No automotive help at all?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Wendy, Apr 17, 2010.

  1. Wendy

    Thread Starter Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
    Somewhere we went from safety to this...

    Sorry Wookie, but this has been in the back of my mind since we started this. I do not post where I am not comfortable or qualified, but we have gone to an extreme I do not like.

    There are a lot of projects with cars that are legal and safe. I strongly disagree with the above as a matter of policy and I was not part of any such discussion.

    This is not meant to start a flame war, but I think a major policy discussion is needed.

    In the USA is it legal to build a car from the ground up, as long as codes are met it can drive on the streets, get a title, the whole bit. I'm not sure where it is illegal to modify your turn signals or brake lights, but given the above statement is true it is a matter of course that lights are part of the package. The taxi company in New York that invented and added a third stop light over the trunk that is now standard would have a thread asking for advice closed according to that logic.

    I have no problem with the obvious stuff. Emission controls, devices to keep the car running with the key off, HHO, and other mods are clear safety hazards.

    Turn signals, stop lights, and running lights are a lot more problematic to me. It is completely legal in the US to add lights to your vehicle. In the case of an accident (which happened to me less than a year ago) you must fix these to be street legal. When I had some idiot rear ended me because a bicyclist didn't have lights and I came to a full stop I had to make a temporary fix until I could get it done professionally several months later. We have arbitrarily banned these threads, which I strongly disagree with. Since the mods seem to be in favor of this I will concede it, but there are other issues involved too.

    As I interpret the current policy that seems to be jelling discussing a car radio would be not allowed. How about a clock (one of the early things I did to my first new car in the 70's)? Given how much time we spend in a car there are a lot of things that will fall through the cracks if we go to an extreme stance.

    Enough! If this is going to be policy on this site it needs to be in the rules. It needs some discussion, as it has gone overboard. When a OP brings up an automotive subject first find out what they are trying to do before declaring the project persona non grata.
  2. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
    This is probably a good area to arrive at some level of consensus about. I will move the thread back to Off Topic, and we can see what gets said.

    It's been a very long day, so I am too whacked to make a coherent post until later.
  3. SgtWookie


    Jul 17, 2007
    It began awhile back when we were helping people with LED lighting projects. It was brought to our attention that in a number of countries, recent laws were passed making modifications to standard running lights illegal.

    The trouble is, people think that they can buy some cheap LEDs, slap it together with a few parts and make running lights that will last forever. It just doesn't work like that. The color they choose is usually wrong, the viewing angle is wrong, they don't have the necessary experience, using wrong materials, the list goes on.

    Just for your information, it wasn't a taxi company in New York who came up with that. It was a man by the name of Thomas J. Krieg, who upon retirement was the head of engineering of Oldsmobile. Due to his efforts, the first high-taillights were on the 1971 Oldsmobile Toronado, well ahead of any other manufacturer. Tom was my godfather.

    It wasn't my decision. Beenthere closed a thread stated that all automotive project discussions were off limits (perhaps not the exact wording, but essentially meaning the same thing). I was not a part of creating that policy, and I did not query Beenthere on it; I simply assumed that the Moderators and staff had discussed it amongst themselves, and decided to make that the policy.

    I don't make policies on the board. I certainly try to follow the posted rules, and if the most experienced Moderator makes a post that appears to convey the board's policy, I'm not going to discuss it any further.

    While I've made modifications to my own and other vehicles in the past, all three vehicles that we have now are completely stock, with the exception of a dealer-added trailer harness.

    Not all of the mods I'd made in the past were completely successful, even though I had used better materials than most would. I'm not going to discuss them, because such discussions were declared off-topic.
  4. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
    I have had few questions on my p.u.,what If we stay with what we think Is safe
    with a long time member with safety concerns proven.
  5. Wendy

    Thread Starter Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
    The logical thing to do is ask the OP what they are trying to do, then decide if it is a safety issue or not. They can't all be safety problems. There are too many car accessories that should be legitimate and open for discussion, a blanket ban is far too sweeping IMO. If it is a legitimate query the thread should be allowed to join the fray.

    I will admit I'm not the best at picking up on all the statements an OP makes. If there is a problem with a thread it should be clearly identified.
  6. t06afre

    AAC Fanatic!

    May 11, 2009
    I have to agree with Bill on this one If it is legal then the topic should be open for discussion. Tampering with the engine control unit (ECU), or doing something with the car light system. Are obvious NO-NO areas. But many other areas are OK.
    Even if the moderators do a good job. I think it is somewhat random which threads are closed down or not. I also think it sometimes happens to quick, without the OP getting a change to clarify what he/she is trying to do.
    As an example take this thread It was closed down by Bertus. I tried to stand up for OP and sent Bertus a PM. Trying to explain that OP most probably was trying to create a power line communication unit. And with the correct approved components like the OP was going to use. This is not more hazardous than building a homemade power supply. For the record I did not get any answer from Bertus on this matter then I tried to explain in more details what such a application could be used for.
    For the more experienced member, a closing of a thread will not matter much. As they probably will use the PM system for clarification, or accept it without more problems. But new members will most probably be scared away from the forum and not use it again.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2010
  7. AlexR

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 16, 2008
    So cars are out because it might be illegal but it seems fine to give advice on how to build unlicensed radio transmitters and connect uncertified equipment to phone lines even though both practises are illegal in most countries.

    A bit of consistency in what is or is not a suitable topic would help. Also it would be useful to have a list posted somewhere of forbidden topics and reasons why they are forbidden.

    I'm all for a ban on car lighting and car engine management topics but a blanket ban on all car related topics (if this is really the case) would seem a bit extreme.
  8. jpanhalt

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 18, 2008
    I agree with Bill's position on this one. Just because modification of factory lights is illegal in some countries is not enough reason to censor the entire board to that, the most restrictive denominator.

    We have had nice discussions on building lighting for aircraft, but are now in the position that we cannot do the same for cars. That seems odd. I suspect homebuilt aircraft may not be legal in some countries either.

    Moreover, if we extend the logic of using the most restrictive government nonsense, then there will certainly be chips or even chip manufacturers whose products we cannot discuss, because it is illegal to import (or export to) or sell such chips in some countries.

    I think the policy should be based on a reasonable sense of safety and science.

    With respect to science, the obvious scams are mostly restricted today. However, we still have lively discussion of battery desulfation, which is fine by me. You either believe in it or not. They do not seem to reach the same level of intrusiveness and ulterior motives as HHO discussions reach. We have also had discussions of weird medical devices, such a bug disintegrators with magical RF frequencies. Those are clearly on the HHO level of science, but I believe we should err on the side of inclusion, unless there is an obvious danger. Besides, they add a laugh.

    Thus, I get to the difficult policy decision of how to distinguish a really dangerous project from one that is not. As an example of that, assume a device that is mains powered. The OP knows we won't allow discussion of things powered directly, so s/he inserts a 1:1 transformer. Those transformers are expensive. Does that make it any safer and/or are the contributors to AAC protected from some vicarious liability when the OP goes ahead and builds the device without the transformer? I suspect the answer is not much, but if it is truly a concern, then AAC should seek legal counsel -- I guess that would have to be done for every country in the world, if we follow the auto lighting example. So why do I support it, even though I think it is based on shaky concepts of liability? Simple, it is a way to drive home the concept to all the individuals who think the three leads of a transistor means it can be plugged directly into a wall socket.

    Last edited: Apr 18, 2010
  9. R!f@@

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 2, 2009
    Modification to car lighting is done every where and it is not illegal.
    If the OP does not meddle with the on board Computer and over ride engine safety and monitoring controls OP can do what ever he wants with his car.
    This is done everyday here too.
    Even adding a better sound system is the same thing as adding an additional LED lights.
    If OP follows the basic safety rules then there is no problem in discussing automotive related topics.
    I too agree with bill.
  10. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
    I agree with Bills Intentons and with replys,but do you want close the door.
    The members that have posted on this are the senible members that you
    would trust to answer a question about there truck or car. Use some judge
    ment to trust members that post a reasonable question,the Moderators
    have a good history of locking dangerous subjects,your post will make the
    Moderators more aware of such post. You see a lot of post for help that die
    because of no answer,that serves the same purpose as your request. If the
    same members on this post would not answer that will solve the Issue.
    If the Site had concerns they would have a policy,you guys have the choice
    not to answer.I would like to ask questions about my p.u. or other things.
    Most of us have had training at work about safety and how to comply.I
    would trust the judgment of the members on this post,If you have a one
    time new member asking for help non-answer will solve problem for members.
    If the Moderators want a policy they will make It,we only use this forum
    Adm understands there duty to the public on how to operate a forum.
    I respect all members making there opinions known. No questions,
    no forum.
  11. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
    This forum will grow with newbe's using there ability to post picture
    diagrams that will make It better for members that have no Inside
    Info from the new development of electronics In the future. Some
    members have retired and will be less Informed.So the newbe's will
    bring this, take our new member from the south Pacific that has
    given us that global perception of the expanding of electronic
    communictions. A certain amount energy came with this communication
    that Is hard to explain. We need to hear posted work,we might be
    surprised the ability If we ask, Take our new Moderator,It took time
    but with he started posting all that great Information he transformed
    the forum with more energy from that global Internet. We now have
    more gender energy coming forward from global Internet. A great
    Interest Is now being developed,this forum Is going to take off
    If the Adm &moderators allow the members to be more open In
    communications,like off topic. The members are trying to stay faithful.
    But the new energy of global has to be dealt with,so far silents
    has been the answer.The members with the new energy must
    have a place to come and stay,this week has been very exciting
    from that energy,so If no responce from Moderators says yes to
    the new energy then let It be. Cheer,Cheers for the Rooster.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2010
  12. R!f@@

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 2, 2009
    what can I say have a way with words.
    Here's to you :)
  13. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
    I need to show my respect for all the Moderators
    that monitor this forum. They work very hard to
    keep this forum running and there knowledge Is
    not forgotten.I get the Message,in bold letters.
    I regret not knowing you better,but there Is a barrier
    between members and Moderators. We can change this
    If we communicate more.
  14. Wendy

    Thread Starter Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
    This is not a respect issue though, this is a policy issue.

    Ultimately the moderators make the decisions, but a policy should not evolve, it should be thought out. I also think if the decision not to discuss a subject it should be in the rules, an automatic ban of anything because of safety is too sweeping and arbitrary. Arbitrary because if someone does take the time to read the rules there should be no surprises later to a resonable person.

    When I was 15 years old I make power supplies using transformers. This was early 70's, and meant by default I had to make a project with a 120VAC power cord. There is danger here, but we do no one a favor dumbing things too far down. Electricity can be dangerous, even with reasonable use.

    I fully support the ban on LEDs connecting to AC mains, even though this is actually reasonable in a sealed unit and will come about whether we like it or not as a commercial product. When this becomes common enough we'll have to discuss theory, but still discourage practice by people who don't understand enough to do it safely. Funny thing about this scenario is LEDs are easy enough by the time you can do it safely as an individual you don't really need to ask the questions, you have the knowledge and can just do it. There is a catch 22 here.

    There is a very good chance autos will go high voltage at some time in the future, but for now the 12V used in a car is relatively safe. There are people who spend a significant portion of their life in cars, it is as much their habitat as our homes are for us. This doesn't mean DVD/TVs in the front seat, but the back seat is legal and accepted. If it is banned in China (a random example) it is still legal in most of the world and should be open for discussion.

    The short of it is, the forum rules need some updates in writing on what is not permissible.

    That was actually what I was thinking about when I came up with the thread Things that close your thread. Any obvious examples should be posted in the forum rules.
  15. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
    You are right soon auto's will have battery banks that could kill you.
    The average person may not know that,so a policy about auto should
    be considered,this Is an electronic's site. A no answer policy can start
    by any member that wants to now.
  16. Wendy

    Thread Starter Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
    I don't know if you've looked lately, but the role of electronics in cars is growing, not shrinking. This is an electronics site, but electronics by itself is useless. It is how to use it that counts.

    If cars start using 1,000V 100F capacitors then this will be a subject that will be discussed, if only to inform people not to touch it.

    The days of a back yard mechanic have faded, but not passed. With advanced designs it may be less practical. Lets deal with the present though, and develop ideas to guide people in the future.

    Not discussing something is a lot like prohibition. How many people go and do it anyhow? There are times we are not keeping anyone safe by closing a door. You inform people why it is not a good idea.
  17. shortbus

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 30, 2009
    While I'm not near as well versed in Electronics as most here. As a gearhead/hot rodder I know the need to adapt the engine management on a car.

    When trying to put a newer engine in a older car there are thing's that need to be addressed. Usually the person is needing to know how to trick a part of the engine to work. It's not a safety issue or a emissions issue. For the most part(at least in the US) the year of the tittle determines the emissions standards.

    As far as safety I've never seen any one ask "how can I make my car LESS safe":eek:

    With out sites like this there is no place to get the vast amount of knowledge in one place. When a member sticks around and keeps asking semi-intelligent questions why not give help. The ones that have no business doing what they want to try pretty much weed them selves out.

    The world is getting way too Politically Correct. Just my two cents, I'll abide by what ever the rules are.
  18. studiot

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 9, 2007
  19. Wendy

    Thread Starter Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
    How about threads where the OP asked about something being put on the battery, say a relay? We don't know what it is, can't know unless they tell us. I don't think declaring we can't help them is appropriate at this stage (though I admit the signs don't look good). Information first, then judgment.

    On a different note, I had suggest this thread be moved, I was thinking of feedback and suggestions, since this is directly concerning forum policy. I suspect more people come to the off topic area though.
  20. JoeJester

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 26, 2005
    The problem with worldwide communications, such as this, is it's world-wide.

    Every country has the equvalent the United States regulatory and safety agencies. Some may have more.

    Most follow a common standard with tweaks here and there.

    Those that provide schematics could provide the disclaimer ... for training purposes only ... or some other disclaimers about safety.

    Speaking of Safety, 30 Volts would be the start of safety concerns. Why you may ask? In a humid, shipboard enviroment, the skin resistance can be as low as 300 ohms. That was the general rule found in the Naval services of the United States.

    Unfortunately, we are not well versed on all the laws of the country of the OP, and in the states, that could include state laws. California is one state that has their own emissions rules typically stricter than the remaining states.

    In my opinion, there should be very few topics off limits. The communications error between the OP and the rest of us, lies with the rest of us. As the receiver of the message, we need to inquire more to see what the OPs intentions are. If we, the responders, deem it unsafe, then I see no problem if the individual responder tells the OP they believe it's unsafe for them to proceed. No one is entitled to an answer and no one is required to respond to an OP. Both proceed at their own free will.

    Like I said, very few topics should be off limits. Those that are off-limits need to be listed in the rules or in an sticky post titled Off-Limits Topics.

    Beenthere's always reminds the HHO discussions that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof."