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 😎