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Adding USB Charging ports (On the cheap!)

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Adding USB Charging ports (ON THE CHEAP!)

So I wanted to add some USB charge ports in the Caddy.  My original plan was to install a 12v to 5v 15amp DC/DC converter on an ignition switched source, and then wire that up to 8 or so ports in various places inside the cabin.  This is a great plan, and will work well, but I also saw the need for at least 2 ports that were full time (un switched).  For these ports I decided to utilize a small USB charger I already had on hand.  These can be picked up almost anywhere for $10 or so.  Be careful though as some of the cheaper ones are only 500 - 1amp output max and will not charge two, or even one bigger device.  


The one I had on hand is 2.5amp output so that will be plenty for 'fast charging' a phone or the devices I want to use it for. 



So this is pretty simple.. First I used a band saw to cut the end off of the case. You can use any kind of saw, a hack saw would also work well for this.  Only cut the case, do not go any deeper as the electronics usually go all the way to the tip. See what goodies are inside!


Once I removed the PCB from the case I cut off both negative prongs and de-soldered the positive (spring).  The negative terminal could also be de-soldered and removed, but this is not needed, and it also provides some level of protection for the back of the PCB as well as a good place to solder the negative lead to. 

This is the PCB with the positive and negative leads soldered to their respective locations. 


Once everything was in place I reassembled the case and used a few dots of super glue to hold everything together. I then used 3 stages of heat shrink to enclose everything and to help protect it against short circuiting. Electrical tape would also work.. or nothing at all if you don't mind the chance of a small fire starting in your console or dash. 


Alright, now the hard part, deciding where to place this thing.  Since I am using it to power my BT receiver and WiFi hot spot (ssid: CTSLTE yeah baby!) I decided to bury it inside the center console under the armrest. If you are doing this in a first gen CTS like me, you can easily remove the whole center console by removing 6 bolts around the base.  The two in the front are under the carpet and the four in the back are under some plastic plugs.  You must slide both seats all the way forward to get to these. Also, there is wiring for the rear 12v port which must be disconnected from the drivers side under the dash.

IMAG0234   IMAG0235

You ready to drill a hole? Hope so. I used a caliper to find the size of the case behind the lip in the front and it turned out to be exactly 7/8". 

IMAG0237   IMAG0238

Where to wire this thing up is up to you. You can either go with an ignition switched or full time 12v source. I decided to splice into an existing circuit already in place for the 12v outlet in the back of the console. This is a full time 12v source, but the draw from this adapter is so low that I don't believe there will be any problems with draining the cars battery.  I used a 2 amp fuse on the 12v lead for piece of mind.  

Here we have the finished product. If the hole is the correct size the whole thing snaps together quite nicely.  I used a small dot of super glue to make sure everything stays in place.


This works quite well for adding two ports.  My plans are to add quite a few more throughout the cabin.  For these I am going to use a central 15 amp 12v to 5v DC/DC adapter on a switched source. Locations I have picked for these ports are 2 on the drivers side on the dash near the center console, 2 on the passenger side dash near the center console, and 4 in the back somewhere. The DC/DC converter is easy to find, but I have yet to find a USB receptacle suitable for this.