trim the fiber flush with the panel. I guarantee you have never seen a slicker indicator light as it's almost invisible until the light comes on then it's a micro dot.
 

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The knights who say Ni!
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456 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the howto on extending the led via fiber optic, pretty cool :thumbup: Not sure how it would have worked for this case because the led in question is a micro surface-mount affair that is only 1-2mm square. Too late now for me anyway since I buttoned up the project last night. The hot glue worked perfect. From the inside of the module clamshell I put blobs of glue to fix the posts from the button plate. I then hot glued around all the edges of the module to hold it more securely to the back of the trim panel. I had noticed that without this, the panel and module flexed too much while inserting/removing it from the dash. It was too dark when I finished up to take a photo, but basically it looks like the last photo in post #5, only in the car ;) An unexpected bonus is that I seem to have 50% more range than the Overhead Door remote I was using.
 

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The knights who say Ni!
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Just to wrap up, here's a pic of the final install:



Approx $35 out of pocket and several hours of diy labor (mostly trying to figure out what the hell I was doing), I am happy :D
 

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DaveZ - great write up, I've had this idea on the back burner for a while....
time to get at it. :thumbup:

EOD Guy - I like the led & button idea
 

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Hello Z4 community...

DaveZ's post also inspired me to do this mod. Here is my variation.

I mounted the ebay-sourced Homelink parallel to the front edge of the panel. If you snip off some of the Homelink extra tabs, there is enough clearance between the panel mounting tabs.


I drilled holes for the three buttons, the 2 mounting posts and the indicator light. Then, I used the Dremmel to grind down the panel surface so the Homelink frontplate swould snap back on to the body. I used 3M mounting tape to secure the rear of the Homelink to the panel, and to lift it slightly for clearance with the thickness of the panel opening.

I ran the wiring over the to the fuse panel since I did not want to tap any wires for power. This involved removing the glovebox and the knee airbag assembly. The airbag is a beast to get out. There are three press-fit clips along the top edge that do not let go easily. There are also four bolts holding the airbag to the dash structure. If you remove the airbag, be sure to disconnect the battery and the airbag connector. I didn't and when I popped the last snap-in clip, the entire assembly fell out and yanked the connector off the airbag. (I recommend popping the clips with a rigid plastic trim tool first, then the bolts.) I had to take the car in and have the airbag warning light reset, fortunately the local independent service shop I use did this for free.

I ran a brown ground wire and a striped power wire through a flexible sleeve material I found at Fry's. I used a screw just below the fuse box for the ground. I used an Access-a-Fuse plugged into the fuseblock's empty position one for switched power.

Here is the cable with the Homelink plug connector routed and ready; and the finished product.
 

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19,585 Miles
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Hello Z4 community...

DaveZ's post also inspired me to do this mod. Here is my variation.

I ran the wiring over the to the fuse panel since I did not want to tap any wires for power. This involved removing the glovebox and the knee airbag assembly.[/IMG]
Looks good.
Air bag is a pain.
You don't have to remove it to access the fuses.
 

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Dreaming about Sunny Days
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Thanks for the info guys. I installed mine the same as the above (except mine has constant power, not switched) and it works great. Keeps a nice OEM feel to it.
 

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@DaveZ: Thanks for writing such a great guide, when (okay, let's be honest; if) I can convince my old lady to let me buy a Z, I fully intend to mod for the garage door opener. I am absolutely floored that this is not standard on a BMW, it just occurred to me this past week as I assumed that something so basic would be included in all of a Luxury Car Maker's vehicles. To that point, are there any other things that I should be careful for when looking at these cars (i.e. things a non-Z owner would automatically assume would be found)? I've been looking on and off for quite a while, so I have a pretty good idea of what I want; it's just a matter of manning up and being willing to put down the money...

@66Engineer: What did you tap into for constant power?
 

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The Anti-Rice
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You can get stock homelink. Its in the rear view mirror.

On Z3s it was in the center armrest.
 

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I wanted to pass on my thanks for this thread, too. I just finished up a Homelink install based on the great tips presented here.

Also, for anyone else considering such an install, if you have a hard time finding the Access-A-Fuse DaleWA mentions, PM me. I found some, but had to buy 5 which is a few more than I need.
 

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Thanks!

Very nice write up. Photos really helped. I had initially looked at mirror solution.. but if you've looked into it; you know it's expensive and not a easy (have to crack open mirror assemblies and swap parts).

This was not bad at all. A few differences:
a) I ordered black unit off ebay - so didn't have to paint.
b) I used drilled holes and used dremel to sand down thickness of panel for homelink (not much). Note: holes for buttons have to be large enough for depressing ovals - not just for button extensions.
c) I tapped into cigarette lighter for power/ground as I wanted always on - and don't see the need to travel to fuse box.

BTW - I am completely annoyed that BMW did not have this as option (should have been standard on M). Really?! 2008 and no Homelink solution? I am bewildered and lost by the absence. Esp. in a convertible with non-standard visors and environment open to world.
 

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