I have long been looking for an easy path for those not familiar with programming microcontrollers or electronics and who are wishing to connect and interface with vehicle +12v systems, control LEDS and relays, read voltages and display information on a simple readout or display, as well as interfacing this info with a PC. When the Maximite was first released I could see the potential it had for new Micro users and although I purchased a unit over a year ago, it is only today that I sat down to look at it.
Now there is another device called the PicAXE. It’s a PIC Microcontroller that has an inbuilt program that is designed to allow beginners to get into the world of Micros using a flavor of BASIC programming, there are development boards available and the things are low cost. Trying to explain the differences to anyone new to this is likely a waste of time and I’m not going to start down that path. http://www.picaxe.com/ and you can read up on them yourself.
The original Maximite is more expensive but is ready to go as a standalone minicomputer. http://geoffg.net/maximite.html
There are now a couple of cut down low cost versions of the Maximite design and depending on your requirements and ability; they may be more suited to your use.
And another powerful and interesting variation:
I was going to start a new thread in the hardware section of the forum, but I have seen the sort of ill informed response that can be generated by people who have just enough knowledge to become self proclaimed prophets of their limited knowledge and chosen Micro device. Some of these people found it easy to pick up the basics of a chosen programming language and the operation of a programmer and associated hardware related to a certain microcontroller and they incorrectly think that others are the same. A lot of us forget that some of you don’t want to get into the world of advanced microcontroller usage and programming; you just want to get some easy to use interface going without spending 3 months figuring how to get you first line of code into the Micro.
The Maximite was designed as a small and versatile computer running a full featured BASIC interpreter with 128K of working memory.
It will work with a PC compatible keyboard and a standard VGA monitor or composite video input such as an LCD reverse camera or AUX video input connection. The Maximite also has an SD memory card slot and an internal on-chip Flash memory area allocated as a flash drive. Its inbuilt BASIC language interrupter means you will need nothing more to start writing and running programs.
The Maximite has 20 input/output lines which can be independently configured as analog inputs, digital inputs or digital outputs. You can measure voltage, frequency, detect switch closure, etc and respond by turning on lights, closing relays, etc – all under control of your simple (or advanced) BASIC program.
What makes this ideal in a vehicle is that it will work as a standalone small embedded controller running from 12v. It will load a program automatically from an SD card on power up. You can implement real time data logging as it reads and writes to an SD card (up to 32GB) just as a PC would and with simple programming commands, you can transfer and read files from the SD card on a PC.
This Micro PC can be connected to and controlled by a PC with a USB cable, It can send data to a PC application like an FE and it can also be programmed from the PC without the need for its optional keyboard input or video connection.
The only hardware you will need to interface with voltages, switches, lights and relays are a few resistors and transistors or FET’s, depending on what you want to control with it.
You could for example, read a PWM or DC voltage from you vehicle dash light system and send a modified PWM signal to your LCD to control backlight at night. You could read battery voltage, door switches, light switches etc and control door locks or other systems from those inputs with simple to program timing, logic and delays and have it running independent of any PC, but also sending data and taking commands from the PC once the PC is up and running.
A few quick points for a beginner to think of:
1. No Programmer needed and no specialized leads needed to transfer programs.
2. No flashing your code to the micro.
3. You can write, modify, run and try your program in standalone mode with a PS2 keyboard and LCD screen OR connect it via a USB cable and do all of that from the PC with a free terminal program and immediately run/try any code you write or change with the unit installed in the vehicle.
4. Lots of easy to read programs to learn from.
5. Inbuilt basic graphic commands make it easy to have graphic displays like bar graph and charts of inputs, voltages and data displayed on a connected screen. (No color at the moment)
6. Using a more powerful device like this allows you to expand your interface hardware and code as you find more things to control in the vehicle.
I just found a great example of using one of the variants of the Maximite on page one of a project by XGEOX.
Easily the most technically impressive project I've seen. Thank you for taking the time to document it so thoroughly.
Thanks for the link - I agree with your sentiment regarding the ease with which these microcontrollers can be utilised - particularly those that require no compiler or development environment like the PICAXE and various Maximite/Duinomite incarnations.
Originally Posted by Mickz
The Duinomite Mini lends itself particularly well to in-car systems, as the small size and on-board VGA capability allows the testing of code whilst it's hooked up to the car. The only negative I would stress is that the 'Mini' variation of the Duinomite only accepts a regulated 5v supply, unlike the rest of the Duinomite range which accept a 9-30v range more suitable for automotive purposes.
I have already fried one 'Mini' with an unsuitable power supply. Having said that, I bought 3 more to replace it as I know I'll be using these extensively in other projects soon.
Thanks XGEOX. It’s had quite a few revisions and rebuilds as I tried to make the system as responsive and as stable as possible. Stability is now 100% including the PC, FE and OS, it just never fails.
I totally agree with you regarding the supply requirement, that’s one of the reasons I like the Maximite for someone new to electronics and the micro game. Comes with a nice case and runs up to 15v, I believe the Duinomite may also have an optional case?
Best of luck with your Project.
I decided to do some rewiring after the last few additions to the system. I needed to make room in the cable tray and decided to replace the thick and unwieldy 5M VGA cable running from the PC to the LCD.
I have VGA and HDMI outputs on this MB and I had recently acquired a small ALOGIC HDMI to VGA adaptor, after some tests with a $16 4M HDMI cable I very was impressed with the results. I also tried a few custom resolutions and found that it would do anything I could throw at it. I am currently running @ 1000 x 600 to my 8” WS monitor.
This thing adds HDMI input to a standard VGA monitor for about the same price as a “High Quality” 5m VGA extension cable, but without the problems associated with long VGA cable runs. BTW: No drivers, just plugs in and goes.
ALOGIC Active HDMI to VGA adapter allows you to a convert a digital signal to an analogue signal. You can connect your Laptop or Desktop with the HDMI Output to a monitor / projector having VGA input. This adapter is host powered so no external power source is required and the inbuilt chip provides an analogue 1080P output.
• Connects a HDMI device to a VGA device
• On-chip HDMI receiver with Equalizer
• 1 x HDMI Male connector
• 1 x VGA 15 Pin female connector
• Supports Analogue Video output up to UXGA and 1080p with an on-chip 10-bit DAC
• Supports pixel clock rate from 25MHz to 165MHz
• Support Separate Sync output and Sync On Green
• Supports maximum resolution up to 1920 x 1080
• Corrosion-resistant connectors designed for maximum conductivity and low signal loss
• Supports Windows XP / Vista / 7 (32/64-bit)
There are other units on the NET starting at around $20, just don’t know if there as good as this unit appears to be.
I am beginning to think someone needs to supply you with a new car so that we can watch this whole process again on a new vehicle!!
Surely you must be about to run out of things to do!
One question where did you source your monitor from?
Finally starting to think about mine and picking a monitor is going to be one of the hardest bits I suspect.. balancing price with readability is tricky.
Hi, no I think I’ll keep the car and just mod it as new devices become available :tard:
Originally Posted by stretch4x4
Just tested the new DAB-FM module in the car and wow, I’m impressed. www.mp3car.com-dab-dab-fm-digital-radio-development-board
Anyway the screen is from www.cartft.com
CTF800-WMSL - VGA 8.0" (16:9) TFT - Touchscreen USB - Video - OPEN-FRAME (500 nits, LED backlight) -TRANSFLECTIVE PRO- *new*
Still costly but it works great for me.
It's a great project . Very nice job !!!!!!
Very nice build; informative and concise, as well as something worthy of emulation.
Some Random and most likely useless info, but anyway, here it is:
I had a chance to try an i5-3570K with embedded Intel HD Graphics 4000 (way faster that the other i5 and i3 HD 2000 embedded graphics) and running between 3.4 and 3.8 GHz. As expected, no real change in boot speed between an i3 and an i5 on my new UEFI/BIOS MB running WIN8-64 PRO.
Given a good MB with late hardware IMHO boot times are determined by MB BIOS initialization time and SSD small packet size read times (6GBs SATA port and drive) and in my case a SATA 3GB drive will load Windows in almost the same time as a SATA 6GB SSD because the small data size read performances are not that different (look at online SSD testing sites and forums).
Current draw and temps for the CPUs as basically dependent on application demand with some small variations in DIE design efficiency at idle.
Given a CAR-PC running an FE and Window apps with a CPU utilization of around 4% to 10% (GPS, PHONE, DAB, NET, WI-FI, real time HVAC interface and display, real time Voltage and switch state vehicle monitoring, DAC interface etc. I see the same CPU and MB temps and almost the same current draw for an i3 (65w), i5 low power (65w) and an 3.4GHz i5 (77w). Recording 2 Hi-DEF 720p webcams to HDD is something that really starts pushing the CPU. However total current draw is similar as the i3 can hit 70% CPU utilization under certain condition whereas the i5 will be at 15%. Add a few more web cams and the i3 will start dropping frames and hit 100% whereas the i5 will obviously now have a much higher current draw but will handle the CPU load easily.
The big difference I notice with CPU power (i3, i5) is on the workshop PC with large application load times and Compile times when Writing/Programming a big app like a Front-end. Obviously media manipulation/conversion and similar applications will show large speed differences.
Purchased a small 2.5" SSD/HDD USB3 enclosure for $14 (on special) no name, small aluminium case and made in CHINA, fits in a shirt pocket and weighs almost nothing with an SSD. I ran a comparison between a 60GB Corsair SATA 3GB SSD over USB3, USB2 and SATA. This will be great for transferring big MEDIA files between the CAR-PC and Home PC as both are USB3 and that runs up to 250MBs over USB3 with this SSD.