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Galaxy Nexus Multimedia Dock

First off, I apologize for the delay. I've had some things come up, the least of which being my HDD crashing, and side projects have been pushed back and around a bit lately. Anyway, now on to what  you all came for: The Galaxy Nexus dock mod.

Completed Nexus S to Galaxy Nexus modified Dock


Nexus S Dock box
Nexus S dock contents: The dock and a micro USB power supply




I started out with a standard, Samsung branded, Nexus S Multimedia Desktop Dock (Model: ECR-D1A3BEGSTA ). Inside this box is the dock itself, which is comfortably heavy so you don't have to worry about it sliding too much, and the power plug, which goes straight from a US wall outlet to a micro USB port, no standard 5V outlet on this one.

The first thing you'll notice is that there are no visible screws to remove to aid in its disassembly. This gives the dock a very nice, clean look and, unfortunately, also makes it a bit of a headache to get in to. Not to worry though, if you have a razor blade and some spudgers available you'll be in there in no time.

You'll begin by placing the razor blade into the small line between the insert on the back and the main case. The insert is the part that has the texture and the word Samsung on it. I found the easiest place to begin was at the bottom right hand corner, the side opposite the USB port, and about 1 cm left of the curve. Just wedge the razor blade in there until you're able to pry it up some and use your spudgers the rest of the way. The back is just snapped in so it will pop out once you get enough pressure on it. be careful not to put to much pressure on one spot though, it's possible you could break or disfigure the insert and it won't go back in as clean and sleek as it originally was. You can see in the following picture the locations of the tabs holding it in. You can use this as a guide of where to press to release the pressure when prying it off.

Pry carefully around the tabs to remove the insert

Once the inset is removed, you'll notice that the USB board is attached to it. You can remove this board from the back insert by removing the two small screws that hold this board to the insert. This will give you a little more comfortable room to work with. Once that's removed, you'll notice several small screw holes in the back of the main dock body. You can remove these with a small screw driver to enable you to remove the front of the dock. This is needed so that you can access the USB port and make the modifications necessary.

Once the screws are removed and you have the insert out of your way, you can now decide if you are going to be adding in an internal MHL adapter. If you are, you can remove the USB board that came with the dock as it will not be needed. Do note though that this will disable the use of the LED indicator in the front of the dock as that is controlled by the USB board too. I can't be certain, but before I had the MHL adapter added in place of this board, I could not get a solid USB connection to my GNex. It would appear to charge when off, but once connected it would only display "Not Charging". Looking around on the forums it appears that this is a fairly agreed upon issue that means the cable is bad. Once I replaced the USB board with a straight connection to a USB cable the dock was able to function normally as it should. This leads me to believe that either I broke something on the board, or that the light pulls too much power to be able to reliably charge the GNex. Now back to your regularly scheduled program...

Next you'll want to take your spudgers again and slowly, SLOWLY, work your way around the edge separating the front of the dock from the back. Double check that you removed all the screws because you could easily break something if you didn't. You can see in the pictures below where all of the little tabs holding the front of the dock on are located. You'll want to be careful and not break them, because they will be what holds the dock back together once you're done. If you do break them, go ahead and grab the super glue. you'll need it. Just hope you don't have to get back in there for any reason.

****MHL ONLY****

Another view of the removed front

At this point, you'll also notice the metal plate at the bottom of the dock providing all the weight. If you're going to be adding the internal MHL adapter, you'll need to move this plate to allow enough room for the new board being added. Carefully pry this plate up and set it aside for the time being.
Dock with front removed. Some tab locations are visible here
You'll next need to take out a very sharp knife, I used the flat blade from my X-acto knife set, and scrape out the plastic bumps and stops on the bottom of the dock that help hold the plate in place. This is to allow the plate to be pushed all the way to the left (when looking at the dock from the front), away from the USB port. Don't worry about not having the stops to prevent the plate from moving, the adhesive on the bottom of it that you just fought with to get it up will do a well enough job of holding it still.
Bottom of the dock scraped flat.


  ****END MHL ONLY****

Plastic bar holding down the USB connector
Next, you'll notice a couple screws holding down the rubbery end of the cable with the micro USB adapter on it. Go ahead and take out those screws and pull the USB adapter out of it's hole at the end of the dock. This will free the end of the USB cable you'll need to modify slightly to work for your Galaxy Nexus, but for now, set it aside.

The main thing you need to modify at this point is the opening that the micro USB cable was just sitting in. It's roughly half of it's height off from where it needs to be. This is a fairly simple fix, but you'll want to try and get as exact as you can and not widen the cut out too much so that the micro USB connector fits back into the slot smoothly. Remember, you're only moving it up (towards the top of the dock) not in or out any.

The next few pictures show you the original dock port and the small amount it needed to be modified. I used my X-acto knives to cut out the section needed. They worked well and allowed me to keep the original shape of the slot closely enough that the connector fit back in without any trouble to excess movement.

Original position of micro USB slot
Modified slot location



As you can see in the middle picture, the port only needs to move up about half a length. You can verify your exact placement needs by sitting your Nexus in the dock and looking through that hole to see how far up your USB connector needs to go. This is also a good way to verify that you've moved it up far enough. You'll also notice that because it's moving up that far, the peg at the top of the connector would be sticking out of the case. That means it has to go. Chop it off just enough so that it will fit inside the slot where the peg originally resided. What you want it to do is sit so that the bottom peg is completely inside of where it used to sit, and the top should be flat and sitting just inside of the top peg hole.


Once you have the connector so that it's fitting properly in the slot and you're able to hold it in place and plug your Nexus in without any issues, go ahead and put some hot glue on there to hold it in place. Be careful not to put too much and stop it from closing properly. You may want to put that plastic bar holding the connector down back on there too so you don't have any problems with that after the hot glue is on there. The main purpose of the glue is to replace the peg. The peg originally stopped the port from being pushed back when you were docking the phone, but now that its' gone you'll need to use the glue as a brace behind the connector to stop it from being pushed back. "Behind" the connector would be on the top side in the right picture up above.

Once that's all done, if you're not adding the MHL adapter and have a solid link through the on board USB, that's it. You can reassemble the dock in the reverse of how you dismantled it, snapping all around the edge back together. It should go back together fairly easy, although you may have to trim some of the hot glue around the plug if you put too much in there. 

Now for the fun part. Everything that follows is only if you're adding the MHL adapter internally. I chose to directly connect the power charger that came with the dock to the MHL adapter because I did not have a spare micro USB port I could resolder to extend the one from the adapter to the outer edge of the case. If you bought one of those adapters that have the HDMI and Micro USB ports on small cables instead of directly on the board, you may not have this issue. Anyway, let's get started.

****MHL ONLY****

Ok, to begin you'll need to crack open that brand new MHL adapter you just bought. Yes, it will void any warranty it may have had, but you honestly didn't expect that to last long in your hands anyway, did you?

iKross MHL adapter from Amazon
As you can see, the board is fairly small and takes up about half the space in the adapter. Another quarter of the space if the length of the HDMI connector, and the last quarter is empty space used for the cables. On this adapter, if you look closely enough, you can see what each wire is labeled. There are 7 wires in the iKross adapter coming out of the USB cable. 3 of those are ground, the other 4 are the standard USB wires. I stripped down the wire enough so that I had about 4-6 inches to work with. There's plenty of space in the dock along the back wall, so you don't have to worry about not being able to fit the wires in.

I decided that the best way I was going to be able to fit the connection in the dock and not have to crush it at the front, which is the end the wires would be pointing towards, I would route them under the board and have them come out close to the HDMI adapter. I first wrapped the bottom of the board in electrical tape to prevent any accidental shorts as well as to protect it from the metal place on the bottom of the dock. My original plan was to use part of the case the adapter came in as the bottom shielding, but that proved to take up to much height to fit inside the case. If I had a 90 degree HDMI adapter, I may have been able to position the board along the back wall of the case and fit it in that way. This may be something you'll want to try if you have the parts as it would allow for more room for the adapter, in case your adapter board is larger than mine was, or in case you don't want to do any soldering and just want to reroute all the boards internally to connect them.

Once I had the adapter board covered and the wires routed to the front, I used a small piece of breadboard to separate the wires for easy soldering to the docks USB port. Yes, this added some extra space that the board would be taking up, but it saved me from having to worry about any arc'd connections or the wires not connecting solidly enough. Once I had the wires situated and presoldered onto the breadboard, the only thing left is to connect it to the USB port. Do note that the USB port only has 6 wires, including the ground shielding, whereas the MHL adapter has 7 (2 ground shielding, USB Ground, power, ident, d+, and d-). Just connect the 2 shield grounds to the one shield ground coming from the USB adapter and all of the other wires with their matches and you'll be fine.


Once all the wires are connected, I covered the connections with a layer of electrical tape to prevent any undesired electrical activities. The only thing left now is reassembly. The hole in the main dock body is large enough for support the HDMI port so you don't have to worry about cutting that back plate yet. just go ahead and work on reassembly and get everything back together first. I had to position the MHL board so that the HDMI adapter stuck out of the case about 1/8th of an inch, other wise it wouldn't fit inside the case. 
Once you have the board where you want it, and before you snap anything back together, go ahead and decide how you're going to provide power to this dock. You can either connect a permanent power supply to it like I did, or in this design, you could also get a small, about 3 -4 inches, micro USB cable extension and use that to route the USB port to outside the case. I connected the micro USB power supply directly to the MHL board and routed it around to the bottom left hand corner (looking at the dock from the back). This will pass the wire underneath the HDMI port along the bottom of the case.

Once everything is in place, go ahead and snap the case back together and hold it there to make sure everything's fitting together nicely. It will be a tight fit getting the MHL board in there, so you may have to reposition it slightly to get the case to snap shut. Once you're satisfied with the placement of the ports and that it's snapped back together all the way, meaning nothing's being squished anywhere, go ahead and pump some hot glue in there around the MHL adapter to secure it in place. Once that's done all you have to do now is line up the HDMI port with the back plate and cut out your holes for the cable and the HDMI port. Again, I used my X-acto knives and they worked wonderfully. I didn't even cut myself. :) The HDMI port should line up roughly with the original USB port so you can use that as a starting point. 

The end result should be something like this:
Close up of the HDMI connection and cable hole
Completed dock, rear view
****END MHL ONLY****

Over all, it's not a very complicated mod. It can likely be completed in a couple of hours if you're not waiting on any of your parts to be shipped in. It was fun to do and now I have a sleek, horizontal, MHL dock that I can use with my Galaxy Nexus. With something like this, all you need is a bluetooth keyboard and mouse to use your phone as a full, desktop PC. Or you could use this as a streaming media dock. I plan to do both.


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