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PaulF's 2002 Volvo S60 version 3 - the half watt system

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  • PaulF's 2002 Volvo S60 version 3 - the half watt system

    For me, the fun I get out of the car computing hobby is all about the custom remote control of devices in the car. I've gone through a few revisions of always on systems and have never been able to say "this system will absolutely not kill my battery."

    Brief history of my systems - I make it sound too easy here haha
    Version 0.5 - Just a PC
    • AMD based system with Micro ATX mobo
    • No fancy microcontrollers/fusion brains
    • Relays "cleverly" attached to different things to turn the PC on/off with no intelligent startup/shutdown controller and turn the amplifiers on etc

    Version 1.0 - PC + Sheeva Plug
    • Same system as version 0.5
    • Addition of sheeva plug
    • Sheeva plug was on 24/7 attached to 3g, hosting an access point and allowing for remote control
    • Fusion brain attached to sheeva plug control devices
    • Big access battery to keep the sheeva plug powered
    • Plug into house at night to charge

    Version 2.0 - Single, always on PC to replace both the PC and the Sheeva Plug from version 1.0
    • Initial plan was to USB PandaBoard, decided not to due to tons of weird linux/arm bugs when using a full desktop OS
    • Used a FitPC2 instead (~8 watt consumption vs ~5 for PandaBoard)
    • Windows 7 + Centrafuse + custom control software, etc, etc
    • No plugging in at night
    • Fancy high quality sound system
    • 30 watt solar panel
    • Completely dead battery, always.

    Now in theory, I can fight very, very hard and trim that power consumption, maybe get bigger, better solar panels, but I'm really not interested in that fight. I also know a LOT more now than I did even 2 years ago.

    So, here is revision 3.0
    The idea here is to use a microcontroller for the always on portion of the install. The microcontroller itself will be able to talk without any overkill full-blown computers. This should result in something capable of running off any standard car battery without fancy charging systems/solar panels/huge batteries. I have yet to decide what I want to do for the entertainment/nav computer yet - I can use the computers from my past builds, build something new, or go with a tablet. Either way, this is 100% flexible since it can communicate with all of the above.

    The parts I've selected for the task are:
    Microcontroller: The 5 volt Arduino Mega Pro
    Price: $45
    Url: http://www.sparkfun.com/products/11007
    Reasons for selection:
    • The Arduino makes life easy with its giant community
    • The mega offers 54 digital I/O ports (I could control 54 relays if I wanted)
    • Mega offers 15 analog inputs for reading sensors.
    • The mega has 4 hardware serial ports, so no need for software serial when communicating with other devices (GPS, OBD2, Cell modem)
    • I have a lot of 5 volt stuff, so I chose the 5 volt version instead of the 3.3 volt version
    • I chose the pro version because it is all for through-hole soldering, and I won't have to deal with buying connectors or lose connections
    • Increased RAM (8kb) vs the smaller arduinos will make programming easier
    • Low enough power consumption (Measured @ 33mA on the 12 volt side of 90% efficient regulator)
    • The pro version has no unnecessary components on board

    Cell modem: Seeedstudio GPRS shield
    Price: $60
    Url: http://www.seeedstudio.com/depot/gprs-shield-p-779.html
    • Designed specifically for 5 volt arduinos
    • Of the devices I looked at, the sim900 module seemed to be the most versatile cell module
    • Low standby power: 1.5mA
    • Max power on US networks: 1watt
    • The board offers additional digital I/O ports in case I decided to use a board without so many I/0s
    • Communicates over serial vs most modems which use USB

    GPS: Sparkfun's Venus board
    Price: $50
    Url: http://www.sparkfun.com/products/11058
    • 20hz GPS updates!
    • Full power: [email protected] volts = .3 watts
    • Reduced power: [email protected] = .2watts
    • Nearly no power in standby mode, 1 second resume time if it hasn't moved
    I plan to attach this guy to both the microcontroller and the computer (via usb/serial converter) and be able to use it for both at the same time. This thing seems superior to anything available in the CarPC community for GPS.

    Cell plan: T-Mobile "Unlimited Text and 10/minute"
    Price: $15/month
    Url: http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/plans/p....mc_t=OnsiteAd
    • All I need is texting to get commands to/from the car, when I'm in the car I have my android phone tether for 4g
    • Unfortunately, T-Mobile service sucks
    • $15 is the cheapest unlimited texting-only plan I could find
    • Other option was to add a line to my verizon family plan for $10/month, but verizon is CDMA and VERY picky about what devices are on their network
    • Texting doesn't require nearly as good of service quality as internet does
    • I can couple it with an awesome roof-mounted antenna for better service
    • Plug & Play - just stick the t-mobile sim card in my GSM modem and it works.

    I'm fairly well along in this project, so pictures and updates will come in a few minutes.
    My Nearly Complete Car:
    http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...ed-car-pc.html

    Micro Control Center... Control Your Car Across the Internet
    http://www.mp3car.com/fusion-brain/1...-internet.html

    Website: (It's a work in progress, really. All my projects have taken me from ever really developing it.)
    http://paulfurtado.com/

  • #2
    Attached are pictures of the Arduino
    Attached Files
    My Nearly Complete Car:
    http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...ed-car-pc.html

    Micro Control Center... Control Your Car Across the Internet
    http://www.mp3car.com/fusion-brain/1...-internet.html

    Website: (It's a work in progress, really. All my projects have taken me from ever really developing it.)
    http://paulfurtado.com/

    Comment


    • #3
      Attached are pictures of the GPRS/GSM modem
      Attached Files
      My Nearly Complete Car:
      http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...ed-car-pc.html

      Micro Control Center... Control Your Car Across the Internet
      http://www.mp3car.com/fusion-brain/1...-internet.html

      Website: (It's a work in progress, really. All my projects have taken me from ever really developing it.)
      http://paulfurtado.com/

      Comment


      • #4
        Attached are pictures of a really ugly relay board I made, but it will be in a project enclosure, so who cares?

        The chip on the front is a ULN203A - darlington array which allows the microcontroller to control the relays.

        The relays are mixture of relays I had lying around, they are powered by 5 volts, and can switch loads at 12 volts, 5 amps.

        It should be noted that I'm supplementing this with a pre-made relay board with 4 relays on it.
        Url: http://www.amazon.com/SainSmart-4-Ch.../dp/B0057OC5O8
        Price: $15
        Attached Files
        My Nearly Complete Car:
        http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...ed-car-pc.html

        Micro Control Center... Control Your Car Across the Internet
        http://www.mp3car.com/fusion-brain/1...-internet.html

        Website: (It's a work in progress, really. All my projects have taken me from ever really developing it.)
        http://paulfurtado.com/

        Comment


        • #5
          All of it attached
          Attached Files
          My Nearly Complete Car:
          http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...ed-car-pc.html

          Micro Control Center... Control Your Car Across the Internet
          http://www.mp3car.com/fusion-brain/1...-internet.html

          Website: (It's a work in progress, really. All my projects have taken me from ever really developing it.)
          http://paulfurtado.com/

          Comment


          • #6
            Current progress:
            At this point, I've written ultra-reliable functions for sending/receiving SMS messages from the modem. If the modem is having trouble, it gets restarted, I can turn it on and off on demand to save power, etc.

            I've implemented the commands "ON" and "OFF" which control the relays. Ex if I text the modem "ON:1" relay 1 will turn on.
            In general, there is a 6 second round-trip time (includes command processing and time for response text to reach my phone)

            The plan is to write an android app on my phone which will send/receive those text messages since the complex ones will be pretty cryptic since I'll be packing a ton of data into the 140 character text messages.

            I'm waiting for the GPS shield in the mail, and figuring out what to do about OBD2.
            The OBD-II UART modfule from mp3car looks pretty cool:
            http://store.mp3car.com/MicroOBD_200..._p/com-141.htm
            I may or may not decide to connect the microcontroller to OBDII though since presumably, if the car is on, the main computer will be on and be able to talk to OBD2 itself.
            My Nearly Complete Car:
            http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...ed-car-pc.html

            Micro Control Center... Control Your Car Across the Internet
            http://www.mp3car.com/fusion-brain/1...-internet.html

            Website: (It's a work in progress, really. All my projects have taken me from ever really developing it.)
            http://paulfurtado.com/

            Comment


            • #7
              Almost forgot. Attached is a picture of a multimeter measuring milliamps of the whole setup. That's right, 44.1 mA @ 11.52 volts while attached to GSM. During SMS receipt/transmission, it increases to up to 60mA. With relays on, it, of course, eats a lot more power.
              Attached Files
              My Nearly Complete Car:
              http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...ed-car-pc.html

              Micro Control Center... Control Your Car Across the Internet
              http://www.mp3car.com/fusion-brain/1...-internet.html

              Website: (It's a work in progress, really. All my projects have taken me from ever really developing it.)
              http://paulfurtado.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                That's pretty awesome stuff. I especially like how you routed your programmer wires through the power plug hole in the Mega Pro I am actually embarking on a similar project, but using a small RF transceiver rather than a cell modem so I can communicate with my car when I'm within a couple hundred feet. Probably going to be using just a regular Arduino Uno since I have one laying around. Ultra Low power consumption ftw

                One thing that I know tripzero did with his car, and I know I'm going to do with mine, is set it up with current sensors (sparkfun has some hall effect ones, not cheap though) to measure the solar panel and car computer. This would allow you to keep track of how much power you are using for your system. Not really especially useful, but another cool piece of information to know

                Really nice relay board. I use the ULN2308A darlington drivers for switching relays all the time. I never even thought about trying amazon for things like relay boards though, that's a really good deal. Usually I just go for futurlec.com, but they take 3-4 weeks for shipping since it comes from china, and you always have to check the boards for build quality :/.
                "stop with the REINSTALLS, what do you think we got some lame-o installer!!!" - mitchjs
                RevFE
                My Shop

                Comment


                • #9
                  Very awesome! I lost my fusion brain... so I'm trying to think up a good reason to use the arduino (prolly a smaller one like the uno). I use the hall sensor one for higher current things like what's going into my second battery when it charges. I'm using smaller current sensors (also from sparkfun) for the lower current stuff like the solar panel.

                  That relay board looks quite awesome. I may have to check it out.
                  Former author of LinuxICE, nghost, nobdy.
                  Current author of Automotive Message Broker (AMB).
                  Works on Tizen IVI. Does not represent anyone or anything but himself.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Great project. I would love to see a LTE modem but I doubt we'll see one anytime soon. I'm going to check out that GPS you posted. I already have a USB GPS installed but having one that I can share with my on board Arduino would be nice.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Ahh, so version 2.0 got scrapped? What kind of issues did you run into with the pandaboard? I imagine you could get it under 5W. Also, I'm willing to bet the Atom consumes more than 8W...

                      How much did your 30W solar panel produce? I've already seen mine generating 350mA of current. That may be enough to power the ARM board during the day. I may use the arduino control the power of the PC and have it shut off at night and possibly during certain hours of the day when I'm unlikely to be using the car.
                      Former author of LinuxICE, nghost, nobdy.
                      Current author of Automotive Message Broker (AMB).
                      Works on Tizen IVI. Does not represent anyone or anything but himself.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'm happy that there are other forum members interested in micro controllers. I had expected there wouldn't be much interest around this thread!

                        Originally posted by malcom2073 View Post
                        That's pretty awesome stuff. I especially like how you routed your programmer wires through the power plug hole in the Mega Pro I am actually embarking on a similar project, but using a small RF transceiver rather than a cell modem so I can communicate with my car when I'm within a couple hundred feet. Probably going to be using just a regular Arduino Uno since I have one laying around. Ultra Low power consumption ftw
                        Thanks! Those holes are too big to go unused haha and I didn't trust those solder joints being swung around.

                        Some of the modules in the 900mhz band claim miles of range. I've never actually experimented with RF stuff, but if I was in the suburbs with less buildings this would be a pretty sweet option to avoid the cell bill. Now you've got me thinking about doing something hybrid so I can still talk to the car when I'm in a no service area...


                        Originally posted by tripzero View Post
                        I use the hall sensor one for higher current things like what's going into my second battery when it charges. I'm using smaller current sensors (also from sparkfun) for the lower current stuff like the solar panel.
                        Originally posted by malcom2073 View Post
                        One thing that I know tripzero did with his car, and I know I'm going to do with mine, is set it up with current sensors (sparkfun has some hall effect ones, not cheap though) to measure the solar panel and car computer. This would allow you to keep track of how much power you are using for your system. Not really especially useful, but another cool piece of information to know
                        I want this too. A problem with many on sparkfun is that they're also AC only. I was considering using a shunt based one for the arduino stuff... but really if I keep this below 100mA I don't care enough about what it's using. On the other hand, it would be interesting to tap my alternator, main battery, and accessory batteries, and see what power is coming from where when the sound system is cranking, but with the hall sensors, that is too damn expensive.

                        Originally posted by tripzero View Post
                        That relay board looks quite awesome. I may have to check it out.
                        Originally posted by malcom2073 View Post
                        Really nice relay board. I use the ULN2308A darlington drivers for switching relays all the time. I never even thought about trying amazon for things like relay boards though, that's a really good deal. Usually I just go for futurlec.com, but they take 3-4 weeks for shipping since it comes from china, and you always have to check the boards for build quality :/.
                        I never thought about amazon either, but I was searching for serial modems and I eyeballed that board in the related results and wanted to kill myself after having soldered all those other relays. They also have 8 relay versions. The screw terminals are extremely convenient too.

                        Originally posted by tripzero View Post
                        Very awesome! I lost my fusion brain... so I'm trying to think up a good reason to use the arduino (prolly a smaller one like the uno).
                        Thanks! Do your always on stuff with it! There's just no winning with full heavy-weight operating systems.


                        Originally posted by that_kid View Post
                        Great project. I would love to see a LTE modem but I doubt we'll see one anytime soon.
                        Thanks! I don't see why you couldn't have a 4g LTE modem. I'm intentionally avoiding internet connectivity for cost/power/reliability concerns. I used to have an always on computer in the car with 3g, but that was too expensive and too unreliable. Serial really doesn't have the necessary throughput for 4g speeds though, and a microcontroller doesn't have the processing power to pump 20+mbps of data haha. You could always just stick a rooted android phone in the car. Write some slick apps to control a microcontroller and host wifi etc. Also, you could get really crazy and get an AT&T (they support GSM and LTE as far as I know) sim card and then implement something to switch the sim between the GSM modem and a USB lte modem for the computer I think sim card A/B switches actually do exist. There are also USB host shields for the arduino which theoretically let you talk to USB modems. Unfortunately I had a pretty rough time getting that to work and opted for the most direct/reliable solution - serial.

                        Originally posted by that_kid View Post
                        I'm going to check out that GPS you posted. I already have a USB GPS installed but having one that I can share with my on board Arduino would be nice.
                        The thing looks pretty awesome. I'm thinking that with an FTDI usb-serial converter might actually be one of the best GPS options available for a car pc. Won't know until I try it out though.

                        Originally posted by tripzero View Post
                        Ahh, so version 2.0 got scrapped? What kind of issues did you run into with the pandaboard? I imagine you could get it under 5W. Also, I'm willing to bet the Atom consumes more than 8W...
                        Well I still have the FitPC in there and manually turn it on/off nightly. I had stability issues all around with the PandaBoard because of the lackluster proprietary-ish omap4 drivers. Both linaro and ubuntu run great for a few minutes then eventually become unusable. Most of the issues stem from graphics. I messed with it a ton in the summer, but it's gotten quite a bit better so I tried again in January and was still disappointed. I'm not saying it couldn't work, but it is far more buggy than I would want to mess with in the car. Sadly by the time this is 90% stable, something better will exist. Either way, the definitive solution is the arduino, and once that's done, I won't need to strive for low power in the car.

                        Originally posted by tripzero View Post
                        How much did your 30W solar panel produce? I've already seen mine generating 350mA of current. That may be enough to power the ARM board during the day. I may use the arduino control the power of the PC and have it shut off at night and possibly during certain hours of the day when I'm unlikely to be using the car.
                        I tested it outside of the car on the first day I owned it. Laid it on my driveway on a reasonable day. Produced ~1.2 amps. I've honestly never measured it again. I think part of the problem may be that we're dumping the power into agm batteries. That kinetic battery I see in your trunk is AGM, right? I believe I read somewhere that solar charge controllers kill them if not designed for AGM, and I can attest to the fact that my Optima blue top's life is SIGNIFICANTLY reduced - like my stuff only lasts a few hours on it before the battery reads 6 volts, but that may be because of several significant unnoticed discharges. Might want to ping OldSpark on this one since he seems to be the most knowledgeable about battery tech on this forum.
                        My Nearly Complete Car:
                        http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...ed-car-pc.html

                        Micro Control Center... Control Your Car Across the Internet
                        http://www.mp3car.com/fusion-brain/1...-internet.html

                        Website: (It's a work in progress, really. All my projects have taken me from ever really developing it.)
                        http://paulfurtado.com/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I tested it outside of the car on the first day I owned it. Laid it on my driveway on a reasonable day. Produced ~1.2 amps. I've honestly never measured it again. I think part of the problem may be that we're dumping the power into agm batteries. That kinetic battery I see in your trunk is AGM, right? I believe I read somewhere that solar charge controllers kill them if not designed for AGM, and I can attest to the fact that my Optima blue top's life is SIGNIFICANTLY reduced - like my stuff only lasts a few hours on it before the battery reads 6 volts, but that may be because of several significant unnoticed discharges. Might want to ping OldSpark on this one since he seems to be the most knowledgeable about battery tech on this forum.
                          My battery is completely dead at 10.5 volts. Anything lower than that will damage the battery. I just emailed the company who made my solar charge controller to make sure they support AGM batteries. I'll find out soon if I'm destroying yet another battery (this is my 3rd). AGM is typical for solar applications so I hope it supports it.

                          There isn't any information about battery types on the spec pdf: http://lib.store.yahoo.net/lib/wind-sun/SunGuard.pdf

                          I've recently heard not so great reviews of the pandaboard. I wonder if there are some issues with it. My biggest issue has been usb-related (talking with the dcdc-usb on ARM) specifically. I haven't messed with the graphics enough to know how stable that is...
                          Former author of LinuxICE, nghost, nobdy.
                          Current author of Automotive Message Broker (AMB).
                          Works on Tizen IVI. Does not represent anyone or anything but himself.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tripzero View Post
                            My battery is completely dead at 10.5 volts. Anything lower than that will damage the battery. I just emailed the company who made my solar charge controller to make sure they support AGM batteries. I'll find out soon if I'm destroying yet another battery (this is my 3rd). AGM is typical for solar applications so I hope it supports it.
                            Mine is dead at 10.5 volts too. You never want to bring an AGM even that low. Let alone 6 volts. MY battery is VERY damaged haha.

                            Originally posted by tripzero View Post
                            I've recently heard not so great reviews of the pandaboard. I wonder if there are some issues with it. My biggest issue has been usb-related (talking with the dcdc-usb on ARM) specifically. I haven't messed with the graphics enough to know how stable that is...
                            That's really odd that you have USB issues. I was under the impression that USB support was perfect. I mean I cruise around an ssd over USB with it at around 46mb/s

                            For me, graphics is so bad, that the gnome decorator ends up taking on the ubuntu 8.04 desktop theme completely randomly and more and more of the gui stop working. Even without compiz.
                            My Nearly Complete Car:
                            http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...ed-car-pc.html

                            Micro Control Center... Control Your Car Across the Internet
                            http://www.mp3car.com/fusion-brain/1...-internet.html

                            Website: (It's a work in progress, really. All my projects have taken me from ever really developing it.)
                            http://paulfurtado.com/

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Yeh... i never got far enough to mess with graphics much but from what I did use things seemed to generally work on the igepv2. 8.04? That's pretty old...

                              I was able to get sgx drivers up on the igep and get the qt-qml examples working.

                              Technical support at kinetic was who told me 10.5 was as low as I could go. I have the dcdc-usb defaulting to 11.2 volt before it shuts offs the power. I may keep it at that threshold.
                              Former author of LinuxICE, nghost, nobdy.
                              Current author of Automotive Message Broker (AMB).
                              Works on Tizen IVI. Does not represent anyone or anything but himself.

                              Comment

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