The project stalled for a while, my approach to power supply wasn't the best out there (the UPS had to be turned on first, then the PC), consumption, heat... the LCD was looking foolish and had a great appeal to thieves.
That's why I decided to mould the monitor into the central console.
I had second thoughts about chopping up my console, because I never worked with fiberglass before. But then again, if I paid someone to do it, it would've costed me a lot of money. This way if I ruined my console, I would have lost its worth, but gained experience in change.
Because I liked the position of the monitor over the vents and upper DIN slot, I made some measurements and found that it would fit. That ment loosing the central vents, leaving only the two side ones, but, even though it was a hot summer, I survived so I don't regret it.
The console untouched:
The big moment: after some hesitations, I made the first cut:
From then on, there was no turning back. At my workplace I cut a piece of POM sheet to cover up the hole on the console. Because there is a curvature on the console, I milled the POM piece to continue that curvature.
Then I cut and filed an 8" window, the size of the LCD.
To integrate this frame into the console, I used fiberglass-putty from a local car parts store. I sanded the console for painting and because it had a rubber layer with a texture impossible to replicate on areas where the putty was used.
I filled the gap between the frame and the console from both sides:
Then added more putty in a thick layer:
At this point I was pretty let down by the looks of the console, thinking I can throw it away. Remember it was the first time for me so I was a bit scared.
Then a lot of sanding, filling, sanding, filling... quite a few times in a row. Above the upper right corner of the screen, I drilled a hole, pressed a red plastic in it, covering the IR receiver of the monitor. Afterwards, I layed a layer of fine putty for finishing, sanded it down after drying with fine sandpaper and water, until I got the smoothest surface possible.
I have to mention that, as far as I've seen, LCDs are moulded using their original bezels, so one can get the most perfect edges, and keeps the buttons also. I made a new frame for several reasons. First, if I was ever to sell the monitor, or send it back in warranty, I needed its original housing intact. Second, I didn't need buttons as I have the remote for the monitor's functions (rarely used like brightness, rgb etc) and those buttons do not resemble with the other buttons of the car, so the stock look would be compromised. And last, because the central console is curved at the vents, the original frame of the LCD would be hard to mould since it can't follow that curvature.
That's why I've chosen to build a new frame that follows the console's curvature and deeper on its back, it supports the LCD panel.
Although at first sight it may look ugly, it's nevertheless useful to have a sort-of sill in front of a deeper-set screen: while driving, three fingers can rest on the frame's sill leaving the index and middle finger to navigate accurately on the touchscreen - even while driving on poor quality roads.
The LCD panel was easy to mount on the back of the frame, I drilled threaded holes in the frame for the screws which held the panel in place in its original housing.
Before mounting the console back in the dashboard, I stumbled upon a small set-back: anything thicker than the console itself won't fit back in because of a stiffening rod in the dash. After seeing that others have done the same (hell, some haven't even found it in their Astras ), I unleashed my angle grinder. A disturbing image of the cockpit:
However, that rod wasn't put there by the germans just for fun... it gave the dash more stiffness and supported the console too. Compromises...
At the first mock-up, I successfully f*ed the monitor. I somehow managed to press some screws against two of the flexible PCBs that carry data to the panel itself. This left two, multiple pixels wide lines on the screen:
After many days of swearing, I decided to go on with the project, and somehow in the future I'll sort out this problem or replace the screen. So I went on to painting the console. I used universal multi-surface spray paint. Mea culpa, I didn't use primer, just a final sanding and a thorough cleaning of the whole surface. I chose matte black to reproduce as closely as possible the original finish if the console.