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Custom iPhone or iPod Install in '99-'01 Miata

In 2007 I detailed a custom iPod install using an earlier model of the Dension iPod Cradle.  Unfortunately, the earlier model only supports the 12-volt charging pin on the iPod dock connector.  In 2008 Apple dropped support for the 12-volt charging pin on new models of the iPhone and iPod.  That meant the latest iPhones and iPods couldn't be charged by the original Dension Cradle.  Subsequently, Dension released an updated model of their Cradle that supports the (now standard) 5-volt charging pin on the iPhone/iPod dock connector.  This article details the installation of the latest Dension iPod Cradle in a 2001 Mazda Miata using the factory radio.

DISCLAIMER:  These instructions are supplied for informational purposes only.  Installation should only be attempted by someone with the necessary technical knowledge and skill.  I cannot be held responsible if you don't know what you are doing and you screw up your iPod, iPhone or your Mazda factory radio.

Follow these instructions at your own risk!

I do not make or sell the necessary home-brew wiring harness so please don't ask me to make you one.

Applicable Mazda Miata Models

This article applies to the following Miata factory radios.

  • 1999 - 2000 Miatas with Single-DIN non-Bose factory radio
  • 1999 - 2001 Miatas with Single-DIN Bose factory radio

Note: This installation might be compatible with certain 1996 - 1997 Miata factory radios.  I do not have any personal experience with these radios.  See Stephen Foskett's Miata Audio Pinouts site for more information about the various factory radios Mazda has used in Miatas.

Why This Custom Install is Possible 

The above Miata models have a 16-pin connector located on the rear of their factory radio.  This connector is normally used to add the cassette player option to the sound system.  Present on this 16-pin connector are direct (line-level) inputs for audio right, audio left, and audio ground.  The 16-pin connector also has a pin that — when +12-volts is applied — turns off the AM/FM circuitry and turns on the direct (line-in) circuitry.  This allows the direct connection of external audio devices, such as the iPhone, iPod or other mp3 player.

Note: If you already have a cassette player in your 1999 - 2001 Miata, you will have to either remove it or figure out a way to tap into the cassette player's wiring harness.

Why So Few Models?

Miata factory radios prior to the mid-1996 model year can also have a direct (line-level) input added.  Those earlier radios have a round connector on the back, which is not being detailed in this article.  However, the information I am providing in this article could be used in conjunction with the 1990 - 1996 factory radio audio pinout designations to fashion a similar home-brew harness for those early models.

Starting in 2002, Mazda switched to a different design for their Miata factory radios.  These later models require a different approach to adding a direct (line-in) input.  Commercial solutions are available from various vendors for 2002+ model years.

Not Every Step is Covered

These instructions assume the installer is already knowledgeable about the disassembly of the Miata's center console and removal of the factory radio.  Lots of helpful information regarding wrenching on a Miata can be found in both the forums and the garage section of

Parts Needed For This Project 

Tools Needed 

  • Soldering Iron
  • Wire Cutter
  • Wire Stripper
  • Multimeter, Test Light, or other method to check continuity
  • Screwdrivers, Wrenches, etc. 

Home-brew Wiring Harness Description 

  • Pin #1 on the 16-pin connector (Audio Right) goes to Pin #1 on the 9-pin miniDIN socket
  • Pin #2 on the 16-pin connector (Audio Ground) goes to Pin #2 on the 9-pin miniDIN socket
  • Pin #3 on the 16-pin connector (Audio Left) goes to Pin #3 on the 9-pin miniDIN socket
  • Pin #6 on the 16-pin connector (Line-In Trigger) goes to the SPST Rocker Switch
  • Pin #9 on the 16-pin connector (+12-volts) passes through the In-Line Fuse and the 1K-Ohm Resistor and goes to the SPST Rocker Switch
  • Pin #4 on the 9-pin miniDIN socket (+5-volts) goes to the positive lead of the Cigarette Lighter Adapter
  • Pin #7 on the 9-pin miniDIN socket (Electrical Ground) goes to the negative lead of the Cigarette Lighter Adapter

Installation Photos and Descriptions

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  The following photos should help explain the assembly and installation of the necessary home-brew wiring harness.

Factory Radio

Rear of 2001 Miata Factory Bose Radio (click image to expand)

Note that the 16-pin connector is numbered right to left with odd pin numbers across the top and even pin numbers across the bottom.

Closeup of the 16-pin Connector (click image to expand)

Dension iPod Cradle

Dension iPod Cradle (click image to expand)The Male 9-pin miniDIN Pinouts (click image to expand)

Home-brew Harness

Assembled Home-brew Wiring Harness (click image to expand)

The Female 9-pin miniDIN socket Pinouts (click image to expand)

The SPST rocker switch is installed into passenger-side dash trim cover.  A notch is cut in the corner of the dash trim cover to allow the Dension iPod Cradle's cable to pass through.

Passenger-side Dash Trim Cover (click image to expand)

Home-brew 16-pin Connector

To fashion a 16-pin connector that will fit the 16-pin socket on the back of the factory radio, the two Molex connectors are attached together (stacked) using a piece of the 3M double-sided foam tape.

Home-brew 16-pin Connector (click image to expand)

Home-brew 16-pin Connector Attached to Radio (click image to expand)Routing the Home-brew Harness

The harness is fed through the opening where the dash trim panel was removed.  The 16-pin connector end is fed to the area behind the factory radio.  (Remove the glove box door to gain easier access.)

The Harness Partially Installed (click image to expand)Opening in Dash for Factory Radio (click image to expand)Tapping the Fuse Box

The power to charge the iPhone or iPod is tapped at the factory fuse box using an Add-A-Circuit Fuse Adapter.  This clever device allows you to add a new circuit — complete with its own fuse — to an existing circuit.  I chose to install the Add-A-Circuit Fuse Adapter in the cigar fuse slot of the factory fuse box.

Add-A-Circuit Fuse Adapter (click image to expand)

The Add-A-Circuit Fuse Adapter is connected to the center terminal (+12-volts) of the cigarette lighter socket. The surround of the cigarette lighter socket is attached to any convenient screw that is attached to the Miata's chassis (ground).

Cigarette Lighter Socket (click image to expand)The Add-A-Circuit Adapter in Place in Factory Fuse Box (click image to expand)

Cigarette Lighter Adapter

I did not take photos of the cigarette lighter adapter.  The cigarette lighter adapter is used to convert the vehicle's +12-volts to the appropriate +5-volts needed to safely charge your iPhone or iPod.  Cut off the USB plug at the end of the cigarette lighter adapter's cable and strip the wires.  There should be just two wires.  Red is +5-volts and black is ground.  Use a DC voltage meter to double-check the output voltage and polarity of the cigarette lighter adapter BEFORE you connect it to the Dension Cradle.  It must read about 5 volts.  Do NOT connect higher voltage or you risk damaging your iPhone or iPod.

After installing the Add-A-Circuit Fuse Adapter and cigarette lighter socket, plug the cigarette lighter adapter into the socket and secure it in place with some electrical tape.  You want the adapter to stay nice and snug in the socket.  Tuck the cigarette lighter adapter and socket up under the dash near the factory fuse box and secure the package in place with some nylon wire ties.  Be sure none of the wires are rubbing against any sharp metal edges.

Finally, route the cigarette lighter adapter's cable over to the area behind the center console.  The cigarette lighter adapter's +5-volt and ground wires attach to the appropriate wires on the home-brew wiring harness.

Mounting The Dension Cradle

I mounted the Dension iPod Cradle using a Panavise In-Dash Mount.

Panavise In-Dash Mount (click image to expand)

Keeping Things Neat

I used a couple of black nylon cable clamps to secure the Dension Cradle's cable to the backside of the Panavise mount.

Cable Clamps to Keep Things Tidy (click image to expand)

Time to Listen to Some Tunes

Once everything is installed and hooked up, throwing the SPST rocker switch will put the radio into LINE mode ("LINE" will be displayed on the radio's LCD screen).  Press play on your iPod or iPhone and enjoy your favorite music or podcast!

iPhone Installed in 2001 Miata (click image to expand)

iPhone Installed in 2001 Miata (click image to expand)


Thanks to this new model Dension iPod Cradle it is finally possible to have an attractive iPod dock mounted in your car and charge the latest iPhone or iPod devices at the same time.  It is also worth noting that the sound quality from the audio pins on the iPhone or iPod dock connector is vastly superior to the sound quality from those devices' headphone jack.

Happy installing!

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Reader Comments (26)

Based on your parts list and looking at the photos, it appears that you didn't use molex pins inside your molex terminal housing. Can you confirm that? If you didn't use the pins, how did you secure the harness wiring into the molex terminal housing? TIA. Hoogie

June 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHoogie

Hoogie, Yes I did use the pins inside the Molex terminal housing. I attached the pins to some small gauge wire (I don't remember the exact gauge) using a bit of solder and then slid the pins into place.

June 1, 2011 | Registered CommenterMark

Thanks for the quick response, and thanks for the writeup in general - great job. I'm attempting to fabricate a similar harness for my 2000 LS but running it in "stealth" to the center console. I see that the tape head has a connector just like the one on the HU. I thought that I had seen somewhere that the one on the tape head could be used to daisy chain to another device. Would it make sense to plug into the connector on the tape head vs. the HU? Have you any info on whether that might work? I guess I could just try it when I prove my harness works w/ the HU, just wondering though, any reason it shouldn't work, thereby keeping the tape while adding the iPod i/f. Once again TIA. Hoogie

June 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHoogie

I do not know if the connector on the tape player is wired to be compatible. I've not read of anyone using it. I have read about folks tapping into the factory harness between the head unit and the tape player and using a switch to pick either the tape player or the aux input. But, again, I've never attempted that myself.

June 2, 2011 | Registered CommenterMark

Hello Mark,
Several years ago, I used your instructions for adding audio-in for my iPod/Bose radio. I have used it constantly since then. Now that my original (7-year-old) iPod has bit the dust, I have replaced it with an iPhone 32GB. As soon as time allows, I plan to follow your plans above. In the mean time, has anyone realized that you can cannibalize the the plug from cassette deck instead of building your own 16 pin plug? Who wants a tape player anymore anyway?
Thanks again for your fine work.

Gill Guerry
Charleston SC

July 22, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGill Guerry

Thank you for the nice comments, Gill! I'm glad my tutorials have helped you.

Yes, a couple of guys have used the plug from their cassette deck. In fact, a couple have also figured out how to tap into the cassette deck wiring to have both the cassette deck and the iPod input operating on the same Line In.

July 22, 2011 | Registered CommenterMark

Hi, I just read your article, very useful - I have simalar plans - but do you have or know where I can find thee full pinout for the Dension cable, I'd like to try and make use of the control wires!
Thanks, Ben.

July 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBen Robinson

Ben, Sorry, but no. I couldn't find any site where all nine of the Dension wires/pins were detailed. I had to manually figure out the pin assignments for the ones I needed. I didn't have a need for the control pins so I didn't bother to trace them.

You might try contacting Dension directly to ask.

July 24, 2011 | Registered CommenterMark

Thanks for the write up Mark. I've looked around, but I can't find the instructions to have the cassette and line in on a switch. I'm trying to keep things as close to factory (and cheap) as possible. Do you remember where you saw those instructions?

August 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMatt

Matt, The message where someone mentioned tapping the necessary pins to keep the cassette option place is located here:

I do not recall anyone ever giving the exact pinouts but it should relatively easy to use a continuity tester to trace the pins.

August 8, 2011 | Registered CommenterMark

where are you able to find the molex terminal housings because i can only find them in massive bulk

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersteven

Steven, I purchased them at Fry's Electronics. A two-pack cost about $3 if I recall correctly.

September 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterMark

I found the Molex connectors at "You-Do-It Electronics" in Needham, MA.

September 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHoogie

Just wanted to say a BIG thank you for the great info. I've been searching for a step by step procedure and this is it! Pictures are terrific. Hope to do this install in the spring on my 2001LS.
thanks again!

February 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

Would this cradle work I cannot find the one listed in the instructions on amazon..

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby

Bobby, I have not tried that cable. But I suspect the pinouts will be identical to the cradle that I used because both products are made by Dension. I can't guarantee that it will work, but I'd bet money that it would.

May 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterMark

Super informative write up. I tried shopping for some parts and some look to be unavailable such as the cradle as above. My main question would be if I already have a charger, how would just a standard 3.5mm headphoneline in be installed via the hard line in? I don't need clean installs, just a direct wire to clean the sound up. Thanks again in advanced!

January 13, 2013 | Unregistered Commentereric

Can you share the all pinouts for the female 9-pin mini DIN socket? At least the connection of 9 pin mini DIN with ipod accessory socket(dock connector)...

February 2, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterConstantin


I do not know the pinouts for the other pins on the 9-pin mini DIN. Just the ones I've listed above. You'd need to contact Dension for that information. Sorry.

February 2, 2014 | Registered CommenterMark


I need the connection wires that correspond from dock connector to 9-pin mini DIN. By example, the connector 1 from 9-pin mini DIN correspond to pin 5 of dock connector, thus I will able to find out the pinouts of 9-pin mini DIN connector vs apple accessory dock connector.

Thank you,

February 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterConstantin

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