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Thread: Bugbyte's iPad Connected Car Install

  1. #1
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    Bugbyte's iPad Connected Car Install

    I've documented some of this in the Connected Car demo thread, but thought I'd put it in the worklogs for posterity.

    After at least 3 different installs in my car, the thing started looking like a mad scientist's laboratory. Nothing worked and everything was perpetually in flux. My experiment with the iPhone as a car PC replacement was encouraging but incomplete - particularly in the screen size and control area.

    When Apple released the iPad, I saw an opportunity to accomplish several goals that had been eluding me:

    - Large, bright display
    - Responsive capacitive touchscreen
    - Instant on
    - Simple to configure and operate

    It wasn't so much that the iPhone didn't function as a reasonable car pc replacement. It's just that it was downright dangerous to try and operate it in the car and the mounting system was so kludged it looked truly awful.

    I began with the goal of ensuring that the iPad could be easily removed from the dash so that it wouldn't be a theft magnet.

    The iPad is much bigger than it appears, but the New Beetle has a cavernous dash - especially after I'd hacked it to bits with previous installs. Here's the what a Bug dash looks like before hacking:



    Here's what the iBug looked like just a few short weeks ago:



    A test fit for size proved that while landscape mode would be preferable, it just wasn't going to happen. Portrait mode, on the other hand, works well. This limits the iPad to apps that run vertically, but I haven't found any car apps that have been problematic with this orientation yet.



    I gave a lot of thought initially to having a tilt out cradle for the iPad. I'd seen similar styles on the web recently, and I liked the idea of an automated mechanism that would tilt it out and then back, but I've also dealt with the original folding screen on the iBug for several years and while it is a nice Wow factor, it has eventually chewed through two of the heaviest duty servos you can buy.



    I decided to keep things very simple and figure out a way to slot load the iPad from the top using a fixed rail system.

    Here, I've cut a template to the dimensions of the iPad for figuring the build.



    Nestling it in the dash, I reasoned, would keep the glare off of the incredibly reflective screen. This has turned out not to be a problem, but I'm sure positioning it more naturally helped, anyhow.



    Now, it was down to figuring out how to fabricate something to fit. If you look at the pristine picture at the top of this thread, you'll see that the heater controls and hazard switches are in the way. They would have to be moved.



    Next, it was on to the work of figuring out how to cut the existing bezel to get the beast to fit.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  2. #2
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    A side view of the main dash cover with the iPad template behind it.



    Front view.



    Approximate location inside the dash. I would have to both cut and fabricate a holder to fit inside.



    Side view shows no major clearance problems behind the desired install location.



    A little looking around at Lowe's revealed aluminum U-channel that I fabricated into a frame that the iPad could slide into. The channel is wider than the iPad, leaving it to rattle around in there. That was good, because I intended to use rivets to connect the metal pieces and would later line the track with felt to get the iPad to fit properly and protect it from being scratched by the rivet heads.



    Here's an early test fit.



    The next challenge was to put a dock connector in the bottom of the frame. Using aluminum was a good choice as I could easily drill, file, and even carve with a sharp exacto blade. Alignment was crucial, so I started by scanning the bottom of the iPad on my home scanner, printing it out and using the printout as a template to transfer to the frame.



    I worked as carefully as I knew how and, using a dremel tool and then a file, took off little slivers until the connector fit firmly even without glue. I then bonded it in place using JB Weld expoxy.



    The end result looked pretty good!





    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  3. #3
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    Then, it was time to work on figuring out how to put that mount into the dash. First, move the heater controls down, out of the way. Here, they have been moved down. I still need to finish up an enclosure for them!



    Next up was cutting the dash to fit the frame. I did this in several steps and used both a back saw and a hobby razor saw along with a file to try and get straight lines. I was not completely successful at doing this precisely how I wanted to because the dash is all compound curves. I was able to get close enough to be happy with it, though.



    Test fit to check clearances in the dash.



    With iPad in place.



    Now, it was time to figure out how to suspend the frame inside the dash. I used L-brackets and bent and twisted them in a vice, then drilled holes into nearby plastic supports and bolted the whole thing into the bezel. What you won't see is that I used some of the existing guts of the dash that were originally designed to hold the radio in place. I hacked and cut the support to get it to fit around the frame for the iPad.

    Using a soldering iron, I plastic-welded the guts in place in addition to using model airplane glue to weld the pieces together. By the time I was done, the dash was pretty firm and not wobbly like it had been when I took all that stuff out of it. Bolting the frame to various points on the plastic interior made it pretty secure.

    After that, it was a matter of cutting plastic to make a bezel around the aluminum frame. I priced ABS but it was about $75 bucks for a sheet! I used a couple of $5 IKEA laptop holders instead. I know they aren't ABS and I'll probably be sorry one day, but by then I'll have to tear the whole thing out and put an Android in it or something else.

    Here's the bezel after quite a bit of fabricating. I used a combination of model airplane glue and plastic welding to secure the pieces.



    With the iPad in place.



    Test fit in the dash.



    Initial primer.

    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  4. #4
    Who am I? HiJackZX1's Avatar
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    WOW..... Looking good. Is a screen still going to come out the top, or are you going 100% ipad? Where are you relocating everything else?
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  5. #5
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    Thanks. I haven't decide what to do with the screen up top. I currently have removed the monitor from it but hey, you never know. Maybe I should hook the Mac Mini back up to it so I have a conventional and iPad install.

    I'm not going to be 100% iPad. The focus on this effort right now is to augment the iPad with an embedded Linux device. While I currently have a Sheeva plug, I've ordered the igep V2 which is pretty much a Sheeva except that it includes bluetooth and WiFi on the board while being a little bit smaller.

    This solves the biggest problem for me - access to the net. I can now use my iPad or iPhone as a wireless hotspot that gives everything in the car access to the net. The Sheeva doesn't have WiFi and requires an ethernet cable. This solves that problem.

    The goal is to get the install down to more or less an iPad for display and a Linux device for interaction with the physical car. I'll leave the Linux device on all the time and when it is in my driveway, it will use my WiFi, when it is in motion, it will use the iPad WiFi/3G for net access.

    At least that's the goal.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

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    Hey looks great !!! I'm not sure if this is relevant to you, but I found this on youtube a while ago. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xClCWZ9Nv0A ) The fellow uses a mimo monitor with the sheeva plug, making an effective carpc. Since you already have the sheeva plug, or maybe would want to look into drivers for the igep v2, you could utilize the top of your dash for when you want to tinger with them. Btw, I can't wait to see your end results! At first, I didn't like the circular negative spaces that were left surrounding your bezel, but now theyve grown on me and look great !!

  7. #7
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    so very very subscribed to this thread. Been waiting on this writeup for a while, bugbyte. So far I think it looks great, I'll be interested to see the finished product, especially the HVAC relocation/new housing. Looks like you also moved the hazard button... where'd that end up?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jr4284 View Post
    so very very subscribed to this thread. Been waiting on this writeup for a while, bugbyte. So far I think it looks great, I'll be interested to see the finished product, especially the HVAC relocation/new housing. Looks like you also moved the hazard button... where'd that end up?
    As noted, everything's not finished. The top half circles will be the HVAC, which is where the original ones were. They're just....smaller now.

    The bottom ones will have covers over them. I can't just fill them in because the bolts that hold the plastic to the dash are in there. I won't be able to attach the bezel if I cover them up. The aftermarket radio kit I used has semi-circular covers for these and that's what I'll hack to cover them up.

    The hazard buttons are hanging out the bottom of the heater controls. The heater controls are located where the hazards (and the seat heater controls) used to be. I haven't decided just what to do with them. Either put them under the heater controls or try to put them on the sides of the heater controls when I build the enclosure for it.

    @respo87 - that is pretty cool that he got drivers for the mimo to work on the Sheeva! I would consider going that route if I was sticking with the Sheeva. As it is, I've ordered the igep v2 and it has output for a monitor. I'll keep the monitor enclosure for the future, I guess!
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  9. #9
    Mod - iPad Forums RipplingHurst's Avatar
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    Looking very good. Lots of good ideas flowing, very interesting to watch it taking form. Keep us posted.

  10. #10
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    I've started working on how to enclose the heater controls. In the picture below, the heater controls had to move down to where the hazard button and seat heater controls are.

    From the original bezel, I managed to remove the fascia for the controls so I don't have to fab my own. This should help it keep looking stock.





    I set the original bezel in place in the car under the iPad bezel and measured a cardboard template that will make up the side of the heater control box.



    I traced and cut out a plastic version of the template. It is slightly over sized to allow me to sand it smooth.



    Initial glue up with model airplane glue, followed by plastic welding using a soldering iron when it dries.



    I'll add a bottom to the box tomorrow and see if I can use the existing control box that houses the hazards and seat heaters when I get this finished.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

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