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When Mechanicals Outlast the Electronics

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Re: Electronic Gizmos in Cars
dhenz   7/4/2012 3:01:59 AM
Integration of ev could also upgrade wear items and car accessories. For me, I purchase automotive accessories jcwhitney if necessary and to avoid too much expenses for unimportant stuff.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Disposable Interface
Jack Rupert, PE   11/22/2011 4:31:08 PM
In answer to the first question raised in the article is no, I do not expect touch screens to be disposable any more than I would expect the steering wheel to be disposable, or for that matter the un-integrated radio of days gone by.  I would hope that if the manufacturers cannot create a long-lived interface, they will only only put the non-essentials functions as part of it.  I would not be pleased if my operator interface died on my car and I could no longer use the car until it was fixed.

Alexander Wolfe
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Not always
Alexander Wolfe   11/15/2011 7:45:24 AM
The canonical case of the mechanicals NOT outlasting the electronics is the VCR. This is (was) due to the widespread use of plastic gears and actuaries. That's why it was a bad idea to buy a TV/VCR combo, cause after a year you just had a TV with a useless slot at the bottom.

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Re: Electronic Gizmos in Cars
Tool_maker   11/9/2011 1:06:37 PM
Your's is a wise attitude. What I would give for a crank window when the motor has gone to the big junkyard in the sky and I do not want to pony up $200 for a new one. Same for the auto door locks and remote control mirrors. They are all cool and useful when they work, but royal pains when they do not.

William K.
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Mechanicals outlast electronics
William K.   11/8/2011 9:56:59 PM
Phillip10 is certainly detached from reality. The fact of a six-month product life cycle has been published repeatedly. And of course it is intentional, and it has nothing at all to do with technical advances in electronics. It has everything to do with profit. We all know this, it is not some deep hidden secret.

The auto companies do lament that cars are expected to have a longer product life cycle, although tthe "monkeys" columns do tend to say perhaps they have obtained the method. I recently disposed of my 1985 Dodge van because of a string of electrical failures, some of which were due to rust in modules.

The screens will fail, probably the backlight will go, and the replacement will not be available, or it will cost several hundred dollars for the replacement, and only the dealer will be allowed to install it for several hundred dollars more. 

The problemas I see it is not that "we" demand all of these dumb features, but that the marketing people make certain that cars are only offered with those features. After all, selling a $25 piece of hardware for $650 is a way to make a profit, it is a rational busniss plan, I suppose. 

But don't worry, folks. The next recession and depression will have cars returned to the bare basics, if you can afford one. Just wait another 2 or 3 ytears.

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Re: good points .... solutions-limited
bsprouse   11/8/2011 9:54:07 PM
Electronics standards rarely last 15 years?? 

This is an absurd statement. The USB port started in 1995, it has already lasted more than 15 years and shows no sign of dying off soon.  Twisted pair ethernet was around in the mid 80's and is still the predominant networking technology at most every office today.  WiFi and SD cards have been around since the late 90's and have also only grown in popularity.  I could go on all day with electronic standards that are at or near the 15 year mark that are still going strong.  It is usually only the early standards in a given area that die off quickly as they are often there only until the cost of the better standard reaches the point that it becomes THE standard.


TJ McDermott
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Re: good points .... solutions-limited
TJ McDermott   11/8/2011 4:40:31 PM

it is because electronics technology DOES change so fast is why I proposed a standard data bus such as USB.  As electronics standards go, it's the most ubiquitous and longest-lived for consumer electronics.  By bringing it into cars, we can replace failed devices or upgrade them to ones with newer features at a much lower cost.

I also wanted to highlight that, upgrade and evolution aspects aside, electronics do NOT last as long as mechanical devices.  They're not end-user-maintainable the way a car (mostly) is.

A catastrophic engine failure can be repaired, at worst, by replacing the engine by the end-user.  The end-user cannot replace the battery on an Apple product!

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good points .... solutions-limited
Thinking_J   11/8/2011 4:22:54 PM
Beth nailed it .. electronics technology changes at much faster rate than simple mechanics.

Because of

1) Because of safety standards for cars.. you will not get much traction for the idea of upgradeable dashboards. (crash testing?)

2) incentives to sell new cars (a variation on planned obsolescence) see history of GM's introduction of yearly models.

3) Electronic standards (USB) rarely last 15 years anymore.

Longest living electrical item in a car .. the cigarette lighter socket - now a aux power port... only because of new use.

4) Most computers.. are lucky to have a harddrive last more than 5 years. So, if you don't want to re-install software, better plan on mirroring your it on a daily basis to it's replacement HD.

I have a custom ECU on my car.. I can replace the entire dashboard functions via my laptop (plus so much more) .... But I don't think that will "fly" for most consumers.

and it isn't legal in CA....

We just have to face it... we live in "interesting" times.




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Re: So what is the right interface?
Walt   11/8/2011 11:52:23 AM
Very good point.  My newest car is a 1998 Toyota with 160K miles on it.  Still runs great.  Other than the usual wear on tires, brakes, etc., I've only had one ignition coil fail.  I'll probably try to get 300K miles out of it and will likely keep it until it is over 20 years old.

Will USB 2.0 still be here in 20 years?  Will much of any of the technology of today be here in 20 years?  Or even 10 years?

I think it is laughable that a certain auto manufacturer is pushing advertisements of gadgets in their newest cars so hard, which might not even interface with anything in 5 years.  The young lady in the commercial might need to use another device in a few years to find her shoe stores when her car no longer works with the new data and communication protocols of that year.  If this advertising is realy effective, I would find it a sad commentary on today's consumer.

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Electronic Gizmos in Cars
averagejoe72677   11/8/2011 11:32:06 AM
I have always had the belief that the more unnecessary gadgets you add to the basic automobile, the more opportunities you have for failures. Time has proven this therory right. When I option up a new car I am very selective on what I check off on the option list. I buy only what I feel would serve me well and avoid paying for gadgets I don't really need whenever possible. Touch Screens of any kind are simply a failure waiting to happen. My $89,00 stand alone GPS is the only touch screen device I own.

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