Mk7 Golf R ALP stealth build log

Tb12

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Thought it would be fun to show my build progress as I go through a diy stealth install in my 2017 VW Golf R. I'm a mechanical engineer by trade and have access to some fun toys (laser cutters, 3d printers, 3d scanners, etc.).

My goal: a high end install with perspex covers, repurposed OEM buttons, etc. 2 RX+1 TX front, 2 RX rear. The goal is to only really need to replace the upper grill when I sell the car (and hopefully sell all the sensor mounts and grill to another R or GTI owner to cover my costs).

I'm fairly time limited so this will be an ongoing saga for a bit. I also welcome any and all suggestions!

I'm using mount locations well tested up in Edmonton by @edconline with the exception of the TX head, which I plan on hiding in the VW logo (after I get a gloss black one!) His locations are shown in Blue below, roughly to scale,
122809


With my VW logo mod plan in blue:
122808


Front side mount design
I want the stealth mounts to look as OEM as possible, which means following body lines as much as I can, while still getting adequate visibility for the sensor. As I have a TX head, I'm not quite as concerned about the transmit side of the sensor being slightly recessed, but I want the receive side as exposed as possible. This means bubbles out.
But how to get the shape? A mix of old and new techniques!

I used sulfur free modeling clay (and some Saran wrap to make for easier removal and cleanup) to roughly shape the mount. I was most interested in getting the shape of the grill and the bottom and top lines, not so much a smooth front face (I can do that in CAD).

r6R18Zm.jpg


963i9tC.jpg


VzzaYdP.jpg


Shape isn't great, but good enough, I'm not trying to use this for a direct print. Next step: scan it! Our 3d scanner needs service and was having issues, but I got an ok scan. Here's the smoothed, decimated model (using Meshlab) imported into solidworks:
h7eCoxG.png


Next step: dust off the surface modeling skills and get a model built up as close to the scan as possible. Note that I used the edges as reference to build curves in space, I wasn't just moving the scanned surface around (not something solidworks is good at). Goal was again to replicate the edges and the curves, smoothing out the clay I didn't bother to. Here's the results:
1BF2C0I.png


Looks reasonable. Next, 3d print this part and see how well it fits. I edited a couple flats into it so I could also take level measurements and figure out what dead-straight is. The blue tape is to protect the plastic/paint as I slide stuff around.

LB46eRP.jpg


2nq8Ccw.jpg


6YVK5r3.jpg


Gm7rbl6.jpg


The fit is way better than I expected! The only mods to do are in the variable fillet (outside bottom corner) and giving a bit more hood clearance, maybe 3mm for a reasonable reveal.

That's where I am right now. The next step is to actually get a head recess molded in, and figure out exactly how I'm making the acrylic cover. I'm leaning towards laser cutting, thermoforming a 3mm thick sheet using a 3d printed mold, then bonding it to a sanded-to shape piece of 5.6mm thick acrylic as a rim. This then allows me to sink threaded inserts I to the thicker acrylic and screw a 3d printed backpiece that supports the head and attaches everything to the grille. I'll do one more test print with a long straight bar protruding from the mount so I can verify my straight and level actually is, then I'll start fabricating the acrylic and printing the rest.

I also plan on starting the mount for the VW logo, but that's going to be it's own challenge to get looking smooth... I see many hours with tiny files in my future.

Let me know your thoughts/suggestions!
 
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edconline

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Thought it would be fun to show my build progress as I go through a diy stealth install in my 2017 VW Golf R. I'm a mechanical engineer by trade and have access to some fun toys (laser cutters, 3d printers, 3d scanners, etc.).

My goal: a high end install with perspex covers, repurposed OEM buttons, etc. 2 RX+1 TX front, 2 RX rear. The goal is to only really need to replace the upper grill when I sell the car (and hopefully sell all the sensor mounts and grill to another R or GTI owner to cover my costs).

I'm fairly time limited so this will be an ongoing saga for a bit. I also welcome any and all suggestions!

I'm using mount locations well tested up in Edmonton by @edconline with the exception of the TX head, which I plan on hiding in the VW logo (after I get a gloss black one!) His locations are shown in Blue below, roughly to scale,
View attachment 122809

With my VW logo mod plan in blue:
View attachment 122808

Front side mount design
I want the stealth mounts to look as OEM as possible, which means following body lines as much as I can, while still getting adequate visibility for the sensor. As I have a TX head, I'm not quite as concerned about the transmit side of the sensor being slightly recessed, but I want the receive side as exposed as possible. This means bubbles out.
But how to get the shape? A mix of old and new techniques!

I used sulfur free modeling clay (and some Saran wrap to make for easier removal and cleanup) to roughly shape the mount. I was most interested in getting the shape of the grill and the bottom and top lines, not so much a smooth front face (I can do that in CAD).

View attachment 122816

View attachment 122817

View attachment 122818

Shape isn't great, but good enough, I'm not trying to use this for a direct print. Next step: scan it! Our 3d scanner needs service and was having issues, but I got an ok scan. Here's the smoothed, decimated model (using Meshlab) imported into solidworks:
View attachment 122819

Next step: dust off the surface modeling skills and get a model built up as close to the scan as possible. Note that I used the edges as reference to build curves in space, I wasn't just moving the scanned surface around (not something solidworks is good at). Goal was again to replicate the edges and the curves, smoothing out the clay I didn't bother to. Here's the results:
View attachment 122820

Looks reasonable. Next, 3d print this part and see how well it fits. I edited a couple flats into it so I could also take level measurements and figure out what dead-straight is. The blue tape is to protect the plastic/paint as I slide stuff around.

View attachment 122821

View attachment 122822

View attachment 122823

View attachment 122824

The fit is way better than I expected! The only mods to do are in the variable fillet (outside bottom corner) and giving a bit more hood clearance, maybe 3mm for a reasonable reveal.

That's where I am right now. The next step is to actually get a head recess molded in, and figure out exactly how I'm making the acrylic cover. I'm leaning towards laser cutting, thermoforming a 3mm thick sheet using a 3d printed mold, then bonding it to a sanded-to shape piece of 5.6mm thick acrylic as a rim. This then allows me to sink threaded inserts I to the thicker acrylic and screw a 3d printed backpiece that supports the head and attaches everything to the grille. I'll do one more test print with a long straight bar protruding from the mount so I can verify my straight and level actually is, then I'll start fabricating the acrylic and printing the rest.

I also plan on starting the mount for the VW logo, but that's going to be it's own challenge to get looking smooth... I see many hours with tiny files in my future.

Let me know your thoughts/suggestions!
This looks unreal! I only quickly glanced at it as I am on my way to a movie, but I can’t wait to get into it tonight! I’ll add more then.
 

NorEaster18

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Damn dude. This is incredible! The amount of customization and fine detail that you're going into is fascinating, right down to the clay modeling to CAD representations.

P.S. We need to set up a Boston-area meetup! I'd love to see this install in person, regardless of what stage you're in.
 

oktavf

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Amazing... I usually feel like I lack creativity. Now I REALLY feel like I lack it! Thanks for that! Beautiful work!! :drinking:
 

jeffdemara

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Love it! I have a Golf as well with ALP, and have always wanted to do something a bit cleaner. Here’s my setup. I hid the TX within the VW badge in the middle (mine doesn’t have a sensor behind it).

This setup with the head placement is JTG against the DragonEye FYI.
 

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Tb12

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Damn dude. This is incredible! The amount of customization and fine detail that you're going into is fascinating, right down to the clay modeling to CAD representations.

P.S. We need to set up a Boston-area meetup! I'd love to see this install in person, regardless of what stage you're in.
Once I get at least some of the system installed. Basically all free time at this point is going towards this build. Got a little one at home so basically can't work on this except after 8:30pm.

Amazing... I usually feel like I lack creativity. Now I REALLY feel like I lack it! Thanks for that! Beautiful work!! :drinking:
Well, let's wait and see if my fabrication skills match my design skills :biggrin:

Love it! I have a Golf as well with ALP, and have always wanted to do something a bit cleaner. Here’s my setup. I hid the TX within the VW badge in the middle (mine doesn’t have a sensor behind it).

This setup with the head placement is JTG against the DragonEye FYI.
Love the badge TX! Very similar to what I'm planning, I'm still trying to decide if I want to do it high, middle, or low... Do you have pics of how you supported it from behind? I'm figuring a 3d printed mount sugrued or otherwise glued back there to support the head. I considered a similar location to yours, but didn't want to move the R badge. It would make for an easier stealth job, I could probably get away with a flat piece of acrylic there instead of formed/machined. Wouldn't look quite as integrated but would certainly still be super stealth!
 

edconline

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After looking through the post in detail, I’m even more excited to follow this! I think your plan is spot on for a clean and functional install. It will likely be very tricky with the logo and TX head but it sounds like you have all the tools at your disposal to get the job done.

I only wish I still had the R so I could also benefit from some amazing 3D printed mounts
 

jeffdemara

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Once I get at least some of the system installed. Basically all free time at this point is going towards this build. Got a little one at home so basically can't work on this except after 8:30pm.



Well, let's wait and see if my fabrication skills match my design skills :biggrin:



Love the badge TX! Very similar to what I'm planning, I'm still trying to decide if I want to do it high, middle, or low... Do you have pics of how you supported it from behind? I'm figuring a 3d printed mount sugrued or otherwise glued back there to support the head. I considered a similar location to yours, but didn't want to move the R badge. It would make for an easier stealth job, I could probably get away with a flat piece of acrylic there instead of formed/machined. Wouldn't look quite as integrated but would certainly still be super stealth!
Just used sugru to support it from the bottom behind the badge, and that keeps it level. It’s actually stupid easy to do. And rock solid
 

Bocephus

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Wow! Taking the pre-install fabrication to a whole other level!!!
 

Tb12

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An overdue update. Finally got a few spare moments to work on the build!

Center sensor:
Bit the bullet and cut into the most obvious part of the $250 grill. Not going to lie, was a bit stressful!

First step (after a very easy pulling of the grill from the car and a VERY annoying 40+ clip endeavour to separate it) was a cosmetic one - get rid of the satin chrome and wrap it black. I might redo this tonight as I'm not 100% happy with the result (I ended up with a big overlap at the bottom because of how I stretched it and had to do a relief cut and overlap). I think I can do it without this, but for now, here it is before and after:

124311
124312


Next step - a little dremel cutting, a little drilling, and a lifetime of filing, but I think it paid off!
124315


124316


124317


I think I need to file a little bit more clearance so I can adjust the angle down a bit if needed. Plan right now is to Sugru a small acrylic or abs block with threaded inserts to the back of the grill, then use the stock mount (hidden behind the grill, of course). This will let me adjust the angle if needed. I'll probably lock it down with Sugru once it's tested.

The only remaining question - plastidip the emblem black, or leave it chrome?

More to come on the front side mounts, I discovered that the sensors would be too tucked with the originally planned mounts, so I'm going to extend them widthwise a bit more and just push the sensors closer to the center of the car a couple inches. Means a bit more modeling work to do, but hopefully won't be too hard.
 

Flonase

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Fantastic! Am jealous of all the equipment you have access to...
 

Tb12

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Been crazy busy at work, so haven't had a chance to do much, but here's an update on the rear mounts. Still need a round of adjustment and tweaking but getting close!

0BkWtX3.jpg


54xXIL3.jpg


7ASg5qU.jpg


(blue tape is holding on the acrylic part placeholder, and I didn't have the proper depth flatheads so duct tape it is for the test fit)
 
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Eaguar

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I honestly think this may turn out to be one of the best DIY installs on the forum. And the pics you’ve included along the way just add to the post so much. The clay, 3D scanning, 3D printing, emblem cutting... it’s all awesome. And the small things like those threaded inserts just show how you’ve thought of every last detail. Thank you for sharing and I can’t wait to see the final product.

Also, I’m not sure which 3D printer you’ve got access to but damn that print quality is amazing.
 

Tb12

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Markforged printers. I can even do metal... but that's be a bit of overkill. Better believe it's gonna have continuous carbon fiber in the rear for stiffness though :)

Only downside is it's Nylon, so it's hygroscopic... which means it will both soften and swell a bit with exposure to moisture. I'm going to see how it goes without painting, if it doesn't work out after a new england winter, I'll reprint and not be lazy!

As for thinking of every last detail... well, I've thought about a lot of the details (I'm a mechanical design engineer by trade so I have lots of experience in complex electromechanical design), but the whole reason for prototyping (and the reason 3d printing is such a revolution) is that you can fix the details you missed. For example, I need to add some clearance to the back of the threaded insert holes and a small countersink in front to help get them sitting dead flat. I'm also still determining how I'm going to weatherproof the enclosures so they don't get salt intrusion during the winter, while still making them easy to disassemble in case of head failure or should my weatherproofing fail.

Once I figure out these things, future installs will obviously go a lot faster... so if anybody wants to contract me to make some designs for an install let me know (joking! well, half joking...)
 
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jeffdemara

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Markforged printers. I can even do metal... but that's be a bit of overkill. Better believe it's gonna have continuous carbon fiber in the rear for stiffness though :)

Only downside is it's Nylon, so it's hygroscopic... which means it will both soften and swell a bit with exposure to moisture. I'm going to see how it goes without painting, if it doesn't work out after a new england winter, I'll reprint and not be lazy!

As for thinking of every last detail... well, I've thought about a lot of the details (I'm a mechanical design engineer by trade so I have lots of experience in complex electromechanical design), but the whole reason for prototyping (and the reason 3d printing is such a revolution) is that you can fix the details you missed. For example, I need to add some clearance to the back of the threaded insert holes and a small countersink in front to help get them sitting dead flat. I'm also still determining how I'm going to weatherproof the enclosures so they don't get salt intrusion during the winter, while still making them easy to disassemble in case of head failure or should my weatherproofing fail.

Once I figure out these things, future installs will obviously go a lot faster... so if anybody wants to contract me to make some designs for an install let me know (joking! well, half joking...)

I've PM'd you a while back, as I also have a Golf. Definitely would be interested in some custom enclosures for both front and rear when you get it all settled! :) Love the quality and attention to detail in your work!
 

j0mama

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Wow, amazing work. Now only if I had skills like that!
 

Tb12

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Case in point for not thinking of every last detail... the angle was just too much to deal with in the top outside position. To get it angled where it needed to be, it was pretty sunken in, which means for good field of view the mounting block would have had to be massively wide. Not what I wanted. New plan is to put it one rung lower, and place it next to the R badge like so (ignore the wire, hung it out so the whole sensor wouldn't just fall in!). Inside edge-to-edge is going to be roughly 21in. I'll put the bubble out both for better line of sight and a small bit of added receiving width.

1564888849089.png


Had to go back to the office tonight so took advantage of the visit to do a quick scan of the grill. Here's what the raw scan data looks like -blue areas are "underdefined" areas in the scan (not enough detail for it to be confident). For my needs, I'm ok with what I have here.

Capture.JPG


Scanning shiny surfaces is hard, and so is scanning black surfaces. So scanning piano black surfaces.... not easy. For better scanning, I used an old trick to get a much easier to scan surface.

2KhaJWC3vGnPQ7DHmgBx7aRohZpezhkKiMQ=w3122-h1876-no.jpg


What I *should* have done if I wasn't rushing was also scan in the middle VW logo, so I would have perfect info for what's dead straight. This means I'm going to need to do a bit more trial and error on the design (one additional early-stage print). If my office was closer, I'd go back and rescan it now, but I'm just going to roll with it and take my best guess.

So, back to the beginning on the front with cleaning up the mesh and modeling on top. The goal is to keep the acrylic cutout flat if I can, which won't look quite as OEM but will be WAY easier to make and won't have any detrimental lensing effects... but we'll see!
 

Coderedpl

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Looks good so far, in for further progress. Definitely jealous of you having a 3D Scanner at your disposal though.
 

Tb12

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Quick update. Have some good progress on the mount. This WILL require chopping a bit of plastic off the grill, but I think that's doable (just need to check if it will interfere with any clips).

Plan is to seal around the back of the sensor with RTV, mount with 3m 468MP (or if that doesn't prove easy to do, with Sugru where its' not super obvious).

The head is somewhat tucked, but the receiving bubble is fairly well exposed and I'm using a TX sensor with good view so it should cover me for transmitting.

The one downside of this design is that if a head fails, you need to pop off the acrylic to get to it. I think that's a reasonable sacrifice to make.


1565575619478.png


1565575667340.png

1565575731726.png


Material removal area for head clearance - this gets better if I don't need as much angle as I think I do (but probably still need to do a little bit!) This will be a bit of a pain given lack of access...
1565575976519.png


Field of view:
1565575472991.png


Have a couple quick protos made, but need to dial in the vertical angle. Hoping to do that tomorrow, print final ones tomorrow night, and start install Wednesday night. Rear might wait a little bit, but I'll try to run wires to the trunk on Thursday as well so future install won't take as long (but will still require a rear bumper removal). Probably a couple weeks out having time to do that.
 
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