Re: Little bit different build - Nissan leaf
Well, I've got it in the car and working ... Still a lot of cosmetic work to do; (pods color just looks bad, I need to trim the upper curve on them to mesh better; the sub/amp trim panel is still a skeleton; etc.etc.) but I'm taking a break and listening to them for now.
I gotta say I *REALLY* don't like the alpine unit at this point. It's firmware is glitchy, the PC software is crappy, the auto-setup doesn't work properly, etc.etc.etc. So far:
-The software wouldn't install on my laptop. Gets at 95% or so, gives an error (numbered without description) and backs out. A call to support just blamed the laptop (a dell netbook with win7, good antivirus, all updates, and no other issues). Ended up having to get my wife's PC, haul it downstairs, get an extension cord, and run it by the car.
-The software in the unit concerning the microphone is often disfunctional (mic tests out fine on my PC, but plug in to the box and try to run a sweep and it says "mic error"). Unplug and plug the mic 5-6 times and if I'm lucky it'll start working. However, if I connect to a PC - even WHILE it's got the mic error - it will pick up and utilize the mic no problem.
-The unit will not work until you've completed the auto-setup process. The auto-setup process must complete 4 mic sweeps (see above for why that became a HUGE issue).
-According to the instructions, if you get to the mic sweep portion of the setup, you can then plug in a PC to complete the setup that way. Great! Only if you do that, it doesn't consider setup complete, so next time you boot the unit up it tries to go through the setup process again.
-During bootup it gives you an option to set your crossovers for a multi-way setup (as mine is). Then it just ignores your selections and you have to set it again later. No idea whether it uses the settings for the mic sweeps.
-Manual includes not one single shred of instructions for the PC software, only a vague reference to being able to use it.
In short, it does exactly what it says it will do ... but only after several hours of armwrestling the stupid thing around its own firmware. I don't think I've ever messed with a less functional setup process in my life.
It's in and working and sounding great now, but I just can't recommend this thing. Maybe I got a defective one, but other than the mic error these all seems like design flaws...
Having said that, I'm liking all the rest of the setup! The crossovers in the JL amp are excellent - I'm not using them because I want to keep the time delay from the Alpine working... If it wasn't for REALLY wanting time alignment, a $20 line converter and the amp could do the job without the alpine being in place at all. And it's got plenty of power - The subs will boom if I make them, and the whole system gets crazy loud with no clipping. The speakers are excellent; I've got the mid/highs crossed over in the 400hz range, which I was nervous about considering it's a 2" mid, but it handles it fine even at very high volume. The midbass is almost like a little sub; I'm playing around with the crossover point there - I think 70hz is probably going to give the smoothest transition while still maintaining bass-up-front illusion (any higher and I start picking up cues from the subs), but I was able to go down to 60 without losing any significant oomph.
I'll get some pics later, but right now the RCAs are something of a rats nest from the fight with the Alpine, so I need to at least straighten those up a bit first
Also... I don't listen to a lot of extremely bass-heavy music, but as a test of power consumption I cranked the subs quite a bit past what I normally would and listened to Rage Against the Macine on my drive in this morning. Not enough to see the impact, that's for sure. I pulled in with the dash showing pretty much exactly what it normally shows for efficiency, range, and battery. I didn't see any change at all in power consumption on the energy meter. I'm starting to think none of the gauges really measure the energy that goes to the 12v battery... or maybe consumption is even lower than I thought. Either way, good news, but there might be room for an even larger amp system without major power impacts.
Re: Little bit different build - Nissan leaf
Awesome build log:) Can't believe that shop managed to take YEARS to restore that charger though. The kids in my autoshop classes took an old Ford truck from a rust bucket to a show car in a single semester.
Re: Little bit different build - Nissan leaf
Alright, so it looks like I'm going to shift directions quite a bit. But first, a few quick updates:
For the pods, I like the texture stuff but it's tough to use - I screwed up the first pass badly. They're in there and they work great, but the texture is all wrong and the color's way off too... Need to pull & refinish. There's a little bit of reshaping I'm going to do as well, just to mesh better. The stage sets up nicely though, so I like them.
Also, the sub/amp balance was off with all three subs in place. I tried it with two and it sounded pretty good and I used it like that for a while - but I really liked the aesthetics of the three. So after playing around with a bunch of things, I came up with - two, but leave the third in place as a passive radiator. I had to add a bit of weight to the third to get the tuning low enough (epoxied some small weights evenly distributed around the underside of the cone). Sounds extremely good and keeps the look I was hoping for. I'd originally wanted to do a low-tuned ported enclosure in here anyway, but didn't have the room for the size port I'd need - this gets close to that effect.
Finally, someone asked about the dayton subs... I don't much like them. They sound pretty good, but even with this small amp I can bottom out the subs pre-clipping. The xmax just is not enough for anything significant, apparently. I'll keep using them and just limit the volume, but eventually I'll probably switch. No hurry though.
Having said that, I'm going to end up going to some extremes to get rid of this head unit. The alpine integration unit is CRAP for someone like me; there's basically nothing really user configurable beyond crossover points, levels, and time delays - all the eq stuff is autotuned by mic and not user-configurable, and the software is horribly glitchy. And I like to tweak. Plus, doing line level conversion is a problem; I managed to get the signal *somewhat* clean, but not as good as I'd hoped for. The factory unit clips at different volumes across different frequencies, and I think even that varies based on the overall level at other frequencies. So I can get it to where I *think* there's no clipping, then I'll play a different song and it goes nuts. Not to mention hugely imbalanced relationship between frequency response and volume. I could put a remote knob from the alpine to control volume, but it would look out of place and would not be as ergonomic. Not to mention nissan's UI design is a slight upgrade from hammered ****. There's a lot of awesome stuff about this car, but the head unit/control center UI is probably the worst single aspect of the entire vehicle.
Of course replacing it is going to be more of a project than the entire rest of the vehicle has been... I have to build a can bus monitor, monitor 3 different can busses (primary, charging, and infotainment) to identify all the signals the head unit is responsible for (which is a lot; Besides the obvious audio/phone/nav/backup cam stuff, I already know it is responsible for sending the remaining range estimation to the dash, recording charge timers & turning on the charger as needed, displaying power/efficiency-related info, displaying climate control info, displaying and changing settings related to how door locks, lights, and other bcm functions operate, etc.), build a car-PC, and write the software to handle the functions it's replacing. Quick fact: the head unit has 83 (yes 83) wires going to it! Hooray for factory service manuals... Honestly most of the connections will be straightforward, it's just the canbus interaction I'm worried about... I've done a bit of embedded development though, so I believe I can handle it.
So the plan for now is to use one of these: Bybyte Infotainment Solutions - Mini-ITX enclosure as the screen/case in the factory location, with an AMD e-350 APU (I thought APUs were pretty stupid until I started looking at what I needed for this project - The mobo I'm looking at has a good audio chip, toslink output, passive cooling, draws less than 40w in cpu/gpu burn-in testing, and can even play some older games), a small (60gb) ssd, and this PSU (80w, 96% efficiency, TINY!: picoPSU-80 12V DC-DC ATX power supply ) - plug in a USB GPS & bluetooth dongle (the mobo has wifi built in), then either a usb 3g/4g modem or just autoconnect to my phone for net (it's rooted and will do wifi, bluetooth, or USB tethering). Then this guy for interpretation of all the buttons: Joycon EXR Steering Wheel Control PC Interface .
Still deciding whether a USB AM/FM radio and/or CD/DVD drive is worth it. I rarely use either. The AM/FM would be easy to hide, but they're ridiculously expensive (~$120); the CD/DVD is just the opposite - dirt cheap, but not sure where I'd put it.
The real interesting part will be the CAN interface. I figure I'll just build a little board with a USB controller, Atmel ATTiny chip, and 3 CAN chips - I initially thought I'd just program it to act as a 'dumb' go-between, sending the PC everything and letting the PC interpret and act on the signals, but that would mean the PC would have to operate 24/7 since it controls charging as well... at 40w that could run for hundreds of hours on a charge, but that would be wasteful- So instead I guess I need the miniboard to function as a standalone charging controller at a minimum. Nothing else I've found needs to function when the vehicle is off, so everything else can still go through the PC software.
As for audio, the plan is to completely yank the alpine. I hate the thing. I looked at an MS-8, but the problem there is the number of digital/analog conversions going on: From the motherboard, digital sound gets converted for analog out, then converted in the MS8 to digital again for processing, then converted again for the analog out again... I considered replacing it with a rack of minidsp's, but to do what I'd like (3-way + sub + maybe rear fill) I'd need 3 minidsp's, a MiniDSP, two miniDC's, and all the support equipment ( the larger 2x8/8x8 minidsp's won't run multiple plugins, and the default doesn't have rear fill+long delay or 31-band eq). I was also considering a bitone, or arc, or mosconi, etc.etc.... But then I realized that the PC can already do all that - Add either thuneau frequency allocator lite software or vst + the appropriate plugins, and the sound processing is just as robust as any of the other solutions, can be controlled in the in-dash pc, costs nearly nothing in comparison, and means I only use one DAC in the whole system.
So now the question is whether to use the onboard realtek sound or get another card - the realtek is compatible with the processing, and has a 103db snr, independent 8-channel 24-bit dacs... I think it would likely produce a really clean signal. Given the nature of double-din casing, PCI or PCI-express is pretty much not an option, and USB cards I've found all have only 2-4 channel outputs (need 6). So I'm not opposed to paying for another sound card, just thinking the onboard actually would best server this application.
So anyway - if anyone has experience interpreting proprietary canbus messaging, I'm open to advice... I figure that one part of it is going to be the major hurdle to the whole thing. I've already got a bunch of AVR USB kits just lying around anyway, so once the mcp2515 & 2551 chips I just ordered get here I should be able to get a monitor running in no time...