hacking the smart

I’ve had another of my never-ending tech challenges this week… All I’ve ever wanted to do is play my ipod in my car. Is that too much to ask? For realz.

I began the mission by purchasing a Harmon Kardon Drive + Play from eBay for about £30. This solution seemed pretty simple with the limited amount of research that I did on it (yes, it was an impulse buy). After it arrived, I began to think about the complications that this solution actually entailed. The Drive Play comes with a mountable panel screen that you have to drill your dash to secure and also with a wired remote to control the ipod. Basically it was a lot of stuff to just be able to listen to mp3s so I decided that this was overly complicated and I ditched the effort.

Starting from scratch meant doing a little more research and some thought about what exactly it was that I was trying to achieve. I came to the conclusion that all I wanted was barebones functionality. A standard 2.5mm audio output that connected to my stereo with no bells or whistles (or drilling into my dash).

That is when I came across a site that carries homemade ipod cables specifically for the Smart at only £20. The general idea behind this solution was so easy. Simply plug in this cable to the back of the Smart stereo where the CD changer jack is and then pray that your Smart will actually recognise the auxiliary jack and you are set to go. Sounded good to me and I like any kind of installation that requires you to say “please, God – please, God” as it adds to the fun.

Ordered the cable from Evilution (a nerdy Smart car hacking site) and within 2 days had received my cable. Yipee! Let the fun begin…

My first challenge was to get the stereo out of its mounting. This is a little bit tricky as there are two holes on each side of the stereo that requires the usage of a special tool (that of which I did not own). Did a search and found that you can actually purchase the tool on ebay for £2. Done and dusted. Problem being now that I am so impatient that I couldn’t wait to get the stereo connected so I made a plan B and drove down to my local mechanic where I sweet talked the garage into popping my stereo for me for free.

Two seconds later and the cable was plugged in. The tricky part was getting the cable threaded through the dashtray so that I would have a place to hold the ipod and the cable would be invisible when not in use.

Finally plugged in the ipod and guess what?

Yes! It worked. Now totally loving it and just kicking myself for not completing this mission a few years ago when the thought popped into my head. Sound quality? About 1000 x’s better than the crappy itrip fm transmitter…


I’m feeling it!