What is Automon?

Hi There,

I am Donal, a 4th Year software student from the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT). The title of my course is Software Development with Computer Networking so it is pretty much 2 courses in one: Networking/Telecommunications + Software Development.

I am creating this blog to keep track of my daily progress on my final year project (FYP) : Automon.
Think of it as a diary to keep track of daily events, it will make the writing of my final report a bit easier!

Automon will be an embedded ARM touch screen device that will be mounted on the car’s dashboard and connected into it’s ECU reading real time information such as vehicle speed, coolant temperature etc. The device itself will be a TS-TPC-7390 Single Board Computer (SBC). More details can be found at http://www.embeddedarm.com/products/board-detail.php?product=TS-TPC-7390

A quick summary of the device:

  • 200Mhz ARM9 CPU
  • 64MB SDRAM
  • RS232, USB, 10/100 Eth ports
  • 7″ Touch Screen

What the project will involve

Automon will be developed using the QT (“Cute”) framework from Nokia (formally Trolltech). This is an open source framework that is quite powerful looking. I have to learn this framework on the fly. A special version of QT, QT/Extended or Qtopia will be what I’ll use on the actual device. This will allow me to write directly to the frame buffer (/dev/fb0) on embedded Linux making my application independent of a window manager such as X11 saving quite a bit of resources!

Communication directly to the ECU would require intermediate hardware and signal processing that I don’t have time to do and plus considering there are multiple OBD protocols (3 main, 5 flavors) it would just not be practical. So instead I will be using the ELM327 IC. Datasheet found here: http://www.elmelectronics.com/DSheets/ELM327DS.pdf. I can communicate with this chip using a serial interface using AT commands.

As stated above the device will be a SBC but since it is ARM driven, cross compiling will have to be done. This can be a tricky process and especially with QT libraries included.

Below is some more details on parts of my project.

Project Background and Introduction

The automotive industry is moving towards more intelligent forms of transport. Currently vehicles are able to sense one another and alert users or even the car’s control system of dangers that may exist ahead. Vehicles use real time sensor data to determine such dangers or failures that may occur. The rationale behind this project is to demonstrate the use and interpretation of these sensor values and display them in a meaningful way. All vehicles must implement a standard form of diagnostic reading, OBD (Onboard Diagnostics) which allows all sort of cars to be communicated with using a standard reading device. In addition to this, cars have their own proprietary protocols as well for communication with expensive diagnostic equipment that usually only services one type of car. Generally these proprietary protocols provide a lot more detailed information of what is happening in the car. This project will not deal with such protocols as this will be a limiting factor to which vehicles AutoMon will be able to communicate with.

Onboard Diagnostics (OBD)

OBD is a term in the automotive industry that refers to a car been able to self diagnose itself and provides users or mechanics with the necessary information to gain an understanding of what is wrong with the engine or its sub systems. In 1996, the OBD specification was made mandatory for all cars sold in the United States. This was in an effort to encourage manufacturers to produce more efficient vehicles reducing emissions. OBD II is an improvement over OBD with better capabilities and standardisation. By 2001, the European Union made OBD II mandatory for all petrol vehicles sold in the European Union.

AutoMon will communicate with the car using OBD II and its connector that is standard across all vehicles. Different protocol implementations are existent, 5 to be precise. Investigations into ways in which to communicate with all 5 protocols together were done, and two solutions exist, both of which are an integrated circuit (IC), the ELM327  and the BR16F84-1.07

Prototype of what will look like

Prototype of what may look like

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009 General Information

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