Support AppRadioWorld by shopping via these links...
***Shop*** or ***Shop***

Friday, November 25, 2011

DashCommand for AppRadio: Initial Thoughts

I've been waiting quite a while for more apps to be available for the AppRadio since I bought it this past summer. Initially only four third-party apps were compatible: Rdio, MotionX GPS Drive, INRIX Traffic and Pandora. Eventually I figured out that Netflix and YouTube could also be used with the AppRadio, albeit using the neat double-DIN screen of the car stereo as an external display. Of course, the iPod app was compatible too.

Then came the sort of second wave of apps that had included AppRadio functionality. These included StreamS HiFi Radio, AUPEO! and DashCommand. While the other two are apps used for streaming music over the internet, DashCommand is totally different. It is an OBD-II vehicle instrumentation application. It basically gives car specific data and gauges that are obtained directly from the engine (using OBD-II hardware which needs to be bought separately). The app itself costs $49.99 in the iOS App Store.
The DashCommand app interface.

DashCommand is an app developed by Palmer Performance Engineering whose website gives a list of recommended OBD-II hardware to use with the app. These devices range from $120-$150 and sometimes even more. I wasn't sure at first if I was willing to make this near $200 investment just to get engine codes displayed on my stereo but then I saw what the app can really do. It can display important information like fuel economy information, trouble codes (commonly 'check engine' lights on the dashboard), performance gauges like corrected vehicle speed, acceleration and braking, torque etc., engine gauges like coolant temperature, air temperature, timing etc. and a lot more technical stuff for the car tech buff. Even if you aren't familiar with what most of those gauges or numbers mean it is still a fun way of getting to know your car better.

What I liked the most was the very complex trip information that can be obtained from DashCommand. There are ways of configuring daily commute trips and evaluating fuel consumption, time consumed and basically how much you spend everyday on gas on your trip to work or elsewhere. There is also carbon dioxide emission information available for your car. The trip information is so detailed that it will even tell you how much time you spent idling and moving, time in each gear, distance traveled in each gear and maximum speed, acceleration and torque. Certainly seems like too much information but there's even more that gets too technical for me.

So I decided to purchase the app and a compatible OBD-II hardware device. I needed one with wi-fi connectivity. There are devices that connect to the iPhone through USB or bluetooth but they didn't seem practical for my need. So I snooped around Amazon and eBay, like I always do, for cheaper prices on the hardware and came across one that was comparatively pretty inexpensive. It's the Wi-fi OBD-II Diagnostic Scanner for iPhone by CLK Devices. The price I found on eBay was $79 which was very appealing and the best that I could find by at least $20. However, I wasn't sure if it would work with DashCommand because the CLK Device is not mentioned in the list of compatible hardware for DashCommand. Luckily I googled some Car Tech forums and found out that it was indeed compatible. That helped my making my decision to buy it.

I just got the OBD-II device a couple of days ago and wasted no time in installing it in my car. I found out where exactly the OBD-II port for my car is located and had no problem doing so. I have to mention that after connecting to the wi-fi connection name 'CLK Device' created by the hardware, I had to add custom IP settings on my iPhone for the connection. I had to use a static IP address (not DHCP) and subnet mask as following:

IP Address:
Subnet Mask:

As soon as I entered those numbers the iPhone connected to the device via an 'ad hoc' connection. In other words it is a direct connection between the iPhone and the OBD-II hardware. The iPhone can still use its 3G connection for other data so you can stream music in the background while using DashCommand. I wasn't sure if I could do this at first but have just confirmed it.

My initial thoughts about DashCommand are very good. I think this app makes driving even more fun now. I can fine tune my driving habits to conserve fuel and lower carbon dioxide emission. So if you own an AppRadio or are thinking of getting one give DashCommand a serious thought. Although it will set you back about $120-$150 in my opinion it's still well worth every penny.

I will upload some more pictures in my next post, so stay tuned. One last thing... remember to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road at all times while driving.

No comments :

Post a Comment

All comments will be screened for spam. Allow up to 24 hours for comments to show up.