My understanding is that the current platform uses bluetooth to connect to the internet (via your mobile device).
It would be awfully slick to get an optional/upgraded version that can connect directly to the cloud with cell service. This would obviously have cost of some sort (would need a GSM sim provided by the owner to run) but would have some benefits, namely the ability to do direct remote diagnosis and adjustments (tuning as a service?, can probably do this over the bluetooth connection, but only if the user can get it to work, not that it should be hard.) and the ability to add a GPS antenna for tracking/anti-theft.
On the anti-theft point, a common problem with anti-theft systems is that they can be removed or disabled, but if the GPS transceiver is in your fuel management system, that’ll make it non-functional.
I figure the biggest problem is antenna/pcb space. I figure the antenna can be run around the enclosure itself, but will require a port and a chip, even if the bluetooth chip was in the same SoC, i figure it’d add a square inch to the board.
Great question. Developments in the IoT space hype me up as much as injection… maybe even a little more
We use WiFi (802.11b/g/n) for connectivity, rather than Bluetooth. With WiFi, ethernet/internet networking is built right in, so you actually don’t need a companion device present. NanoEFI can independently connect directly to just about any wireless network (home, office, shop, even the free WiFi at Burger King) and reach the server by itself without you or your phone needing to physically be there. Just like a tablet or a laptop. The wireless ethernet and internet networking functionality is native to the ESP8266.
WiFi does support some local and peer-to-peer modes similar to Bluetooth, so it’s not dependent on having any network infrastructure around either. Overall the things we can do with WiFi are pretty wild already and I haven’t covered it all yet. It would be a great topic for deep dive soon.
I like Particle’s lineup of 2G/3G/4G devices. I’ve been in love with Particle’s IoT ecosystem for a long time.
As awesome as direct cellular is, for most common uses (like remote access diagnostics, or even live streaming hours of real-time data for review later, etc) we can accomplish the same thing inexpensively through your phone’s “WiFi hotspot” feature. It’s a very easy and reliable way to go cellular without adding costs to the board, or extra technical hurdles. It’s standard stuff on both iOS and Andriod, and works right now no apps or third party programs needed. To setup, you’ll just need to enable your hotspot, then tell your NanoEFI ECU the SSID and password. Bam… you’re live streaming at 60mph. Or invite a buddy for remote access diagnostics anywhere within range of a cell tower, on or off road.
Some providers call it WiFi “tethering” and charge around $15 per month (others factor it into your plan’s price already). Since we all presumably carry our smartphones and gigs of data allowance with us while we ride, it makes sense to leverage that connection if you’re going to be physically present with the machine during use. And if you already use the hotspot/tether feature for other purposes, it’ll effectively be free for NanoEFI.
For stationary installations like an off-grid generator that requires remote monitoring or control from miles (or continents) away, I’d recommend investing in a dedicated 3G/4G Jetpack for a persistent connection that allows for access any time. Basic units are around $50 and are well designed for reliable uptime. For applications that require serious 24/7 uptime, I’d recommend something like the MiFi 8800L which is a Class 18 device and provides an incredibly robust persistent 4G connection. A little pricey at $200, but doesn’t require external antennas or amplifiers even under marginal conditions way out in the sticks. It depends on your goals and the application, but the capability is there and ready now.
I’ve had NanoEFI test boards connected through Verizon and transmitting livestream data 24/7 for nearly a year of continuous uptime. The focus for use over cellular early on was out of necessity. There aren’t a lot of broadband options in bear country. Either satellite or cellular. So my main source of internet during development hours in 2019 and prior was through my smartphone with its 4G hotspot feature enabled full time. Then a 8800L Jetpack on an unlimited plan.
So as a result, right now even alpha NanoEFI test boards can easily get online even way out here.
I’m right there with you. I had a couple ATVs stolen last year, and have internal anti-theft / recovery measures on the drawing board for NanoEFI. Even without GPS or a persistent internet connection.
It’s pretty crazy, but we can determine location and piece together where a vehicle has been with WiFi alone. You’re gonna like this. Let me circle back around to this one a little later. It’s amazing how much value we can get out of this $2 WiFi module with a little doing.