The 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.
For 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.
If 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!
Yes I admit it here and now, I’m doing a U-turn – a full 180° – and NOT stopping dashboard repairs at the end of January 2015. Jeez …. You’re thinking, I wish this chap would make his mind up!!
Why the change of heart?
A couple of reasons actually …. Firstly, a few emails over the past couple of weeks that have made me reflect on the initial decision, secondly a Christmas card. Yep – a lowly piece of card with a simple season’s greetings from a Capo owner in Finland.
Risto sent his board over almost 18 months ago and by all accounts is happy with the work done and each Christmas he has sent a card. That connection across the continent would never have happened without the dashboard repair service. This year I opened the card and felt a twinge of regret, uneasiness, a sense that a decision I was making was the wrong one. The bottom line is that I would miss the emails/calls and involvement if I stopped something that I’ve been involved with since the beginning of unravelling the dashboard circuits.
Jan and I sat down and worked out some ways to free up a little more time and I’ve decided to put other projects on the back-burner for now. So I will not stop doing what I’ve done for almost two years ….. Give folks a grain of hope that a piece of their pride and joy can be repaired or upgraded. Sorry for the wobble, but hey, I’m only human.
And Risto ….. If you read this, just remember that opening your Christmas card changed the course of moto-abruzzo as he staggers into 2015. That’s pretty awesome when you think about it! 😀
On 4th February Jan came back home with a suitcase fair groaning with all manner of goodies. The most eagerly awaited though, was the pair of new inlays from Lockwood International Ltd. So first impressions?
Excellent! From the textured material to the bleed-free printing, from the fit to the light-transmission …. everything was exactly as I’d hoped. The first thing I did was pop one onto a waiting chassis/board and turn on the lighting – did the text and colour match the light channels? Again, perfectly. Now I could relax, prepare the new chassis and get ready to fit one permanently to the dashboard. To fix it in place I decided to use a general-purpose spray adhesive and did a trial run on an old chassis/inlay to make sure it would be suitable. Everything seemed fine and it was certainly good experience to do a dummy run.
Making sure the chassis was grease and dust free was essential, then masking off the light-channels, mounting pegs and anywhere else I didn’t want spray glue to go! A couple of thin coats of adhesive were applied and the inlay fitted 10 minutes later to allow time for the solvents to evaporate. Perfect! It was now ready to be fitted to the circuit board, but first a couple of modifications to the board/processor circuits.
First the eeprom file needed to be updated for the Futura speedo/tacho, then the code in the microcontroller needed updating for the different (voltmeter) needle calibration. At the same time a couple of modifications were made to the circuits based on insights I’d picked up about Arduino boards from the Internet, also the auto-dimming circuit was finally added for the variable back-lighting, a bit of tweaking with the code – and it was all ready to be refitted to the Capo.
So there I was …. on a wind-swept but warm Sunday morning, dashboard in hand and about to see the fruits of a few months work finally come together on the bike. No doubt the code for the auto-dimming will need fine-tuning, but that can be done without removing the dashboard again – and that’s the line in the sand, right there. Once fitted, I shouldn’t have to remove them again anytime soon …. and that’s a great feeling!
I think that about now would be a great time to pause and say thanks to a few folks who have helped me keep the momentum in this little project. Firstly Jan for her patience and for lugging stuff across the continent for me, to Andy (beasthonda) for bouncing ideas around with me and his interest in the project, to Arvdee in the USA without who’s generous donation of a Futura inlay I wouldn’t have had a template. Last but not least, Clive from Lockwood International for putting the proverbial icing on the cake – thank you all!!!! 😀