DIY Boost Gauge (pics, video, candy inside)


Autocross Champion
New Jersey
2016 Golf R
It has been a while, I decided to take a break from social media and well stuff to focus a little more on stuff I had been ignoring. This DIY boost gauge being one.

This is a project I am super happy with and glad to be near completion on. It helped me to work on my programming, electrical design and implication, CAD design, and 3D printing skills. So let's get to it.

Pretty simply, I felt a turbo car should have a boost gauge. I did not like the market offerings or price range. I had a few requirements going into this project. Vent mounted (which was TBD), run completely independent electrically from the car with exception to the power and ground, and just do boost. The first thing to even get this off the ground was to find a way to get a boost signal without blowing a hole in the side of a plastic intake. I know some say it isn't a big deal, and that could be, but I like completely reversible mods (this paid off big when I sold my bike). Thanks to @toothofwar he had posted about a plate that sandwiched between the throttle body and manifold.

This one got a new gasket for the throttle body. Now while this did require me to shave off a locating pin, that is acceptable in my book. Even more advantageous was I found the throttle body had three loose bolts from when the dealer replaced the water pump housing. The cold start misfires have all but gone away, so bonus.


I had dabbled in some Arduino programming in the past, not well mind you. I had a friend who helped me in the past and is very fluent in it. Apparently, my prior dabbling was absolutely wrong. So I had to forget everything I knew and start from scratch. He taught me well. I built a test rig.

As with everything I do, I start to make additions along the way and this was no different. I decided instead of just correcting the MAP signal in code, to add a barometric sensor instead. This way in elevation changes, it will auto correct for the new barometric pressure. The pot is an analogue for the MAP sensor to help bench the test code easier. So I decided to display the barometric pressure and the highest boost achieve on this drive cycle.


My friend found stuff. Since you can't dim OLED, this is an LCD shutter valve, with a controlled voltage it will dim a given amount. So now it will dim when it gets dark with aid of an ambient light sensor, yes another addition.


Then starts the mockups. I like working with cardboard to help visualize and test space requirements. I couldn't decide on a design for a while. This was an easier mockup. Needing to fit the shutter, display, and microcontroller in this housing made this a bit more challenging.

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Here is what would become the final design.

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Autocross Champion
New Jersey
2016 Golf R
I needed a place to house the ancillary electronics. This was for the buck/boost converter, baro sensor, level shifter, and a capacitor array to filter out a lot of the electronics noise.

Thanks to @Acadia18 for donating a MIB surround for mockups and measurements. I managed to snag an extra vent off Ebay cheap as well. I decided to go with the left inner vent as the outer left side doesn't fall naturally into view for me.

This is the first Proto-print I had done. At this point I was having my friend print my stuff as I didn't have my own printer. This slowed progress as he uses his printers for business and I was at his schedule to get my prints off.


Work on this stalled for a while. Working full-time, going to school, family, daughter another year older, COVID and all that really took up more time than expected. So we went away. we saw this bad ass ride in the wild, parked nest to us actually.


Then other stuff happened and work stalled some more. Then for my anniversary my wife, who is awesome in many ways, got me a 3D printer.


I avoided buying a printer because I knew the rabbit hole this would end up being, and it is. But I have learned so much in so little time. It is a solid machine for the money and I have already upgraded the snot out of it. So after a deep dive into 3D printing...back to the gauge.

I kept looking at the faceplate and with the display being on the smaller side and the shutter commanding so much real estate, I decided I needed to break up the faceplate in some way. So I added some faux vent flaps to make it blend a little better with the dash and not make the display seem so small.



Here is a later mock up with the display installed. Mind the protective film on the display.


Backside test fit of the ribbon cable connectors


So me being me, decided late in the game I wanted the option to be able to upload new code revisions without pulling the dash apart again. So I added a remote USB port and reset button. I removed the vent control knob and designed a 2 part housing for these. I added in an led for an overboost condition.
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Autocross Champion
New Jersey
2016 Golf R

Here's the control box populated and wired.


Forgot to add one port so that was a last minute fix. This is the final box.


Made bracket to mount the MAP sensor to the firewall.



Final tally on Proto-prints




Final assembly

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I needed to plug the hole that was in the vent for closing flap.

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Autocross Champion
New Jersey
2016 Golf R
Made a harness...


...and a box of snakes.


Added a baffle to help smooth airflow into the cabin and past the back of the housing.

IMG_4480 2.JPG

MAP sensor mounted.


Routed the hose from the boost tap to the MAP sensor.

Here is the control box mounted behind the MIB.


That's it. It works as intended and as I wanted. I have some small tweaks to make to the code and the ambient light sensor to mount still, but it is fully functional. Thanks for looking.
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