How-to build a Raspberry Pi touch screen car computer

How-to build a Raspberry Pi touch screen car computer

Tesla-like dashboard for your car

Integrated car computers are not only for expensive cars like the Tesla Model X nor is it only for complex car DIY projects that require you to have a degree in engineering. Not many people know how easy it is; by combining a few components it is possible to make any car intelligent.

In Tesla’s everything is controlled from the large touch screen in the center console. From climate control, maps overview, cabin overheat protection and many more features.

This functionality is no longer only for Tesla drivers. This guide will show you how similar functionality can be built in any car by everyone.


You do not need to have great knowledge about the Raspberry Pi and do not require any special tools as no modifications are made to your car.

Here is what you need:

Goal of this guide

The goal of this short guide is to show you how a car computer with a touch screen interface and a lot of functionality, can be built into your car in just a few steps. This guide will not go into details about the actual mounting in your specific car, as it may be slightly different from car to car.

Instead the focus is about adding functionality to our car computer. The system gives us a lot of functionality out-of-the-box.

Here are some of the highlights, which we can use in this project:

  • Car diagnostics and telemetry from the OBD port
  • 4G connection and WiFi to create a WiFi hotspot
  • GPS for directions
  • An advanced dashboard with widgets (will be used in our car computer). See more HERE

We want to add the following functionality to our dashboard:

  • Gauges to show Speed/RPM/Fuel
  • Current position on Map
  • Buttons to control AC temperature
  • Buttons to control radio volume
  • Cabin overheat protection

Here are the steps


Insert your dongle into the OBD-II port of your car. It’s typically found under the dashboard, but this varies from model to model. If the OBD-II port is located in an unsuitable place for the dongle, then use the included extension cable.


Connect the HDMI touch screen to the dongle using the HDMI cable.


Mount the HDMI touch screen in a place to your likings using the supplied mount. For example you can mount it on top of the center console or even on the steering column and use the screen as a replacement or addition to the standard instrument gauges.


When the touch screen powers up, you will just see a small prompt. This is because the IoT platform is optimized for fast boot and does not contain a graphical user interface. But this is easy to change. On a secondary laptop or mobile phone, log into your account.


Go to the Add-ons section.


Find the “Add local touchscreen dashboard” add-on. This will install a minimal X-windows server on your dongle. Press the “Install” button.


If your dongle is online, this will be executed immediately and you can follow the progress on the screen. If it’s offline (or in sleep-mode), this will be queued and installed next time the dongle wakes up.
AutoPi addons overview
AutoPi addons overview


After the install you will see the system login screen. You will need to login the first time you use the system.

That’s it, you’ve connected a touch screen to your dongle and created a car computer. All you need to do now is configure which widgets you want to display on your dashboard.

AutoPi Dashboard Configuration
AutoPi Dashboard Configuration

Configuring new widgets is easy, and also adding new functionality will be just as easy. Here is an example of implementing Cabin Overheating Protection

We’re sure you have a lot of other ideas on how to expand and use the platform.

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