Friday, October 9, 2009

Late Night Mechanics

Last night was a late one trying to get some work done on Wendy. We first tried to hack the cruise control hoping we could use computers to control the speed. But Will has seen Terminator too many times (it doesn't help we named our program SkyNet) and didn't trust it, plus the cruise control was broken anyway. For a $300 car like Wendy I expected a lot better but what are you going to do (she still has a sweet spoiler, and does anyone have spinners we can have?)

In lieu of creating self aware cyber organisms bent on world domination we came up with a much more elegant solution to driving the car - a window motor and a hand wrench. I know, you're pretty impressed. We managed to mount the motor successfully to the floorboards and only drill through the brake lines a little. Just when everything was ready to test...the car battery died. So, currently we are a pair of jumper cables away from a car that can accelerate on its own with no brakes, but don't worry its in the parking garage at work so there's lots of cars around to help stop it!


  1. So the window motor turns the wrench, providing pressure to the gas pedal...interesting approach! Most throttle cables are similar to a bicycle brake cable, and I wonder if you could use a small motor to control a cable connected to the throttle body?

    For the brakes, I see another window motor in the picture and I bet you're planning to use it to control pressure to the brake pedal. I would bet the window motor actually has enough torque to apply pressure to the brake pedal, after all it was meant to lift a piece of glass!

    As for spinners, I bet you could find a sweet set of spinner hub caps to adapt to the car at an Autozone!

    Good luck!

  2. Haha! Thanks, RDR. We decided on using the wrenches to provide a simpler to understand system. We could have used replaced the ECU with a realtime controller instead, but that would have been too easy!

  3. What about using an aftermarket cruise control for controlling the throttle? I believe the hand-throttle kits used in Jeeps for offroading are pretty cheap and simple to implement. They could be "hacked" with a motor or servo to control the throttle (same mechanism as a bicycle brake).

    The wrench/motor approach just does not seem very might help if the pedal were removed and there was some form of mechanical linkage between the motor and pedal arm; this would reduce the possibility of the wrench not making contact with the pedal (or slipping behind it)...

    Also, would you guys/gals mind cleaning up the floor area of the parking garage after working on the car? I'm not the only person who has commented on the number of random bits of car I end up driving over every day...I sure hope none of these parts pierce mine or anybody else's tires!