Retrofit Home Theater Seats with USB ports - How to Guide (with pics) - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 8 Old 06-04-2014, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
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I had a request to post this info if it worked out for me, so here it goes....Apologies for any over explaining.

Original thread:

So I had happened upon the original thread recently after having just purchased a 3 seater recliner for my HT. I happened to get a great deal on the 3 seater second hand ($475, hardly used), so the idea of attempting this didn't bother me as much as if I had bought them for 2k+ in-store. I'm admittedly not the handiest person when it comes to stuff like this, so there may be things I could have done with a better method (particularly accessing the drill spot through the leather), so if there are any suggestions as to improving the guide, let me know and I can edit it. Also, if any better deals are found anywhere else for parts listed, feel free to comment. The two main parts I'd still grab from Amazon, like in the original thread. I however will update the DC charger part. The one listed in the original thread is 4-something dollars, but had a ship time of 2-3 weeks. The other 2 parts I got were sold direct from Amazon, so I decided to find the same charger but see if Amazon had the item for sale. They do, it's a bit more at $7, but you get the item in 2-3 days along with the other parts, which was worth it to me. No waiting.

My personal reasons for doing this are many fold:

1) Friends who come over and use their phones in the HT, or need a charge. When we watch sports or play online games like Fifa, during commercials and between games, most friends check their phones, socials etc.

2) Another reason is that as a gamer, I Youtube sometimes while gaming depending on the game, with videos regarding the game etc, basically phone is a second screen companion.

3) Lastly, I plan on getting a tablet holder + pod combo (Nexus 7 loaded with Vera + Harmony Ultimate apps) for the middle seat right cup holder and the idea of having that chargeable less than a foot away is beautiful.

A few notes:

1) I tested the charger out for 1-hour time period a number of times, to see what charge gain was like. On my Nexus 4, every time I got about a 40% gain in battery in 1 hour. The N4 is a 2100 mah battery phone, so works out to 840mah charge or so. I'm personally not too concerned about charge rate, as long as it charges and doesn't lose charge when screen on, I'm good.

2) Also, in Amazon reviews regarding the charger adapter, there were complaints about audible humming. Well I'm letting you know I can't hear a darn thing when charging, even with my ear up to the unit.

3) The little green light comsumes 15mah/socket on its own in standby as it is on permanently (45mah for three). If you care about this, I've thought of two ways around it. Manually, a T Bar with a switch on it could turn all 3 usb sockets on and off for use. Automated, which is what I would eventually do when I get one, a Vera + ZWave plug controller (T Bar plugged into controller) could control it, either via your HT tablet if you have one or even via motion sensor with a timeout function for overnight time period? (not extremely well versed in Vera as I don't have one yet)

4) If you plan on doing this, I'm not responsible for anything going wrong. Perform at your own risk.

Anyway, on with how I got it done.


1) USB Socket

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2) 2.1mm DC Charger w Adapter

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3) 2.1mm 3ft Extension Cord 2.1mm 6ft Extension Cord 2.1mm 12ft Extension Cord (Get the length you need to reach up inside the arm of each individual seat, different lengths for each seat more than likely)

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4) Insulated Crimp Female Spade Connectors (2 per socket) ~ No link on this one, found a 6 pack at Home Depot for $1.50.

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5) 14AWG Speaker Wire ~ You more than likely have this laying around like I did. You only need a few inches, if that, per socket.


1. Drill
2. 1 1/4" Hole Saw bit (measure it up to socket just to be sure)
3. Exacto Knife
4. My wife's sewing scissors (basically very sharp/accurate scissors, no dull scissors)
5. Kitchen knife (needed this as my speaker wire was CL2 wire in the threaded sheath from Monoprice)
6. Mini Phillips screwdriver
7. All-in-one crimping, wire cutter, wire stripper tool
8. Tape Measure

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1. Cut 1-2 inches of 14 AWG speaker wire. Cut/split both ends. Strip the wires. Check both the green adapter terminal that came with the dc adapter and the spade connectors as to how much to strip. The connectors need slightly more strip than the green adapter does. Both are very small amount though. Crimp on two spade connectors to the +/- on one side.

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They now will connect to the male spade plugs on the back of the USB socket

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2. Connect the other side's ends to the greeen 2.1mm adapters' respective +/- ports.

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3. The unit as a whole. This is how the USB is powered.

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And plugged in wall, green light is a go.

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4. Cutting the hole was the part I was most nervous about, mostly cause you have to cut the leather on your recliner. I only purchased one socket and one adapter for this reason. If I screwed it up or something wasn't feasible, I didn't want to be stuck with two more, unused. After having successfully done it, I am going to purchase 2 more of each and get a socket for all 3 seats.

First I had to look up the inside of the arm of the seat. Using tape measure, I measured out where to place the hole in the inner side of the arm, avoiding any wood braces that may get in the way. I used the bottom of the cup holder as a reference point. Back on the outside, I then measured the depth of the cup holder

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and measured that length, downward on the inside of the arm, dead center on the cup holder. (Yes I used centimeters)

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This would be that same reference point (bottom of the cup on the inside), but on the outside. From here, use same measurements, going in the same directions to pinpoint the spot to drill. I marked it with a fabric marker my wife has that you can rub off with finger (shown below)

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6. Pop the USB socket into the drilled hole now and, reaching up the arm of the chair, fasten it with the fastener that came with the socket. Make sure the USB slots are nicely positioned, straight up and down and not diagonal or such. With the socket firmly in pace, attach the spade connectors to the USB socket's back side, up the arm of the chair. Plug in the extension cord to the green adapter, and the DC adapter on the other side of the extension cord. I also zip tied the extension cord to the recliner's undercarriage to keep it clean.

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7. Plug in the DC adapter. Green light should light up. I found the extension cords ends could be a tad finnicky, just rotate them a bit if you get no green light. It will light up.

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My Nexus 4 plugged in and charging in AC mode.

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Last few notes:

1) I ended up buying 3 of THESE from Monoprice. They have very low profile to them and the wire portion is very thin and malleable. I bought 6 and have those dedicated to being theater seat charger cords. Keep the cords stowed somewhere close by. A permanent HT tablet could be permanently plugged in.

2) Remember that if both USB slots are used on any one socket, the charge will be halved, so little less than half an amp per device with 2 devices plugged in same socket, by my measurement. That should be enough to power 2 devices, even with screens on, however I doubt that situation would come up too often anyhow (unless you have a HT tablet permanently plugged in and then a phone as well).



Last edited by krispjorn; 08-20-2014 at 09:08 AM. Reason: Update
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post #2 of 8 Old 06-04-2014, 11:02 PM
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Great write up! Thanks for the detailed explanations.

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post #3 of 8 Old 06-05-2014, 07:56 AM
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Great writeup. Appreciate the links to parts too biggrin.gif
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post #4 of 8 Old 06-16-2014, 12:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by alittletank View Post
Great write up! Thanks for the detailed explanations.
Originally Posted by NickTheGreat View Post
Great writeup. Appreciate the links to parts too

So I've finished the 2nd and 3rd seats. By the 3rd, I had the drill method down pat. Took pics too, figured I'd share just in case. My seats' leather has some definite give to it, so this was easily done. If your leather is skin tight, I'd be cautious. Still do at your own risk, though this method worked great for me.

1) So to mark the center of the spot, I just put a dot using a black/blue pen. Hard to see, but with flash light on it, clearly visible.

2) I took a piece of paper and I placed the hole saw bit on top of it and, with a pen, drew it's outline on the paper. I then cut out the outline.

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3) Take the paper circle you just cut out and place it over top your drill spot against the leather, with the dot you marked on the leather at the center of the circle. Now outline the circle with pen directly on the leather. Don't forget that this still won't be visible due to the overlapping piece with writing on it on the socket.

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4) Now start a little hole in the leather at the center with the exacto knife. Then using the sharp scissors, cut outward and cut out a circle in the leather that is just slightly inside the penned outline you made. When cut out, should look like this:

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5) With the hole now cut, take the hole saw off of the bit (so that you only have a normal drill, but obviously use the same bit that you will use and that comes with the hole saw). Drill just the hole, dead center:

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6) With your drill hole done, re-attach the hole saw to the drill bit. With it not attached to your actual drill (just holding the hole saw in your hand), put the drill bit back through the hole you just made, getting the hole saw part close up to the leather. Obviously your cut hole is smaller than the hole saw's circumference. I used a pen to pull the leather up and over the hole saw all around its curcumference.

Lifting with pen:

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Hole saw is now in and good to go, no risk of eating up leather:

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7) With the leather out of the way and the hole saw firmly against the wood, re-fasten your actual drill to the hole saw bit. Drill with slight pressure and short bursts till you are through and reverse drill it back out.

Hole done with zero outside-the-socket-area damage:

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8) All 3 seats done:

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9) When all 3 seats are done, for the furthest two seats from the TBar plug I'm using, I bought 12 foot DC plug extension cords rather than 6 foot. I zip tied them going across the recliner undercarriages, having 2 cords together on the middle one ziptied, and 3 on the far right seat ziptied. The ends of the extension cords exit just to the right of the couch where they are connected to the DC power adapter cord from Amazon:

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10) Lastly, the 3 foot Monoprice premium USB cables I listed in the first post are $$. VERY low profile head and the cable body is extremely thin and malleable:

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Last edited by krispjorn; 06-17-2014 at 09:34 AM.
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post #5 of 8 Old 06-27-2014, 07:46 AM
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Awesome Idea! Wow I'm gonna do this! Looks like a nice budget project that has alot of bang for the buck!
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post #6 of 8 Old 08-08-2014, 02:12 PM
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Great write up!
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post #7 of 8 Old 03-15-2017, 11:25 AM
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I know this is an old post but I'm considering doing this to my HT seats. Hopefully someone can help with my questions.
1. You mention a T Bar in your post. Is this a bus bar or something different?
2. Did you buy 3 power supplies and just plug them into a surge protector?
3. Is there a reason you didn't use the cheap speaker wire to get the length you need for each wire instead of buying the extension cables?

Thank you,
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post #8 of 8 Old 03-18-2017, 04:39 PM
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Thanks for bringing this back up to attention. This idea has popped into my head a couple times, and seeing it completed previously by others will help push me forward now.

A couple small changes that make sense to me:
The location of both the original source and your installation seem odd. Does it not get in the way when someone sits in the chair? I expect installing the USB header on the front of the arm-rest to be much more usable.

I usually see holes cut in fabric as an X and the excess material folded back. This is likely to save time as I would expect continued possible tearing could result. However I would be still be worried about wear or tearing over time with fabrics (microfiber, suede, etc.) so maybe exposing to high heat after cutting would be helpful. (soldering iron)
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