Tag Archives: CAN Bus

Maker builds a scrapyard truck simulator

Have you ever wanted to play a truck simulator with a real dashboard on your PC? Now you can. 

As much fun as flight, truck or giant robot simulators can be when played with a keyboard and mouse, having a realistic cockpit to go with it certainly would enhance the realism. Jeroen vd Velden, who works in tech support at a home automation distributor and is also a licensed truck driver, decided to take this to the next level, using an actual truck dashboard and components with a PC simulator.


As documented on Hackaday.io, this was accomplished via an Arduino Uno (ATmega328) along with a CAN-BUS shield. CAN-BUS is an interface standard that allows one to “pull codes” when a car or truck is broken, and Velden is using this with his new cockpit.


In addition to the CAN-BUS, an Arduino Leonardo and a Pro Micro (both of which are powered by an ATmega32U4) are used to sense other inputs, like handbrakes and switches. When they receive signals, the Atmel chip translates them into virtual keyboard presses that go into the PC simulator, Euro Truck Simulator 2.


One interesting aspect is how Velden modified the handbrake to output electrical signals. You can see the process documented in the video below. The project is ongoing, and Velden will be updating the documentation as things progress. As Velden puts it, “The Scrapyard is a great place to start with Arduino!”

Conrod is a dev board for the automotive world

Conrod is the world’s first fully-programmable, connected app platform for your car.

Ideal for auto enthusiasts looking to personalize their ride, Conrod is a small device that plugs into the CAN bus of a VW brand car and lets users customize its features. More than just a data logger or diagnostic tool, the dev board provides developers with the ability to create their own apps and run them right in the vehicle. In other words, the days of having to write programs on a smartphone and then connect them via a dongle are over!


Conrod interfaces with any VW car — including Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini and Bentley — through its CAN bus, enabling a user to decode and manipulate messages to change the way that the vehicle operates. The fully-programmable unit can function as a standalone device, or can be paired with a 3G SIM to take advantage of its on-board cellular modem for Internet connectivity. For situations where 3G may not be an option, Conrod can sync to a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth 4.0 as well.

The standard Conrod installation is designed to remain out of sight, with all of the configurations performed on a mobile device. To really let the platform shine, however, Conrod includes an add-on 3.2″ full color touchscreen for output vehicle information, which eliminates the need for a smartphone. This display comes in a self-contained case with GoPro mounting points, allowing a user to secure it in their car with any GoPro compatible mount.


Conrod ships with several pre-installed apps for both Android and iOS gadgets, including a GPS data logger that keeps tabs on a vehicle’s location, a fuel economy tracker that monitors and records gas consumption, smart speed alerts that trigger emails and push notifications, as well as IFTTT-like logic blocks that can be defined to fit the needs and preferences of its user. For example, drivers can set it to roll up all the windows whenever the doors lock or sound the horn in the event of a sudden stop. Aside from displaying things such as oil and transmission temperatures, users can devise their own apps to view weather forecasts, tweets and just about anything else that comes to mind, all pulled down via Conrod’s cellular data connection.

In terms of hardware, the board boasts an Atmel | SMART SAM3X8E Cortex-M3 MCU, 8MB of memory, GPS, a SIM socket, Bluetooth 4.0 radio, an accelerometer and gyroscope, three temperature sensors, five CAN network transceivers, OBD-II diagnostic circuitry, and an external serial expansion jack. What’s more, Conrod is completely Arduino compatible.

While a number of startups have recently launched innovative products that can turn any older set of wheels into a smart car, Conrod taps into the CAN instead of the OBD-II port.


“Unlike OBD2, which is an open standard that anyone can read about, the CAN protocols used by specific vehicle manufacturers is not public information, and each manufacturer uses a different CAN language. We’ve spent thousands of hours decoding the CAN protocols in recent VW Group vehicles to enable Conrod to communicate with the CAN networks as if it was installed by the factory itself,” its creators add.

So, are you ready to pimp your ride? Then hurry over to its Kickstarter page, where the Conrod team is currently seeking $77,786. Delivery is expected to begin in December 2015.

Rigging the dashboard of an actual car for a driving simulator game

Instead of buying or building a console, one Maker decided to use the dashboard of an actual car for his ETS2 game.

Like countless other gamers out there, Leon Bataille has always been on the lookout for new ways to make driving simulator games like Euro Truck Simulator 2 (ETS 2) even more immersive. And though homemade steering wheels, pedals and gear shifters certainly enhance the levels of interaction, what better way to really enhance the life-like experience than by integrating the game with a dashboard from a real automobile?


Doing just that, Bataille repurposed the control panel of a VW Polo 6R with the help of the Arduino Uno (ATmega328) and a Seeed CAN Bus Shield, which enabled him to read and record vehicle diagnostics. This project was originally inspired by fellow Maker Silas Parker’s Arduino-driven control panel that was comprised of a cardboard box, servos, LEDs and an LCD screen. Though it was completely functional, knowing that every unit made in the past decade has a CAN bus, all he would need to bring his idea to life was a CAN bus shield for an Arduino along with a dash that could be found at any local junkyard.


Currently, Bataille is in the process of figuring out the CAN bus addresses for each of the relevant dials and LEDs on the dashboard. Though he may still have a little ways to go, he has been able to find the tachometer at 0x280, the signal lights at 0x470, as well as the KPH gauge at 0x5A0. Pair this with a standard computer steering wheel and the telemetry API for ETS 2, and the Maker is pretty darn close to driving a virtual big rig right from the comforts of his own home.

Until then, you can follow along with his build on Hackaday here, and watch it in action below.