Friday, July 31, 2009

Touch Me, The Sun Always Shines on TV

A central element of any Carputer is the interface. De rigueur these days is some kind of touch screen display embedded in the dash to look like it came with the car.

Before I left on holiday, I came across a guy on e-may selling 8" Lilliput touch screen displays. He was in Ireland (Mayo) and the screens were good value compared to buying new in US and paying shipping and import tax. When I got back I ordered one and it arived on Tuesday.

As a complete aside, it turns out the seller (Hi Damian!) is a bit of a techie interested in Carputing and SageTV, a PVR system that I'm currently struggling with as well. It's funny how you meet people!

Today I had a look at how I might mount the screen. First task was to remove the centre console and the radio. I discovered I had a model 86120-0k050 for which there is absolutely no information available anywhere in terms of pinouts etc. It has two sets of interfaces on the back, one of which appears to conform to the standard Toyota configuration, the other is a set of 12 and 20 on smaller pins that I assume is for hooking up optional cd changers etc. (I found an analysis of the 12 pin set here, I still have no idea what the 20 pin connector does.)

Not that any of this is too important as that radio will be getting shelved. Here's a picture of the centre console with the radio removed;

In this picture, the clock has also been removed. The display is a Lilliput 8-Inch Touch Screen VGA Monitor 889GL-80NP/C/T. Most people seem to go for 7" units which fit well into double-din spaces, often with the panel removed from it's casing. Having measured my dash and looked at the specs, I thought I could make the 8" unit work. Here's the general idea;

With the clock and radio removed, I have just enough height for the full screen and all of the buttons to fit and the width is just about perfect. I'm happy that I don't have to remove the panel from the case. There were a couple of contours on the inner plastic frame behind the dash that prevented the bottom of the screen pushing back far enough so I attacked them with a stanley knife and solved the problem. Here's the set-up with the center console back in place (that fake wood was in the car when I bought it, honest. It actually looks slightly better in real life than in the photos). Can anyone spot the problem here?

While the screen fits well in the space previously occupied by the radio & clock, the moulding dividing the two remians. While I was happy to hack away at the inner plastics with a stanley knife, I'll need to find out the best approach to cutting this panel. (If I make a mess of it, it's no big deal, you can pick up these fake wooden fascias online).

My only real issue is the fact that I need to tilt the screen in at the bottom to reduce glare and reflection. In doing so, I'm opening up a gap along the side and bottom, as seen in the image below. While I'm not overly concerned with factory quality fit & finish, I don't really want gaping holes either. I'm going to have to come up with some kid of solution here. I will also need to find a way to fix the screen in place firmly so it doesn't rattle around or jiggle when touched.

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