JBasham
JBasham HalfDork
5/22/18 10:57 a.m.

You folks are always the best when it comes to ideas for fabricating up odd car stuff.  My favorite thus far has been making a windshield washer setup out of a bicycle water bottle.

This week's problem is, how to put a laptop computer in my single-seat stripped E36 track car.  I've started tuning the motor, and I will need the laptop in the car for a few test days at the track to log the parameters as I iterate the tune.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
5/22/18 11:04 a.m.

Police car laptop mount if you need it open, or just strap it down with latex foam (taking care not to block the vents!) if it'll be closed. Also try to keep sunlight off of it, especially if it'll be open.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
5/22/18 11:13 a.m.

The thing to consider is how secure is that mount going to be?

For the work I do, we use basically a police car laptop- which is essentially a "hardened" laptop, robust mostly to impacts and movements.  But it also means they are really heavy.  And we have heavy stands to hold them in place.

It also means that if I'm constantly doing hard maneuvers (like in a race car), the screen isn't going to be able to hold itself up.

So I'd shoot for a system that you can use with the screen down.

BUT- a better system may be more useful.

I'm betting that you will not be doing the data analysis in the car when you come off the track.  I'm sure I would not- as I want to get out of the hot car, get some water, relax, and find a good place to look at the data I have.  

So what you really *need* is a way to record the data and take it out of the car to look at it.  A smart phone kind of device would work great for that, or better is a dedicated logger where all of the information is put, and you just take the portable storage out, stick into your laptop and look at it.  If that's possible, that would be the best way of doing it.

In order of preference:

1) dedicated box to record info

2) dedicated smart device to record info

3) laptop to record info.

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
5/22/18 11:15 a.m.

Can you use a phone or tablet? That would be much easier to mount, and not nearly as much weight to try to secure.

GTXVette
GTXVette SuperDork
5/22/18 12:16 p.m.

I too am thinking of mega squirt and don't know a darn thing about it. My lap top is older and yesterday the screen broke away from the key board, because it was a hundred bucks years ago, i feel it's value is low enough to mount in a challenge car, can I use the computer/keyboard for recording then record with a devise that will plug into what I have in the pits? DON'T NEED TO LOOK AT IT WHILE DRIVING. 

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
5/22/18 12:49 p.m.

Yeah with MS (and most programmable ECUs) you can log to a computer while driving, although I haven't tried it in a "headless" mode, I manually click to start and stop recording in the GUI. If you get a model with an SD card slot, you can set up automatic logging to that. I have mine set to start logging to the SD card whenever the gas is floored.

GTXVette
GTXVette SuperDork
5/22/18 12:55 p.m.

i will say now an off and on switch would good for me, i have a good supply of aluminum and will make a holder for it. also "challenge"

JBasham
JBasham HalfDork
5/22/18 1:52 p.m.

Thanks guys!

This is pretty basic stuff so datalogging isn't part of the hardware package.  It's a Moates Quarterhorse, so $250 gets me fuel, and spark control plus RPM and overtemp limiters with no rewiring required or software costs. 

It piggybacks on a factory ECU to use the data and control pipes in and out of the factory box, running the tune on the piggyback chip and compiling it into hex the ECU understands. 

Sort of like what you get from a professional tuner when he or she programs a tune and burns a chip for you, except the Quarterhorse chip is directly owner-programmable with the PC, and emulates so I can read what's happening inside the ECU in real-time.  If I want datalogging hardware, they sell a separate logger but it's like $300 or $400.

1.  The emulator and logging software is built to run on Windows PCs so I don't know any way to run it on anything but a PC.  I somewhat prefer not to buy dedicated hardware if I can avoid the cost.  If there was some kind of tablet that runs PC programs, it might be worth an investment because the software emulator has the ability to generate readouts as a gauge screen.

2.  I have seen very little in the way of cheap laptop brackets, say for example like this one:  VESA mount.  If I could find something under $50 big enough for my laptop that actually held fairly snug, I can design and weld a bracket to screw it to the floor pan or bolt it to the empty passenger seat rail mounts.

3.  Something involving bungee cords, a cardboard brake rotor box, and half an airline pillow would also fit the bill.

4.  Laptop doesn't need to be open.  I don't want to review the emulation in-car.  I just need to read the logs after.  And the USB cord running from the PC to the ECU hardware is pretty long, so it can go pretty much anywhere in the front half of the car or the passenger side of the car.

 

 

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
5/22/18 2:01 p.m.

In reply to JBasham :

Instead of bungee cords, I'd look at smaller ratchet straps.  You can use those to tie laptop to something (I was going to say passenger seat, but you don't have one).

Any chance you have a crappy yoga or workout mat?  If you can place that under the computer, it should be reasonable in terms of cushion.  

Rodan
Rodan HalfDork
5/22/18 2:03 p.m.

I'm using Megasquirt, so I have the advantage of an on-board SD card for datalogging, but I have used a laptop in the past, before I set up the switch.

Some velcro strips on the bottom of the laptop (I'm using a cheap Lenovo I got on Amazon) were enough to keep it in place on the passenger seat for street tuning, with periodic stops to update the map or make other changes.  It's unrealistic to expect to be able to look at it and drive.  You really need a second person if you want to do that.

I don't run the laptop on the track.  SD logging only for the track, make changes in the pit.

EDIT:  whoops, missed the part about single seat...  you're going to need a pedestal of some sort.

Stefan
Stefan MegaDork
5/22/18 2:17 p.m.

EDIT: I didn't see the Windows requirement for the software in use.

 

When I was tuning my 924, I used a laptop on the passenger seat and it wasn't a great solution due to vibrations and usability.  If you must use a laptop, upgrade it to a solid state disk and use a mount that allows access to cooling vents and secures it where you can reach it, but not get hit by it. 

The RAM Cop Car mount or similar home built solution is my recommendation, if you must have a laptop.

https://www.rammount.com/device/laptop-mounts

There's not much there that isn't relatively easy to fabricate.  You just have to layout your laptop and look at where you can place straps/brackets.  I might start with a laptop cooling plate as a basis and add brackets or straps (rubber bungy cords?).

As for tablets that run full versions of Windows, there were some made, they range from barely usable to ok.  I have a Fujitsu Stylistic that uses a stylus and has a base that provides more ports (serial, VGA, etc) and a DVD drive.  The screen isn't in the greatest shape (something got spilled on it so its discolored, but it still works quite well otherwise.)  I can drop it in a USPS box to you along with the two batteries and charger I have for it.  The base would work well for your needs.

Here's a picture of one on the base (it also rotates):

JBasham
JBasham HalfDork
5/22/18 4:04 p.m.

The Fujitsu, damnnnn . . . nice.  I forgot about the Son of Surface. You are a total mensch to offer.  I need a gigahertz and XP, minimum.  These were in that neighborhood, right?

Can I paypal you shipping?

Better yet, can I trade you my laserdisc player and approximately 50 movie titles?

Are you the Stefan of Founder's Region?  If so, could I just bring it to you at the Shen next weekend?

Jamey

Trackmouse
Trackmouse UltraDork
5/22/18 4:34 p.m.

Stefan
Stefan MegaDork
5/22/18 5:16 p.m.
JBasham said:

The Fujitsu, damnnnn . . . nice.  I forgot about the Son of Surface. You are a total mensch to offer.  I need a gigahertz and XP, minimum.  These were in that neighborhood, right?

Can I paypal you shipping?

Better yet, can I trade you my laserdisc player and approximately 50 movie titles?

Are you the Stefan of Founder's Region?  If so, could I just bring it to you at the Shen next weekend?

Jamey

Founder's Region?  Never heard of it, so I'd say, no :)

Um, thanks for the LaserDisc offer, but I'm actually trying to get rid of stuff and get it to people who can use it (no really!)

The ST5112 is 1.33GHz with 1GB of RAM (so KISS install of XP needed) and its running Ubuntu right now, but it still has an OEM XP license key on it and the Windows drivers and applications are available on their site.

Let me get it boxed up to make sure it will fit and I'll get with you on the shipping and shtuff.

wake74
wake74 New Reader
5/22/18 7:14 p.m.

How about one of the older Surface tablets?  An older Surface, or even Surface Pro, should be cheap, runs windows, and would be much easier to mount than a full size laptop.  That's what I haul to the track to run INPA for my BMW track rat.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
5/23/18 7:08 a.m.

In reply to JBasham :

Another idea is to build or buy a mini, solid state, computer.  What kind of operating system does it require?  There are a bunch of really cheap small boxes that are computers, which you can also use a tiny tablet like screen for just to get it going.  But they are the size of a small stack of smart phones, roughly.  If you can find an OS and an interface for one of those, that would be a really good way to log using a PC.  While they have limited storage relative to modern programs, they have more than enough to store a LONG trace of 10hz data that you will generate from your Moates system.  And I'm pretty sure I know what you would be looking at, which isn't a whole lot- so even for an hour of recording, you will end up with a file that should be less than 10G.  Way less, actually.  Which is pretty easy for the new cheap systems.  

Something similar to this - https://www.amazon.com/x5-Z8350-Fanless-Desktop-Computer-Bluetooth/dp/B076D5JJXT/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1527077392&sr=8-5&keywords=micro+computer which you can use WiFi to download the data, if you want.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
5/23/18 7:21 a.m.

Just looked on line for what you have, which is roughly a combination of an RCON and a CALVIN that we used to use 20 years ago.  Pretty darned powerful- far more than you think, actually.  You can calibrate anything, if it really acts like that, and you should be able to flash and take it out, too.  Most later EEC V's are flashable via the slot that the thing runs with.

So, that being said, as a thought starter for the above idea- you can remotely mount a touch screen on the dash as in interface.  Maybe even have a BT keyboard someplace, too.  But if the program will operate correctly in W10, you can put together a really cheap and permanent computer in your car.

szeis4cookie
szeis4cookie Dork
5/23/18 8:03 a.m.

How does the box connect to the PC? I'm assuming OBD II to USB?  I am thinking you want something like this: https://www.amazon.com/Dell-Venue-5000-Windows-Tablet/dp/B00FEE7B1I

Stefan
Stefan MegaDork
5/23/18 11:32 a.m.

Rasberry Pi's can run Windows, just have to buy a license for it.  The Pi itself is $35 and is 1GHz with 1GB of RAM.   Add a 3, 5, 7 or 10" LCD screen (some are even touch) and a wireless keyboard and you've got a solution that is integrated into the car and requires quite a bit less effort to mount.

That said, I've got the Windows XP for Tablet PC's ISO files for the Fujitsu, so I'll try to set it up with a fresh load to make sure it works.

kb58
kb58 SuperDork
5/23/18 11:50 a.m.
alfadriver said:

The thing to consider is how secure is that mount going to be?

^This. Years ago there was a Nissan GTP car that crashed during a test run. The driver would have been fine if the test gear hadn't broken free and nearly beat him to death. Figure whatever mount you use might have to withstand 10Gs and you should be fine.

JBasham
JBasham HalfDork
5/23/18 1:29 p.m.

Stefan -- just, so righteous, man.  You are such a mensch.

Alfa, szeis -- thanks so much.  I need to explore that more in the future.  Right now, I'm just trying to get the engine tuned so I can keep using the car a few times a month at the track.  When I get that settled, I look forward to evaluating the value of run logs in regular use, and the display templates for the real-time emulation functions.

But let me counter your offer and raise you one.  Adafruit is selling a breakout board with an AMG88 8x8 IR sensor array.  I'm pondering the possibilities of linking to a Pi or Arduino and getting real-time recording and off-track heat map display of tire temps.  Kind of like the AIM setup with the additional $2k worth of sensors, only the cost of entry would be more like the price of one corner balance at the race shop.  Unfortunately, I don't have time to learn the coding right now, but there are example codes and supporting libraries out there in at least Python, maybe more.

KB88 -- gotcha, and I fear the number of Gs might be more like 20 in a decent rollover.  Not pretty.

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
5/23/18 1:44 p.m.

In reply to JBasham :

For a sensor based data acquisition system, I'd totally rock a R-Pi or Arduino.  I just did some quick searching on the arduino side, and there are some really cool things you can do- including incorporating a GPS signal.  Like for a Arduino Mega, you get 10 analog channels, plus some frequency, and I'm not sure how that counts toward GPS.  

And while I don't know the specifics, I know one can easily set up an R-Pi to work directly with an Arduino- so IF you can get the Pi to run a version of Windows to talk to the Moates system, you may be able to log it AND some other channels at the same time.  For pretty cheap.  That would rock pretty nicely.

JBasham
JBasham HalfDork
5/23/18 1:51 p.m.

Hell yeah.  Beats spending my time learning how to actually drive worth a damn!

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