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Turning a LS400 cabin into a racing controller & home theater

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Turning a LS400 cabin into a racing controller & home theater

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Old 04-11-17, 11:52 AM
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ghosthaus
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Default Turning a LS400 cabin into a racing controller & home theater

Hi everyone, I'm going to be using a 1998-2000 LS400 as a donor car, taking out the 1UZFE engine and transmission. (I want the immobilizer, ECU, and key system, it'll be an open railed street kart and I'm doing everything I can to reduce the chances of theft). After sitting in several LS400s over the spring, I decided that I want to strip the outside, leave the cabin, and turn it into a car driving simulator for the winter months + cozy home theater. It'll look really weird in my rec room (double doors to the outside) but now that my ex and all her stupid Ikea furniture is gone, I have space.

Look at the most low effort mspaint mockup of all time: http://imgur.com/a/bcCfv

I know there's no CANBUS on this model, but people are doing similar things with BMW clusters. They just aren't really using that much of the car. By using the body and selling off all the parts I remove, I save a lot of time and money building a cage or box to sit in. I'll already have a box to sit in, and it was made by geniuses.

Here is an example:
although he still just took parts and put them on a box.

Here are some more examples of using instrument clusters:'





Except I'll be using as much of the original controls as possible. I don't want to rip out the steering wheel column just to replace it with a force feedback wheel, when I could probably run the car's electronics off a 12 volt adapter and use the power steering to give 'feedback'. Same for the gas and brake pedals. I'll probably have to put in a new shifter, that's okay.

Not going to even think about any crazy stuff like 2 or 3 degrees of motion platform with hydraulics or airbags or something. That would be cool but I'm taking this one step at a time.

I haven't found the right donor car yet, but what I can be working on now, aside from building the exoframe for the tube kart, is working out the electronics issues ahead of time.

Does anyone here have links to good resources on the LS400 electronics? The main things I want to do are:

Display information on the gauges. This has been done with other cars.
Give input via the gas pedal and brakes.

All the other stuff will go pretty easily: repurposing the buttons, for example the hazard button can be a 'power on' switch, using the car's audio system. Even adding a pully cable & sensor to the steering shaft to turn it into a racing wheel could be simple.. or I could just cheat and do this:

I thought about trying to use the OBD-2 interface but since I'm pulling the ECU with the engine, I'll have to interface with all the components and systems directly.

Finally, why keep the backseat? I think the answer is obvious.

Last edited by ghosthaus; 04-11-17 at 12:00 PM. Reason: hit submit post too soon
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Old 04-11-17, 01:52 PM
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Kinda cool. I'd cut the front end off the body, turn the trunk into a nice couch, and retain all the interior like in the car, you have the extra seating and use a huge screen or multiple screens for the simulator or just watching movies.
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Old 04-11-17, 01:55 PM
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This is pretty awesome! Will be keeping an eye on this thread.
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Old 04-11-17, 04:12 PM
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Thanks guys. I'm saving money for the donor car so when it appears, I can ****** it up. I don't want to chop up a good car though, so I'm looking for one that was either rearended (although that would mean I can't do a trunk couch as dicer suggested) or with serious hail damage. I may stop looking for one with a nice interior and just redo the interior since I'm still looking at something with nearly 20 years of use, and I don't need to pay a serious premium for 17-18 year old leather upholstery just because it's in good shape. But saving time is important too, the more steps you can keep off a project list, the more likely the whole thing gets finished. And it'll be nice to have a comfy backseat to watch movies from. I did think about cutting the cabin in half, with the front end for the driver and passenger seat and controls, and the rear half re-used as a booth couch but with the doors left functional. I can't find a single example even close to what I mean, other than this swing:

http://imgur.com/a/7DJZG

Or without the roof left on, something like this:

http://imgur.com/a/jegRV

All the other car couches are done with the trunk style like this. It's cool but doesn't really grab me. So, if this all starts with a donor with an intact trunk/rear, and someone else wants to try, I'll make sure they get their hands on it the trunk area.

http://imgur.com/a/sKO1S

But that's all stuff like choosing what name to call your tree fort, when you could be building it.

Right now I'm digging through schematics and designing a system of using the hydraulic power steering to create a workable force feedback system. The power steering pump obviously runs off of the engine, but if I run it with an electric motor, I can operate it independently. I'm not 100% sure of the torque and power requirements to turn the pump but I think I can get it going with a motor pulled from an electric clothes drier. More importantly, with electric control of the pump (and possibly additional valves) it can be precisely controlled.

Once the power steering is functioning, it's just a matter of making it provide resistance instead of assistance, or stop providing assistance at the right moment, to provide force feedback. I don't know how to program microcontrollers, and I'm almost certain this will require an arduino or something, but I'll be going to the people on the symprojects.com for that level of interfacing. (Not a plug or shill, this is just the only place I found for interfacing real controls and dashes with sims and games) Also, just realized that without the wheels to provide resistance, I can just run springs from each side of the 'rack' from where the tie rods used to be, connected to part of the support frame holding up the car shell, to provide both a small base level of resistance AND 'return to center'

Last edited by ghosthaus; 04-11-17 at 04:52 PM.
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Old 04-11-17, 06:03 PM
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Gosh then think about adding some air or hydraulic suspension or something to make it feel like its going down the road. I'd really like to some day have the space and dollars to make a real flight simulator like the ones they train pilots on. You need a car with the front damaged.
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Old 04-15-17, 07:29 PM
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Originally Posted by dicer View Post
Gosh then think about adding some air or hydraulic suspension or something to make it feel like its going down the road. I'd really like to some day have the space and dollars to make a real flight simulator like the ones they train pilots on. You need a car with the front damaged.
An airbag system for some limited pitch/roll and bumping up and down would actually be pretty easy to fabricate. It could safely support a cabin with four or more people in it. It would be safer than the other options, less complicated, and have less points of failure. People are doing it for haunted house floors: (asking 2-5k for these dependent on size):

That would just give some jostling and tilting, not really a motion simulator. The advantage is that the mechanics don't take up as much vertical room. Then there is this style, which is probably much more expensive and takes up more vertical room:

It's really best suited for something like this:

But to sum up my thoughts on the motion simulation (because it isn't a first priority) here's something interesting: LEXUS ALREADY HAS DONE IT!


But on to sourcing an instrument cluster to start experimenting with!

I will be in East Tennessee for a while this spring. I may try and see if I can get anything out of this junkyard car, which also has one of the two possible interiors I want! Any members in that area, you might want to check this out as well.

https://cpprohomeky.car-part.com/ima...ck%23%20B48226
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Old 04-15-17, 10:40 PM
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Simulators can be very cool. And when you crash you don't get hurt or wreck anything, and you can enjoy a beverage if that is your thing and can't get a ticket or ?
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