View Full Version : My Custom EDC Project (electronic dampening controller)

10-26-2010, 12:52 AM
Well figured I'd post on beyond about my homebrew EDC setup. Feel free to post any comments, questions or suggestions.

A little background info: for those of you who don't know what the hell it is I've built, TEIN has already had their EDFC for some of their suspensions setups out for a while now. Allowing the driver to adjust the dampening force of the aftermarket adjustable struts from inside the vehicle.


I've got tokico 5-way adjustable dampers on my car and frankly I was getting sick of having to get out of my car to adjust them. When the gf got in the car she wanted them adjusted to full soft, when I was DD'ing it to and from work it was right in the middle setting and when you're out for a cruise or decide you want to do a little spirited driving it is such a pain to stop, get out and adjust all four corners. (I know it really isnt that big of an effort, but it is my immense laziness and cheapness that inspires me to do great things so don't rain on my parade lol) rather than spending more coin on a more expensive setup I figured I'd build my own.

I should also add I have a few lazy friends with slightly different suspension setups I'm putting together EDC's for as well and I'll be adding pictures of theirs as I go.

Anyway onto my build project. I've got lots of pictures and video I won't be adding all at once but I'll try and get it up and linked quickly.

I didn't want to spend lots of money and had limited space for motors and mounts as the illuminas werent designed to have a motor slapped on top of it. So I tried to keep it as cheap and simple as possible while achieving full adjustability, and separate front and rear adjustment.

Components List:

-Plastic Controller enclosure, some buttons and 7-segment display
-Arduino nano pro microcontroller
-Servo Signal Boosters
-DC-DC step-down voltage regulator
-4x GWS S125 1T servos (meant for RC sailboats so theyre waterproof)
-Custom designed servo strut mounts (3D printed out of ABS plastic with my wicked nerdy rapid prototyper)
-various mounting hardware, wire, connectors

My first prototype was done with a breadboard and a larger Arduino microcontroller for ease of reconfiguration and testing.


My first attempt at a servo mount for my front strut, attempting to use the strut mounting bolts to hold the mount in place. I soon realized the limitations of this mount configuration and it was back to the drawing board. By using the two strut mounting bolts I was unable to adjust the position of the servo to clear hood ribbing and achieve the desired mounting angle. I also had limited threads left on the studs with my strut bars to add the mounts. Also a BIG problem with my first attempt was the plastic layer in between the strut and the chassis which would adversely affect the rigidity in the setup.:facepalm:


My second servo mount design for my rear struts used the existing washer to hold the servo in place. This allowed me to easily set the mount angle, used existing hardware to mount it and didn't sacrifice rigidity. Yay!:clap:


I don't have a picture of my connection to the strut dial but seeing as it used a simple flat head screw driver I didn't want to mess with a coupler if it could be avoided. What I ended up doing was cutting a groove in the servo output shaft and mating the adjustment dial of the strut to the servo with a small flat piece of 1mm thick robotics grade carbon fiber sheet. This configuration didn't require modification to the strut dial allowing me the option to easily return it to stock should I ever choose to. You can see the dial below, I'll get a pic up of my final coupler assembly soon.


The angle between each setting was 72degrees so I designed my code for each front and rear servo pair to adjust in those set increments.

With everything tested and functional I didn't want to have a giant breadboard on my dash so I scaled it all down and squeezed everything into a small plastic enclosure. This was an absolute bitch to do. Fitting all the components in that enclosure, hand wiring and soldering everything onto a simple single-through hole prototyping wafer board. (kinda ghetto I know) Next time I will be making my own PCB's. I used to the DC-DC step down regulator to power all the electronics at 7V from the vehicle's 12V acc. This boosted the servo power slightly, and also keeps the voltage regulator on the microcontroller from cooking itself. It also boosts the normally 5V servo pulse signals to 7V, allowing me to run multiple servos off one signal, whereas at the original non-boosted signal levels the draw was too much on the controller it would glitch out. And at a full 12V the servos would jitter and the signal was too much to hold their angle.

Really cramped. This is partially assembled with other components (spare microcontroller and servo signal boosters) beside it and a quarter for size reference. Seven segment display and buttons mounted

Microcontroller mounted on the rear of the board spaced off with header pins to allow wiring underneath it due to limited space and also provide a solid backing against the back of the enclosure.

Further assembly still and I started to get it to all fit in the enclosure.
With all the other components wired up you can see how tight it is to fit everything into that little box.

This is what the final handheld controller looks like.

The four central wires are:

The two additional wires to the right side were added kind of after the fact. This was my work around to the jittery servo problem at 12VDC on the noisy vehicle electrical system. I ran power to the servo pairs from the DC-DC voltage regulator I also ran the microcontroller off of, and the signal boosters; giving it a nice clean power source at 7VDC. This additional plug also gives me a convenient kind of 'ghetto' feature. Each time the controller boots up with the car, I've set it to reset to my preferred setting of 3,3. If I want to keep a setting like 1,1 for a prolonged period of time I can simply cut the power to the servo pairs. This also means that they arent drawing any power to hold their angle, although the draw is so small and once set at the correct angle require no energy to maintain the setting on the strut anyways. I'm still debating developing a variant that 'remembers' the last setting before power was killed, either storing it in non-volatile memory or maintaining power to the microcontroller if the draw is negligible.

Partial Handheld controller assembly test to ensure everything was functioning as expected during the cramped handheld controller build process. The pulse signal duration is what controls the rotation angle of the servos. The yellow line on the oscilloscope is the front struts signal, and the blue is the rear struts signal.

One of my bench tests, breadboard was only used to quickly connect servos and supply power off a ghetto rigged PC power supply at that stage.


I'll post up a couple more vidsanother vid later when I can get time to do a walkaround of what it looks like installed in my car.

10-26-2010, 09:58 AM
You sir are a genius!!!:bigpimp:

11-02-2010, 12:12 AM
You're far too smart to be driving an EG, how much did it end up costing? And how much would it have cost if you didn't have access to a rapid prototyper?

11-02-2010, 12:33 AM
Originally posted by jonfoo
You're far too smart to be driving an EG, how much did it end up costing? And how much would it have cost if you didn't have access to a rapid prototyper?

thanks for the comments guys:thumbsup:
I can't shake it, I got the EG love. lol

sorry I've been slacking on this havent posted up more lately. bit overwhelmed with work and getting my winter beater on the road. Also to clarify the project itself is already completed and installed in my car and working. Just have to find time to document my project(s). And if anyone else wants to build one themself I'd be happy to show them mine and provide tips and guidance.

All in all I've broken down the hard parts to around $160 for this particular tokico illumina variant and of course a little design, programming and assembly time. The price was really driven by the servos/stepper motors price tag, seeing as there's four of them. Without a rapid prototyper you could probably make the mounts out of sheet metal or some other method. The rapid prototyper was a big help for the mount design and fitting process and seeing as I already shelled out for it I need to find ways to put it to use.lol I was going to go that route and redo the mounts in sheet metal after the fact, but the mounts were robust enough and fit so well and were easy for me to print off again that I just left them. The ABS plastic shouldnt have any real issues with temperature fluctuations and also allows some give to the imperfect nature of the handle dremeled holes I made.

I'm happy with the overall cost comparing it to the $500-$750ish price tag for TEIN's setup plus having to use their struts or adapt their system. I'm in no way saying their EDFC isn't the tits, and I guess we'll see how my design holds up in the long run. But for the price and fun of designing my home brew setup i'm quite happy with it.

The next variant I'm working on for a buddy's car will have 1080 degrees of adjustment broken down into 24 incremental settings.

11-02-2010, 12:49 AM
haha you fuckin nerdddd

work on your roller hockey skills maybe :poosie:

11-02-2010, 12:51 AM
Originally posted by JfuckinC
haha you fuckin nerdddd

work on your roller hockey skills maybe :poosie:

eat my balls brady u know the nerds get rich and rule the world. look at rage lol. and dont worry about my hockey skills son I got em covered :rofl:

still working on my get rich invention so gimme a little bit:thumbsup: :bigpimp:

11-02-2010, 12:56 AM
I'm just waiting to invest :D i believe lol.

11-02-2010, 12:59 AM
Originally posted by JfuckinC
I'm just waiting to invest :D i believe lol.

I'll keep you posted:rofl: Now stop shitting up my uber nerdage thread.

11-02-2010, 02:11 AM
Very impressive work, what kind of rapid prototyper do u have?

11-02-2010, 09:29 AM
wow. i dont know much about the controllers, let alone how to figure all that shit out. how do you know how to do that sort of thing? how did you figure out what you needed for the project?

11-02-2010, 11:14 AM
Occupation: R&D Technologist


But to stay on topic, great job! Pretty awesome project you have here.

11-02-2010, 03:36 PM
Originally posted by turbotrip
Very impressive work, what kind of rapid prototyper do u have?

here's a couple vids of my makerbot. just a basic hobby grade setup. no support material capabilities yet, and somewhat limited in print volume. but for electronics projects it gets the job done.


Originally posted by 03ozwhip
wow. i dont know much about the controllers, let alone how to figure all that shit out. how do you know how to do that sort of thing? how did you figure out what you needed for the project?

as Joe-G pointed out I work as an R&D technologist on a robotics project at the moment which does expose me to a lot in the technology and design department. I took Mechanical Engineering Technology at SAIT and did some time in Electronics Engineering Technology at DeVry (never finished that program); but to tell you the truth I am the worst student ever lol. I rarely show up to class and most of what I learn I teach myself because it either interests me or I just like a challenge to learn new skills. I did pick up the basics of programming and CAD and CAM from those courses but the large majority of it really is learning on my own. I figure if someone else can do it, so can I just takes time and a little determination. If only I could get my mentality towards things I like directed towards school when I'm enrolled in something.

To be honest I didn't fully engineer the project in the traditional sense. My methods are usually half planning and engineering, half build and test as I go. It depends on how much background knowledge I have on the subject matter. In this case I laid out the main components I thought I'd need and just started to build.

Some of the revisions along the way were realizing multiple servos on a single pulse signal @5V drew too much on the microcontroller and it would glitch out. So I added signal boosters and the DC-DC voltage regulator to boost the signals to 7V. Same thing with my shitty ass first servo mount design:rofl: and trying to power the servos off the 12V ACC line directly. Half planning and design, half trial and error.

Definitely a few things I'm changing for my next builds I'm gonna take the time to learn to layout printed circuit boards with EAGLE and teach myself how to etch them cuz wiring protoboards sucks ass lol.

11-02-2010, 03:56 PM
What types of files does that read? I didn't know you had one of those man, that thing is cool!

11-02-2010, 04:00 PM
Originally posted by JfuckinC
What types of files does that read? I didn't know you had one of those man, that thing is cool!

Output your 3D model as an .stl file and you're good to go.:thumbsup: Yea it's a cool toy.

I really want to get a more versatile unit, but too many limiting factors right now. Need coin to buy a house, also want to buy a desktop CNC still, and need a garage or unfinished basement to set up my workshop (again back to the house thing), and gotta buy stuffs so I can produce my own PCB's.