Category Archives: Modifications

Some of the modifications I’ve made to my Dodge Nitro.

Dash Command on an iPad

I’ve been wanting to do this mod for a long time!

Dash Command is not only a great looking piece of software, it’s also quite handy too!

Here’s what Palmer Performance have to say about it:

“DashCommand™ is a touch screen friendly software application that is designed to integrate OBD-II data monitoring and logging into the in-car computing experience. Use DashCommand’s capabilities to create and display stunning virtual dashboards with many styles including digital gauges, analog gauges, indicator lights, and more! Thanks to our patent-pending DashXL™ technology, the dashboards look great on any screen size, large or small.

Using WiFi technology and a supported hardware interface, you will be able to connect your iPhone to your OBD-II compliant vehicle and monitor, log, and playback vehicle information and parameters.

Data logging is also supported in DashCommand™. You can record logs from a dashboard or a data grid view and then playback your logs in either view for simple analysis tasks. The logs can also be viewed in ScanXL™ from more thorough analysis.

DashCommand™ also supports the scripts written in ScanXL™. The scripts can be imported to supplement the data that can be displayed in the dashboards. Write scripts to calculate fuel consumption, boost pressure, power, torque, and many more based on data from the OBD-II values.”

It also does the usual engine diagnostics stuff by being able to read (and reset!) error codes directly from the your cars computer. Ideal if you’ve got the dreaded Engine Management Light glowing!

For my setup, I wanted to connect my existing dash-mounted iPad to the OBDII interface wirelessly. This meant I’d need a wireless Elm327 OBD interface.

If you’re looking to do a similar mod and use your iPhone or iPad, be 100% sure to buy the WiFi model! The Bluetooth Elm327 interface will NOT work with Apple devices. Have a look on eBay, I was able to pick up a WiFi Elm327 for just £15 quid, delivered.

They look like this, and usually have an blue/orange sticker on them (instead of this white one):

And connect to a standard 16-pin OBDII port:

For those of you who may not know, the OBDII port is constantly powered, even with the ignition off.

I didn’t want to leave my WiFI adaptor powered up all the time, not just for fear that some chancer might connect to it while I’m not around, but more for the fact I didn’t want it to drain the battery. The power consumption is only low so if you use your car every day you’ll probably be fine. Better to just unplug it when not in use though.

However, the idea of unplugging it every time I got out of the car didn’t appeal to me either so I decided to control the power to the Elm327 WiFi via the use of a relay and a switched ignition source.

In order to do this, you’ll need a couple more (cheap!) parts. The first one being an OBDII extension cable:

And the other part being a relay and the appropriate wiring for the relay:

So your total kit will comprise of these three parts, all of which should cost less than £30 quid all in:

The reason for the extension cable is so we can tap in to the normally-powered feed that goes to the OBDII port and insert our relay (which in turn is connected to a switched ignition feed) without altering the cars wiring to the OBD port.

Pin 16 of the OBDII extension cable carries the +12v feed so you’ll need to (carefully!) splice in to the middle of the extension cable, but the wire for pin 16 and divert it to the relay so it’s normally-open. The other two relay wires then get attached to an ignition live. That way no power will get to the Elm327.

I should have taken some photos of the wiring splice really, but here’s how it looked after I’d finished soldering the cables to the relay:

So the relay is currently just taped to the back of the Elm327. What I’ll probably do it hot-glue it to the OBDII extension plug. That way I can then still remove the Elm327 and put it in another car if needed, without any tools!

The two wires you see are simply GND and +12v (from an ignition source).

Mounted up under the dashboard, I can now forget it’s even there as when I switch on the ignition it’ll now power up the Elm327 device:

So, that’s the hardware side of things all done!

Now for the software.

There are a bunch of OBD apps available for iOS, including as mentioned “Dash Command”. You might also wish to check out “OBD Fusion” too as it looks to be another good app.

Well, how does it look?

Here’s the ‘home screen’ of Dash Command:

There are just way to many features to list here, check out their web site for the full list.

You can change what’s displayed in each ‘bar’ by simply tapping it too.

Sorry for the slightly dark photos!

Another great feature of Dash Command is the ability to be able to change the skin or theme, you can download them, or even make your own.

This one is a bit star-trekky but looks pretty cool:

And has loads of gauges:

And other various readings:

So there you have it!

It’s almost a virtual dashboard 😎

DODGE logo LED footwell lights

I bought set of puddle lights recently, not the cheap eBay 3w LED imports from China but some high quality units, complete with 7w CREE bulbs and fitted with twin-coloured Dodge projected logos.


The lights were intended to fit in the bottom of the doors and shine on the floor when the door opens. The problem is, getting wiring from the door to side the car is nearly impossible (thanks, Dodge).

So I spent a while looking for an alternative use for the lights and came up with the idea of replacing the original white bulb footwell lights and so a plan was formed!

Tucked up under here:

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Is a hole though which a light shines when you open the door.

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Removing the lining reveals the bulb itself, with a domed diffuser.

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Removing the lower dash panel reveals just two wires going to the back of the bulb (+12v and GND).

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The bulb assembly is held in place with just the one screw and here’s how it looks when removed.

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I debated removing the bulb from this holder and drilling out the centre but that seemed a bit over the top so I decided to make a bracket to hold the new LED lights.

First of all I made a cardboard template (well, I made a couple) and got everything in the right place and nicely lined up.

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And from the top:

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Here was another version, same idea, just slightly different alignments.

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Once happy with the cardboard template, it was time to transfer it to something more permanent.

Grabbing the nearest Tupperware box from the kitchen the plastic was nice and thick, perfect for holding the lens unit.

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For some reason I forgot to take photos of the next steps, but it was a simple matter of placing the cardboard template over the plastic and drawing around it, then cutting it out.

Once the plastic bracket was ready it was simply screwed in place of the old lamp assembly.

The end result is that now when you open a door on the car, there’s a coloured DODGE logo projected on to the floor mats.

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And on same thing on the drivers side.

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It’s really hard taking photos in low light.

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I bought four of these originally, one for each door – not sure what to do with the remaining two now.

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I’ll let you know if I come up with an idea for the remaining two 😎

Doggy Air Conditioning

Alaskan Malamutes don’t like the heat – they were born to be in cold environments.

Especially Eska:


With this in mind, it was time to modify the existing air conditioning to make it more doggy friendly!

This modification is done in two parts. The first part revolves around diverting the air flow from the rear footwell and the second part is around making the pipework to get the cold air in to the back of the car.

Part One – Diverting the air flow

The rear section of the centre console contains two vented outlets for the heater / air conditioning to warm or chill the feet of the rear seat passengers. You can see the vents just under the cup holders in this picture.


I can count on one hand the number of passengers I’ve carried in the rear of the car in the last year so not being able to heat / chill their feet was not something I needed to worry about.

It was time to get inventive and work out a way of diverting that cold air conditioning flow to the boot / trunk area of the car where Eska travels.

Removing the rear cover (some US versions of the Nitro have a power outlet here, the Euro spec Nitros don’t have this option) revealed a nice big hole in which I could install a new pipework outlet.


The next step was to disconnect the battery.

Hidden underneath the centre console is the control module for the air bags. You do not want these going off accidentally. Disconnect the battery and leave it 30 minutes before doing anything else.

With the battery removed and airbag capacitors discharged it was time to remove the centre console and see what sort of pipework was in place for the rear vents already.

There is one pipe that runs down the right hand side of the centre console, then splits in two to feed the left and right footwell (note the airbag module with the yellow warning sticker in the middle).

Photo-2014-06-29-16-05-57_2234The top end of the vent pipe connects to the heater / air con outlet under the dash.


The pipe simply unclips to remove it completely.


You can see how it sits under the console in this picture.


It’s the full width when placed underneath.


The hard part now was working out where best to cut this pipe along its length in order to attach my new pipework. The pipe is all manner of diameters and it changes shape in both height and width along its length so some careful measuring was required.

My plan was to cut the OEM pipework and attach 40mm plastic pipe in order to keep a high air flow going.

I took the plunge and after much (much) careful measuring, I made the cut at the point where the original pipe was as close to 40mm in diameter as possible, and on a straight, not one of the many bends and kinks in the pipe.

Photo-2014-06-30-20-57-46_2246The reason for making the cut as close to a 40mm diameter is apparent in this picture.


You’ll notice the OEM pipe is square, my new pipe was round. A little heat applied to the OEM pipe soon fixed that and allowed a near-perfect fit.


The tiny gaps on the edge were sealed with silicone sealant.

Putting the new pipe in place and refitting the centre console allows you to see what length to cut the new pipe too.


Make sure you cut the pipe back far enough to allow room for a 90 degree bend in order to kick the pipe upwards.

The finished pipe will look something like this. You’ll notice I’ve used push-fit connectors. This is to allow the ducting to simply “plug in” to the rear of the console and will allow easy fitting and easy removal. More on that later.


Part of the centre console will need cutting out (don’t worry, this gets hidden later on) to allow for the new pipe work to sit quite high up inside the console.


Then a neat hole needs to be cut in the cover for the new pipe to exit.


Which when tidied up, re-assembled and finished should look almost like the factory put it there!


And that concludes the hard part! The next bit is easy in comparison 🙂

Part Two – Ducting for the rear

Now we need to get the air from the back of the centre console, up and over the rear seats, while imposing as little as possible on any potential rear seat passengers as possible.

First things first, we have just one air outlet on the centre console, this needs splitting in to two in order to supply a nice even flow of air to the rear.

Because no one makes a 40mm Y-piece I had to make an offset arrangement which looks a little odd on its own, but is required in order to give us centralised air distribution.


To the left side of this pipe (in the above picture) then we attach a single straight piece. This straight piece literally then “plugs in” to the centre console. The two new outlets will sit at the back of the rear seat base.


And from another angle.


All that remains now is to fit two upright pieces of pipework and attach some 90 degree bends with very short straights attached to them to get the air over the back seat. You’ll notice the two rear seats are still completely usable.


The end result then is lots of nice, cold, air-conditioned air being pumped directly (and evenly) in to the rear section of the car for Eska.


Which makes things so much more comfortable for her in the (occasional) warm weather we have here in the UK.


You’ll have seen from the pictures that you essentially lose the centre rear seat but I doubt many people use that anyway so it should be no real sacrifice.

However, even if you do need the centre rear seat, the end result of this mod also allows you to install or remove the pipework in less than thirty seconds as it just plugs in to the console with no tools required.



Literally 😎