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grayvader's 2005 Ford F150 Supercrew FX4 -- Pride of the Empire :)

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  • grayvader's 2005 Ford F150 Supercrew FX4 -- Pride of the Empire :)

    Well, I've been trolling the forums for nearly 2 years (and even longer) and I started a real car'puter last February... Obviously I've only worked on it off and one -- mainly in big bursts. Finally, though, I've had another big burst and I'm close to actually installing it. Lot's of things delayed my install... mainly, though, I've been trying to get it too perfect before installing it. I'm at the point where SW should be the biggest "imperfection" so I should be able to tweak while in the truck. As I type, I'll try to capture where I am and where I hope to get to...

    PC Components:
    iBase MB899 i945 chipset based motherboard in a handmade aluminum chassis (more to follow in my worklog)
    2.5g Core Duo
    120g 2.5" SATA HDD
    custom 8.4 LCD with transflective enhancement
    slot load slim cd/dvd RW
    intel 802.11bg mini pci wireless card
    BU353 GPS receiver
    Velleman K8055 i/o board (mainly for steering wheel control interface)
    Streedeck (but who knows what I'll end up with for a front end when it's all said and done)
    SiLabs USB RDS radio reference design:

    Car Audio:
    Clarion DVC920/DVH940 digital processor connected to PC via Toslink SPDIF:
    5ch amp (this piece actually keeps changing)
    center channel infinity (one day?) driven off a tripath based amp at the speaker
    4 infinity speakers and a 10" sub (under the back seat)

    Here's a teaser to explain the title
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Dash fab...

    At first I thought about putting in one of the motorized lcd screens that fit in a single DIN opening. Then I could leave my head unit (currently a Kenwood with a Music Keg) in the car to drive the speakers. Before getting anywhere I decided that I just didn't like that idea -- I wanted something that looked more OEM. So, I started researching LCD screens and all the pluses and minues associated with them. I really hated the way most washed out in the sunlight. Finally, after doing some digging I found the guys at fpd displays around the time they decided to do one-off type enhancements for LCDs. I'd already found an 8.4" panel with a brightness enhancement (which I started doing my dash fab with), but knew that wouldn't really help in the sunliught so I found a fairly inexpensive 8.4" TV from Hong Kong with exactly the same panel as the one i already had. Sent it to FPD and the added the transflective enhancement and the touchscreen. Now I had the right display and none of my work toward fab'ing the dash would go to waste.

    Here's where I started, a stock bezel for a 2005 F150 (with center console feature)
    Attached Files


    • #3
      Bezel work cont...

      I didn't have any kind of housing (of much value) to start my fab or integrate into to the bezel so I figured out a way to do something from scratch. I started with a piece of MDF that cut to the exact dimensions of my screen. Then I traced the viewable area onto the MDF. Sanded down the bezel (oh how I hated to sand off that pretty faux carbon fiber thermoform) and glued the MDF into the bezel with some 90sec epoxy. This gave me a base to build up the areas for a clean look.
      Here's the bezel with MDF and you can see where I blackened in the areas to cover up:
      Attached Files


      • #4
        More Bezel

        So, now I had a jig. What to use to fill in the gaps...
        I work at a place that always has scraps of... well, plastic thrown away so I collected all kinds of it. I ended up finding some stuff (mostly PC ABS) that had decent curves and straight edges so I started cutting it up and placing it in the jig to test for clean lines. I used the poxy weld material (with kevlar additive) that so many have recommened. That stuff works great as adhesive and filler (with micro balloons). I eventually came up with something. Here are three pics of it in process.
        Pic one is some of the parts glued in -- you can see i actually glued to the MDF. Why not? Easy enough to separate the MDF -- Epoxy pulls the MDF top layer right off.
        Pics 2 and 3 are the same, just different views, after I poxy welded all the piece in and sanded like hell to smooth out. This is kinda rough shot one.
        Attached Files


        • #5
          What to do with the Clarion DVC920 controller?

          So, now I had a decent opening for the display. Mow I needed somwhere to mount the DVC920 -- it's the little controller that interfaces to the actual DSP box that does the dolby decode (and other digital conversion). It basically controls fade/balance/volume and a couple other sound field tweaks.
          Anyway, I digress. You can find more about the Clarion stuff here:

          So, I decided to use the area of the dash bezel that had previously had just a lighter. It's the area at the bottom you can see in my first post of the stock bezel.

          Not too many in process shots of what I did, but everything fit pretty well after I filled in the rounded edges with some spare plastic and poxy weld and of course, sanded the crap out of the bottom part of the opening.

          First pic is the rough shot -- i was using primer and sanding a lot. word to the wise -- make sure your primer and top coat are compatible. Turns out SEM top coat and Krylon plastic primer are not. I ordered some SEM primer after that fiasco.

          Second shot -- the whole bezel in Krylon primer. I had to sand all that crap off at least a couple times

          Third shot is of the bezel after all the painting issues had been solved. It's pretty much done -- I just have to mount the screen.
          Attached Files


          • #6
            Final result of bezel work (but not in the truck)

            Here's what the bezel looks like with my LCD installed. I had to fab us some brackets on the back side of the bezel -- not much to look at but gets the job done. There are also 2 screws that take advantage of the holes in the lcd. Also used poxy weld to make little mount plates that i drilled to screw into.
            The picture even shows off the nice fingerprints and smudges that will be the bane of my whole install.

            Oh, and the left upper side of the opening looks a bit off. In practice, i hope it doesn't bother me too much or I'll have to build it up and sand like hell again That can come MUCH l8r.

            Hopefully in the near future I'll have the other parts in it. Like AC controls.
            Attached Files


            • #7
              Here it is running

              Edit: A bit more info...
              I did have to completely remove the LCD from its original housing. All I left was the back plastic of the housing because it gave me something to mount the LCD controller board and inverter to.

              I actually removed the passenger airbag light -- it's completely gone. I just took a regular 12V red LED (with integrated resistor) and stuck the pins into the factor wiring harness. I had to do that because the truck can sense when the airbag LED is unplugged and it lights up the airbag indicator on the dash cluster.
              Anyway, with the plastic/LED housing gone, there was just enough room to add some plastic bezel material to the top and bottom and still fit the visible area of the screen. For the sides there was tons of opening for the visible area. However, with my screen, there was a good bit of area that isn't visible. I ended up having to trim some of the inner dash (the part that actually holds the bezel in). It wasn't so much that it impacted the mounting of the bezel.
              To attach my screen to the bezel, I used the same epoxy as my build up and glued some tabs to hold the screen.

              Here's a shot of it all put back together ready to go into the truck:
              Attached Files


              • #8
                The insides...

                The great thing about the new F150 style is all the room behind the center console. Here's a pic with my old Kenwood HU and the Music Keg mounted in the bottom of the open area.
                Attached Files


                • #9
                  What to put in all that room?

                  So, with all that room, I figure -- just put the PC in there.
                  I figured the mini-ITX form factor was the way to go so I assumed that FF for all my measurements.
                  The 6.5" width of an ITX board is just a bit more narrow than the opening in the truck.
                  I took a bunch of measurements and figured in the min size for all the components I wanted.
                  Now, the ashtray opening (no longer an ashtray since the Kenwood music keg install) seemed the perfect area for the PC to be accessed. I figured the height of the opening and decided that would be the front -- not enough volume when that height and width and depth were calculated so i figured -- make it L shaped. Here we go with what I started and ended with as I made some foam board models. Started with an L, ended at a T shape:
                  Attached Files


                  • #10
                    Makin' the case...

                    Now that I had a model I placed some of the parts to make sure that there was enough volume.

                    I bough some .063 aluminum and a metal brake (or is it break?) to bend it. Used mostly pop rivets (and a little poxy weld) to hold it all together.

                    Here's a few shots of the progression. I guess I forgot pics between 1 and 2. Lots of folding and cutting aluminum. I also painted it black -- not sure why, especially since the got banged to hell shoving it into the truck.
                    Pic 3 is the PC all done. You can see the harness I made to supply power and all the other i/o.

                    One day, maybe I can better describe all of what's in this thing.
                    Attached Files


                    • #11
                      Installing it...

                      I know I've skipped a lot of what went on between all these pictures, and I've done a really bad job of summarizing but hey, I'd rather be working on the stuff than typing here. So here's where I ended up. (much thanks to my bother in law for kicking me in the pants to finish -- so we could start on his car computer) Feel free to ask specific questions...

                      (but don't ask about that skinny *** leg)

                      I really love the way it turned out. Now I just need to get all the software working the way I want.
                      At this point, I keep bouncing between different front ends with Centrafuse and Streetdeck vying for screenspace.
                      Attached Files


                      • #12

                        Holy Cow! Now that it's in -- it's so very cool. It has definitely exceeded my expectations.

                        My thanks to everyone who has posted on these forums. It's everyone's previous experience that helped me get to something that works so well.

                        And let me say, the transflective upgrade is worth every penny! It means the difference between something ok and something GREAT!

                        Now I just need to get the other tweaks all setup..
                        Next: elmscan, attach steering wheel controls (i need some harness stuff for my steering column), install the backup camera...


                        • #13
                          Nice setup man! I'm going to be doing something similar in my 04.

                          I didn't see any, but do you happen to have any pics of how the case fit into the dash? I've been debating putting it in the dash or under the back seat, but can't really decide which.

                          Did you hack up your stock console or did you buy an after-market one?


                          • #14
                            Hey, looks awesome!

                            I have an 04 that I'm getting ready to install a carputer in.

                            Do you have any pics of how the PC case fit by chance?
                            Did you hack up your stock dash or did you find an after-market one somewhere?


                            • #15

                              Looks almost stock from factory!!!

                              And thats the trick!!!

                              Great I like it a lot!!!

                              "Most of the users you'll see in this site are still learning specially me"