Ok Guys and Gals, I've been on here for a while but very infrequently.
Due to family and work commitments my plans to install the Tab 7.7 went out the window, not only that, but also because the Tab went kaput...
Therefore, mods please feel free to delete the thread below as I won’t be progressing any further on this:
I then revisited this with the idea to use a Nexus 7-2, but decided that it was fairly pointless affair as the screen is too far away and even with the increased brightness the screen was partially obscured because of direct sunlight.
So everything was shelved until I happened about this article about Audi and Google collaboration:
This got me thinking... Could I do something similar? I have an Xperia Z Ultra, so a good quality 6.4” display and all the functionality I need, so yes. Why the Ultra instead of a Tablet, basically, because it keeps things simple (only one device) and retains full BT integration with the car for the hands free and minimises the number of electronic gadgets cluttering the dashboard. It has BT4 and allows multiple devices to link to it. So, I link the BT music to a Unisonic BT receiver that feeds the Aux In of the stereo and the Hands free to the OEM BT unit for telephony. Also, a big advantage is the charge connector on the side of the phone, meaning it can be docked in landscape mode to charge without the clutter of cables etc.
I’ve decided to split the build into 2 phases.
The first is the basic set-up using the OEM stereo Aux in. This means I have to use the FM radio and CD Changer from the OEM system, so not 100% integrated but a start. And the phone would be removable. I may also add in a DPDT switch for the audio to allow external sources to plug in and play music.
Phase 2 is yet to be determined because I have a few ideas in my head right now and I first need to see how the phase 1 goes and how I’d want to improve on it.
One of the limiting factors at the moment is that on the Ultra, all phones actually, the “in call” screen of the phone dialer is not landscape mode friendly in that you lose functionality if you force rotate it. This functionality however, is retained through the OEM BT integration in that I can: accept, reject, end calls using the SWC and also make in call selections via the keypad of the stereo. One of the reason to keep the OEM HU.
The other problem here is heat. I live in the Middle East, Oman to be precise and the summers are rather warm. Currently, it’s a balmy 45C during the day and 30+C at night. If I park in the shade I’ve found tablets will work and charge after being left in the car all day, if the car has to be parked in the sun even for 30+ minutes then at the very least the tablet doesn’t charge, at worst doesn’t operate for at least 10 minutes until the AC cools it down. So this also is a significant consideration.
Realistically, I think the most likely phase 2 will be to install the Ultra/ new FM Radio and GSM Tablet permanently and use twin sim cards with an old/ new phone. I’d like to use an inline actuator to raise and lower the tablet/ phablet, however this would then be a permanent install and as such the phone mounted elsewhere.
So for phase 2 a lot depends on what phone I have and how things develop.
No point debating phase 2, until phase 1 is done, so here we go.
Phase 1 is not only the installation of the Xperia Ultra, but also a fairly major overhaul of the dashboard as this is looking tired after 8 years with cracks appearing etc.
So on the car side the dash will be recovered in leather, and the centre console from the cool box to the dashboard will be overhauled and painted/ wrapped piano black with bright aluminium highlights.
This is what my dash looked like when new (LR promo photo):
Below is a basic mock-up, using MS paint, of what it will look like without the phone docked:
Basically, I’m closing off the “trinket tray” on the passenger side and removing the OEM SatNav and closing it off and inserting a 50mm clock from the Full Fat Range Rover which will be wired into the dash illumination etc.
Now with the phone installed:
I created a custom GUI for car mode using the apps “Desktop Virtualiser” for the GUI, which you can see in the screen shot below, and “Sony Smart Connect” for the automation. The Smart Connect provided all the necessary functions and is basically a simple version of either the Tasker or Actions Pro apps.
I progressed from here to purchasing a KIDIGI Xperia Ultra dock as below:
When it arrived I was disappointed to see how freely the phone moved within the dock compared to the Sony dock charger. I rectified this with the strategic placing of some fabric tape and installing a stronger magnet under the charging dock. This gave a very secure operating base for the touchscreen and required significant force to dislodge it.
Based on this I installed the dock temporarily into the car and mocked-up a surround out of cardboard and black gaffer tape. The result was this:
On a week long road test this setup survived without moving or disconnecting from the charging point, even though the dock was only help in place with automotive double sided tape. The environments tested included sharp braking and acceleration, speed bumps at speed (20+mph), construction site roads, rocky tracks etc. Obviously in an accident it would detach and fly around, but no more than if were lying on the dash, so ok for me.
Obviously all the cabling will be hidden and power will be taken from the cigar lighter in the center console. Music will be streamed via BT to the Unisonic BT receiver and telephone will be connected to the OEM BT system.
So now it’s time to make the final version. This will be done by a workshop as I don’t have the facilities to do it at home. The new shrouds will be made of either sheet aluminium or fiberglass, this will be either painted or wrapped in piano black. The voids behind will be filled with automotive foam to give a solid feel when tapped, and/or the rear of the shrouds will be covered in automotive sound proofing. Again up to the garage to decide on how to get the best result.
Cars going in on Sunday and hopefully I’ll get it back after all this and other work is completed on my return from holiday.
Any questions, comments or suggestions are most welcome.