I want to start by saying that I love the Arduino community and all of its branches and opensource spirit. In light of that I wanted to make a big project that involves a few forums and could benefit quite a few people that this "niche" project might apply to.
Now, a quick disclaimer, I am an amateur. I am no electrical engineer, I am not a programmer and I am not an expert in anything.
So the basic idea is mostly going to appeal to car enthusiasts, modders, Lighting enthusiast, and so on. What I want to do is be able to take your favorite classic, vintage, outdated vehicle and outfit it with the latest tech that the new cars have all in a DIY fashion. This can obviously go as far as your imagination and pockets can take you. But for now I want to start small… well, medium.
Every car since the early 1980’s on has had some sort of on board computer with serial communication capability as well as many other modules. We could extract all kinds of cool useful data that we could turn into useful readouts for us. Like if you have a manual transmission you could make shift lights for yourself, you can make a read out for you air fuel mixture or the temp of any sensor your car comes equipped with. Of coarse some cars will be more capable than others, but due to the standardization of OBD-2, there is still lots of potential to add all kinds of functionality to your car and at the very least, some personality.
Past the OBD-2 serial communication, newer cars are equipped with peripheral networks. I am not familiar with them all, but I have been introduced to Can Bus, K-Bus and I-Bus, that I understand lots of cars from 2000 on share. Specifically I know all E46(BMW 3 series from 1998-2006) come equipped with this network that interconnects all the modules and sensors in the car. If you have a BMW or Lexus in the same “age range” a lot of the coding and interfacing, I hear, will be identical.
I will be focusing on developing for the e46 simply because it’s what I have and the car that gave me the inspiration for this project. But I am not against encompassing other makes and models. I own a 5speed 2002 325i model and it is mostly bone stock except for an aftermarket stereo(bust still have stock one) and its a little lower than stock.
To start I wanted to do something real simple and basic, Halo rings around my headlights. But not just any halos, RGB ones, and lets make the RGB chips addressable, opening a whole new world of possibilities. Well, someone already makes theme and you can find them right on eBay. Heres a video so you can see them in action: here
They usually sell these “color chasing” lights with the module that either works with an RF remote or bluetooth. I was able to contact a seller directly and he sold me just the light set. I plan on making them adaptive daytime running light by installing “voltage sensor module”(example ) to the battery, through a fuse of coarse, so it can tell when the car is on or off. When on, It should read 14v+/- When the engine is running and 12v+/- when off. Next thing I wanted to sense is ambient light, taken from different locations in the car like inside the cab somewhere and one outside in the front somewhere. The brighter the sun is, the brighter the lights get, for added visibility on the road. I thought something simple like this might do for the outside:example and I wanted to try a digital one for the inside, like this: example
If I add a color sensor it can also adapt color temps depending on the colors of the setting or rising sun. I ordered this: example but not sure if it works like that or not.
If not, I thought we could have a mode where outside temperature could affect the “temperature” of the light, as they call it. Have something like this already: example So I’m going to try to use it.
Then I was planning on intercepting the left and right front corner lights wire, and after installing two more voltage sensors, plugging them along with the battery into some analog read pins of a mega 2560.
So when my indicator lights are blinking I want the closest ring to “scroll” on, or fill the circle in from one side to the other in a rapid scrolling motion on and off, at the opposite interval of my corner lights. I also want them to turn amber during this animation, and back to whatever mode they where in beforehand. Some easy tasks with individually addressable LEDs, i believe.
I was also thinking of adding motion sensor on the outside of the car and when it sensed some presence it would have a single LED bounce around from light to light just to put on a show for people.
Of coarse all these features and the future ones to come have to be put into some kinda user interface but I haven’t gotten that far, for now i thought bluetooth would be simple enough for now.
I realize how easy it would be to add addressable LED strips to the bottom of a car or the underside of your door and do some really flashy trick stuff too. Im probably going to hold off on that much flashiness on my car for now, but some might love that idea. You can even add a mic and have the lights react to your music too.
I did however thing that RGB lights would be cool in the “foot wells” or floor boards, like some newer cars have. A few cheap RGB strips, some transistors and some PWM pins should be able to take care of that right off the board.
Something I have to figure out is what I’m going to do with the existing inside lighting. If they all share a common trigger wire, like when I open the door, and they can all be turned on manually, like when you press the button, then I think I can intercept the wire coming from the LCM(light controller module) and install individual addressable LEDs in them, and send the signal through the old trigger wire.
So far almost all of this can be applied to the car with no interfacing with the any of the Bus’ but here it comes, heres the link that opened my mind to the possibilities of the I/k bus: link and of coarse there is the can bus Arduino discussion here: link
I am going to start small and simple and keep adding features and modules as I get more money and help. As of this post I have the Arduino mega and temp sensor only. The rest should be coming in the mail soon. I still have some stuff I need to order but I’ll have enough to keep me busy for a while. I haven’t written a sketch yet or anything so some pointers on forums I should read would really help.