Links to Virtual Instrument Cluster projects?
I've been pouring through dozens and dozens of posts and finding almost nothing on this subject. I'm not sure what the current terminology is for this sort of thing:
- Virtual Instrument Cluster
- Virtual Cluster
- Virtual Guages
I am NOT talking about OBD-II diagnostics or any software run in diagnostic mode. Instead, I mean full time, software-based gauges running on one or more small LCD displays to replace your existing mechanical or VFD cluster. Since much of the data needed for a virtual instrument cluster is available from the OBD-II interface I thought this would be a good place to pose this question.
It seems many people are interested in this subject and would love to build their own software-based cluster, but the technology has not quite caught up to the concept. I envisioned a reconfigurable, software based system way back in 1991 and did my college engineering project on this concept, but it was just a pipe dream back then. The technology today, however, seems to almost be there to make this a reality.
Many companies and individuals have been researching proprietary solutions for years. Embedded apps are most often based on C and require a lot of effort to program the graphics. All this to save memory and make an app with a very small footprint so it can run efficiently on the cheapest possible hardware. But all that ceases to be a concern if a full-blown PC is running a Windows-based app, and with the advent of Car PCs this is now possible.
I am interested in developing a gauge application that can be built in VB.NET, perhaps open source, with graphics generated in Flash. This gives the most flexibility and ease of customization. The challenges remaining today are the need for "instant on" capability, reliable performance (if it hangs or crashes while driving, that's not very safe!), and the need to drive two or three small displays to fit in the small space available in most dashboards. A regular full VGA or XGA display simply won't fit around a steering column in today's cars.
For sure we won't be seeing anything like this from any major companies. All they want is something proprietary so they can make a buck. But seeing what folks here are doing with front ends, HVAC/radio/phone integration, and GPS, it seems we enthusiasts have the spirit to make something like this work! :D
So, are there any websites out there already devoted to this subject? Has anyone had success with this type of project? I'd love to talk to folks who have done it or want to do this. I've done a lot of research for many years as well as quite a bit of design work and I have a pretty good idea how such a system might be built. I'd love some pointers to existing sites or projects so I don't have to completely reinvent the wheel.
So, is there anything out there like this today? :)