The newer Airport Express’ are a quick 20 minute hack away from being able to be powered by anything giving out 3.3V or higher. So if you feel the need for a USB powered Airport Express in your car that you can Airplay music to, read on.
Why would you want to ever Airplay music to a car? Well not all cars have A2DP, which is a total car making scam. Maybe you’d like to play music from your laptop, or just plain hate auxillary cables all over the car. In any case, its quite easy to swap out the standard power supply form an AE with something more car friendly. Sure you could hook up the AE to an inverter, but apparently the alternator gives you a hiss on the sound quite often from poor grounding. Ok. Enough with the why. A simple “Because I can” would have been good enough.
Read on for instructions
Step 1: Disassembly
Take apart your Airport Express. It comes off quite easily but use something soft and be as gentle as possible as the tabs are quite prone to breakage.
Once Take out the power supply. You’ll need a torx screwdriver. The power supply is very easily removable, just take out the screws and the whole module comes right off. Put it aside in case you ever want to go back to stock. In typical Apple fashion, its a pretty simple module that takes in household AC and spits out 3.3v and Ground. Thats it. You should be able to hook it up with other stuff if you ever need a solid 3.3v power source.
Step 2: Replacement power supply
There’s a few ways you can get a 5V or 12V to a nice and clean 3.3V. E-Bay probably sells a bunch of converters and you should be able to find a 3.3v line on a lot of USB devices like card readers for example. But why buy when you can make it for a few bucks of components available at just about any electronics component store.
Heres all the stuff you’ll need:
- 1x 3.3v Voltage Regulator (anything over 0.5A will do. I picked a 1A just in case)
- 2x 10uF Capacitors
- 1x 0.1uF Capacitor
- Heatsink for the regulator (its nice if you can find something small enough to fit inside)
- A small perfboard (I used just 3×4 holes of it.)
- A soldering gun, some wire, solder
Wire it up like so:
Instead of battery, the power source is a USB cable (usually red is your Vin, and black is ground) and our output is 3.3v that gets hooked up directly to the Airport Express.
Heres what mine looks like:
Wrap it all up, put the Airport express back together and rock out to PSY.