Some time ago when I was looking for a new angle on the CarPC scene I looked at using different devices mainly for the challenge. As Apple have just announced the Iphone 3Gs I thought this was a good time to share what my plan was to be for v6 as its quite adaptable and shows that even with these new PPC type devices the Carpc will not disappear and certainly the scene its self may just expand to work with more solid state type devices as they take on more features and pack hardware in…. it wont disappear because there will always be a hard core that wish to integrate and customise kit in to the cars, vans, trucks and lots more.
Well – a quick post to let you know that yesterday after much discussion with Nidd Vale directly I have collected my new car – a SAAB 9-3 1.9TD Vector Sport. Having had one of these while going through the rentals I knew it would be a good car and I would be happy driving it. To make as less fuss as possible I have got one with a touch screen GPS ( with TMC ) and a bluetooth system all built in. Unfortuntly I have as a result lost around £4k with in 12 months as a result of walking away from the previous deal and dispite contacting Vauxhall them selves who I believe are accountable they refused to contribute in the slightest to the new car. Any way – the 9-3 shares the same chassis as the Vectra C facelift and even the Ingisnia but the gear box is diffrent as is the engine and its ECU setup. Cross fingures this is it BUT it does mean for the short term the CarPC is on hold to ensure warrenty issues don’t arrise.
Well after 85 days my car is back…. well almost but we’ll come to that shortly. What was the problem I hear you ask ? Well re the gear box ( which they put back in ) it seems the timing chain has sliped a cog ( and its unknown how this happerned ) and through the car in to conflict. In other words all the ECUs where fighting and the car went gaga as a result. Does this explain the loss of braking ? No – this cant be found either how ever may be related as its not come back. Its gone back today unfortuntly due to the radio not working how ever this is minor all things considered. So whats Vauxhalls response to this farce ? Well first of all I am still waiting for the offical report to tell me all the above as I found that out by speaking to the local team my self. Will they extend the warrenty ? No they won’t – in fact I had the whole situation sold to me that they did ME a favour by finishing off the service and de-bugging the AC. I also asked for my CD70 to be changed for an updated one with an Aux port on as I now have to keep the radio in or there may be issues ( ie this is why they could not reprograme the car ) – yet again no was the answer. You can read the details on my work log but this is not the end of it as far as I am concerned as there are potential issues here for other Vectra owners.
Normally I don’t use my web site to moan and complain – thats what family is for 🙂 – but in this case especially as its relevant I thought I’d share my ongoing log of the problem on my car with you all. Entitled “May The Farce Be With You – The Nidd Vale Saga” after a brief spell of Spaceballs on the Vectra-C forum it tells the tale of how 55 days later ( at the time of writing ) and despite contacting Nidd Vale the dealers where I bought the car from – who I might add have not bothered calling to check on me…. now theres customer service – and contacting the Vx Exec support team by emailing Bill Pulfitt ( the current VX CEO ) directly I am still car less. The last update I have is that they can not commit to giving me a date when they can give me a date to look at my car as the specialist engineers are busy. Just about every one you can think of is involved in chasing this up yet still I am driving around in a rental which is all very nice but its not mine and its not a resolution. They are legally following the warranty but have no SLAs to follow so could be 1 day – 1 month or even 1 year before the repair is completed and the car is returned. Any way – have a look at the blog and judge for your self at the level of customer experience you should expect when dealing with Nidd Vale and Vauxhall…. if any thing its put me off from buying a nearly new car again as I never had any of this problem before.
Centrafuse have released a viral preview of CF3 and it looks fantastic. They are introducing new features including new GPS engines. David from Fluxmedia commented on CF3 saying “As I said, we are planning to improve the Navigation interface so adding new Navigation engines easily… So there will be big improvements there, so adding support for anything will be improved… as for Navigation we are looking at Sygic, Garmin, and Navigon” he also added “as for platforms, more on this later, goal is all of them of course”. A limited public beta has now started with chosen users.
Re my own car – its still on going and although some more major parts have been replaced Vauxhall have been unable to resolve it. As its now over a month since it went in and the dealer I bought it from – Nidd Vale – dont seem to want to find a fair and sensible solution so I am raising this with Vauxhall customer services them selves….. gutting when considering my long history with Vauxhall cars since starting to drive.
Its a sad today… mainly because Vectras have been a large part of my life since they came out having had most of the variants that were released. Why ? Because today sees the official public launch of the new Insignia at the dealerships in the UK. I had a chance this week to have a look at one and while they look OK they dont set my hart on fire as such plus I am not overly keen on the interior. Theres no doubting it there is a lot of innovation in these and on a technical level they break new boundaries but as a driver I want more than that. Probably this is not helped by no VXR or other type of sports version but even here they dont seem to be very – well yum.
Speaking cars…. ( grumble ) mine has been laid up with a mystery problem since before Christmas. After a loss of power / gears / brakes I limped in to the local garage where by they along with Vauhxall them selves have been trying to work out what the problem is since. Well – you can see by the date this is taking some time and if you look at my posts in my regular haunts you will see why…. the simple fact is they dont know what the issue is. In the mean time I am driving a SAAB 93 Vector which is interesting as they are actually the same car underneath. While the handling is pretty much the same the engine ( in this case a 1.9TD auto ) seems very perky. The Vauxhall District Manager is due on site tomorrow so we will see where we stand then but seeing as the main and gearbox ECUs have been changed along with the fuel pump and a host of other stuff I’m not convinced I will have it back even this month. That been said I’m not sure if I do want it back having had lots of major parts break on me ( brakes, engine, gearbox, wipers and electrical issues ), i’ll be talking to the dealer I bought it from about the out come when we have one.
CarPC wise I have been looking at a new direction in terms of using either Windows CE or Windows Mobile. There are a few units out there now some of which include GPRS and even CANBUS all of which lie in line with a new direction that I want to take my installs. In terms of software there are some front ends out there already and in theory I could run the likes of Tomtom which coupled with the GPRS modem would allow live updates from their services for such things as traffic and safety cameras. With every thing going on with my car and the fact I think the technology needs to mature a little more I am just keeping my eye on the situation for a good unit. One thing people dont know about Windows CE / Mobile is that with the right knowledge you can ‘cook’ a custom ROM meaning these are just as configurable as a PC but more physically resistant been solid state.
Lastly before I sign off I have released two more skins for Centrafuse 2 and they seem to be going down a storm judging by the number times they have been downloaded. In fact it was that much I had to move where they where been hosted because I went gigabytes over my hosts quote in a matter of three weeks. You can find details on them in the Centrafuse forum under this thread which also includes a download link. How ever I do suggest if you can use Zorros Skin Browser Plugin as this will simplify things for you. Give it a go and let me know on the thread if you thing any thing can be done better. One thing I will say is time is taking me away from updates at the moment and if I do end up going down the WinCE route I may hand the skin over to some one else because of its popularity.
Seeing as I am now running Centrafuse it only seemed right that I have a matching skin to my Cars OEM system…. so here it is – Vx Day & Night. This skin was originally the Gizmo skin from Zorro and I updated using Zorros VD2 Designer how ever there is no reason this can not be used on other cars. Currently supported plug-ins are Bluetooth Control, Camera, Contacts, Email, Infill, Logodashboard ODBII Phidgets Pluginbrowser POIWarner Satradio, Scribble, Skinbrowser, Skype, Weather, Web, Wifi, and TPMS is coming soon. More infomation and the download link can be found on the Fluxmedia forums here.
I’ve also been busy looking at other hardware options for a CarPC. These include my new Carkit which has AD2P and AVRCP support ( See the gallery images ) which I hope at some point Centrafuse 2 will work with. I reviewed the connects2 AD2P adaptor thanks to Jason at KDT Ltd… and you can read that on the reviews section of Digital-car.co.uk.
Functionality is all there and bar the UK map version issue ( which has been raised on the Centrafuse forum ) it does what it says on the tin. I noted ‘Jan’s’ comments re the sound on the Darkside some time ago so I had high hopes been both an audio and a videophile…. I was not disappointed with some thing I have watched from its humble beginnings well before Fluxmedia was well known.
My system finally came alive today from the point of sound ( even if I’m not happy 100% with the FE yet ) and its for this reason alone I put my money where my mouth is and went for the SE version. It would have been the XLE version but until the maps issue and TMC ( Pro / Trafficsam for the UK ) is also sorted I’m more than happy with where I am….. doesn’t mean I wont make suggestions mind you to the developers 😉
I have a few niggles to sort such as been in a right hand drive car the volume controls are in the wrong place…. plus return from hibernation is a tad longer but with all that in mind I am in hobby I love and this will take me to the next level of my plans.
Just one final point – I used ‘Zorros’ plugin installer from Fresh – so much less hassle and well worth looking at as your first plugin – Well done David & team….. well done indeed. You can find more infomation about Centrafuse 2 at http://www.fluxmedia.net/