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Maker hacked his car’s dashboard to display Shower Thoughts

Arduino TeamJune 14th, 2016

The Shower Thoughts subreddit is a collection of all those ideas or philosophical questions that race through your mind while in the bathroom. For example, “I like to think money wouldn’t change me; yet when I’m winning Monopoly I’m a terrible person,” or “12 years ago leaving CDs out in my car gave theives a reason to break in. Today, leaving CDs out is a deterrent.”

While most folks would simply browse Reddit on their phones or laptops, Harin De Mel decided to something a bit different. He managed to hack his vehicle’s dashboard to display some of the best thoughts from the last hour. Not a bad idea for when you’re stuck in traffic or sitting in the car waiting for someone to come outside, right?

The Maker sniffed the CAN bus on his 2012 Hyundai Genesis, and isolated the LCD from the rest of the network. He used Raspberry Pi and an Arduino, both of which are interfaced with an MCP2515 — one for the display, the other to receive signals from the original network. A Wi-Fi dongle on the Raspberry Pi enables Internet connectivity.

De Mel was also able to make the text scroll, which was accomplished through the CAN bus. However, Python script on the Raspberry Pi provided more control on how fast or frequently the message would come across the screen.

Now that I have a better understanding of how the LCD is controlled, I want to use the screen for more useful information. I have an in-dash Nexus 7 and would like to parse the information of the currently playing track to the car’s system as if it was an iPod. Frank Zhao was kind enough to leave a comment on my previous post pointing me in the direction of the Apple Accessories Protocol (AAP) which I will also begin to tinker with at some point in the future.

The code for the project is available on GitHub, and you can read more about the build on his blog. In the meantime, check out the video below to see it all in action.