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I'm working with a friend's business to develop some useful vehicle electronics stuff. I do the hard parts, enclosures, finishing, laser marking, etc. He does the electronics and software. For testing/development, I'm going to mount a version of his gizmo in my 95 Dodge. I needed to install a 2 din stereo in my 95 to facilitate this and went to order a new dash to make this happen....

Yeah, well, apparently all the love goes to 98-02 2nd gens. The 2din stuff you can get for a 94-97 is a total joke.

I got to thinking about it and decided to make a CNC machined, formed and hard anodized aluminum fascia to fit over the plastic dash piece which will mount a 2din reciever/MP5 player. If the end result turns into something cool, I'll probably make more than a few and put them up on ebay. This isn't a for sale ad at all. Just a "what would you like to see/not see in a future product" kind of thing. My goal is not to make a premium product that only the 1% can afford. My company mass produces machined and formed parts so it should be inline with existing low priced China sh!t, but about 1000 times better.

The initial design loses the ashtray and cigarette lighter port. Then I started thinking about ditching the cupholder or even adding better cupholders, then there's usb charge ports, smaller buttons for the OD switch, aux buttons and gauge mounting holes.

Then there's also bigger screens (Even if you can't imagine using a screen in your truck, trust me, there's stuff coming down the pipeline that might change your mind). The standard is 2DIN which is about 4x8 (the screen is usually 7").

So, if you would never buy something like this I'd love to hear your reason why. Say a theoretical pricepoint would be $100 delivered to your door (keep in mind shipping could be $15) of that and a cupholder would add to the overall cost.

If you would shell out a few bucks for an upgraded 2din dash what features would you want/not want? This is only pertaining to the right hand side of the dash. Heater controls won't change and dash vents won't change.

And again, this is nothing electronic, just the fascia/housing/mounting parts to make it look like a pro job.

Thanks!
 

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I'd be interest in getting two (one for my truck, one for the kids truck). I actually just ordered a double din setup from Crutchfield (hasn't even arrived yet), but if there was something better out there, (that doesn't require me spending hours of my life laying resin and sanding fiberglass) I'd go for it.
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Discussion Starter #3
I'd be interest in getting two (one for my truck, one for the kids truck). I actually just ordered a double din setup from Crutchfield (hasn't even arrived yet), but if there was something better out there, (that doesn't require me spending hours of my life laying resin and sanding fiberglass) I'd go for it.
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I guess I'll make atleast 3 then. lol.

What are your cupholder thoughts?
 

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Easy, get rid of those useless things and make a place for auxiliary switches, gauges, AFC live/ turbo tuner mounting, etc.
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I would buy it.
No cupholders please.
Space for switches.
Space for 2din radio.
No ashtray.
Maybe two 12v plug barrels?
 
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If you are planning to do this 'commercially' (I don't know how many you will sell but I will almost certainly want one), I would set up a section (probably where the cupholders are now... how big depends exactly on how much modification you expect to the dash) with a screw-on blank plastic (or matching aluminum) plate, instead of including cutouts for switches, USB ports, etc etc. directly in the main piece. Everybody's gonna want different things, switches, gauges, etc etc. And if I wanted to change my layout it'd be a cheap purchase of a cheap blank plate instead of the whole dash piece. You could sell a couple pre-cut plates for 'common' setups (say, two gauges and two switches, or 1 gauge and 4 switches), as well as blank plates for people to roll their own... cause I'm pretty sure the kind of people willing to cut up their dash to fit a double-din radio are gonna want to customize :D
 
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The newest 2nd gen 1997 ram is 24 years old. I doubt much market potential exists.


Here are some ideas other people have followed from the valuable threads sticky.
While there certainly isn't a mass market to sell millions of units to, and the maker probably won't get rich enough to quite his job and move to Fiji, but making some money is a lot better than making no money.

And yes, some pretty awesome custom installations have already been done, but custom = TIME CONSUMING, and I would happily pay a few bucks to save myself days of custom work.
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I posted the links to show some ideas of what is possible to achieve with a double din and the cup holder space. Sometimes seeing work someone else did helps to see new possibilities.
 
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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
I make stuff for a living and because of that I look at everything with this "Why the heck did they make it that way" and that often turns into "I could make that way better".

I know cars and trucks are built the way they are for one reason: To generate the most profit. Most of the engineering that goes into them isn't to make it the best possible it's to mass produce it at the lowest cost achievable.

I also like a niche product that has a small enough market that China won't rip it off and I have enough experience and capability at hand that I can do neat stuff and sell it direct competitively.

Most of my automotive products are for vehicles built in the 90's through mid 2000's. It's not a huge market. Maybe one out of 10 or 15 things takes off pretty well. Most of them generate less than a few thousand dollars profit total in a year. I like that pace though. I like stuff I can design/test/prove out and then make a few hundred for the shelf then sell on Ebay and Amazon. If I sell one a month cool. Like for these dash covers I'd probably invest about $1500 of my own cash up front into materials and outside services(like high quality anodizing) and see how many that puts on the shelf, hopefully a hundred or so. Then if they catch on in a year or so and start selling well I make another run of them, maybe make any updates or changes that make sense at that time. Rinse and repeat.

I had one product that took off real big and did the SEMA thing and ran myself ragged for a couple years trying to keep up. It kinda ran it's coarse and when it started to fizzle out I was actually glad. I like spending evenings and weekends with my family and choose less stress over more money any day.

24 years isn't terribly old to me. I have manufactured stuff for diesel pickups going on 15 years now. I used to think the future was going to be in supporting the commonrails and keeping up with the latest and greatest, but I'm finding more and more that I just get can't get behind that. I get more enjoyment/satisfaction owning/driving a 12 valve than any other engine I have ever had. I got one of the very first Cummins R2.8's off the line to play with and develop parts. I took it apart to design adapters for it and I couldn't get into it. It was all plastic and every part says CHINA on it. Those engines will all be garbage in 10 years. I also make a bunch of stuff for the 6.0 and 6.4 Powerstrokes because, well, every part of them can use significant improvement.

I think there will always be a market for the 12 valve because some people prefer quality over the quantity of HP your tuner claims to make.

I really appreciate all the suggestions! Hopefully sharing a little about where I come helps with the direction of this discussion. If you have opinions about the dash please share them!
 

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If you do make a product to sell you will need to include a paper template that shows customers where to cut the dash.


I am satisfied with a single din in dash radio. If I remove my radio from that spot I will put 3 gauges in the hole and install a cheap china radio substitute similar to this US $3.95 |kebidu Bluetooth 5.0 Car Kit Wireless MP3 Decoder Board Audio 12V WMA Car Music Player Module Lossless Audio USB AUX TF Radio|MP3 Player| - AliExpress in a custom center console between the seat and dash. This looks to be incredibaly thin so it would fit in a very small space.
 
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Discussion Starter #13
If you do make a product to sell you will need to include a paper template that shows customers where to cut the dash.


I am satisfied with a single din in dash radio. If I remove my radio from that spot I will put 3 gauges in the hole and install a cheap china radio substitute similar to this US $3.95 |kebidu Bluetooth 5.0 Car Kit Wireless MP3 Decoder Board Audio 12V WMA Car Music Player Module Lossless Audio USB AUX TF Radio|MP3 Player| - AliExpress in a custom center console between the seat and dash. This looks to be incredibaly thin so it would fit in a very small space.
I think you and I are likely on the same page here. I'd really like to say more about the project I'm involved with, but it's not mine to discuss so I have to leave it at that.

I hope the cutting is going to be straightforward. I know when I've modded interior plastics before I have decent results with a hand hacksaw and sometimes a dremel/die grinder and even a soldering iron. Old plastic can crack pretty easy so I'll try to make the mods simple with instructions and a template if necessary.
 

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My 2 cents. Cup holder replaced with 3 gauge cluster. Stereo is ok but would not object to up grade. Forgot his name but someone put up a pretty sweat design. Would like switches for auxiliary lights, pacbrake, onboard air, etc.
 

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My 2 cents. Cup holder replaced with 3 gauge cluster. Stereo is ok but would not object to up grade. Forgot his name but someone put up a pretty sweat design. Would like switches for auxiliary lights, pacbrake, onboard air, etc.
For the cup holder space a 2 gauge cluster would be great. 3 2" gauges simply do not fit well. They either stick out past the dash bezel looking like they could not have been factory or the third gauge has to be smaller probably 1 1/2" which does not look proportionate.

The only solution is to hack the dash bezel to change its shape to be taller on the end which would probably require hacking the dash top to match.



I would set the gauges back further to look more like a factory part.




This gauge pod is very nicely done but does not quite look like it is factory. The fabrication here is great! For me the gauges stick out to far from the dash. The dash bezel gives no other option without major surgery. I would like the gauges to be inset a bit more. It is all about preferences.

 
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Discussion Starter #16
I totally agree about recesses for the gauges. I use a few straight side presses up to a 250 ton Bliss and I have a small hydraulic one, about 60 tons that's real easy to make tooling for. I was planning to make a tool that would form in any dimples, recesses, flanges in one hit after the blanks are machined.
 

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I totally agree about recesses for the gauges. I use a few straight side presses up to a 250 ton Bliss and I have a small hydraulic one, about 60 tons that's real easy to make tooling for. I was planning to make a tool that would form in any dimples, recesses, flanges in one hit after the blanks are machined.
Here's what's available in the aftermarket now. I just got this stuff from Crutchfield, the radio is Sony but it's kinda odd shaped, basically a single DIN radio with a double DIN screen on the front. The plastic facia is the install kit they sell ( and will give you free if you buy a radio).
It'll probably be awhile before I get around to installing them and this thread will be long dead/ forgotten by then so I figured I'd post the parts up to show what's out there now.

Maybe it'd be easier/ more cost effective to make a sort of companion for the readily available plastic lower piece. That way you'd just focusing on the area above the radio for switches , hopefully an AFC live & turbo tuner mount, gauges ect. Doing that could also open it up such that people that wanted to keep a single DIN radio could also benefit from your upper dash mounting options.


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ugh the cheapo dual radio in my 98 is so bad It hardly works. I would love a double din, but its a lot more work.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Maybe it'd be easier/ more cost effective to make a sort of companion for the readily available plastic lower piece. That way you'd just focusing on the area above the radio for switches , hopefully an AFC live & turbo tuner mount, gauges ect. Doing that could also open it up such that people that wanted to keep a single DIN radio could also benefit from your upper dash mounting options.
I have to go 2din or bigger. It's the one thing I can't change as it's a companion to a product another company will be making.
 

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I hope the cutting is going to be straightforward. I know when I've modded interior plastics before I have decent results with a hand hacksaw and sometimes a dremel/die grinder and even a soldering iron. Old plastic can crack pretty easy so I'll try to make the mods simple with instructions and a template if necessary.
It might be a good idea to include reinforcing pieces to structurally support a cut up dash. A little glue can make a big difference. I suspect using screws might lead to more plastic cracking.
 
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