There is a new and interesting campaign running @ Kickstarter regarding the creation of the first Arduino based ECU. First of all, let`s discuss some things about ECU. What is ECU? Ecu or engine control unit is something like a brain for your car`s engine. It harvests information from many sensors, and controls many actuators on the internal combustion engine, to ensure optimal performance. It does this by comparing data from sensors, with ECU maps or so-called lookup tables and adjusting the engine actuators accordingly. So basically ECU is a small and very rough microcontroller with some specialized inputs and outputs, packed in a waterproof casing, with big tolerance for low and high temperatures, and vibrations. The use of the ECU`s in Car industry started in the 80s and they started pushing out old mechanical and pneumatic means of controlling systems like air-fuel mixture, ignition timing, and idle speed. But enough about ECU itself, there is plenty of information to be found all over the Internet.
The big thing is that the manufacturing of ECUs was reserved for big players like Bosch Electronics, Denso, Delphi, Steyr, and some others. Now a new player is coming and it is going to be an open-source platform. It will also be developed in a few versions, each supporting different features. It is important to know that these days ECUs moved from just controlling internal combustion engines to whole new sets of features and capabilities, like GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, CAN, GSM and many more. All details about this exciting project can be found on its Kickstarter project page. Be aware of a little detail that I noticed regarding this project. By definition, ECU stands for an Engine Control Unit, and this project has the same three letters, but they stand for Electronic Control Unit, so just stay informed if it could affect your needs. Be sure to support this great project if you can since it will bring the power of ECU (whatever 3 words letters represent) to small manufacturers, hobbyists, geeks and other weird people that crawl around 🙂 .
“Even with all our technology and the inventions that make modern life so much easier than it once was, it takes just one big natural disaster to wipe all that away and remind us that, here on Earth, we’re still at the mercy of nature.”