Prototyping a Raspberry Pi Powered Dashboard

I’m an engineer at heart and one of the enhancements I wanted for the Exocet was to have a big LCD touch screen dashboard powered by a Raspberry Pi to control a Megasquirt aftermarket ECU.

This system would allow us to run tuning software that would allow us to fine tune the performance of the vehicle and also allow us to view and log real-time data such as coolant temperature, boost pressure, and AFR anytime we are driving the car.

Using a Glowforge Laser Cutter, I prototype the faceplate of the dashboard out of cardboard and test fit a 10” LCD Touchscreen display and some of the components I plan on adding. I plan on mounting a hazard-light switch, an on-off switch, a battery volt meter, and a USB charging port onto the faceplate.

This is my first significant project using the Glowforge and I still haven’t figured out exactly how I wanted the faceplate to look, so I made many prototypes to ensure the correct cut settings and to ensure everything fits right.

The faceplate will be mounted on a custom fabricated bracket made out of square aluminum tubes and nylon corner connectors. I simply made a box that I would screw into place. This design is fairly inexpensive and allows me to easily change the design if I need to.

One of the benefits of prototyping with cardboard is that it is cheap and rigid enough to test out your ideas with very little commitment. We decided to add an AEM Wideband O2 Sensor into our setup so we made room on the faceplate for the gauge to be mounted.

With the prototype looking good, we laser cut the final faceplate out of a matte black textured acrylic sheet and it is looking fantastic.

We then glue the 10” LCD screen to the faceplate along with the aluminum bracket using a black silicone adhesive.

Lastly, we mount the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ along with a Pi Juice Battery Backup and a 12v-to-5v DC Step-Down Converter to the backside of the dashboard and solder all the electronics together.

The dashboard is looking pretty good for now but it will likely be enhanced and modified as we test out what works and what doesn’t work.

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