SimpleDash

4 min read • 16 January, 2021.

I recentely fell in love with Garry's Mod again. For the uninitiated, Garry's Mod is an sandbox game that is centred around user modifications for content. It allows endless possibilities as long as you can write some Lua code.

It made me take up an interest into working on modeling again. I found a few car blueprints and have slowly been working on them. I wanted to give my car mods, however, an interesting twist: a functional in-car display. When searching for what the UIs for the dashs looked like, I was disappointed. Most of these brands made rather clunky designs that made them look like they were going for the "cool" vibe.

I would still integrate a generally functional version of these dashes into the cars, but I also wanted to make an alternative for those who didn't want to use those god awful menus.

In comes SimpleDash, a simple and elegant dashboard that keeps things simple.

Dashboard UI

The skeuomorphic design allows people to easily see what's what, while the minimal colour palette allows for it to be friendly to those who are colour blind. Interfaces for navigation, for instance, is based off the map that you load in. It essentially brings a camera to the top of the world and makes a topographic map to bring down to the car. It even features, when using manual gears, the ability to have the reverse camera on cars that support it.

This journey and steady development to bring a neat dash to a game wasn't my only plan originally though. I had also wanted to bring these cars to other games I enjoyed like Grand Theft Auto V (seemed like a fun thing for FiveM servers and similar environments). But, it quickly spawned another interseting idea: why not just make it for actual cars?

If it wasn't obvious before, this would be incredibly hard to do because no car manufactuer is just going to give you the knowledge to how everything interfaces with the car's dashboard. It made me recall back to when Daniel (a mate from school) had a similar idea with his Electrik dashboard concept.

Electrik dashboard cluster

Daniel's plan was to take a petrol car and make it electric. A bit more involved than I wanted, but neat nevertheless. The only issues with me "borrowing" (I would ask, just like I have in the past with some of his designs) is that:

  1. this is a gauge cluster design (the bits and bops behind the steering wheel), not an in-car display desing (the bits and bops where your radio and dials for things like heating and cooling are); and,
  2. this is designed for electric cars and wouldn't be practical to convert for petrol cars.

I still want to craft my own in-car display for actual cars. Partially because it would be a really fun hardware and software project to do. But also because I want to use all my services without fetching an AUX cable for my phone. But, unfortunately, that's not the most practical thing for me to do right now. Hopefully in the future, where I have more flexible time and budget, I can do something as fun as that would be. But that's a story for a different day.

Regardless, you can follow the development of the cars for Garry's mod, the SimpleDash and dashboards that are paired with it, and the SimpleDash for actual cars, all at the links below:

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