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Thread: Where are we headed?

  1. #61
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    BennY, this is a good point, once again it comes back to what Mitch said in the past. PC's are just not meant for cars. His opinion was strongly on the audio side, but just looking at the form factor for example. Even a mini ITX has a large portion of I/O that are pretty much unused. They have moving parts and aren't generally designed for the heat/cold and voltage spike a car gives... I agree the NUC is a really good alternative for size and features (Or I should say the lack of it). Less useless parts is better. But another issue is the OS itself. realistically for a carpc world, most of the features and background is useless and simply slows down everything. WinCE has been the choice of many manufacturer of HU, like Pioneer. My point is, we are using so much resource, looking for so many alternative, spending so much money... just to try and make something that shouldn't work, work. For most of us Joe's out there, we end up failing in making it work reliably and give up...
    Maybe we're also just thinking too much on how to inprove the old when we should just move on to the new. I was looking a little into the Odroid and it made me wonder, why are we not focusing on something like that?? $150, no power on/off issues, super low power consumptions, multi monitor support, high res, USB, audio, some with built in wifi and BT, built in processor, memory and simple memory expansion. Tons and Tons of app options with dev all around the world. If we all focus that route, I think our end result would be going somewhere best.

  2. #62
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    Just to keep the topic on track, a "carpc" or "connected vehicle" is NOT just an aftermarket head unit.

    We're not talking about just replacing the radio or navigation, there is a bigger picture than that.
    It goes way beyond automotive consumer products.
    Gullimonster likes this.

  3. #63
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    It is simple to get an industrial hardened computer. If you use a conventional computer that is not made for industrial use you can expect it to fail much sooner than it normally would.

    Most computers these days come with locking expansion ports but I wouldn't suggest any internal cards if you can help it. Sata cables are available with locking connectors etc.

    I still think an expansion all in one type system would work great at least for DIY users.Would likely be much cheaper in the long run than the systems out now.

    The big issue would be building a generic "open device" specification to be used in such a "box". I was thinking last night that building something like an Arduino Shield type setup would be the best thing.

    You could have the base board be the one that connects to your computer. It would be a somewhat basic board with a 7 port USB hub built in and power regulators for 3.3, 5 and 12 volts. You would also incorporate the special "smart phone" type sensors such as accelerometer and others. If there is room I was thinking maybe even have 2 7 port USB hubs built into this and use maybe 4 of the ports supplying the basic stuff. Whatever can fit on that board.

    The boards would then connect similar to how the arduino's connect but the connections would be sized according to the height required by the card. One side would have the USB ports passed as just the 2 data lines. The other side would be the power connections and have the Ground, +12, +5 and +3.3 as regulated as well as the car's unregulated power feed in case another board needs to use it. All other external connectors have to come off the sides of the board and be accessed from the side.

    For building a box the main box would have segmented sides to support the many different cards. This type of setup would easily fit into a car.

    When you get boards made by a 3rd party you are limited to a board that is like 3x5 or something. This would be my suggested limitation.

    Not sure how an arduino handles more than one shield but as long as each card only uses one USB port it should be simple to then have as many as 10 cards connected. the cards could be made to be ready for an automotive environment and would likely outlast the computer. But with a setup like this any computer type device with atleast one USB port would be compatible.

    If I had circuit board making skills I would start designing one myself.
    Maybe I should take the classes at my local community college. I think I would have to take 3 classes to do it.
    Rodney

  4. #64
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    Isn't that what I did with my all in one box? Built modular to expand, on-board hubs and power supplies. On a side note I have sent my files back to the guy that did my schematics to make my setup smaller using smd's. I am still going forward with this design, this can be added or used by laptops/nucs/builtin computers and if you make any progress in getting it to work with Linux or android that would only be a good thing. Again why reinvent the wheel just make it better. SNO

  5. #65
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    That concept is not a bad idea really... A main board with some expansion slots. As long as everything is standardized you have a chance of hitting the mass with an idea like that. Start with the basic basic... Then if you want GPS, you add an extention. Want OBD, an extention, and so on...

  6. #66
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    Sno - How much does it cost? How much would the end user need to pay in order to get something like this?

  7. #67
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    Relesaing thoughts

    Quote Originally Posted by VegasGuy View Post
    Time for everyone to put on their thinking caps and ponder the future. Let me start by putting forth a couple of observations:

    • All of the major frontends currently on the market represent the state of the art...as it was 4 to 10 years ago. Doesn't mean they aren't good at what they do, it just means that they were designed primarily to address issues that no longer exist.
    • The "connected car" is the norm. Whether or not the onboard infotainment system is fully connected, its is almost certain that the driver is carrying a smartphone. To a much greater degree than was true even a year or two ago, the internet is truly "everywhere".
    • The era of carrying your media collection with you is rapidly coming to an end. Public and private streaming services, whether free or subscription-based eliminate the need to drag it all around with you. The ability to store your own personal media collection in the cloud, or to access it via your own media streaming servers allows for the same level of personalization we've always desired.
    • All of the car manufacturers have gotten onboard the connected infotainment bandwagon. Chances are, you can find a system at some trim level that does very nearly everything you could possible want from an infotainment system, and do it well. Better than you can with most carPCs I've ever seen.


    So I ask this question: Is the carPC community still "leading the pack", or have we in fact, fallen behind the mainstream. Putting aside the whole DIY ethos (which is perfectly valid, no question about that), is there really any innovation occurring here?
    I remember reading this months ago, and thinking "that's quite a wallop in one post." Responses from @ClockWork, @ruffone, @Trippah and @Gullimonster seem to capture my thoughts on the matter quite well. And after navigating through the Arduino/Android posts, I pondered on the Asian double-DIN system, the regular PC vs. industrial PCs, and so forth...

    ...and the carPC's lead, though diminished, is still there.

    I've been working at this car dealership for over three years now, and we sell Fords, Mazdas, Land Rovers, and Jaguars. And I noticed when comes to things outside the bare necessities of the automobile, there are 3 major types of customers:
    • Those who like it - they are comfortable with the radio. Phone and Pandora connections are alright, as long as they work and don't require much on their part. They will spend $$$ on an external GPS unit, or they will use smartphones to save money. And before I forget, if the infotainment system is too complicated, they will cry for either something simpler, or for someone to show them how it works. Bottom line, they like things inexpensive... and easy.
    • Those who need it - this is our Fleet department. Whether it's a security company, police (who pays $$$$$ to connect industrial laptops to their cars complete with 2-way radios so they can ticket you for using a smartphone, lol), or some IT-related business, PCs are a critical component. No, they're not listening to music, or shopping online. But the GPS functionality is essential, and they want something related to what they do. As long as that need exists, PCs in cars/trucks/motorcycles will too.
    • Those who want it - these people, though it doesn't seem like it, are around. They know things about amps and subs, digital vs. analog, and still would like full access to what they want. And they will pay $$$$ to have it all fabricated into the car, whether it's a tablet connected to their stock speakers, an Apple TV connected to their Alpine speakers, or yes, a carPC. I like listening and conversing with these customers because they for all the right reasons are picky - they will not settle for what car companies consider "the finished product." And I pick up small things from them, and refer some to this site, just because.


    In the way of car companies, one has to bear in mind that they are all getting on board with infotainment with their latest models. If people want that kind of experience with their current car, or if they're in the market for a used car that did not catch that infotainment wave, they are possibly in the carPC market. And once they learn they can link up their androids to a system, or have a Mac answer an iPhone call (a feature touted in OS X Yosemite), they'll keep their used cars, because the opportunity cost to buy a new car may be more than upgrading the current one.
    As long as "everywhere" is in parentheses, the internet is not everywhere. Moreover, as long as internet speeds cannot match our international counterparts, there will be a desire for in-house storage. Even with “dead zones” and privacy concerns, the connected car and cloud-based storage has gotten better over the years. But they have not reached their peak. Until you hear about "smart cars" with internet access at the touch of a screen and voice recognition that eliminates the need for keyboards, carPCs will have a lead. After all, how else do those abilities surface, without someone tinkering at it??

    I will agree to the fact that the mp3car.com site could use a facelift. And pooling our energies together could be what it needs to get it done. I'm sure if the people are here, and have been here a long while, they will invest something (time, money, etc.) towards it...
    What would also be a major help is if people knew there are physical places and people to go to if they are interested in getting involved with the carPC realm. And this is not to say that you should have dedicated storefronts. But for a lot of end-users, nothing beats knowing that if you desire a PC/tablet/arduino/android setup in your car, there are people you can go to that will consult with you as to what your options are, and either help you do it yourself, for a higher price, do it for you. I have high respect for members like @rray, because they link up with other enthusiasts and help realize their vision. And the knowledge I received from guys like @Bugbyte and @SNOtwistR is immeasurable. But while I have no problems speaking to these guys online with the issues I have; others may appreciate going to the specialists the same way one goes to a mechanic…
    Come to think of it, they will go to these specialists to learn about OBD & OBD-II just to avoid going to the mechanic!

    I really don't want this site to suffer the same fate MacVroom.com did those many moons ago. There is still a lot that can be accomplished...
    By the way, those Asian “carPCs” on eBay are nothing more than the cheaper infotainment systems that some car brands are selling in their vehicles. And between the cheaper build, flimsy touch-screen, and questionable audio-output, they suck moreso than the OEM systems.
    Okay, I’ve released my thoughts.
    All systems are a go...
    Currently in "tweaking" mode.

    The Worklog

  8. #68
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    Project07MACry - awesome post! The intent of this thread really was to be a "think piece". Get people to throw around their thoughts on where we are, where we're headed and how we might get there. You do a nice job of pointing out that its pretty unlikely we can get "one size fits all", either from a hardware or software standpoint. But I really like your appreciation of what the "hands on" experience can mean for a potential buyer. I spend an absurd amount of my time online, and am VERY hesitant to purchase any product or employ any service that doesn't have an online presence. At the same time, I LOVE being able to get my hands on something and take it for a test drive. Stuff that looks good online can prove to be pretty bad in real life (cheap Chinese 2DIN units are a good example).

    But, but, but...it all revolves around a VERY precarious business model. I would be very, very surprised to find anyone, anywhere making a living (your definition of what that means may vary) solely on hardware or software sold to the (non-industrial/public safety) carPC market. I'm not saying there isn't fairly significant money being made, but I'd be really surprised if anyone was making enough money to live on JUST from carPC sales. It's a little like electric cars or hydrogen-powered vehicles. You have to sell enough to justify building the infrastructure to support them, and nobody wants to buy them because there's no supporting infrastructure. Chicken and the egg.

    The bright spot I see may be this: As more and more consumers become exposed to "connected car" IVI systems from OEM vendors, there are bound to be some customers that want "more". Leaving aside business and public safety buyers (PLENTY of untapped potential there), I think there is still potential for growth in the market. And as anyone can see from this thread, a lot of varied opinions on how to best serve that growth.

    Should be interesting to see how it plays out.

  9. #69
    FLAC SNOtwistR's Avatar
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    Well that's the million dollar question. doing lots of 10-20 is not cost effective for retail sales. But in quantity fully populated with sensors and the chips from others like robby's programming, phidget 1010, the scantools microobd200 and the TPMS and parking sensors and gps) around the 500 range. May seem expensive but for what you get back I find it is really cheap. Now add that to a nice monitor and a nuc you will still come in around a grand add HD and XM. Not bad really compared to some kenwood/pioneer units that are so restrictive in what they do and can't do. Now commercial side of things is a bit different, I charge my client 1200.00 per box plus 500 for 11.6" win7 tablet 64gig ssd 2gig ram Atom 450 and 1700 for the sat/cell/gps/tracking modem I think with labour I come in around 3700.00 per truck That included some licenses for copilot, the tracking platform, sim activation. Now this is why I want to miniaturize my all-in-one unit and hit the truck shows. but that takes big money too. It's a rough road to hoe but it is the future in M2M, IoF conneted vehicle market. Some stats I have received from my airtime provider show the M2M market has grown this year by 50% in Canada and will triple by 2016. Russia has even bigger numbers. Here is a good light read http://www.m2mnow.biz/2014/07/22/227...mp-smart-apps/ SNO

  10. #70
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    Nothing WRONG with your box Sno. It does what it does pretty well and if your next version it has more of the pieces built on the board instead of as modules that have to be added on the board I think it will be even better.

    I am talking about something that is more standardized and basic. Look at Arduino and their Shields. Each unit is very basic and because it is basic ends up being reasonably cheap. I don't see too many shields stacked but I am sure you can in some cases. With the setup I am suggesting you could get into the system pretty cheaply and add on as you want. Or heck make your own board if you want. Just as Arduino is a powerful open source platform I think we could build something similar that would be solely PC based. If we make it so it can run off 12 volts directly it would be reasonably easy to put one on a robot or drone and use it to run all sorts of extra stuff. Not just automotive stuff. I am sure we could all think of cool stuff to setup on a battle drone that could make use of things like the tire pressure sensors, backups sensors and phidgets if controlled by a NUC or similar system...

    Really a generic open source expansion board system could be what brings CarPC's to the masses. Again sno, your box is a great idea and works for what it does well. I am talking about a different piece that would be used in different ways. We would want to design the system in a manner it would not only work great for a Vehicle but could also be used for other projects as well. The thought here is that volume of the boards put out could be much higher for a more generic board.

    Something tells me if we draw up a good specification, and have someone design some decent boards and make a couple prototypes you could do a kick starter and get it moving well.

    I think there are a considerable number of people that would LOVE to be able to plug their laptop or tablet into an all in one box and be able to access various functions in their vehicle.
    You could have those that want to totally integrate a computer into their car with full on screen and mounted PC or someone with their tablet/laptop and get a similar experience.

    Surface Pro on a dock type hookup in car controlling every aspect.. Then it clicks out and you take it with you.. Just leaving the all in one box behind...

    You can do this somewhat with Sno's box but I think we can do a more integrated system that is more generic.

    Rodney

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