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The Ian Cull Auto-Up Circuit Reviewed

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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.

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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.

Written By: Gabe

  • 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

  • Pingback: MotoringFile » Archive » MF Review: One Year w/the 2005 MCS

  • 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

  • Pingback: Remote opening/closing of windows and the sunroof - 2010 Mazda 3/Mazdaspeed 3 Forums


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