Workshop 12

One thing we get asked all the time is “what about car X”?  Which is great that we have interest from different car owners out there looking to do something cool in their cars.  The crappy part is that doing the research, scanning, sketching, 3D modeling, test printing bla bla bla is quite expensive.  Since our goals have now switched over from trying to do a production all-in-one product to more of a facilitator role to aid the community in building some cool stuff for their own cars, our funding for doing new cars is tight.. aka it’s hard to find money to do a new car.

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It was a little over a year ago when we gave up on our dream of what Brainiac could be for a connected car.  Since then I’ve personally used a standard Android tablet in my vehicle for over a year and have found major challenges in trying to make something that was designed to be held in your hands an effective solution in an automotive scenario.  Go figure 🙂

So what are we doing about this?  First, scrapping all of the prototype code that we wrote previously.  It was created to be an entire self contained unit with remote access from your smartphone and architecturally not something we need going forward.  What I’ve found over the past year is that there are a few key things that can be written for a tablet that will make it extremely usable in a vehicle.

So we now start from scratch.  Re-using the same look and feel that we had created before, but now in a more targeted manner to first address the main shortcomings of a tablet in a car.  Once we have those main shortcomings addressed we’ll look to expand Brainiac automation and features if there’s demand.

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Ok.. so what a lot of you will be wondering is how much the plastics are going to cost to print.  I say print because I want to make it clear that the plastic parts are 3D printed and are not popped out of plastic injection moulds.  To give you an idea the single top plastic part seen in the photo above would cost over $15,000 to just create a mould!! Yikes!!!

So like I mentioned before, we’ve partnered with a 3D printing service to bring the best quality prints (as close to an ABS plastic injection part as possible) at the most reasonable price we could find.  A video showing the print quality can be found on our YouTube channel.  The selected printing service is out of the US (I say the US because we’re a couple of crazy Canadians).

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Setting up a tablet for use within a vehicle can take a little bit of work, but it can be done with some really good results.  I personally have been using a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1″ device in my Subaru WRX for over a year now using custom Brainiac printed plastics that hold the tablet in place which makes it appear like an actual built-in unit.

We’re currently test printing a set of these plastics (without the old buttons) for both the 05-07 WRX and 02-05 350Z that will hold a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1″ device.  The FRS/BRZ is still a bit of an unknown.  The idea is to upload our 3D models to a website where you can have them printed and shipped to you from a printing partner.  We’re not the creators of plastics or electronics… instead simply making our knowledge, designs and experience available to you so that you can pull something awesome together yourself.  More details on that to follow later 🙂

Some of the tricky bits for making a tablet work in your car are subjects such as power management, touch navigation (touch points are too small), volume control, screen brightness and other annoying bits I found when using a tablet for in-car entertainment while driving the vehicle.  There are lots of great things you can do with Android and inside your car, but there are some common things that you do all the time while driving, and finding a good solution for those common tasks can be a challenge.  In this post I’m primarily going to focus on power management and screen brightness configuration.

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Giddy-up!!  The latest renderings of the rear of the 818X are now available.  There have been a few different treatments done to the rear of the car to see what best fits.  Below you’ll find a bit of the reasoning behind some of the renders and differences between them.  From my perspective I always wanted something that is a bit crazy, so of course I lean more towards the crazy renders than the subtle ones.

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The latest 818X renders are available.  In these versions there have been continued refinements of the front end and side features.  The side air scoops have been reshaped to be less harsh and further blended in the boomerang/slingshot side accents.

The front end has also been reshaped along the bottom half creating a more organic styling allowing for some nice aerodynamic accents that could be painted a different color or carbon fiber.


Side renders have also been updated to raise the nose of the car to better match the new front end modifications as well as updated fender lines to blend into the boomerang side shapes.

Next will be some more refinements and the first revisions of the rear view of the car 🙂

As you can see the latest revision of the 818X sketches are ready to roll.  These have the changes that I mentioned in the previous blog article.  We now have some wider top side vents to really funnel in air for the intercooler along with the additional air flow from the roof scoop of the existing 818C.

We made a few changes on the tail lights and gave the front a more aggressive look.  The next phase will be taking these drawings and producing 2D rendered digital art for the front quarter view, side view and rear quarter.

These 2D renderings will then also go through a series of tweaks as we start to see what things look like as they move from sketches into something more life like.

Editorial By: Tim Neil

Like the title of this post says… it’s time to embark on a new adventure!

A large portion of the past year has been spent trying to figure out what I really love to do. Which turns out to be that I love to “create”.  That could range from gutting and renovating my new condo, drawing with my daughter, getting back into the gym and moulding my body the way I want it to be, adding tattoos to my body or building unique vehicles.

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Since the beginning our goals at  Workshop 12 have never changed.  To bring some really cool electronics combined with a fantastic software experience to car enthusiasts.  We never had the goal of getting rich, but instead a goal of being able to continue to work on making our vision a reality.  Of course, the catch 22 of trying to bring our vision to life was looking for funding to try and make manufacturing at scale happen.

We’ve been pretty quiet for the last couple months and you may be wondering why.  Well, we’ve been hard at work pounding the pavement talking to potential investors to try and raise enough capital to manufacture Brainiac as a packaged product.  The road of talking with investors is a long and tiresome one, and time after time we’ve received the feedback that we are not “investable”.  Read More

Earlier we posted a blog article outlining our design intentions on our lower pocket for the FR-S/BRZ/GT86 snap-in kits.  This relocation is necessary to free up the space needed to fit our 10.1″ display while still retaining a physical hazard button.  To be clear, this new trim is an included part of the FR-S/BRZ snap-in kit, we simply didn’t have pictures ready in time for the photo found on the preorder page.

We’re now ready to share with you the first test prints of the plastic that will be used to snap-in the new hazard switch into your existing lower pocket trim.  It doesn’t matter if you have the push-to-start option or the standard pocket, both have the same AUX-in port that we utilize for securing this new trim.  Since we have lots of axillary inputs available, we polled the community to see if this location would be acceptable, and we received a resounding YES! Read More

Back in November our 3D printer lead us on an adventure to get the FR-S pieces ready. First problem is our bed size – it’s large – but not large enough to print the upper section in a single piece. Using software to cut it in half is easy – but joining the pieces back together takes some effort and precision. Large gentle curves with lots of support material can make it easy for separation during print. We saw a few failures, a few spaghetti incidents and even a case where the printer’s extension cord was “borrowed” 19 hours in to a job…

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We had a good time at the OGRA (Ontario Good Roads Association) conference at the Fairmont Royal York hotel yesterday where we presented an industry point of view for self driving vehicles and the driver’s in-cabin experience expectations.

Two other presenters joined us, one from the WATCar program from the University of Waterloo presenting self driving technology research, as well as the head of the ITS division of the Ministry of Transportation Ontario (MTO) representing a regulation point of view.

The room was packed with mayors and counsellors from villages, towns and cities from all across Ontairo. It was standing room only with attendees also lining the outer walls to hear the talk. Our Brainiac kiosks and our promotional video were on display at the back of the room beside the self driving vehicle demonstration track.

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