Workshop 12

As we work through resurfacing of the 3D scan and creating some initial drawings of dashboard styles we want to take this time to poll the community on the best tablet choice for the 370Z.

This is always a tough decision as it depends on which tablets have the proper physical size to fit within the dashboard trim (including headphone/power jack locations) as well as a balance between specs, price and functionality.

So we have 3 candidates to choose from.  Our Suggestion is the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1″ – This has the best combination of OS support, RAM, Processor, Screen Size and Price.

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We are extremely excited to kick off the Nissan 370Z project with the initial phase of digital 3D scanning of the dashboard surface, inner structure and trim pieces.  While this may seem like a simple process of pointing a scanner at the dashboard and pulling a trigger, it is much more complex (a 7 hour process) and you want to make sure you get it done right the first time.

As with all our 3D scanning projects the first step is to get into the car and apply all the target stickers.  These stickers give the scanner a frame of reference of where the parts are in 3D space.  First was going through the interior fully intact to ensure we have a scan of the factory fit to overlay over everything when we are done to ensure as much of an OEM fit as possible.

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Another milestone in the Nemesis R1 build occurred earlier this week where the entire chassis was 3D scanned.  Before performing the scan the entire rear section of the car was removed and a full new rear configuration created in order to fit the Subaru EJ207 and STI six speed transmission.  With this new configuration in place it was time to scan the chassis to move the project to the next step.

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After releasing the first version of the Brainiac Android home screen launcher we’re now working hard on version 2.  We’ll continue to look to add features and improvements to the software over time to enrich the in car experience.

Currently the planned updates for version 2 of the software are focused on support for more screen resolutions and adding the capability to configure multiple relays for various auxiliary systems in your car (relay controller coming soon).

The changes required to support multiple screen resolutions and removing the device restrictions in Google Play are:

  • Scaling the screen edge touch gesture points to make sense on larger screen resolution devices with higher pixel density
  • Fixing some label sizing and layouts for the media “currently playing” area and application grid icon labels
  • Supporting newer Android versions with global accessibility gestures.  These currently have some compatibility issues on newer versions of the Android OS
  • Relay Accessory Configuration

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We’re extremely excited to announce the new Workshop 12 project vehicle named the Nemesis R1. The R1 has been designed to provide the ultimate single seater driving experience combining advanced coilover pushrod suspension design for great handling and fast track times.

A Supercar like power to weight ratio of 300+ HP to 1400 lbs creates exhilarating acceleration and 4-piston Wilwood breaks bring you to a quick stop.  The Nemeis R1 is equipped with a Subaru JDM STI EJ207 engine dyno tuned to an estimated 300+ HP with an 8000 RPM redline. Combining these horsepower figures with an estimated vehicle weight of 1400 lbs creates a supercar like power to weight ratio. Crisp shifts are provided with fully pneumatic paddle shifting creating a F1 car like driving experience.

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We’re excited to announce that the official Pre-Order Deposit program is now open for the Nissan 370Z Brainiac plastics! This is a program where if we can reach 40 Pre-Order deposits of $60 each we will be able to start the R&D process of designing the Brainiac plastics for the Nissan 370Z. Full details can be found on the official project page but the summary is as follows:

  • Number of Participants: Only 40 slots available
  • Start Criteria: Must have 40 pre-orders to start
  • Time frame: Estimated 5-6 weeks.  Clock starts as soon as the 40 orders are secured
  • Availability: Available to everyone once the plastics are ready. Pre-Order participants will receive a $60 discount on final price
  • Deposit Amount: $60 USD
  • Timing of Charge: Credit cards will only be charged once all 40 slots are filled and Workshop 12 receives their first bill from the design firm
  • Total End Cost: Similar to that of the 350Z ($230’ish) depending on plastic sizes for Shapeways print costs.  End price will vary.


Below you’ll find a video that we’ve pulled together showing all the parts and steps required to wire a tablet into your vehicle for either general use or when using one of Workshop 12’s snap-in tablet kits for your car.  Overall the process is pretty much the same as wiring any aftermarket stereo into your vehicle with the exception of handling a USB power source.  We’ve also previously posted power configuration settings that work best for a tablet in a vehicle to provide instant-on activation of the tablet when the vehicle is turned on, and also allows the tablet go into suspend mode when the vehicle is turned off.

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One thing we get asked all the time is “what about car X”?  Which is great that we have interest from different car owners out there looking to do something cool in their cars.  The crappy part is that doing the research, scanning, sketching, 3D modeling, test printing bla bla bla is quite expensive.  Since our goals have now switched over from trying to do a production all-in-one product to more of a facilitator role to aid the community in building some cool stuff for their own cars, our funding for doing new cars is tight.. aka it’s hard to find money to do a new car.

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It was a little over a year ago when we gave up on our dream of what Brainiac could be for a connected car.  Since then I’ve personally used a standard Android tablet in my vehicle for over a year and have found major challenges in trying to make something that was designed to be held in your hands an effective solution in an automotive scenario.  Go figure 🙂

So what are we doing about this?  First, scrapping all of the prototype code that we wrote previously.  It was created to be an entire self contained unit with remote access from your smartphone and architecturally not something we need going forward.  What I’ve found over the past year is that there are a few key things that can be written for a tablet that will make it extremely usable in a vehicle.

So we now start from scratch.  Re-using the same look and feel that we had created before, but now in a more targeted manner to first address the main shortcomings of a tablet in a car.  Once we have those main shortcomings addressed we’ll look to expand Brainiac automation and features if there’s demand.

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Ok.. so what a lot of you will be wondering is how much the plastics are going to cost to print.  I say print because I want to make it clear that the plastic parts are 3D printed and are not popped out of plastic injection moulds.  To give you an idea the single top plastic part seen in the photo above would cost over $15,000 to just create a mould!! Yikes!!!

So like I mentioned before, we’ve partnered with a 3D printing service to bring the best quality prints (as close to an ABS plastic injection part as possible) at the most reasonable price we could find.  A video showing the print quality can be found on our YouTube channel.  The selected printing service is out of the US (I say the US because we’re a couple of crazy Canadians).

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Setting up a tablet for use within a vehicle can take a little bit of work, but it can be done with some really good results.  I personally have been using a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1″ device in my Subaru WRX for over a year now using custom Brainiac printed plastics that hold the tablet in place which makes it appear like an actual built-in unit.

We’re currently test printing a set of these plastics (without the old buttons) for both the 05-07 WRX and 02-05 350Z that will hold a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1″ device.  The FRS/BRZ is still a bit of an unknown.  The idea is to upload our 3D models to a website where you can have them printed and shipped to you from a printing partner.  We’re not the creators of plastics or electronics… instead simply making our knowledge, designs and experience available to you so that you can pull something awesome together yourself.  More details on that to follow later 🙂

Some of the tricky bits for making a tablet work in your car are subjects such as power management, touch navigation (touch points are too small), volume control, screen brightness and other annoying bits I found when using a tablet for in-car entertainment while driving the vehicle.  There are lots of great things you can do with Android and inside your car, but there are some common things that you do all the time while driving, and finding a good solution for those common tasks can be a challenge.  In this post I’m primarily going to focus on power management and screen brightness configuration.

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Giddy-up!!  The latest renderings of the rear of the 818X are now available.  There have been a few different treatments done to the rear of the car to see what best fits.  Below you’ll find a bit of the reasoning behind some of the renders and differences between them.  From my perspective I always wanted something that is a bit crazy, so of course I lean more towards the crazy renders than the subtle ones.

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