Sunday, November 22, 2009

Additional instrumentation in a BMW Bavaria

I find having a few more instruments occasionally useful but I don't want to hack up my dash for additional analog gauges and, in the yellow Bavaria, the AC center console doesn't leave much room for extras anyhow.  The Bavaria was designed at a time when smoking seemed to be a critical car interior feature, but I don't smoke.

Here's a graphical VFD screen (from Noritake) that I found while cleaning out some boxes at home and lined it up on a spare interior vent / ash tray panel.   It's controlled by a fairly simple and documented interface and VFDs are great in cars: they're easy to read in virtually all types of light and they work well through a large temperature range.  They also have a cool vintage look to them, they're what you often see on a high-end stereo.

I'm thinking of hacking up a quick MCU-based control board and reading some basic sensors along with a battery meter.  A button or two should suffice to toggle between readings and the MCU could even chose to show a particular reading and make an alarm when that value is critical (ex: low oil pressure), just like it's done on some new cars.

This particular module is about the right size for the ashtray cover area, it would just need a nice wooden bezel done with a matching veneer for the "roots" trim I have here.

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