The Kombi Files

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04/04/2005 16:04   GPS   [Kombionics]

We want to do many cool things with this van and they are going to rely on a very robust PC and associated electronics. The PC is the easiest part to construct and as we don't have too many space constraints (yay, it's a Kombi!) we can use a standard ATX sized board to keep the cost down. We're also looking to keep the system on flash memory as this will; reduce power consumption, reduce heat generation, avoid the hassles of protecting a HDD from road vibration, and give faster boot times. I'll be looking at hardware for this part of the project over the next few weeks and posting my findings here. I'm envisaging a device that supports the standard IDE interface yet accepts a digital memory card in the rear. That would be awesome, upgradeable, fast, flexible (plugs into ANY motherboard) and kinda neat. Does such a device exist? I'm not sure, I'd better get looking. The alternative is to get a motherboard that supports booting from USB thumb drives. That will involve buying/finding a new mobo so I'm not too keen on that option at this stage.

Once the PC is up and running we're looking to attach the following devices:

  • GPS - This will be an OEM board connected via the serial port. There's a manufacturer, SigNav, just down the road in Fyshwick that we're going to visit for ideas and prices. There's also plenty (like this) on the web to help us out.
  • SMS - Silicon Chip magazine published a brilliant article on building an SMS controller board. It uses an old Nokia phone to do the transceiving and a custom programmed PIC to do the IO. It's very very cool and will allow us to do some awesome things.
  • Security Subsystem - This concept is still being discussed by the group but the idea is to have something akin to remote entry that provides a security layer to the electronics and engine system. RFID has been proposed but we need to see what the suppliers (like these guys) can offer us. We have a keypad that can perform this function for now.

These are the goals for the next few months, stay tuned for more details soon. And in case you're wondering, the core system will be running Linux and most of the interface software will be custom written for the job. All code will be released under the GPL and made available on this website.

 
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