One of the biggest upsides of open communications standards such as CAN or SPI is that a whole world of vehicle hacking becomes available, from simple projects like adding sensors or computers to a car or even building a complete engine control unit from the ground up. The reverse is true as well; sensors and gauges using one of these protocols can be removed from a car and put to work in other projects. That’s the idea that [John] had when he set about using a vehicle’s dashboard as a information cluster for his home.
The core of the build is an Astra GTE dashboard cluster, removed from its host vehicle, and wired to an Arduino-compatible board, in this case an ESP32. The code that [John] wrote bit-bangs an SPI bus and after some probing is able to address all of the instrument gauges on the dashboard. For his own use at home, he’s also configured it to work with Home Assistant, where each of the gauges is configured to represent something his home automation system is monitoring using a bit mask to send data to specific dials.
While this specific gauge cluster has a lot of vehicle-specific instrumentation and needs a legend or good memory to tie into a home automation system without any other modification, plenty of vehicle gauges are more intuitive and as long as they have SPI they’d be perfect targets for builds that use this underlying software. This project takes a similar tack and repurposes a few analog voltmeters for home automation, adding a paper background to the meters to make them easier to read.
Continue reading “A Dashboard Outside The Car”
Analog gauges gave way to all manner of fancy electroluminescent and LED gauges in the ’80s, but the trend didn’t last long. It’s only in the last decade or so that LCD digital gauges have really started to take off in premium cars. [Josh] is putting a modern engine and drivetrain into his classic Triumph GT6, and realised that he’d have to scrap the classic mechanical gauge setup. After not falling in love with anything off the shelf, he decided to whip up his own solution from scratch.
The heart of the build is a Raspberry Pi 4, which interfaces with the car’s modern aftermarket ECU via CANBUS thanks to the PiCAN3 add-on board. Analog sensors, such as those for oil pressure and coolant temperature, are interfaced with a Teensy 4.0 microcontroller which has the analog to digital converters necessary to do the job. Display is via a 12.3″ super-wide LCD sourced off Aliexpress, with the graphics generated by custom PixiJS code running in Chromium under X.
The result is comparable with digital displays in many other modern automobiles, speaking to [Josh]’s abilities not just as a programmer but a graphic designer, too. As a bonus, if he gets sick of the design, it’s trivial to change the graphics without having to dig into the car’s actual hardware.
Gauge upgrades are common on restomod projects; another route taken is to convert classical mechanical gauges to electronic drive. If you’re cooking up your own sweet set of gauges in the garage, be sure to drop us a line! Video after the break.
Continue reading “Classic Triumph Gets A Modern Digital Dash”
On older vehicles, if you noticed that the lights had gone out behind one of your gauges, you knew it was time to snake your hand back there and replace the little incandescent bulb that had given up the ghost. But what are you supposed to do if you’re seeing the same problem on a modern vehicle that’s already made the leap to LED dash lighting? That’s what [Tysonpower] recently had to find out when the fuel indicator on his Alfa Romeo Giuletta QV went dark.
In the video after the break, [Tysonpower] details how to remove the instrument cluster from the Giuletta’s dash, which we imagine would be a useful little tutorial for anyone who owns the same vehicle. Once he has it out on the bench, he strips it down to the bare PCB and starts (literally) poking around.
He eventually noticed that if he pushed on the board near the fuel indicator he could get the appropriate 3528 SMD LED to light up, but touching up the solder joints didn’t seem to fix the issue. Assuming the LED must be defective internally, he simply replaced it and all was good again.
Well, not exactly. The light produced by the new part didn’t match the color or brightness of the other dozen or so white LEDs that were installed on the board, so [Tysonpower] decided to just dive in and replace them all. While it obviously took a lot more time and effort, he says the end result is that the instrument cluster looks noticeably brighter and crisper when driving at night. Not bad for an afternoon’s work and a couple bucks worth of LEDs.
Most of the time, when we see somebody messing around behind the dash it’s because they intend on replacing the original instruments with something more capable. But projects like this, which add just a touch of refinement to the existing hardware, prove that stock components aren’t always a disappointment.
Continue reading “Alfa Romeo Gauge Cluster Gets A Fresh Set Of LEDs”
For those not familiar with sailing, it might seem like an obsolete way to get around on the water. This isn’t 1492 anymore, and it’s pretty easy to go out and get a boat with a motor to get where you need to go. Sailboats, however, are still one of the most efficient ways to travel. There are essentially no fuel costs, and maintenance on them is often easier than on a boat with an engine. Not to mention the fun involved in flying a hull on a catamaran. Anyway, if you’re [gwilken], you can bring your sailboat even further into modern times by building your own sensor array for it.
The ultimate goal of this project was to get all gauges and sensors reporting data to an iPad, rather than to random gauge clusters around the ship. This includes environmental conditions, speed, and motor status (most larger sailboats have a motor for getting around the marina). A Raspberry Pi ties it all together, including a GPS antenna for monitoring location. [gwilken] also includes a WiFi antenna and a cell antenna for maintaining a network connection for reporting all of this information. With this connectivity, he can also control some functions of the boat as well.
[gwilken] made the decision to ditch the conventional gas motor for a more energy-efficient electric motor. This also has the perk of being essentially maintenance-free, and can even charge his battery in regen mode while his boat is under sail. The sailboat is now fully equipped for the 21st century, in a similar way to another boat’s gauge cluster that was recently featured.
A few years back [Evan] built a kegerator from a mini fridge and was quite happy with his new beer chiller. Like many of us do, he started thinking up ways in which he could improve the project as soon as it was completed. While it took a couple of years, he recently got around to adding the temperature and capacity gauges he always wanted.
He added a temperature probe to the refrigerator, and then constructed a pair of tools that he could use to measure how much beer was left in the keg. The volume monitors include a scale built using a pair of pressure sensors from SparkFun, and a flow sensor installed in the beer line.
[Evan] scored an old Chevy gauge cluster and cleaned it up before installing a pair of analog meters which he used to show the keg’s temperature and “fuel” level. Since he feels no project is complete without some LED love, he added a few of them to the display without hesitation. The LEDs calmly pulsate when the keg sits idle, but spring to life and begin flashing when the flow sensor is activated.
As evidenced by this pair of keg monitoring systems, we think that you can never have enough information when it comes to your beer stash, so we really like how this project came together.
Be sure to check out his kegerator’s gauge cluster in the video below.
Continue reading “Keep All Eyes On Your Kegerator With This Light Up Gauge Cluster”