Car Audio Installer Creates Custom Entertainment System Using iPads, Apple TV

Before heading on a road trip from Los Angeles, California to Phoenix, Arizona with his family to watch spring training baseball, MacRumors forum member and car audio installer Wesley, otherwise known as MrMacMini, decided that some entertainment would be needed for the five-hour drive. With a love for both Apple products and car audio installations, he decided to create his own entertainment system based on a pair of iPads, an Apple TV and Alpine headrest monitors in his 2011 Toyota Sienna.

Toyota Sienna iPad
The custom in-car entertainment system consists of a removable iPad mini retrofitted into the vehicle's dashboard, alongside two discontinued Alpine PKG-M780 headrest monitors in the rear that mirror an iPad 2 over AirPlay using a third-generation Apple TV. The setup also includes a 1TB Seagate Wireless Plus hard drive and Alpine CDE-HD149BT head unit for AM, FM, HD Radio, CDs and Bluetooth streaming audio. Wesley also purchased factory brackets to mount the head unit in the factory rear DVD player location.
"The iPad mini sends the sound via Bluetooth to the Alpine head unit. I opted for keeping a head unit so that I can still use the steering controls and have access the radio, in case 1 day I forget the iPad at home," explains Wesley. "The rear screens run independent. My daughters can watch anything they want via the Apple TV and the 1TB wireless Seagate. If we all want to want to watch the same thing, I have it set up so that I can AirPlay from the iPad mini to the Apple TV and have the sound feed back through the Alpine head unit."

Equipment Used


  1. iPad mini 3 running iOS 8.1 (jailbroken) — in the dash, fully removable
  2. iPad 2 — used for rear monitors
  3. Apple TV 3 — used for rear monitors
  4. Alpine CDE-HD149BT — AM/FM/HD Radio/CD/BT streaming audio head unit
  5. Alpine PKG-M780 (discontinued) - Dual 7" headrest monitors
  6. Seagate Wireless Plus - 1TB HDD
A complete gallery of before and after photos, including pictures of the individual parts and assembly process, can be found within the discussion forums. For those without the DIY savviness to create their own in-car entertainment system, Alpine has partnered with Apple as an official maker of aftermarket CarPlay systems, which bring Maps, Messages, Phone, Music and Siri to the dashboard, for between $700 to $1400 depending on the unit.

Toyota Apple Entertainment System
Given that certain car manufacturers are only now beginning to roll out CarPlay support in select new vehicles, and the expensive price tag of aftermarket systems by Alpine and Pioneer, this custom Apple-powered entertainment system could be a more affordable, not to mention cool, alternative for those that may have an iPad or two kicking around the house. If you have any Apple-related DIY projects, past or present, be sure to let us know by sending us a tip.

Related Roundups: Apple TV, tvOS 13, iPad mini 5, iPad
Tag: CarPlay

Top Rated Comments

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64 months ago
MacRumors is now a DIY site? I like it!
Rating: 6 Votes
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64 months ago

When one of these ipad freezes and you need to do the home button w/ power thing....what? you have to pry the freaking ipads out the dashboard?


Top tip. Read all of the original post and THEN comment.
Rating: 3 Votes
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64 months ago
Awesome job. Very nicely done.
Rating: 3 Votes
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64 months ago
This sounded really cool up until I hit the words "2011 Toyota Sienna". :eek:
Rating: 3 Votes
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64 months ago

MacRumors is now a DIY site? I like it!


I'm certainly not going to pretend to be a DIY expert, but we're definitely open to sharing more cool things that our forum members are working on like this.
Rating: 3 Votes
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64 months ago
Nice. I would love to do this in my old bimmer
Rating: 3 Votes
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64 months ago

It's called Beamer I believe. (as a BMW)


Nope
Beamer = BMW motorcycle
Bimmer = BMW cars/trucks
Rating: 2 Votes
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64 months ago
What - no mention of the air freshener?
Rating: 2 Votes
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64 months ago
Top marks for the job. A bit overkill for a 5-hour journey, but like any true tinkerer all you need is a very flimsy excuse to get started - especially if that excuse involves the phrase "It's for the kids" - always easier to get it past the mrs that way :D

I do wonder though... why not just give them an iPad each...? My kids have that in the car, then they can watch movies or play games or do what they like as long as they're quiet!
Rating: 1 Votes
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64 months ago
"iPad mini 3 running iOS 8.1 (jailbroken)": Heck yeah :D
But I'm still sticking with my USB-powered AirPort Express -> proxy cassette tape with aux cable -> tape player in 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser idea. There's something to be said for making it fancy AND cheap. I'll post once I get it working.
Rating: 1 Votes
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