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Thread: The End-All, Be-All E38 Android Retrofit

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Streetsboro, Ohio
    My Cars
    2001 740i E38

    The End-All, Be-All E38 Android Retrofit

    Apparently, my Google-Fu is lacking today as I cannot seem to track down details on what this ensues. With that said, here we go...

    I have an E38 2001 740i (North American version) with factory DSP and 16:9 Navigation, upgraded to the MkIV system under warranty. However, it could use an update to a modern system. So I've done the requisite homework on how to do a proper Android headunit retrofit, including the information from both Xboss and Franco90. Determined that it will most likely follow Xboss's method, but with a relocated DVD drive as I still use CDs and DVDs.

    With the physical mounting sorted out, wiring is next. As many know, the E38 needs an Extension Harness to link the front components to the original trunk-mounted radio components. This is fine.

    Next up is Steering Wheel Controls. Most android units offer a Canbus box for this, so we're all set there.

    Since I'm rather picky about having things not lose original functions, I bought a USB iBus adapter last year in anticipation of feeding the Android unit all of the iBus information so it can display the On-Board Computer data just like the original setup does. All is good there

    Now it gets interesting...
    As most Android units offer backup/reverse camera input (even my Expedition's chinese double din one has it), I'll be giving it this as well. Since the trunk will be disassembled for the Extension Harness anyway, seems like a good time to route the Backup Camera wiring. So the Camera feed and power/ground are all sorted out, but one question remains. Parking Guidelines are usually part of any Backup Camera install, but there's one part about it I don't quite understand. Dynamic Parking Lines, which bend/curve when turning the steering wheel, are something I want in my install, but something is bothering me about it.

    Math word problem incoming...

    Camera On/Off signal comes from the 12v+ Reverse light circuit. Camera video signal is fed to the Android unit over a single RCA cable. OS Software then overlays the Parking Guide Lines onto the Image received from the camera. What determines if/when/how much the Parking Guide Lines curve?

    From a mathematics/geometry basis, Steering Angle, Wheelbase and Axle-to-Bumper Length are needed for this. With that said, how would an Android unit, such as one from Xtrons or ***** unit for an E38/E39 receive and determine this information, in order to act accordingly and display accurate Parking Guide Lines when turning?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    West London/Heathrow - UK
    My Cars
    03 530dT - Ex Police Car

    You'll need to research more, for now I'm guessing a little bit here but I think the guide lines that move as the car moves is a feature built into a system itself. When it comes to the aftermarket, I'd say the feature needs to be a part of the actual Camera unit itself. The cheap chinese unit's you are looking at getting I don't think have this functionality due to them being essentially cheap android tablet hardware housed in a car head unit shaped chassis. The cheapy cameras that are often purchased with them I don't think have the function either. If anything is available for this function, it's likely to come from the high quality, established car audio headunit and electronics brands - Alpine, Kenwood, Sony, Pioneer, Parrot, JVC etc. Check each of those brands and their head units and camera add in options to see if this is the case.

    The only other thing I can think of is there's an app for Android that does what you want when using one of the cheapy normal cameras?

    Cheers, Dennis!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Streetsboro, Ohio
    My Cars
    2001 740i E38
    I think you understand why I posted this question here, rather than the E38 Section. It seems VERY unlikely that a normal CMOS style camera (commonly used for backup camera applications) would have requisite hardware packaged into it to generate such an overlay, especially for $10-15 on eBay. So by that logic, as previously states, any parking guide lines are generated by the Android OS. It is the most logical way to approach it.

    The core of Android is Linux, and is Open Source for anyone to create with. As you said, it seems like most Double Din Android head units are essentially repackaged tablets with upgraded audio capabilities (4 channel output) and extra hardware to support features like DVD playback (optical drive), Composite video input from a Backup Camera, triggered by a 12v+ signal, IR remote and so on. But my question still stands though...

    By what means could an Android OS generate Dynamic Parking Guide Lines without Steering Angle and Wheelbase/Rear Overhang data input? Perhaps a Gyroscope or 3-axis accelerometer? If so, how would it determine intended trajectory unless the car is already in motion?

    Quite a difficult question, isn't it?

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