[insert name of project] worklog
Mp3car was kind enough to sponsor an experiment in what I perceive as the future of car computing. I hope to turn the results of this worklog into something that everyone in the forums can reproduce. However, before I dive right into what this project is all about, lets discuss the why.
Amidst all the clutter, beyond all the obstacles, aside from all the static, are the goals set. Put your head down, do the best job possible, let the flak pass, and work towards those goals.
There are issues in todays car computers. Forum members are adept at solving many of these issues but many of them are not addressed. Here are a few that provoke this experiment:
Causality-there is no escape from it, we are forever slaves to it. Our only hope, our only peace, is to understand it. To understand the "why." "Why" is what seperates us from them..."Why" is the only real source of power, without it you are powerless.
MEROVINGIAN, The Matrix Reloaded (2003
1) Car computers are too big. A measurement of 6" x 10" (or bigger) usually means you shove the carpc in the trunk. Mac mini's were small enough to shove in the dash or in the glove compartment, but...
2) Car computers consume too much power. Law of conservation of energy states that energy really can't be created or destroyed. It just moves around in different forms. In a carpc, the electricities you put in your computer usually end up as heat. Tight spaces without much circulation such as the dash or the glove compartment make heat problems worse. This causes hardware to act funny and software to crash.
In addition to heat, there is another problem with high power consuming computers. Electricity in your car is usually transformed from kinetic energy when your engine spins your alternator. This requires gas. Gas costs money. In addition to the extra cost, there is also the risk of killing your alternator because of the extra load, or draining your battery to the point where it no longer holds a charge. The dead battery has been such an issue from the beginning that smarter power supplies were created to address the issue. Today, a standard carpc can only remain running for a few hours before it's killed by the smart power supply as to avoid draining the battery below what would be required to start the car. This short lifespan when the engine isn't burning gas and turning it into electricity brings us to the third problem:
3) Short offline lifespan limits the potential of the carpc. If you've been privy to any of my rantings, I'm a big sucker for things you can do offline (ie, when the engine is off). With the right software, I can have the car doing security checks, making sure the doors are locked, lights are off and alert me if any of that changes. If I have a webcam, I can take snapshots any time someone moves around my vehicle. If security isn't your thing, what about automation? By monitoring the presence of my cell phone, I can have my car unlock when I walk up to it. I can have the car started before I even reach my keys in my pocket.
4) CarPCs are too slow. There are loads of threads on this forum about operating system optimization, frontend optimization and how to get the most out of your software. For some, it takes a full minute to cold boot to their frontend of choice. Lots of software seems to be built with core 2 duos or i3-7's in mind. Or even worse, software makers expect you to resume from hibernate which itself takes some time.
The goal of this project are to solve the above issues. In subsequent posts, I will try to explain how these get solved and hopefully define the project in a clear way.
Part II: Project requirements
As mentioned in Part I, the goal of this project is to solve the issues that limit or frustrate car computing. This is just one attempt. There are likely many solutions to the problems. This is the approach that I think will solve all of them. First, lets lay down some goals. The main goal of this project is to build a car computer that others can reproducibly make that will:
1) Fit a basic set of hardware components required for a carpc into the dash.
2) Consume very little electricity and produce very little heat
3) Stay on for long periods of time without draining battery
4) Instant-on capabilities and smart power management.