The Ian Cull Auto-Up Circuit Reviewed

Among one of the more frustrating features that is locked out of the US spec MINIs are auto-up windows. It's all the more irritating because all BMWs in the US have this very feature. Why this is available on MINIs elsewhere in the world and not in the US is beyond me.

In fact to my knowledge the only US spec MINIs with this feature were the very US spec cars that were delivered for the initial launch and built in February of '02.

While I have a very early US spec Cooper, it was still produced just after this early February '02 build date and thus doesn't have the feature. Well as luck would have it, this issue has also been on the mind of someone with the ability to do something about it.

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Ian Cull, an engineer by trade, has devised an additional circuit board that activates the auto-up feature on US spec MINIs. It's a simple piece that is installed behind the toggle switches and simply overrides the oem controls. Installation involves taking the center plastic fascia off (below the speedometer), then the two down tubes, the lower plastic vent, and finally the toggle component itself. The kit comes with detailed instructions that make this process easier then it would seem.

The result is nothing short of astounding. Suddenly driving away from a toll booth isn't a process of closing the window with one hand, shifting with another, and driving with a knee. To raise a window automatically you simply have to double click the window toggle up. Clicking it once still activates the standard closing.

The only thing I found it doesn't do that the BMW auto-up feature does is continue to go up on it's own when you've turned off the ignition. While it's certainly not a must have feature it would be a welcome addition. After asking Ian about this he explained, “I have wondered if it was possible to get the circuit to keep going after ignition off. I recently discovered a circuit in the MINI that stays powered for a while after turning off the car, however hooking up to that would need splicing and/or soldering, not the nice simple “plug and play” we have today.” So it sounds like what we have today is really the best all around solution.

mini

I can always tell the real world opinions to MINI upgrades by my wife's reaction. A seemingly endless supply of MINI accessories coming to the house has lead to the phrase “garage sale” being bandied about more often than I'd like to hear it. However there are some additions that she has grown to really appreciate… the auto-up windows certainly fits within this category.

For the price, and the ease of installation, it's a no brainer for all those with US spec MINIs that want a bit more simplicity in their motoring.

Rating: 4.5 (out of five)

The auto-up circuit is available from Ian Cull at gbmini.net. The Auto-Up package starts is $44 including shipping. For a few dollars more there are other configurations available with Track Mode DSC (turns default DSC mode to off), Auto-up w/garage door opener and even custom circuit boards.

  • Kurt

    So I guess this voids your warrantee on the whole electrical system of the car?

  • Mike

    Kurt, please tell me you're joking?

  • COOPR SS

    Only if found.

    Easy 5 minutes to take out before going to the dealer with a electrical problem.

  • James

    I have installed Ians circuit, in my 2004 MCS, and I love it. Easy to install (I didn't even have to take the down tubes off).

    If I take the car in for electrical work in that area, I will unplug it first…

    -James.

  • Mark LaRocco

    Has anyone found out why this feature doesn't come on MINI's produced for the US and is this something that we can buy the parts or software from other regions to change?

  • Volkan

    The reason the auto-up function is not here in the US, is purely aimed at avoiding lawsuits (and we all know how much Americans love going to court :) The window is frameless in MINIs; so auto-up does not have a reference point to stop if something is stock between the door panel and the window. In fact, Ian's web page states this as well (a pencil test I believe). For some reason, Europeans are seen as “smart enough” not to put their hands in there; or they are not the type to go to court over their own mistakes. Just my 2 cents. Cheers.

  • Luke

    Work's great in my '05 and I didn't have to remove the downtubes and toggle panel for installation.

  • SteveW

    Does it work for cabrios?

    Also, does it control both driver and passenger windows?

  • GSKChicago

    Is there any way to allow the fog lights to turn on automatically when turning on the headlights, rather than me having to remember to hit the damn toggle?

    What about driving lamps? Is there a way to change it so my driving lamps can turn on without having the bright lights on? Just curious.

    Finally, I would be most interested to know if indeed any of these “electrical” mods will void the electrical system part of the warranty?

    Much appreciated. Thanks! :o)

    G.

  • http://www.gbmini.net Ian Cull

    Kurt, Hopefully, as Mike says, Joking. So many discussions about how warranty & aftermarket interact … if the MINI circuit can be shown to be the cause, I will be very shocked!

    SteveW, Not installed in a Cabrio yet as far as I know – no reason for it not to work for the “front” windows, but it won't have any effect on the back windows. And yes, it can be enabled on both the driver & passenger side – or you can choose to enable only one.

  • Deborah

    Awesome work, Ian!

    Gabe — did you say Garage Sale? Works even better now that you actually have one! LOL

  • Tsukiji

    I recently installed the circuit (along with the '05 Utility Box) in my '03 MCS. I wish that I'd done it sooner!

    A great product that's very easy to install.

  • lexbomb

    I installed it in my 04 MCS a couple of weeks ago and use it nearly everyday. It's nice when the weather is cool for window-down motoring and when I pull into the garage, it's an easy flick-flick to bring up the windows.

    Great job Ian. I love mine!

  • http://revorg.org/mini.html Scott

    I'm sure I use my Ian Cull Mini Circuit more than any other add-on. And I promise not to sue Ian when I wear out the motors! As others have said, installation was absolutely painless and took only a few moments. I give it a full five.

  • GSKChicago

    I am sooooo NOT technically inclined (go ahead, call me names). It sounds like it is pretty straight forward. Anyone that has no technical skills installed it yet?

    G.

  • http://www.gbmini.net Ian Cull

    G, The install is quite easy; have a look at the feedback from other people … you don't need technical skills, if you remove the trim piece below the toggle switch panel the hardest part is dexterity to reach the connector position.

  • CCM5

    I, too, am curious whether something can be devised that would “empower” one of the existing toggles to turn on/off driving lamps (maybe the front fog or rear fog toggle?)

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Volkan – that theory seems logical but for the fact that several US spec BMWs also have frameless windows with the auto-up feature.

  • RB

    Ian, I have praised your device many times, as you know, I have told people with other mINI's about it and and so on.

    Thanks again.. I'd give it and you a “5.”

    …RB

  • RB

    Also, if a Dumbhead like me can instal it in 30 minutes most anybody should be able to do it.

    …RB

  • Jason

    I see the next MINI petition forming….

  • http://www.lagparty.org/~jared/gallery/ Jared/pezboy

    Does the sunroof open back up if someone closes it on something? I doubt it and don't want to try.

    Realizing that, it is even more lame that the windows don't autoup.

    Had the circuit for a while…one of the best mods out there.

  • http://www.jwardell.com/mini/ Josh Wardell

    I've use Ian's MINICircuit several times a day and strongly recommend it to anyone!

    Some notes on the review…It doesn't override the oem windows, it simply basically holds the window up command for six seconds. There's no hacking going on here to worry about.

    And installation does NOT require removing anything but the lower panel underneath the center console. One piece, one screw.

    Also not mentioned is its additional, optional abilities:

    You can lock the DSC off, so it is deactivated every time you start the car. Excellent for track days.

    You can also get one that will let you use your door lock toggle to activate your garage door opener.

    Ian is charging an excellent price for this compared to what others would charge, and gives personal support to everyone. Very highly recommended!

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Josh –

    You're right it doesn't override a command – should have been more clear.

    Re: installation – I tried for a long time to install it by simply taking out the bottom tray and I just couldn't do it (not even close). Granted I have huge hands (I'm 6'2″) but there was no possible way I could see to get my fingers up there and actually take it off. I recommend taking the dash apart for one because if you don't know the back of the toggles it's just much easier. Taking your dash apart is not a hard thing to do if you know how to do it (or follow Ian's directions). This was my 5th time taking it apart 😉

    FYI I actually did menion the other possible configurations at the bottom of the article.

  • Bart

    Is it cleared for 05 use? I'm certainly wanting it :)

  • andrew

    gabe. how does it fit back there with the ice-link? Behind my “utility box” is already cramped, is there enough room for both?

  • Mike

    Bart, yes it works on 05's, Ian has mentioned on his site that someone has already done it. My 05 should be here in the next week or two and I already have the circuit from Ian. :)

  • John

    Do you know what I'd like to see? The windows and sunroof close when you push the remote lock button.

  • allan MICHAEL

    It is great, simply great. allan

  • GSKChicago

    John-

    I asked about this at the dealer, the windows and sunroof closing without having to hold the key fob in the door itself, but instead using the remote “remotely”. I was told it is a liability issue, that by having to hold the key, you have control to stop it and less likelihood you will close on someone's hand, foot, face, etc. May have been a bunch of BS so I wouldn't ask about it again, but who knows. If there's a way to do it though, I suspect someone on here will figure it out. :o)

    G.

  • Randolph Lee

    5 out of 5 form me too! Ian installed mine when i was getting my windscreen replaced at MINI of Peabody and it took him all of 5 min. tops… as far as I am concerned it is the most cost effective option I have on my MINI. if you have a manual shift MINI and you have to use toll booths or pay for parking or present credendals at gard posts then you realy need this option…. especially when it is pouring down and you are getting drenched as you try to shift as you hold up the window switch as you pull away! Thanks again for a great product Ian ~R

  • Vanwall

    Without a doubt, the single best mod on Brooksie, and it makes a heckuva difference in daily driving. ANY thing that lets me keep my hands on the wheel or the shifter longer is a huge safety factor, just by that element alone, plus, it's soooo cool. My son Sean got one on his 'S' and he's just as pleased as I am. As I mentioned in numerous posts and on Ian's feedback page, this is one essential mod.

         BCNU,
        Rob in Dago
    

  • http://www.conceptualtechnology.com/usa Theo

    This is a brilliant product and is well-supported by an extremely capable and thoroughly enjoyable MINI enthusiast.

    I also ordered the flying lead for a garage door opener with my auto-up circuit. A quick modification of and conection to my own remote control circuit board was made and now closing the garage door is neatly done by holding the door lock toggle in the down (or up) posotion for about 3 seconds.

    Cheers to Ian!

    Theo

  • http://mini.uglydoris.com Sean Bartnik

    Jared, The sunroof does have a pinch protection feature, I demonstrate it all the time. Easiest way to demo it is from outside as it is closing, grab it and give it a sharp tug backward and it will stop and reverse direction.

    Or stick your arm up through the opening while it's closing and it will reverse course when it meets resistance. Doesn't even hurt. Wouldn't recommend trying it with your head though. :-)

  • http://www.lagparty.org/~jared/gallery/ Jared/pezboy

    Ahhh…okay. =)

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    andrew – the ICE-Link certainly makes things a bit tight when installing. That was another reason why I pulled the dash and downtubes. However there's still room for both without much rearranging.

  • http://www.jwardell.com/mini/ Josh Wardell

    John & GSK-

    Another person/company KPtech is working on a module that will allow you to raise your windows from the remote. Installation however is 10x more difficult and involves solder-tapping into the wiring harness that goes to your door, deep within the dash. It's not finalized yet so hopefully this improves…but at least there will be a solution to that too!

    Gabe sorry I forgot you mentioned those points after reading through all the great feedback. I just wanted to stress those few things.

  • Lee Langston

    Gabe, when I installed mine, I took the bottom piece off and was not able to instll the circuit sitting in the seat. I ended up leaning in the drivers footwell from outside the car to allow me to get my hand in the correct orientation to make the connection.

    Took me about 15 minutes in the dark.

    In fact, it took me longer to solder the leads to my garage door opener than to install the circuit.

    Great product from Ian, that's for sure.

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Oh yeah I was on the floor of both sides of the car for quite a while trying to get my hands in there to just dissconnect it. I really wanted to not have to take the downtubes off since Ian suggested it could easily be done by just reaching up there. But after 30 minutes of being on the ground taking the downtubes out seems like a good route :)

  • Gavin

    Go on Jared, try it with your head..! 😉 I've had this circuit since the first beta and I'm so used to it, it feels like a standard feature. I miss it in my wife's Cooper. Andrew, Talk about crowding behind the toggle switches – I've got the auto up circuit, my garage door opener, a radio harness adapter and another circuit that I'm not sure if Ian want's me to mention all crammed in there…! There is space, you just have to tuck things away to the sides. Gabe and others, I think the trick to installation is knowing how the locking mechanism works on the stock connector. The first time I put mine in I took the downtubes off, but when I upgraded to the DSC version I did it by touch.

  • http://www.gbmini.net Ian C.

    Gavin is correct – experience helps when doing a “blind” install. I installed six circuits in different MINIs at the Dyno Day in RI today. Each one takes less than five minutes including the “how to enable / disable” explanation :)

  • Gilbert Cabral

    Ian's project is a good product as some others that the mini never intalled the auto up-window due to lawsuit. Now, somebody tell me about BMW318ti that I have, it has auto up and auto down window. that the 318 bmw most electronics of this is likely the same of mini i.e. DME made by motorola in Australia.So, more power to Ian I will support his product…

  • SrBlanco

    Ian,

    Would it be possible to get an auto-up circuit with single-click up. My American laziness is forcing me to ask.

    -m

  • Lee Langston

    Not to speak for Ian, but I can see how that might be a bad idea since the circuit just applies the window up command for 6 seconds when the double click is registered. If the window was halfway up, the motor would be trying to close the window anyway which will probably lead to overheating.

    At any rate, you will quickly get used to the double click and it is second nature.

  • Jay

    Question: I should have looked during my test drive last week, but now that the rear fog ghts are not available in the US, is there a blank spot on the toggle switch panel? If so, is there a source for another toggle switch that could be fitted into that space for the garage opener? Or do US models onle have 5 spaces total now?

  • Mike

    Lee, since when does holding up the button yourself wear out the motor? This has the same effect.

  • DiamondRG

    Jay, There is a blank space where the rear fog toggle would be. Soon you will be able to have rear fogs installed by your dealer unless you live in one of the states in which they are now illegal.

  • alex

    Can anyone give me some more info on the garage door portion of this mod? I was planning on going to the dealer one of these days to ask about retrofitting the new universal garage door opener into my '03 so I can stop carrying around my ridiculously huge opener, but it seems the new opener is integrated into the mirror??? I assumed that it would be an additional switch that would go between the sunroof button and the ?mic? (whatever that other thing is), like it did in both my parents' bmw's. But we all know what it means to assume, so now I am bummed. But if I could get my windows to go auto-up AND put my opener on a toggle that would be even better. Does it require soldering? I'm ok with taking out the downtubes and messing with the toggles, but I'm not sure I can solder things and start messing with wires…

  • http://www.gbmini.net Ian C.

    Alex, If you happen to have an opener that uses a 9V battery, connected by flying lead clip, there is a circuit that can replace the battery, providing power under your control. You mechanically jam the transmit switch – and no soldering. Otherwise, soldering is needed to either side of the switch inside the opener. The output is triggered by holding the door lock/unlock toggle up or down for more than half a second.

  • Jeff Cooperstein

    I have just completed installing the circuit with auto-up and garage door switch.

    Simple to install and a very worthwhile investment.

    Now I am able to open my garage door with a simple press of an EXISTING switch. GREAT!

    Ian, U DA MAN!

  • Lee Langston

    Mike,

    I'm assuming that if every time you reaised the window, you held the switch down 3 extra seconds, it might havesome negative effect. Since the circuit has no idea where the window is relative to it's travel, it would stay on for the full 6 seconds even if the window was only down 3 inches, assuming that the circuit worked with one click.

    By using 2 clicks, it is safer to assume that the human operationg it does know that the woindow is down all the way.

    Also it is a little safer to do it that was as well IMO.

  • http://www.gbmini.net Ian C.

    Just to clarify … it does not matter how high the window is before you double click it. The MINIs existing circuitry detects the high current when the window reaches the top, and switches it off even if the “up” toggle is still held – prevents you burning out the motor. Since the MINI circuit exactly mimics holding the switch, the motor is similarly protected.

    (there is similar built-in protection for the door locks when you hold the door lock/unlock toggle – there is even something that stops you repeatedly locking/unlocking the doors and burning out the solenoids!)

  • Mike

    Lee,

    What Ian said. :) This is common on most cars. Didn't you ever notice there's no motor sound when the window reaches the top, even if you keep pressing the button?

  • Alex

    Ian- Is there a difference in the kits? I.e. can I order it with the garage feature, and then install it or not?

    Thanks!

  • Lee Langston

    Well, that is cool then. I won't worry about using the auto up when the window is not all the way down.

    I have noticed that the motor does not make a sound when it is all the way up. However, just because the motor is not turning and making sound does not mean there is no current flowing through it, building up heat. That is what I was worried about.

  • Scott

    I read the review on Friday, ordered the kit on Friday and received it first thing Monday morning! Now that is service! I can't wait to install it. Thanks Ian

  • http://www.gbmini.net Ian Cull

    Alex, The different options have different builds – but you could order a feature then not use it if you wish (all versions have “auto up” of course). If you ordered and did not use a powered garage opener version, you would need to tape the garage opener output wires to prevent shorting when the (unused) output is active.

  • alex

    sorry, one more question- upon reading your description of the opener circuit, it sounds like maybe it just provides the power/switch- i.e. is there a transmitter? Or do I still need the opener clipped to my visor, but now I use the toggle instead of the button on the opener? Am I misunderstanding?

    Thanks!

  • http://www.gbmini.net Ian Cull

    The MINI circuit does not provide a garage opener, only the ability to turn your existing one on/off using the MINIs toggle switches. If your opener works OK down with the toggle switches, you could relocate it there and make it disappear …

  • http://www.conceptualtechnology.com/usa Theo

    Attaching your opener….

    I removed the circuit board from my opener and soldered a jumper to close the switch. Then I attached some double-sided foam tape and connected the flying leads. The circuit board was then pressed and stuck behind the removable center panel. I even drilled a small hole in the panel so the “activate” LED on the opener's circuit board showed through.

    Space may be a premium for some behind the panel so removing the circuit board from your garage door opener can save you valuable real estate.

    FWIW

  • windsorblue

    this is great, i love this feature on our volkswagen. and was totally perplexed as to why it is not included on the cooper. i may order this now so i can install it as soon as our cooper arrives

  • Greg V

    This was truly an option that I felt I was missing out on. Most all the other cars that I test drove had this auto up and it was quite disappointing to find that the Mini did not have it.

    It was only at Dyno Day that I saw Ian putting one in a car and within that split second I told him that I was certainly next. Installation in 5 min? No way, I think it was more like a minute and 30 seconds!

    What's next Ian?

  • Agro

    I installed the circuit with DSC deactivation and garage door opener without removing the downtubes (I have fairly large hands) in about 30 mins. That time included modifying my garage door opener. I have a 12v opener, so I wired the leads from the circuit onto the battery terminals for the opener. Then I ran some fine (24 gauge?) wire across the switch terminals of the opener. I then closed the opener case again, with the power wires running out through a hole in the opener case. Installed the circuit in the car, pushed the opener up in the cavity with the circuit board and impressed my wife with the coolness of the mod. All up, about 30 minutes. Following the instructions that came with it, I had not problem working the harness catch. Love the mod and am (not very actively) putting together a Sin City MINI Club group purchase and installation party.

  • BOB

    Installed the 12v GDO/AU ckt. great directions, very easy install, works great. I installed the modified Genie garage door opened under the dash as listed in the directions. It will open my garage door from 500 feet away, it has better range then before!! Auto up works great! Thanks Ian.

  • Will

    Ian I tried to contact you thru the article, but your site was not available to me. I would like to order from you the auto up, with garage door opener. Please contact me. Thanks.

  • http://www.gbmini.net Ian C.

    Will, Unsure why you had trouble accessing http://www.GBMINI.net; I have sent an email to you …

    If anyone else needs to reach me, my email is GBMINI@MINIsOnTop.com

  • Phil Williams

    Ian,

    I just wanted to write and let you know how pleased I am with your auto up window mod. I have to enter a guarded facility a few times a day and each time I have to go through 2 check points. Trying to pull away, put away a bunch of ID's, roll up the windows, and shift gears at the same time is a real pain, especially in the rain. Your circuit solved the problem. You also make the process so simple. The Paypal button on the website allowed me to pay for the circuit in seconds, it arrived two days after I placed the order, and the instructions were well written and comprehensive.

    Like some of your customers I have the factory accessory instruments. Unlike some of your customers I discovered that the best installation approach is to enter from the top. By removing the down tubes and taking the switch panel off (as outlined in steps 8 & 9 in your instructions) installation requires far less disassembly than would be required to remove the instruments and lower panel. While it takes a little more caution to attach the connector to the board while holding it partially inside the instrument panel, it is not hard to make it happen. Now that I know how the car is built I could install the board in less that 15 min. with the shift console in place on any MINI.

    Last but not least, the way you have the board designed to allow the auto up and DSC features to be either enabled or disabled depending on the needs of the owner is not just clever it is FANTASTIC. While the danger of an auto up window in the MINI is overrated because the switch for the window is remote from the door, and guarded, disabling the feature when necessary solves any possible problem this installation might cause.

    Thank you for your effort in designing and bringing this wonderful product to the MINI driving public.

    Regards Phil Williams (2005 Cooper S, DS/DS, JCW, Nav, Aux. instruments, Hands free kit, PIAA Lights, Premium package, Cold weather package, R90, Chrome package, and Ian's auto up window mod)

  • Will

    Ian, thanks mucho. I received the mini circuit on Saturday and installed removing the down tubes. The trim piece was tricky, as my mini is 2005, and the attached “small item” tray is constructed as one unit with the trim piece. I had to rotate this unit almost 180 degrees vertical to allow it to be forced between the down tubes and the lower portion of the dash unit. Once that was accomplished the rest was a piece of cake after carefully reading your instructions. Since space is precious in side the Mini, being able to hide the remote garage door opener is practical ( no more bumping my noggin on the opener that was attached to the driver's side visor)as well as aesthetically pleasing. My suggestion to you is don't stop making them, as it is a superb add on to the mini. Everyone should buy one.

  • Will

    oops! I should have said “without removing the down tubes”.

  • Ryan

    does anyone know how to disable this autodown feature on a factory installed chip or mod? I dont want it to be autodown anymore.

    please email me at airnegri@hotmail.com if you have any idea.

    I have a 03 mustang.

  • http://www.nemini.org GMINI

    Nearly one year after i picked up my DSC/AutoUp from Ian Cull himself at the Make a Wish Event in RI, I had the fortune and honor of having the Man himself install the device in my aux gauge beriddled dash, during the Round Long Island 2 lunchtime.

    Great product, Ian!!!

    And folks, as of last weekend there are but forty left in the last batch of circuits EVER.

    Sadly.

  • http://www.gbmini.net/ Ian

    Thanks John :) It was great to see you again too.

    The MINI circuit is currently unavailable. I won’t be selling them any more – they take too much time.

    But I am hoping that one of the MotoringFile sponsors might be able to take over the sales …

  • Adrian S

    Damn! I put off buying this thing because I had so many other hobbies going on…. and NOW I find out its no longer being fab’d. BUMMER!! Does anyone know where I can get one nowadays?

  • http://www.motoringfile.com/ Gabe

    Ian has a new batch and there is a new auto-up:

    MCAW Auto Up Window Circuit Reviewed

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  • http://www.fes-auto.com Dr Obnxs

    An update in case anyone reads about it here still:

    Ian transferred production over to FES Auto (www.fes-auto.com) in the summer of 09.

    DSC and Front fog lights are now standard.

    We’re about to release v7 that also has two channels of aux control that can be configured to “toggle” or be momentary, so garage door mode will be built into all of them. We also added an peizo buzzer to give mode selection feedback once it’s all buttoned up in the dash. We also added some more modes so that you can set up single click mode, and also control both windows with a single toggle (based on a user’s request out of Greece).

    Also, the MCAW has gone the way of the Dodo, so this is currently the only auto-up product for the first gen Minis that I know of. Anyway, the product is alive and well for all that want it, and it’s feature list is growing while the price is still pretty close to what Ian originally offered it at.

    I’d really like to thank Ian for letting FES run with the product. He gets his free time back, the Mini community keeps access to a really cool product, and FES gets a few bucks from the whole deal.

    Matt

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