How To Get Into Cars: Aero Mods For More Grip

booloo tubeIn 1960, Enzo Ferrari said “Aerodynamics are for people who can’t build engines”. It’s a quote that’s been proven laughably wrong in decades since. Aerodynamics are a key consideration for anyone serious about performance in almost any branch of motorsport. Today, we’ll take a look at how aero influences the performance of your car, and what modifications you might undertake to improve things.

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booloo tubeImproving the aerodynamics of your vehicle can mean wildly different things, depending on what your end goal is. Aerodynamics affects everything from top speed, to fuel economy, to grip, and optimizing for these different attributes can take wildly different routes. Often, it’s necessary to find a balance between several competing factors, as improvements in one area can often be detrimental in another.

To understand aerodynamics with regards to cars, we need to know about the forces of lift (or downforce), and drag. Drag is the force that acts against the direction of motion, slowing a vehicle down. Lift is the force generated perpendicular to the direction of motion. In the context of flight, the lift force is generated upwards with respect to gravity, lofting planes into the air. In an automotive context, we very much prefer to stay on the ground. Wings and aerodynamic surfaces on cars are created to create lift in the opposite direction, pushing the vehicle downwards and creating more grip. We refer to this “downwards lift” as downforce.

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Porsche’s Printed Pistons Are Powerful And Precise

The 700-horsepower Porsche 911 GT2 RS is already pretty darn fast — over three times faster than the average regular-person car on the road today. For the sports car enthusiast, there’s likely no ceiling on the need for speed and performance. And so, Porsche was able to wrangle another thirty horsepower out of their limited-run supercar by printing a set of ultra-lightweight pistons.

Pistons being lasered into existence. Image via The Drive

These pistons are printed from high-purity aluminium alloy powder that was developed by German auto parts manufacturer Mahle. Porsche is having these produced by Mahle in partnership with industrial machine maker Trumpf using the laser metal fusion (LMF) process. It’s a lot like selective laser sintering (SLS), but with metal powder instead of plastic.

The machine dusts the print bed with a layer of powder, and then a laser melts the powder according to the CAD file, hardening it into shape. This process repeats one layer at a time, and supports are zapped together wherever necessary. When the print job is finished, the pistons are machined into their shiny final form and thoroughly tested, just like their cast metal cousins have been for decades. Continue reading “Porsche’s Printed Pistons Are Powerful And Precise”

Hyundai Makes Push Towards Fuel Cell Trucking

Hyundai has begun shipping fuel-cell based heavy duty trucks to face off against battery-electric trucks in the commercial hauling market.

Battery electric vehicles, more commonly known as electric cars, have finally begun to take on the world in real numbers. However, they’re not the only game in town when it comes to green transportation. Fuel cells that use tanks of hydrogen to generate electricity with H2O as the main byproduct have long promised to take the pollution out of getting around, without the frustrating charge times. Thus far though, they’ve failed to make a major impact. Hyundai still think there’s value in the idea, however, and have developed their XCIENT Fuel Cell truck to further the cause. Continue reading “Hyundai Makes Push Towards Fuel Cell Trucking”

Custom Packet Sniffer Is A Great Way To Learn CAN

Whilst swapping out the stereo in his car for a more modern Android based solution, [Aaron] noticed that it only utilised a single CAN differential pair to communicate with the car as opposed to a whole bundle of wires employing analogue signalling. This is no surprise, as modern cars invariably use the CAN bus to establish communication between various peripherals and sensors.

In a series of videos, [Aaron] details how he used this opportunity to explore some of the nitty-gritty of CAN communication. In Part 1 he designs a cheap, custom CAN bus sniffer using an Arduino, a MCP2515 CAN controller and a CAN bus driver IC, demonstrating how this relatively simple hardware arrangement could be used along with open source software to decode some real CAN bus traffic. Part 2 of his series revolves around duping his Android stereo into various operational modes by sending the correct CAN packets.

These videos are a great way to learn some of the basic considerations associated with the various abstraction layers typically attributed to CAN. Once you’ve covered these, you can do some pretty interesting stuff, such as these dubious devices pulling a man-in-the-middle attack on your odometer! In the meantime, we would love to see a Part 3 on CAN hardware message filtering and masks [Aaron]!

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Macros For A Mazda

[Arik Yavilevich] recently upgraded his second-gen Mazda’s control console, going from the stock busy box to an Android head unit that does it all on a nice big touchscreen. It can also take input from the handy steering wheel buttons — these are a great option for keeping your eyes on the road and occasionally startling your unsuspecting passengers when the radio station suddenly changes.

The only problem is that [Arik]’s stock steering wheel doesn’t have any media-specific buttons on it. After a short trip to the junkyard, [Arik] had a fancier wheel to go along with the new head unit.

[Arik] doesn’t use cruise control, and those particular buttons can’t be hooked up with reprogramming the car’s computer, so he made them into macro buttons that control the head unit over Bluetooth, using an STM32 black pill board stashed in the glove box.

[Arik] found out that the cruise control buttons don’t ride the CAN bus — they use a resistor ladder/voltage divider and go directly into the ECU. After that it was mostly a matter of finding the right wires and then cutting and re-routing them to make the buttons work on the ACC setting as well as ON. A brief demo video is idling after the break.

Have an old smart phone lying around? Of course you do. Why not make your own head unit?

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Bertha Benz Pushed The Automobile Toward Production

Who invented the automobile? The answer depends a little bit on your definition of the word. The first practical gas-powered carriage was built by Karl Benz, who later merged his company with Daimler Motor Group to form Mercedez-Benz.

Karl Benz was a design visionary whose first fascinations were with locomotives and bicycles. His 1886 Benz Patent Motorwagen was the first automobile to generate its own power, which was made with a two-stroke engine and transmitted to the rear axle by a pair of chains. He didn’t think it was ready for the road, and he was mostly right.

Bertha Benz, Karl’s wife and business partner, believed in her husband’s invention. She had been there since the beginning, and provided much of the funding for it along the way. If she hadn’t taken it out for a secret, illegal joyride, the Motorwagen may have never left the garage.

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Arduino Car HUD Does The Job

Many cars these days come with a basic Heads Up Display, or HUD. Typically, these display speed, though some also throw in a tachometer or navigational graphics too. Of course, if your car doesn’t have one of these stock, hacking in your own is always an option.

[PowerBroker2] developed this HUD in a somewhat circuitous way, but it’s effective nonetheless. An ELM327 Bluetooth OBD-II reader is hooked up to the car, collecting data on speed and RPM. This data is passed to an ESP-32 and Teensy 3.5. From reading the code, it appears the Teensy is responsible for logging data from the CAN bus on an SD card, and running a small OLED display. The ESP32 is then charged with running the LED display that actually forms the HUD. It’s then combined with a 3D-printed housing, some plexiglass, and reflective windshield film to complete the effect.

It’s a build that probably packs in more hardware than is strictly needed to get the job done, but it does indeed get the job done. Other builds we’ve seen use LED strips as a quick and tidy way to get the job done. Video after the break. Continue reading “Arduino Car HUD Does The Job”