Call it obsession or too much time on your hands, some people love tinkering with their automobiles. Even if electronics intimidates, that compulsion to add features to the car for fun or just curiosity gets their project muses up and running. In some cases, the only outcome is reinvention of the wheel.
Check it out our short list of automotive hobby projects. Professional engineers and especially automotive engineers may get a kick out of some of the projects.
This hobbyist wanted a way to measure the side to side g-force experienced by a vehicle while turning. According to the author of this board, the best sports cars can only handle about 1 g of force. Exceed what the vehicle can handle (almost certainly far less that 1g) and the tires will break free from the road. An Attiny26 microcontroller supplies all of the control and number cruinching power. An Anaolg Devices ADXL 103 accelerometer measures the forces involved. And three, ten segment LED bar displays. The ubiquitous 7805 linear voltage regulator converts the approximately 12VDC available in the car down to a more microcontroller and sensor safe 5VDC.
[Get serious about automotive electronics in Automotive Functional Safety and Security Solving the ISO 26262 Puzzle at ESC Boston]
The firmware was written in C and the printed circuit board was layed out in Eagle. The board was deliberately designed for all through-hole components for ease of assembly.
The display is set up so that the middle ten segment bar unit displays the current acceleration. The ten segment displays to the left and right display the. The maximum values are kept on the displays until exceeded or the unit is reset.
This is a very cool idea and a very cool first attempt. If the project were to be done again it might be improved by positioning the bar displays vertically. Or maybe just replacing the bar displays with an OLED. The OLED could show the current acceleration in each direction and in smaller text show the maximum value measured for each direction. No reseting would be required. It would be fun to see what this would record on a motorcycle, or a bicycle even.