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Old 07-14-2008, 11:03 PM
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lcd panel for gauge display

I've had an idea for quite a while, and though Hot Rod guys may not be fans of my idea, I figured I'd post to see if anyone could provide me with info on what would be involved in making this work.

I guess my biggest question in all of this is how to take a mechanical movement and convert it to a signal that could be displayed on a LCD monitor. My first idea was to take an electrical motor and reverse its function. Basically, a speedometer cable somehow connected to the armature of a small electric motor would create a votage that steadily increased with RPM. Kinda like the way a voltmeter works. What would be the easiest way to do this?

The second and more complicated task would be finding a computer application that could measure the various voltages from different sending units and things that are usually read out on a mechanical gauge and displaying their values on a screen mounted in a location normally reserved for a gauge cluster.

To sum it up, I guess what I would like to do is take the digital dash (c4, impala ss) one step futher and create a computer application for an infinitely variable display. Maybe implementing a touch screen to control things like a/c, radio, mirrors, and even things like air/fuel ratio and spark timing.

Am I in la la land or is this doable?

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Old 07-15-2008, 08:50 AM
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Very doable..Most of the late models use sensors for the various functions such as water temp..oil pressure...the speedo is electronic from a trans sensor..Your diagnostic equipment is a readout on a laptop giving you the performance parameters on a screen and we have the data gathering equipment which is being used on top fuel cars as well as formula cars..Touch screens are off the shelf now so operating the radio and heater/ac is doable as well as programming the seats and such for individual drivers..

Brush up on your computer skills and build one..See you at SEMA with your digital dash deal..

Good luck

I have tried most all of it and now do what is known to work..
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Old 07-15-2008, 09:33 AM
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I figured it was possible but I'm no Steve Jobs. Are the computer skills needed to integrate this into one big application out of reach for the average joe? I'm guessing a whole computer program would have to be created and thats no small task for a large corporation. I'll put the finished design right below my flux capacitor when I'm done, lol.
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Old 07-15-2008, 09:42 AM
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You could use a small LCD display and feed it with a small ITX motherboard. You could integrate GPS and other things in it too. Whip up a desktop background that looks digital dash-like and with an instrumentation card like is used for industrial applications you are in business. A light Linux distro can be the OS.

The question is it worth it? I would do it just to say I did it, for the fun of it, but would live with standard analogue gages.
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Old 07-15-2008, 09:53 AM
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im actually working on such a project or at least similar project for my monte carlo.... I am running a Nordskog digital dash currently for my main gauges and so i havent gotten so far into the actual gauge part of it yet but its very doable with some hardware.... however there some things to consider..

1] most sensors for temp / oil P / fuel are standard 0-5 volt sensors... my temp gauge is a thermistor type that provides voltages based on tempaerature.. a GM fuel gauge is a 0-90 ohm unit. so same thing send out 5 volts and see how much you get back.. oil pressure as well...

speedometer / odometer is handled by a sensor that screws into your transmission and creates electrical pulses based on speed.. im using one from nordskog that is I believe 8000 PPM (pulses per Mile) so in your software you keep a running count of every pulse.. query it say every second and there you go calculate the speed.. and also the distance driven...

these can be handled using a Basic Stamp processor with just a little bit of circuitry to monitor... the temp gauge being the toughest as most temp gauges are non-linear so you have to have a lookup table..... speed sensor pulses can easily be read with the basic stamp as well... then connect the stamp to a "carputer" that will have the processing power and VGA output to drive your screen..

now in my case im not going the gauge route just yet - although it is in the thoughts for the future... just tough to find a screen size that will even stand a chanceat fitting in my dash and looking decent... im going for the center stack thus far... so im working on HVAC control, Music, Navigation, Internet access, trackability (track my car whereabouts), and the capability that if I go TPI or fuel injection i can monitor the car's systems...

HVAC: the same basic stamp i talked of earlier.. only a second one will control my HVAC in the following manner.. the GM HVAC system consists of vacuum operated doors to change the air deflection to the vents, floor, defrost, or combo of those.. as well as vacuum to close the heater water valve and also the air-recirculation door.... since these devices are not modulated merely just "on or off" vacuum solenoids will be used for these...

the Hot / cold air mix door is cable driven... but just so happens that cadillac used a servo to drive theirs... and it mounts nicely to about any GM box... early - late 80's cadillacs are great for these... they also return a 0-5 volt signal that tells you the position of the servo... monitor it and you'll know how far open or closed the door is... nifty huh?

Fan speed control: Cadillac used a variable fan speed control in the cars mentioned above also... it took a 0-5 volt signal and boosted it to a 0-12 volt signal for variable speed on the interior blower.... basic stamp and a dallas 1 wire variable pot with a 5 volt input signal.. and you are rockin!

now the Hard part!! how to find a screen that is bright enough in daylight to be visible.. you know when the sun pops in from over your shoulder right on the dash... and also can be dimmed for night vision.. so far i havent found a screen I like yet....

but to answer your question yes this is all very possible and something im interested in enough that ive started to play with it and build some electronics for... now I havent written any of the software for it yet... although spftware does exist for carputers already including some dash stuff.. I'll probably end up writing my own in VB.NET or if the serial ports give me too much fits in .NET ill write it in VB6....
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