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Old 05-11-2017, 10:09 PM   #1
Aqua Puttana
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Default Hack in USB Charging

Hack in USB Charging

During our travels it seems that we're always looking for charging power. Much of the time it can be supplied by USB. When it is just my wife and me we've pretty much got it covered with 12 volt splitters and adapters. If other people join us there is always a line of vampires hungry for power. Grand kids = more devices.

I decided to add some capability to the shifter console. That led me to applying a similar idea in the back area.

This is what I installed in the console.

USBshifterArea01.jpg

The unit came with a voltmeter, 12 volt cigar type outlet, and USB source. The aftermarket black switch above the unit is necessary because the 12 volt power source is always alive. The USB supply is a constant power thief. If left energized I'm pretty certain that it could drain the battery. The black power switch isn't lighted. The voltmeter blue LED display reminds me that the power is on.

Update for power drain:
By mistake the USB units have been left energized overnight a few times. There wasn't any problem with battery drain those times. I can't say whether longer time would be an issue.

For now I just tagged it on to the existing 15 amp OEM outlet. When I take the dash apart to work on my ATC lights I plan to move the source over to the never used OEM cigarette lighter supply. I will update with some installation tips after the changes are complete.

Added:
You may have noticed the extra screw above/between the 12 volt outlet and the USB outlet. I was concerned that the screws with Tinnerman clips might not be secure enough so I added that fastener. When I installed the 2 position unit in my 2004 I used some dabs of Goop glue to help secure the unit. Were I to install another 3 position unit I wouldn't bother with the extra screw. I would just use dabs of Goop glue.

This is my rear area USB supply.

USBadapted04.jpg

I simply used Scotch taps to tie into the existing always on interior lighting 12 volt supply. The negative is also there for the lighting selector switch.


I again included a switch to keep the USB source from draining the battery. The switch has an LED to remind me when power is on. The orange cable tie is to loop a USB cord over before plugging in. I thought that the weight of the cord might unplug the USB cable. So far the cable tie loop hasn't been used. I used a simple cable tie to minimize head bumping hazards.

USBadapted02.jpg


It has worked so well that I'm planning a similar modification to my 2004.

NCV3 NOTE:
Using the lighting circuit power for a USB source may not work on the NCV3 computer controlled interior lighting. The power supply design/wires would need to be verified.
Manwithgun gives this information.
Quote:
Originally Posted by manwithgun View Post
I just did something similar in the cargo area of my NCV3. I added individual power switches to the usb outlets since they are illuminated when power is applied. Thought the ones I order were not, but discovered otherwise once powered up...

The red wires throughout the rear interior (for the lights) are constant +12vdc with the canbus switching the ground. I just established a frame ground to complete the circuit for my manually controlled items. Tapping off of the red, which is fuse #19 - 7.5amps.
The basic parts.

I removed the USB power unit from a double. That was cheaper than buying a separate USB unit.

USBadapted03.jpg

Lighted Switch
Sure Bilt #S885915

Black Switch
JR Products #12625

Shifter Console Unit

Cllena Triple Function Dual USB Charger + Blue LED Voltmeter + 12V Outlet Socket Panel Jack Marine For Digital Devices Mobile Phone Tablet
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CU5HI7U

or

https://www.amazon.com/BlueFire-Moto.../dp/B00W3U9CMW
https://www.amazon.com/Ginsco-Cigare.../dp/B01GC496T8

Tonsiki Dual Usb Phone Motorcycle Waterproof Cigarette Lighter Socket Set Splitter 12v 2.1a Charger Power Adapter
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PBKO2YY


(Pack of 4) Super White Energy-saving 5050 Chipset 15-SMD LED Panel Dome Light Auto Car Interior Reading Plate Lamp Roof Ceiling Interior Bulb With T10 / BA9S / Festoon Adapters
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06W2GXXX9

Screws, crimp connectors, taps, etc. are common items.

vic
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Last edited by Aqua Puttana; 11-28-2018 at 05:13 PM.
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Old 05-12-2017, 12:24 AM   #2
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Default Re: Hack in USB Charging

An alternate option for a ceiling supply.

I got thinking, which isn't always good.

Drilling the holes in the interior light lens to mount the USB unit and switch may be beyond what some people want to do. It was a bit of a pain. I used a step drill bit in my drill press to get as big a hole as the bit would make. From there the step drill worked as a cutting tool to enlarge the holes to proper size.

There may be an alternate mounting method by using a 4 position USB/Voltmeter (VM)/12 volt socket/switch unit.

This is one example. (All that is really needed is a 2 position USB/switch unit. I didn't find that on Amazon.)

USB4position.jpg

https://www.amazon.com/Qunqi-Charger.../dp/B01N9HD5HZ
https://www.amazon.com/Docooler-Sock.../dp/B01FJS5AMA

The advantage is that the 4 position or 2 position unit can be mounted in the ceiling panel.

Electrically everything is basically the same. The power feed is still tapped off the interior light circuit. The entire unit will be wired to be controlled by the integral power rocker switch.

It should be no problem to cut an appropriate hole in the headliner for the power unit to fit. (I considered using a similar unit in place of one of my rear wall ashtray units. That would require running power feed wires to the wall position.)

One caution that I would add is that any 12 volt outlet to USB adapters should be removed when not in use. The built in USB unit, VM, and switch are all basically flush mounted. If a USB cord is left plugged in it will have a hanging tail as a reminder. A 12 volt socket to USB adapter can stick down to not be noticed and become a head knocker.

Some Tinnerman speed nuts or a basic flat metal frame will be needed for the fasteners that hold the ceiling power panel unit in position. https://www.amazon.com/Speed-Nuts/b?...&node=16410081
Added:
I have speed nuts on hand. Those damned things are now expensive! A couple strips of light gauge metal for the mounting screws to secure into are a cheaper option.

vic
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2006 Freightliner 140 2500HC >183,000+ mi. Arctic Whitewash (Spotted Snow Leopard accents)
"My opinion and worth everything you'll never pay for it." assumed.
Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. Publilius Syrus
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16 ounces of unnecessary prevention can be worth a pound of manure.

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Old 05-18-2017, 02:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: Hack in USB Charging

I did the interior rear light USB socket modification to my 2004. I had considered just installing wire taps with insulated 1/4" slide connectors in the 2004. That would allow me to swap the modified interior light unit from the 2006 to 2004 as needed. For the 10 bucks in parts I just modified the 2004 lamp unit.

Using the USB 12 volt unit from another double left me with a 2 cigarette outlet unit. I installed that in the 2004 shifter console. It gives us the capability of conveniently powering our Coleman Peltier cooler, car phone charger, and a plug in USB adapter all at the same time. Sometimes it's the little things that count.

Some pics.

This shows the OEM switch sections which I cut out with the oscillating multi-tool. It almost makes a large enough hole. (Not all cross supports needed to be cut for my 2006 VM/Socket/USB unit shown in the previous post.)

To custom fit the outlet unit:
Install the 12 volt sockets into the holder and snug tightly. (I added a drop of Goop glue.)
With the holding nuts in place, use the multi-tool to trim the interfering locking tabs just enough to allow the sockets to fit into the modified console plate.

12vConsole01.jpg

Install the socket unit. 2 included screws will secure into the right hand switch bar. I used longer screws and Tinnerman clips for the opposite side. The VM/Power/USB 3 position unit needed Tinnerman clips on all four corners. A short strip of drilled sheet metal would work in place of Tinnerman clips. Before installing I also added a few drops of Goop glue on the edges of the power unit to console contact areas for piece of mind.

12vConsole02.jpg

I tapped into the ashtray cigarette lighter constant 12 v power. (That also feeds the interior lights and radio memory.) The ashtray unit easily removes with just two T20 screws.

12vConsole03.jpg

The original configuration Power Outlet/USB tandem unit could be installed the same way. I didn't need an On/Off switch for the modified 2 cigarette outlets shown. If a USB combination unit is installed a lighted switch will be needed to avoid the USB socket from draining your battery. The switch that I used is shown in the VM/Socket/USB previous post above.

Alternatively the 12 volt 15 amps may be tapped off the optional seat heater power switch to provide an ignition key switched source for the USB. I didn't explore that in detail.

12vConsole04.jpg

vic
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DAD NAS (N. Amer. Spec) 2004 140 2500 >330,000+ mi. Arctic Whitewash Brush-tone Grey
2006 Freightliner 140 2500HC >183,000+ mi. Arctic Whitewash (Spotted Snow Leopard accents)
"My opinion and worth everything you'll never pay for it." assumed.
Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. Publilius Syrus
"There are only 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, and those who don't." HaWiiLuVeR
16 ounces of unnecessary prevention can be worth a pound of manure.

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Old 07-12-2018, 05:58 AM   #4
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Default Re: Hack in USB Charging

I am installing 3 addition electrical outlets in the dash, two power outlets (cigarette lighter) and one double USB outlets. They can all be "ignition on' only wired. Do they all have to have separate wires and fuses and what is the best place to take them for power? Also what size wire do I need to carry normal loads?

Gene
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Old 07-12-2018, 01:56 PM   #5
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Default Re: Hack in USB Charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by HighPockets View Post
... They can all be "ignition on' only wired.
...
Yes. If only for medium loads, an easy supply point within the console is to tap the OEM cigarette lighter wires. That is a 20 amp fused supply.

FB1 #8
https://sprinter-source.com/forum/sh...573#post223573

Quote:
Originally Posted by HighPockets View Post
... Do they all have to have separate wires and fuses and what is the best place to take them for power? Also what size wire do I need to carry normal loads?

Gene
The fuse protects the wire so separate fuses are not needed.

If the needs are only for electronic equipment power, the outlets will not need separate feeds. A 20 amp supply can feed them all. The dedicated USB unit will pull little power.

Within the console (short wire runs) 16 AWG wire is sufficient to supply the 20 amp load of cigarette lighter style outlets.

vic
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Old 07-12-2018, 02:55 PM   #6
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Default Re: Hack in USB Charging

12 ga is the appropriate size for 20a loads, not 16.
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Old 07-12-2018, 04:32 PM   #7
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Default Re: Hack in USB Charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by cc_windsurfer View Post
12 ga is the appropriate size for 20a loads, not 16.
This is vehicle wiring, not residential. Blindly applying the charts from the NEC is not the correct thing to do.

Reference the charts here.
https://www.tessco.com/yts/industry/...get_wired.html

Next time you have the console apart look at the gauge size of the OEM wire feeding the cigarette lighter and the OEM console outlet. The cigarette is fused at 20 amps, the console is fused at 25 amps. Neither has #12 AWG wire.

This is not a system where voltage drop is king such as solar. It is short(er) single conductors within a vehicle in free air. #12 AWG is unnecessary and unwieldy to work with when installing components in a vehicle.

vic
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"My opinion and worth everything you'll never pay for it." assumed.
Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. Publilius Syrus
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Old 07-12-2018, 05:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: Hack in USB Charging

Be aware that modern USB sockets are being asked to handle "fast charge" USB-C systems.... that involves being able to provide 9v and 12v out the USB socket if the device-being-charged asks for it.
At the moment, even those "fast" devices still seem to only total about 12 watts (so 5v at 2.1 amps, 9v at 1.something and 12v at about 1 amp)

I've seen lumps in the store with a cigar 12v plug and 4 (two fast, two 5v conventional) US sockets provided. ... so that's 40+ watts from the 12v socket.

--dick
p.s. it's true that MB doesn't over-specify the wire size to their 12v dash and ashtray sockets... but it's also true that the ashtray socket and ashtray plastic have been known to melt if operated at 10 amps or more for extended periods. They may have been "designed" for merely the "low duty cycle" (2 minutes on, 15 minutes off) of (indeed) cigarette lighting.
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Old 07-12-2018, 05:59 PM   #9
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Default Re: Hack in USB Charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aqua Puttana View Post
This is vehicle wiring, not residential. Blindly applying the charts from the NEC is not the correct thing to do.

Reference the charts here.
https://www.tessco.com/yts/industry/...get_wired.html

Next time you have the console apart look at the gauge size of the OEM wire feeding the cigarette lighter and the OEM console outlet. The cigarette is fused at 20 amps, the console is fused at 25 amps. Neither has #12 AWG wire.

This is not a system where voltage drop is king such as solar. It is short(er) single conductors within a vehicle in free air. #12 AWG is unnecessary and unwieldy to work with when installing components in a vehicle.

vic

Another factor in residential wiring vs automotive wiring is that the current is returned in the same bundle/sheath/conduit - making a "wire" carrying 25 amps effectively causing the heating of 50 amps (25 amps out + 25 amps return). In automotive applications the return path is often the vehicle chassis ground. The point being that wire gauges that may be seemingly too small are not necessarily.
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Old 07-12-2018, 06:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: Hack in USB Charging

Quote:
Originally Posted by autostaretx View Post
...

--dick
p.s. it's true that MB doesn't over-specify the wire size to their 12v dash and ashtray sockets... but it's also true that the ashtray socket and ashtray plastic have been known to melt if operated at 10 amps or more for extended periods. They may have been "designed" for merely the "low duty cycle" (2 minutes on, 15 minutes off) of (indeed) cigarette lighting.


That's unlikely due to wire gauge size. The melting/failure is likely related to socket design, inserted accessory male plug design, or a combination of both. The loads aren't that great and the length of the run just isn't long enough to cause significant voltage drop to heat the wire.

Run #12 or even #10 if you wish, but that just isn't necessary for short runs.

12voltWireAmps.jpg


vic
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DAD NAS (N. Amer. Spec) 2004 140 2500 >330,000+ mi. Arctic Whitewash Brush-tone Grey
2006 Freightliner 140 2500HC >183,000+ mi. Arctic Whitewash (Spotted Snow Leopard accents)
"My opinion and worth everything you'll never pay for it." assumed.
Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm. Publilius Syrus
"There are only 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary, and those who don't." HaWiiLuVeR
16 ounces of unnecessary prevention can be worth a pound of manure.

Last edited by Aqua Puttana; 07-13-2018 at 12:57 PM.
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