Hi! I am Pat, a high school science teacher in California. During the Covid19 lockdown I restored a ‘73 VW van (welding in rust replacement, paint, headliner, interior panels, wiring harness, LED conversion). Then I replaced the engine with an electric motor and 1/3 of the battery pack from a Tesla model S.
Now I’m ready to add a backup camera, proximity sensors, and multiple thermistors to monitor various drive components. I think I would like to have a web server in vehicle collect and broadcast my data via wifi to my phone and a tablet at the front of the vehicle. I have started exploring a Raspberry pi and an ESP32 as hardware options and I’m still pretty clueless about the software components and sequence.
If you’d like to share your experience in this sandbox, I’m all ears. Thanks for reading!
What an amazing project! That sounds so fun!
Do you imagine the server running even when the car is off? (For tire pressure or something?) or only when the power is turned on?
Both the Pi and the ESP32 should do what you want I believe. Arduino type boards (ESP32) are great because there’s very little to distract the processor from its task of running your code. They’ll just run forever. This is great for sensors where you want to get regular readings. The pi makes more decisions for itself on what runs and when, since it’s running a full OS.
With the exception of the backup camera, the ESP32 should work great. It might be able to process the camera… but I’m not sure.
The most challenging part sounds like the server. Would this be a wifi connection for when you’re driving? Or a Bluetooth connection?
Wifi would mean you could create a self contained server that sends the web UI to your device, very clean. However you’d have to connect to it each time you start the car.
Bluetooth is awesome because it would auto connect. But you’d have to create some app or UI for your tablet/phone. Or use a pre-made app like Adafruit has for their blufruit playground boards.
Thank you Aaron. Your response is very encouraging and you surface some good questions. I am currently building a webserver on an ESP32 that can address sensors. Pi has a couple of camera options. WiFi will need a router and antenna. I’ve been thinking the ESP 32 / pi would live in the motor compartment but that is probably a Faraday cage so I’ll have to experiment with getting signals into the cabin.
I have no idea about the layout of your van, but perhaps if you’re going to have a wifi router of sorts anyway you could run an ethernet cable from the pi and ESP32 next to the motor and connect it to a wifi system away from all that interference.
ESP32 (sensors) -> Pi 4 (Camera and server) -> Wifi Router -> Tablet
I’d love to see a simple outline of your next steps so I can understand the project more.