Netbook Laptop On or To a Motorcycle Motorbike:

Again, after many a fruitless hour the realisation that even a modern netbook does not have the power to encode video at a useful resolution hit me! The hardware used for this project is now:

Acer Aspire 15.1 inch Quad Core Laptop (Aspire E5-521

WARNING: This is my technical reference and notepad for this particular project, parts in bold are genrally solutions to the pitfalls..!!

After spending countless hours messing around with a raspberry pi (and now an Acer Aspire One Netbook) trying to see if it was powerful enough to use as an on bike computer the simple answer was NO, it isn't, niether of them are! To that end I decided an actual laptop would probably be a better choice of computer to install on a motorcycle and although much MUCH larger than a raspberry pi and considerably larger than a netbook it has the power (just) to do what I want it to do. The laptop will have more of an advantage over a netbook or pi simply because of it power but, will also have some disadvantages!

Advantages

  • On board UPS system (almost, just needs auto startup).
  • Better storage options, 1TB internal hard drive plus an external can be added
  • Better connectability, USB included(I will need a hub though), self contained unit.
  • Bluetooth on board
  • WIFI on board
  • 3G on board
  • VGA and HDMI Outputs

Disadvantages

  • Size (in this case volume)
  • Weight
  • Fragility (netbooks are smaller therefore easier to protect)

The main purpose of this project is to provide the following functions on bike!

  • Video storage.
  • On bike DVR with 2 static cameras and a helmet cam.
  • Maybe a third, high resolution camera for pictures.
  • GPS track storage and recording.
  • Speed camera location identification.
  • Advertising/Digital Banner space via LCD screens on back/side boxes.
  • Lean angle/acceleration display and recording.
  • Mobile WIFI hotspot/Wardriver.
  • Fuel econonmy measure in real time.
  • Roaming webserver and video/audio straming platform.
  • Voice activated EVERYTHING!!!
  • Last but not least, a fully function, connected PC!

These are but a few of the uses a computer can have on a motorcycle. There are many pitfalls to overcome and undoubtedly many more uses that will present themselves along the way. To begin I need to break down the pitfalls based on function and see how many pitfalls are cross referenced, there is a set of primary needs that are at the top of the list!

  1. Power - Source: Back light power feed (comes on with ignition) -> relay -> connect/disconnect main battery (dual cigarette lighter socket with a 5v 2A socket) 12v to 5v converter -> 555 Monostable switch to send quick "button press" to laptop power button (preferably WOL saves opening up the laptop and soldering).
    • 12V to 12V and 5V (dual cigarette socket, one with a 5v 2A adaptor) with enough fused wattage to drive all peripheral gadgets - Power Requirements: 2A (laptop) + .5A (EXTHD) + .5A (WIFI) + .5A (CAM) + .5A (BT) = 5A gives plenty of head room.
    • Main power feed monitoring with battery backup for shutdown (when the ignition is turned off the computer shuts down, when the ignition is turned on the computer powers up)
    • Internal battery will power the laptop for hours. A daemon can be written to watch power and shut down the laptop after N minutes on battery power.
  2. Physical Storage/Mounting Space (somewhere to put the computer and it's peripherals).
    • How much room will the computer and peripherals take up. Can it be stored on the bike or does it need add on storage space (the back box will do, it never comes off the bike) - It'll fit in the back box just need to make an enclosure for it to protect it against luggage and movement.
    • Can I add some sockets for I/O in different protocols - Means cutting holes in the £400 backbox but hey, I'm skilled with a dremel!
  3. Weather proofing/ Environment.
    • The environment on a bike is really rough, harsh accell/decelleration and constant vibration. The pi (and especially the mechanical external hard disk) needs to be firmly attached but isolated from all of this - The back box will not protect the anything from vibration and other forces, the enclosure needs to be "padded" somehow, not sure how just yet!
    • On a bike at 70MPH in the rain water gets everywhere! Which makes the GIVI back box ideal as it is waterproof. Any internal/external connections will need to be waterproof.
    • The entire kit and caboodle needs to be relatively easily removed if need be.

 

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