Buickberry Car Computer (Scrapped)

Stereo replacement computer system for a 2008 Buick Lucerne CX using a Raspberry Pi Model B.

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The goal is creating an on board automotive computer system that is:
-A Solution for: Media, Navigation, Hands Free Calling, Engine Monitoring, and Data Logging.
-Simplistic Enough to Use While Driving.
-Designed to Support Further Extensiblity.

The basic idea is to equip my 2008 Buick Lucerne CX with some of the amenities that have become standard in more modern cars (and possibly a few that are not quite as standard,) using the Raspberry Pi as the brains, a 128GB SSD for local storage, Bluetooth and WiFi adapters for general connectivity, a Bluetooth capable OBD II ELM 327 Adapter for engine data, and a custom built in dash unit with LCD touch screen for control and display. Ideally I will also be able to use some of the existing hardware such as the OnStar microphone, antenna, and the existing steering wheel audio controls as well to make an overall seamless replacement for the current stereo system.


So I've had my Raspberry Pi (Model B) for quite a few years now, and until now it has been used for one project or the next, without realizing it's full potential in a permanent setup. Having just recently purchased a used 2008 Buick Lucerne CX however, (which, though nice, lacks some of the features that have become more or less standard in modern cars) I do believe time has come to give my Pi a permanent home and take on a project that has intrigued me for some time, a full featured on board automotive computer.

Granted there are many approaches I have considered in the past for automotive computers that were more full featured in terms of system specs, but while a micro itx board with an x86_64 family processor and 8 or more gigs of ram would be nice, the need for such a system in my daily commuter isn't exactly warranted. I probably do not need to be playing high req PC games while stuck in traffic anyway (and it's probably not a great idea to make that an option...)


The concept in itself is simple, the Raspberry Pi will take the place of my cars normal stereo functionality, and provide me with some cool features and tools that your standard system just doesn't provide. At it's base level it clearly needs to fulfill the role of media center for the car, and while I've seen some solid projects featuring popular raspberry pi media center solutions ported into vehicles, the need for advanced functionality makes that an insufficient stand alone solution.

The more complex features include microphone inputs and Bluetooth voice connections to support hands free functionality, a GPS module with corresponding software to solve for navigation, a Bluetooth OBD II module to provide performance data, as well as a custom head unit that will completely replace the current stereo system and undoubtedly require it's fair share of specialized or custom adapters, to ensure that it works seamlessly with the existing steering wheel control inputs and speaker outputs.

I do realize that there are some prepackaged solutions available as well that seem to meet these requirements, however they are more closed ended than I would prefer and I wouldn't draw nearly as much satisfaction as I can from designing and building the system myself. While these solutions are great as a reference for some things, at the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to have a design tailored to my needs that maintains it's ability to be extended to more diverse applications over time.

  • Project Scrapped...Stay Tuned

    Thaddaeus05/18/2018 at 01:04 0 comments

    As of December 2017 the Buick Lucerne is no more, and while this is indeed a sad event, seeing as the full design and development of this particular project will never be realized, the concept of a custom RPi Driven and/or enhanced Vehicle Multimedia System is still not faded from my mind. 

    My new vehicle is a 2010 Audi A4 Quattro 2.0L Turbo, which admittedly already boasts a fairly advanced Integrated Media System, the Audi Media Interface (AMI) and expandable Multimedia Interface (MMI), but with it also  carries the likelihood of creating new and interesting challenges and provides opportunity for additional capabilities (though possibly at the cost of added complexity....)

    Either way, whether it be on my new car or ported into a different environment, it is back to the drawing board for now, but stay tuned and hopefully a viable plan for a new project will be along in the not too distant future.  

  • Touchscreen Accquired

    Thaddaeus05/18/2016 at 03:13 0 comments

    So despite a long period of project stagnation, I have made some punctuated progress in the last 2 weeks. I finally got around to ordering the 7" display and touch screen overlay, and it seems to work (more or less) as expected. I only say more or less because the touch screen calibration is being a bit screwy, but I have a feeling that getting a fresh install of Raspbian may clear up the issue.

    Now with almost all the pieces I need in place (minus a DC2DC Step Down Converter, and a DAC Audio Converter) I have to consider the real question of software. I've seen many implementations that seem to use Kodi or some other media center solution to drive their car computers, but I'm leaning towards a custom front end consisting of basic menu navigation with buttons and embedded elements (or convenient switching between non embedded windows.) I can't help but think my work may be cut out for me as these things scarcely ever end up as they work out on paper, but we shall see what we shall see.

    I've posted some pictures of the touchscreen and the board that came along with it. The included board has several more video input ports that may come in handy if I decide to add reverse or dash cams. You can also see the touchscreen adapter and 5 button control module for the screen in the pictures. I hope to have more time in the near future to get some work done on this, so hopefully I can provide some more updates.

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Thaddaeus wrote 12/11/2015 at 02:21 point

I do believe you are correct, a variation here or there, but I think it's dangerously close.

  Are you sure? yes | no

AndrewMcDan wrote 12/11/2015 at 01:52 point

You might consider having a look at my project:

I think we're working on the same project...

  Are you sure? yes | no

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