1998 Cadillac Deville Concours Install COMPLETE!!!
Looks like I can chalk my install up in the “done enough to post” column. Really, are they ever “100% completed”??? Thoughts, comments, suggestions, etc. welcome.
First, the car:
1998 Deville Concours (I LOVE this car!)
300 HP Northstar
Zebrano wood trim
Cappucino PC 1.3 Celeron (story below)
Pioneer Slot Load DVD
3 Powered USB Hubs
Motorola Bluetooth Dongle
Digital FX Skin
Delorme Street Atlas
Here is the obligatory before shot. As you can see, it came with a factory head unit that handles AM/FM, CD and Cassette. It also has a source button for controlling a 6-12 CD changer that was in the trunk. More on that later…
I wanted to retain a 100% factory look with this install, and also wanted to utilize as much of the original factory functionality of the car as I could. Cadillac put some real nice features into their cars, I felt it would be a shame not to mesh them with the PC so I could use them to my advantage.
I also wanted to be able to return it to factory stock if I ever sell it. That goal was accomplished. Nothing is permanent, and anything I modified (like the roof console) I have a spare in my shop. Basically, in about 2 hours I could make it look like there never was a PC installed.
Cost on this project was CHEAP, and has been running rock solid all summer. I am now a firm believer that you don’t need to drop a wad of cash to get a great system, unless of course you want too.
PC was purchased via e-bay for $40.00. The seller had a few dozen of them, which were used as slot machine controllers for about 6 months before they were retired and replaced. A little research led me to this website, where I narrowed it down to the EZ-3. I called the company, as was able to purchase a cover for it for $60.00.
Then I took a trip to the computer show, and picked up a Toshiba 60GB 2.5” drive for $25.00, a few USB cables, a VGA cable and a few USB hubs all for $50.00. I already had the Pioneer CD/DVD drive that was about $80.00. For those of you keeping track, the PC final cost was $255.00
The monitor is (in my opinion) the best part. The size of the original factory radio made a 7” LCD the best and only option. Promate (also known as AU Optronics) sells LCDs to auto manufacturers and offers the parts separately as a kit. Basically what I received was a TS panel, the LCD, driving board, button board, inverter, TS controller and remote control…and a wiring diagram. It was a 400 nit CCFL panel.
A while back, we discussed them in this thread. At the approximate time I ordered a 7” kit, they went ROHS compliant, which meant they ditched the setup I had just got and made some changes to the boards. Bummer too, because I blew the board within a month during the planning stages, and had to wait close to 6-8 more months before the factory re-tooled to make the new ones, or so I was told.
Luckily, that is when they also came out with an LED backlit display (400 nit), and a super bright 650nit CCFL display. The boards were better too. I ordered one set of each to play with, but chose the LED version for my install. Cost was about $350.00 ea. for my “prototype”
The beauty of the LCD “open frame” kit was I had the ability to design my panel and mounting system the way I wanted, without ribbon cable limitations, etc. that I read so much about when pulling apart a Lilli or Xenarc. Plus, I figured why pull apart something only to put it back together again??? The kit was the way to go for me.
Next stop was an engraving shop that had a laser cutter. I had a few pieces of black plexi cut, one size with a rectangular hole that was a few mm’s bigger than the LCD overall size, and one with a rectangular hole that was the same size as the viewable area of the screen. My design plan was to attach one to the other, then drop in the screen into it’s own little nest, resting flush against the inside of the front piece. The back piece is about ½” thick (3 pieces) and the front is about 1/16”.
E-bay was my source for real Zebrano veneer, a bunch of scrap sheets cost $10.00 shipped, which gave me plenty to work with. Cadillac used real Zebrano wood in this model year and trim level vs. the fake plastic crap they use in the base models and today. The stain took a little trial and error to match, using 3 different colors to achieve the exact factory look, and about 10 coats of Polyurethane to match the glossy factory finish.
I glued the veneer to the plexi, then used the face of the factory radio as a template. Once it was cut and sanded, I stained and sprayed it to match the dash. Then I built a mount behind it for all the LCD boards and connections.
A trial fit shows how the curves match and the corners meet with the Driver Info Panel (top) and the Climate Control Unit (bottom). Since it would look ridiculous if those pieces were black, I removed them, took them apart, veneered and finished the faces, then put them back together. Cutting out the holes in the Climate panel sucked, they are oblong with rounded corners, and needed to be just right so the switches didn’t stick. The top panel holes were even worse, so I decided to glue a piece of plexi over the face, veneered it and then put in momentary switches from Radio Shack. This required de-soldering the micro switches off the board, and wiring in these with 2” leads instead (no pics of that, sorry). They control the digital dash cluster, trip reset, Metric/English display and the driver info center. That was pretty exciting.
Completely Installed with all three parts veneered. Note the new Zebrano wood shift knob and factory ash tray closed. Perfect match. Also, a little blue felt piping surround to finish it off.
The PC doesn’t have a traditional power setup. It ran off a 19V laptop-style brick cord, ironically the same size as my Gateway laptop, for which I have a 12V cigarette adapter for. That made powering it easy enough…truly plug and play, and free.
With the case, this PC is like 6” X 6”, and fit perfectly inside the glove box. A few holes, a few fans, and it’s totally hidden, lockable, and stays cool, hanging at about 140F all the time. Just once the temperature spiked, but ran fine at 185F, That was before the fans and with the glove box door shut. Duh! I was impressed though.
All the wires run behind the compartment, through a hole and are neatly tucked away into the guts of the car, with the other billion wires back there. I could unplug this PC in less than 30 seconds and bring it in the house to add software, remove it from the car during service, etc. It runs off of one plug, spliced into the car (the ONLY splice I needed for the entire PC install, if you don’t count the radio relocation) to a 12V cigarette lighter adapter with a 3 way splitter, and it all runs off the same circuit. The 3 plugs are PC, LCD and 5V USB power adapter, all through a 12V regulator. This means I could also run an extension cord and a wall wart out to the car to work on it all day without draining the battery, and by only plugging in one plug. Simple…
The circuit I wired it in to is also protected by a factory timeout setting that kills the circuit after about 15 minutes. It’s called Retained Accessory Power. This feature allows me to shut off the car and still have the PC running for 15 minutes or so to finish out a song or update or whatever. Even if I forget to shut it off, or if it hangs up during shut down, it won’t drain the battery. Basically it pulls the plug. Would be perfect as a startup/shutdown controller except the PC won’t survive crank under the retained power, so I can’t the car off and run into the store with the PC on then come back and turn on the ignition. No big deal though.
Powering it up:
I wasn’t fond of my other micro-ATX PC setup last year (we don’t talk about that one much) with the DSATX and instant PC turn-on with ignition. Don’t get me wrong, the PC was a piece of crap, but the DSATX performed very well. The problem I had was the times where I didn’t want the PC to fire up, such as short trips, rolling up the windows, etc. Yeah, I know I could have wired in an interrupt switch, but thankfully the PC didn’t live long enough, which led to the current setup. This one has a kill switch mounted in the light switch, for those emergency shut down needs, or when the car is in for service.
Instead, I wired leads into the Cappuccino PC PWR, HDD and on/off pins using a short piece (6”) of Cat-8 cable, male end sticking out of the case. Then a coupler (so it can be unplugged), and another length of cat-8 running up to the roof console. Devilles that came with moonroofs had the switch up there. I just stuck a momentary rocker in and wired the cat-8 to it, along with a PWR and HDD LED drilled in the front of the console as well. Oh, and there is a coupler in the roof console too, so I can disconnect and remove if need be. One flick of the switch and she starts right up. I also have the BIOS set for a soft power down, so one more flick shuts it down in a controlled Windows fashion. I could set the BIOS to boot up as soon as it gets power, but I didn’t because like I said, I like the control of a switch much better.
Cadillac integrates more functions into head unit then just tunes. Warning chimes, anti-theft and some of the memory modules run off it as well. So, just taking it out and shelving it wasn’t an option. Instead, I bough a male and female stereo adapter and spliced in 30+ wires (each one 20ft long) and relocated the radio to the trunk. I plugged one end into the factory harness and the other into the back of the head unit. Basically a big fat extension cord. It was worth it, because my steering wheel controls still had the ability to control the volume of the head unit.
I bought a PAC Aux-Box for about $50. This unit is designed to plug into the CD changer harness in the trunk and will accept any audio input that you can plug into R&L RCA jacks. I ran a cable from the headphone jack of the PC to the AUX Box with an adapter, and voila, sound pumped through the rather impressive premium factory system just like it was a CD changer. That source button on the head unit is set to CD changer, so I always have PC-Stereo sound. The radio is useless unless I get out and change the source, but I could do it if I wanted too. I have some stations set, and can flip through them with the other steering wheel control paddle. A bit of a pain, but thankfully I don’t listen to the radio that much. I could take apart the radio, break out the soldering iron, re-locate the source button…hmmmm….
Total PC-HU integration, very cool!!!
GPS is Street Atlas 2006, and has been great. I have a Delorme port splitter installed, and usually get a signal in a minute or less. GPS receiver is mounted behind the rearview mirror.
Another factory tie in is the driver memory system. The seat position, fan speed, radio settings volume and temp are all tied into driver #1 or #2, defined by 2 separate key fobs or the buttons on the armrest console. I set the drivers seat to the same position for 1&2, set the fan speed to low and the radio to off for #2. By pressing the #2 button while driving, everything basically mutes. So, if I get a phone call or go through car wash, I just push that #2 button, the car gets quiet and the power antenna goes down (since the radio is in the trunk). I thought that was pretty neat, and totally discovered by accident when I grabbed the wrong set of keys one day and almost got folded in half by the power seat doing its #2 thing.
Internet is handled through my laptop card on the Verizon EVDO network. Speeds are excellent using the Kyocera K-1 router and a USB Wireless connection. USB Hub modified slightly to fit in the factory ash tray, totally invisible when shut.
The keyboard in the visor…would you believe it fit as is in the mirror hole without any cutting of material or plastic? A little trim on the bottom part was needed, but still…
Windows Start-Up (35 sec. avg boot up time) Boot Screen. See the position of the progress bar in the Cadillac logo? cool, huh?
And, as an anti-theft measure, I mounted a 1 DIN faceplate to a piece of sheet aluminum and covered it to match the rest. It slips into the slot between the LCD mount and upper controls. It slides on and off and seats almost flush against the LCD faceplate.