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Thread: HTC Android meets Mercedes S-Class

  1. #1
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    HTC Android meets Mercedes S-Class

    hey guys just wanted to show my android in dash install in my 2000 S500 that I'm just about finishing up.I always loved this car and I've wanted one for the longest time, but now that I finally do have a decent one I really want to trade up to a newer, younger and nicer, low mileage really sweet one eventually, maybe an 05-06 S55 or S600, or who knows, maybe even a newer S550, so with these thoughts in mind I really didn't want to have to rip the whole original command system out of this 2000 I have for now, I didn't want to have to do a whole system replacement of the fiber optic buss, complicated mess, if the car is just going to be replaced eventually anyway, but at the same time I surely could not live with the original antique command system from 2000. no way, and I really didn't want to have to resort to the tacky way of docking my android phone on the dash. I mean sure, at first I had no choice and winded up doing the phone on the dash deal that so many wind up being stuck with, I really wanted a better, easier to use and more integrated system than that.it sucks when the nav on your phone is way better than the nav in the dash. I needed a solution

    I knew I wanted to keep everything 100% easily reversible to stock when the time comes to sell it, because most times, especially on a car like this, a car with a stock unmolested dash is going to be worth more than even the nicest aftermarket setup & you'll never get the value back of a full custom system on top of the value of the car itself. I really didn't want to loose a few grand here by ripping everything out and installing an aftermarket head unit or the PC install I really had in mind for this, which would have been way too involved, so I had to come up with something custom, yet more on the simple side of things.

    my goal here was to install a system that gives me all the latest bells & whistles, the latest navigation with live traffic integration, all my MP3's & movies, both on board & over 4G via slingbox, full internet access and internet radio. Pandora, Shoutcast & Slacker are awesome, so much better than FM. but at the same time I still wanted to keep all of the factory stuff functional, stuff like the whole original fiber optic bose audio system, the steering wheel controls, even keep the factory FM & CD changer to stay fully functional too.

    I also really wanted this to look perfect and to look factory. no tablet jutting out of the dash like a bigger version of the giant tacked on phone mount... I def wanted it to look like it could have came that way. I wanted the styling and even the illumination to match the rest of the dash well enough that it just looks like it belongs there. this car is just too nice to want any less, but again it had to be easily reversible too.

    what I eventually came up with here I think winded up being a truly perfect solution for all my goals. yes it's not a full blown PC like I'm more used to. heavier custom fabrication don't scare me in the least & I even happen to even have a fujistsu 8.9" widescreen, convertable tablet/laptop thing that has a sunlight viewable touch screen even, would have been a perfect fit & was tempting to me for a bit, but here I wanted to avoid that for the other reasons.

    I removed the factory bezel & saved it, then recessed the radio into the dash a bit with custom brackets, and then built a new custom bezel to fit directly over the original radio with enough room to dock the HTC evo view tablet completely flush into the bezel. when it's docked it pretty much looks fully integrated & installed and you have no clue the original radio is right behind it. most that see it think it is a head unit at first... but then notice the mercedes logo on the display, then the android elements... then the custom buttons

    I was able to piece this together in a way that my new bezel has buttons that press the original head units buttons behind them. the first 3 of my custom buttons press the original buttons for: radio, cd changer and tape deck buttons. to match best and follow mercedes styling I decided to use symbols for button labels as mercedes does throughout the dash. the radio button is now an antenna icon, the cd changer is a cd icon, and the tape deck which is now hidden & used as just the auxiliary input in this configuration, so the tape deck button is labeled with an android icon, it select's the tablet as source.

    the next 2 buttons are just add on buttons that I had to add to keep everything symmetrical & balanced looking, it looked off with just the 3 buttons off center, these 2 extra buttons are to turn my TPMS display on and off and to turn my bluetooth on and off.

    even when the tablet is docked & being used for navigation blocking the original screen, I can select FM or the CD changer & control these right through the instrument panel display with the steering wheel buttons, so fm & the cd changer are both very usable even with the factory screen blocked.

    the bezel is done in a way that leaves the factory radio accessible & somewhat presentable even when the tablet is removed, the tablet easily docks & ejects, so if I ever have to use the car without the tablet it is still usable.

    to return this whole thing to 100% stock takes less than 15 minutes. the total cost, aside from the tablet itself, was less than $200. I used a $50 junk yard bezel & about $40 worth of jb weld to build the bezel/dock. the rest is for the HTC HDMI adapter & HTC car power supply, the cassette adapter & misc materials to finish this. the whole thing, even including the tablet itself,cost less than just some of the add on ipod kits I've this for this car, so I'd say it was pretty cost effective too

    anyway, long winded, I know, so some pictures of the build & then the final result








































































    I didn't go into much detail of the construction itself here, so any questions or comments let me know. me doing this install on one of my own cars does NOT mean that I now think android is better than a full blown carpc. if I really felt this car was more of a long term keeper then I think I would have went with the full on fujitsu PC with windows 7 instead of this tablet, but, here I had to keep some limitations. and that is what I think an android install is. it is an easy alternative, with limitations, but in the end it is STILL a live dash, it still has & does much of what I would crave from a PC, and when faced with limitations it can be at least a satisfactory alternative and in some ways it's even refreshing as an alternative, just in it's relative simplicity compared to a PC.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    here's a few shots of the car itself. just recently finished the repaint & don't have any good day shots yet. it was riginally black but I repainted it a different mercedes black called designo mocha black. has a ton of metallic flake & a classy chocolate mocha tint to it but it's still mostly black. lovin the new color. I also added a set of 19" AMG wheels & a new set of oversized continentals for the stuffed wheel well look without having to really drop it.


























  3. #3
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    Nice, even got a custom android button and looks factory, awesome

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    hide your plates mate..
    very nice by the way

  5. #5
    Variable Bitrate daclothe's Avatar
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    Pure class, as always...mind sharing a little more on how you did the custom buttons? Those really make the whole thing pop!

  6. #6
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    thanks guys, the buttons came out far from perfect and there a big make it or break it kinda thing on this bezel. to me there just barely good enough to live with for now, I mean they don't annoy the crap out of me each time I see them, but they are def not good enough for me to really be proud of them, barely good enough to not be embarrassed

    how I made these button labels

    I first sanded all the black from the face of the donor buttons. the donor buttons were originally from a set of radio presets, so they were labeled 1-5. once the black finish was sanded the face of the button where sanded is opaque & the whole thing lights up when a lamp is placed behind it. to make just a button logo light up you need to block off with black wherever you don't want light, just leaving the white logo for the light to shine through. the images are too small for an average vinyl plotter to cut, so I couldn't get them cut by a sign guy which how I would normally do a stencil that's larger than this.

    what I did was print the images I wanted onto a CD label with a laserjet, then stick it on the button face & trim it with an xacto blade. then clearcoat the whole button, sealing this label to the button & making it all appear as one piece.

    the 2 main problems I had was, first, even though the laser jet toner is black,it's not really dense enough or dark enough to completely block light from behind. between coats I colored the black area best I could with a black sharpie to block the light so it didn't light up grey along with the white icon. this doesn't give perfect results because I can't really trace close enough to the icons to get crisp edges.

    second problem I had was, these buttons suck because they have a round raised bump in the center of each. this made it impossible for the stick on label to really sit completely flat, so I winded up having to then stick the labels on with clear epoxy, the clear epoxy kinda filled the tiny voids which would have otherwise been air bubbles without the epoxy. even after the epoxy set it was a little bit of a bumpy mess, but after enough clear & sanding & re-clearing it leveled off a bit eventually.

    I left the buttons no gloss because this hides the imperfections of my sharpie work. if I polished these buttons for a bit more gloss then the resulting clearer finish would allow you to see the sharpie stuff more. leaving the dull finish hides all that. I may try to sand them a little more gloss though, just to a matte finish rather than flat finish & see if they really look bad

    if I redo these button again eventually then I'd cut the face down to completely flat, removing that raised bump in the center of each. the bump in the middle will become a hole because the button is thin plastic & the bump is pressed to above the level of flat, which is why I didn't do that initially. the resulting hole would have been a big problem with a CD label as the decal, but this time I would print the icon on photo paper because it has enough body to span the hole, maybe even epoxy in a thin sheet of plastic first, laminating over the hole even, if necessary, but definitely removing that bump & then printing it dark enough to completely block the light & not having to do any sharpie touch ups, then clearing that would result in a much better button...

    I'd have to find the time & patience to do them again, one day I may, but as I said there at least presentable, usable & decent right now at least & I have far more pressing projects waiting for my attention atm so these will stay like this for a bit I think. as they are now I'd give them a 7 or so on a scale of 1-10 funny though most that see it in person think i'm crazy & think there perfect, but there definitely not.

  7. #7
    Variable Bitrate daclothe's Avatar
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    They probably haven't seen your other work...thanks for the detailed response, and once again a tip of the cap to you sir!

  8. #8
    MySQL Error scott_fx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by turbocad6 View Post
    thanks guys, the buttons came out far from perfect and there a big make it or break it kinda thing on this bezel. to me there just barely good enough to live with for now, I mean they don't annoy the crap out of me each time I see them, but they are def not good enough for me to really be proud of them, barely good enough to not be embarrassed

    how I made these button labels

    I first sanded all the black from the face of the donor buttons. the donor buttons were originally from a set of radio presets, so they were labeled 1-5. once the black finish was sanded the face of the button where sanded is opaque & the whole thing lights up when a lamp is placed behind it. to make just a button logo light up you need to block off with black wherever you don't want light, just leaving the white logo for the light to shine through. the images are too small for an average vinyl plotter to cut, so I couldn't get them cut by a sign guy which how I would normally do a stencil that's larger than this.

    what I did was print the images I wanted onto a CD label with a laserjet, then stick it on the button face & trim it with an xacto blade. then clearcoat the whole button, sealing this label to the button & making it all appear as one piece.

    the 2 main problems I had was, first, even though the laser jet toner is black,it's not really dense enough or dark enough to completely block light from behind. between coats I colored the black area best I could with a black sharpie to block the light so it didn't light up grey along with the white icon. this doesn't give perfect results because I can't really trace close enough to the icons to get crisp edges.

    second problem I had was, these buttons suck because they have a round raised bump in the center of each. this made it impossible for the stick on label to really sit completely flat, so I winded up having to then stick the labels on with clear epoxy, the clear epoxy kinda filled the tiny voids which would have otherwise been air bubbles without the epoxy. even after the epoxy set it was a little bit of a bumpy mess, but after enough clear & sanding & re-clearing it leveled off a bit eventually.

    I left the buttons no gloss because this hides the imperfections of my sharpie work. if I polished these buttons for a bit more gloss then the resulting clearer finish would allow you to see the sharpie stuff more. leaving the dull finish hides all that. I may try to sand them a little more gloss though, just to a matte finish rather than flat finish & see if they really look bad

    if I redo these button again eventually then I'd cut the face down to completely flat, removing that raised bump in the center of each. the bump in the middle will become a hole because the button is thin plastic & the bump is pressed to above the level of flat, which is why I didn't do that initially. the resulting hole would have been a big problem with a CD label as the decal, but this time I would print the icon on photo paper because it has enough body to span the hole, maybe even epoxy in a thin sheet of plastic first, laminating over the hole even, if necessary, but definitely removing that bump & then printing it dark enough to completely block the light & not having to do any sharpie touch ups, then clearing that would result in a much better button...

    I'd have to find the time & patience to do them again, one day I may, but as I said there at least presentable, usable & decent right now at least & I have far more pressing projects waiting for my attention atm so these will stay like this for a bit I think. as they are now I'd give them a 7 or so on a scale of 1-10 funny though most that see it in person think i'm crazy & think there perfect, but there definitely not.
    another solution to your button problem would be to paint them black then get someone to laser etch them.
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    this was a test that i did... sort of along the same lines as what you are trying to accomplish. the oem feel.
    it's hard to see but the text/images on the buttons are semi transparent. aka.. backlighting friendly. the top was meant for capacitance touch while the bottoms were meant as a front face for a physical button.
    Last edited by scott_fx; 02-16-2012 at 06:34 PM.
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  9. #9
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    yeah, that is really awesome. where did you have the lazer etching done?

  10. #10
    MySQL Error scott_fx's Avatar
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    it was a while back and the dude was super slow. i wouldn't recommend him, i think it was just a hobby of his. you can probably find a place that does trophy plaque engraving or some plastic shops can do it too. there is a place out here that im pretty sure does it if you want the contact info (though i haven't dealt with them much besides buying blank stock
    New System in progress:
    M10k
    Phaze TD1500 ~> Dynaudio MD130
    Phaze TD1500 ~> Seas g18rnx/p
    Zapco Ref 500.1 ~ 12" tc-9
    Behringer DCX2496 ~ Envision Electronics psu
    Transflective Xenarc

    My Car Pc Install
    My Boat Pc worklog

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