Fight That Tesla Envy With A Tablet Dash For Your Car

[Aykut Çelik] uses some strong words to describe how he feels about his VW Polo’s current radio set-up. Words like, “useless,” are bandied about. What is a modern man supposed to do with a car that doesn’t have built-in navigation or Bluetooth connectivity with phones? Listen to the radio? There are actual (mostly) self driving cars on the road now. No, [Aykut] moves forward, not backwards.

To fix this horrendous shortcoming in his car’s feature package, he set out to install a tablet in the dash. His blog write-up undersells the amount of work that went into the project, but the video after the break rectifies this misunderstanding. He begins by covering the back of a face-down Samsung tablet with a large sheet of plastic film. Next he lays a sheet of fiberglass over the tablet and paints it with epoxy until it has satisfactorily clung to the back of the casing. Afterwards comes quite a bit of work fitting an off-the-shelf panel display mount to the non-standard hardware. He eventually takes it to a local shop which does the final fitting on the contraption.

The electronics are a hodgepodge of needed parts: An amplifier, to replace the one that was attached to the useless husk of the prior radio set; a CAN shield for an Arduino, so that he could still use the steering wheel buttons; and a Bluetooth shield, so that the Arduino could talk to the tablet. Quite a bit of hacking happened, and the resulting software is on GitHub.

The final assembly went together well. While it’s no Tesla console. It does get over the air updates whenever he feels like writing them. [Aykut] moves forward with the times.

37 thoughts on “Fight That Tesla Envy With A Tablet Dash For Your Car

  1. IMHO, cars are not the place for touchscreen controls, when I’m driving I don’t want have to look away from the road to adjust something, and that’s where touchscreen fails because there’s no tactile feedback to what you’re adjusting so you have to look at the screen to see what to press.

      1. It’s like a Buick Reatta for the 21st Century. Now there’s a hackworthy car. Yoink its crappy monochrome CRT out and replace it with a color touch screen LCD. That should also leave a nice cavern behind it to add even more goodies.

        Then for the mechanicals, transplant the AWD drivetrain from a Pontiac STE. Pity that the STE only had a 3 speed auto, so no overdrive. Correcting that error by General Motors would be complicated and expensive – unless there’s a way to graft the rear drive output onto a 1990’s GM front drive 4 speed auto.

        Why a Buick Reatta? Because it’s still a really nice looking car, but hamstrung by (except its final year) the clunky touchscreen, front wheel drive and a WTFing 79% front weight bias.

    1. You can get the CAN message database from VW, or more exactly a service provider, but it costs a lot. It’s cheaper to sniff the bus and push buttons to find their messages. CAN is a broadcast bus, so assuming you are on the correct CAN network (many cars have several), you can passively observe the bus and get a dump. Pretty standard Hack-a-day stuff from there, in fact I’ve read a few projects that do it. You can get all kinds of operational data like steering angle, wheel speeds, etc. Just one more project for a later day…

    1. It depends on the epoxy. Some people are allergic to all epoxy mixes, other people are completely immune to any reaction. Handling glass should be no trouble (are people allergic to glass?). The more styrene the epoxy has, the more breathing protection would be needed. Many epoxies have no styrene in them. I like gloves because the cleanup is easier. Most epoxy resins while wet will wash off with soap and water.

      If this were polyester resin, boy eye, skin and breathing protection would be absolutely required, and maybe don’t do it in an office setting.

          1. It’s not cancer, but silikosis. (lung problems) Just as bad though…
            The epoxies however, that’s where the “good” stuff is, styrene is a suspected carcinogen. Uncured phenolic epoxies also seem to cause problems…

  2. Alexa for music & information, your favorite phone app for voice navigation (until Alexa gets her act together and starts talking to GPS). Touchscreens for the driver are so last decade.

  3. Well, the original radio at least had physical knobs for controls so you could just reach down and adjust volume, whatever. With this tiny screen and small buttons he is going to have to stop (or risk crashing) in order to use it every time. Ergonomic win … But it has bluetooth and touchscreen, yay!

    This is a seriously dumb and actually dangerous mod.

    1. You skipped the most important part.Tablet is controlled with the buttons on the wheel.(Volume up,down,skip song,turnoff screen).
      If I want navigation I pull over and enter the destination address. That is the most beautiful thing about it.Google maps on your car dash.
      I tried to minimize the touch feedback using wheel buttons.

    2. That’s why part of this hack involves retaining the usability of the steering wheel controls. This way he can adjust volume and change channels/tracks without ever taking his hands off the wheel.

    3. Disagree. Lots of cars come with factory touchscreens now, all the way from base models all the way up to very high end machines. I think it’s a great build and more power to him.

      Besides, now he’s got a tablet in his dash. He can do whatever the hell he wants. Voice control? Sure! Additional hardware buttons (besides the wheel) to do other stuff? Why not! The sky is the limit. The point is the locked down, essentially appliance-like factory stereo is gone and now he has a nice Android canvas to work with.

      1. I’m going to go on a rant now. What is it with hackaday lately? Whenever somebody does something cool all the wonnabes from their parents basement come up to rain on their parade. I don’t understand it. 75% of the comments, are about how something is unsafe or how it’s stupid. I don’t get it.

        I think if somebody is going to start Comic-book-guy-ing somebody else’s project, they should first have to post THEIR awesome project that they had on hackaday. But it won’t happen. Because the whiners have never done anything worthwhile.

        I deal with this a lot at work. People who fail or have no accomplishments of their own take power away from people who succeed by pissing all over them like this.

        Anyway Aykut, good build. Keep up the good work and THANK YOU for putting your hard work up on Github. I might not necessarily use it, but I’m sure someone will find it useful.

        1. drivers being distracted is a huge problem, I see people talking or worse texting/whatever every day.
          there is a distinction between poopooing the implementation and concern about the concept.
          steering wheel controls are great but there is still a touch screen in the dash.
          here laws require video screens to be out of sight for a driver doesn’t mean you have to watch a whole movie before getting into an accident, just look away for an instant.
          personally I don’t even like satnav in a car, I think drivers should be able to plan journeys and read road signs and not lose their cool when they get lost. a sense of direction helps too.
          go to make if you want a hugbox

          1. As indicated in a previous post, this is very similar to the touchscreen based displays that are on almost every modern car now. Aykut has created nothing more inherently dangerous than is already provided (and approved by the various agencies that must approve such things for mass sale). I don’t know where your ‘here’ is, but I would hazard a guess that you could go down to your local automall and have your choice of brands/models that have similar touchscreens built in to their dash.

            Your same argument can be made every other thing that could potentially distract a driver. Before portable GPS, people would get distracted by looking at a physical map. Before touchscreen based audio players, people would mess around with CDs (or cassette tapes, or 8 tracks). The problem is not the device, it’s the people. There are may people that use the technology responsibly, and it enriches and even increases safety – being distracted looking a road signs can be just as bad as any of the other distractions mentioned. Then there are some people, who given a straight road with no turns, no need for a GPS, and no radio (or touchscreen player) to distract them would decide to bring a newspaper to read while driving, and maybe shave or apply lipstick on the way.

          2. I haven’t been in any cars with touchscreen controls, cars with screens I have seen display a warning or agreement for the driver to pull over safely before using it, not that that does anything except shift liability. I know there are gesture based controls now, I don’t know if that is any better.
            I rode in cars a lot before GPS, if you got lost you would have a passenger check the map. when I was a kid the argument about sitting up front was all to do with being the navigator in case of emergency.
            swapping a cd or cassette is tactile, tapes were better because there is no track numbers to read, you can keep your eyes on the road. not that I think its a good idea to do, a disc changer with steering controls is probably a good idea if you insist on your own music but of course being able to hear your environment can be very beneficial.

            GPS is about the best argument you could make for this, even then it doesn’t need a screen because it reads the directions out loud. music and radio you don’t need a screen for either. facebook and twitter on your dashboard? no comment.

            oh and if you cause an accident by reading a road sign I think there should be a review into the licensing process. yes driving standards are poor but why encourage it? that woman is putting on lipstick at the lights so I should be allowed to watch youtube videos? grow up.

  4. I’ve done down the Raspberry Pi + OpenELEC route in my 07 Audi A4. I have an Arduino + CAN adapter that detects keypresses from the radio and steering wheel and passes them through USB HID. Works great for media. Total cost under £100 for all parts. Looks stock too which is always a good thing.

  5. This is very cool! My new car has a lot of this, but, the screen is not as nice as a tablet and looks kind of last decade. I don’t know why they dont use better screens and upgradable software. I was just kooking at my nexus 7 tablet last night, before i saw this article, and thought about how cool it would look in dash!

  6. is that a galaxy tab in your dashboard or are you please to see me. The one main picture put me off, poor hack, there are 100’s of better hacks out there for android tablet dashboard hacks and this was the best?
    oh am one of those against touch dashboards, give me the tactile feed back of knarled buttons and dotted knobs,

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