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OnStar review from a CarPC guy.

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  • OnStar review from a CarPC guy.

    Hello everyone!

    Recently I baught a 03' chevy Impala, what a nice riding car, as some of you already know most GM vehicles after 2001 are equipped with OnStar. I wanted to give every techie out there a techie's perspective on what I think about the monthly service. Since OnStar is closly related to in vehicle computing and my hobbies of designing in vehicle computing solutions I will give you a brief overview of the hardware/software and paid service.

    First I'd like to talk about the hardware. The GPS/Cell antenna is positioned in the top of the rear windsheild, in plain view of the sky. There is a fairly large black box 5,6,9 (W,H,L) in the trunk. Considerbaly larger and more awkwardly fitting than my MII10000 enclosure would be. There is also some hardware inside of the rearview mirror including a microphone and interface buttons. The positioning of this hardware is interesting and useful. Hobbiest system designers with questions on where to put specific hardware can take a hint from the pro's and consider placing devices such as the GPS antenna in the same locations.

    Most systems after 2001 come with a hands free phone which can be linked to your Verizon family plan and draw minutes from that. Otherwise you have to by minutes in chunks. I baught 30 minutes for 13.95, you can buy up to 1,000, the minutes last for a year and there is no "monthly plan" like cell phones so no reacurring hands free bills show up. To use the phone you press a button which mute's your cars audio and verbally reviews your options. To anwser you just speak the commands. I was curious as to how good the accuracy is compared to homebrew voice software. It seems like the pro's are also struggling with accuracy because the system got a few of my commands confused. So to say the least its not perfect.

    The system's strength is basically in its ability to call a live person almost instantly. The person then acts as your personal assistant and helps you the best they can with limited amount of information. After pressing the button, on average, the wait is less then 15 seconds before your speaking to a live person. The person probably has a software interface that gives them your map location, local emergency numbers ect.

    After using the system I can honestly say that I'd rather use my car computer. It's capable of making many of the same smart decesions. On thing I've found also is that lack of privacy with onstar is very aparent. I'd much rather talk to a computer for directions or simple functions than a person. A computer is just a machine so if you make a mistake or say something foolish its not as embarassing.
    Progress [I will seriously never be done!]
    Via EPIA MII
    512MB RAM
    OEM GPS (embedded)
    nLite WinXP pro on
    1GB Extreme III CF card
    Carnetix 1260 startup/ DC-DC regulator
    Software: Still, re-Writing my existing front end in .Net

  • #2
    14 bucks not a bad deal at all. Don't own a GM but like the idea for emergencies.

    Also saw a commercial where Onstar unlocked the car.

    After tweaking my carputer I locked my keys in the damn car, wife laughed at me One of those HUGE flat bed tow trucks had to come and break in to the car, all the neighbors came out to see. Cost was 40 bucks.

    I hope other car companies have the same type of system soon.
    2008 350z GT Installed since April 22nd 2011 - Worklog
    2000 Protege Installed Since April 2, 2005 - Intel D201GLY|Fusion Brain|ODBPros ODBII|Engenius|GPS Rikaline|Powermate|Motorized Lilli
    Sound Stage
    Eclipse|MTX|Infinity

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by -zip-
      14 bucks not a bad deal at all. Don't own a GM but like the idea for emergencies.

      Also saw a commercial where Onstar unlocked the car.

      After tweaking my carputer I locked my keys in the damn car, wife laughed at me One of those HUGE flat bed tow trucks had to come and break in to the car, all the neighbors came out to see. Cost was 40 bucks.

      I hope other car companies have the same type of system soon.
      Just readin what you wrote.. Let me just make sure I read this right: You paid $40 to have a someone drive over in a tow truck and break into your car? Hmm.. I'm sure you could have done it for free yourself, right?

      Comment


      • #4
        Does OnStar use regular cell networks or a satellite system? That could have come in handy when I nailed a deer in the middle of nowhere with shoddy cell service. It was quite embarassing talking to the police dispatch lady and being disconnected every 15 seconds!
        http://www.jeepmp3.com/
        CarPC Stolen. Starting over.
        Ne1 recognize the avatar?

        Comment


        • #5
          Did you see the commercial about how onstar is tracking anyone driving a new gmc collecting information about where, when, and how much people travel? and about how much money that information might be worth?

          and did they show you how they can actually lock you INTO your vehicle? So that the only way out would be to break the window?

          Once in a new trailblazer, a woman's voice just started talking through the speakers, we didnt even push anything. she was talking as if she did not know she was being listened to. Makes you wonder if they can just hear you whenever they want....

          I would be ripping that box out so fast, they can track me right into the trash can.

          Comment


          • #6
            I tested out MapMonkey last week, and noticed a cool feature of how it can calculate your speed using the GPS information. I bet GM can do the same thing, and get an idea of your driving habits (like speeding alot), and wonder if they can use it in legal matters (say a court case, or to tell your insurance company)?

            Comment


            • #7
              .

              I beleive it works on regular cellular service. But don't quote me. The reason being is where I live there is always shoddy cell service and when setting up the service in the driveway where I almost never get a good signal (one bar or less) The OnStar was also very shaky and gave static ocasionally like my cell would. However I think because Onstars antenna is powered by 12v it may be stronger than a regular cell phone.
              Progress [I will seriously never be done!]
              Via EPIA MII
              512MB RAM
              OEM GPS (embedded)
              nLite WinXP pro on
              1GB Extreme III CF card
              Carnetix 1260 startup/ DC-DC regulator
              Software: Still, re-Writing my existing front end in .Net

              Comment


              • #8
                .

                Just so you guys know other car manufactures are installing "blackboxes" in thier vehicles to collect this information. Sooner or later its going to happen on a wider scale.

                NMEA data (the data comming from the GPS unit) in your car gives your general speed and direction to the Onstar or CarPC system.
                Progress [I will seriously never be done!]
                Via EPIA MII
                512MB RAM
                OEM GPS (embedded)
                nLite WinXP pro on
                1GB Extreme III CF card
                Carnetix 1260 startup/ DC-DC regulator
                Software: Still, re-Writing my existing front end in .Net

                Comment


                • #9
                  Hack your OnStar....not sure if it will work with your particular onstar, but worth reading:
                  http://www.mobile-effects.com/module...showpage&pid=6
                  www.mobile-effects.com

                  Free file hosting, picture gallery hosting for installs, PM me.

                  Internet's first Front End Skin browser, featured installs, downloads, links, informative articles - all free to registered users.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    .

                    Thanks for the info Bob. This car is actually for my Fiencee and every time I mention touching her car (actually mine because I baught it) You should see the death glares I get.
                    Progress [I will seriously never be done!]
                    Via EPIA MII
                    512MB RAM
                    OEM GPS (embedded)
                    nLite WinXP pro on
                    1GB Extreme III CF card
                    Carnetix 1260 startup/ DC-DC regulator
                    Software: Still, re-Writing my existing front end in .Net

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      the cellphone protocol...

                      Just a quick note -- OnStar uses the old analog cellphone network. It's a rather clever way of making use of all that old equipment.

                      -p.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by IntellaWorks
                        Thanks for the info Bob. This car is actually for my Fiencee and every time I mention touching her car (actually mine because I baught it) You should see the death glares I get.
                        lol she probably saw your ugly modded car :P
                        2008 Civic... Sound system... then carputer install...
                        WORK IN PROGRESS

                        If you look at my avatar closely, you can see a chick with two big knockers....

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Actually, isn't it illegal to trak vehicles in the US without a court order? Also, wouldn't OnStar get sued out of business if they got caught listening in on people?

                          It's called Invasion of Privacy!!

                          Peace,

                          Rafster
                          Post # 3000

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Rafster
                            Actually, isn't it illegal to trak vehicles in the US without a court order? Also, wouldn't OnStar get sued out of business if they got caught listening in on people?

                            It's called Invasion of Privacy!!

                            Peace,

                            Rafster
                            Mmm Hmmm. I'm sure there are lawsuit's pending, as I have heard many stories of people hearing random voices from Onstar.
                            One night at work (at a hotel) I got a call from the police asking if I had a guest registered under such and such name. I did not. Then the police came to the desk looking for her, wanting to know if I'd seen anyone matching her discription... I had. Here's what happened: The girl didnt come home when she was supposed to. The girl's mother tried calling her cell and her friends cell to no avail. She had called me earlier asking if her or her friend were registered, she somehow knew they were here. (the room was under a diff name)
                            To make a long story short, the mom had onstar track the girl's location and relay it to the police. I knew which room they were in, and called her and told her the police were down inthe lobby waiting and her mom was trying to call her. She came down and was really sorry to the police and called her mom with lame excuses.
                            Is that not some BS?
                            Carputer status: [-*---------]
                            Im thinking laptop...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Mrbmw99
                              Just readin what you wrote.. Let me just make sure I read this right: You paid $40 to have a someone drive over in a tow truck and break into your car? Hmm.. I'm sure you could have done it for free yourself, right?

                              How would you suggest to break in? At the time I only had the one key. I have more now LOL.
                              2008 350z GT Installed since April 22nd 2011 - Worklog
                              2000 Protege Installed Since April 2, 2005 - Intel D201GLY|Fusion Brain|ODBPros ODBII|Engenius|GPS Rikaline|Powermate|Motorized Lilli
                              Sound Stage
                              Eclipse|MTX|Infinity

                              Comment

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