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88-89 Reatta CRT Touch Screen


Remake Reatta CRT Touch Screens?  

14 members have voted

  1. 1. Remake Reatta CRT Touch Screens?

    • Great Idea / I'd Buy One!
    • Good Idea
    • Bad Idea
    • I could build that

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Who's arm do we need to twist to get an aftermarket CRT touch screen made for our Reattas? You know, do the same things plus a little extra!

Seems a lot of people thought the CRT was a Punch Screen and not a "TOUCH" Screens.

To upgrade, New CRT's could include GPS or OnStar Options also. And CD/DVD Player to replace the old cass/player. As long as they fill the stock Dash Holes right.

I'm sure a Nice LCD Touch Screen you can Read with some color to Boot! I'd Buy One!

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It would be great to do this, but there are several [near?] insurmountable problems.

- Very small market, probably impossible to defray R&D costs and still sell at less than what a complete decent 88/89 is worth. Even if there were Riviera owners interested, the number of people buying could never reduce the cost to the point of being anything approaching reasonable.

- This is a custom embedded system involving a specially designed 8088 based computer (loosely based on the original IBM PC specs) running a custom ROM based OS and boot loader. Also uses a special programming language (GDL) and interpreter developed by IBM Yorktown Research back in the early/mid 80's. To write and compile code for this system required a special PC based development system with dual video outputs, and a macro assembler that is probably nowhere to be found in 2009. If IBM even still had it somewhere, I doubt they would give it out. Intellectual property and all that, you know.

- To do a new/revised version based on the same setup would also require the original source code, also likely nowhere to be found 20 years on. Especially with the various shakeouts and consolidations that have taken place in GM and Delco/Delphi since the system was first spec'd.

- This leaves the option of a full reverse engineering and scratch building the hardware and firmware. No small task, as this would also require a full documentation of the vehicle communications bus to intercept ECM/BCM/Etc. data off the line, be processed by a newly developed CRTC and produce the desired results at the display. Someone would need a lot of free time and determination to pull this off.

I still say the best bet is to dump the existing ROMS, see if some changes could be made to the existing screen descriptor files to at least make some minor improvements. I am fairly certain the system could be nominally colorized (as in 16 color mode, since the display is 320x200 resolution VGA, AKA mode 13). This would still be better than straight green mono (but not hi-res), and you can see what it might have looked like if you ever see a Trofeo with the VIC touchscreen. Of course, the CRTC would have to be modified for color output, and a suitable display found, either CRT or LCD.

As far as the other items on the wish list, On-Star is a near impossibility. The ECM/BCM in the 88/89 E platform doesn't deliver enough data or enough integration with the on board systems to support many of the functions (such as killing the ignition or blinking the lights). No pre-OBD-II/Class II bus GM vehicle ever had OnStar, so it is a moot issue.

GPS could be added in a hypothetical newly developed "drop in" system by simply using video switching to the new display. Basically add another button to the CRT border which would connect the display to an outboard GPS system. A display that supported multiple resolutions would obviously be needed, as well as a touchscreen overlay that could control both GPS and CRTC systems. Because of technical disparities, this would be rather difficult to integrate properly. GPS hardware could be a common off the shelf setup, like Tom Tom or Garmin for ease of use and obtaining map updates.

I would love to tear into this system to test some of my theories on what can be modified, and to what extent. I actually have most of the individual parts on hand, but no way to set it all up for proper operation as though it were in the car. Without a complete car (powertrain, accessories and all) the modules that comprise the core of the touchscreen system would just keep popping errors due to missing/non-reporting modules and sensors. Not something that can really be faked on a test-bench.


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