My Budget Build

How To - Carrichs iPad Mount, powered and cooled

Big beautiful display

Awhile back, I purchased the iPad mini mount from Carrich's. It looked promising, my 430N has just crapped out in terms of navigation, and my sister-in-law was willing to sell me her unused iPad mini for $50. The stars aligned. Nonetheless, I was looking to make some improvements to the mount.

If you're just installing the mount with an iPad, you can do this in an hour or so. However, since I'm basically using the iPad as a replacement for the 430N, I went to greater lengths. If you do everything in this how-to, I'd set aside a full day.

Benefits of my system include:

  • full-time power to iPad
  • dedicated GPS unit (not necessary if your iPad has GPS, mine is WiFi only)
  • full-time power to GPS unit
  • turn-by-turn navigation
  • can watch Netflix, etc while driving (not true with stock 430N unit which disables DVD player when driving)
  • active cooling system for iPad so it doesn't overheat when hot outside, doors/top off, and watching movies, using navigation, etc
  • iPad is removable with little effort (may or may not be a benefit depending on the neighborhood you live in)
  • audio is piped thru the entire Jeep sound system and volume controlled thru steering wheel
  • still can listen to radio, etc using steering wheel controls
  • much nicer screen than any replacement unit for the 430N I've seen and for a fraction of the price
  • more stable due to mechanical reinforcement of position on dash
  • no monthly fee for data charges

I'll break this down into a few options. Most people will fall in 1 of 4 categories:

  • Category A - I just want to install the mount and have it hold my iPad
  • Category B - I want to install the mount and run full-time power to the iPad
  • Category C - I want to install the mount and a GPS unit and run full-time power to both
  • Category D - I want to install the mount and GPS unit, run full-time power to both, and pipe some AC in to cool the iPad

For each step below, I'll call out which group of people need to perform the step (roughly speaking). It's ultimately up to you to decide which steps you want to do.

Also, I'm putting these in the most logical order looking back on it. This was not the order I did them in as my strategy had to change multiple times and I was figuring it out as I went. If you feel I missed a step, please call it out. I'll do my best to keep this post updated with the most accurate information.

Materials & Supplies

No need to use exactly what I did, but I'll include links so you know if you're getting the equivalent


Step 1: plug in dual port power adapter to cigarette lighter (B, C, D)

NOTE: Next several steps follow the Carrich's instructions, but here are better pics explaining.

Step 2: pop out the window controls (A, B, C, D)

Step 3: Remove the red lock switch (A, B, C, D)

Here it is in place: And removed:

Step 4: push down on the black release and remove window controls entirely (A, B, C, D)

How it looks once they're out of the way:

Step 5: Use a 7mm socket and extension to remove bolt (A, B, C, D)

Step 6: pop off the dash part underneath the steering wheel (A, B, C, D)

How it looks with it removed:

Step 7: Use 7mm socket to remove bolts on left and right side of steering wheel (A, B, C, D)

Step 8: remove dash (A, B, C, D)

Lowering the steering wheel will help. Grip as shown and pull toward you. Does not take very much force. Don't force it. How it looks with it removed:

NOTE: At this point in the process, take the dash over to your workbench. The Carrich's instructions call for it to be mounted up, but I wasn't getting quite the fit I wanted. Here is a side pic of it not mating as well as I'd like (notice gap above top piece of blue tape):

which is largely due to this bow in the plastic:

I wanted a better fit, so I decided to modify it.

Step 9: heat the Carrich's mount with blow dryer or heat gun (A, B, C, D)

Step 10: Use your hands to bend it outward and hold until it cools (A, B, C, D)

Here is a pic of it when I was done...much flatter:

Step 11: tape it onto the dash (A, B, C, D)

Here you can see it's mating much better: And here is where the bottom of mine sat, so you can get an idea where it should go:

Step 12: clean the back side using Carrich's provided adhesion helper (A, B, C, D)

Step 13: place the Carrich's provided templates (A, B, C, D)

Step 14: peel off the covers and stick the bar magnets to the backside of the dash (A, B, C, D)

Step 15: peel off the covers and stick circle magnets to the backside of the dash (A, B, C, D)

Step 16: check the fit (A, B, C, D)

NOTE: At this point, you're done as far as the Carrich's instructions are concerned. You can put it back together and call it a day. However, we are just getting started.

Step 17: go find one of those plastic push pin things that hold your fenders on (A, B, C, D)

Luckily I keep everything, so I still had the cut fenders sitting around. Yank out one of the push pins; you can cut the head off to get it out

Step 18: use knife/wire snips to cut off the outer sheath

The result should look like this (we'll call this the push pin core):

Step 19: measure half way across your mount and put very small mark (A, B, C, D)

Step 20: use a 5/32" drill bit to drill a press fit hole for your push pin core (A, B, C, D)

Feel free to double check that 5/32 drill bit recommendation in scrap plastic. Hole should go through the mount and through the dash: Result will look like this with mount removed:

Step 21: push the push pin core up from bottom, thru the hole (A, B, C, D)

It should be a press fit so it'll take some effort Here it is from a few feet back. Not very noticeable:

Step 22: use a 3/16" drill bit to drill a clearance hole in the mount in that same hole (just widening it out) (A, B, C, D)

Step 23: check fit (A, B, C, D)

Should slide right on and snap over the push pin core for additional stability Side view: Now if I go jostling around on the trail, the iPad is much less likely to fall to the floor (tested this on Yankee Hill trail in Colorado and iPad never moved once).

NOTE: If you're in Category A, you're done. Put your dash back together, do the first steps in reverse order and you're good to go.

Step 24: mark hole for Aux in cable (B, C, D)

This was a little tough to do, but get it as close as you can

Step 25: drill the hole (B, C, D)

Aux cable should now fit through like so:

NOTE: if you're not getting sound through all speakers when you're done or the sound is really quiet, your aux cable isn't sitting all the way inside the iPad. Widen the hole out so the aux cable pushes through a bit more and fully enters the iPad.

Ok, at this point things really start getting interesting. Get used to the idea of drilling holes in things

Step 26: drill hole for iPad power cable in stock unit (B, C, D)

You're just drilling thru plastic and some thin metal on the backside. Start with a small drill bit and work your way up to whatever size is needed to push your iPad power cable through. Here is my final hole (not pretty because I didn't start with a small drill bit as I should've):

Step 27: pull back bottom part of dash (B, C, D)

Grip as shown and pull toward you

Step 28: drill holes for cords (B, C, D)

If you don't have a separate GPS unit, just drill one hole. They're really slots more than holes. You'll need to take a bit off the front piece too for it to fit flush How it should look with both power cables running behind the dash:

Step 29: drill hole for GPS unit power in top of dash (C, D)

Use whatever size drill bit necessary to push the power cable for the GPS through it

Step 30: put rubber grommet in GPS power hole drilled out in step 29 (C, D)

I cut mine flush as shown to get it to fit:

Step 31: run the power cables if you haven't already (B, C, D)

At this point you should be able to run your power cables from the power adapter in the cigarette lighter, up through the dash, and out their respective holes. The GPS power will just sit on top of the radio until the dash is back in place. The iPad power can be run out its hole as shown here:

Next up is the cooling system for the iPad. Reading online, some guys complained the iPad started to overheat when out in the sun all day, doing CPU intensive tasks. I wanted to avoid this, so I piped the AC of the Jeep into a new little port that blows air onto the back of the iPad. Here is how to make it happen:

Step 32: create AC tubing (D)

Disassemble this guy Until he looks like this:

Step 33: use a 1/2" drill bit and drill a hole in dash

Position hole as shown How it looks when done:

Step 34: use a 1/2" bit and drill a hole for the cooling system in the stock unit (D)

Again, just going through plastic and a bit of metal on the backside. To line it up right, put the dash back into place and use the hole drilled in step 33 to line you up. Start with smaller bit and work your way up to 1/2" Widen out the hole until the tubing in step 32 fits through just barely (without black plastic expanders at each end)

Step 35: cut the tubing to length (D)

Insert tubing and get an idea for overall length needed to bend downward toward the AC duct. Cut to length.

Step 36: Drill a 1/2" hole in the AC duct where tubing will contact (D)

Should look like this:

Step 37: Bend tubing downward and through hole (D)

Step 38: Insert black expander back in (D)

Once it's in, pull tubing back into hole for tight fit

Step 39: Insert black expander into front side as well (D)

Should look like this at this point:

Step 40: test the flow of oxygen (D)

Put your key in and turn on the AC. You should be able to feel air flowing out of the tubing we just added.

Step 41: drill hole in front dash for iPad power cable (B, C, D)

Step 42: insert rubber grommet

Again, I cut mine as shown. Before on left and after on right: Here it is in the dash:

Step 43: put the dash back on (B, C, D)

Don't do the screws yet, but push it back into place. iPad power should look like this: AC tubing should look like this: Be sure to run the GPS power through the hole drilled as well.

Step 44: Widen hole in screw cap so as not to limit air flow (D)

In the winter time, I don't want to be blowing heat on the iPad. Thus, I added a cover I can close to turn off the flow. I used a lighter to widen out the hole but an exacto knife may work better. Before on the left and after on the right. Make sure cap still opens/closes properly after modifying it.

Step 45: Glue the cover over the AC duct (D)

A little super glue works just fine. Should look like this when done:

Ok, next up are GPS modifications. Here is the Dual Electronics XGPS150A Universal Bluetooth GPS Receiver I purchased which, as you can see, came with a non-slip base. However, the Jeep doesn't have that much dash area, so I rolled my own.

The bottom of the unit has a slit for the arm band to go through. We're going to cut that off to get a nice flat surface.

Step 46: cut off arm band slit of GPS (C, D)

Looks like this when cleaned up. Yep, turns out that opens up the electronics of it, so we'll need to seal that back up.

Step 47: cover slits with electrical tape

In addition to the velcro we'll add, this is another layer of protection

Step 48: Cut out velcro

Here is the product I used Cut out identical pieces to cover the bottom of the GPS unit

Step 49: apply velcro to GPS unit

Stick the other sides on too, but leave adhesive covering on:

Step 50: color the edges black (C, D)

The white was driving me nuts, so I used a Sharpie and made them black Now it looks like this:

Step 51: mount GPS to top of Carrich's mount (C, D)

Remove the adhesive and firmly push the GPS down on top of the mount

Step 52: put Carrichs mount on dash and plug everything in

Aux cable stays plugged into iPad. Now plug the other end into the Aux In port of the stock unit. Once the Carrich's mount is on the dash, plug the iPad power cable into the iPad as well. Lastly, plug the GPS power cable into the GPS. GPS power should look like this when done:

That's it! Put the 7mm bolts back in, push your dash piece beneath the steering wheel back on, put the window controls back in and you're good to go.

Final Product:

Here you can see the iPad is charging off the Jeep

Scott's Review Down the Road

I love the big screen, the turn-by-turn, having Gaia pulled up at all times when offroading and using that to create new tracks, etc. Only two downsides this setup. First, it's easily removable (read stealable). Second, I've found the GPS signal to usually be fantastic but, every once in a while, the GPS will have a hard time triangulating when it's first starting up. It's rare, but I think the experience would be better with a location-enabled iPad rather than using the dedicated GPS receiver (though that would require a data plan). Overall, I still love this setup though and prefer it to the stock 430N. Offroad, for driving along a dedicated route and making sure you don't get lost, the iPad + Gaia combo can't be beat.

Pics of it out In The Wild

Bonus stuff

If you have the wifi only version, you can still get turn by turn navigation. I've downloaded all of Google Maps for the wester part of Colorado. This means even when I don't have wifi, I can still type in names or cities, restaurants, etc and have the iPad navigate me there. Here is how to download the maps for offline use.

Step 1: Open Google Maps and tap on 3 bars in upper left

Step 2: Select "Offline areas"

Step 3: Select "Custom area"

Step 4: Zoom and drag to desired area

I was able to do the NW part of the state in one Offline Area and the SW part of the state in a second Offline Area (and who cares about east Colorado?) That's it!

Here you can see getting turn-by-turn navigation around Colorado

More bonus stuff!

Turns out the Carrichs mount also works great to hold the iPad for kids in the back seat. Just pop it off, invert it, tie it to the headrest and now the 3 year old has some entertainment on long road trips

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About My Budget Build

Just a website with some how-tos to help others on a budget have fun with their Jeep

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