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Thread: 2006 Nissan Teana carpc intergration with factory screen

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Auckland New Zealand

    2006 Nissan Teana carpc intergration with factory screen

    I have been a keen follower of mp3car for a number of years but never taken the plunge. While I was keen to have a PC in my car, I had issues about where a screen could go. That was my Nissan Cefiro – a Japanese import into New Zealand. The Cefiro (and most others for that matter) imports are not your stock standard international equivalents. They have quirks and things in them that you would only find in the Japan market. We import these used cars here as they are well priced and (typically) higher spec’d than the NZ new equivalent models. The more up market models have navigation and flash audio systems. The problem is most of the controls and feedback is in Japanese. Even the FM radio uses a different band (70 – 90 MHz) and the only way around this apart from ripping it all out and starting over is the use of a “band expander” connected in line with the antenna which “adds” 10 MHz to the received frequency. IE 89.4 on the display = 99.4 in real life. Adequate but not the best in a busy area

    By now most of you will be saying “surely you can swap out parts, move jumpers, change menu options etc” but no, these are intended for the Japan market not the international market and they cant be reprogrammed. Many have asked and tried.

    I now have a newer (2006) Nissan Teana. Both the Cefiro and the Teana are Maximas in the US, Australia etc. so share a few things. This 1 has a colour screen (non touch) which displays all manner of info – mostly in Japanese. By systematically working through I have managed to find things that control the auto headlights, the wiper delays, the interior lighting, the Bluetooth as well as a few others. Regardless of what is on screen at the time, volume, channel, climate controls etc. overlay on the screen. It has a reverse camera which takes overall priority when used. To me, maintaining this functionality is the most important part of my PC install. I don’t want another screen, but I do want a good PC experience – preferably touch.

    I was inspired by a local person who had a box that ran Win Ce and iGo which could be added to your system by “interrupting” the RGBS feed to the display controller. I also found boxes that would allow you to interrupt the feed from the controller to the screen it’s self but these relied on switches or relays to change between modes. When in the PC mode, none of the overlay stuff could work so this was not an option for me. BTW the screen is an RGBS screen running at 15K so can’t connect VGA directly to it.

    So, what I needed was;
    • No change to current screen functionality (apart from not needing existing Nav)
    • A pc running Windows using a touch screen
    • Activation of the PC by pressing any of the exiting nav controls
    • Seamless integration with all existing overlays working
    • My target was less than $1,000 NZ dollars
    Last edited by lost@c; 09-09-2012 at 04:33 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Auckland New Zealand

    Existing Setup

    This is what the console looks like. Note all the info on screen for radio and climate control. The central nav buttons are the white set around the central multi controller. The climate and radio / CD etc have their own controls
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    There are various "looks" for the display depending on what's going on at the timeName:  Slide4.JPG
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    A change in volume or climate settings are overlaid (in yellow and black) over what ever is on at the timeName:  Slide6.JPG
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    The existing nav unit is behind the gloveboxName:  Slide10.JPG
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Auckland New Zealand

    August 4, 2012 - Work begins

    I made a break out cable to connect to the existing nav unit to try to find the RGBS wires. Name:  Slide12.JPG
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Size:  70.0 KBThe connectors used were not common (a 32 way) but I managed to source them through RS components and they were quite cheap too. Having not been able to find the correct version of the shop manual for my car, this was a bit trial and error, however looking at the existing cables I found a set of 4 that were screened and guessed that they might be them and sure enough they were. By cutting each wire in my break out cable in turn I could see when I lost the red or the blue or the sync. I actually only cut 2 that were not relevant!

    To confirm I was on the right track I connected my 17” LCD to the (now cut) feeds from the factory nav and my screen politely said “signal out of range, 15.7kHz / 60Hz”. Yey! I’m on the right track!Name:  Slide14.JPG
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    So now all I need is a PC that will output this type of RGBS at 15.7kHz video right? I dug out my old test box PC and installed “Powerstrip”. I was surprised to find that this old dunga could in fact output these resolutions when using this program. It also had a tick box for “composite sync” and interlacing. The hardest thing about doing this kind of tweaking is that you often loose the display and can’t find your way back. By using VNC when ever this happened I could access the box over my network.

    August 11, 2012
    Using an old VGA to 5 wire tail set, today I connected my old PC to my break out loom. I booted up the PC and (as expected) the first few screens were all garbled but by the time it got to the desktop, low and behold it was (sort of) on the car screen! The image filled the screen but was split in the middle – clearly a sync issue. Name:  Slide15.JPG
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Size:  55.2 KB I played with the 2 sync cables I had and in the end actually joined the V and H sync from the PC together and this seemed to make the image correct. I can’t imagine how this could be but there you go. By playing with different resolutions, zooms and positions within Powerstrip, I got what I think is a pretty good image. The desktop was readable and quite crisp. Name:  Slide17.JPG
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    If I changed the volume or the temperature, the overlays came up correctly. Name:  Slide19.JPG
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Size:  52.7 KB This was “proof of concept” for me and a reason to precede at full speed.

    While Powerstrip did the business, I wasn’t convinced it was the best way to do it as it had to load after Windows was started at which point it would take over the hardware and output my resolution. Interestingly, when the wrong rates were being sent to the screen, the other screen info was garbled even though the PC was not being displayed at the time. To me this meant that all the different parts that connect to the cars display controller share a common sync “bus”. When I connected something weird to it it seemed to garble the whole lot.

    So I decided to find a hardware solution to do the conversion for me. I found this quite hard to find but stumbled across a company in Australia that made products for the arcade game market. The old spacies machines had big CRT screens that all ran these resolutions and these guys were selling converter cards to convert VGA to CGA outside of the computer. I ordered the card and in the meantime decided on the Asus E45M1-I DELUXE motherboard for my project. This integrated mini ITX board had a PCIe slot, built in wifi, Bluetooth, no fans etc. Name:  Slide20.JPG
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    I found a space in the boot (trunk) for it to go and waited for the card to arrive before making a call on a case.I’ve ordered 1 and we will see how it goes.

    August 18, 2012
    Spent time working on the case over the weekend. I made the case from Perspex and ended up with a fair result. Name:  Slide20.JPG
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Size:  115.6 KB It was my first time working with this stuff so was a bit hit and miss. Name:  Slide21.JPG
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Size:  98.7 KB I am going to use a laptop hard drive and wanted to shock mount it in the lid of the case. I used some O rings and stand offs to do this. They allow about 5mm of movement in all directions. Name:  Slide22.JPG
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Size:  77.8 KB Later I may change to a SSD but they are still a little pricey for this project. Building it with Perspex cost about $25.00. Name:  Slide23.JPG
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Size:  76.2 KB The case I wanted (and may still get later on) is something like a Voom but these cost more than 5 times that once you land them in my part of the world. I am going to need a case fan but will do that before it goes into the car. Name:  Slide24.JPG
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    August 25th
    The VGA to CGA board arrived during the week and I tried it on Saturday. I’m not completely happy with the image quality (a bit soft) but I’ll live with it for now. I was running XP and my intention is to run Win8 which has big icons intended for mobile (touch) and small hardware as seen on tablets. I haven’t tried this yet so will be happy with the image for now.

    I had previously run the VGA, power and usb from the boot to the glove box so properly joined this into the break out loom I had previously made. I mounted the PC properly with the ability to easily remove it from it’s home if needed. (I imagine this will be needed quite a lot at the start) Have ordered an M4-ATX from eBay and expect that in the next few days. I’ll build another small Perspex box to house this and the VGA to CGA close by the computer. I’m going to be close to a supplier of touch screen overlays next week so will go for a look at that.

    September 8th
    Was out of town last weekend but purchased a touch screen overlay while away
    The size was such (7") that it fitted perfectly inside the metal frame of the LCDName:  Slide26.JPG
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    And the thickness was also perfect bringing the surface to exactly level with the side of the metal frameName:  Slide25.JPG
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    I mounted the touch to USB controller on the back of the screen along with the ribbon cable from the overlayName:  Slide29.JPG
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    The M4-ATX arrived during the week and it's been mounted in a small case in the boot beside the PC. (Pic coming soon)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Auckland New Zealand

    Update September 12

    Took a couple of pix of the power supply in half it's case. It's installed about 150mm from where the PC goes under the parcel shelf in the boot to the left of the seat belt re-tractor box you can see to the left. The cables to the PC will be neatly tied behind this box. Looking at it I may be able to get the VGA to CGA converter in there as well on the lid. Will look in the weekend. Would be a bonus if I could. Short run for the 5V DC this card needs. If not I'll stack another similar case on top of it to keep it tidy.
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    Also made a new surround for the screen. The factory 1 (as it's not touch" covers the whole area so I needed a new 1 with a cut out to access the overlay. The bottom was nice and straight until I heat polished the edges. It will probably straighten out with a bit more heat (Hopefully). It's not actually as bad as it looks as it will be painted black on the back and in fact the bottom edge of the cutout just below the surround.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Auckland New Zealand
    Update September 23
    Pretty good progress to date.

    PC installed. VGA out connected to VGA to CGA converter. Converter mounted atop of the power supply close to the PC in the boot.
    Power, USB, Audio and RGBS all run from boot through to behind glove box. All tapped in.
    4 wire resistive touch screen mounted over factory screen, usb adapter mounted on back of screen
    Win7 installed with Centrafuse trial
    Everything basically running

    I'm happy with the actual install and hook-in. The audio sounds good and is accessed by selecting AUX on the factory radio. Pressing any of the factory nav buttons put's the PC on screen. HVAC, radio and all other overlay information coming up correctly regardless of if PC is being displayed or not (as it is supposed to).

    I have a few things to work through before will be happy with it.
    Navigation. I need to find some nav software that will run in Centrafuse. It seems that New Zealand maps are not included yet (Australia - close but no). The Garmin Mobile PC might be ok but it's now obsolete. I would have liked this as I having been using Garmin Nuvi's and I like the interface. If I could get hold of this and maps and was able to get them into Centrafuse that would be great. Of course if Centrafuse came with NZ maps I'd be happy to go that way too. Any input here would be appreciated
    Screen clarity. 2 things are effecting this at the moment. 1, the resistive overlay definitely softens the image a bit. This was a know going in and I still may go capacitive for this and multi touch in the future. 2, The VGA to CGA converter also softens the image a bit. To a point where text on the win desktop is basically unreadable. For what it does, this converter is actually pretty good but (as all scan converts do), the clarity of VGA once processed and reduced does end up looking soft.

    I am a bit frustrated right now with trying different options to resolve this. I tried Powerstrip. This worked a treat on my old test box PC but this motherboard just won't look at it. You can start it but no UI comes up so you can't do anything with it. It's running in task manager but I just can't get to the UI. I've searched and searched for an answer to this but to no avail. I can't even ask on their forum as you need to register and when I try to register it tells me that it currently can't. Rather annoying. Another option is a little program called "soft15Khz". This allows the resolutions I'm after with the refresh rate I need, but, no options are available when starting it up. I'm picking this may be a Win7 compatibility issue, or it may just be that the integrated graphics on this mobo is not supported.

    Plan from here. I'll try a PCIe graphics card as an experiment to see if I can run Powerstrip and / or soft15Khz. If so this might be an option. There is also a card available that is specifically designed for this purpose. Problem is it's quite expensive (my $1,000 is looming) plus it won't fit in my case I built. A 90 degree riser might work or a cut in the top of the case to accommodate the card could be an option. We will see how the week pans out

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Auckland New Zealand
    Bit of an update on progress

    I've been playing with front ends and specifically Centrafuse and Ride runner. I do like Centrafuse but built in navigation support is not available for New Zealand. A suggestion to try Navigator 11 was given and I have been playing with this but it does not tie in well with this front end. It does however go well with Ride runner so I have been playing with that. I'm not that keen on RR standard skin so might see what I can do with this for now.

    So things to sort;
    Muting music audio for nav instructions. RR does this but I can't get it working properly yet,
    A usb radio of some sort. We have no HD / Sirus / etc. here - just good old FM and RDS
    Phone integration. RR does this but I can't get it working properly yet
    A RR skin that better suits my screen and screen clarity
    Better screen clarity
    More transparant touch overlay
    A preamp for the PC audio output that could be a bit higher to better match the other inputs to the factory audio system

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Auckland New Zealand
    Update December 30 2012

    It's been a while since I did an update so thought it was about time.

    Progress has been pretty good. I have been working on getting the various software working the way I want it. I have settled on and brought Centrafuse. For me it seemed not quite as flexible as RR but less config was necessary. I also have been looking hard for Nav software.

    I brought a BU 353 usb GPS and mounted it between the parcel tray and the metal panel below it. It works adequately in this position and is invisible from outside and inside the car.

    I also brought the Joycon controller and hooked it into my steering wheel controls. I even managed to leave the factory connection for this in place! I was prepared to lose this if necessary but as it turned out I am able to run both at once. I am not using the volume controls on the PC because I have my audio connected to my factory HU so using that volume works just fine. The up/dn buttons do media changing, the voice button does, well, voice of course. A long press on the voice button doese an ALT+TAB which currently switches between Centrafuse and any other program running and the short press on the phone button answers the phone while a long press hangs it up.

    After trying really hard to find (and even buy) GMPC I have found a PC ported version of iGO which worked almost straight away. I brought a cheap device that had the maps I wanted on and copied them onto the PC and it works really well. On a 7" screen, the iGO interface is really good although I had to change my screen resolution to 800 by 480 to make it sit right. I've just used it on a long trip and it's just great. I am a Garmin fan (I have owned quite a few over the years) but their insistence on locking their hardware and software together has made me reconsider. I didn't want to use pirated software on this project and that appeared to be the only way to achieve the Garmin solution. I guess you could say the ported version of iGO is "semi dodgey" but there is a lot out there and it was easy to come by. Again I would be happy to pay for it if someone would just sell it to me!

    Next part of the project is the FM radio. Looking closely at the Directed HD Radio with the radio to PC interface cable. It's a bit pricey (landed in NZ) so I'm also interested in this USB one which has been mentioned on the Centrafuse site. Haven't looked at if I can get it or not yet.

    Still not completely happy with the graphics quality and was hoping Santa might have helped out but not to be..... Maybe he follows mp3car??

    I'll try not to be so long on my next update.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Auckland New Zealand
    Once again it's been quite a while since the last update. I have been using the carputer for the best part of a year now and I really do like it. Like many DIY projects, there is always something to finish or make better.

    I had been having a few issues with data corruption and drive failing to start so I thought I would upgrade to a SSD and to Windows 8. (Windows 8 was always my planned OS) I got a fairly small SSD (120Gb) and successfully got Win 8 installed along with Centrafuse and my other bits and pieces. It did not take long at all and apart from a few niggles, it is looking good. 1 thing to note is that as I had to run my screen at a low resolution, none of the Metro apps work. Not to big a problem as what I am using is all on the desktop which seems to cope with any resolution. I do like the fast startup of Win8.

    I recently purchased the DAB DAB+ FM Digital Radio Development Board which is available from eBay and as it's from Australia, not too expensive to get here. I read a lot of good stuff about this board and while it had DAB and DAB+, I got it primary for the FM radio to deal with the issue I refer to in my first post. There is a DAB / DAB+ trial underway at the moment here and I can get this service ok but not any stations I like to listen to. Anyway I managed to splice it into my cars amplified antenna system (rear windshield type) and it has pretty good reception. As I have introduced an extra earth path I have some background noise but I also found a recommendation to run an grounding wire from the base of the antenna connector on the Monkey Board to the shield of the sound card. I tried this and it improves the situation so will do it properly when I case and mount the board - probably next weekend. I may also do the i2C "hack" with this board by adding a MiniStreamer which might improve audio by removing the analogue path between the boards. I have tried 3 different softwares for this radio, the test app that it came with, the 1 developed here by Mickz and the Centrafuse one. All are good and currently I have settled on the Centrafuse one as it integrates nicely.

    So now I have media, radio, nav as well as a few other bits and pieces - all on a system that boots pretty fast (under 20 seconds), is touch and runs on the factory 7" screen which still shows all AC and other car info overlaid on Windows. I am pretty happy with the outcome.

    I'll report back with a few pix when I put the Monkey Board in.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Quote Originally Posted by lost@c View Post
    By systematically working through I have managed to find things that control the auto headlights, the wiper delays, the interior lighting, the Bluetooth as well as a few others.
    Hey man....NEEEEEEED some help with how you achieved all this...or even if not ALL of that, just the bluetooth. I just got an 07 Teana 230JM and I can't utilize the features fully. I've shuffled through and found out how to do a few things; I've even found the bluetooth, but I still haven't figured out how to pair a device with the radio. When I go on into carwings and select bluetooth, i just see w-cdma on/off. There's a button on the dash that has a headset on it. I figure that has something to do with the pairing, but I don't know exactly what to do. Any help'd be greatly appreciated...I'm bored outta my wits when I'm driving, cuz I've no music.

    Thanks in advance.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Auckland New Zealand
    Check your PM

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