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Thread: Dashboard Blues...

  1. #1
    ***Euro-Nova Supporter*** Spacenut's Avatar
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    Dashboard Blues...

    OK, I may as well admit it - I have finally got round to stripping out my old dashboard. Its something I have been meaning to do for a long time, but the sheer scale of the disruption beggers belief. Typically, my timing is lousy, effectively taking the car off the road in the middle of the show season, but there you go. Capricious is probably the word you are looking for

    Like many of the projects I take on, I am not sure how things are going to turn out, but I'll start this thread off now and see where we go, OK? Right, let us begin...

    ...It started about 18 years ago; the Green Machine had yet to turn a wheel under its own power, and the interior was largely non-existent. Undeterred (ahh, the eternal optimism of youth) I went to the autojumble at Popham and bought the 1979 Automobile Year Book of Dream Cars, one of the most treasured books in my automotive library. In it I found the inspiration for my dashboard. OK, it was clearly just a backlit display, and in many respects it was ergonomically unsound, but the 1975 Alfa Romeo Eagle concept interior captured my imagination like no other (sad I know ).



    Obviously the Eagle was LHD, so with the benefit of digital photography, I reversed the image and blanked out the proposed touch switches and backlit displays in my RHD interpretation...



    Trouble was, the more I looked at this picture, and the more I looked at my old dashboard, the more difficult it became to imagine how the Eagle dash could be made to fit into the confines of the Nova cockpit...



    Also, there were other more pressing matters to attend to; having spent a week of my rehabilitation refettling my canopy hinges, I was now in a position to see if I could trial-fit my cut-down Mk4 dash surround and still have adequate clearance for the hinge pins. Of course, that meant removing the remains of the old dash surround, and losing the support for the heater box which was located just above the passengers footwell...

    The good news is that the new dash surround fitted perfectly...





    The bad news was that the old dashboard did not fit comfortably underneath (deep down I knew it wouldn't, but I thought I might keep it as a temporary measure), and worst of all, I couldn't find a temporary home for the heater and had to disconnect it...





    With the heater fan jury-rigged to the central face vents, a quick trip to the shops was all I needed to convince me the car had to come off the road for re-work. Anything like the rain we have been having lately would be impossible without adequate demisting. I drove home and took the whole dashboard out...



    Monitor bezel came off first...



    Now you see it...



    Now you don't...





    ...And there you have it. Since these pictures were taken I have removed the heater box and joined the hose ends together so the engine can still be run. I have stripped the heater box down to the 3-speed squirrel cage SPAL fan and the heater matrix, both of which will be fitted into a custom moulded fibreglass/carbon fibre heater box built onto the centre tunnel.

    Although I couldn't reconcile the height of the Eagle concept dash with the visibility requirements of the Nova, I will be keeping the flat panel display with the angled window on the left hand side. In the Green Machine, this panel will hide the tunnel that will house the telecam monitor. The position of the monitor can be seen in the following pictures.







    Putting the monitor in a deep tunnel is one of the most important lessons I have learned over the last 4 years of use - the sun (on those rare occasions when it chooses to shine) has an uncanny knack of shining directly onto the screen and suddenly you have no idea what is going on behind you

    You can see I have also placed the remains of the dash top overhead, to try and give an impression of how things will work. The instruments have to fit in a raised binnacle in front of the driver, which is one of the biggest departures from the Eagle concept. To the right of the telecam monitor, but still visible outside the steering wheel rim will be the Nav computer display. Visible inside the wheel rim will be the speedo (on the left) followed by fuel, oil pressure, water temperature and voltmeter. A 20-LED strip tachometer will run over the top of the secondary instruments. Primary switch gear (lights, wiper, indicators, toot, flash) are all on the steering column, and additional switch gear will remain in the side panel as before...



    With the old dashboard out of the way, I marvelled at how so many wires were required to support so few electrical functions. So I set about the wiring loom and found all of this was completely redundant...



    ...with the promise of more to come out. The wiring loom was originally designed for a Countach replica, which clearly has more stuff to power. Much of the harness was left with excess wire as well, which was simply ty-wrapped away under the dashboard, so I will be shortening the wires that stay as well. Every little helps!

    At this point I was about to order all the cable I would need to re-wire the car completely, but I have been prevailed upon to concentrate on completing the dashboard first (with its own dedicated wiring loom) before starting on the rest of the electrics! Sound advice, if I am going to get back on the road any time soon!

    So, now you are up to date. As I said, I'm not sure where this is going yet, but I will be SORNing the car next week and I've got to get the dashboard finished before I can get back on the road. But this time, everything will be RIGHT.

    More news as it happens...

    Lauren
    only Pythagoras can save me now!

  2. #2
    Senior Member essexdave's Avatar
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    Re: Dashboard Blues...

    Go girl .......... as with all the mods.... projects, or mods that turn into projects we await further updates with baited breath,
    e-dave.

  3. #3
    Senior Member MicksRedNova's Avatar
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    Re: Dashboard Blues...

    Quote Originally Posted by Spacenut
    As I said, I'm not sure where this is going yet, but I will be SORNing the car next week and I've got to get the dashboard finished before I can get back on the road. But this time, everything will be RIGHT.

    More news as it happens...

    Lauren
    Don't forget your on my CarFest list for August.

    Mick
    Club Nova Member (F-036)

    A BMW X3 driver just added to the Nova jobs I need to do!

    Follow my Lazarus project at: http://www.micksrednova.co.uk/index.html
    which may take more than four days!!

  4. #4

    Re: Dashboard Blues...

    That's one hefty old monitor you have got there taking up lots of valuable space. Is there no way to put a Convex screen over a new slim LCD in black and white mode to give the retro look. Or even the glass from the current monitor?

    Or am I totally missing the point of being a totally authentic 70's look

  5. #5

    Re: Dashboard Blues...

    Yeah... that's kinda my question too, Lauren. Why keep such a huge monitor when there are such better (smaller) units that you can incorporate more functions into? Good discussions over on this side about in-dash tablets with built-in WiFi, GPS and all kinds of goodies...

  6. #6

    Re: Dashboard Blues...

    My dash wiring is about the same, I'm about to tidy it all up and use fixed connector blocks to pull it all together. I would go for 7" LCD myself or even an all in one unit.
    I myself have a dilemma with the 7" screen stuff, currently I have a 6.5" multi function 2DIN unite in the centre, Chinese crap sound radio , TV (useless analogue) DVD, reverse monitor, GPS, Bluetooth, etc. OR Retro old skool Pioneer KEX900M with super sounds with radio cassette, (Yeah I know, cassettes) remote FM tuner, matching KEX CD player under radio, remote multi CD unit and seperate 7" reversing monitor (possibly flip up). I duno

    The opinions expressed in my posts may not be made in a sound mind and should be taken in the spirit intended, Jack Daniels is fine.
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  7. #7
    ***Euro-Nova Supporter*** Spacenut's Avatar
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    Re: Dashboard Blues...

    Huge??? Its a 5" CRT!

    OK, so its a bit deeper than a TFT, but that isn't a big deal for me. The montor is lightweight for what it is, and works well as long as it is properly screened from ambient light.

    Also, I think the pictures provide a false sense of scale - the casing is about 6" deep. In all honesty I just have no need for WiFi enabled tablets/ipads and TFT touch screens - I have enough to think about when driving! Also, accommodation of the screen into the dashboard would be more difficult to do with an 8" or 10" widescreen TFT - height and width of the visible screen are critical, depth is not so much of a problem.

    But I suppose you're right - I am being a bit pedantic with this old-skool engineering. You should see how I am implementing the LED tachometer - LM3914s, with an LM2917 ignition interface, and discrete TRANSISTOR high-side drivers powering the hyperbright LEDs... and a NE555 PWM brightness control! How old skool is THAT???

    Lauren

    PS - Mick, I haven't forgotten, I just need to get some time off work to hurry things up a bit
    only Pythagoras can save me now!

  8. #8
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    Re: Dashboard Blues...

    Quote Originally Posted by Spacenut
    Huge??? Its a 5" CRT!

    You should see how I am implementing the LED tachometer - LM3914s, with an LM2917 ignition interface, and discrete TRANSISTOR high-side drivers powering the hyperbright LEDs... and a NE555 PWM brightness control! How old skool is THAT???

    Thats well cool not old skool I have drawings for a full digi dash from back in the 80's using led bars, I'm sure you dont need it but if you want a copy let me know

    Dirk

  9. #9

    Re: Dashboard Blues...

    Dirk
    You can send it to me .... please
    I had one in my Davrian 1982. but since then I lost the circuit diagram
    I would like to do it again if I could.
    Thanks in advance
    RABS

  10. #10
    ***Euro-Nova Supporter*** Spacenut's Avatar
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    Re: Dashboard Blues...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk
    Thats well cool not old skool I have drawings for a full digi dash from back in the 80's using led bars, I'm sure you dont need it but if you want a copy let me know

    Dirk
    Thanks Dirk - I will be sticking with my (stripped-down) Dakota Digital gauges, so won't be doing any other bar graphs other than the tacho, but thanks anyway!

    Out of interest, I used to see adverts in the electronic press for the "Burlington 2001" dashboard system, but could never get the money together to buy the kit. Is that what your drawings are from, or are they your own work?

    The only problem with any LED based display system from the 1980s was the lack of suitable hi-brightness LEDs, although hyper red and yellow had been around for a while, you couldn't get hi-brightness bar graphs or 7-segment displays, so daylight visibility was a real problem. I remember that Dave Isles built his own LED dashboard before he fitted the MG Maestro talking dash, and helped club member Mark Oglesby do the same with his (you still see pictures of Mark's deep blue Mk1 targa Nova occasionally). Although the display looked great at night, during the day it was next to impossible to read.

    At least now you can get hi-brightness bar graph displays now, as well as 7-segment displays. Even blue is available now, although obviously you need to be careful how you interface these new-generation LEDs into the original circuits; my LM3914s, for example, are designed to drive LEDs with a maximum forward current of around 10 mA, but to get hyper-blue LEDs up to daylight viewing levels, you need to drive them with 20-30 mA. So I have had to design the high-side drivers to sink the load, rather than the display driver IC.

    But overall, I think LED bar graph displays complement the Nova very well - the whole car is retro-futuristic, so why shouldn't the dashboard be?

    Lauren
    only Pythagoras can save me now!

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