Saturday, August 8, 2009

Porsche Center Console Construction

Not to be outdone by the factory-built touchscreen console in the Milan, the Porsche crew built and installed a new center console for its touchscreen connected to the NI cRIO. The console was built by EVT's newest member, Amanda Turk, and team advisor Dan Lauber over a very productive weekend filled with tools and materials uncommon to the EVT.

We built the center console completely out of wood and woodworking bits, except for a few custom sheetmetal brackets. These are the same materials which the stock Porsche center console, on which our design was based, was made from. The center console is a highly visible and functional fixture in the car, so there was a laundry list of requirements in designing and building it. It had to look stock, not interfere with the operation of the accelerator, shifter, or adjustable seats, fit the National Instruments touch screen and cRIO controller, be sturdy enough for abuse, provide room inside for wiring and outside for the eventual addition of switches and indicators, and provide easy tool-less access to all the wiring and electronics inside it.

We mocked up the entire console in cardboard before making a run to Home Depot for lumber. The cRIO was mounted against the front wall, above the passenger's toes, we added a floor board under the passenger's feet to protect the wiring (it was originally just a big chunk of foam), and we re-routed a good number of the wires and cables.

One of the more interesting bits of construction, the touch panel was meant to mount to a much thinner panel, requiring the routing of the back side of the plywood panel with a 1/4" end mill. A couple layers of paint, and the center console was ready to show off at the open house and looks fantastic. Still to do is organizing all the wiring inside, and thanks to Amanda's mad sewing skills, a genuine viynl cover instead of paint. Also part of driver information/fit'n'finish is getting all the gauges working and looking stock.

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