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Thread: 1981 Mercedes 300SD CarPC + Custom ECU install

  1. #1
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    1981 Mercedes 300SD CarPC + Custom ECU install

    This is an extremely long term project. I have been working on designing and building a custom ECU for my 1981 Mercedes, and am retrofitting a modern computer controlled turbocharger into it. The CarPC will be a separate system, but will be essential in allowing configuration, debugging, and as a replacement for [more] mechanical gauges [than I'll ever have room for].

    I'm only documenting the CarPC related parts here, if anyone is interested in the custom Turbo/Engine control unit, I have parts of it posted on another forum.

    There are 4 parts I'm working on right now,

    1. Replace the gauge cluster with 3 LCD screens, a 7" WVGA, and 2 smaller LCDs that are getting custom USB driver boards made based on the PIC24FJ256DA210.
    ---Status: Ordered small LCDs, need to fix/replace driver board for the 7", beginning on PCB layout for USB driver board

    2. Build an interface board that will connect to the current input wires for the gauge cluster: speed, tach, fuel, temp, and oil pressure, and link them to the ethernet network I'm using for sensor/actuator/ECU communications.
    ---Status: Working on PCB layout, need to confirm a couple signals but my scope isn't at all portable...

    3. Use the MAX7456 on screen display chip and a PIC microcontroller to read from the etnernet network make a temporary virtual gauge cluster until the CarPC is functional/backup for before it boots or if it crashes. It will also display boost and exhaust pressure in addition to the above.
    ---Status: hardware ready for assembly, software ~50%

    4. Embed a touchpad under the leather on the steering wheel. I have one from a broken laptop that I've tested to work through pretty thick fabric. I haven't had the wheel apart yet, but hopefully the leather will come off the foam easliy and I'll be able to grind a tiny bit of foam away to make room for the touchpad. (no airbags in this car)

    Heres the mock up, I got an extra gauge cluster from the junkyard so I can drive the car before it gets done. Pretend the hotel key cards are LCDs.


  2. #2
    Newbie Berber's Avatar
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    1981 Mercedes 300SD CarPC + Custom ECU install

    Hi,

    Sounds like quite a project you have there, I wish you good luck and hope everything goes well. I own a 1988 300E and have a carputer project soon to start, just waiting on the parts. Its no way as complex as yours, I'm not replacing my instruments or hooking into other automotive systems. My setup will be a 7" LCD touchscreen and PC running Windows XP and front end software to control multimedia, navigation, mobile phone, etc.

    Building and mounting the PC is a small challenge. My main challenge is to mount the LCD screen without drilling or cutting into the dash or centre console. As you would know, there isn't a double din space in the stock dash or centre console and I don't want to mod anything just in case I want to sell the car as I will be keeping the carputer if I do that. To that end I'm looking at a Ram windscreen suction mount setup as the solution, unless I come up with a better idea.

    I look forward to further posts on your project.

    All the best,
    Berber

  3. #3
    FLAC PhilG's Avatar
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    This should be interesting! I'm subscribed.
    My 2007 Ford F350 Work Log located HERE

  4. #4
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    Picked this up today, its a Pentium 4, tested to POST before I bought it, didn't include RAM or a hard drive. PSU inside says 200W, so I figure I can use a 90-120W picoPSU since I don't plan on having a hard drive or CD drive powered off it. I can build my own voltage regulator for those easily enough.
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  5. #5
    Newbie Berber's Avatar
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    1981 Mercedes 300SD CarPC + Custom ECU install

    G'day mate,

    A nice piece of equipment you have there, that chassis looks like it could fit nicely into a double din space. I'm thinking you are going to use an external HDD or SSD since that chassis didn't come with one. For the purpose we put these computers to I would suggest a SDD for the OS etc. mounted in that chassis and use an external HDD/SSD for strorage. Just my two cents worth. I have installed an internal 64 Gig SSD for my carputer setup. I will be getting an external HDD for storage.

    As far as my project is concerned I have built the PC, installed the OS, Centrafuse 3.0, Destinator 9 and drivers/software for the GPS etc. and have bench tested it and it all works as it should. I have also installed the wireing in the car and have tested the setup and it works as it should. The audio out from the PC is sent to the existing head unit. Since the head unit is a bit old it doesn't have an Aux. input. I have had to use a PLL FM Stereo Modulator to send the audio to the head unit. It works but its not ideal and is only a temporary fix till I come up with something better, probably an internal HD radio tuner card and an amp or two. If I do this the head unit will have been made redundant so I can use the space to house a USB hub, a card reader and a slim optical drive.

    I have decided to build a custom housing for the PC which will take the form of a console between the front seats and double up as an arm rest and remove the seat mounted OEM arm rest. Will see if I can use the OEM arm rest without the pivot arm as the top/lid for the custom housing. The touchscreen will be mounted on a U-shaped bracket that (1) clips into the gap between the center console panel and the dashboard then (2) snaps into the gap between the air vent frame and the padded dashboard as per the attached images. I'm telling you all of this because I wont be doing a worklog.

    Good luck with your project and cheers,
    Berber
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