Protecting the Garmin Catalyst Screen

On the whole, the Garmin Catalyst is a rugged tablet. The case will protect the internals from an accidental drop or bump in the car, and there is a lip on the face to protect the screen should you set it face down. But there were two aspects about the screen we didn’t like so much: It’s very reflective, and likely to get messy with all that touching. The auto makers have teams of engineers who work out where to best places screens in a car for maximum utility and minimal reflections. You’re just trying to figure out where you can place it so it has good line-of-sight to the GPS satellites and you can reach the screen while driving.

So what is our suggested solution? Generic tablet screen protector. We bought and tested two different ones from Amazon. They were the cheapest 7 inch matte screen protectors we could find. Here’s a video that shows the result of our tests.


Both worked well. The SuperShieldz pack came with 3 vs. 2 for NuPro and it was less expensive. But you would be satisfied with either one.

Supershieldz: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0821TRGWX/

NuPro: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06Y5WW2XT/

Click here to see what’s in the box.

Buy Catalyst Here

Introducing the Garmin Catalyst Performance Driving Optimizer

From the first time we read Ross Bentley’s summary about the Garmin Catalyst, we knew we had to add it to our product catalog. So we’re proud to announce that GeorgeCo Motorsports is now an authorized Garmin Dealer. We’ve gotten our first few units in stock and as soon as we update the inventory database, they’re gone.

So let’s back up. What’s the Garmin Catalyst and why get so excited about a tablet computer? There are many lap timers and data acquisition systems out on the market, some better than the others. Some (most) are complicated to use, and require off-track analysis. The Garmin Catalyst takes a different approach, offering real-time feedback to improve your driving. It’s not about RPMs, brake pedal pressure, or throttle position. It’s about pace and form and line.

The Catalyst isn’t for every HPDE driver. A beginning student is going to be too inconsistent lap-to-lap and would find the feedback “carry more speed” is probably dangerous. And on the other extreme, the experienced racer looking for that final tenth isn’t likely to find it here either. (My go-to coaching advice: it’s your pedal release….) But the advanced intermediate to experienced advanced HPDE driver who knows there’s .5 to 2 seconds a lap to still be gained — that’s the target. You get the benefit of an experienced AI coach riding in the right seat, without the additional weight penalty of carrying a passenger. This could be a great tool for an enduro team to use in practice, especially if there’s a huge range of skills among the drivers that have teamed up for the race.

Too many lap timers give you an “optimum” lap time by pasting together your best times through every corner on a track. But that’s not how the real world works. Fast out of one corner often means a compromise into the next. The Catalyst gives you realistic track segments, and offers not only advice on line, speed, turn in, apex and exit, but can also show you what that line looks like. You can also choose how much coaching feedback you want to receive as you’re driving. Turn off the audio coaching and use it as a more traditional lap timer and review your session back in the paddock. Turn on basic coaching for feedback as you drive, or enable the advanced coaching feedback to fine tune your line.

Read about the details or purchase over on our product page. Look for upcoming posts as we unbox and install it. Garmin offers several mounting options and more accessories are coming out in the coming weeks.

Gauge cluster button fix

I’ve seen this happen in a couple of cars now and I’m not sure why. Perhaps someone who is unfamiliar with how they work gets in the car and tries to set the clock by spinning the knob, or a previous owner took the cluster apart and broke the tabs? Usually both knobs are affected though only one side is supposed to twist. Here’s how to take out the cluster and assess what’s wrong. As per usual disclaimer, the following is provided for information use only — no wagering. Disconnect the battery before working on any electrical system in your car.

It helps to have the steering wheel lowered and pulled forward as far as possible to get as much space as possible to work, or in this case, remove the steering wheel. The cluster is held in place with two T-20 Torx screws.

Cluster is held in by two T-20 screws

Remove them, and gently pull the cluster forward until you can reach the electrical connectors on the rear. The connectors have lock-levers. Gently depress the lock, and slide the lever forward to remove the connector. They are different sizes so you don’t have to remember which is which. Remove the cluster and set it on a cloth.

Press down on the white wedge and pull the black arm toward the top of the cluster to release

Gently pull off the two rubber outer buttons.

Gently pull away from the face to remove

Flip the cluster over and you will see a series of T-10 Torx screws (mine was missing a few of them). Remove the screws and gently lift the back off the cluster. The plastic button plungers should stay with the instrument cluster. Avoid touching any of the circuits or the circuit board and gently lift the board from the front housing.

My cluster just had four screws. One at the top, one in the middle and one on either end. I suspect the others were lost over the years.

Remove the screens which have the icons for the various warning lights along the bottom of the cluster. (More on these later.)

This shows where the plungers fit. The one on the right twists, the one on the left does not.

Now is a good time to clean the inside of the glass on the front half of the cluster. Use a clean micro-fiber cloth and a screw driver to reach all of the areas inside the cluster. Turn our attention to the reset mechanisms.

Circle shows broken spike.

They are delicate plastic plungers with a plastic spring on one end and a T section in the middle and should have a spike which activates a small button recessed in the instrument face. When you look at the instrument face, you can see how they work. The one on the left does not twist. The T is held in place so the only action is the plunger. The one on the right is used to reset the clock. It too has a plunger action, but also twists left or right about 45 degrees to move the time forward or back. It does not spin. If the plungers are in good nick, then chances are they just came out of their slots and careful reassembly should get you working again. More than likely, however, one or both plungers have lost their spikes. You can’t buy new ones, and if you buy a used cluster for parts, chances are they will also be missing their spikes as well. Fortunately, the internet has an answer. See this post on e46fanatics. We used it to fabricate new spikes.

Following the instructions, we wrapped a paperclip around a 1/8 in drill bit, then trimmed and bent it to match the photos. (I decided to paint the windings black to better hide them when reassembled.) Slide it on the plunger (tight fit), position, and glue in place. The one on the right side needs a larger surface area to activate the recessed button from various degrees of twist.

Circle shows where the spike activates the recessed button

Use some glue to secure the winding to the plunger and then paint. Before you reassemble the cluster, you may also want to use black electrical tape to block out any annoying lights from systems you may have disabled such as the low washer fluid light if you removed the reservoir, or the seat belt light because you’re using different buckle receptacles (in my case, those from an E30 M3.)

Before reattaching the screws on the back, check that the plunger has seated in the slot.

Assembly is the reverse of removal.

When complete, the winding is barely visible.

Relocating the washer container

If you installed brake ducts in your E46 M3 track car, chances are you also removed the windshield washer reservoir (aka, “windshield cleaning container” part number 61 67 7 895 571). The container wraps around the AC dryer and sits in the path of the Hardmotorsport bumper duct inlet. If you no longer drive your car on the street, this probably makes sense. After all, a track build is all about adding lightness and removing complexity. If you still drive it on the street, it can also be about bugs. Lots of bugs. Bugs smeared on your windshield. Since I still drive this car on the street, I decided I wanted to find a way to retrofit a smaller container in the smuggler’s hold.

The compartment already has mounting points you can attach to. All you need to do is fabricate a bracket and get a small container. I got this 2 quart one from US Plastic.

You can also see the electric fan controller we installed in the same area.

Once you locate the container, then all you need is power, ground, and the hose to the spray nozzles. (I just hooked up the windshield nozzles, not the headlight washers.) Ground is easy as there are multiple grounding points close-by. For power, I ran a wire along the existing wiring harness and picked up the positive connection in the wiring loom that I disconnected from the factory container. To get to the hose, I just had to measure the run I needed, then unwrap it from the wiring harness and cut to length. All in, it’s a very clean install.

3D Printed Bracket

When I gutted the interior of the M3 I had to find a new home for the combo door lock – emergency flasher switch. I originally used some Gorilla tape and stuck it to the shifter console, but it didn’t hold up to the 90+ degree days of summer. So I decided to fabricate a bracket with my 3D printer.

I found a CAD file to hold a BMW OBD II port and resized it. It turns out this switch is 93% as wide and 150% as long as the standard OBD II port.

I attached a couple of riv-nuts to the console and bolted it up. I may need to reprint it in ABS plastic, but lets see how it holds up.