You might be in the 36th chamber of geekiness, but I just can’t imagine you going to work with some tech hacks on your brand new car. But give it a few miles on the odometer and that jalopy is fair game. Modern automobiles are pretty advanced in themselves, but even then there’s the temptation to just customize it a bit more if you know your way around a car. I am no grease monkey, but I am just as interested as a car lover to know the kind of DIY tech hacks for cars that are out there.
These DIY tech hacks are compiled from the web. Regular MacGyver’s would need something more than a duct tape and Swiss Army knife. But these tech improvisations can really help to make your car stand out from their mass produced brethren.
That’s the first thing a geek will think of when it comes to customizing his own car with a tech thingamajig. A computer inside your car doesn’t sound too cool when you can just bring along a laptop or a smartphone. But there are some benefits of putting in place a computer as a permanent fixture inside your car. You can use it to store your entire MP3 collection (as this DIY-er has done), use it to connect to your home computer/server and stream entertainment, or do anything else that a computer can do.
The DIY hack starts with a small barebones PC that consumes less power, a touch screen, and some basic tools that you should have around the house. The most difficult part of this DIY tech hack is fitting the screen on the center console. The rest of it is as easy as setting up a normal PC.
This is a comparatively simple hack that you can do yourself if you are handy with a few tools. Of course, you can buy an iPhone mount from eBay – but that’s not going to give you the rush of doing it yourself and saving a few bucks in the process. The DIY-er sets off building his own iPhone mount for a long drive using recycled materials like a discarded PCB and scrap aluminum. The only complicated tool piece you might need is a propane blowtorch for getting that 90 degree bend for the iPhone cradle.
You will need some advanced hacking skills but there’s no shortage of inspiration when it comes to using your smartphone to control your car. Now you have iPhone’s voice enabled Siri feature as another hack target. Brandon Fiquett wears many a hat and one of these is as a programmer. He uses a custom plugin and a PHP script to interface with the Viper SmartStart (a vehicle security and remote start) app. Siri’s voice recognition and the smart app combine together nicely to help remote start the car from a distance.
We started with the CarPuter. The JEEPuter is an Arduino powered Wrangler Jeep. The JEEPuter is a custom programmed push-button system for controlling things like ignition, GPS navigation system, CB radio, RF scanner, 110V inverter, external and internal lights, and garage lights. It also has temperature and light sensors which can switch on the dash lights and internal lights on autopilot. The JEEPuter also lets you start the vehicle with a passcode instead of a key. It might have started with a Jeep, but you can easily kit out any car if you can follow the detailed hack project.
Programming a Car FOB that works on ALL your cars is one of the simplest hacks out there. Don’t get put off by the word ‘programming’ as all you have to do is punch buttons in a specific sequence of steps. Cars normally can work with four FOBs, so the hack here clears one FOB of its default programming and reprograms it so that it pairs with the vehicles in question. The method works for Toyota, GM, Ford, Dodge, Nissan, Jeep, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, and more. Read the specific steps outlined for each make.
A garage door opener inside a plastic coffee cup doesn’t sound like a cool DIY tech hack for your car. But when you think that this little hack makes it difficult for thieves to find the garage door opener and gain entry then you might reconsider. To those not in the know, the coffee cup would look like what it’s meant to – an undiscarded bit of junk. In reality, it conceals the remote button on its underside that rests in the cup-holder. The electronics is hidden inside the cup. Pushing down on the top of the cup activates the garage door.
An online database of speed limits, a free, and just about $20 in parts could help you build an advanced cruise control system for your car. The hack helps you drive safely as your car automatically slows down and keeps to the designated speeds in the different speed zones. The Android app requires a Promo code that’s given to safe driving groups. So, if you have that and have a little bit of circuitry knowledge then you can build the cruise device and connect it to your existing cruise control.
These aren’t the end of DIY automobile tech hacks for the innovative mind. There are quite a few more out there. Cars of today are quite advanced, but there’s a bit more you can still do to make them cooler or just stamp your geeky personality on them. What do you think of these seven DIY tech hacks for a car? Do you have a suggestion or idea of your own? Throw it across to us.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons