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Hardware Hacking Transportation Build

The DIY $10 Prepaid Cellphone Remote Car Starter 454

An anonymous reader writes "Wish you could start your car via your cell phone, but don't feel like ponying up the $40k for a Chevrolet Volt or $499 (plus $29 a year) for an aftermarket system from Viper? This hack relies on a cheap prepaid cellphone that has had its vibration motor surgically removed, replaced by a couple of leads triggering the car's starter. Whenever the phone receives a call it starts up the car — a somewhat dodgy proposition if a telemarketer ever gets hold of your number, but an interesting solution nonetheless. Total cost of the project: $71.03."
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The DIY $10 Prepaid Cellphone Remote Car Starter

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  • Phone cost (Score:4, Insightful)

    by russotto ( 537200 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @11:01AM (#30890096) Journal
    Unfortunately, an AT&T Go Phone costs minimum $100/year. Net10 appears to cost $200/year. Virgin Mobile costs $80, and TracFone costs $100. So it isn't cheaper per year.
  • DTMF (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @11:17AM (#30890330) Journal

    A DTMF decoder, PIC microcontroller, and a couple dozen lines of assembly code and you could secure the system by requiring a code be entered on the calling phone.

  • by newdsfornerds ( 899401 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @11:18AM (#30890348) Journal
    According to Consumer Reports AND The Tappet Brothers (Tom and Ray Magliozzi) it's bad for the engine to "warm up" your car by letting it run idle in park. It's also a waste of time and gasoline.
  • by barzok ( 26681 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @11:19AM (#30890358)

    CVTs (which are automatic) are more efficient than manual transmissions. I recently bought a 2010 Subaru Outback and the mileage numbers are a couple MPG better w/ the CVT than the 6-speed manual.

    North American car owners prefer automatics because you can't eat a cheeseburger and talk on the phone while applying makeup & reading the newspaper if you're driving stick.

  • Wooo! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @11:19AM (#30890362)
    The DIY $10 Prepaid Cellphone Remote Car Starter
    The DIY $10 Prepaid Cellphone Remote Toaster
    The DIY $10 Prepaid Cellphone Remote Coffee Machine
    The DIY $10 Prepaid Cellphone Remote Front Door Lock
    The DIY $10 Prepaid Cellphone Remote Laser-enhanced Shark Cage Opening Mechanism

    The possibilities are endless!
  • by Anonymusing ( 1450747 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @11:19AM (#30890368)

    Can't speak for other people, but I warm up my car so that the engine is running smoothly before I head out into the 10-degree winter weather up here in the northern U.S. It's for the engine's sake, not mine.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 25, 2010 @11:33AM (#30890610)

    According to me it is bad to drive with near zero visibility due to condensation or frost on the interior of the windshield. My life trumps the life of the engine.

    Anyways a bock heater or garage is the way to go, at least if parked at home.

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @11:34AM (#30890630) Homepage
    I agree. I just scrape the ice off and drive off right away. Of course, then my windscreen fogs up on the inside due to chilling from the airflow over it, but fuck you or your kids if you happen to walk in front of me: better you die than I "waste time or gasoline", right?
  • Why? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 25, 2010 @11:41AM (#30890756)
    Why would you want to do this? I still don't get it. Unless you're James Bond, and can also remotely drive the car, I don't see a need for this.
    The whole hot/cold climate thing, can't you just wait a minute for it to cool/warm?
    Sure you can brag about turning your car with your cellphone, but what next? Waste of gas, time and money, I just don't get it.
  • by EatHam ( 597465 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @11:44AM (#30890802)

    According to Consumer Reports AND The Tappet Brothers (Tom and Ray Magliozzi) it's bad for the engine to "warm up" your car by letting it run idle in park. It's also a waste of time and gasoline.

    Those guys can eat my ass if they think I'm driving around in a cold car I can't see out of. They are also welcome to scrape my windshield for me.

  • by aitikin ( 909209 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @11:46AM (#30890850)
    See how your Aveo, Caravan, and Outback handle it when it's a 17 year old car. I know my heater doesn't warm up that quickly.
  • by NeuroKoan ( 12458 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @11:56AM (#30891000) Homepage Journal

    Drag racing is probably the one exception to the rule, as its just a straight line and you don't have elevation changes, curves or other vehicles to worry about.

    To me, drag racing is barely racing. Its more like an engineering display. Besides the launch, there isn't much for the driver to do but keep the wheel straight for 10 seconds or so.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 25, 2010 @12:36PM (#30891788)

    Um.. No.

    Actually, a person with a brain would think something like this:

    It's really cold outside, and there is ice on my car. I can either go out there in the cold, scrape the ice off, and get in the cold car and drive, or I could start the car, let it warm itself up and melt the ice off of itself, and I could be comfortable for my drive.

    It will burn a bit of gas to do that, but it's worth it for me not to have to freeze my ass off like an idiot. I think I'll do that.

  • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @12:36PM (#30891792) Homepage

    Yup - I have a remote starter on my car - aftermarket.

    These sorts of devices aren't all that expensive. I'd have no issues with hacking an alternative receiver (phone or whatever) into the INPUT on the unit, but not directly into the starter.

    A typical remote starter does stuff like:

    1. Have a sensor on the spark plug wires so that it can detect the engine RPM and figure out when the engine has turned over. It runs the starter "just enough."
    2. Refuses to start the engine if it is already running.
    3. Has a timer so that it won't run the starter all day if something goes wrong.
    4. Has a safety interlock on the hood, so that your mechanic doesn't lose his hands when the engine cranks without warning (granted, whoever installs it might not bother to wire this up).
    5. Have some kind of mechanism built in so that somebody can't just drive off with your car.
    6. Has some kind of way to transition to normal operation when you insert the keys.
    7. Often they have extra features like a mode that will periodically run the car for 15 minutes to keep the engine warm - for cold climates I guess (though I suspect an electrical heater would be safer).

    I would never wire something like this to my car without some basic safety/control functionality. By the time you do all that you could have just bought one - they aren't actually that expensive if you install them yourself.

  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @12:43PM (#30891912)

    Convenience wins over efficiency. It's hardly strange or surprising.

    Most people who want an efficient car choose a car over a motorcycle too. Same reason.

    You might enjoy driving or getting better performance or whatever. Lots of other people prefer not to have to push the clutch in and out constantly for the hour of stop-and-go bumper to bumper commuting that do each day (and don't try telling them to just stay in second, that's just more details they don't care about...)

  • by dfenstrate ( 202098 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <etartsnefd>> on Monday January 25, 2010 @01:19PM (#30892570)

    I purposely bought a stick shift in my Ranger, because I enjoyed using them at the time.
    After seven years, I've come to the conclusion that it's merely a distracting chore, as trucks aren't that fun to drive anyway.

    Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, you can shove your elitist anti-American (and/or canadian) attitude. Yes, we all get how cool you are for being able to operate a clutch AND a shift.

    Straight manual transmissions are on their way out anyway, being replaced by computer operated 'manual' transmissions. Cuts down on a warranty calls on sports cars, you see.

    Soon you won't find them in anything but sub-$11k econoboxes.

  • by Capt.DrumkenBum ( 1173011 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @01:26PM (#30892678)
    Here is a thought. Build a dragster without a driver.
    A light sensor to detect the "Go" light. (Yeah I know tons about racing.)
    A little computer power to keep it running straight, and to tell it when to start and stop.

    I wonder how it would do against a living driver.
  • Oh, please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sean.peters ( 568334 ) on Monday January 25, 2010 @02:35PM (#30893642) Homepage
    I've owned and/or driven in a LOT of cars, and the problem of "the inside fogs over" clears up in about 30 seconds of running the defroster. So: hop in the car, start, turn on defroster. Put on seat belt. Turn on radio. Inside of the windshield is already defogged. Give me a freakin' break.

Civilization, as we know it, will end sometime this evening. See SYSNOTE tomorrow for more information.