Access at last ……

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid ECU connection OBD-II TuneECU It has been a long time coming … and I mean a looooong time. Think a decade! Back before we had TuneECU a few Capo owners pooled thoughts on how to get access to the ECU and read its contents, but we all gave up when TuneECU came along because it did it all for us – for (almost) free. Now however there is a real need for that access if the new dashboard display is to do what it is supposed to, and that has been the hurdle of hurdles to get across. If I am totally honest this problem alone was guaranteed to bring the project to a grinding halt if nothing was. So for the past few weeks, I put the display to one side and concentrated on cracking the ECU.

Well I’m not only chuffed, I am totally blown over backwards because as of this afternoon, I can finally access and interrogate the ECU independently of anyone elses equipment or software – ECU serial number, map number and all the sensor parameters plus self test functions and TPS reset! I’ve still got work to do interpreting some of the data, but that is not such a big issue and should be finished tomorrow.

Tonight though, I think a cold beer or two are in order!

LCD Dashboard end of May update

Just a quick update on the LCD dashboard – yes it’s still a work in progress! Lockdown here in the UK has freed up time for all sorts of fun and games and the LCD dashboard has hogged more than its fair share over the past few weeks. The board finally went from a desktop/fake-input dummy display to a fully enclosed dashboard with real-world inputs yesterday evening.

Apologies for the rough and ready video, but a long day was coming to an end, so I just grabbed the nearest dashboard case, blew off the dust and slapped the whole thing together to get the video. I appreciate the tacho needle is missing and the clear-lens has some scratches, but hey …. this is a prototype!

Next step … finalise the power on/off circuitry and maybe a nice splash screen for a few seconds at key-off, let’s see. But by far the biggest job is still to get the ECU data to the display in a way I’m happy with. One thing I’ve come across which is proving really useful is a software package called Megunolinks which allows real time graphs of data buzzing around the system – the demo version already helped massively while tweaking the various inputs and how to filter the data …….. next stop, the pro version! That should really help speed things up.

One thing I was always sceptical about, was the displays ability to function properly in bright daylight. I honestly expected this whole thing to be nothing more than a what-if project that would stay on a workbench. But I’m pleased to say that it doesn’t appear to be the case at all …. yesterday, the display was perfectly readable throughout the day with very bright sunlight streaming in through the garage door – square on or at an angle I had no problem reading it.  And that alone has boosted the enthusiasm to see this move from workbench to bike … let’s see how the next few weeks pan out.

Quick update ….

Just updated the heated grips and helmet graphics on the display, much nicer I think. 👍 Sorry about the stripes in picture, it’s a camera v display thing!Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid dashboard improved display graphics

Dashboard – Multi function display screen – 4

First off ….. a bit of code change to the website should mean that all other pages, not just the front page will now display at a greater width than previously. I hope you find the general readability and layout better.

Secondly, I’ve now swapped from an Arduino Uno to an Arduino Mega 2560 to drive the 4DSystems display. This was due to the Uno only having one hardware serial interface, while the 2560 has three. Now I’m driving the display off one and a HC-05 Bluetooth module off another. After a frustrating few evenings playing with the MIT App Inventor, I managed to get a working app on my Note 10 that drives the display. It flicks between screens, resets the two MPG indicators and allows me to change the time of the Real Time Clock.

Dashboard – Multi function display screen – 3

Here we go then …. the plastic inlay carrier was treated to a real good bash around and the display popped into place. Looks nice with the inlay on top, but believe me, there’s plenty to do underneath to make the mount safe for thrashing around on a motorbike!

The good and the bad so far ….. the good – fits (ish) and should be straight forward to finish off, it’s as good as the original in bright light and looks kind of nice as in black as opposed to grey when it’s turned off. The bad … we’ll the eagle eyes among you may have noticed that the plastic pegs for the ‘Mode’ and ‘Set’ buttons are missing. The display is just that bit to long for everything to stay. So I’ve decided to not only move them, but replace them with a 5-way switch that will allow better interaction with the new screen. The old buttons will stay simply to look retro!

Dashboard – Multi function display screen – 2

Burning a couple of hours each morning before work has proved beneficial in the end. The 4D display now has working fuel and engine temperature digits and graphics, plus the ‘clock’ is now actually attached to a real-time clock and showing the correct time. The board also runs a ‘self test’ on startup so that the pie slices cycle up/down along with a nifty ‘Aprilia’ splash screen. The lugs have been removed and an inlay panel is sacrificing itself to the Dremel tool …. all in the name of prototyping!

Dashboard – Multi function display screen

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Arduino 4D Systems SDK-ULED-35D-AR displayMore years ago that I care to remember, fellow Caponord owner (Beasthonda) and I discussed the idea of replacing the dashboard LCD panel with an LCD screen that could be made to display just about anything we wanted. At the time, we looked at 4D Systems and made a few notes on feasibility,  but in the end the idea fizzled out – primarily because at that time the panels were expensive!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid Arduino 4D Systems SDK-ULED-35D-AR displayWell here we are, a toe-dip into 2020 and the idea has been resurrected. This in part is due to the panels being better and cheaper now as well as the Arduino boards being much more powerful and faster than the old generation. So as I write, winging it’s way from Australia is an SK-ULCD-35D-AR kit …. basically a 3.5″ non-touch sensitive screen with all the cables and bits to program and connect it to an Arduino device.

The idea is to emulate the existing panel layout for day-to-day riding. However the device will have alternative screens available. The first will be the real-time display of sensor data from the ECU, the second will be a detailed trip computer, displaying continually updated fuel consumption and fuel tank range among other things. The next will display GPS position using a fusion of on-board GPS and Bluetooth mobile link for map downloads.

The display turned up a few days ago. Early the next morning, while the world shivered outside, I managed to program it with a couple of basic screens and power it up for the first time. The displays need to be scaled to fit the aperture in the dash overlay, but other than that it’s pretty much ready to hook up to some data. Role on the weekend!

Dashboard update

Just a reminder for those that have asked for dashboard repairs and those that are thinking about it …. I’ll be back in the hot-seat, all set up and ready to receive boards after the 8th January. As some of you know, life has been rather hectic with one thing and another over the past weeks, but soon the dust will settle. The bright side of this little waiting game is that the cost of return postage and transit time should be much improved …… especially for those in the UK! 😉

No1 component that fails on a dashboard…..

Yes, today I’m dishing the dirt on the number one bad-boy component on the Caponord and Futura dashboard. Or more to the point, why this sad little part earns this unwanted reputation! What is it? Well it’s a rather innocuous SMD radial electrolytic capacitor rated at 16V 47µF.

Over the past couple of years, I’d say that 70% of contacts via the website have involved this component in one way or another …. and that percentage is steadily increasing! Why? Simply because of the constant and unstoppable tick-tock passage of time. Unlike most electronic components, electrolytic capacitors have a given life span based firmly on operating temperature and duration. What does it do? In a nutshell, it smooths out the 5V DC power rail … without it the rail contains a nasty AC component and that really upsets the microcontroller!

First I want to look at the symptoms this little guy causes when it begins to shuffle off to the electronic afterlife:

  • Dashboard dead except for Oil, Neutral and Side-Stand LED’s – Especially when cold.
  • After sitting in the sun or being heated during a ride-out, it may spring into life, or flicker on and off rapidly. This is the clincher!

Of course, to be 100% sure, we have to get down to the circuit board and identify the component first:

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 & Futura RST1000 dashboard capacitorSo there it is, just to the left of the voltage regulator chip. Now I’m sure the eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that there is a similar (in fact identical) component to the right of the regulator …… why is only the one on the left a problem then?

Well the dashboard has two regulators in the one package, supplying two independent 5V power rails. One is powered permanently from the minute a battery is installed in the bike, the other only operates when the ignition is switched on. And there lies the answer to the question …… lets punch in some numbers. For the sake of argument, we’ve got a Capo that has done 5,000 miles in a year and averaged 50mph.

  • 5,000 miles / 50mph = 100 operating  hours for the right hand (switched) capacitor.
  • 365 days * 24hrs a day = 8,760 operating hours for the left hand (permanent) capacitor.
  • Now lets assume 10 years have passed …. now we have 1,000 / 87,600 operating hours respectively!

And there is the bottom line. After 10 – 16 years on the bike, the left hand capacitor is simply reaching the end of its working life long before its companion on the other power rail, and with each passing year more are failing …. It’s not a case of ‘if’ folks, it’s a simple matter of when!

Replacement is straight forward and has been done by quite a few owners over the years, but like most things, it requires a certain level of skill and experience along with the right tools for the job ….. without these, there is a very real possibility of damaging the tracks or adjacent components and making the board worse than when you started. You have been warned!

UV and dashboards don’t mix!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid sun damage to dashboard LCDThe youngest Capo dashboards are about 10 years old now, maybe a little older, while the majority including the Futura are knocking on 14 to 16 years old. Every board that I see these days has very poor light output on the Blue LED’s and signs of UV damage to some degree in the lens. Most worrying though is the marked increase in the number now showing UV damage to the large LCD panel.

LED’s of course can be replaced, so can the lens if you can stomach the €60 (Wendel Motorräder) or £52 (Fowlers UK) and have plenty of patience while you wait an eternity for it to magically appear. However the LCD panel is a different matter, you’ll need to find a damaged/unserviceable dashboard you can rob or replace the dashboard in its entirety as these parts are unobtainable and were never sold as spares by Aprilia anyway.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid dashboard instrument panel lens cover protection UVFor quite a while now I’ve taken to slinging an old t-shirt over the dash when parked up in an effort to offer it some respite from the elements. Not perfect I know! So a while back it got me thinking about knocking something up on the 3D printer – and here they are. Three panels, 4mm thick with the underside recessed 1.5mm to keep it well away from the lens. A groove runs around the edge to take the same 3mm diameter neoprene seal material (AP8120615) as used between upper and lower airbox halves, so only a thin strip of soft seal actually makes contact with the lens.

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid dashboard instrument panel lens protection covers with neopreneIf these turn out to be half-way useful, I might treat them to a layer of Zircoflex heat shield material and replace the flagging heat shield material on the plastic panels over the silencers at the same time!