Hack in USB Charging

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
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. :thumbup:
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-Motorcycle-Charger-Voltmeter-Cigarette/dp/B00W3U9CMW
https://www.amazon.com/Ginsco-Cigarette-Lighter-Adapter-Voltmeter/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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Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
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-Voltmeter-Motorcycle-Vehicles/dp/B01N9HD5HZ
https://www.amazon.com/Docooler-Socket-Voltmeter-Button-Motorcycle/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?ie=UTF8&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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Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
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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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
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
... 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/showthread.php?p=223573#post223573

... 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
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
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/products/itm/automotive/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.

:cheers: vic
 

autostaretx

Erratic Member
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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rollerbearing

Well-known member
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/products/itm/automotive/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.

:cheers: 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.
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
...

--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.
:idunno:

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


:cheers: vic
 
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autostaretx

Erratic Member
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.
Many of the Sprinter's wiring harnesses (including and especially those in loom covers) do bring the (brown) negative wires back to a semi-central location, instead of quickly tying to the frame. Take a look at the collection on the firewall near the T1N starter battery's negative attachment.

The T1N service manuals include maps of where the ground points are located.

--dick
p.s. the headlamps do go to frame near the lamps, not far away.
..and the two "cigar sockets" ground up under the hump behind the instrument cluster
 
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rollerbearing

Well-known member
Many of the Sprinter's wiring harnesses (including and especially those in loom covers) do bring the (brown) negative wires back to a semi-central location, instead of quickly tying to the frame. Take a look at the collection on the firewall near the T1N starter battery's negative attachment.

The T1N service manuals include maps of where the ground points are located.

--dick
p.s. the headlamps do go to frame near the lamps, not far away.
..and the two "cigar sockets" ground up under the hump behind the instrument cluster
I certainly agree with you. And I expect that would have been given engineering consideration.
Just wanted to illustrate Vic's point about single conductor in free air and why a smaller gauge wire may be perfectly fine.

This is also one of the reasons wires shouldn't be coiled - the local heating goes up unpredictably. And it is also worth keeping in mind when hunting down wire to wire shorts. Shorts can often occur where high current carrying wires have crossed or run parallel - the heat melting the insulation. Look for those and you may find your short.
 

Skippy and Emu

Active member
Can never have enough 12v and USB outlets !
I don't really have any suitable " recess mount " areas in the right places that I want to locate the various outlets. I chose to use " surface mount " types instead. If you search your favourite online store, ie. Amazon, eBay etc. " motorcycle usb " . You will be presented with a veritable smorgasbord of devices. The ones I used come complete with waterproofing, switch, fuses, wiring, multiple outlets, voltage readout, and handlebar mounting bracket. The switch is great for preventing parasitic loads. You can mount these things to any convenient surface. ( may need to do your own modification to the existing bracket ).
Also, I have been particularly unimpressed with the design of the t1N interior lighting assembly.
I feel the large exposed + ve copper bar is just asking for trouble. Particularly if you have any type of metalized ( reflectix, rattletrap etc. ) insulation above the installed light.
I covered the offending part with 7mm ( inside diameter ) split convoluted tubing. Remove a small piece of the underside of the tubing to prevent possibl binding at the switch location. Disregard the wiring colours in the photo.
 

Attachments

SprinterSnale

'05 T1N 3500 - NorCalSprinterCampout
These USB outlets are the greatest providing me four years of solid performance so far. I've got two recessed into cabinets by the counter and bed. These run off the coach batteries. They are unswitched and the drain (from the blue light) is minimal (at least with solar). These outlets charge high demand items better than most gas station socket to USB adapters will.

Two matching VMs are switched using metal toggles. They make great nightlights so the switch is needed. Love the 'vintage' led readout.

This is also one of the reasons wires shouldn't be coiled - the local heating goes up unpredictably. And it is also worth keeping in mind when hunting down wire to wire shorts. Shorts can often occur where high current carrying wires have crossed or run parallel - the heat melting the insulation. Look for those and you may find your short.
So true. On the job, I always uncoil the spare AC length and run it free to avoid the induction unknown. The heat coming off 50' of 12gauge coiled with a 15amp load is quite tangible.
 

Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
I changed my method for installing the USB unit in the interior light lense. I now solder the added wiring to the unit bar and switch terminal.

The modified light unit can easily be plugged into any interior light position. This particular unit was modified to provide power for my dash camera. It puts USB power up by the rear view mirror right where I needed it.

USBadapted02a.jpg

USBadapted02b.jpg

Some tips if you haven't soldered to larger pieces before.

As always when soldering clean the surfaces very well.

Use proper rosin core solder.

You'll need a decent sized solder gun or iron. A pencil type might not provide enough heat.

First apply solder to the larger part and the wire separately. This referred to as "tinning". After both parts are tinned, hold the two pieces together to melt and join them.

The above technique avoids excessive heating of the parts to be soldered. It is important to not overheat the small negative switch post or the plastic can be distorted/weakened.

If soldering isn't possible, the wire tap method I show on the beginning posts is fine. It just isn't as convenient if you ever want to move things around.

I used Solder Wick with added black shrink tube for the negative conductor. I did that mostly because it was in with the solder gun kit. It is quite flexible and easy to solder.

Not shown is the LED lamp array which I use instead of an OEM style incandescent lamp. The OEM incandescent lamps run very hot and use more power so changing to LED addresses that issue.

:cheers: vic
 
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Aqua Puttana

Poly - Thread Finder
NCV3 Interior Light Info

Thanks goes (again) to Manwithgun. :thumbup:

I second all of the info posted by Aqua above. The RED wire on the NCV3 dome light is a constant +12vdc that is fused. This can be spliced/tapped to source power. By then creating your own ground point to serve as the negative, you pretty much isolate the usb load from the BCM that “controls” the dome light switching function. If there are any solid brown wires in the headliner, this would likely be a factory grounding point that can also be used. Add your own switch to open and close either the positive + (red) or negative wires feeding the USB port since most that I have used are internally illuminated.

I have used these for compact switches where space is limited, and their larger big brother when space allows. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07F9K3F82/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/stores/node/...owse-bin=Ulincos&ref_=bl_dp_s_web_19858731011
:cheers: vic
 
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