Installing an iPod in Your MINI

Posted by murmini Sun, 05 Feb 2006 10:52:00 GMT

With the incredible storage capability of the iPod and some nifty deign and engineering from Dension the process of installing your ‘tunes’ in your mini is quite straightforward. Mini employs the BMW IBUS so the radio is capable of getting the data off this bus and allowing the radio and a remote trunk-mounted CD changer to be controlled both from the radio front panel and the audio controls on the steering wheel.

What the Dension ice>Link does is make your iPod emulate a remote CD changer and provide interpretable control functions to the iPod and direct connection audio signal from the iPod to the radio. It can also display the Track Title and Artist on the radio head unit.
The install is fairly basic and can be done in 30 minutes or less. Locate the CD changer connections in the right-hand rear trunk compartment.

Right-Hand Rear CompartmentRelease the two tabs and inside you will find a cable harness that is used to connect to the optional CD changer. It should be noted that if you already have a CD Changer, then you are going to have to decide which source of music you want to use as the changer and the iPod adaptor can not be used simultaneously. The CD changer connectors are secured to the harness by some masking tape.

DSC00052.JPGThere are two small connectors here, one for power and the other for data control and audio feed. One is larger than the other and they are also ‘keyed’ to make certain that they can only be connected one way around. They push in and firmly lock in place. These are going to be connected to the Dension adaptor cable, which has matching connectors one end and a 12-pin Molex connector on the other.

DSC00051.JPG Secure the two smaller connectors to the connectors you located on the Mini wiring harness. They are different and it should be clear which goes where. The 12-pin Molex connector on the other end connects to the extension cable that you are going to run to the front of the car. The extension cable, connects to the Dension adaptor cable with the 12-pin Molex on one end and the two connectors that connect to the wiring harness on the other.

DSC00056.JPGIt should be noted that there is a small clip on the Dension adaptor cable that ‘catches’ on a small raised bump on the extension cable. When you push the two 12-pin Molex connectors together, make certain that this clip secures the two connectors together. The task now is to feed the extension cable up to the front of the car. The route I took was out from the bottom of the rear trunk compartment, under the back seat, where I coiled the extra cable. From there, I proceeded under the lip of the plastic trim that runs along the bottom of the door frame. This plastic can be lifted a little and the cable easily fed under the trim. It then progresses up underneath the passengers right-hand kick panel and should protrude about six inches from the top of the kick panel.

200602051307At this point, the extension cable is connected to the Dension shrink-wrapped computer board shown here. At one end is the female 12-pin Molex and the other is a circular 8 pin connector that will connect to the Dension iPod cradle. Again, there is a slightly raised ‘bump’ on the 12-pin Molex connector so make sure the clip is secure, just like we did on the other end.

iPod CradleHere is the Dension iPod cradle with the 8 pin connector and once secured on the dash, this cable can be run to the end of the Dension computer board. The cradle supports the iPod and had a cable running from it to an 8 pin circular connector that hooks into one end of the Dension computer board. The shrink-wrapped Dension computer board has a 12-pin oblong Molex connector one end and an 8 pin circular connector at the other.

DSC00084.JPGHere is a picture of how the computer board is connected. Looking at the picture from left, to right, the 12-pin Molex connects to the shrink-wrapped computer board and the small circular 8 pin cable connects form the other end and that cable is from the Dension iPod cradle. There is only one way around to hook this system up so it is very straightforward.

image.aspThe Dension system does not come with a mount and there are a number of options out there. I used an 853013 angled mount clip from ProClip USA. This is a self-adhesive mount and sits perfectly on the right-hand pillar under the Mini dash. It is angled slightly to the left so you view it from the driver’s seat and does an excellent job.

You simply open the glove box door, peel off the self-adhesive strips and hook the ProClip around the pillar. Dension’s cradle comes with a a small circular mount that screws into the ProClip mount, the iPod cradles slides into the circular mount and there you have it.

DSC00094.JPGWith he cradle installed, its a matter of configuring the adapter. This is done on the car radio by pressing Disk 6 and holding it for a few seconds and then cycling through the various set-up menu options with the FF control. You can adjust many aspects of the system and configure it to play Albums, Playlists, Artists etc. A detailed manual is available on the Dension site as well as an install manual as well as a simulation of how it works.

This is a great product! There were some issues with earlier models and some of us pioneers were loading code updates into our ipods and burning new firmware into the computer board every week or so, but now I would say they have got it right! Mini radios manufactured after Jan 2005 seem to have no difficulty in displaying the song info. Other options exist for the install whereby you can just plug it into the back of the radio, but the install I did did not require the radio to be removed and frankly I think that was less trouble. If you have an earlier model radio and are not able to use the song info data, I have a earlier addition we could talk about. To remove the iPod from the car, simply lift it out of the cradle. To replace it, simple slide it back into the cradle, the system recognizes it at once and starts to play. It also charges the iPod and of course you still have the full use of the radio and CD player. Its nice having 5,000 songs in the Mini at all times and to have full control without having to take your hands off the wheel.



  1. giacomo said about 22 hours later:
    I use the Dension unit also and love it. When I went to Boston to get my daughter's Cooper I took it along and installed it in her car for the 3200 mile journey home. I use the ProClip.
  2. erik said 2 months later:
    Hello Do you have the pinning of the 12 pin micro molex connector on the icelink lite? Brgds erik
  3. murmini said 2 months later:
    The ice-link lite that I original used connected to the Mini i-Bus by plugging the two (one audio/control and one power) connectors from the rear wiring harnes to the ice-link adapter. There was a cable (12 pin) that ran to the front of the car and in turn connected with the ice-link PC board. When I upgraded to the ice-link plus, they provided me with a cable that simply connected between the 12 pin and the mini wiring harness connectors thus eliminating the box. Is it the mini wiring harness connector pin-outs that you are looking for?
  4. Randy K said about 1 year later:

    I’ve removed my aftermarket Alpine unit and intend to sell it on eBay. In the interim I have moved back to stock have a IceLink Plus unit connected to the factory headunit. I am very pleased with the setup.

    How do you enable the song artist and title on the MINI display? What firmware levels are required to support this? I never looked into this aspect of the unit before.

    I have been using the IceLink with the cradle laying in the cup holder. I’m going pick up the ProClip holder this week.

    Nice clean install Murray… Thanks for the write up.


  5. murmini said about 1 year later:

    The software version required to display song/artist on the MINI head unit is v2B.B2.  You also need to make sure that the IceLink Plus is in the correct mode. There are two: one where its controlled by the iPod itself, the other mode is where the head unit has control – that is the one you want. It’s a bit of a game with the MINI head unit but I just went out and changed mine back and forth and will do the best I can to describe how. You need to press 6 on the head unit. Hold it down for a few seconds and eventually, you will see a small menu on the IceLink – using the MINI Next/Previous track buttons, you can scroll through this menu. When you see SETUP, press and hold the Next button on the MINI and it should enter the SETUP menu… again scroll through it as described before and you will see Text Display. Make sure it is on. Its frustrating as the unit sometimes reads your button entry as ‘next’ instead of ‘do this’. You may also find the MINI head unit “M” button can do this too. So you make sure Text Display is “ON”. Now disconnect the iPod from the cradle and when you re-insert it, the head unit should have control. I know its a bit flakey, but it does work. If you need the Dension manuals, they are available here.

    One very important note is that your head unit MUST be one manufactured after Jan 2005 or it will NOT display text. To check the date. Turn the ignition on, then turn the radio off, turn the radio back on and now hold the ‘M’ button down for about 10 – 12 sec. The radio will display its serial number, now use the far right button marked ”-” on the radio and the next number displayed is the firmware XX YR XX. The middle pair of numbers is the year. To the best f my knowledge, the radio firmware can not be updated. I hope this helps, please let me know.

  6. Randy K said about 1 year later:

    Worked perfectly… now to order that mount.

    Thanks for the directions! -Randy

  7. said over 3 years later:

    where is the obd connection port located on a 2004 John Cooper Works mini? I didn’t see it under the driver’s side dash. Thanks

  8. murmini said over 3 years later:

    Should be under the dash on a US model on the drivers side. It does have a black plastic cover so you will have to flip that open to access it.

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