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Old 09-09-2019, 10:21 PM   #1
98_Gold_Uranus
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Default Steering wheel controls?

Over the weekend while driving our other two rides, my 2004 Chevy Blazer and the wife's 2010 Hyundai Elantra, I realized how much I miss the radio controls on the steering wheel when I drive my SL2 lol. I've got the 3D modeling and printing bug right now, so I got to thinking...

Were radio controls on the steering wheels an option for any Saturns around the late 90'a to early 2000's era? Even if the steering wheel on let's say an L model wont just fit on my SL2, I'm wondering if the clock spring behind it in the column would transfer over to give me the electrical pass-through for the controls. Then I could simply model a button assembly to go on the left side of the steering wheel and sort of mimic the shape and design of the cruise controls on the right side, and have it mount somehow to the wheel.

Obviously if radio controls were ever offered on a 2nd gen SL2, that would be the easiest option lol, but I don't think it was ever offered.

Short of finding a Saturn with the controls if one does not exist, possibly some other random GM cars around the same era? I know 2000's Camaro steering wheel looks almost just like the SL2's wheel, doesn't mean the clock spring and airbag plugs are the same, but it may be something worth exploring.

I have an aftermarket radio that has inputs for controls, so I don't have to worry about integrating it into the factory Saturn radio functions. Heck that's the easy part lol, it's getting the controls wiring through the wheel and into the column that I'm concerned with...


Thoughts?
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Old 09-10-2019, 02:50 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steering wheel controls?

Saturn's never got steering wheel controls, the rebadged Chevy's and Opel's might have but those will likely have major wiring difference's to deal with even if the parts swap over reasonably well.

Good project for a lenient P&P yard, or maybe if you find someone selling their car for scrap they'd let you tear it apart.
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Old 09-15-2019, 01:02 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steering wheel controls?

Last year I was thinking the same thing, I will tell you that the issue is running wires through the clock spring. I looked into Bluetooth devices or aftermarket steering wheel controls, however, they all seem to be hit or miss.

I had scanned the cruise control module from a 2nd gen and flipped the scan so that you could have similar controls but on the opposite end of the steering wheel. I have also looked into replacing one of the two horn buttons with volume/seek but haven't had luck in finding a small enough board that's already been made to fit inside the steering wheel without cutting it up.

Running power from the built-in steering wheel wires may be possible, but I have looked into making the battery from these generic controls replaceable with a clip (like a watch battery replacement).

The main reason I have not gone further with the project is that I have yet to find a unit online that looks reliable enough to throw into my car nor have I had the time.

Another option would be to add a 3rd generation steering wheel to a 2nd generation to keep the 2nd generation cruise control but modify the 3rd generation cruise control for radio control. Though, you would run into many issues.
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Old 09-17-2019, 04:12 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steering wheel controls?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jpsuli View Post
I have also looked into replacing one of the two horn buttons with volume/seek but haven't had luck in finding a small enough board that's already been made to fit inside the steering wheel without cutting it up.
This reminded me . . . my minivan has volume controls located on the back of the steering wheel (on the other side, it has cruise up/down controls on the back of the wheel). It works pretty well because it is a 3-spoke wheel design, and with hands at around 3 and 6, easy for fingers to reach back and tap. maybe one of the boards could be used but might be awkward on the back of a Saturn 2-spoke wheel.

There's also this, if your unit has Bluetooth
https://www.amazon.com/COROTC-Steeri...47388928&psc=1
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Old 09-18-2019, 06:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steering wheel controls?

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Originally Posted by alordofchaos View Post
There's also this, if your unit has Bluetooth
https://www.amazon.com/COROTC-Steeri...47388928&psc=1
Yeah I thought about those, but I didn't want the strap to be there on the wheel, it would just bother me lol. And you'd have to worry about the battery in it as well...
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Old 09-19-2019, 12:32 AM   #6
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Default Re: Steering wheel controls?

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Originally Posted by 98_Gold_Uranus View Post
Yeah I thought about those, but I didn't want the strap to be there on the wheel, it would just bother me lol. And you'd have to worry about the battery in it as well...
Yeah, that is the biggest issue for me. I planned on buying one of these and ripping the board out and placing it on the opposite side of the cruise control with a 3D printed housing. However, you still have the issue of the battery and it being wireless which doesn't always work 100% of the time.
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Old 09-19-2019, 10:53 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steering wheel controls?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jpsuli View Post
Yeah, that is the biggest issue for me. I planned on buying one of these and ripping the board out and placing it on the opposite side of the cruise control with a 3D printed housing. However, you still have the issue of the battery and it being wireless which doesn't always work 100% of the time.
Absolutely true. I guess depending on the voltage (probably just one of those little 3v button batteries like in a key-fob), you could probably wire in a step-down regulator somewhere in the dash to run the 3 volts to it instead of having to rely on a battery, but there's still the issue then of getting the power through the clock spring, so at that point you're back to the original issue lol.
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Old 09-23-2019, 07:32 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steering wheel controls?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 98_Gold_Uranus View Post
Absolutely true. I guess depending on the voltage (probably just one of those little 3v button batteries like in a key-fob), you could probably wire in a step-down regulator somewhere in the dash to run the 3 volts to it instead of having to rely on a battery, but there's still the issue then of getting the power through the clock spring, so at that point you're back to the original issue lol.
I don't know off of the top of my head, but doesn't the cruise control have accessory power? Those small watch batteries don't exactly provide a ton of amperage.
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Old 09-24-2019, 10:03 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steering wheel controls?

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Originally Posted by jpsuli View Post
I don't know off of the top of my head, but doesn't the cruise control have accessory power? Those small watch batteries don't exactly provide a ton of amperage.
I believe it does, power and ground, otherwise the little light at the top of the switch wouldn't illuminate when you turn the cruise control on. Good thinking sir
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Old 03-10-2021, 12:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steering wheel controls?

I've gone back to think about this - the clockspring itself is just a long ribbon cable, right? Wouldn't it be possible to exchange the ribbon cable from another model to support additional wires or yonk a clockspring from a newer car that supports more wires?

I am not the most electrically inclined, but I don't think there'd be any issues provided you do a good job soldering the old wires back on
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Old 03-10-2021, 03:32 PM   #11
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Default Re: Steering wheel controls?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jpsuli View Post
I've gone back to think about this - the clockspring itself is just a long ribbon cable, right? Wouldn't it be possible to exchange the ribbon cable from another model to support additional wires or yonk a clockspring from a newer car that supports more wires?

I am not the most electrically inclined, but I don't think there'd be any issues provided you do a good job soldering the old wires back on
I was experimenting with the clockspring earlier this year. Getting a different ribbon would require finding another model car that has a ribbon cable the same width as the OEM ribbon, be long enough to not snag when turning the wheel, and have additional leads available.

I ended up combining two clocksprings together, giving me 6 more leads to work with. Since updating that thread I've moved the exit for the steering wheel end of the ribbon to be directly under the original cable. Forgot how small of an opening there is on the back of the steering wheel. I havent had a chance to use it yet, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. Just have to make sure the bare ribbon leads are insulated before the air bag goes over it.

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Old 03-10-2021, 09:06 PM   #12
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Default Re: Steering wheel controls?

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I was experimenting with the clockspring earlier this year. Getting a different ribbon would require finding another model car that has a ribbon cable the same width as the OEM ribbon, be long enough to not snag when turning the wheel, and have additional leads available.

I ended up combining two clocksprings together, giving me 6 more leads to work with. Since updating that thread I've moved the exit for the steering wheel end of the ribbon to be directly under the original cable. Forgot how small of an opening there is on the back of the steering wheel. I havent had a chance to use it yet, but I don't see why it wouldn't work. Just have to make sure the bare ribbon leads are insulated before the air bag goes over it.

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This is good information! Thanks for taking the time to post it, I like the idea of a heated steering wheel too, would be great here up north

In terms of the turning, I am pretty sure that the clockspring is the same across S-series so they have to take into account of the ones with the manual rack steering which has an extra turn. I may end up doing this as this seems to be the easiest way for a good fit. Off to the junkyard for more parts
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Old 03-10-2021, 10:03 PM   #13
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Default Re: Steering wheel controls?

When grabbing the clock springs you just have to make sure the unmodofied cable is the right one for your year. 99 is a year only clockspring due to a different airbag connector as well as slightly different cruise control wiring. Not sure if the cruise really matters but the airbag definitely does. Any year will be a good donor for a spare ribbon as they’re all the same physical size. Length can vary a few inches ribbon to ribbon, but they all seem to allow at least 5 turns lock to lock.
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Old 03-10-2021, 11:14 PM   #14
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Default Re: Steering wheel controls?

I'd like to see pics of the clockspring. Maybe that dual clockspring setup would be good for the horn. I ignored OldNuc's advice and I think my aftermarket horn burned it up.
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Old 03-11-2021, 02:03 AM   #15
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Default Re: Steering wheel controls?

I can tell you that I had a '93 SL2 without cruise control. I wanted cruise, so I opted to install the factory cruise system.

To do that, it required that I change the clock spring. It seems that in my application, the clockspring for cruise equipped cars had more wire traces than the clockspring used in cars without cruise.

Not a big deal, but it seems that at that time, there were 2 different clocksprings.

Also, I had a Ford Aerostar van in which the clock spring broke at the end where the wire ribbon attached to the connector. I took it apart and stripped off the flat plastic ribbon from the copper conductors and resoldered the end to the ribbon. (Saved me about $100 at the time.) It wasn't easy and required some careful scraping of the plastic, but it worked. That being said, you might be able to use some clockspring ribbon paralleled inside your original clockspring ribbon to add more conductors, and eliminate the problem of the original connector being in the way.

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