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Old 01-05-2009, 10:27 AM
scs_x5's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 38
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Intravee II / Spec Dock Install

First off; I want to thank all of the BMW enthusiasts out there for all the information they post on the forums, especially x5world. Without the information and responses on these sites I would never have attempted the upgrades to my X5.

This year's Christmas project on my X5 was to upgrade the integration between my iPod 5G and iPhone 3G. I originally installed a Dension interface to my iPod 5G then the iPhone, although it provides basic iPod functionality, the NAV screen integration was less than optimal with scrolling text which changed character size based on the length being displayed. I think the unit was better suited for display on the ODB display below the instrument cluster or the non NAV radio. Dension went out of business and Dice became the leader in 3rd party iPod integration, however Dice does not provide any real advantage over my original Dension other than the text scrolling issue is resolved.

Over the last year I found another solution; the Intravee II at bimmernav.com. The Intravee II uses Alpine AI-Net technology to bridge the iPod's controls, audio, and text to BMW's iBus. Leveraging all the work Alpine put into AI-Net is brilliant and the ability to display information using the entire NAV screen rather than just the banner lines makes the Intravee II the standout iPod integration for BMW's iBus cars. The only downsides are:

1. The cost, since you need to purchase the Intravee II and an Alpine AI-NET device.
2. The Alpine AI-NET adapter I needed does not provide the USB 5V charging voltage required by the iPhone 3G and newer iPods. The fix for this issue is to purchase a Ridax charge converter.

My next problem was the location the iPhone. When I installed the Dension solution, I placed the iPod dock connector in the arm rest storage bin. I could hide my iPod and keep it charged. With the iPhone, placing it in the storage bin every time I enter the car, then taking it out is not very user friendly. I use the BMW Bluetooth integration for phone calls and address book for the iPhone 3G with a 13th generation ULF module part number 84 10 9 154 358. At first, I thought that using the BMW iPhone snap in adapter part no 84 10 9 182 792) which fits in the top of the armrest would solve my issue, however I had three problems with this solution:

1. I would need some integration work between the snap in's dock connector and the Intravee/Alpine solution.
2. Although, the iPod snap in adapter fits into the E53 cradle it is not wide enough to fit the iPhone (http://www.xoutpost.com/bluetooth/464...eject-box.html)
3. The iPhone is hidden from view and is not easily accessible.

The one advantage with the snap in adapter is that it charges the iPhone 3G. I went ahead and purchased the iPhone snap in adapter to see how much of a deal it would be to modify. As I was doing research, I came across the spec dock from 2point5. The spec dock is an iPod/iPhone dock which replaces the ashtray and is clearly the most elegant solution out there.

Matt Turner over at 2point5, the makers of the spec dock mobile iPod solution, provided me a spec dock which has a cable with a female dock connector which I could connect directly to the Intravee/Al-NET/Ridax charge converter setup. Since I had purchased the snap in adapter and did not want it to go to waste, I decided to use it as an alternate charging dock when I am using my iPod 5G 60GB (contains my entire library) in the spec dock. Matt agreed to trim out the walls of the eject box so that I could fit the iPhone in the snap in adapter. I can highly recommend the spec dock and working with 2point5, LLC for any custom work. They delivered everything as promised and are very easy to work with.

Here is the parts list for the project:

1. Intravee II from bmwnav ($250)
2. Alpine KCA-420i iPod/AI-NET adapter from Crutchfield ($99.99)
3. CableJive 6 foot dock extension cable ($32)
4. Ridax Charge adapter ($29.90)
5. X5 E53 spec dock with female dock cable from 2point5 ($149)

The total for this project came to $561 (not including the snap in work), not inexpensive but well worth it for the seamless integration.

For this project I used the instructions provided with the spec dock and this installation post on x5world. As with any project I adapted the information to meet my needs. I will document the changes I made to fit my needs.

I tested the configuration before performing any installation. I found two issues with the Intravee II:

1. There was excessive noise while playing the audio
2. The screen display was not stable

After searching the Intravee forum and emailing support (I received a response within the day) two fixes solved the problems:

1. Since I have a BMW Sirius receiver, the Intravee II requires a jumper to be reset. There are four screws to remove and the jumper block in question is closest to the audio connector. With the audio connector towards the top of the unit, move the jumper from the pins on the right to the pins on the left of the 4 pin 'block'.
2. I needed to upgrade the Intravee firmware to version 5.40-323. The upgrade process is a bit convoluted but if you follow the instructions carefully you should not have any issues.

With those issues behind me, I was ready to move on to the physical installation. The first step was to install the spec dock by following the included instructions. My only comment on the instructions is that with the auto transmission I did not need to lift the shifter trim out of the way. I was able to thread the cable through to the side from the ashtray compartment.

View from the passenger side.

Cable coming from the ashtray compartment. I plugged the Ridax charge converter into spec dock cable and the CableJive 6 foot extension cable into the other end of the charge converter. I then ran the cable assembly in a gap under the console. The x5forum instructions are for a Dension install, but they are invaluable in order to pass the cables through the cabin. The hardest part of the install is running the cable under the molded carpet in front of the rear seat.

I only pushed the carpet out of the way on the driver's side. After removing the carpet trim on the center console and slitting the carpet with a utility knife, I was able to thread the end of the CableJive extension under the carpet. I was able to pass several inches of the cables, I then fashioned a wire with a hook out of a hanger, and by sliding my hand under the molded carpet from the door, I was able to hook the cable and pull it towards me (it took several attempts). I then connected that end of the cable to the Alpine KCA-420i iPod cable.

I mounted the Alpine KCA-420i and the Intravee II upside down above the Navigation computer. I used double sided heavy duty tape. I made sure the Intravee II serial port was exposed so that I could easily perform firmware upgrades.

The iPhone 3G charging in the spec dock. Without the Apple inserts, the iPhone fits easily with its silicone jacket which is great.

The iPhone 3G and the Intravee II display on the Navigation system.

The spec dock with my iPod 5G.

The whole process took about 2 and 1/2 hours which is not bad and as a disclaimer when you perform these upgrades you do it on your own and assume any risks. I am loving the Intravee II/spec dock combination for my iPhone 3G. It works very well and the audio quality is excellent.
Stephen Skarlatos
My Digital Life
Contributing Editor
pocketnow.com -- it's all about portability...

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