The beginnings of an In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) System

In-Vehicle Infotainment is a slightly silly (IMO…) word for the center dash display of a modern car. It’s the system that runs the audio, GPS, settings, etc. on the car via a touchscreen LCD. I want to put the same in my car, but since this isn’t your run-of-the-mill production vehicle, I want to do some specialized functionality like diagnosing the data coming from the car. More or less the only choice I therefore have is to develop my own home-grown system, which I’m actually very excited about. Combing cars and computers into one sounds like lots of fun to me.

Typically, most folks build these “carputers” (the names just get better…) to plug into an existing car and mostly for the “tainment” rather than the “info” reasons. In my case, it’s a little bit different as I am much more focused on having access to all of the data floating around the car than anything else. Entertainment is icing on the cake, so for now I plan to display the data coming off a Controller Area Network (CAN) bus onto the center dash and I’ll be happy once I achieve that reliably. So what is can then? CAN is an automotive industry standard developed by Robert Bosch GmbH in the 1980’s for having various electronics communicate within a car.

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Putting a salvage Porsche transmission in an SLC

Here’s a cool video that not only outlines a program from GM where you can build your own LS7 or LS9 engine, but also is a sort of follow-up to my previous post on finding a transmission. In the video you can see what a G97/50 from a 997 Porsche looks like, which is very similar to my G96/50 from a 996 GT3. I had the work done by the same folks that are mentioned, Stan from GBox.

Luckily for me, I’m mating a Porsche transaxle to the engine it was taken off from and I can reuse the starter and clutch. Both aren’t the cheapest parts when you compare to your run-of-the-mill starters and clutch packs. The one thing that does need to happen on my car is an adapter plate like is done in the video. You’d think you don’t when it’s an engine and transaxle from the same car, but it turns out that when you invert the transaxle, the bolts slightly conflict and so the transaxle needs to be mounted at a 3 degree offset. This is no biggie, even though you now need to move the clutch by the thickness of the spacer. All things that have been done successfully before.

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A few videos of the SLC

Stacey David’s “Gearz” TV show on SPEED is doing a build of the SLC this season. The first episode with the build will air on Monday 3/19 at 9 pm, but a few videos have been released about the build.

The first one gives you a pretty good primer on the kit car business and the basics of the SLC:

The second one which I can’t seem to embed in WordPress has a lot more detail about the chassis and the beginning of the construction:

This is going to be fun, obviously. 🙂

The engine has landed

After much deliberation, looking at a ton of engines, talking to lots of motor and electronics folks and almost making a deal that I then had to back out of, I’ve finally purchased an engine. As it happens with these kinds of things, the engine I bought basically was under my nose ready to purchased from the time I first started looking for engines and transmissions, but I had to take my own long path to get there. Thankfully, I again learned a lot though and I think I got a pretty decent deal on it.

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I got me a transmission – and learned a lot

The way this kit works is that unless you’re building it with one of a couple of fairly standard transmission and engine combinations, some brackets and mounts need to be custom fabricated and potentially a few pieces of the chassis need to be adjusted to make the slightly unusual drivetrain fit. It’s not a big deal, buy it does require the drivetrain to be at the manufacturer pretty early in their process so they can fit it. You can’t have them just send you the kit and then you start to figure out how to fit the engine – they have to do it custom. And you guessed correctly, I’m obviously not going to be doing a standard build.

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Building an SLC: The Journey Begins

I’m building a car. Yup, I’m building a real road-worthy car. Real size, real motor, real registration, real everything, except that you can’t walk into a showroom and buy one for yourself. It’s an actual car you have to put together. And this isn’t my first rodeo. As some of you know, I’ve previously built a Cobra replica (a Factory Five “Type 65 Roadster”), which I sold when I went to B-School. That was a really fun project and I learned a ton about cars. It had  Ford 428 with a Tremec TKO, Halibrand knock-off rims (i.e. you have to use a mallet, not a wrench to get them off) and was painted a pearl red.

What I’m building this time is something original and very modern called a SuperLite Coupe, “SLC” for short. It’s made by a company called Race Car Replicas (RCR), which is best known for their Ford GT-40 replicas. To the right is a pic of what it looks like. It’s very customizable and accepts a wide variety of drivetrains, ranging from the various Chevy LS engines to Lexus, Audi, even a Mazda rotary being built locally in San Francisco. I’m doing something almost as odd as a rotary by going with a late model Porsche engine (more on that in a later post), but I should be getting around 400 HP naturally aspirated with a moderate setup of the ECU. That’s plenty in a car that weighs short of 2300 lbs.

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