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Discussion Starter #1
This weekend I've started my iPad mini install.

I bought a 16GB iPad mini w/ LTE. I wanted NAV in the RL but instead of buying a NAV head unit or a Tom Tom, I can just use the iPad. I bought the Tom Tom app that has offline maps so I can still navigate in case I go into an area with no service.

Buying an iPad mini just to use for NAV is not very economical, but there are so many other uses for the iPad besides NAV. Plus, the way I'm installing it, it is removable so I can use it at home, at work or wherever.

Anyway, yesterday I started working on the bezel. I've been out of the car audio fabrication game for a while, so I'm a bit rusty and slow. But I have made a bit of progress on the bezel with the time I've had to mess with it.

I bought a fake iPad mini "dummy" off eBay for $13 to use for the mock ups. The first thing I had to do was make a fiberglass mold of the back of the iPad mini. I knew there was no way I would be comfortable using the real one to make a mold from.

I started by wrapping the dummy iPad and also a piece of mdf in painter's tape:
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Next I cut a piece of fiberglass mat and coated it with resin. Then I laid it on top of the iPad. I applied more resin and pressed the fiberglass close against the edges. After the first layer of fiberglass was in place. I added another layer of glass and resin and let it all dry for a few hours.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Next, I set the iPad into the mold and used painter's tape to make a square around the iPad. With careful use of a tape measure and a straight edge, I made some squares around the iPad. These lines are used to trim the mold to fit the dash bezel.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Instead of molding the iPad mold into the factory dash bezel, I used a Metra double din radio kit. I cut out the radio hole much bigger to accommodate the width of the iPad and then cut the iPad mold to fit into the Metra kit.

Here is the first test fit. I set it on top of the NAV tuner to get an idea of how the angle of the iPad would be in relation to the radio.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
So that's as far as I got with it for today. The last step I did tonight was to fiberglass the iPad mold to the Metra kit from the back.

Hopefully I can find some time in the morning to do some shaping to the front.
 

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I agree. Kudos for taking this one on. I'm anxious to see how things work out.
 

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Cool! Please keep the photos coming!

Couple of questions: How will you secure the iPad to your bracket? Will there be a 'front cover' and the iPad will slip in between the as of yet unseen front cover the the back cover you are fabricating?

Do you plan on powering/charging the iPad while it's in use?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Looks pretty cool so far. Eager to see how this progresses.
I agree. Kudos for taking this one on. I'm anxious to see how things work out.
Cool! Please keep the photos coming!

Couple of questions: How will you secure the iPad to your bracket? Will there be a 'front cover' and the iPad will slip in between the as of yet unseen front cover the the back cover you are fabricating?

Do you plan on powering/charging the iPad while it's in use?
Thanks for the feedback.

To answer the questions:

The bezel will have a little lip at the bottom. It sits at an angle, so im hoping to have a tiny bit of help from gravity. I will also be glassing in some powerful magnets at the top, behind the factory dash bezel.

See the drawing below. It is a very crude drawing (I'm no artist, LOL), but maybe it will communicate the general idea. :act029:

When I first decided I wanted to do this back in November, I had charging at the top of the list. But after owning the iPad for a couple of weeks, I really don't think charging is needed.

The battery on the iPad mini lasts me for about 3-4 days. The additional complexity of adding a lightning connector into the bezel is just not worth it to me. I'm streaming the audio through bluetooth so no wires are needed.

I have several chargers around at home, at work and I do have a charger in the glove box. So if I have an emergency "need to charge" situation arises there is always the option to just plug it in somewhere temporarily and then slip it back into the bezel when the juice is sufficient.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I spent some time today with a little body filler, glazing putty, sand paper and did some of the shaping. I still have some pinholes and some areas I want to reshape, but its getting there.

The bottom lip will be added last because I want to retain access to the whole thing until its smooth enough for paint. For the lip, I'm considering having a piece of billet aluminum made and then anodizing it black, just for an extra touch. I'm just going to cross that bridge when I get there.

Anyways, here are the fruits of my labor for today. I'm off work next week while my lovely wife recovers from a tonsillectomy, so I should be able to get this thing installed sometime during that time.
 

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A little closer. Reshaped the top corners. Need to rework the right lower inner curve a little. Actually the whole right side needs a little refinement. Some more pin holes here and there.
 

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I applied 3 coats of black last night. I didn't get pics of that stage. But this morning I applied the first coat of clear. It looks fairly smooth so far.

I tried to lay it on wet in hopes to avoid needing wet sanding and polishing. I'm not much into painting, so I'm sort of learning as I go. A couple more coats of clear today and maybe tomorrow it will be ready to be handled.

Some may wonder why I have the center area taped off. I'm planning on cutting a nice piece of suede to fit in that area. I have the area behind the tape scuffed with 320 grit to allow the adhesive spray to get a good mechanical bond between the suede and the bezel.

Now to start figuring out how I want to do the bottom lip.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
2nd coat of clear.

Im starting to regret taping off the middle. The piece is looking pretty smooth and I suppose I could have just scuffed the clear just as well.

The only thing making me think the tape was a good idea is that with each additional coat of paint & clear, the iPad will stick that much further out from the bezel. When I peel the tape off I will be back down to the base. So subtracting the tape itself and the layers of paint should hopefully negate some of the thickness of the suede.

I guess I'll figure that out when everything is dry. We'll see how it goes. :act024:
 

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Hey log, got a question.

First let me say I love what you're doing. I don't have the skills or the knowledge to take on this task. But here's the question...

With the RTS the radio has XM capabilities. As such, there are adaptor plugs that would allow you to hook up this iPad to not just use the iPad as a GPS, but to utilize iTunes and other iPad features (including movies if so inclined). Had you thought about taking advantage of those features as part of your design?
 

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For the bottom lip, I had a few pieces of 1/16" thick by 3/4" wide aluminum laying around that I figured I'd use. I think anodizing might be too much trouble so I may just paint it with the same paint as the bezel.

On the back side of the lip, I'm thinking about applying a layer of suede so that the iPad has a soft place to rest and doesn't get scratches on the screen. So spacing of the lip away from the bezel will be critical to get a proper fit. I guess its a good thing I decided to do the lip separately.

To attach the lip to the bezel, Im thinking of using a 2 or 3 black countersunk flat socket head cap screws. They look similar to this, but they are skinnier (4-40 thread) and 5/8" long.

Here is what I've got so far:
 

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