car stuff (4)


P38 Part4 – ‘Time’ for a change

After fitting a new Android head unit, powerfold mirrors and rear seat entertainment my next project was decided by my partner’s plaintive question of ‘where’s the clock’ when we were driving at night.

The P38 as standard has this in the dash:

I think the face is supposed to light up at night, but mine never has, hence the complete lack of timekeeping once it’s dark.

I could have just fixed the light, but where would the fun be in that? I decided, instead, to design and build an arduino powered LCD Clock that can also (at some point in the future) display other things like…. temperature, car suspension height, anything else I can tap into.

I had a spare NodeMcu board lying around and debated whether to rely on my car’s internet connection to get the time from an NTP client.  In the end I decided to use an RTC module, this one in fact. 

For the screen, I needed something that would fit nicely into the space available (60mm by 55mm) and, after trying a 1.5″ OLED display eventually settled on a 1.8″ LCD. Getting that working was a bit of a pain initially, but after finding this incredibly helpful comment on amazon I got it going with no further problems.

The actual code was surprisingly straightforward. Using the Examples from the adafruit RTC library it was pretty straightforward to set / get the time from the RTC chip (see bottom of this post for the full code)

To display the time I played around with a few different formats but eventually settled on a simple 24 hour digital display and the current date, with an analog face just for added niceness. The analog code was blatantly ripped off from here and mangled to make something that works (that’s how I roll) and the final display looks something like this:

the circle on the bottom left is a light sensor, the display goes brighter in direct sunlight and dims when it’s dark, to avoid being dazzled at night.

On the left of the display are the outputs from a nifty 12v to usb board I found on ebay, by soldering some wires to the back of the USB ports I also pull 5v from this to power the board and LCD.

The enclosure went through several revisions, but now has an outer ‘shell’ and an interior panel that fits tightly into it, holding the LCD panel and light sensor in place. I’m quite pleased with this, no glue is required to assemble it and everything stays in place pretty well!

You can find the arduino code for this project here and the 3d printing files for the enclosure here




P38 Part 3 – Rear seat entertainment

One thing that always made me want a range rover when I was younger, was the screens in the rear headrests. The thought of having the option of watching videos (yes, actual VHS videos!) while stuck in the back of a car on a road trip was just mind blowing to my teenage self. On buying my very own V8 powered beast, rear screens were one of the first things I wanted to add (since mine originally didn’t have them fitted).




P38 part 2 – folding wing mirrors

After having my range rover for a couple of months, a few things have started to annoy me, notably having to push the wing mirrors in when I park up on my (narrow, typically British) front street. Because the car is so wide, if I park with the nearside next to the kerb I have to walk round the car to reach the mirror on that side. Clearly this is unacceptable, so I sought a solution.




P38 part 1 – adding android

I’ve had limited success doing multi-part posts in the past, but for this little ongoing project I thought I’d give it another go….

At the ripe old age of 38, in April 2018 I passed my driving test (4 minors, all to do with use of mirrors!) and decided to buy my first car. Rather than go for something boring, that just…worked, I thought I’d go for possibly the most troublesome, unreliable and badly engineered car I could find which led to me spending in the region of £2000 on this beautiful boxy vision of british engineering: