December 19, 2015

New OBD II Tool Allows For More Under Hood Skulduggery


For some people the hacking doesn't end with WiFi / Edge / NAV / Browsing. They want to get into the car's cortex. Having seen Scanners I know what direct access to basic brain functions can do to someone. Even the nice functions. That said, in order to get into the real performance metrics a dyno is not enough. OBD II is a powerful tool that gives massive amounts of insight into what is going on under the hood.

Being a bunch of smart folks over there at Vital Engineering they added Bluetooth connectivity to their newest widget. No more RS232 8/N/1 silliness.

Vital Engineering seems to be at the leading edge of these devices and prices are coming down.

Their Specs:

The Car-PalTM OBD Interface Unit will operate with any vehicle which has OBD II, using ISO, SAE or CAN protocols. This covers vehicles built for the USA market since 1996 and for the European and Asian markets since 2001.

The software supplied with the Car-PalTM OBD Interface Unit supports the following features:

· Retrieves and clears both Generic and Manufacturer specific diagnostic trouble codes (DTC)

· Displays generic code definitions on-screen

· Switches off 'Check Engine' Light

· Reset the ECU to clear fault codes

· Displays live sensor data and freeze frame data (PC platform only)

· Accurately measure performance data, such as 0-60 mph times and ¼ mile times (PC platform only)

· Communicates with Engine Management System and Emissions Systems

· Record your own freeze frame data in software with one button click. Each recorded frame, known as a ScanShot, is recorded in a table. You may record as many ScanShots as you like. (PC platform only)

· Record and playback data (Pocket PC and Palm versions)

· Includes detailed online instruction manuals

· Fully compatible with the CAN protocols used on some vehicles built since 2004/2005.

· Fully compatible with PWM, VPWM protocols used on some USA vehicles, including GM, Chrysler and Ford.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 02:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 04, 2015

SEMA - Serious Food Tools

I just had to post this. Stuff like this will appeal to a select few people who are going to go completely nuts. See Nascar fans.

I got a freebie from the booth at SEMA. My wife looked alarmed, thinking I was about to replace all the silverware. Ah, that was very funny to see.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 12:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 03, 2015

SEMA - Get Lit

A pretty cool add-on for your SUV / Pickup / Enzo with tow hitch. White Night makes backing up a lot safer with two rear-facing super-bright bulbs. What makes this so clever is that it is tow-hitch-centric. It mounts over the hitch receiver, plugs into the tow-plug and even acts as a pass-through allowing you to use it in conjunction with a trailer.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 11:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 02, 2015

SEMA - Protecting Your Gat & Bling

The glove box (glove?) is no place to keep your Glock. First, officer Friendly might jam you up for having it in the passenger compartment, then you'll have to go to court to get it back. Lets also remember that Junior could find it and thats never good. We'll also mention that there are people out there that break into cars and take stuff. Not good. Unless you have a very secure trunk (not sure what makes a trunk particularly secure) your stuff is at risk in the car.

I came across the Console Vault at the show. Now it's not a sexy video screen or communications device but it does serve a very important function.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 11:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

SEMA - Under Hood Welder

I've been lucky. This is one of those trade shows where I know someone with a booth which I can use are a base of operations. I helped them build their Hemi powered Jeep Wrangler. It came out great, more photos later on that.

Another Juup up the row (no Hemi in this one) did have a pretty cool add-on for those who are pretty rough on their gear; an alternator powered welder. Yep, a stick welder that works at idle.


Posted by Lionel Felix at 11:38 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 06, 2015

AC / DC Gap Tech

One day you'll have more options. One day you'll be able to do what you please. One day, yeah yeah yeah. Manufacturers don't want to make anything they don't have to so if it's powered by household power, in some cases you're just SOL. For those who insist on having a coffee maker or their Dyson vacuum in their car, a DC / AC converter will have to be involved.

Xantrex has announced a "new" "smaller" "micro" (how many quoted things can I have at one time?) inverter. If the Dyson isn't your aim, a game console would also fit in that "they didn't make this so it can work in my car" argument. Ah, one small problem, seems that it's only for Europe for now. Off to Radio Shack for you. BTW, whats up with Radio Shack? Do they only hire creepy people who follow you around the store and make too much eye contact? Or is it just me.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 11:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Head Unit Turns Tables, Controls PC


eHome Upgrade never ceases to amaze me with their selection of gadgets I didn't know I couldn't live without. The new gadget I now suddenly love is a little black box that talks head unit language on one end and USB on the other letting you use your stereo to control your PC.

At $109 the price seems to fit the problem it solves, or to look at it another way, it's a small price to pay to spend less time fussing with on screen controls.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 11:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Clip-On Cool

In one hand you have a cool new ______ and no way to mount it in your car. You go through all the usual suspects; Velcro, duct-tape, bailing wire, zip-ties, spray-adhesive, and finally the OEM (HAHAHAHAHAHA Like they EVER make mounts you NEED).

People out there feel your pain. Panavise and ProClip are in the business of taking well made products and securing them to your interior with as little fuss as possible. Now, I get the OEM stance (in a whiny voice): "But its so hard to make a mount for all those different cars, we already did so much work making this new ____, our hands are tired from counting the money".

The fact is, if you want it to be a "part" of your car, it needs to be secure. Panavise focuses on mounting bases. That way you either secure the aftermarket mount to the Panavise base or you take a Dremel to the mount and hone it down so it snugs on there like, something snug.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 11:48 AM | Comments (0)

August 16, 2015

Cross Subject Matter Hack

I just can't resist posting this. i-Hacked put up a hack for the CVS (pharmacy here in the US) video camera. The camera is $30 and records up to 20 minutes of DivX video. The hack lets you download the video and keep using the camera.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 03:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2015

iPod Jihad

Harman Kardon quietly makes some of the best home entertainment gear around. Their design sense looks more Dutch or German than American or Japanese, and thats a good thing. When I see one of their receivers, I want to play classical music very very loud. Perhaps it's their connection to Mark Levinson, Infinity and JBL products that makes me sure that when it's loud, it's going to sound unreal.

Their newest venture brings to market an iPod car integration package. No pictures as of yet but if the Harman group is involved I am sure it will be astounding. My only concern was the mention of an FM modulator, which I suspect is only optional if you cannot manage to connect an AUX adapter to your OEM stereo.

Although it's nearly unrelated, the Harman website is a little tough to navigate. I am noticing a trend among high end electronics manufacturers where they seem to put engineers on the task of website design, rather than, say, website designers. As much as I love Denon, don't let me get started on their website...

Posted by Lionel Felix at 02:31 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 07, 2015

Mobile EVDO Hotspot

EVDO is so new most people think its a Star Wars character. Seeing that the last 3 Star Wars movies were simply eye candy without a plot to speak of and dialogue as flat and boring as Dan Quale, I can see the public's need to derive something good out of it. Sadly EVDO will not do anything for Star Wars, but it will do something for wireless connectivity.

New EVDO cards are pretty juiced up with bandwidth, so much so that its almost a shame not to share it. That's been taken care of already. A backpack kit that lets close-by bandwidth bereft folks snag a little Net time.

The concept is very cool and I can see it being great for highway use. Put a little LED license plate frame on your car advertising your free service (or not free, if you can develop the commerce engine) and you may be able to subsidize your daily commute by selling bandwidth to the people drafting you.

The backpack version is nice but I don™t know if its useful until you stop. I wouldn™t hang out in public spaces donning a backpack with wires and black boxes hanging out of it unless I wanted to be tackled by a throng of FBI agents.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 02:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 24, 2015

TreoEater - i730

I like the Treo. I mean it. But it's only like. I don't love it. It's still too early in the personal communications game to declare a winner. Microsoft, the perenial second-to-market-with-the-killer-app is looking to slide in and eat Palm's lunch. Remember Palm Pilots? Remember the Microsoft devices that ate their lunch? The Microsoft formula of watching the marketplace with a keen eye and offering advanced products, even late in the game pays off over and over.

Sure, this too has nothing to do with Car Computer technology but each player affects our little world in its own way.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 01:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

USB Rockin Live On Your FM Dial

In some cultures, the presence of FM modulators signifies the beginning of famine and pestilence. Fortunately, we are not in New Jersey.

This little doo-hickey, just like the article states, brings those USB memory sticks into a daily use place, allowing you to have MP3s play in your car for a pittance. A PITTANCE I SAY!

For $30 American, you're hip deep in tunes.

Posted by Lionel Felix at 12:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack