Building a computer for my 2005 Dodge Ram 3500

I just pre-ordered a DIY dongle and a pi3B adapter. First post on the board.

I am building a computer for my 2005 Dodge 3500 (1-ton) pickup. All the builds for car computers I have been able to find on the Internet seem to be little more than music servers, with no more capability than my iphone. Media service is at the very bottom of my list.

Here is what I need:

  • Video camera live viewing (multiple backup cameras and an inside trailer surveillance camera)
  • OBDII communication with the truck
  • Tire pressure monitoring for the truck (6 tires) and the trailer (4 tires); my truck does not have this function via OBDII.
  • Ability to manage the performance chip (Bully Dog) on my truck and other CAN bus
  • Navigation/GPS with maps
  • Cellular telephone connection via bluetooth for hands-free phone use and mirroring
  • 4G service
  • wifi hotspot
  • control of trailer exterior lighting by RF switching
  • media server

The computer will be based on the raspberry pi 3B, the Autopi DIY dongle, Adafruit GPS breakout card, 4G dongle, generic cameras with RCA connections, and a 10.1" capacitive touchscreen monitor.

I was ecstatic to find Autopi, because it was the first hint of promise to be able to manage my truck’s performance chip via the computer, so that I can replace the malfunctioning Bully Dog monitor.

While I am not a programmer, I am a determined experimenter and am learning quickly. I am currently looking at Arch Linux and Raspbian Stretch for the operating system.

Any help, suggestions, applications, corroboration, would be welcome.

Tony Henrie
Salem, Utah, USA

1 Like

Hi Thenrie

Thats a pretty awesome project, (Ambitious too) :slight_smile:
I have a few notes and suggestions.

  • You will of course need sensors and a receiver for the tire pressure, and depending on the receiver you will want it to be able to be connected to the raspberry pi, either via USB or via the GPIO pins.

  • AutoPi will be able to communicate with your car via the OBDII connector, and supports querying OBDII PIDS, and enables access to a range of supported CAN Bus protocols, so you will need to check what connectors your OBDII plug provides for your specific car, to be able to make the integrations necessary for your project.

  • Regarding GPS and 4G, have you considered the 4G version of the autopi dongle? Which includes 4G modem (CAT-1), and GPS? It would probably save you some time, but you can of course use your own external devices, if you like.

  • Regarding cellular phone connection, It should be possible to do, but you’d probably like to add an external speaker/mic, or connect to your car’s speakers.

  • Like i said, the 4G autopi dongle includes 4G modem (and GPS), and also acts as a hotspot out of the box, so that would probably also save you some time.

  • You could connect a relay to the GPIO pins on the raspberry pi, and control the lighting on the trailer that way.

  • Depending on how many external devices you connect to the USB ports, you may want to include a powered USB hub in your project, to make sure that it gets enough power.

Remember that the autopi device is mainly a maker platform, and we have already built some of the use cases, and some are in our roadmap. If the bully dog product you mentioned can do this via the CAN bus, you at least know that the autopi device has the access it needs, but do remember that you’d most likely have to do the communication with the performance chip yourself.

So the autopi device can help you with some of your needs out of the box, and for the rest, you should be able to build/integrate yourself, because… raspberry pi :slight_smile:

Still waiting for the autopi DIY dongle. Looking at the problems with Verizon being able to enable the 4G autopi dongle, I think my going with the add-on GPS and 4G dongle is the way to go. The Pi3B will handle bluetooth and wifi hotspot, so that’s not an issue either. I already have a good powered usb hub for it. I’ll also be buying a power switch that integrates with the truck ignition switch and allows a soft shutdown. I plan to buy one tire pressure sending unit and work on getting that to work, before I spend the money for 9 more!

I have navigation working (Navit). Haven’t yet been able to get my backup cameras working properly. Waiting for some smart person to develop a linux app for the selectable camera displays :).

1 Like

Still waiting for the Autopi DIY dongle. I just sent an email to find out what happened. Apparently, my order fell through the cracks.

1 Like

Received the autopi DIY dongle today with the rpi3B adapter.

Got the dongle set up and registered. Wifi is working. Need to connect it to the truck now and see what I get.

Made some headway on the TPMS system. Looks like some folks have been working on RTL-SDR software defined radio dongles that will receive signal from TPMS senders. Developers are working on decoding the signal and making the info readable by simple folk like myself. I’ll be ordering a dongle and antennas from NooElec and a pair of TPMS sending units to try to get the system working on the rpi/autopi.

Still looking for a way to selectively monitor four cameras with live-feed (three backup cams, one inside-trailer cam).

I’ll be using Navit for navigation. I’ll be working on the install this week and seeing if it will live alongside autopi happily. I have an adafruit gps breakout board for the gps location/navigation.

Looking at various DAC/amps to replace the stereo head unit.

I’m going to have to decide on a gui that will allow me to select functions on the touchscreen. Any ideas would be helpful.