Friday, July 20, 2012

Taking apart the 2006 Honda Odyssey dashboard, part 1 of ?

I got it into my head that a true hacker must know how to hack his car. Especially the dash. You've got the connection to the car's diagnostic computer, DC power (without occupying a cigarette lighter port), auxiliary audio, and the ability to use any blank switchplates you might find there.

I found that the average hacker can probably figure it out, but with a caveat: you have to use much more force than when building a computer (for example). The car's retaining snaps and bolts were designed to stay in place in a vibrating environment, extreme temperatures, and in the event of an accident. HOWEVER! The force you apply must be at the correct time and place. The same force you use to disengage a connector or snap could end up tearing a tab somewhere if you force it too much. If you feel inordinate resistance, check for screws. Basically, it's the same as disassembling your garden variety coffee pot, but with more prying force and snap tabs. Be careful!



Top center - the radio and A/C control panel

If you intend to remove the radio, you will need to move the shifting stick out of the way first. Start the engine and engage the parking brake with your left foot. Put the car in neutral, and turn the engine off; your key will be retained.

Then, open the top glove compartment on the passenger side. Towards the left of the compartment, you should see a gap to stick your flathead driver in. Pry there to pull the first tab loose, then firmly and carefully pull the air conditioning control unit towards you. Just release the tabs all around; there will be three cables still connected. Two green connectors will be towards the right at top and bottom; one grey one will be towards the left. To release them, press a button on the side of each connector. I found the grey one to be quite difficult to remove.

Now, pull the air conditioning control panel over the shift stick. The A/C panel is free.

Next, remove the two steel bolts in plain sight. Get low and look up at the middle part near the top of where the LCD panel was. There is a third steel bolt there, quite deep. Remove this one. (When I tried to put it in, it dropped and I heard it knock against things until it stopped near the floor of the car. I don't know if this was by design or not, but when I opened the bottom knicknack compartment, I found the bolt. Keep that knicknack compartment closed to catch your bolt!)

Now you can pull the radio out. Unplug the cables, and your radio is free.

Middle center - the GPS and cell phone compartment

Remove the two black screws below where the two steel bolts were. Extend the cup holder, and remove the two black screws at the top right and left. Now, pull firmly at the right and left of the GPS compartment; two snaps should release. Pull out the GPS compartment, angling it up at the end. The GPS compartment is free.

Bottom center - the knicknack compartment and DC outlets

To remove this part, you must remove the roughly triangular panels to the right and left sides. Take a smallish flathead screwdriver, and find a circular cover a bit bigger than a nickel on these triangle panels. Stick the blade into the gap kindly provided and pry the blunt, tack-like pin out. (When putting the panels back, note that the tack has two parts; it is easiest to pull the top away from the bottom first before reinserting this pin. once the bottom of the pin is in, lock it by pushing the top in.)

Now, pull the panel away from the center column. There are snap tabs at the bottom and top corners nearest to you. Once those are undone, pull the panels toward the back of the car. There is a threaded post at the far corners of each panel. There is no nut holding that corner - simply pull.

Next, on each of the bottom, near corners where your panels used to be, there is a black screw - remove it.

After that, extend the cup holder. At the bottom corners, there are two more black screws just like the previous two. Remove them. Now, pull firmly on the DC power and knicknack compartment assembly, first on the right, then on the left. They should snap loose.

Finally unplug the cables. The DC power panel and knicknack compartment is free.

Bottom left - the fuse panel and driver's footboard

The driver's footboard is held in place with three snap pins: right, left and center. Pull these up until they snap free.

The fuse panel is held in with three snap pins, too. One is near the bottom, the next at middle height, and the third is at the top. (To reassemble, I found it easiest to pull these pins out with long-nose pliers and slide them into the fuse panel. Then, I could simply press the fuse panel in place, instead of having to slide it.) The fuse panel is free.

Main dashboard (in progress)

There is a screw near the door and directly in front of the chair, under the steering wheel. Another screw is near the knicknack compartment. The panel under the steering column is now held in by snaps. Work from left to right. Try as much as possible to pull straight towards the back of the car, especially at the corner. There is some sort of sensor behind a grille which will get in the way. Pull the sensor towards the front of the car to remove it from its bracket. I may have forgotten to mention some screws; be careful.

More to come?

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