Gauges and Displays

If you have ideas for a new board, for new features for existing boards, or want to suggest new applications for the I/O Extender, this is the place to post.

Gauges and Displays

Postby phj420 » Wed Oct 28, 2009 4:03 pm

OK, we have the ability to log any sensor we want, we have a complex automotive network in place. I want a display device to be able to show me any parameter I want. Innovate has the xd16 digital gauge that can show any parameter with an led needle and a digital readout. Unfortunately it only works on Innovate's serial network. I want something that can display information like mega-view or LCDash. I think that LCDash and mega view are a bit cheesy, and we need something better. Megaview wont work with msextra, and lcdash is not customizable or rugged enough for my taste.

What if we had a gauge that could display anything, and be easy to use? I know that new cars use stepper gauges and a gauge controller that polls the network for the gauge inputs. I think it would be awesome to develop a gauge with custom faces that could display engine information. Or maybe just have analog numbers that could display critical data calculated by the processor. I think a carputer is too much, and I want to take all of the data and display it clearly.

No matter how high tech we are, analog gauges are still ultimate when it comes to a quick reference of critical engine data. I want the accuracy of the megasquirt to be reflected into a CAN powered gauge cluster.

Race cars are using LED screens that display critical information, and it would be easy to duplicate that, but I don't know enough about programming to make it work on my own.

I have read on the megasquirt forums that there is a college kid somewhere that has a megasquirt setup with gauges powered over the CAN network, but there is not info or pictures to show how to do this.

Any thoughts??
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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby jbelanger » Wed Oct 28, 2009 9:24 pm

This goes along the same line as what I've been thinking about for quite a while. The problem is that the components to make a gauge are not easily available individually and in small quantities. I have contacted a couple of places that make the stepper motors used in analog gauges and one place wanted an order of hundreds if not thousands of motors and the other place offered me to make the gauges for me which is not what I wanted.

Also there's the issue of where to get the simple gauge casing, needle, faces without having to make thousands of them.

I'd love to have a few different sizes of generic gauges that can be connected through CAN and you simply program them to show whichever parameter you want. There would probably be a need to have different faces but that wouldn't be the biggest issue. And I would like to have a bigger one with possibly a tach and some shift light(s) together with a small LDC screen to display RPM and the other engine data.

So if someone has any data on where I could get the mechanical parts then the electronics and the programming is not an issue.

Jean
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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby fran9r » Thu Nov 26, 2009 9:23 pm

I'd love to build something like this for my bike, but would prefer not to have the computer there -just because it's a tougher environment, and also weight.

It would be great to have a slightly curved screen to fit a little better, but I still think it's cool.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FKaJrCT9yP0
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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby Rod S » Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:18 am

I'll add a slightly different view.....

Whilst "analogue" gauges are the best in my opinion too (and a highly accurate stepper motor drive is best) it is inevitably going to be expensive.

So too will be multiple display LCD panels.

But 4 digit and bar graph LED display arrays, along with their driver chips are quite cheap and can easily be assembled on a bit of veroboard. (use my current TechEdge LD02 displays as an example of how they look and the size the physical display takes up).

I'm struggling to fit my current digital displays (because of case size being much larger than the actual display size) along with real analogue gauges, and everything else into a small area and don't want to have a laptop in the passenger seat all the time.

How easy would it be to drive (say up to eight) simple 4 digit and/or bar arrays from the IO-x board choosing whichever data it is you want from the MS box or IO-x inputs ???

Rod.
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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby jbelanger » Tue Sep 28, 2010 9:00 am

There are 2 aspects in this. The first is the actual driving of the LED displays and the second is the data calibration or transformation. I'll have to see what is available for driving multiple LED displays while keeping cheap and not using a ton of output pins.

The second issue would be there no matter what display would be used and is due to the fact that the MS and IO-x data is not generally kept in memory in real units but some internal representation of those units. So for each data chosen there would be a need to know the size of the data (8,16,32 bits) and how to transform the data into human readable units. This is usually done with the ini file on the PC but the IO-x CPU could never use this due to the processing needed to read it. So it would have to be user defined somehow.

I will have to check what limitations would be present to have an acceptable refresh rate depending on the number of displays used. The best solution might be to have one small CPU per display which would be dedicated to the task and the IO-x CPU would simply send the raw data. There would also need to be a transfer of the calibration/transformation data but that should not be too bad and would only need to be done once (even though it would be implemented to be done any number of times).

So I'll think about it some more but what I could see is a small board having the small CPU and the hardware necessary to drive the LED display. This would be connected to the IO-x and the LED display and there would be some settings to configure in TS to have the desired data displayed on each display.

Jean
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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby Stu_D » Tue Sep 28, 2010 1:37 pm

Jean, Have you looked at the Arduino platform? It makes use of relatively inexpensive components, is open source and can communicate over I2C and SPI. SparkFun sell a relatively cheap Colour LCD Shield for it too http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=9363 the LCD on its own is under $15. Maybe something could be worked out so you could have a few small networked LCDs showing things like AFR/boost etc?
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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby jbelanger » Tue Sep 28, 2010 5:03 pm

I hadn't thought of that but that might be the most cost efficient way of doing this. I'll have a look at it since I was thinking of using I2C and using this platform would probably be cheaper than making my own board due to the volume they have on this. However, the LCD display is probably not ideal for this because I doubt it would be very good in daylight. But it would be possible to adapt it to use a simple LED display.

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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby Old Colt » Wed Sep 29, 2010 7:21 am

Anyone thought about using out of date GPS devices. I bought a used Garmin 265 for $65 USD. My current Navagon unit may be better as a MS display device than it is as a GPS. These old units offer a sunlight readable touchscreen display that could run a modified version of TS with very little new development needed.
Regards,
Charlie north
If it ain't broke, Modify it!

ffmsd.com
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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby aarc240 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:52 pm

Did this go anywhere?
I've looked at the likes of MegaView and LCDash but nothing quite fits the need.

The car has real guages for the main items (rpm, speed, oil pressure, water temp and fuel level).
It's a navigation trials car so there's also the trip meter, digital clock/timer, a switch panel for lights/pumps/fans, map light etc.
In use there's no time to look at anything more, you're too busy keeping it out of the trees (and the navigator has to do a lot of the work!)

So, how can I use an MS3/3x and IOx combination to monitor the other essential functions like oil temp, gearbox temp, voltage et al and report which of those has gone out of acceptable parameters on a simple, highly visible, easily read screen?

The car doesn't have an MS3 at present, that's part of the current rebuild, so anything and everything can be considered.
The main constraints are minimal space available (it's a Datsun 240z) and distraction of driver & navigator.

Anyone got any suggestions?
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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby jbelanger » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:41 pm

What would make more sense in terms of display (not that I'm suggesting all of those are possible): analog gauges, individual digital gauges, a single screen with multiple gauges, multiple screens, simple LED bar graphs, none of them, all of them, something else?

And nothing concrete has been done on this. But some of the options above would be doable, some more easily than others.

Jean
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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby aarc240 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:27 am

A two line VFD with largish (~12mm) characters would be ideal, with the first line for the alert item (eg oil temp) and the second line for the current status.
An audible alarm triggered by any out of tolerance condition would be good too.
There's no need for a continuous display of much other than those items serviced by the analog gauges, nor time to read them.
The most important criteria is rapid recognition by either driver or navigator at a distance of about 1.2m or 4 foot.
In the interim I'll use a discrete hardware warning system.
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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby jbelanger » Tue Oct 11, 2011 12:43 am

I've had a quick look and two-line VFD with ~12mm characters don't seem to be that easily available. Did you have anything specific in mind or was that just what you saw as being ideal?

Jean
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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby aarc240 » Tue Oct 11, 2011 6:11 am

That's an 'ideal'.
A little larger would work but not much smaller.
Initial thoughts leaned toward LED but there isn't much in the way of alphanumerics there anyway.
The display will ideally be 'dark' or inactive until required too.

It's not a high priority as a similar function can be achieved in other ways, even a warning beeper and high intensity idiot lights will be effective.

edit:
LED alphanumeric might be the better way after all.
DSP-0801-RED from embeddedadventures.com looks fairly promising for a display.
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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby jbelanger » Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:34 am

The beeper and high intensity idiot lights can be done right now with the MS3 and IOx by using the CAN digital outputs. You can have up to 16 CAN digital outputs on the MS3X but you'd have to build some additional circuits on the IOx to run them all.

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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby aarc240 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 3:11 am

That may be the best way of doing this.
Another idea I've looked at is to use four outputs on IOx, giving 16 states.
Decode those with a small micro to determine which message to output to an alphanumeric display.
For example, if the gearbox oil is too hot the significant message is that fact only, not how much too hot!
Not sure that the MS3 outputs can be used this way though.
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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby aarc240 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:34 pm

Progress update.
After careful consideration of what really needs to be monitored I've decided a 2 unit approach will be best.
The MS3/3X and IOx can provide the less critical alerts using ADC inputs and IOx low power drivers (idiot lights and beeper).
The rest will be serviced by an AVR ATmega128 controller and output on an alphanumeric display.
The mega128 solution is working now so with a bit of tidying up and enclosures it will be good.
It might not be as compact as a large OEM would use but it's cheaper and least difficult to implement!
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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby jbelanger » Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:14 pm

So which display did you decide to use in the end? And how does the mega128 get the data?

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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby aarc240 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:18 pm

Trialling an LED DSP-0801-RED display, the only concern is display brightness in high ambient light conditions.
The mega128 is a readily available & relatively cheap "ATMega Controller" board from ETT, Thailand.
A small amount of extra hardware is required on a separate board for ADC pre-conditioning & protection and your IOx provided a good example (so I didn't even need to think!!).
Much of the needed input is not available to the MS3 anyway (oil temps, various pressures etc) so there's no duplication really. I needed all 8 ADC channels on the mega128 board.
An LCD would have made life easier as the mega128 board already includes the interface and the code needed in the examples.
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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby jbelanger » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:36 pm

So you don't need/want to log these sensors on the MS3? With the generic sensor settings on the MS3 and the IOx, you could log them. Unless you are sharing the sensor outputs between the mega128 and the IOx?

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Re: Gauges and Displays

Postby aarc240 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:59 pm

At present I'm more concerned about preventing catastrophic failure.
Logging will be an option and parallel with the IOx is probably what I'll use.
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