November 01, 2021 3 min read 13 Comments
Many of you were asking for an E46 digital cluster so we have started a new project with the 3 Series BMW from 1997 to 2006.
To start: We need a car.
The choice has fallen on this 323i E46 out of 2000 bought from a local dealer here in the Netherlands. Imported from Germany in 2006, with 7 previous owners and 287.254km / 178.491 miles. She isn't the cleanest E46 on the road. The small dents, scratches, and faded paint make her well used. But she is still running strong, perfect for measuring all the signals we need for the digital cluster.
We were searching for a few key options. It had to be automatic, with curse control and infotainment that would be controlled by the steering wheel. This is possibly the most complex electronics configuration available in the E46, covering most of the essential signals.
The fitment into the Dashboard.
We also have purchased a second dashboard and instrument cluster from a BMW scrap yard/wreckers. We use this to measure all the dimensions for a perfect integration and create an original-looking cluster. We are working together with LM Creations, a small concept and design studio in Groningen (the Netherlands), to make a 3D scan of the Dashboard to get a correct fitment,
This 3D scanner has an accuracy of up to 0.02mm:
After the digitalization of the dashboard, we can reverse engineer the mounting brackets for the new LCD. In this case, we use the original mounting point for the BMW e46 cluster for the install. We can also develop a front cover to enclose the LCD screen and give it that factory feels with the digital model. A 3D printer is used to make a prototype to check the fitment into the dashboard.
Over the years, we have developed our hardware on a 10,3-inch or 12,3-inch automotive display. And looking at it, the 10,3-inch display will be the best fit for the E46. This is the same as all the other E Series BMW displays we make. (E81, E90, E60, E63, and more)
The next step: Concept art
The next step is creating a concept of its design. Because we are working with a digital screen, we can design a wide range of layouts without any restraints. Critical is to include all the original indicators in the design and have room for multiple data fields to display the Board Computer information.
To get an idea of how the cluster would behave, we have made a simulation on the testbench:
Comments will be approved before showing up.