First glimpse at Macchina.

One of the more challenging aspects of upgrading/converting a car to electric drive is dealing with the complexity of the existing electrical system. When the internal combustion engine and its related systems are removed, the car's brain can get quite confused, especially in newer cars where more of the systems are mediated by computers. Cars these days have some pretty nice features, so we don’t just want to rip those out; if you’re converting a newer car, you’re likely planning to keep it looking new and sleek.

So the goal becomes one of keeping the car’s systems happy, and integrating information from the new EV components into those systems. However, with the numerous “standards” employed, the several signal protocols in place, and the dozens of sensor types present, the problem of compatibility comes to light. Our approach is to provide a programmable platform to combat this issue of compatibility. In order to ease this effort, we hopped on the open source hardware bandwagon. More specifically, Arduino.

The daunting task of creating one system that is compatible with every car out there is one that we wanted to share - with you. By combining the car hacking/EV conversion community with the Arduino community and development model, we hope to open up more possibilities. We built the hardware, now we need your help to give it smarts.

We created the Macchina to solve these issues and to provide a platform for better instrumentation, easier customizing, and useful statistics to improve efficiency and performance.

The Macchina is based on the Arduino Mega 2560 and is compatible with all 5 OBD2 signaling protocols including PWM, VPW, ISO 9141-2, KWP and CAN. This should cover any car built from 1996 onward. It includes a sturdy power supply to power sub-circuits and add-ons (called "shields" in the Arduino world) and was designed with automotive standards in mind with better immunity from Electromagnetic Interference (EMI).

Although the Macchina is a general purpose car-hacking tool, it can be especially beneficial in EV conversions, and that application has been and will continue to be our focus during development.

Interested in helping to create better instrumentation for your EV, seamless (or at least reduced-seam) system integration with newer cars, or just want to hear what your car is saying? Let’s work together.