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Install Version 4

The final install is completed, and after a lot of preperation it's working very very well

Click on the links below to jump to the relevant section:

The Plan
In Dash Fabrication
Test installation

Wiring
Boot Install
Lilliput Touchscreen Auto On Modification
Hazard button move
Steering wheel control modification
FM Radio
Other Add-Ons

The Plan

The plan this time is to keep everything looking completely OEM, or as close as possible. Although you can't get my model of focus with a in-dash screen so many cars nowadays come with one the safest way for a permanent install is to make sure it looks like it came from the factory that way.

As this is going to be the finished, final install some planning was required - it has to be pretty much spot on from the word go, especially with the wiring as adding wiring at a later date will look messy. What I want out of the system has changed over the last two years. The original v1 and v2 installs were meant to be easily removable from the car, mainly due to the rough area in which I lived in at the time. v3 was meant to be functional and act simply like an aftermarket cd changer/navigation system. V4 is different, in that it will act like a top of the range factory fitted car computer system, and be tightly integrated with the car itself. Although that has and will require a lot of custom software, the important thing is that the connections are already there to allow the software to be built for the platform rather than evolve slowly.

In Dash Fabrication

First and foremost was to create a mock-up of how I envisaged the final dashboard will look:

Once I'd decided how I wanted it to look I popped down the local ford dealer and picked up another fascia panel.

The new fascia panel would be used for the construction of the in-dash display.

At this point there was some careful consideration over whether to mould the panel myself, or get it done professionally. Bearing in mind I wanted it to look completely OEM, I decided to send it off to Chris at Car-Tech (website here) up in Manchester.

Once posted, I had to wait just over a week for the screen to be fabricated into the fascia panel - and Chris kept me informed every step of the way consulting me about how I would want the final product to look. Here's the step-by-step photos of the construction of the screen.

First picture - the original fascia panel before modification:

Second picture - the facia panel after the screen is in, before finishing

It was around this point Christian let me know that I'd be losing the hazard button from it's original location. Although he could move it anywhere I wanted I chose to have it off the fascia panel completely, opting to move it to somewhere else myself - I couldn't think of anywhere on the actual panel it would look OEM. The reason for this is, that the screen itself is slightly too large for the dashboard opening unless I cut away some of the dash plastic behind, which I was not happy to do. You can see that below:

I chose to have the fascia panel finished in the same colour as the original. Finished product fron/back below:

So, once back together - I tested it to see how it would look. Initial results, very pleasing:

After this, it was necessary to complete the lilliput auto-on modification, which you'll find details of later on.

All completed, it was time to fit it into the car:

Behind the screen controller circuit board (pictured) is the original back to the screen. This wasn't fitted in the photo above but is now, and it serves to hold the controller board in place. The parts of the controller board are affixed using a glue gun.

Fitted.....

and of course, those are the night pictures, this is what it looks like during the day...

So, all in all ;-) very pleased!!!

Test Installation

So.. Once I had the screen in and working I needed to get it tested to make sure the setup worked.

I was lucky enough to be given a Karputer.co.uk KCU unit which was perfect to use to test the setup, as it plugs into the ISO adapter. Not my permanent solution, as it doesn't support the full Opus feature set (mainly standby - I dont like waiting for boot-up!) and it's built-in amplifier while excellent was redundant as I had already bought a 500W Sony unit.

The KCU:

You can see in the picture, it's a very simple setup. KCU unit, provides power and amplification, and has it's own loom. Very complete. (Full review to follow, soon)

With the KCU, it was simply a case of plugging it into the ISO adapter and into the Focus stereo harness:

and putting together the test PC unit..

And once working, plonking it in the boot and connecting the KCU - as it was a test setup, none of the wiring needed to be under the carpets - my proper wiring would be doing that.

In the boot, on the KCU... All working.

I had the test setup running for a couple of weeks while I made sure the software was reliable, and the screen worked properly in the dashboard.

Wiring

For the full installation, which won't be removed it was important to make sure the wiring was good quality, reliable and secure and I had a diagram of how it would go in, as the wiring was to be installed and built in seperate parts.

Below is the diagram I drew up before starting.

A couple of things changed (such as VGA/usb cable routing was moved into the door sills, the steering wheel control used a gamepad instead of keyboard) but the basic wiring remains true to the diagram. The USB webcam and USB GPS were not on the diagram, neither is the microphone simply because they are simple installations which don't require splicing into other cabling, or following the custom 'wiring loom'.

 

First up is the battery wiring, which will provide the power for the whole system.

 

I'm using 8AWG wire, which will be sufficient for the Amplifier and the Car PC components. It's wired from the battery all the way into the boot.

So, once the main power wire is in, with the fuse unplugged to ensure it's not live, the rest of the wiring had to go in.

I'm replacing the whole head unit with the car PC, so we have to run cables from the PC to power the screen and drive the speakers, and wire the car aerial into the Car PC for the radio. We also need the 'ignition on' wire from the radio connectors to tell the PC when to turn on from standby and when to enter standby.

These cables will be ran down the centre of the car, with the OBDII, USB and VGA cabling running down the drivers side sills.

So, first job was to build a set of connections to drive the speakers, power the screen etc.

which will connect straight into the original wiring:

The wiring is wired under the centre console, and then under the carpet into the boot:

Under the carpet, the main wiring splits, with the PC cabling (screen power, ignition on, aerial) merging with the VGA, OBDII and USB (which you see at the top of the picture below) and the speaker wiring down the centre going to the other side of the boot.

Other wiring was installed for monitoring the reverse gear, which would be a fused connection to run a relay, which in turn connected pins 3 and 8 on the second PC serial port.

Additionally, it's also important to find (or make) a decent ground point for the system. Luckily I had a great one read-made in the boot.

Boot Install

I had a few options for the boot install. I could either build it myself or get Chris at Car-Tech to do it, as he had done a great job of the screen. I opted to do it myself, as I'm keen to do as much myself as possible.

I took a few pictures of the boot to help me decide how to layout the install.

I had ideas of various places - I have the PC, it's add on components, fusing, and of course the large amplifier so the logical place was to have it either side behind carpeted panels keeping with the original look of the boot.

First step was to make cardboard templates for either side, which being identical (except mirrored of course) meant simply one template:

And once the template was done, it was into the garden and jugsaw away on some MDF and 2x2 wood...

So, both side panels cut to the right size...

And then the second job, which was adding the back panels and edges to each side:

After the woodwork was done, each side was carpeted:

Once both panels were completed, the components were installed. Each component was glued to the inside of the panel, with the amplifier/power distribution and PC components on the other side.

The completed PC behind the panel. The components are screwed oin, and where appropraite glued using the glue gun to secure them and relevant cabling.

It might not look that much, but of course I am going for reliability and safety - It would have took perhaps 30 minutes longer to mount the system unit facing outward, and fitting plexiglass, but I decided this was not the kind of finish I was aiming for. What's behind the panel won't be seen and the important thing is that it works. You'll see in this picture the PC unit, Radio, Opus, relays for the amp turn-on and of course fusing.

Once both sides were complete, including all wiring, looms (see next section for more details) the panels were installed in the boot. As both sides are wired into each other, they had to be installed at the same time, and all wiring already had to be in and ready in the boot.

The first 'half' in was the amplifier and power distribution section:

As you can see, the Car PC wiring for the speakers matches the original wiring of the car quite closesly - I don't know if that means i've done a good job or ford did a shoddy one!

Once that was in, the other half of the system - the PC - went in.

Once both halfs were in, they have been secure using bolts from the inside to make sure they do not move.

Here's a couple of pictures of how it looks, fitted.

Right... So that's it in.. But there are of course lots of little other bits that have been modified in the process...

Lilliput Touchscreen Auto On Modification

The Lilliput 7" touchscreen is great, however unless I want a power-on switch in the dashboard for the screen, I need it to turn on automatically.

One of the forum members on MP3Car.com, coyote (who incidentally wrote the software MediaCar which I used to use) worked out a simple modification (see here) which I applied to the screen.

This is the results, after simply soldering a couple of components onto the screen circuit board:

Hazard Button Move

For the in-dash screen, I had got rid of the hazard button in the dashboard:

So, for legal and safety reasons I had to have move it. I had a look at the MOT test regulations, and it appeared that it didn't say where it can/couldn't be, so long as it works and is secure:

(left is the check, right is what would fail the mot)

So with that information in hand, I decided to move it in between the gear stick and handbrake, in a part of the centre console plastic:

To perform the owrk, I would be using my trusty dremel-tool, but first I needed to make a template. I made an accurate template of the opening using my original fascia panel hazard opening, and stuck it over where the new hazard switch would be:

A few minutes later... and we're getting there!

And, after a while it was done. To hold the hazard in from the other side, I used two PCI blanking panels from a case ;)

Once finished, it simply clipped into the car - I did have to extend the wiring howere this was very simple - just a case of making a 3 wire extension at a larger gauge than the original wiring to be on the safe side and chopping the hazard wire and connecting the extension in.

In the car:

and it looks pretty much OEM :) Very happy!

Steering Wheel Control Modification

Keeping with the OEM theme, I decided I wanted to use the original Focus steering wheel control. To do this I would need to connect it to a gamepad, and write gamepad control software:

However, this unit is not easy to open. I ended up having to cut the back off to get it open!:

Once open, I wired up the buttons to individual connectors, and removed the resisitor network.

The other end of the wires was connected up to a 9 pin connector commonly used as serial, however for my purposes this would simply be to aid removal/installation

Of course there is the other part, which is a USB gamepad I had handy. I didn't use the model number for any specific reason, it was just on I had lying around:

Once opened, it doesn't look much! However with a couple of diodes in the right places to seperate the signal grounds and glue gunning to hold in place it was working:

I didn't do much further modification to this, apart from using the glue gun even more to hold all components in place - I didn;'t even add the case again, as it will be held firmly behind the dashboard where no-one will see it.

I also had to write software to interface it with centrafuse. You can download the software by clicking HERE

FM Radio

For FM radio, I'm using the D-Link DRU-100 USB radio, modified to connect to the standard car aerial.

As you can see in the photo above, I have a connected standard 50 ohm coax cable into an RCA connector. I should note, that the wiring for the aerial is different to what you might expect. The sheilding on the coax/aerial has to be connected to the central pin on the RCA, and the signal/inner cables of the coax has to be connected to the outer sheilding of the RCA connector. I have heard from people that newer models are the other way round though, so you should double check this.

The software I am using is 'Radiator', available from here. This software is supported in Centrafuse, Road Runner and other Car PC front ends, which means that you don't use the Radiator software interface on the touch screen to control the radio functions, you use the Car PC software front end which 'controls' radiator for you.

There is a serious issue with the D-Link drivers, and almost any other driver for the USB radio, they cause Windows XP to crash occasionally. This might never happen on a desktop machine (though I've re-produced it) but on the Car PC, you might use the Radio for 2 hours or more a day, going in and out of standby and in these circumstances it happens a lot more. There is a way to prevent it from crashing, though you lose the 'seek' function.

Here's how to avoid the crash situation:

* Don't install the D-Link drivers at all

* Download Radiator, and make sure you install the GemTek/Dlink USB Windows Driver (and Commandline add-in):

* Open the Radiator Drivers folder

* Download the updated driver.sys, which I got from here but have mirrored on my site here just in case, unzip and copy the usbradio.sys over the original.

* Now, add your D-Link radio, and ensure that you install the drivers from the Radiator folder above.

* Once the D-Link is installed, open Radiator and configure it to use the D-Link driver. You should be able to hear radio once you tune it and therefore front-ends should work with it too.

 

Other Add-Ons

I'm also changing the software setup and adding other bits as I go along. Further write-ups on these will be available as soon - you'll find out more in my blog

 

Version 4 - complete
Version 3 - previous version
Version 1/2 - in the MR2

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