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Thread: 05 RX-8 custom fab install (motorized flip-up screen)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Exclamation 05 RX-8 custom fab install (motorized flip-up screen)

    I own a 2005 white RX-8 and I've been using my custom made carputer for a while now. I wanted to have a motorized touch screen but the OEM nav unit price could not be justified. I figured I could fabricate my own for less. I wanted to make sure to keep the OEM look. So here are the details in brief

    Control board:
    I programmed a PIC microchip to handle opening / closing the LCD screen when the car is turned on / off using a servo motor. I tapped into the touchscreen's button panel to control turning off the LCD panel when the screen is closed, and turning on the LCD panel when the screen is opened. The board is also hooked up to a button in the ashtray which can be used to open / close the screen once the car is started.

    Plexiglass computer case:
    Cut some plexiglass to form a box large enough to house the mobo, wireless card, HD, power supply, fans, and future low profile video card. Cut out the necessary holes for the mobo back plate, wires, fans, etc. Glued it together using a solvent meant for plexiglass. Mounted the mobo and powersupply on brass mounts. Installed the fans and HD. The top part of the case can be opened for servicing.

    Motorized flip up touch screen in dash:
    This part of the project took the longest. I bought a center dash piece from my local mazda dealership and carefully cut an opening on the top, saving the cut out piece to be re-used. Bought some abs plastic sheets and fabricated the base of the dash unit to mount the LCD unit into. I used the abs plastic and lilliput bezel to also fabricate the LCD screen unit. I re-used the cut out dash piece for the top of the LCD screen unit. Glued and smoothed everything together and then primed, sanded, spot puttied, and painted the units with SEM texture and trim black paint.

    Modified ashtray:
    After completing the dash piece the ashtray went quickly. I took apart a 7-port USB hub and fabricated a mounting plate using some very thin plexiglass. The mounting plate was necessary to mount the unit in the ashtray and keep the unit in place while withstanding the force of inserting external USB devices into the ports. The face of the ashtray unit was fabricated with abs plastic and holes were cut for the 4 usb ports, an audio input jack, and a button which is used to open and close the LCD screen. Once glued, I then primed, sanded, spot puttied, and painted using SEM texture and trim black paint again.

    The unit has 4 ports on the front and 3 in the rear. The 3 rear ports are all being used for the car2pc unit, touchscreen usb, and the slot load dvd drive.

    Basic carputer stats:
    BioStar micro ATX mobo w/ Geforce 6100 and PCI-E
    AMD Turion MT37
    80gig WD low profile HD
    BU-353 USB GPS receiver

    Belkin usb bluetooth adapter
    DSATX power supply
    PCI wireless card
    Lilliput 7" touchscreen
    7 port USB hub in ashtray
    slim slot load dvd-r cd-rw in glovebox
    Mazda Car2PC adapter

    Created my own wires w/ molex connectors for running power from the trunk to the front. All wires (USB, VGA, audio out, audio in, power) run from the computer in the trunk through the center console. The main 8awg wire from the battery runs through the wiring harness boot on the drivers side and along the door sills to the rear, and then into the trunk. The main ground is grounded to the chassis in the trunk. I tapped into the 12v fused accessories line at the fusebox near the clutch and ran a wire from it to a switch in one of the blanks and then back to the DSATX power supply acc in. This allows the computer to be turned on / off while the car accessories are on.

    Here are some select pictures of the fabrication and final install:
    Attached Images Attached Images                         

  2. #2
    Constant Bitrate
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Chicago, IL

    I love this setup! A pity that VW don't have room on top of dash to place the screen, otherwise I'd copy your setup right away! Maybe it's time to change the car! Vankel engine sound interesting too!
    EPIA TC 1G 256MB 60GB Linux,WindowMaker, Roadnav, Xine, XMMS, iGuidance3
    Lilliput 8", Pharos i360, WUSB11v2.6 WiFi

  3. #3
    Low Bitrate XMatrix's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Wah! Any videos on the action of your flip up screen?

  4. #4
    Maximum Bitrate Kimota's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Fort Lauderdale ,Florida
    VERY nice, amazing fab skills making you own retractable housing . Please post your work on the RX8 club forum people will flip.

  5. #5
    Variable Bitrate breaker021's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Midtown Manhattan
    damn son, you got skillz.

    n1ce setup ;]
    Duct tape and a Bandana for the win, b!shes!!!

    My Setup:

    Cost so far: Less than a grand ;]

    Economy/Commuter cars + Computers = many entertained miles

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Quote Originally Posted by Kimota View Post
    VERY nice, amazing fab skills making you own retractable housing . Please post your work on the RX8 club forum people will flip.
    I saw what you did for your install. Looks good! Did you have heat issues in your trunk? I haven't had any yet. I didn't want to put it in the glovebox because I use mine heh.

    When I first started buying pieces (such as the dash piece), there was nothing aftermarket available such as the dash unit you purchased. Nor was there a cheaper alternative to purchasing the $3000 navigation unit to get just the retractable nav screen piece. Although now you can have the retractable nav screen piece for $1200, which is still kind of pricey but you get OEM look and flawless functionality.

    If I were to only get into making this thing now, I might opt for purchasing the $1200 unit but that really makes the whole project expensive. I definitely spent less than that for my entire project.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Very nice. How in the world did you cut that opening, it looks perfect.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    What materials/paint, etc did you use to make the plastic pieces look like that?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Quote Originally Posted by Kalt View Post
    Very nice. How in the world did you cut that opening, it looks perfect.
    Honestly that was the most nerve racking part of the project and the very first thing I accomplished. To keep the OEM look it was essential to cut the top part out perfectly so it could be reused. One mishap would mean I'd have to purchase another dash piece and try again.

    No fancy tools used here! I simply used a new blade in a utility knife and carefully cut the plastic by hand, using a metal straight edge where possible while cutting the straight lines. Extra patients was used when cutting the rounded corners and the slightly curved back cut.

    When all was said and done, the actual gap that that I have is only 1-2mm (on all sides) which is much smaller than the OEM navigation flip-up dash piece.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Quote Originally Posted by salvi View Post
    What materials/paint, etc did you use to make the plastic pieces look like that?
    I bought several sheets of 12"x12" abs plastic. I forget where I bought them from, but I know that I bought them online for only around $3 each. The abs sheets have a rippled texture on one side, and glossy finish on the other. I first made templates out of construction paper and then cut the abs to my templates such that the glossy side would be the side used for paint.

    To glue everything together I used dynatron bumper repair along with an adhesion promoter since my dash piece is TPS plastic. I used the same glue to glue the lilliput bezel together with the new frame I constructed.

    Did plenty of of sanding and spot putting before moving onto paint. Once I got it smoothed down the best I could, I used the adhesion promoter and then several coats of duplicolor high fill automotive primer. Once the primer was on i spot puttied and sanded some more until everything imperfection was gone.

    The OEM dash piece had a slight texture to it and after seeing some of the results others had with SEM texture paint I decided to go that route. I sprayed the SEM texture paint over the primer to match the OEM look as best I could. Once the texture dried, I lightly sanded the texture to remove the peaks to make the texture more flat (very important step). I then finished it off by applying several coats of SEM Trim Black paint.

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