defiancecp
Posts: 367
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Delivery Date: 25 Aug 2011
Location: Little Rock

Finally did it - dumping the stock av/nav!.... kinda :)

Mon Jan 07, 2013 2:53 pm

Well, got tired of line level conversion and its inherent nastiness, android's crappy default bluetooth stack, a very sub-par output channel on the stock unit, and just generally craptastic UI - not to mention the farking "OK" message - and decided, by god, I'm darned well getting rid of that thing one way or another!!

So I took stock of what was lost, what was critical/noncritical, looked at the list and frowned. That was probably a year ago or more.

BTW, here's that list, as far as I know it (and to test it I actually just disconnected everything and drove around for a while--

-audio (of course :) )
-gps/nav (ditto)
-bluetooth phone/microphone (ditto)
-backup camera (display for the camera)
-climate controls (only passively displays selections - most critically temperature and mode)
-cc timers (the av/nav doesn't actually *function* as the timers, but with it removed all timers are lost/turned off after second startup; I believe the av-nav unit sends selections over CAN bus at bootup)
-charging timers (exactly the same as cc timers, except that with timers turned off charging just goes to 100% any time it's plugged in)
-energy display (passive display of consumption)
-bcm (lights/locks/etc) behavior selections (these selections do not appear to be lost when the unit is disconnected, they simply stay at whatever selections were last made)
-aux in
-usb in
-panel button interface
-steering wheel button interface


Couple weeks ago I decided enough REALLY WAS enough and took another look at that list. The things I kept coming back to were the timers - charging and climate control. Everything else I could do without, but darnit I do NOT want to give up pre-heating and charge to 100% all the time!

So I went to the car and started digging through it and figured out something. While it looks like it's pretty packed because of all the wiring, the spot underneath the radio is actually pretty darned cavernous! And most of those cables go to the av/nav, meaning if it's moved down, the wires are moved down as well... PLUS - a lot of them (like radio/cell/gps antena, USB, etc) can simply by disconnected and moved aside. In fact, of the 9 harnesses on the back of the radio, there are actually only 2 needed: the normal nissan 20-pin radio harness and the main 40-pin harness. The other 7 are auxiliary functions that, if Nav is not actively being used, you just don't need connected. So those can be disconnected and moved out of the way entirely. There was one thin plastic brace that I needed to cut out of the way for clearance, I had to slightly trim the spots where the panel underneath the console (with the power connector) met the main dash panel, and I had to disconnect the power connector for clearance (In the 18 months+ I've used the car I've never used that anyway, everything I use charges off USB).

With all that done, I was able to move the stock radio down and slightly right from its stock location and fit entirely underneath the radio location/behind the buttons! Like so:
Image
with panel back on:
Image

So with that all done I was able to complete my car-PC:
Image
Image
Image

The PC is a Sapphire pure white fusion motherboard with a dual core e350 processor, 4gb ram, 120gb ssd, m3-atx miniature PSU, joycon steering wheel button interface, generic wifi & bluetooth dongles, Mo-co-so mini touch 700 touch screen (soon to be with Motor City Tech capacitive touch panel; right now it's resistive). Software is windows 7, Centrafuse, Bluesoleil, Navigator 12 GPS - For audio processing I'm using VSTHost to allow for VST Plugin usage (as much as I want as long as I've got the processor power). Currently the plugins I've got configured serve as a 3-way crossover (400hz+ to mids/highs, 80-400hz to midbass, 80hz down to subs) and a bandpass rear channel crossover (120-5k hz), parametric EQ (infinite band; add bands of adjustment as needed) for each channel, and time alignment for each individual channel (aligned front channel, delayed rear). All those active still leave me with under 30% cpu utilization most of the time while playing music, so I could still go further without making anything sluggish or causing audio droput. And, even better, it all fits in the bybyte double din frame, which fits in the leaf dash with very little modification (had to alter the top rear of the case just a little as shown in the pics).

And viola, it fit! (I actually had to trim the LCD panel just a bit with the dremel, and some non-visible bits on the back side of the stock trim panel, but all took <15 minutes):

Image

So for functionality, here's where I stand right now, using the list above of stock functions:

-audio: done, and dramatically better!!!

-gps/nav: done, working - lots of ways to approach this; USB GPS dongles, try to find an old GPS dongle that accepts internal antennas and connect to stock antenna, etc - but I finally decided to just use my cell GPS; the computer autoconnects to the phone via bluetooth, and an app provides GPS data over bluetooth as a virtual com port. Works surprisingly well, and $0 investment. Can always add a $30 USB gps later if needed.)

-bluetooth phone/microphone: Using Centrafuse & Bluesoleil software it autoconnects to the phone and works pretty much like stock. The stock microphone is actually pretty good, so I connected it to the computer microphone input and it serves the same purpose in the new system that it did in the old.

-backup camera: Monitor has auto switching to the composite video input, I just took the stock composite video backup camera lead, used a relay to turn it on & off with reverse signal, and sent it to the monitor. Works like a charm :)

-aux in: Works perfectly :)

-usb in: Works perfectly :)

-steering wheel button interface: I'm using a joycon interface for these and can see it in software but haven't yet finished configuring the software. Should work perfectly very soon.

-climate controls: Buttons work fine, but nothing displays (YET!). Right now I'm just using the fact that I know it's 60-90 range to adjust as needed (turn it all the way up and back down to where I need it, or vice versa in summer). The rest is not an issue, but I look forward to getting that temp display back!! (need to read that data from CAN and write centrafuse plugin to display it - or something like that)

-cc timers: Work fine off stock system, but inconvenient to change ... Not as inconvenient as you'd think, though; removing the stock trim panel takes about 2 minutes :) Look forward to figuring out CAN interface- eventually might be able to completely remove stock unit. Haven't changed these in MONTHS though, so not in a big hurry.

-charging timers: Work fine off stock system, but inconvenient to change ... Not as inconvenient as you'd think, though; removing the stock trim panel takes about 2 minutes :) Look forward to figuring out CAN interface- eventually might be able to completely remove stock unit. Haven't changed these in MONTHS though, so not in a big hurry.

-energy display: Nothing (yet)- more CAN interpretation, but can use the bubbles... another "would be nice" thing :)

-bcm (lights/locks/etc) behavior selections: I set these once when I got the car and haven't touched them since. Suppose I could figure out the can messaging, but I probably won't bother even after I pull the stock unit :)

-panel button interface: Panel buttons apparently have their own special CAN bus. Grand.

Additionally, the options that I can add are boundless. I've already set it up to tether from my phone automatically and installed a pandora app, so no more bluetooth audio issues (android's bluetooth audio implementation SUCKS), and full screen interface - Can do the same with spotify, orb, or whatever... Just about anything there's a PC app for I can do, though obviously things with centrafuse plugins work a lot better (the smaller buttons on standard PC apps can be difficult to target, especially when driving) - but even standard PC apps can often be skinned to work with the interface better.



I still have a lot of software config to go - Every once in a while I still find something I need to drop out to windows for, which obviously doesn't work well for a car. Plus everything related to bluetooth works great, but I have to manually activate the bluetooth PAN (tethering) every time I start it, which is a pain... Things like that I'm sure I can fix, just need to figure out how... But even as it is, I'm still VERY happy with the improvements I've already seen :D

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ksnogas2112
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Re: Finally did it - dumping the stock av/nav!.... kinda :)

Mon Jan 07, 2013 3:17 pm

The guys here in the office were mightily impressed. I'm freaked out. That's awesome!
Tom in KS
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evnow
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Re: Finally did it - dumping the stock av/nav!.... kinda :)

Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:46 pm

Very cool.

For a reach touch screen UX, Win 8 pro might be a lot better. Though, you probably don't have all the needed apps in the "Modern UI" yet.
1st Leaf : 2/28/2011 to 5/6/2013
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mirko
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Re: Finally did it - dumping the stock av/nav!.... kinda :)

Mon Jan 07, 2013 6:26 pm

I want one!
-=mirko=-
2012 Nissan LEAF SL Glacier Pearl

defiancecp
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Location: Little Rock

Re: Finally did it - dumping the stock av/nav!.... kinda :)

Tue Jan 08, 2013 7:54 am

Oh - almost forgot carwings integration.... Mine actually stopped updating the statistics on the site way back in August of 2011, so I hadn't been using that, and I never renewed the subscription to be able to do the web/phone interface. So honestly I completely forgot about those. I believe those would go away with this setup, but since both have been inactive for me for quite some time anyway I can't really test.

Win8 looks extremely interesting. I have a buddy that got a win8 tablet and it is pretty interesting; I definitely think it could be made to work here. In my case I actually started on this pc almost a year ago, so I've already got the licensed copy of win7... Still have to buy my centrafuse license though (using trial right now), so might consider win8 instead... but I'm guessing it's still a little too new to have everything I'd need set up to work well in the tablet UI. I'd bet it will be near-perfect for this application in ~3-6 months, with the exception of bluetooth phone interface -- not a lot of demand to develop software to use a PC as a phone interface, so I'm guessing centrafuse will continue to have the best implementation there...

ztanos
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Re: Finally did it - dumping the stock av/nav!.... kinda :)

Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:00 am

defiancecp wrote:Oh - almost forgot carwings integration.... Mine actually stopped updating the statistics on the site way back in August of 2011, so I hadn't been using that, and I never renewed the subscription to be able to do the web/phone interface. So honestly I completely forgot about those. I believe those would go away with this setup, but since both have been inactive for me for quite some time anyway I can't really test.

Win8 looks extremely interesting. I have a buddy that got a win8 tablet and it is pretty interesting; I definitely think it could be made to work here. In my case I actually started on this pc almost a year ago, so I've already got the licensed copy of win7... Still have to buy my centrafuse license though (using trial right now), so might consider win8 instead... but I'm guessing it's still a little too new to have everything I'd need set up to work well in the tablet UI. I'd bet it will be near-perfect for this application in ~3-6 months, with the exception of bluetooth phone interface -- not a lot of demand to develop software to use a PC as a phone interface, so I'm guessing centrafuse will continue to have the best implementation there...


Win8 phones and tablets use blutooth and they usually have apps like Skype, so it shouldn't be an issue.

defiancecp
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Re: Finally did it - dumping the stock av/nav!.... kinda :)

Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:48 pm

To clarify it's easy to bluetooth interface with a phone, but no PC software (other than Centrafuse on Bluesoleil's bluetooth stack) would act as a handsfree set for a bluetooth cell phone - it just wasn't commonly implemented. Looks like you're right though, bluetooth handsfree was added to windows 8's bluetooth stack - bout damn time ... I'll have to bum Raymond's tablet and try it out, see if they actually have good software implementation set up :)

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richard
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Re: Finally did it - dumping the stock av/nav!.... kinda :)

Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:08 pm

Great read, and fantastic project. Hope you keep making progress because I'd like to do this myself some day.
2011 Nissan LEAF, Glacier White, SL-QC, Reserved: 4/20/10, Ordered: 9/2/10, Delivered: 4/21/11, 33,000+ miles, 12 bars, EVSEUpgrade Rev1
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evnow
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Re: Finally did it - dumping the stock av/nav!.... kinda :)

Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:18 pm

defiancecp wrote:Win8 looks extremely interesting. I have a buddy that got a win8 tablet and it is pretty interesting; I definitely think it could be made to work here. In my case I actually started on this pc almost a year ago, so I've already got the licensed copy of win7...


Win 8 upgrade is inexpensive.

Given the size of the screen, though (what is the resolution ?) - I wonder how it well it will work in practice. Otherwise I'm sure the UX will be a lot better with tiles and response to hand gestures. As long as you have Win 8 Apps for all the main functions, it should work well.
1st Leaf : 2/28/2011 to 5/6/2013
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Volt : 3/25/2017 to ?

defiancecp
Posts: 367
Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2010 4:02 pm
Delivery Date: 25 Aug 2011
Location: Little Rock

Re: Finally did it - dumping the stock av/nav!.... kinda :)

Wed Jan 09, 2013 3:34 pm

Actually yeah, that looks like the killer point here. With the 7" touch screens available, nearly all have a native res of 800x480. Metro UI apparently won't work at less than 1024x768. The screen actually will accept 1024x768, but it's scaled, and text becomes unreadable in some cases and things like that ... so win8 really wouldn't work well for this application unfortunately (at least, not as a UI). Still tempted to get it to try the bluetooth stack, though... Bluesoleil isn't playing well with hibernation. Not to mention all the talk about superfast boot times. Can't hurt to give it a try; I'll just make an image of my drive as it is first...

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