Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm still alive!

Well it certainly has been a long time since I last posted on here.

The reason being is last last year I started a new independent game development company Ruma Studios.

We've released three titles, Ninja Splat, The Double Rainbow Camera and our latest game is RAMPage Soccer for iPad. Here is a video of RAMPage Soccer in action!

You can download it now on the iTunes app store...

So what about the clubman? It's still going to happen, and I hope to get some free time soon to focus on the chassis and get a cage made up for it. So expect a post soonish!!

Till next time...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The JoyCon has arrived!

While a touch screen netbook will make a great interactive instrument cluster, it would be impractical without a few physical buttons (possibly on the steering wheel). A while ago I came JoyCon a series of products that allow you to interface many types of controls to other controls. In this instance, taking steering wheel button input and converting that USB HID signals.

On the RX8 steering wheel (and most others) there are two wires for the steering wheel buttons, a voltage input and a voltage return. Each button runs on a separate resistor so when it is pressed it returns a voltage specific to that button. The JoyCon simply converts those signals to keyboard strokes. This will enable me to use the buttons on the RX8 steering wheel and even create my own from simple dash switches/buttons to control the PC.

I had a play with the JoyCon when it arrived and I must say it is very easy to configure and the build quality is A grade. The vendor also included a bag of various resistors so that I could make buttons without even needed to take a trip to the local electronics store.! Nice!!

P.S. For anyone that is interested in a JoyConEx (pictured above) you can find them on eBay.

Android Touch Screen Netbook

It's been quite a few weeks since my last post and move to the new place. Not much has happened on the actual physical part of the build but I've made a number of developments with purchases and decisions of the direction of the project.

A while back on my the honeymoon I bought a Google Nexus One android mobile phone (much like the HTC Desire, but more developer orientated). I've been tinkering writing software for this and I've decided to move the development of the mostly completed dash software over to this platform. No I wont be using a mobile phone for my dash, instead I will be using a newly purchased MSi Wind U130 netbook. Some of the reasons for this is that the system is designed from the ground up to be driven by touch input (so menus and user input are already handled for me), it's lightweight and performs well and will allow android tablet's to be used for instrument clusters in other cars...

I recently came across the Android-x86 Project which is a port of the Android operating system to Intel x86 hardware (i.e. desktop/laptop computers). I slightly modified the system and installed it onto my new shiny netbook. It still needs some work to get the wifi and a few other things working, but thats just a matter of time and coding. This netbook will eventually be butchered and turned into my instrument cluster along with a touch interface. Here is a photo of it running.

To give me the touch interface I need to add a touch screen so a quick search on ebay turned up a $80 resistive (i.e. single touch) panel that fits in the netbook. I  received the panel yesterday and set about installing it last night, goodbye warranty!

The new touch panel and usb controller.

The netbook with the screen and bottom cover removed.
The screen with the touch panel in place.
And with the screen bezel back in place, just like new.
The bottom of the netbook showing the new usb controller and wires.
The usb controller sitting in the ram expansion slot. I probably wont need more than 1gb of ram for an android install anyways, kinda overkill already.
All back together...

Funny thing is, in Windows 7 I had to install drivers to get the screen working, whereas in both Ubuntu Linux and Android Linux it worked right out of the box! Although it needed calibration :-)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Truck vs Crate: I love my block and tackle...

I've finally found a new house for my wife and I to move to... This comes with problems though, how to move a 3x1.5x1.5 meter ~400kg crate?

Easy, get a truck with a ramp? I fitted the crate with wheels, just push it on! So I called around and eventually found one which we could also use for the big house move. Sorted. So I went to pick up the truck on a Friday afternoon and the truck had a lift which the employee there kept calling a ramp, it was not  not a ramp and they don't have ANY trucks with ramps :-( Bummer...

So we have: Truck vs Crate

The reason I love my block and tackle :-) And persistence...

Getting the crate was simply just the reverse of getting it in. Although with a nice shiny metal floor pushing the create back out was quite difficult, especially because it rained pretty darn heavy.

I could't have done any of this without the help of Paul, Victor, Venny, Chris and my beautiful wife Meta, people power works very well...

Crate 1, Truck 0.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Long time no post...

Today is the first day in quite some time that I've had a chance to work on the clubman.

Over the last two months I've gotten married, gone on a one month honeymoon and also found a bigger house for my wife to move to. It has a double garage so I'm all set :-) No more working out of a friend garage anymore!

Anyways, right now I am attempting to get the RX8 ECU to talk to me. Last time I tried this I did manage to see two different CAN messages being repeated over and over. I think they were error messages as the ECU wouldn't do anything be repeatedly send them, it ignored all messages I sent to it.

Today I thought I would have more luck because I had more of the electronic components to connect to the loom (ABS Unit, ABS ECU, Instrument Cluster and the Fuel Pump/Sender). Unfortunately the ECU wouldn't respond to any commands nor was it sending out data. I'm not sure why and will have to wait until everything is moved to the new place before I can really dig around and find out. At least then I wont have to put everything away so a car can be parked in the garage after i'm done :-)

One positive thing to come out of today though, I did manage to get the instrument cluster powered up and it looks as though the engine has only traveled 25,585 kilometers. Pretty good for an engine that was 3 years old when I bought it very cheaply because the wholesaler thought it was damaged which it turns out not to be!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Data Logging and New Gauge Design

Over the last couple of weeks I've been working on two main things for my digital gauge program. Data logging and a new gauge design (which is switchable from the S2000 design I made).

The data logging allows the system to record ALL inputs (engine data and once I have GPS, accelerometer and other sensors data from those to) to a log file and then play them back later. For instance I connected my laptop to a friends Honda Civic Type R the other day and recorded a short drive with plenty of revs (the gear indicator is wrong as it was configured for another car). I can play this recording back on my desktop PC as if I was actually in the car watching the dashboard.

The laptop I have is pretty slow so recording video of the program while it is running results in poor quality and a stuttering screen display. I can now instead simply use my more powerful desktop pc to playback this data and record the screen using some decent software.

I've included a short clip of this log playback which leads to the second part of this post. The additional design based on the Lexus LFA dashboard.

I saw the Lexus LFA on Top Gear a while back and was hooked on it's looks, I think it's probably one of the best instrument cluster designs around. My implementation of this design is not yet complete and requires some polishing off and the addition of a menu, iso symbols and a few other things but here is the video anyway...

In an earlier post I put some videos (first and second) up of the S2000 design you may have noticed that the RPM bars all change color in stages as the revs rise as a simple shift light type indicator. The LFA design also does this but the rim of the RPM gauge pulses in three stages to show when to shift...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The chassis is FINALLY here...

It's been a rocky trip for my clubman chassis. First it was delayed in England due to poor weather (i.e. the physically couldn't get the cargo to the docks!!).

It was smooth sailing to Australia from the UK and then the hassles with Customs and the Department of Transport started. This is actually quite funny and the problem seemed to be Customs and not the DOT. An application was made to Customs to have the chassis brought in as car parts (which it obviously is). However Customs decided in their infinite wisdom that it was in fact a car and demanded that I have approval in the form of a permit from the DOT to import a car.

Now these permits fall under two categories, one is for people moving back to Australia wanting to also bring back their car they've owned for 12+ months. And the second is for racing purposes, under a CAMs C3 license and with proof of what competitive races it will be used for. Both of which I am not eligible for although I could probably wrangle the one for racing. This however takes three weeks minimum and with the cargo in port and me going on my honeymoon next week, both no good...

After a many calls the DOT advised me of a Customs policy that stated a car can be imported as parts as long as there is no running gear (i.e. axles, wheels, engine and gearbox). Great! I dont have any of that stuff, so I called Customs to inform them of their OWN policy. Nope, they want it in writing from the DOT. Wtf?! Yep I triple asked and as stupid as it sounds they wanted their own policy in writing from another government body. Hilarious!

So I complied and to my dismay, they actually got upset that I apparently went over their heads to the DOT (who can overrule Customs) to have them approve it. So they decided to make things more difficult by going over everything else with a fine toothed comb (e.g. why only two items in the invoice had a price).

So after a few more emails and confirmations all was well in getting the goods released. There was one last issue in getting the goods moved to my property, the truck was too small and a crane truck was required. This delayed delivery again and meant a bit more time off from work :-(

I must say though that Ozzy the shipping agent was awesome and helped me through this process and really did go out of his way to get everything done. He even paid for the crane truck when that wasn't officially part of the included shipping costs!! You're a champ Ozzy, expect something in the mail soon...

Anyways, I've probably bored you a bit now. So I've also included some pictures of the delivery! And the rotary engine that's going to be used for the car... ~180kw, ~220nm and ~600kg The math is good...