CAN Hacking: Protocols

can-hacking-part-2

We’ve gone over the basics of CAN and looked into how CAN databases work. Now we will look at a few protocols that are commonly used over CAN.

In the last article we looked at CAN databases, where each bit of a message is mapped to a specific meaning. For example, bit 1 of a CAN message with ID 0x400 might represent whether the engine is currently running or not.

However, for more complex communications we need to use protocols. These can map many meanings to a single CAN ID by agreeing on a structure for sending and receiving data.

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Smart Brake lights and more with OpenXC

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At a recent hack-a-thon event, [Al Linke] tapped into a vehicle’s OBD port with an OpenXC vehicle interface and hacked an LED screen in the rear window to display data based on events. If you haven’t heard of OpenXC, you can expect to read more about it here at Hackaday in the near future. For now, all you need to know is that OpenXC is Ford’s open source API for real-time data from your vehicle: specifically 2010 and newer model Ford vehicles (for now).

[Al] connected the OpenXC interface to his Android phone over Bluetooth, transmitting data from the OBD port to the phone in real time. From here, the Android can do some really cool stuff. It can use text to speech to announce how much your lead foot cost you, add sound effects for different car events, and even interact with additional devices. Although he managed all of those features, [Al's] primary goal was to add an LED screen that displayed messages on the vehicle’s back window.

When the phone detected a braking event from the car, it directed the LEDs to light up with a “braking” image, adding some flavor to the process of stopping. He could also change the image to a “Thank You” sign with a waving hand, or—for less courteous drivers—an “F U” image with a slightly different hand gesture. You’ll want to check your local and/or national laws before attempting to strap any additional lighting to your vehicle, but you can watch [Al's] car light up in the video below. For a more detailed look under the hood, he’s also provided an Instructables page.  If OpenXC catches on, the number of vehicle hacks such as the Remote Controlled Car may skyrocket.

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A very dash-ing iPad mini

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The work which [Mark] did to mount this iPad mini in the dashboard of his Ford truck is commendable. It looks like it came from the factory this way, and the functionality matches that illusion.

He actually started the project before he had the iPad mini on hand. A PDF that mapped out the exact dimensions was used as a template for the layout and alteration. He took the stereo controls out of the original faceplate. That opening was made to fit the screen by cutting, adding putty, then sanding and finishing.

Since the bezel won’t let [Mark] get at any of the buttons on the iPad itself he picked up an external home button on eBay and mounted it just to the left of the screen. Inside the dashboard a docking connector is responsible for powering the tablet and connecting it to the sound system. There’s even a WiFi connection thanks to the MiFi system he mounted in the overhead console.

Hacking the computer interface of a Ford Focus Mk2

You can do some neat stuff to the way your Ford Focus Mk2 works, but first you have to gain access to the data system. If you know some Russian, and don’t mind a bit of dongle rewiring, this guide will have you hacking the car’s CAN bus in no time. It was written by [Preee] and he has already added Radio RDS and CD Track information to the speedometer display panel, implemented hands free control for his cellphone, disabled the sounds the car makes when he goes into reverse, changed the door locking speed from 5mph to 10mph, and much more.

To gain access to the system you need hardware to bridge from a computer to the CAN bus. He hit eBay and bought an ELM327 cable which plugs into the On-Board Diagnostics port (ODBII). There are two different ways these dongles can be configured and since this isn’t the right one for the Focus he had to alter it. His hardware changes are illustrated in the second post of the forum thread. Instead of just switching over to the other configuration, he wired up a toggle switch to select between the two.

With hardware in place he grabbed some software and started hacking away. But as we hinted above, it’s not as simple as you might think. The software is in Russian. [Preee] did his best to add translations to a few screenshots, but it’s still going to be a bit of a bother trying to find your way around the GUI.

[Thanks Fred]

Simple machining process repairs broken control knob

[Francisco] is helping his mother with a repair to the headlight knob on her Ford Ranger. Above you can see the broken knob on the left, and what it is supposed to look like on the right (taken from [Francisco's] own vehicle for reference). We’ve encountered split shafts on plastic knobs before and decided it was not something that could be fixed. But he didn’t give up so easily. He mentions that you can purchase a replacement for a few bucks, but he has the means to repair the knob by machining a metal bushing.

The idea is that you mill a metal ring whose inner diameter matches what the outer diameter of the plastic shaft should be. By inserting the broken knob in the ring, the plastic is held tightly together as if it had never broken. In the video after the break [Francisco] uses a metal pencil body from his junk box and a mini-lathe to cut the bushing to length, and mill the inner diameter to his specifications.

He talks about the difficulty of getting replacement parts in Chile, where he lives. But we think this kind of thrift is a great example for all hackers. If you’ve got the tools why not use them? And if you don’t have them, here’s a great excuse to procure them!

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Arduino based EATC replacement

The Electronic Automatic Temperature Control Module on [Dan Mattox's] 2000 Ford Taurus bit the dust. The junkyards in the area didn’t have a matching replacement and a new one is pretty hard to come by so he built an EATC  replacement from an Arduino Mega. It includes a solenoid controller board for the vent selector, blower control, and new switches to control the power windows. He’s got the system up and running which is important because after removing the broken EATC the car was stuck blowing 90-degree air at full blast. He’s put together a demo and an installation video which we’ve embedded after the break but there’s also a photo album you can page through. The sketch that we developed to control the system is up at pastebin so get it while it’s hot.

[Read more...]

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