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Thread: Computer expert but a carputer newbie

  1. #1
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    Question Computer expert but a carputer newbie

    Hi Guys,

    I am about to re-wire a ’63 Impala.

    I am thinking about fabricating a new dash (something I have not done before… say hello to “Kitty Hair”) and installing a carputer with a large format LCD (touch or not I have not yet decided).

    Now since I design new computer embedded products for a living I have a distinct advantage in one area of this project, in that I have all the tools and components I would need to make this work (literally, I just have to paw through a few boxes). And I can also write all the application software I would need.

    I have read a lot of the forum posts, but I have a few newbie questions that someone may be able to help me with…

    There seems to be some debate over using an inverter verses a DC to DC converter, and while normally it would be a no brainer for me (I would use the DC to DC converter), I am concerned about noise on the power rails. Since this is a good old point and capacitor discharge type of ignition, there is A LOT of noise everywhere compared to an electronic ignition, has anybody had this problem and if so, did you find a solution? And what about battery backup (i.e. UPS)?

    I live in Southern California (Ventura County) and it can get hot here, inside of a car it can get VERY hot! I ran one of the mother boards I am thinking about using through an environmental chamber (like I said, I have all the tools) and found that around 120 degrees F. I started getting memory errors. Also I was getting significant power supply drift as well, something the CPU’s 3.3v rail does not tolerate well! I see that the Opus p/s is rated up to 158 degrees F, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it regulates well at the upper temperatures. And hard drives don’t like much above 120 F. either. How do you guys avoid temperature problems?

    And finally, I would like to remove all of the old instrument cluster (speedometer, gas, oil) and replace it with the LCD display, anyone else doing this? Gas and oil would be easy, but speedometer would need a quadrature encoder to sense movement, and I doubt that this is linear. Not a major pain, but it would require some work.

    Thanks,

    Chris

    ’63 Impala
    P3 1Ghz / 256 MB RAM
    American Predator EBX motherboard (OEM component) it’s a real small footprint board.
    Some ATI video card
    Most probably a Sharp 15” OEM LCD with a 180 degree viewing angle on all axis (nice!)
    3.5” EIDE H/D 40 GB (shock mounted, because the Impala is a jumper with full hydraulics)

  2. #2
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    that would be amazing if you are able to get it in-dash, especially in that beautiful car. your 63 impala makes my mouth water just thinking about it *smacks lips*

    post some pics of your beautiful car.

  3. #3
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    Well, she is not that beautiful yet... She is going into the body shop this week to get the door handles shaved, keyless alarm/doors/windows/ignition installed and then painted (black with lots of flake).

    Following that the new chrome pieces will be installed and THEN I will rewire the whole car!

    Dont know if I should make it a two step project or not.
    rewire and then carputer
    or
    rewire wait an extended period and then carputer!

    Chris

  4. #4
    Maximum Bitrate jusatry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Six
    Hi Guys,

    I am about to re-wire a ’63 Impala.

    I am thinking about fabricating a new dash (something I have not done before… say hello to “Kitty Hair”) and installing a carputer with a large format LCD (touch or not I have not yet decided).

    Now since I design new computer embedded products for a living I have a distinct advantage in one area of this project, in that I have all the tools and components I would need to make this work (literally, I just have to paw through a few boxes). And I can also write all the application software I would need.

    I have read a lot of the forum posts, but I have a few newbie questions that someone may be able to help me with…

    There seems to be some debate over using an inverter verses a DC to DC converter, and while normally it would be a no brainer for me (I would use the DC to DC converter), I am concerned about noise on the power rails. Since this is a good old point and capacitor discharge type of ignition, there is A LOT of noise everywhere compared to an electronic ignition, has anybody had this problem and if so, did you find a solution? And what about battery backup (i.e. UPS)?

    I live in Southern California (Ventura County) and it can get hot here, inside of a car it can get VERY hot! I ran one of the mother boards I am thinking about using through an environmental chamber (like I said, I have all the tools) and found that around 120 degrees F. I started getting memory errors. Also I was getting significant power supply drift as well, something the CPU’s 3.3v rail does not tolerate well! I see that the Opus p/s is rated up to 158 degrees F, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it regulates well at the upper temperatures. And hard drives don’t like much above 120 F. either. How do you guys avoid temperature problems?

    And finally, I would like to remove all of the old instrument cluster (speedometer, gas, oil) and replace it with the LCD display, anyone else doing this? Gas and oil would be easy, but speedometer would need a quadrature encoder to sense movement, and I doubt that this is linear. Not a major pain, but it would require some work.

    Thanks,

    Chris

    ’63 Impala
    P3 1Ghz / 256 MB RAM
    American Predator EBX motherboard (OEM component) it’s a real small footprint board.
    Some ATI video card
    Most probably a Sharp 15” OEM LCD with a 180 degree viewing angle on all axis (nice!)
    3.5” EIDE H/D 40 GB (shock mounted, because the Impala is a jumper with full hydraulics)

    just a thought about temp.....you use sheet metal (home depot) to make a little duct to somewhere with outside air, and then get a temperature sensor (radio shack) and use that to activate a few 40/80mm case fans.....some air movement oughta keep you in better shape. Just a thought. Ive been out to the valley in the summer, and DAMN is it hot...but nothing some air clow cant fix

    just a thought. Let us know what you do, im sure others would like to fix this same problem.

  5. #5
    Variable Bitrate blurp's Avatar
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    Do you have any sources for parts? I have a 64 BelAir, and I'm having a horrible time finding parts for it. Obsolete Chevy Parts almost acts like they didn't build a BelAir in 64.
    www.bradleyjacobs.com

    There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life. -- Frank Zappa

  6. #6
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    Jusatry -- Good idea, but the problem with ducting in air, is that it would also duct in rain, bugs, dust, etc. I was thinking about ducting into the car’s AC, but that has it’s problems too.

    Blurp -- Sorry no I dont. ‘6x Impalas are cult cars! There are dedicated stores just for them! Reproductions of chrome, rubber, floor mats are no problem. Good luck.

  7. #7
    Maximum Bitrate eCar™'s Avatar
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    Have you looked into an electronic ignition conversion kit? If it were me, I'd wait to see if I have noise problems. If needed, the ignition swap is not too expensive, and relatively easy.

    As far as heat goes, keep throwing fans at it 'til it works. Then either give up, or do something crazy like putting peltiers in there. Got A/C in your yacht... I mean Impala?

    Don't know what a quadrature encoder is. But I have seen plenty of these add on digital speedometers. They use a Hall-effect switch, usually on the driveshaft. Which is just a small magnet that is hose clamped to the driveshaft. Then you hang a coil so that the magnet passes very closely to the coil. Very accurate way to get the speed (if you have the multipliers set correctly), and it is a linear signal (double the frequency would be double the MPH).

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by eCar™
    Have you looked into an electronic ignition conversion kit? If it were me, I'd wait to see if I have noise problems. If needed, the ignition swap is not too expensive, and relatively easy.)
    OK, so maybe I am being paranoid You have a very good approach, why solve it until I know its a problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by eCar™
    As far as heat goes, keep throwing fans at it 'til it works. Then either give up, or do something crazy like putting peltiers in there. Got A/C in your yacht... I mean Impala?
    Fans dont cool (unless your a human and you sweet ), they just move more air over the heat exchangers. So if we are at 50 degs C to begin with you have about a 15 deg C additive from the CPU, takes it over what Intel says it likes the CPU to be exposed to!
    Yeah peltiers are an option, possibly the only good one. Makes the mounting a little more interesting! Yeah the old girl has A/C in her! One cool car! {hehe}

    Quote Originally Posted by eCar™
    Don't know what a quadrature encoder is. But I have seen plenty of these add on digital speedometers. They use a Hall-effect switch, usually on the driveshaft. Which is just a small magnet that is hose clamped to the driveshaft. Then you hang a coil so that the magnet passes very closely to the coil. Very accurate way to get the speed (if you have the multipliers set correctly), and it is a linear signal (double the frequency would be double the MPH).
    I just remembered that I recently got a free demo PCBA from Texas Instruments that tracks rotational movement (made for a water meter), it would be perfect for this!

    You think it is linear? The old speedos used a magnet gap clutch to drive the needle from the flexable shaft, i wouldnt think that would be linear. but either way I can always calibrate it in!

    Thanks for all your good ideas

  9. #9
    Variable Bitrate Superduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Six
    Hi Guys,

    I am about to re-wire a ’63 Impala.

    I am thinking about fabricating a new dash (something I have not done before… say hello to “Kitty Hair”) and installing a carputer with a large format LCD (touch or not I have not yet decided).

    <SNIP>

    And finally, I would like to remove all of the old instrument cluster (speedometer, gas, oil) and replace it with the LCD display, anyone else doing this? Gas and oil would be easy, but speedometer would need a quadrature encoder to sense movement, and I doubt that this is linear. Not a major pain, but it would require some work.

    Thanks,

    Chris

    ’63 Impala
    P3 1Ghz / 256 MB RAM
    American Predator EBX motherboard (OEM component) it’s a real small footprint board.
    Some ATI video card
    Most probably a Sharp 15” OEM LCD with a 180 degree viewing angle on all axis (nice!)
    3.5” EIDE H/D 40 GB (shock mounted, because the Impala is a jumper with full hydraulics)
    Well, I can't help with the heat thing, it only reaches low to mid 30's Celcius up here in Canada.

    As for the dash and gauges, I've spent plenty of time thinking about.

    Thankfully my factory analog gauges in my car are all digitally controlled, so I can just capture the data and convert it to what I want.

    If you need to convert your speedo to a digital signal, you could probably use this:
    Autometer Speedo Sender
    Then figure out what it sends, probably just the typical X pulses per mile, and convert that into a useable format for your application.

    I was wondering, what are you planning on using to control the digital dash, or have you thought that far ahead? I was debating between a PIC or even a basic stamp. I'm not sure what will be the cheapest and easiest way to do it. Unfortunately my ECM in my car is one of the early ones, the data bus is too slow to accurately update the gauges. In the newer cars, you can just capture right from the data bus instead of tapping into the actual sensors. Tachs and speedos aren't something you want lag with.

    Also, I'd LOVE to see some pics of it now, and progress pics!

    Good luck with the project,

    Kris

  10. #10
    Maximum Bitrate eCar™'s Avatar
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    Yeah, pushing 100°F+ air into your case is not going to be very effective. I assume that you're going to be bring air from the passenger compartment into the comp case. You're not going to be driving around much with the interior at 100+. So when you get into your car after it's been baking in the sun, just fire up the case fans, and wait for a few minutes before booting. You could even put a thermostat in the case that keeps you from powering up when overtemp.

    Yes, both the frequency of the Hall-effect switch that I described, and the RPM of an old flex speedo cable will have a direct linear relationship with vehicle speed.

    ***edit:

    think about the frqequency thing. Each rotation of the driveshaft translates to a fraction of a wheel rotation, which translates to a distance travelled. It's an exact distance because the tire size is constant (it's actually not really, but the deformation is pretty insignificant) and the axle's gear ratio is constant. If your car's driveshaft rotating at 3000 RPM (50Hz on the Hall-effect switch) you would be travelling at twice the speed that you'd be going if your driveshaft was turning 1500 RPM (25Hz).

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