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Standard set of CarPC sensors

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  • Standard set of CarPC sensors

    I would like to see a ‘minimum standard’ package of sensors developed for integration with a CarPC. I was thinking of naming it the OBE (On-board Environment) or OBS (On-board Sensor) board.

    As smartphones have evolved rapidly over the last few years, there has been some minimum expectations set as to standard hardware that comes with them. These have included things like GPS chips, electronic compasses, accelerometers, etc. If a developer can depend on these sensors being there, then it can lead to some cool things being developed - such as augmented reality apps, barcode scanners etc. In my opinion, the most interesting programming happening nowadays is the experimental/play software taking advantage of these new computer senses.

    In an automobile’s case, the sensors relating to the engine are already installed and accessible in a (somewhat) standard manner by using the car’s OBD port.

    But there are other sensors on the market that we should be able to bundle into a module (open source hardware?) to be bought and installed so that CarPC apps can take advantage of them. These could include:
    Temperature sensors, to include as a minimum:
    • a standard ambient (external) sensor
    • a cabin sensor
    • a computer case sensor (included in the computer hardware?)

    GPS

    3 axis accelerometer

    An Electronic compass

    Ambient light sensor

    Rain sensor (moisture?)

    Humidity sensor

    Car electrical system current sensor
    The spec for the package should also have the ability to accommodate multiples of any of these if required.

    If we can decide on a standard suite, it could be designed to be as simple as we now plug in a USB GPS. Instead of just getting our location from the USB connection, we can count on all of these other physical measurements as well.

    As an aside, on the software side Microsoft has a new ‘platform’ in Windows 7, which provides a standard way of accessing these kind of things : the Windows Sensor and Location Platform.
    I’m not sure if other OS’s have similar features. Regardless, we should be able to define a standard method of enumerating and interfacing with the board.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Penzance View Post
    Temperature sensors, to include as a minimum:
    • a standard ambient (external) sensor
    • a cabin sensor
    • a computer case sensor (included in the computer hardware?)
    Case sensor is included on the motherboard....external temp is standard on modern cars (OBDII) and a cabin sensor is accessible on most CAN buses in modern cars.

    Originally posted by Penzance View Post
    GPS
    Google GPS chip prices and compare them to your standard ebay gps

    Originally posted by Penzance View Post
    3 axis accelerometer

    An Electronic compass

    Ambient light sensor
    +1 could be very useful

    Originally posted by Penzance View Post
    Rain sensor (moisture?)
    again accessible via can bus...but could be cool in older cars (if you can find a standalone unit)

    Originally posted by Penzance View Post
    Humidity sensor
    for what?

    Originally posted by Penzance View Post
    Car electrical system current sensor
    Very expensive to measure the amount of current a modern car could be pushing
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Penzance View Post
      ....Car electrical system current sensor....
      Originally posted by justchat_1 View Post
      Very expensive to measure the amount of current a modern car could be pushing
      And I'd question WHY?
      Especially if not monitoring voltage(s).

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      • #4
        Originally posted by justchat_1 View Post
        Very expensive to measure the amount of current a modern car could be pushing

        You can get a 500amp shunt for around $30, which is plenty enough for even the most taxing electronic systems in a vehicle.
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        • #5
          You can get non-resistive DC Amp sensors even cheaper than that.

          The question still remains - WHY? What for? What use does it have?

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          • #6
            Originally posted by malcom2073 View Post
            You can get a 500amp shunt for around $30, which is plenty enough for even the most taxing electronic systems in a vehicle.
            you would never want to use a shunt on a main battery cable...compare the gauge of those shunts to the gauge of the wire connected to it.

            +1 OldSpark....even cheaper its not useful information.
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            - Always Recruiting Developers -
            Like what you see? Donations are always welcome

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            • #7
              Originally posted by justchat_1 View Post
              Case sensor is included on the motherboard....external temp is standard on modern cars (OBDII) and a cabin sensor is accessible on most CAN buses in modern cars.
              If the temps are accessible through the car's built in sensors, then I have no problems using them. I was thinking of the areas that might not have a way of measuring the temps. I was also going to recommend a 1-wire bus for this, so one could run just one pair of wires to wherever you need a sensor.

              Originally posted by justchat_1 View Post
              Google GPS chip prices and compare them to your standard ebay gps
              Yea, I see what you mean. Perhaps this could be optional on this board, and assumed to come in through the USB port, like the ODB connection.

              Originally posted by justchat_1 View Post
              again accessible via can bus...but could be cool in older cars (if you can find a standalone unit)
              As I said above, if it is available via the built in sensors, no problems. Most of the cars I see being worked on here are at least a few years old, however and it would be a useful sensor to have.

              Originally posted by justchat_1 View Post
              for what?
              I was thinking that it would be useful for input into an automated HVAC system.

              Originally posted by justchat_1 View Post
              Very expensive to measure the amount of current a modern car could be pushing
              I haven't looked at the costs right now - I'm looking for reasons why something like this would not be a good idea, and any other ideas on sensors to be added to the package.

              Originally posted by OldSpark View Post
              The question still remains - WHY? What for? What use does it have?
              Well, I'm looking for some way to display the health of the car's electrical system. I notice the Carnetix 2140 displays a lot of information about the electrics hooked up to it - perhaps that's where I got the idea from.

              Why do we do any of this? 'Cause it's cool , and 'cause we can.

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              • #8
                Current does NOT give any information about the health of a car's electrical system (hence why I asked).
                Voltage does. End of story.

                I'd rather not repeat yet again the Ys etc - I'd rather point out how often do you see ammeters in MODERN vehicles as opposed to voltmeters? (Even though that could be for other reasons including safety.)

                Or I could ask "so your ammeter shows 10A or 50A or 100A ot 200A - so what - how do you know if that is healthy or not?"
                Or how do you know if your alternator is overcharging (boiling) you battery?
                Or how do you know if it is undercharging?

                Ooops - I said I'd rather not repeat, yet there I go....
                Trust me, I'll beat you into submission....
                Resistance is Futile. (And in this case so is Amperage.)


                And for anyone that does want "shunts", I suggest Hall Sensors instead - eg under $20 - digikey Tamura 600A 5V.
                Similar devices are used for "zero-resistance" protection (fuse/circuit-breaker) circuits in hi-end hi-power audio systems (especially for plebs that have their audio PSU housed in their amps)

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by OldSpark View Post
                  ...Useful information...
                  Thanks for that. What would you recommend as a sensor for this purpose?

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                  • #10
                    A voltmeter.

                    If you have onboard intelligence (meaning uPC, PICAXE etc), they should have analog inputs.

                    Analog inputs can be added to PCs if their soundcards (inputs) are unsuitable (ie, if they have capacitive coupling that blocks DC).

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                    • #11
                      You know a lot of this is already covered with: Fusion Brain, Qube, Phidgets etc.

                      Fusion Brain has a 3 axis accelerometer, and an ambient light sensor, as well as temp sensors. I am sure the Qube has similar, and I have briefly looked at the Phidgets website, and has most of these covered as well.
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by drewbp View Post
                        You know a lot of this is already covered with: Fusion Brain, Qube, Phidgets etc.
                        If I need a new PC I can go buy all the parts and put them together as well - or I can buy a prebuilt system from Dell or HP.

                        I'm trying to define the specs for that prebuilt system.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by OldSpark View Post
                          A voltmeter.

                          If you have onboard intelligence (meaning uPC, PICAXE etc), they should have analog inputs.

                          Analog inputs can be added to PCs if their soundcards (inputs) are unsuitable (ie, if they have capacitive coupling that blocks DC).

                          Again, thanks for the info. I'll add it to the specs.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Penzance View Post
                            Car electrical system current sensor
                            Look up hall-effect current sensors. This may be what you're looking for.

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                            • #15
                              That's what I was linking too.

                              But I think I have educated yet another that current sensing is useless for determining system health.

                              I intend getting some of those sensors - but that is for test cases & experimentation - nothing to do with system health which is shown with a voltmeter. (In simple terms, if your voltmeter dips (below 14.4V pt 13.8V etc) you are NOT charging or supplying fully.)

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