Car keys these days are remarkably complex beasts. Covered in buttons and loaded with security transponders, they often cost hundreds of dollars to replace if you’re unlucky enough to lose them. However, back in the day, keys used to just be keys — a hunk of metal in a mechanical pattern to move some levers and open a door. Thus, you could reshape a wrench into a key for an old car if that was something you really wanted to do.
The concept is simple. Take a 12mm ratcheting wrench, and shape the flat section into a profile matching that of a key for an older car without any electronic security features. The first step is to cut down the shaft, before grinding it down to match the thickness and width of the original key.
The profile of the key is then drawn onto the surface, and a Dremel used with a cutting disc to create the requisite shape. Finally, calipers are used to mark out the channels to allow the key to slide into the keyway, before these are also machined with the rotary tool.
Filing and polishing cleans up the final result to create a shiny, attractive ratchet wrench key. Even better, it does a great job of opening the car, too.
For almost as long as there have been cars and planes, people have speculated that one day we will all get around in flying cars. They’d allow us to “avoid the traffic” by flying through the air instead of sitting in snarling traffic jams on the ground.
The Klein Vision AirCar hopes to be just such a panacea to our modern traffic woes, serving as a transformable flying car that can both soar through the air and drive on the ground. Let’s take a look at the prototype vehicle’s achievements, and the inherent problems with the underlying flying car concept.
It Flies and Drives
The AirCar is a somewhat futuristic looking, yet simultaneously dated, vehicle. It’s a two-seater with a big bubble canopy for the driver and a single passenger. At the rear, there’s a propeller and twin-boom tail, while the folding wings tuck along either side of the vehicle in “car” mode. At the flick of a switch, the wings fold out and lock in place, while the tail extends further out to the rear. The conversion from driving mode to flight mode takes on the order of a few minutes. The powerplant at the heart of the vehicle is a 160-horsepower BMW engine which switches between driving the wheels and the propeller as needed.
All of the technological improvements to vehicles over the past few decades have led to cars and trucks that would seem borderline magical to anyone driving something like a Ford Pinto in the 1970s. Not only are cars much safer due to things like crumple zones, anti-lock brakes, air bags, and compulsory seat belt use, but there’s a wide array of sensors, user interfaces, and computers that also improve the driving experience. At least, until it starts wearing out. The electronic technology in our modern cars can be tricky to replace, but [Aravind] at least was able to replace part of the instrument cluster on his aging (yet still modern) Skoda and improve upon it in the process.
These cars have a recurring problem with the central part of the cluster that includes an LCD display. If replacement parts can even be found, they tend to cost a significant fraction of the value of the car, making them uneconomical for most. [Aravind] found that a 3.5″ color LCD that was already available fit perfectly in the space once the old screen was removed, so from there the next steps were to interface it to the car. These have a CAN bus separated from the main control CAN bus, and the port was easily accessible, so an Arduino with a RTC was obtained to handle the heavy lifting of interfacing with it.
Now, [Aravind] has a new LCD screen in the console that’s fully programmable and potentially longer-lasting than the factory LCD was. There’s also full documentation of the process on the project page as well, for anyone else with a Volkswagen-adjacent car from this era. Either way, it’s a much more economical approach to replacing the module than shelling out the enormous cost of OEM replacement parts. Of course, CAN bus hacks like these are often gateway projects to doing more involved CAN bus projects like turning an entire vehicle into a video game controller.
While it might be nice to imagine owning a cabin in the woods to escape from society, complete with an outdoor sauna to take in the scenic views of nature, most of us will be satisfied with the occasional vacation to a cabin like that. For those trips, or even for long-term camping trips, [Schitzu] and a group of friends thought it would be nice to be able to ensure access to a sauna. For that, they created this mobile, timber-framed sauna that he can tow behind his car.
The sauna is built out of a combination of spruce and Douglas fir, two types of lumber with weather-resistant properties. For an additional layer of protection, the frame was varnished after assembly. The walls are filled with baked cork for insulation, and heat is provided by a small wood-fired oven placed in the corner of the sauna with a stove pipe plumbed through the roof. Performance of the sauna shows good design too, as it can heat up quickly and performs well in all of the tests so far. The final touch on the mobile sauna was to finish the roof with some solar panels in order to gather some energy for long-term camping trips and also to ensure that the roof was protected from rain and weather.
The sauna is designed for two adults to sit in, but it will also accommodate a single person to lay down and sleep (presumably when not using it as a sauna), so the entire trailer actually makes a fairly capable mobile camper too. With the addition of a panoramic window, anyone can take in the sights as well as someone with their own permanently-located sauna could, which is a win in all of our books. If you’re looking for a mobile sauna that’s a little more discrete though, be sure to check out this one which is built in the back of a white panel van.
If you’re an automotive enthusiast of taste, you can’t stand the idea of fitting a janky aftermarket stereo into your nice, clean ride. Flashy, modern head units can spoil the look of a car’s interior, particularly if the car is a retro, classic, or vintage ride.
Thus, we’re going to look at how to modify your existing stock car stereo to accept an auxiliary cable input or even a Bluetooth module. This way, you can pump in the latest tunes from your smartphone without a fuss, while still maintaining an all-original look on the dash.
Depending on your choice of audio player, you may prefer a 3.5 mm aux jack, or you might want to go with Bluetooth audio if your smartphone no longer has a headphone port. Whichever way you go, the process of modifying the stereo is largely the same. To achieve your goal, you need to find a way of injecting the audio signal into the head unit’s amplifier stage, while making sure no other audio sources are getting sent there as well.
Whether that audio source is a 3.5 mm jack or a Bluetooth module doesn’t matter. The only difference is, in the latter case, you’ll want to buy a Bluetooth module and hardwire it in to the auxiliary input you create, while also splicing the module into the stereo’s power supply. In the case of a simple headphone jack input, you simply need to wire up an aux cord or 3.5 mm jack somewhere you can get to it, and call it done.
This guide won’t cover every stereo under the sun, of course. Edge cases exist and depending on the minute specifics of how your original car radio works, these exact methods may or may not work for you. However, this guide is intended to get you thinking conceptually about how such mods are done, so that you can investigate the hardware in front of you and make your own decisions about how to integrate an external audio input that suits your usage case. Continue reading “How To Modify Your Car Stereo For Bluetooth Or Aux-In”→
Spend enough time on the automotive classifieds and you’ll end up finding a deal that’s too good to pass up. The latest of these in one’s own case was a Mercedes-Benz sedan, just past its twentieth birthday and in surprisingly tidy condition. At less than $3,000, the 1998 E240 was too good to pass up and simply had to be seen.
The car was clean, too clean for asking price. Of course, a test drive revealed the car had one major flaw – an annoying hum from the drivetrain that seemed to vary with speed. Overall though, mechanical problems are often cheaper and easier to fix than bodywork, so a gamble was taken on the German sedan. The first order of business was to diagnose and rectify the issue.
Characterise, Research, Investigate
The first step to hunting down any noise is to characterise it as much as possible. In this case, the noise was most noticeable when the car was traveling at speeds from 40 km/h – 60 km/h, present as a vibrational humming noise. The location of the noise source was unclear. Importantly, the noise varied with the speed of the car, raising in pitch at higher speeds and dropping as speeds decreased. Engine speed had no effect on noise whatsoever, and the noise was present regardless of gear selected in the transmission, including neutral. Continue reading “The Case Of The Mysterious Driveline Noise”→
We think of electric cars as a new invention, but even Thomas Edison had one. It isn’t so much that the idea is new, but the practical realization for normal consumer vehicles is pretty recent. Even in 1958, Ford wanted an electric car. But not just a regular electric car. The Ford Nucleon would carry a small nuclear reactor and get 5,000 miles without a fillup.
Of course, the car was never actually built. Making a reactor small and safe enough to power a passenger car is something we can’t do even today. The real problem, according to experts, is not building a reactor small enough but in dealing with all the heat produced.