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Thread: 99 Honda Civic - Black Box 1

  1. #21
    Constant Bitrate
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    New Jersey


    As promised, I took some pictures today. While I was at it, I changed my oil, fixed up some duct taping, and inadvertently broke my window crank =( . But, that can easily be replaced. Anyways, here are some pictures that I took today:

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    Front view with the tools and such I used for the oil change and the removed hubcaps.

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    Side view with the hubcaps removed.

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    Rear view of my car (ignore the bumper, I will replace that when I get bored lol).

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    This is why I removed my hubcaps; the other two are just as scratched and one is missing.

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    Fixed up the duct tape holding my passenger side mirror onto the car (not worth properly fixing).

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    My new Duralast battery with some corrosion prevention spray on the terminals.

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    Here you can see my new battery and the HID conversion kit is the box mounted toward the front.

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    The fuse placed immediately after the battery on the way to the amplifiers (already in place before today of course).

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    The new alternator is shiny in there (sorry you can't really see it well).

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    Here is the positive terminal connector that certainly needed to be replaced based on all of the damage done to it (and the lost allen screw replaced by that ridiculous screw just looks silly).

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    The opening is not wide enough to fit properly on the battery terminal.

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    When I was rolling up the window while I parked at the DMV, the passenger side window crank snapped off. I was able to line up the broken pieces and duct tape it all back together, but with the torque of opening/closing the window, no duct tape will be able to hold this together. I just ordered a new one on Ebay for $10, so for now I will just use the one working crank for both windows (inconvenient but it works for now).

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    The duct tape wouldn't look that great anyways lol.

    Well, that's for today. I hope the weather stays nice so I can continue to work on some things this weekend. I will be busy on Saturday but Sunday I will be looking into creating a new face-plate for my touchscreen. This way it will look more professional than the current duct tape mount. That is something that I really hadn't planned on doing just yet, but now that I think about it, it really is an important feature that I want to improve ASAP. Additionally, I start my internship and summer class on Monday, so I will be making some money finally. I will also be busy with work and such, but there will be plenty of time for working on the Carputer for sure! Updates soon!!

  2. #22
    Constant Bitrate
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    New Jersey

    Bluetooth OBDII

    Today I installed the OBDII connector and the bluetooth receiver. The bluetooth dongle hooked up easily and the drivers from the cd work perfectly. I was able to remove the kick panel and plug in the OBD connector easily as well. Both devices paired together right away and I was able to maintain a stable connection throughout without any hiccups. Before installing any software, I used Torque on my Android phone to check for a proper connection. I checked for RPM and coolant temp and both were reading well so it appeared to be functional. After the android app worked, I installed PalmerScan (one of the 8 or so programs that came on the install cd) and it was easy to set up and configure properly. I was also able to see coolant temp and RPM in the same fashion. I will be checking out the other softwares as well (some are trials, some are freeware, and others are just full programs that need to be activated). I wasn't able to take the car for a drive in order to see how the data would read while moving, but I will get to later today. This is definitely a step in the right direction for adding OBDII reading for my carputer. My only concern right now (other than software) is that even with the key out, the light for the OBD reader is on so it appears to be drawing power and so I would not be able to leave it constantly plugged in all the time. The one thing that I did notice is that when no key is in ignition, it will not connect to my phone or the carputer, indicating that it may not be drawing more power than to keep the led light on. If this is true, then I will have no issues with just leaving it in place.

    As for the other item I purchased, the voltage monitor, I have not been able to get working yet. I plugged it in and nothing happened so I am going to have to check what the problem is. I have to find another AC adapter plug that I can shove in there to see if it is the voltage monitor or the outlet that is the issue. I checked the fuse box and I didn't see any blown fuses so I will have to check my owners manual for the specific fuse and pull it out later to closely examine it. It may also just be unplugged from the last time I opened the panel (I have forgotten to plug it back in before). As a last resort, if it does turn out to be the voltage monitor that's DOA, then I will just send it back to Amazon without any hassle (I love Amazon's return policies).

    For navigation, I just downloaded Microsoft Streets and Tips 2011 to check it out. I was able to install and configure my gps receiver with the program easily but I was not able to easily figure out the UI involved with the software. It does not appear to be very touch screen friendly but definitely has a lot of features packed into it. I am going to pull the computer and plug it into the monitor in my house so I can better configure the software. Once I figure out how to use it properly on the bigger screen, I will be able to get used to the interface in the car much more easily. The only issue with that plan is that my power adapter in the car is run through the center console (which is bolted down) so it would be a pain to take that out as well. What I want to do is order another power brick so that I can easily pop the computer in/out between the house and car. It wasnt very expensive anyways so I will look into that soon.

    Here are a couple of pics that I snapped while installing the OBDII reader:

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    The ELM327 fits properly and attaches easily via bluetooth to carputer and smartphone. Very glad with this!

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    That panel is very much in the way and has some switch attached to it that I have absolutely no idea what it goes to. It is mysteriously only labeled on/off and has no apparent effect on anything in the car. It goes upward into the dash and is not easily traceable after that. I may try to figure out one day what exactly it is. Anyways, the panel is able to be put back into place while keeping the OBDII socket on the outside and accessible so I just attached it that way.

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    This is where the voltage reader would go (if it works)

  3. #23
    Constant Bitrate
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    New Jersey
    Reading values for the tachometer and speedometer had very low refresh rates on the carputer but on my phone, there was very little lag. This leads me to believe that either the bluetooth receiver on the pc is crap or its just terrible software. I'm going to continue checking out other software sets in the meantime. I will post an update when progress is made.

  4. #24
    Constant Bitrate
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    New Jersey

    Short in the AC plug and Some New Design Considerations

    I changed the fuse for the AC jack and then the charging monitor worked immediately. I was able to see the proper charging voltage (around 13.6) while the car was running and around 12.6 when the engine was off. This seems to be a very useful tool so I will keep it around for when im keeping the car on battery only power for extended times. This way I can know when to start the car up before the batt goes dead. The nifty toy was fun for about five minutes though, because after I turned the car off and unplugged the voltage monitor, it was not working again. So, I again checked another AC input device to see that it was not working as well. Checking the fuse box, I discovered another blown fuse! This should have been the point where I confirmed that there was a short and called it a day (it was late so it was too dark to go hunting the short), but instead I decided to plug in another fuse which of course now just blew immediately upon plugging it in and turning the key (good thing fuses are cheap!). At some point this weekend I will try to take a look and figure that out. It is not adversely affecting anything else to have a short on the AC jack but it would be nice to have use of that in the near future.

    Now, for actually figuring out what is causing the short, I need to really look at things and figure it out. I am assuming that a bare wire is just being grounded where it isnt supposed to be grounded and can easily just be taped up and moved away. If this is not the solution, then I will truly be stumped and have to start coming up with some new ideas, or have to completely create a new AC input jack (although I may want to add additional ones anyways)

    In more interesting and productive news, I have begun thinking about some design changes to the overall system that I want to do. After thinking about this and reading more project threads on this forum, I have decided that I want to try to integrate my Android phone more so than just an Internet Modem. Currently, I have just been wirelessly tethering my phone to obtain 3G internet for the PC. However, with the new OBDII device, I am able to pair this easily with my phone and read values in a quick and seemless fashion. Also, the Android app market is ripe with development, constant updates, and new software that will further increase the useability of everything. Obviously, I do not want to replace my PC with an android OS tablet or something of that nature, but more I want to use both to cooperate and create a more technologically advanced end result.

    One idea that I have been able to incorporate already was to velcro my phone in front of the gauge cluster to display speedometer and tachometer. Due to the screen size restriction, I used a Digital readout for speed and the largest possible Dial for rpm. There were a couple times when driving around that I experienced some lag but it was minimal. I don't think I am going to permanently use this configuration, but it is cool to have the option just for fun. What I really want to do is get some sort of car mount for my phone so that more functions can be useable. I need to get a longer charging cable for the phone as well so that I dont have to worry about battery life and can therefore multitask apps, leave the screen on, and use it more.

    Rather than trying to figure out the details of how it would work I am going to just list tasks that in the end I would like to have working on my phone:
    - Gas Prices, Points of Interest, Traffic, Weather, and Construction could all be updated on the phone very easily and there are many apps that do this
    - Skype calling with the front camera (perhaps I could instead use the main camera and have the phone flip around while displaying on the pc screen
    - OBDII to display RPM and others (not sure what else I would want)
    - Use the mic-in port of my sound card so the phone can be used on the audio system at the same time as the pc
    - Altered Reality overlay (I have found an app that uses the camera to take the real world image and display an overlay with points of interest and such. I haven't tried it out yet but just that concept sounds really cool if done well.
    - Any type of voice commands would be easy because there already is a mic and google does well with processing it.

    There is probably a ton more things that I could try to think of but I don't want to write all day and I will start getting of track on things that are probably impossible. The point is that although I would love to integrate a lot of these features into the CarPC, Windows is just not a very good environment for those to work well. With that, the question rises Why use windows at all? Why not just fully use an Android Operating System? The answer to that is actually quite simple. My sound card. The entire purpose of the CarPC has and always will be for audio quality to me. I love that sound card to death and the only way I can make full use of it is with a Windows Operating System. Now, that is not my only concern of course. The only other major contributor toward the choice of a Windows PC is that it is a PC made up of seperate components rather than one contiguous device (like a tablet). Sure this has its obvious advantages, but overall the PC still has its uses and is my preference anways. If Google makes an Android OS that will run on a PC I would be ecstatic. Basically it would just need to support USB inputs and have the drivers for everything that I want to use. Really I just want all of the features that make a desktop PC useful but run with all of the apps and interfaces of Android. That is sort of out of my control though, so by trying to create a marriage between the PC and phone, I will be able to obtain the best of both worlds. I hope I didn't stray too far from my point lol. I'm gonna order a mount and car charger next week and then I will try out some of the things that I want to integrate before I do anything crazy. I will start with the normal things and then move into total integration and cooperation of the two systems. So exciting to come up with new ideas!

  5. #25
    Constant Bitrate
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    New Jersey


    Hey, so I figured out that my accessory socket is totally dead so I'm ordering a new one (see below). Also, since I got my paycheck (finally) I ordered some other things that I have been needing for a little while now. Most of the cables are for integration of my phone. Also picked up a phone mount that will attach to the vent, dash, or windshield (all for under $10). But the most important item that I acquired is the Arduino board! That should allow for some exciting opportunities. I am going to make some plans for that this weekend at some point and I will make a post when I have my realistic idea set ready. Right now I am going to try to configure the new front end that I have found, Driveline. This seems to be very promising so I would like to configure it ASAP. Anyways, below are the order lists. The first being and the second being Definitely have to advertise that Monoprice is amazing for quality goods at low prices. I have NEVER been dissatisfied with anything from them =)

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    Last edited by duncanator24; 06-14-2012 at 11:16 AM.

  6. #26
    Constant Bitrate
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    New Jersey
    Phone mount works great and looks awesome. Now I can charge my phone easily and the cable is nicely tucked out of the way as well. I could use a 1A charger for it, but the 500mA from the Inverter will work for now. The AC socket needs to be mounted still but I have wired it in so that it will work, thanks to my new soldering iron. Definitely love having the Bass knob now so that i can properly balance the music whether I am listening to classical, rock, metal, or dance music. With very different bass levels, having only one Gain level was silly. Pics to follow!

    Driveline is turning out to be a pretty great Front End and I am loving that the developer is constantly working on it to make it better. Now I have added handsfree calling (I believe I want to get a mic though still, but the concept works). I will write up a post entailing what Driveline is and what functions it holds, but for now I will just say that it's awesome.

    I haven't done any work on the Arduino board yet, but trust me-- it will be useful in no time! I think I am going to start a post that will be a 'status update post' that I will constantly update with the most up to date progress. That way even the small changes can be added without having to wait until I make a longer post. Sorry if this thread is all over the place, Im still new at this.
    "It's not worth having if you can't customize it"

  7. #27
    Constant Bitrate
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    New Jersey

    Sorry for the Delay

    I haven't posted anything in a little while so I apologize. It has been a little busy at work and school so I've been slowly progressing. Most of my time has been spent with driveline (link at bottom). This frontend is turning out to be very useful and I will continue working with the developer to tweak it into something really great. However, I have had some setbacks money-wise so I can't really buy anything for a few weeks. I have been ignoring some maintenance issues and I don't believe I can really wait any longer. This weekend I had my centerpipe and muffler changed out since they were rusted through and made all kinds of noise. Plus my tires needed to be balanced but that is only a delay, since they certainly need to be replaced soon. Also, I have an oil leak from my cam seal. The camseal (a $4 part) apparently was quoted at $500 to replace so I said NO WAY and decided that I will do that myself in the coming week or so. For now I may need to add some oil and hope that my timing belt does not get too worn from the oil that is likely dripping on it. While I replace the cam seal, I will replace the timing belt as well. That should not take very long (two hours max) and I am certainly capable. For a total cost of $40, that beats the $500 charge for sure. I would imagine this undertaking at least being annoying though. Anyways, the $400 exhaust repair, $40 engine repair, and $100 on tires is more than enough to set me back on purchasing things like a new camera and rear bumper. In the meantime, since money is at a premium with those expenditures, I will just continue working with Driveline and hopefully also getting an Arduino project going. I am a little bit slow at programming, but I have enough experience with VBA and C++ to at least try to figure things out eventually. My only concern is of course my timing belt breaking due to the oil leakage. It is unlikely that it will break within the next few weeks, but I would feel very stupid if my delaying the repair ends up with a much worse problem. The mechanic didn't tell me my timing belt was in dire need of replacement, so that is good at least.

    "It's not worth having if you can't customize it"

  8. #28
    Constant Bitrate
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    New Jersey

    Action Packed Weekend ahead

    I havent uploaded the photos yet (internet at home is slower than dirt) but I will soon I hope. This weekend though I have some serious work planned. Today I have decided that I will solve the ground loop once and for all. It is 100% the inverter that is causing the issue so I am going to try one last step towards reducing noise before I try to replace it. On my way home from work later, I will pick up some ferrite core chokes from Radioshack, 4AWG wire from homedepot, and some mounting hardware. I plan on playing with the core chokes to help reduce EMI/RFI that could be generated from the inverter. I will also try to place them on as many other wires as possible (more the better right?). With the new wire, I plan on securely wiring the inverter and mounting it further back in the trunk, away from the amplifiers and mounted on the sidewall of the trunk. That should solve or at least drastically reduce my issues. If this does not fix the noise issue for good, I will look into DC-DC power supplies and figure things out from there.

    As for other plans this weekend, I am going to fix or get fixed my oil leak. I know for sure it is a cam seal, oil pump o ring, or the crank seal so I am going to replace all three (about $5 each and it takes the same amount of effort either way) as well as my timing belt. Total parts cost is under $60 so that makes me pretty happy. I plan on taking it to a friend's shop though because I was told there may be some complex problems that could occur should I dissasemble something incorrectly. Either way, I plan to have the oil leak fixed for sure.

    With the oil leak fixed, I will move back to improving the system. I will be busy with going some places so I can't really do a whole lot else for the carputer, but I plan on at least tidying up the screen area and some minor cleanup things.
    "It's not worth having if you can't customize it"

  9. #29
    Constant Bitrate
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    New Jersey
    I put in the ferrite chokes and grounded the inverter better. Definitely made a difference in the noise level. Here are some pics of the pieces installed.

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    I meant to redo the wiring for both the ground and power for the inverter, but silly me I bought 2 bolts and 4 nuts. The one bolt and nut grounded the inverter to the frame rail where both amps are already grounded. The 3/4 inch bolt fit through a factory hole very nicely and made a solid connection. However, I didn't think about the size of the bolt coming out of the inverter! It is clearly a much smaller size so I had to find another nut that I had laying around. That was a pretty silly oversight so I will have to get the right sized nuts. The chokes were put on the power cables to both the pc power supply and monitor. Also I places one on the audio cable leaving my sound card. The fourth choke is actually on the input power to the inverter, which was also silly because since the inverter is the source of the noise, it is serving no purpose there really. I will probably get some higher gauge ones so that I can put it on more cables. I tested the chokes before fixing the ground and so those do the most difference. Although not totally silent, it is at least 60-70 % improvement. The screen is also mounted better. In the problem areas I made the mounts redundant by using glue, duct tape, and velcro. I have some pictures of the mount on my other camera. I will try to upload those tomorrow at some point.

    Tomorrow morning I will be fixing the worn out seals I had mentioned. Should be fun but at least I've gotten rid of most of the superfluous noises in the system.
    "It's not worth having if you can't customize it"

  10. #30
    Constant Bitrate
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    New Jersey

    Screen Install, Some Engine Repairs

    Quick overview of what went down here. I remounted my screen as I had described in my previous post (duct tape, glue, velcro, metal strap). Of course it is not holding against the heat still, but the pictures of how it looked are below. I will have to come up with a more fabricated design involving more brackets and such. The heat during the summer is just too much for the adhesives that I am using. That is a project for another day because it is staying mounted, just looks like junk this way now. My oil leak issue has been fixed (forever hopefully). I ended up doing a majority of the work myself at a friend's shop and only asked for help to get directions as to what exactly should and shouldnt be removed. I did all the grunt work so I didnt have to pay a dime for labor. The repair consisted of changing the cam seal, crank seal, timing belt, and water pump. It took me about 4 and half hours to do since I work slow, and the total part cost was a little under $100. Everything is running smoothly and I have not noticed any drop off in oil level, but only time will tell on that one. Really the only other issue that could cause the oil leak if it was not that would be that I am burning the oil which is very much a bad thing. But I will keep my fingers crossed cuz there is about a 0% chance I am willing to rebuild my engine for that lol. Anyways, now that that is solved, I have moved onto another side project that I wanted to do. I am going to try to put some sound deadening material into the car and see if I can't kill some of the road noise, keep more music in, and just add more of a luxury feel without spending too much. It's worth a shot and if it doesnt work, I only lost out on like $16. Also, I am still consistently working on getting a new Navigation suite (iGo8 seems to be the best solution if I can finish downloading the maps ever). Well, that's it so I will end with the pictures:


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    Lol it's pretty scary to take off the valve cover and see the inside of the engine. Yet very informative so I enjoyed this repair quite a bit.

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    There's the culprit! Get the b-stard!

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    Time to remove everything!


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    This is 'Peel and Seal' that I picked up from Lowes on my way home from work today. It is essentially roofing sealant that apparently is suggested to work well as a cheap alternative to Dynamat. I plan on putting it in my door panels today and hopefully the one roll can get all four doors. If it makes any difference and actually works, I plan on buying another roll ($16 for 25ft x 6in). The second roll I will use for the trunk. Pictures to follow after I install it all.
    "It's not worth having if you can't customize it"

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