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Discussion Starter #1
Has anyone removed the cup holders in the center console? How much room is under there?

I have a spare thermoelectric cooler laying around so I'm considering installing it so I can have Heated/Cooled beverages. I'm just not sure how much room I have down there for heat sinking.
Pictures would be awesome.

I did a search but I didn't see anything applicable. Thanks.
 

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Well it would all depend on how big the thing is. To remove the cupholders:

-set the e-brake
-open the armrest storage compt.
-grab the front lip of the compt and pull it straight up to disengage the tension clips
-the whole cupholder section comes out.

There is some wiring underneath there, but the most important thing that you don't want to mess with is the airbag control module.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I didn't realize it was that easy to remove! Thanks icspots.

Is the airbag sensor attached to the part that gets removed or is it just nearby?

The thermoelectric cooler itself is only about 10mm thick, but to be effective it will need some serious heat-sinking. I built a cooling cupholder for my last car using the heatsink from an old PII processor, and that was barely sufficient.

Thanks again
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Here's some general info on what they are:
LINK

Here's the ebay guy I bought mine from awhile back (there are pics):
LINK

In a nutshell you apply 12v across the terminals, and the top side gets hot and the bottom cold. If you reverse the polarity the bottom gets hot and the top cold. The more current you run through it the stronger the effect.
They are commonly used in automotive plug-in coolers/warmers like these.
With good heatsinking these can freeze or boil water.

My plan is to lathe up a piece of aluminum to use as the bottom of the cup holder. The TEC would then be glued to the Al with thermally conductive epoxy, if I can find some that withstands high enough temps.

{Edit}
Another thing that just occured to me is the plastic of the cupholder... I wonder how hot it can get without damage? Probably not too hot, so I may need to come up with a way of keeping the Al from touching the plastic...
 

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Discussion Starter #8
No problem dmention7!
I got mine a few years ago, I think it was ~$20 for two at that time, so these prices look pretty good.

The only tip I can give you is to allow for plenty of heat sinking. The first cup holder I made used a PII processor heatsink with two PC fans for cooling. I could freeze water on the surface for about 5 seconds after applying voltage, then the heatsink became overwhelmed and performance would begin to suffer. I found it would maintain ~45* if I let it sit and reach thermal equilibrium. This is hardly cold enough to effect the temperature of your beverage significantly.
Performance as a heater was better, but I found the thermal-conducting epoxy I had was getting toasted.

My other thought was that I could likely get away with a smaller heat sink if I ran the cooler at a lower wattage; While this would reduce cooling ability, it would also reduce heat dissipation, and it might keep the heat sink from being over-powered and allow it to reach lower temperatures....

I've still got alot of thought to put into mine before I take another swing at it :)
 

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Have you thought about adding some sort of a heat sink to the cooling side as well? For example, soldering some thin copper sheeting that molds around the outside of the cupholder. That would both give you a larger surface from which to draw heat from your beverage, and improve the total heat-pumping capacity of the TE.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
That could work, if you insulate the side of the copper away from the beverage to prevent it from drawing heat from the cabin and less from the beverage.

The more specifically you tailor the cup holder's heat exchanger to a single cup or beverage bottle the more efficiently you can make it operate, but then you're stuck using only that bottle in the holder. I'd like to be able to use multiple sizes/shapes of containers (from coffee cups to water bottles), so I'm trying to stay as general as possible. I think these TECs have wattage to spare; as long as we can keep them well heat sinked.

I yanked up the cup holder plastic today; it looks a little cramped in there. There might be enough room for an adequate heat sink, but no matter what air movement in there is going to be awful. Keeping the buggers cool is going to be difficult.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
It might be awhile before anything tangible comes of it, but I'll be sure to post anything major.

At this point I'm not too sure how I'll be heat sinking them... but I'll try and come up with something :-D
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Yea, they're far from an investment. I've had enough fun with them at my workbench to justify what I spent. I just hooked one up for kicks; powered by my 13V bench supply, the hot side gets hot enough to burn my hands in ~5 seconds. I had forgotten how brutal these things are!

Brutal, but fun. :)
 

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+1 thats an awsome idea!!!!!!!!! i never knew those cupholders and shifter cover come out so easy. im thinkin about takng apart my car charger fo my phone and spicing it in to the 12 volt wires to the armrest then just run the wires out of a notch in the cover. itd be Squeaky clean :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I may do something similar with my fm transmitter; there's certainly plenty of room down there for that kind of stuff.
 

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[quote author=Danger Mouse link=topic=68649.msg1190321#msg1190321 date=1170795928]
cool, cant wait to see what you guys come up with
[/quote]

+1
 

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[quote author=icspots link=topic=68649.msg1186778#msg1186778 date=1170636078]
Well it would all depend on how big the thing is. To remove the cupholders:

-set the e-brake
-open the armrest storage compt.
-grab the front lip of the compt and pull it straight up to disengage the tension clips
-the whole cupholder section comes out.

There is some wiring underneath there, but the most important thing that you don't want to mess with is the airbag control module.
[/quote]

Isn't there a couple of screws inside the armrest storage compartment you have to take out?
 

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nope. I recall TWM's instructions for their short shifter instructing you to remove the two screws in the bottom of the storage compartment, but it's completely unnecessary for removing the center console--that entire bit just snaps right out.
 
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