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A future proof hardware design? 
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TO92 - Vaguely active

Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2015 7:01 pm
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I see a lot of independent design for stand alone EFI which is pretty cool. It seems like there would be a better way to bring the development of a stand alone open source EFI system by harnessing the continuing advances in hardware with single board computers. As time progresses they become more powerful and less costly. By the time most of these home brew hardware are developed there is a cheaper more powerful model of the original platform that comes out and development seems to fall off.

I think in order to keep the development continuous and the hardware and software in sync we need a platform that isn't constantly aging out. If we had a more modular approach I think we could have a more enduring platform.

CPU - single board computer such as the Raspberry Pi 2 gives lots of power for a low price. There are lots of of other single board computers with lesser (cost and functionality) with adequate capability.

OS - I think an RTOS based on Linux makes the most sense for a stand alone ECU. That will allow for a cross platform so when your CPU is out dated or a cheaper more cost effective model comes out its simple to implement the new hardware. We also have tuning software already developed for that OS.

ECU Module - this would be the module that controls spark output with the appropriate drivers such as IGBT, etc, integrated on board MAP sensor and buffered inputs. This could be similar to the MegaSquirt V3.0 hardware on the input and output side but I would suggest having output drivers to run eight coils and eight injectors which would cover the vast majority of applications right up to full sequential fuel and spark. One of the problems would be the non standardized footprint for modules (shields, hats, etc). It would probably be best to design the ECU module so that the complete module solders onto the appropriate shield or hat, etc adapter board to fit the footprint of the prefered CPU.

We already have the vast majority of the difficult pieces in place. Tuner Studio and the MS2 firmware has already had many years of development and implementation. With the horsepower available on a modern SBC (thats single board computer not small block Chevy :) ) By taking advantage of the research, development and knowledge of the modules such as the CPU we would gain the advantage of a more powerful module and a lower cost that continues to advance and develop independent of the control side. There is no reason not to run both the control of the ECU driver board as well as the tuning software directly from the ECU itself. We now have the power to add a small display and bluetooth keyboard to tune and have programable gauges. The sky becomes the limit as the technology advances.

With the advent of proprietary firmware with MS3 the open source end of MegaSquirt seems to have died. I think this modular design approach would be a great way to bring MegaSquirt (or some new form of open source EFI system) back into the open source community in a way that will promote it's growth and keep its cost down.

Mon Nov 30, 2015 12:52 am
TO92 - Vaguely active

Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2015 7:01 pm
Posts: 2
I should note here that the MegaSquirt firmware IS NOT open source as I have recently found out so I guess we can scratch that off the list as a viable firmware. You wouldn't be running firmware with this modular design though - it would likely be a thread running on the RTOS.

Tue Dec 01, 2015 4:51 am
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Joined: Tue Jan 15, 2008 2:31 pm
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Welcome to the forum! :-)

If you'd like a copy of that thread which I believe was deleted, do get in touch and I can send it your way. I didn't have time to read it all, but its demise was predictable, so I cached it.

You remind me of myself in the early days before I knew what I was doing :-) Modular sounds great, but isn't pratical for a lot of reasons. RTOSes sound great, but the situation is much the same. RPI hardware isn't remotely suitable for engine control, sadly.

I may sound a bit negative, but actually, what I am is positive about other things that make more sense when your depth of understanding of the entire problem domain is suitably rich and complete.

No MegaSquirt firmware has ever been open source, FYI. That was just a perception used to sell units.


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Tue Dec 01, 2015 8:45 am
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