DIY Digital Dash System

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DIY Digital Dash System

Postby nz_climber » Wed Nov 08, 2017 1:53 pm

Here is a bit of a story about the Digital Dash System I am currently building to replace my Altezza Gauges in my car.

Concept is to build a colour digital dash similar to the Motec, AEM, AIM versions that are around today that are all priced well above what I can justify spending. Needs to have all the functions you would expect of a dash for the road as well as the track.

The design of the display portion of the dash is going to follow a similar concept to the Dark Cockpit theory used in Aviation with glass cockpits, the theory being under normal conditions most of the dash will just be a grey on black showing the essential information, but if a parameter goes outside normal conditions it will change colour, activate a warning or caution and display more detail if needed. So at a glance if everything is grey its good to go, and everything is in one place.

Some reasons for getting rid of the Altezza Gauge set is they are too slow to react, have no warning system in place, most of the gauges are poorly marked (example the voltage gauge is marked at 9V and 18V so the actual normal operating area is tiny in an unmarked portion.) Also there is no Oil temp gauge and the fuel gauge doesn't play nice with my new sensor.

I have looked far and wide for commercial solutions, but even the expensive version's don't work that well with OEM ECU's (no OBDII on the altezza) or things like odometer's and indicators and often require even more expensive expansion modules to do the basic stuff.

I looked into using tablets and laptops etc but decided the time to boot is to slow along with a range of other issues, there is a few apps for engine data gauges but don't provide provisions for the simple stuff like indicators.

I then played with Arduino Mega and a small colour LCD screen which worked ok on the desk at home, but it was not very bright the size was too small, also I had to compromise the display to much because of the lack of computing power to draw to the screen quickly.

So where I am at now is the brains of the unit is an Arduino Due (much more powerful)
https://store.arduino.cc/usa/arduino-due

Then the display is a 4D systems 7inch super bright display, the good thing about this is you just update the parameters for display via serial link, the display it self looks after all the drawing of gauges etc and it has a great systems to building and customising what you see on the display through their own IDE.
http://www.4dsystems.com.au/

Image

Also have purchased a 10hz GPS to provide time data for logging and eventually lap timing etc. Logging is done to a micro SD card.

Warnings/Cautions and shift lights are done with a RGB LED strip (8 LEDs long).

All the bits of the puzzle are working on the desk as individual units (eg the screen works and talks with the arduino, the logging to SD card works, the GPS works), now I need to start building up the system so everything works together and ensure all the signals are correct accurate etc. To start with will be just based around road driving so will concentrate on the following items:

Speed
Odometer (and trip meters)
Tachometer
Oil Pressure and Temp
Fuel Level
Water Temp
Warning lights (indicators, high beam, check engine light etc)
User interface to change brightness, reset trip meters etc

Then as the system matures I plan to include different display formats for at the track and expand on the functionality to in include logging, lap timing and other functions.
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Re: DIY Digital Dash System

Postby Talkiet » Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:56 pm

Cool... I just discovered a couple of days ago that the Megasquirt in my car MIGHT be CANbus capable... If it is then I can expose the CANbus and use pretty much any off the shelf dash application or legit digital dash as a replacement set of gauges... I can also use CAN bus shield for Arduino to add CANbus messages to the network for the other stuff I am doing location from GPS, tyre and brake temps etc...

When I get a free evening I will open up the ECU and add the CanH and CanL lines and then see if I can get it talking to a canbus listener on an Arduino.

I'm also pretty excited about the Teensy (3.2 and 3.5) boards which are hugely powerful Arduino compatible units smaller than a box of matches AND with Canbus built in (You have to add a $2 transceiver chip though.

Exciting times. Got any video of that screen in sunlight? That's something I am still missing - a good bright screen.

Cheers - N
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Re: DIY Digital Dash System

Postby nz_climber » Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:09 am

My Toyota ECU uses it's own multiplex bus which I wasn't going to try and decode, but really only had to add a water temp sensor and get tacho signal from the diagnostic connector, don't really need to display anything else from the ECU. Oil pressure etc all goes straight to the old dash.

Yes I have been keeping an eye on the teensy boards, very keen to get one if the due can't keep up but it should work fine as I only plan to update tach and oil pressure at 10hz, speed will be done about 2hz and everything else is less than 1hz.

Sorry don't have a video of the screen in sunlight yet ( need to build a separate 5v supply as it overloads the Arduino 5v line at full bright (works fine about 20%) and seems very clear.

Here is the display format I am working on for road use.

Image

Sent from my SM-T800 using Tapatalk
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Re: DIY Digital Dash System

Postby nz_climber » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:06 pm

Some more photos of how the design is coming along. The screen is hard to get good photos of especially the colours.ImageImageImageImage

Sent from my Nexus 5X using Tapatalk
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Re: DIY Digital Dash System

Postby nz_climber » Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:09 pm

Also took it outside today in the sunshine to see what it looks like.

Very impressed, here it is at half and full brightness. Pictures have more reflections than in person.ImageImage

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Last edited by nz_climber on Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: DIY Digital Dash System

Postby Talkiet » Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:18 pm

Wow... That's amazing...

If I get CANbus Dash broadcasting working from the Megasquirt I think there's approx a 100% chance I'll get something like that... I'll have too much data not to!

Cheers - N
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Re: DIY Digital Dash System

Postby Linesy » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:14 pm

Awesome project, would love to do something similar with the new racecar!

What sort of costs are in it?
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Re: DIY Digital Dash System

Postby 7ish » Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:24 am

Nice work, Aaron.

How hard would it be to have 2 options for the dash layout, one for road use, and one for track?
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Re: DIY Digital Dash System

Postby nz_climber » Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:00 am

Linesy wrote:Awesome project, would love to do something similar with the new racecar!

What sort of costs are in it?


Hey, the most expensive bit was the screen about $300nzd ( for the superbright starter pack, then another $100 for the pro license that I probably didn't need) , gps unit was about $50 (because I wanted a high update rate to use for lap timing) Arduino Due was $30, SD card logging $10. Should be under $500 once finished.
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Re: DIY Digital Dash System

Postby nz_climber » Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:07 am

7ish wrote:Nice work, Aaron.

How hard would it be to have 2 options for the dash layout, one for road use, and one for track?


Cheers Evan, should be easy to do as all the screen elements are drawn on a form and you can have multiple forms that are changed by serial command. I will get rid of the speedo in track mode and just have a digit read out for speed, will make room for things like lap timing. Also in the future want a page so you can view simple logged data (lap times, splits etc) easily at the track without downloading to a laptop etc
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