Iím writing this post to talk about the car hacking community, and to encourage you--as a car enthusiast--to join it.
A few years ago, I got tired of how expensive it is to work with cars. I almost lost my passion for car modification altogether because of it. It was around this time that I started playing with open source hardware like Arduino, Raspberry pi... and building whatever I could with it. I stopped just blindly dumping money in my car and suddenly Iím more interested in cars than I ever have been.
Pretty quickly I found out I was not the first one doing this; many forums have groups doing interesting projects. With cheap parts from maker sites (think radio shack) Iíve seen people do simple things like build their own gauges, shift lights, data loggers, telematics, diagnostics, security. Iíve seen more complex hacks like people replicating features found in high-end cars and racing features such as DIY methanol injection. Even highly skilled projects are possible like ECU tuning.
The open source movement needs a number of things to spread in the automotive world: hardware that can interface with the car, firmware, software, a central forum, and a whole lot of talented developers. There are already many developers working in this space, and someone will eventually create the XDA(a phone hacking forum) of this community for them to hang out in. The software and firmware need work especially on the older and brand new protocols, but CANbus is pretty well developed for. One of the major pieces--the hardware--has very few options that are both inexpensive and open source. I have been at this for a while, so I developed my own (my team and I launched last week on Kickstarter). But right now I just wanted to spread awareness about the general open source movement in automotive.
Stop paying someone else to put together your lego sets, do it yourself. If youíre experienced and this all makes sense please join us. If none of this makes any sense to you, but you want it to, Iíd suggest starting with a cheap Arduino board to learn the basics of electronics. Then pick up Craig Smithís The Car Hackerís Handbook to get started with cars (also open source). You will catch on very quickly, you donít need to be an engineer to do a lot of this. (I was not paid by either Arduino or Craig to say that, I do, however, know Craig).
Thanks for your time. Unfortunately Iím spending a lot of time focusing on my kickstarter and wonít be able to respond to every comment here--if you have any questions or want to talk about your project please reach out to us directly at info at macchina dot cc.