M2 Freightliner Ambulance Conversion Project. 2007 Crew Cab

@Ozrockrat any chance you bought one of the ambulances on Long Island (NY)? There was one for sale along my daily commute, and I ended up meeting the owner on a camping trip. Also saw one very similar stored around the corner from my house.
 

cjken

Explorer
@Ozrockrat any chance you bought one of the ambulances on Long Island (NY)? There was one for sale along my daily commute, and I ended up meeting the owner on a camping trip. Also saw one very similar stored around the corner from my house.

I saw one like on LI also. It was a crew cab, but had the older front end style. Similar to your yellow one. It was parked near Carvel for a few months.
 

Ozrockrat

Expedition Leader
Nope none of them came from “winter salt” areas. Interesting to know they used some in NY region though. I need to expand my search criteria ?
 

ClearlyDigital

New member
Getting rid of the V-MUX:
1- no reasonable way to diagnose or repair.
2- Spares are very expensive.
3- Not able to reprogram functions without spending upwards of $6000 on software.
4- control for things like scene lights only function from the cab.
5- main isolator needs to be on to have control.
6- when isolator is on the screens light up the night too much for camping.

The main saving grace for the V-MUX is that it’s in place and working.

1- With the Raspberry Pi and all it’s components I can carry a full spares kit for around $200.
2- all associated sensors are cheap and easily available. (May not be rugged enough but time will tell)
3- ability to combine controls into a single button. I.e night viewing mode sets all lights to red and reduces intensity or camping mode enables right scene lights, rear scene lights, left scene light but disables door switches. Then when finished camping put it in drive mode(or truck is put into gear) turns off all scene and under body lighting and re-enables door switches.
4- Ability to include additional functions such as tank levels, motion detection, security cameras, messaging and maybe even monitoring key parameters on the trucks J1939 bus.
5- because it is a fun project I can do with my grand daughter (after we build a retro gaming machine)

A couple of key project guidelines for me:
1- all switchable functions must have a manual override. (Isolated manual switches can also control relays)
2- no/minimal bespoke hardware except for breakout/IO control boards.
3- reuse existing code where possible (I have a bad habit of thinking I can do everything better and reinventing the wheel)
4- keep it fun.
5- make it reproduce-able potentially commercially available.


My main focus initially is replacing the functions controlled by the V-MUX so basically all the lighting. Especially for the camping kit. Pump and scene lights currently need the V-MUX powered up. To turn on the pump (I repurposed the suction pump the same as every other ambo I have done) I need to:
1- turn on the isolated at drivers door.
2- go to the control panel in the module.
3- turn on pump.
4- go and use the pump (drivers side at the moment is the only outlet)
5- being lazy and if I remember I the turn off the isolator otherwise I have to either unplug the pump or switch the pump off in the module.

The RPi solution would have me set the truck up in camp mode and use a momentary switch plus flow switches to control how long it stays on when switched. For example when the shower is in use keep the pump on for 1 minute after flow stops (to allow for navy showers). But with the sink it only needs to stay on for 30?? seconds. But if there is water flow from the pump and neither of the flow switches for the shower or sink are active turn the pump off and set an alert for a leak.

There is a lot more potentially including controlling the engine preheat while the vehicle is stored. The good part being it can all be done incrementally. (agile development = always releasing a functioning product).

Did you ever find anything on how to do the RPi replacement? I'm curious about this before I take the plunge into buying an ambulance!
 

Ozrockrat

Expedition Leader
Did you ever find anything on how to do the RPi replacement? I'm curious about this before I take the plunge into buying an ambulance!

I have had the RPi running some control based on the Ambo requirements on the desk but on the truck I used a simple switch pane for the required circuits. Still on the project list but not very high at the moment.
 

tbone1004

Observer
I have had the RPi running some control based on the Ambo requirements on the desk but on the truck I used a simple switch pane for the required circuits. Still on the project list but not very high at the moment.
Have you pulled the VMux yet? Bringing this back from the dead.

for @ClearlyDigital as well. Seeing that the VMux is standard RS485 communication, I bought an FTDI USB-RS485 adapter from Amazon, must be non-terminated, as well as the Deutsch connectors on Amazon. The USB adapters are all 22awg wire so had to solder the pins on since the crimper only crimps down to 20awg. Made a second adapter and plugged it into where one of the screens used to be to make scanning it easier since the USB was plugged into the diagnostic port and tapping onto those wires was going to be annoying. Using the Weldon Diagnostics software that is available for free on their website I was able to connect to the system and start turning things on and off through the diagnostics software and using a digital oscilloscope we were able to scan the hex commands being sent. This one happens to be an analog reading from the O2 pressure sensor. We were able to scan for various signals being sent by the diagnostics software and using python were able to write a script to send those commands to the vmux and was able to get both left and right interior lights to turn on as well as send the pwm signals for dimming. Next step is to put this code into most likely an ESP32 board which will allow me to send the commands through HomeAssistant via my phone or a tablet mounted in the ambulance then will use the diagnostics software to intercept all of the commands from both the box and the cab Vista screens and create a library. Sadly I think this library is going to be unique to my ambulance as the diagnostic commands appear to be sending to individual nodes vs a generic command.
Now sadly this is all predicated on the actual Hercules nodes not failing since they do need to be programmed individually, but if your ambulance builder is still in existence, mine is by Braun, then you can get the program files from them and reflash them yourself which is nice. Sadly I was unable to track down a copy of the Designer software to actually program the screens, but this is definitely a legit step forward to at least being able to keep the existing nodes in place

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oh and being done in this beast
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Ok so i guarantee it’s in this thread some where but what wheels and tires are you running? I’m looking too get military super singles on my truck but want to go with a bolt on option. I need a bolt pattern of 10x285.75 I’m pretty sure your truck has the same bolt pattern as mine. Thank you! Here is a pic of my truck for reference. IMG_2424.jpeg
 

DzlToy

Explorer
^^ That is 'big 10 lug', quite common in the US. 'Baby 10 lug' would be something like a Ford F550 sized truck, where 8-lug isn't mean enough to carry the load, per the OEM. Of note, 2.5 ton Rockwell military axles, and some Unimog axles are 6 lug. So, there is that.

Obviously, you need wheels to match the hubs you have. Check 5 ton, 7 ton and even 10 ton military trucks (HEMTT, MRAP, LMTV, FMTV) and if wheels from those trucks fit your truck, any gov't auction site can be searched for alloy or steel bead lock wheels that are field serviceable. Hutchinson is a common brand, but there are several other defence contractors making these types of wheels.

I would caution you on purchasing from DBL Designs (Daniel Little) and Stazworks, without first reading the hundreds of threads discussing the horrible customer service those companies provide. Pirate is a great place to start. Hopefully, they have cleaned up their acts, but it wasn't a pretty picture a 4-5 years ago.
 

rlrenz

Explorer
The drawbacks to any oversized tire are FIRST, where do you carry a spare. SECOND, if the spare is over the cab, how do you get it down? THIRD, how do you hoist the flat tire to your storage location?
 

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