A 555 Can Even Make Your Car Indicator More Visible

Modern cars often come with white marker lights or daytime running lights that are on all the time, as a supplement to the primary headlights. The problem is that in some vehicle designs, these additional lights tend to make it harder to see the indicators when they’re on. [nibbler] had this very problem, and decided to solve it with a special interrupter circuit that cuts the daytime running light when the indicator is on. Even better, they used a 555 to do it!

The circuit is a simple monostable 555 circuit with an active low output. It’s triggered by the indicator signal. When the indicator is on, the circuit drives a relay to switch off the power to the daytime running light. Two copies of the circuit were built, one for the left side, and one for the right side of the car. This means that when the orange indicator is lit, it’s not being overwhelmed by the white daytime running light next to it. In fact, many automakers now program this behavior into their lighting by default.

It’s a nifty hack with a real positive safety impact. We’ve featured some other neat indicator hacks of late, like these tidy sequential indicators. Meanwhile, if you’re hacking on your own automotive lighting solutions, don’t hesitate to let us know!

ESP32 Used As Wireless CAN Bus Reader

The CAN bus, accessible through the OBD-II port, is the channel that holds all the secrets of the modern automobile. If you want to display those for your own perusal, you might consider this nifty tool from [EQMOD].

Yes, it’s an OBD-II dongle that you can build using an ESP32 WROVER module. It’s designed to read a car’s CAN bus communications and display them on a self-hosted web page, accessible over WiFi. The build relies on the dual-core nature of the ESP32, with the first core handling CAN bus duties via the SN65HVD230 CAN bus transceiver chip. The second core is responsible for hosting the web page. Data received via the CAN bus is pushed to the web user interface roughly every 60 to 100 milliseconds or so for information like RPM and speed. Less time-critical data, like temperatures and voltages, are updated every second.

It’s a neat little thing, and unlike a lot of dongles you might buy online, you don’t need to install some dodgy phone app to use it. You can just look at the ESP32’s web page for the data you seek. The graphics may be a little garish, but they do the job of telling you what’s going on inside your car. Plus, you can always update them yourself.

Getting to grips with the CAN bus is key if you want to diagnose or modify modern vehicles. Meanwhile, if you’ve been cooking up your own electronic vehicular hacks, don’t hesitate to¬†drop us a line!

Hot Wheel Car Becomes 1/64 Scale Micro RC Car, Complete With Camera

If you enjoy watching skilled assembly of small mechanical systems with electronics to match, then make some time to watch [Max Imagination] transform a Hot Wheels car into a 1/64th scale RC car complete with video FPV video feed. To say the project took careful planning and assembly would be an understatement, and the results look great.

The sort of affordable electronics available to hobbyists today opens up all kinds of possibilities, but connecting up various integrated modules brings its own challenges. This is especially true when there are physical constraints such as fitting everything into an off-the-shelf 1/64 scale toy car.

There are a lot of interesting build details that [Max] showcases, such as rebuilding a tiny DC motor to have a longer shaft so that it can drive both wheels at once. We also liked the use of 0.2 mm thick nickel strips (intended for connecting cells in a battery pack) as compliant structural components.

There are actually two web servers being run on the car. One provides an interface for throttle and steering (here’s the code it uses), and the other takes care of the video feed with ESP32-CAM sending a motion jpeg stream. [Max]’s mobile phone is used to control the car, and a second device goes into an old phone-based VR headset to display the FPV video feed.

Circuit diagrams and code are available for anyone wanting to perhaps make a similar project. We’ve seen micro RC builds of high quality before, but integrating an FPV camera kicks things up a notch. Want even more complex builds? All the rules change when weight reduction is a non-negotiable #1 priority. Check out a micro RC plane that weighs under three grams and get a few new ideas.

Continue reading “Hot Wheel Car Becomes 1/64 Scale Micro RC Car, Complete With Camera”

Open Source Key Programmer For HiTag2 Keys

Hitag transponders have been used in a wide variety of car keys as a protective measure against hot-wiring and theft. They’re also a reason why it’s a lot more expensive to get car keys duplicated these days for many models that use this technology. However, there is now an open source programmer that works with these transponder keys, thanks to [Janne Kivijakola].

The hack uses an old reader device salvaged from a Renault in a scrapyard, hooked up to an Arduino Mega 2560 or Arduino Nano. With this setup, key transponders can be programmed via a tool called AESHitager, which runs on Windows. It’s compatible with a variety of Hitag transponders, including Hitag2, Hitag3, and Hitag AES, along with the VVDI Super Chip and certain types of BMW keys.

If you’ve been having issues with coded keys, this project might just be what you need to sort your car out. Everything you need is available on GitHub for those wishing to try this at home. We’ve seen some interesting hacks in this space before, too. Video after the break.

Continue reading “Open Source Key Programmer For HiTag2 Keys”

Full Self-Driving, On A Budget

Self-driving is currently the Holy Grail in the automotive world, with a number of companies racing to build general-purpose autonomous vehicles that can get from point A to point B with no user input. While no one has brought one to market yet, at least one has promised this feature and had customers pay for it, but continually moved the goalposts for delivery due to how challenging this problem turns out to be. But it doesn’t need to be that hard or expensive to solve, at least in some situations.

The situation in question is driving on a single stretch of highway, and only focuses on steering, so it doesn’t handle the accelerator or brake pedal input. The highway is driven normally, using a webcam to take images of the route and an Arduino to capture data about the steering angle. The idea here is that with enough training the Arduino could eventually steer the car. But first some math needs to happen on the training data since the steering wheel is almost always not turning the car, so the Arduino knows that actual steering events aren’t just statistical anomalies. After the training, the system does a surprisingly good job at “driving” based on this data, and does it on a budget not much larger than laptop, microcontroller, and webcam.

Admittedly, this project was a proof-of-concept to investigate machine learning, neural networks, and other statistical algorithms used in these sorts of systems, and doesn’t actually drive any cars on any roadways. Even the creator says he wouldn’t trust it himself, but that he was pleasantly surprised by the results of such a simple system. It could also be expanded out to handle brake and accelerator pedals with separate neural networks as well. It’s not our first budget-friendly self-driving system, either. This one makes it happen with the enormous computing resources of a single Android smartphone.

Continue reading “Full Self-Driving, On A Budget”

This Car Has Wooden Performance

If you were to take a look at the car parked closest to where you are sitting, there’s an overwhelming probability that its main structural parts are made of steel. A few might be aluminium and fewer still composite materials, but by and large that’s it for automotive structures. This hasn’t stopped the inventive Russians at [Garage 54] from experimenting though, and in their latest they’ve made a car with a chassis made of wood. Not carefully sawn and assembled wooden structural components, oh no. These are wooden tree trunks and branches.

Of course it’s an opportunity for them to run wild on their very successful schtick of the crazy Eastern European YouTuber, but behind that it’s entertaining to watch how they adapt a drive train — taken we’re guessing from the FIAT 124-derived Zhiguli, or Lada as most of us would know it — to such an unconventional chassis. A lot of wire binding is used, and even then the car has a lot of the flexible about it. We’re not so sure about the differential without oil or indeed the front suspension that appears to be developing a lean, but they do manage to take it out of the forest and onto the road.

Are unconventional and definitely-not-road-legal motors your thing? Here’s another, courtesy of some Dutch lads.

Continue reading “This Car Has Wooden Performance”

Get MOST Into Your Pi

When looking the modify a passenger vehicle, the Controller Area Network (CAN) bus is a pretty easy target. In modern vehicles it has access to most of the on-board systems — everything from the climate control to the instrument cluster and often even the throttle, braking, and steering systems. With as versatile as the CAN bus is, though, it’s not the right tool for every job. There’s also the Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST) bus which is increasingly found in automotive systems to handle multimedia such as streaming music to the stereo. To access that system you’ll need to approach it slightly differently as [Rhys] demonstrates.

[Rhys] has been working on replacing the dated head unit in his Jaguar, and began by investigating the CAN bus. He got almost everything working with replacement hardware except the stereo, which is where the MOST bus comes into play. It provides a much higher bandwidth than the CAN bus can accommodate but with almost no documentation it was difficult to interact with at first. With the help of a Raspberry Pi and a lot of testing he is able to get the stereo working again with a much more modern-looking touchscreen for control. It is also able to do things like change CDs in the car’s CD player, gather song information from the CD to display on the panel, and can perform other functions of the infotainment center.

For more detailed information on the MOST bus, [Rhys] also maintains a website where he puts his discoveries and other information he finds about this system. Unfortunately car stereo systems in modern vehicles can get pretty complicated these days, but adapting car stereos in older vehicles to modern technology carries some interesting challenges as well.

Continue reading “Get MOST Into Your Pi”