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Schematic, PCB and source code for a small Arduino-based controller to make Ford FDIM dash display useful again
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README.md

FoDiMoCo - Ford display module (FDIM) controller Build Status

Configurator

What's this all about

Long story short. FoDiMoCo is easy-to-build DIY controller for your Ford USA vehicle that enables top dash display to show some useful information when stock head unit is removed. Initial name of the project was can-clock, as all I wanted is to have clock on dash display. Later it evolved, but name is still in the code.

This README is yet unfinished, nearest plans are to give more details on configuration and finalize messages description.

If you're too far away from the subject, there is introductory presentation I made on one of DIY meetups

Or enjoy video presentation of the project

Ford Dash display controller

Hackaday.io project page

If you don't want to read this long text but just want to get info on building your own FDIM controller, there are steps you need to build your own FoDiMoCo:

  1. Enjoy nice display photos and get feature overview
  2. Buy parts
  3. Order or make PCB
  4. Solder
  5. Flash
  6. Configure
  7. Plug into the car

If you like this project and want to support it, here is PayPal donate button. Project is non-profit, but I still need to buy parts to improve it and continue RnD.

Table of Contents

Overview

When this controller is plugged in, your dash display looks like that

Module itself looks like that (one of hardware variants)

FoDiMoCo is tested on Ford Escapes (including Hybrid) and Mercury Mariners 2008-2012. Should work on other Fords of the same generation, including Mustang, Fiesta, F-150, but it's not yet verified due to lack of test vehicles.

FoDiMoCo is built on Arduino and components that could be found on AliExpress and/or your local DIY electronics store, so it should be easy to reproduce. PCB is available for order at Dirt Cheap PCBs.

Functionality

  • display current speed, RPM, engine temperature, tires pressure, tires temperature, current time
  • configurable display units (km/miles for speed, Celsius/Fahrenheit for temperatures, psi/bars/kPa for pressure, 12h/24h for clock)
  • full functionality offered with aftermarket head unit (with no other modules using dash display)
  • support for CAN-enabled aftermarket head units (may require minor additional power wiring)
  • very early preliminary support for stock head units
  • semi-configurable display layout for different head unit types
  • configuration made on the fly via serial terminal

Hardware options

  • with internal Real Time Clock module
  • no internal Real Time Clock (RTC) module, time is taken directly from your vehicle GPS module (model year 2009 and newer with 911 Assist)

Plugging into your vehicle options

  • directly behind your dash display module using DIY pass-through connector
  • into vehicle OBD connector

Hardware

Parts list

And depending on mount type, choose one of the following options

Schematics

Schematics are more or less self-explanatory. Per components:

  • ARD1 is for Arduino
  • CAN is for CAN controller board
  • RTC is optional RTC module
  • VREG is voltage regulator to get stabilized 5 volts from in-car voltage
  • J_POWER is for in-car voltage (pin 1 +12V, pin 2 GND)
  • J_CAN is for in-car MS-CAN bus (pin 1 CAN H, pin 2 CAN L)
  • J_RESET is jumper pair to reset Arduino if needed
  • J_SERIAL is jumper pair to get serial data (e.g. to print musical tracks)

SPI protocol is used to control CAN interface. SPI CS line is wired to Arduino pin 10. CAN messages received trigger interrupt bound to Arduino pin 7.

I2C protocol is used to interact with Real-Time Clock module.

Voltage regulator is used despite the fact that Arduino Pro Micro can handle power voltage up to 12 volts. Real vehicle voltage with engine running can be up to 14 volts, so usage of separate voltage regulator gives more guarantees.

PCB

PCB is 2-layered with 3 inter-layer drills. DirtCheap PCB make them for you, other manufacturers may require extra wires soldering. Exact components placement is shown below in Soldering section.

Plugging into car

There are 2 possible options to mount the module in the car:

  • into OBD2 connecttor - which allow easy removal of the modules
  • behind FDIM display module - which is more hidden installation

If you do care on your battery current, it's also possible to get power for the module from ACC power line, which powers down the module when vehicle is off and powers it up when it's on and running. This installation option can be done easier when installed behind FDIM display, as additional wires can be hidded inside your dash.

Behind FDIM

Into OBD

With separate ACC power wire

TBD

Soldering step-by-step

Take PCB

Place pin headers on breadboard to simplify soldering

Put PCB over pins and solder it

Solder angled pins for RTC as shown if needed

Rotate PCB and solder angled pins for power connection

Bend power regulator pins and solder it as follows

Rotate PCB and solder Arduino Pro Micro. Check that proper PCB pins are soldered to proper Arduino in/outs

Solder MCP2515 CAN board - start with side pins, then solder others. Soldering is better than socket here to improve vibration stability

Plug RTC module if needed. Fully assembled module looks like that

Solder CAN and power wires to pass-through connection as follows

Other side of connector

Fully assembled unit with pass-through connector

If ELM327 enclosure option is preferred, solder to ELM327 pins as per section above

CAN bus operation

Ford CAN buses: MS CAN and HS CAN

By design Ford vehicles use two CAN buses - more standard HS CAN (high speed, 500 kbit/s) and Ford-specific MS CAN (medium speed, 125 kbit/s). Newer Fords have even more buses, but since I don't own one - I can't tell anything on this subject.

FDIM display and most of less critical devices resides on MS CAN. It is possible to get access to MS CAN even from standard cheap ELM327 scanner by adding simple switch (modified ELM327 scanners with switch are already available on eBay or AliExpress). For more info refer to FORScan forum.

On the image below one can see OBD2 socket pinout for MS CAN bus.

Messages for FDIM

This section contains brief description of MS CAN messages used for FDIM display control and/or getting basic vehicle telemetry data to display on FDIM. All the information is obtained from open sources or by reverse engineering of MS CAN protocol using vehicles available for the author. No Ford official documentation was used in the process, so exact meaning of message formats may be slightly inaccurate, incomplete or inapplicable for specific vehicle models. Information listed below is used to control FDIM modules on Ford Escapes 2008-2010 and Mercury Mariners 2009-2010, both hybrid and non-hybrid. It is theoretically possible to use those messages on Ford Mustangs 2008-2010, F-150s 2009-2010 and Fiestas 2010.

0x50c - heartbeat

Description: Indicates the presence of ACM (Accessory Control Module) or headunit of the vehicle. FDIM display becomes inactive in the absence of the messages.

Rate: 10 Hz

Format

Header Length data byte 0 data byte 1 data byte 2 data byte 3 data byte 4 data byte 5 data byte 6 data byte 7
0x50c 3 0x01 0x02 0x00 - - - - -

0x3e8 - top line of FDIM module and heartbeat

Description: Sets sound source and indicates the presence of ACM (Accessory Control Module) together with 0x50c. FDIM display becomes inactive in the absence of the messages.

Rate: 1 Hz

Format

Header Length data byte 0 data byte 1 data byte 2 data byte 3 data byte 4 data byte 5 data byte 6 data byte 7
0x3e8 8 source 0x00 volume clock length? 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00

source can have the following values:

0x01 - AM

0x02 - FM1

0x03 - FM2

0x04 - PHON

0x05 - SYNC

0x06 - DVD

0x07 - AUX

0x08 - CD

0x09 - EMPTY

0x0A - SAT1

0x0B - SAT2

0x0C - SAT3

0x0D - PHON

0x0E - LINE

0x0F - 2 clocks if no text is printed, or one clock if text is present

volume value change displays volume bar

clock length have values only 0x00 or 0x04, possibly sets number of digits in current clock display

0x3ef - unknown

Description: Unknown. Sent on FDIM initialization and then with rate 1Hz with slightly different data

Rate: 1 Hz

Format

Header Length data byte 0 data byte 1 data byte 2 data byte 3 data byte 4 data byte 5 data byte 6 data byte 7
0x3ef 8 0x32 0x32 0x32 0x32 0x03 0x00 0x00 init

init value is 0x00 on 1st message sent and then 0x20 when module is activated

0x3f2 - clock

Description: Current time displayed. Time is given in binary-coded decimal format.

Rate: 20 Hz. Maybe possible to send less frequently.

Format

Header Length data byte 0 data byte 1 data byte 2 data byte 3 data byte 4 data byte 5 data byte 6 data byte 7
0x3f2 8 hour minute day month year flags 0x00 0x00

flags: 0x80 - time is adjusting (blink) 0xA0 - AM 0xC0 - PM 0xE0 - 24 hours 0xC0 - clock off

Special cases

Empty clock

Header Length data byte 0 data byte 1 data byte 2 data byte 3 data byte 4 data byte 5 data byte 6 data byte 7
0x3f2 8 0xFF 0xFF 0xFF 0xFF 0xFF 0x00 0x00 0x00

Examples

13:02

Header Length data byte 0 data byte 1 data byte 2 data byte 3 data byte 4 data byte 5 data byte 6 data byte 7
0x3f2 8 0x13 0x02 0xFF 0xFF 0xFF 0xF0 0x00 0x00

0x3f1 - unknown

Description: Unknown. Sent only once in FDIM start-up message sequence.

Rate: Not repeated

Format

Header Length data byte 0 data byte 1 data byte 2 data byte 3 data byte 4 data byte 5 data byte 6 data byte 7
0x3f1 8 0xF5 0x90 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00

0x324 - text message

0x336 - text message

0x337 - text message

0x726 - TPMS request

0x72e - TPMS response

0x3b5 - TPMS broadcast

Description: Current tires pressure value given in psi. Present on newer vehicles (possibly 2010+), not present on hybrids. TPMS request-response protocol is more widely used to get tire pressure, but TPMS broadcast is easier to implement. Minimal pressure level is 25 psi, all values below are still shown as 25.

Rate: 1 Hz.

Format

Header Length data byte 0 data byte 1 data byte 2 data byte 3 data byte 4 data byte 5 data byte 6 data byte 7
0x3b5 8 front left front right rear left rear right 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00

Example

Header Length data byte 0 data byte 1 data byte 2 data byte 3 data byte 4 data byte 5 data byte 6 data byte 7
0x3b5 8 0x25 0x19 0x22 0x23 0x00 0x00 0x00 0x00

0x423 - Speed, RPM, on/off status

Description: Speed in km/h, RPMs and engine temperature. Also indicates when vehicle is in off position.

Rate: Varies

Format

Header Length data byte 0 data byte 1 data byte 2 data byte 3 data byte 4 data byte 5 data byte 6 data byte 7
0x423 8 speed1 speed2 rpm1 rpm2 temperature 0x00 0x00 0x00

Speed (in km/h) = (speed1 * 256 + speed2) / 100 - 100

RPM = rpm1 * 256 + rpm2

Special cases

Vehicle off

Header Length data byte 0 data byte 1 data byte 2 data byte 3 data byte 4 data byte 5 data byte 6 data byte 7
0x423 8 0xFF 0xFE 0xFF 0xFE 0xFE 0x00 0x00 0x00

0x466 - GPS time data

Description: Current time obtained from GPS satellites, in GMT time zone

Rate: 1 Hz

Format

Header Length data byte 0 data byte 1 data byte 2 data byte 3 data byte 4 data byte 5 data byte 6 data byte 7
0x466 8 h min s - d mon y 0x00

Hour = ( h >> 3 ) & 0x1F

Minute = ( min >> 2 ) & 0x3F

Second = ( s >> 2 ) & 0x3F

Day = ( d >> 2 ) & 0x3F

Month = ( mon >> 4 ) & 0x0F

Year = ( y >> 3 ) & 0x1F

Message sequences

Initialization

Heartbeat

Text output

TPMS request

Software

Source code structure

Flashing from Arduino IDE

  • Clone source code, open file can-clock/can-clock.info
  • Select proper hardware (SparkFun Pro Micro, 5V)
  • Compile and upload

Flashing from Platform IO/Atom

  • Clone source code, open file can-clock/can-clock.info
  • Open PlatformIO project
  • Run task PIO Build (sparkfun_micro16)
  • Run task PIO Upload (sparkfun_micro16)

Flashing pre-built firmwares

On Windows

On Mac

On Linux

Configuration

Serial communication setup

Options

Press any key to enter settings menu... 5

Current settings

Config version: 5
HU type: Aftermarket
Units: Metric
Time source: GPS
Time zone: 3
Clock mode: 24h
Pressure units: Psi
Display pressure: Yes
TPMS interaction mode: Request

FORD FDIM Controller configuration

Select HU type
1 - Aftermarket
2 - Stock
3 - Aftermarket with CAN (simple info)
4 - Aftermarket with CAN (extended info)


> 3
Select time source
1 - 911 Assist GPS (2010+)
2 - controller real time clock


>
2
Current RTC time: 15:24:46

Enter current local time in 24h format (HH:MM) or Enter to keep as is

>


Set clock mode
1 - Hide
2 - 12h
3 - 24h

>
3
Select speed/temperature units
1 - Metric
2 - American


>
1
Display tires pressure
1 - Yes
2 - No


>
1
Pressure units
1 - Psi
2 - kPa
3 - Bars


>
3
Set TPMS interaction mode
1 - Request
2 - Broadcast

>
1
Saving settings...


Settings saved, getting back to operation mode
CAN ok!

You can’t perform that action at this time.