In preparation for initial testing of the new app, the user manual section of the web site has been updated with details of the new functionality.
In addition, I’ve added a guide to building a Bluetooth connector and using it which, hopefully, will allow more meaningful testing. For anyone not confident to build their own, I have had preliminary talks with a company that may be able to supply a completed solution “plug and play”.
This is a short video/screen recording of a very early Bluetooth enabled version of the app. Still a way to go before it’s ready for testing but as it stands it’s a promising basis for the new app.
The ECU is connected to a simulator so the realtime data may look a bit odd as I swing the inputs around to test the response.
The sampling throughput is running at a steady 11 samples per second which is a bit down on the WiFi adaptor but more than adequate for most uses.
Now I know that the Bluetooth adapter works and is reliable I’ll put together a “how to” guide, showing what is needed to build the interface.
A test version of the app will be released to testers, probably within a week or so. I have some UI glitches to fix now the basic connectivity is working.
As a spin off from another project that I’ve been working on which uses a Bluetooth module to transfer data between an MCU and an iPhone, I’ve been mulling over the amount of work required to both update the MobiSquirt app to the current architecture (to get it back on the app store) and, at the same time add in support for Bluetooth. It can then be added back onto the app store.
To gauge interest and support for the project I’ll be looking for beta testers in the next month or so. If you have already expressed an interest in testing the app I will send you a TestFlight invitation and you will then be notified as soon as a new build is available for testing.
The cost for the Bluetooth components is around £15 from Amazon, cheaper if you get them from AliExpress or similar. I now have this link working in another project and, hopefully, transferring the code across shouldn’t be too painful.
I’ll post a further update when I have a better idea of the work involved and time scales. It won’t happen overnight and is likely to take months rather than days as I fit it in between my other time commitments but after a break from the project I’m now feeling more enthused about it.
Apple have removed the app from the App Store as the app doesn’t natively support current processors.
As a result of a lack of feedback and any interest in testing the app from users, I have not released the new version of the app that was in development and the project is currently on hold indefinitely while I devote my time to other projects that are better supported by the user base.
That said, I still expect to come back to this project at some point if only for my own use on my own vehicles. When that will be will be determined, as ever, by the amount of free time I have available.
I’ve fixed all the problems with the architecture of the app and it’s now working as fast as a PC connected via a serial cable when it comes to creating log files, in the region of 16 lines per second on an MS1/Extra. I have 2 more screens to update to iOS7+ compatible and I’ll be looking, finally, at a release. The new architecture has opened up a number of possibilities as well as removing many of the stumbling blocks that were limiting it’s performance.
One of the more recent problems being experienced is a practical one since MicroChip bought out Roving Networks and pulled the rug out from underneath the simplest and cheapest connection option. Obviously one solution to this has been to start looking at BlueTooth interfaces but in tandem to that I’ve also been looking at a much lower cost WiFi option that uses a couple of “off the shelf” modules hooked together. Initial results have been good and it would bring the cost of a WiFi adaptor down to less than £12 ($15USD) but it will need to be flashed with some simple custom code that I’m going to release as an open source project. The software to compile and upload the software to the module is free and you just need a USB cable to flash the module.
This is actually a much better solution than the RN134 as it offers a secure, password protected, connection and a customisable web interface to configure it and, being so much cheaper, will be a good option.
I may be adding banner advertising to the app in an attempt to help it pay for itself. Although the donation model worked initially it’s not covered the costs of developing the app or hosting this web site, let alone the cost of MegaSquirt ECUs to test against. Banner advertising has proved reasonably successful in my other apps as a way of generating a small but steady revenue that might, at least, help offset some of the costs.
I’ve completed the architecture changes I’ve been working on and the first test version of the app is being distributed to testers now. If you haven’t already signed up and are using iOS 8 or later, use the contact form to let me know you would like to become a tester. The new Apple TestFlight system allows for up to 1000 testers and the more people testing it the better !
The architecture changes offer far more flexibility and improved speed of logging by recording the data into a database, including logging sessions. As well as the improved speed it opens up new possibilities, such as a graph view of the data in both realtime and logged data environments. Data from the MS ECU is also stored with log sessions, allowing easier transfer of log data between devices in the future. At some point I will also leverage this mechanism to provide iCloud support for your logging sessions.
Updates to the latest iOS SDKs and methods mean an updated layout that should cope better with different device screen sizes and native support for 64 bit devices will improve performance on those devices.
The one feature that has been lost as part of this restructuring is the ability to transfer log files from the device using iTunes. On the plus side though the email facility allowing log files to be emailed has been updated to support the iOS7 and later action facility. This allows log files to be emailed as before but also allows them to be transferred via AirDrop or any other method that your device is configured for (Facebook, Messages etc…) or opened directly in another app on your device that supports the file type. For Mac users this means you can quickly send log files directly to your Mac over WiFi.
With the new data format it is possible for full log files, with all the MS ECU config data, to be sent between iOS devices and imported into other copies of MobiSquirt at some point in the future.
Sadly this project has fallen victim to a lack of time and priority compared to all the other things that take up my spare time.
There has been some progress as, yet again, I embarked on another architecture change, this time around the way the logs are created and stored and the way the incoming data is analysed. This is aimed at streamlining the data capture process and, hopefully, this will speed up the entries per second for the logs which have been down on where they should be, particularly on the MS2/MS2-Extra devices.
The iPhone 5 question has been resolved once and for all as Apple will no longer accept apps or updates to apps that don’t support iPhone 5. Anyone still using an iPhone with an iOS version prior to 4.3 will no longer be supported through the app store although I will continue to support older versions in the test version of the app for a while at least.
At the moment I’m not sure when I’ll get any real time to devote to this project but I’m optimistic that in the next couple of months I will at least be able to get the current test version into a state where it can be submitted to the app store.
While the test versions of the app work quite happily on both the iPhone 5 and the iPhone 3G and earlier it seems that the App Store version can’t have that luxury unfortunately. At some point soon I’ll need to make a final decision on how to handle it but my current thinking is that I may create a new version of MobiSquirt on the App store that will support legacy hardware and iOS versions while at the same time allowing the “main” app to take advantage of the latest and greatest iOS developments. Of the current user base of around 800 active users there are 10 users that have devices that don’t support iOS 4.3 and later according to the analytics.
Going down the legacy app route will have the advantage that, when and if I can no longer update the legacy version at least the legacy version will remain on the App Store should an older device need a factory reset or similar and lose the app.
The next App Store release will not support iPhone 5 natively as I want to get the RPM fix out while I pontificate further and see how other developers handle the iPhone 5/iPhone 3G problem.
I’ve been contacted by a few people concerned about the possibility of dropping iPhone 3G and earlier device support. As a result and after some experimentation I’ve found I can, for the time being, support all the existing devices that are supported and also support the new iPhone 5 by using an older compiler.
I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of the problems some people have been experiencing with incorrect RPM readings on MS1Extra. After analysing files supplied by those experiencing the problem and running the configurations up in my test environment I’ve finally got to the bottom of the problem and the latest test version contains a fix. It turned out to be a problem with the way the app was determining the number of cylinders and this was then leading to rogue calculations.
I’ll release this version to the app store after testing is complete.