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.

Well I never ….

I don’t know if I should be flattered or annoyed … or a little of both, let me explain. I had just had a chat with my wife about a press release from ACEM regarding the dire downturn of European motorcycle sales. As the conversation started, she got confused with ACIM – the Aprilia Caponord International Meeting …. and that sowed a seed at the back of my mind to have a look on the internet to see what ACIM was up to. All well and good.

Later that evening I found them on Facebook and lo and behold, the group banner picture is of my old Caponord on a back road in Abruzzo! In fact it’s a picture of mine lifted from a post I wrote a few years ago (the post). So now I am a tad curious to see if someone from ACIM reads this over here then says something over there ….. 🙄 

Anyway, I’m glad someone liked it enough to use it!

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! 😉

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!

Wonkey headlight!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid headlight adjuster screwLast year the tester at the MOT station didn’t like the slightly low headlight beams (set to offset loaded panniers) and wanted to raise them. Unfortunately I think he raised the left-hand to the point of possibly unseating the ball at the end of the adjuster screw from the reflector. Friction alone on the other pivots probably only holding it in place to his satisfaction. About a month ago the same headlight went out of vertical alignment a little, then  finally the other evening, suddenly dropped completely (and very noticeably!) so the low-beam was now tripping over the front wheel!

First check – bulbs out and try to move the reflectors up and down. Right-hand no movement – fine, left-hand very wobbly, plus the adjuster unscrewed completely by hand. So, headlight out as it’s far easier to work on.

Remove the rubber gaiter and bulb and a visual check of the reflector mountings is possible – they looked OK, so I cleaned up the adjuster and applied the lightest wipe Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid headlight reflector adjuster socket and clippossible of grease on the ball to help it seat more easily, I honestly couldn’t have applied less if I’d just shown it a photo of a grease tub! Then screw in the adjuster and kept going (very gently!) a half turn at a time once it had seated against the reflector socket. I also used a little brass-tool to help pull lightly) on the reflector mount to help the process. I guess I went about three full turns before the ball made a loud ‘pop’ and dropped into position. I don’t know which was more relieved – the stresses in the reflector or my pulse-rate!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 headlightOnce the day was at an end, it was time to set the beam height …. the manual quotes 90% of the bulb height from the ground at 10m distance while sat on the bike. I did them one lamp lit at a time, then double checked with both lit and also checked the horizontal alignment at the same time. Total time about 10 minutes and hopefully a happy MOT guy in a few weeks time!

Aprilia Caponord ETV1000 Rally-Raid rubber shield for dashboard lower and headlight 8158255Buttoning it all up went OK, but it was obvious the rubber dashboard lower/headlight shield has finally seen the best of its days with numerous splits starting. So a template was drawn, then reproduced in CAD and some 2mm rubber sheet ordered from Flea-Bay – cheaper than Aprilia, who want over €60 for the same part (AP8168916)!