Could you also patch an Alesis IO Dock II?

Is it possible to retrofit an Alesis IO Dock II with an internal USB hub, just like I did with my IO Dock 1? TL;DR: Some have tried and failed – seems like Alesis deliberately switched the code for this hack off. 

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This photo was sent to me by Blek in the Czech Republic who asked that very same question. He has taken a look inside his IO Dock II and noted that it features an all-new PCB, so my original hack won’t work. And of course there is no guarantee that the prerequisite for the original hack is still implemented in the IO Dock II: the ability to function not only as a USB bus host for the iPad, but as a USB bus slave device, with the iPad working as the bus master.

The good news is: It is simple to give it a go, as Alesis took extra care to label the locations of the USB bus signals:

iodock2

So here is what you do to try it:

  1. Get a male-female pair of plugs matching the connector in question. Possibly a 12-pin version of these connectors, so as in the original hack, 2mm pin grid stripes could work. They are a bit hard to come by, but it is possible.
  2. Solder connections from male to female for all lines but 6 and 7 – the D- and D+ USB data signals.
  3. Get a suitable UBS2.0 hub – I used a Belkin F5U404; you might have to try a couple of hubs if that one does not work.
  4. Take the cable that is meant to connect the hub to the computer – it should have a standard USB plug on one end and a USB mini connector on the other end – and cut it in half. This is the only non-reversible action you are taking, but as it is easy to buy a replacement cable, there is not much harm done if it does not work.
  5. Take the cable half with the USB A-type plug, for connecting it with the computer. Solder the cable wires to the connector that goes into the IO Dock side as follows: Red (Vcc) -> pin 1, White (D-) -> pin 6, Green (D+) -> pin 7, Black (GND) -> pin 8.
  6. Take the other cable half with the USB mini-B plug for connecting to the hub and solder it to the iPad side, i.e. to the connector that is leading to the iPad connection cable. Once again, solder red to 1, white to 6, green to 7, and black to 8.
  7. Do some checking for connections and possible short-circuits. Believe me, it’s worth the effort.
  8. Unplug the IO Dock board connector for the iPad. Insert your freshly-made adapter.
  9. If it works, make a video of it. Become world famous. :)

Wiring diagram

Wiring the USB hub connector: Once again, the trick is having the iPad work as USB host rather than as a slave device, and the IO Dock as the slave rather than as the host. Use your hub’s connector cable, cut in half, and solder the color-coded wires to the connectors as shown.

Sorry for my rather artistic impression of the adapter, hope it gives you the right idea. Pin 1 is to the left, pin 12 to the right. IO Dock side is up, iPad connector side is down.

Just to be sure:

  • I’d strongly advise you to solder and try out the adapter rather than soldering any wires to your IO Dock. It is a good thing to keep that sort of stuff reversible. For this reason, don’t start dremeling before proving that it actually works…
  • …which I won’t guarantee you. Mind you, I don’t even own an IO Dock any more. If you start doing this, you should know what you are doing.
  • Please understand that the base for this hack is a feature that Alesis seems to have implemented deliberately into the first IO Dock (see Dan Radin’s comment): the ability to work as a USB slave to the iPad, in addition to normal operation, where the IO Dock works as a host for the iPad. If the IO Dock does no longer do that, you can try to rotate the USB hub, but that’s about it.
  • Please write me back with your experiences. Please don’t get on my tits with any attempts to make me do this hack for you, or repair your IO Dock if anything went wrong. (Oh my god – I just realize that bullshit warnings are obviously contagious.)

It’s worth giving it a try, isn’t it?

Thanks to Blek for allowing me to use his pictures.

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11 Gedanken zu „Could you also patch an Alesis IO Dock II?

  1. Hallo untergeek,

    ich habe mich mal am iDock II versucht mit einem ipad Air der neuesten Generation.
    Die Anschlüsse habe ich nach einiger Fummelei so verbunden wie Du aufgezeichnet hast. Ergebnis: Der Hub leuchtet, das Ipad lädt weiterhin, auch die Audiofunktionen sind unbeeinträchtigt. Wenn ich nun z.B. ein Akai Lpd 8 oder ein Korg Nano Kontrol anschließe, werden diese auch mit Strom versorgt.
    Soweit so gut. Allerdings werden die Midibefehle in Loopy nicht erkannt, genauso wenig wie das angeschlossene Gerät.
    Hast Du einen Tipp woran das liegen könnte?? Ein Vertauschen der Anschlüsse D+ D- am Hub haben nichts gebracht (hätten ja evtl. vertauscht sein können, weil ich diese direkt an den Hub gelötet habe, da mein Hub nur einen normalen USB-B Anschluss hat), Zunächst hatte ich statt dem nun verwendeten LogiLink UA0085 USB 2.0 4-Port einen 7-port mit mini USB verwendet, da ist mir aber unglücklich ein Anschluss abgebrochen.

    Sorry für den langen Text, möglicherweise hast Du einen Tipp, oder meinst Du es kann nur an dem Hub liegen und ich muss andere ausprobieren!?

    Viele Grüße vom Mittelrhein

    Klaus

    • Hallo Klaus,

      da Blek, der mir ursprünglich mal geschrieben hat, mit dem gleichen Problem kämpft, fürchte ich fast: das ist ein grundsätzliches Problem. Vielleicht wollte Alesis es so.

      Schon verrückt: Das Dock wird erkannt, der Hub reicht die Signale weiter – aber andere Signale am Hub werden abgeblockt. Außer Rumprobieren fällt mir dazu nichts ein – zwei Ideen hab‘ ich noch dazu:

      • Vielleicht sorgen die vielen Erdverbindungen für eine Brummschleife, die die Signale stört? Probier mal, ein paar GND-Lines zum Hub aufzutrennen.
      • Vielleicht funktioniert’s, wenn man den Hub umdreht – und das IO Dock weiter Master sein lässt?
  2. Hallo Jan,

    das Auftrennen von GND-Lines hat nichts gebracht.
    Interessanterweise funktioniert alles weiterhin, selbst wenn ich die beiden Shield-Lines, die beiden gnd-Lines und sogar die direkten +5v- direktverbindungen zwischen iOS Dock und iPad auflöse.
    Was meinst Du denn genau mit „hub umdrehen“?

    Gruß
    Klaus

  3. I tried with the same result.

    Ipad is working with the dock, but doesn’t see the keyboard.

    I tried to connect the docking and the keyboard using the hub and the camera kit.
    In that case it work.

    It appears that the issue is related to the black cable with the lightning cable adapter.

    Any idea?

    • Hi Daniel, have a look at the comments – seems like Alesis disabled the code that made the hack possible, so it does no longer seem to work with the IO Dock 2. Pity, really.

      So I guess the best option would be to sell the IOD2 and get the Focusrite. (I’ve got no stock in this – just a humble nerd’s opinion.)

      • All,

        Ack is possible but WITHOUT the power supply on the iPad.

        I’ve add a parallel port usb B on the connector IO DOCK connector.

        In that way I can use the ipad with the camera adapter, an usb switch, usb keyboard and the docking connected with usb cable too.

        Is useful also when u need to move the iPad away from the docking in order to read tab.

          • hi there,
            thank you for your replies :-)
            as we all know, the „Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter“ seems to resolve the problem of connecting a usb device while also supplying the ipad with power. now for those using an io dock or the like, do you know if one could use this adapter along with the iodock or other docks with a lightning plug?
            best,
            daniel

  4. Hallo,

    ich habe nun auch ein wenig gebastelt und leider genau das gleiche Problem welches hier schon ausführlich beschrieben wurde… Stromversorgung funktioniert, Hub leuchtet, aber Datenaustausch nicht möglich.

    Da der letzte Kommentar nun schon eine Weile her ist nun die Frage:
    Gibt es irgendwelche neuen Erkenntnisse oder Möglichkeiten. Ich verzweifel hier :(

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