Friday, December 14, 2012

Another Modern Upgrade – and Likely a World’s First?

Thanks to my good friend Rei Kato at GENTEX Japan, I was able to acquire, and then (and more importantly) have GENTEX Project Engineer Yosuke Hashizume outfit my car with this: that’s right, a GENTEX auto-dimming mirror with not only a built-in digital compass but also a 3.3 inch LCD back-up monitor!

GENTEX, as many of you know, is a US company known mainly for its hi-tech rear view mirrors  (they also supply those electronic dimming windows on the Boeing 787s).  Most cars nowadays come standard with (or at least offer as an option) some kind of auto-dimming mirror, and usually the more expensive the car, the more features on the mirror as well.

It turns out that GENTEX Japan is located only 5 minutes from where I live, so it was easy to drive on over today to meet the guys and get the install done.  Hashizume-san told me he has, just this year, already installed over 100 similar mirrors to various cars – a lot of which are prototypes of new cars as well as personal cars of automobile manufacturer engineers and managers (i.e., those guys who make the decision to have their cars come with these hi-tech mirrors).  So clearly he knew what he was doing, I could not believe how fast he did the install (although he told me that this was his first ever GT-R install…and to his knowledge, the first ever 2nd generation GT-R to be fitted with one of these mirrors!).

Anyway, the first step obviously was to remove the old mirror:

Leaving this ugly hole (anyone have any ideas as to what I could install there, or otherwise hide it?):

Then came the interesting bit – using what Rei and Hashizume-san called an “auto-clave” they used suction and high heat to glue a wedge to the windshield glass.  The machine looked like a mechanical tentacle with a sucker mouth at the end.

While the sucker mouth-thing was heating up the glass, Hashizume-san ran the wiring down from the headliner, through the A-pillar to tap into the fuse box on the driver’s side kick panel.  

He then ran the camera wiring under the floor carpet and back into the trunk (after we removed the rear seats), and then installed a rear view camera next to the one I installed that’s hooked up to my navi.

The nice thing about this mirror is that it has a built in LCD 3.3 inch monitor – to be used with a back-up camera. Now I already have a Pioneer back-up camera hooked up to my 7 inch Pioneer Navi screen, but it makes sense to have both the video view and actual visual view together – on the mirror only – when backing up.  When backing up usually I have to balance looking out both side mirrors, the Navi AND the rear view mirror.  And, as Rei pointed out, there are differences you don’t notice until you see both screens in action at the same time, namely the resolution of the GENTEX LCD screen is much crisper than the Navi screen. (I’ll try to post some photos later – watch this space).

There are other differences too. The GENTEX mirror has more surface area compared to the stock mirror.

It also has the built in compass and of course hopefully the auto dimming function completely eliminates the glare from cars with super bright lights who try to follow me at night. You may have noticed that this model mirror has three (3) Homelink buttons for automatic garage doors. Unfortunately I don’t have a 3 car garage (yet) but being an optimist maybe I’ll be able to use all three buttons someday.

Finally - one possible drawback is that it weighs about 600g compared to old mirror which is about 150g. So if you’re one of those types who is trying to engage in a weight reduction program for your GT-R, this is not a device for you.  Also, the weight also means the wedge really needs to be glued properly to the glass. But if properly done (and this is why this project could not be DIY), I think the utility is hard to beat.

Thank you again GENTEX Japan, Rei and Hashizume-san!


Duane said...

Nice Work. Always pushing it to the next level! :)

Skodajocky said...

Very nice.
A question seeing the picture of your trunk : what the net that we can see inside?

Aki said...

Thanks guys!

Skoda, the net is a cheap 500? yen stretch/bungee type net that you see on the back of motorcycles to strap down cargo to the seat. It has hooks on all 4 corners and so I just found some places to hook in the trunk. Very good eyes! LOL

Mingy said...

very nice aki!

this gives me an idea. i might do the same for mine.


andkorn said...

You can cover up the stock rearview mirror mount with one from a 240sx (180sx depending on your country). If you cut the arm of the 240sx mount it will just look like a bump.

Aki said...


Thanks for the idea - I'll definitely look into it. Another idea I am kicking around now is a simple carbon plate, or maybe some kind of electronic device...