How to build a Raspberry Pi touch screen car computer | INSTRUCTIONS

How to build a Raspberry Pi touch screen car computer | INSTRUCTIONS

Tesla-like dashboard for your car

Integrated car computers (or carputers) 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 it for any car. With Raspberry Pi, we can make your car Tesla-like and integrate it into a real carputer. With a Raspberry Pi car touch screen, your ordinary car is opened up with vast possibilities and opportunities.

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.

Interior of a car showing the raspberry touch dashboard in the middle of the car's dashboard

This functionality is no longer only for Tesla drivers. This guide will show you how similar functionality can be built. Here are some of the cool features you get:

  • Touch screen interface
  • Fast 4G/LTE Internet connectivity
  • GPS tracking
  • Car diagnostics and integration through OBD-II port
  • Speaker or audio playback through Bluetooth device
  • Accelerometer readings
  • In car WiFi hotspot
  • Dashcam for evidence recording and surveillance etc.


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 all you need:

  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B (get it here)
  • Raspberry Pi 7" Touchscreen Display (get it here)
  • SmartiPi Touch Case (get it here)
  • AutoPi Dongle with OBD-II Extension Cable (get it here)
  • AutoPi Raspberry Pi 3 Adapter Board (get it here)
  • 2x GoPro Adhesive Mounts (get it here)
  • Optional: Raspberry Pi Camera Module (get it here)
  • Optional: SmartiPi Touch Back Cover (get it here)

Goal of this guide

The goal of this step by step guide is to show you how a powerful car computer with a touch screen interface and a lot of functionality, can easily be built into your car. 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.

The AutoPi platform gives us a lot of functionality out-of-the-box which makes the job much easier. Here are some of the highlights, which we can use in this project:

  • Power supply, car diagnostics and telemetry from the OBD-II port
  • 4G/LTE connection, GPS, accelerometer data and voice speaker
  • 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

This should be the final result after assembly of our hardware:

A detailed picture of front and back of the raspberry pi car computer collage

Here are the steps


First we need to assemble everything in the SmartPi case. Here is a video guide how to get started:

Continue by mounting the AutoPi Raspberry Pi 3 adapter board on top of the Raspberry Pi 3. Next go ahead and mount the AutoPi Dongle board on top of the adapter board.

A back and side view of the raspberry pi car computer
Raspberry Pi Car Computer


Find a place in your car where you want the touch screen located. In our example we have mounted it on the center console using strong double-sided tape. You can also attach is using two GoPro adhesive mounts if that works better for your specific installation. 

Tip: The screen could also be located on the steering column and used as a replacement or addition to the standard instrument gauges.


Locate the OBD-II port of your car. It is typically found under the dashboard, but varies from model to model. Insert the OBD extension cable into the car and then connect it to the AutoPi Dongle board located on the back of the touch screen. If you have purchased a back cover to your SmartPi case you can install it now.


Go to the Add-ons section and find the “Local Touch Screen Dashboard” add-on. This will install a minimal X-windows server on your AutoPi Dongle; enabling display of graphical elements. Press the Install button.


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

Illustration of the AutoPi dashboard system showing the add-ons overview
AutoPi Add-ons Overview


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