Thursday, April 1, 2010

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited - Dual Battery Install - Part 3

Now that the dual battery mounting tray is installed, the next step is installing the battery's and connecting the wires.

Install the two battery's with the posts facing outward. 
Connect the J bracket on both sides and mount the hold down bracket.

Next install the smart isolator.
NOTE: The isolator has 3 wires, but the only one used is the black that goes to chassis ground. 

Since I have a ton of accessory wires, I installed a power buss-bar.  Buss-bars help keep the wires somewhat organized and away form the battery terminals where they can cause corrosion.  These are available at various locations.  I found mine at a boat supply house.

Reconnect the evap Purge solenoid.  Note it should be mounted somewhat upright.  I wire tied it to a wire bundle.  The OEM bracket was removed with the battery tray. 

Do a last check to verify that all connectors are connected and the wires are connected properly. 

Here's a final pic of my install. 

The dual battery project was a rewarding experience. I highly recommend this for anyone that has added accessories that require direct battery connectivity. 

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited - Dual Battery Install - Part 2

The step of the dual battery project is reassembly.  The Benchmark design guys have this project nailed.  The fit and finish of their parts is outstanding.  Everything fits perfectly with no modifications whatsoever.

The first step is cutting the T piece of the firewall insulation.  This step needs to be completed so the new battery box fits securely to the firewall. 

Next, mount the battery tray with the three washer nuts.  Do not fully tighten them yet.  The tray is perfectly sized and slides right in with minimal effort. 
 Then connect the fender well screw

TIPM bracket install
Benchmark Designs engineered the TIPM module mount well.  It is a separate part that bolts onto the main tray with two screws.   This is a nice design because it keeps the try small and easy to manage when installing and it keeps the top of the shock absorber exposed (more on why that is important in a minute).

To start, mount the original TIPM bracket to the mount.  This is keyed so the bolt holes only line up in the right direction.

Next is a bit of an unusual step, but required.  The Benchmark tray is supporting two very heavy battery's.  The forward driver side corner is a weak point.  Benchmark cleverly took this into account by creating a straight bracket that is bolted through an existing hole in the passenger shock tower.  The other end connects to the tray making a very strong structure.

Getting to the hole in the shock tower to mount the bolt, however, is not easy.  It is behind the shock.  I have large OME shocks and there is no way to get behind them.  This actually became an easier task than I expected.  I found it was easier to install the bottom bracket by removing the top bolt of the shock before installing the TIPM mount.  Thanks to Benchmark's separate TIPM tray, this keeps the area clear with easy access.  

Shock with top bolt removed.  

With the shock lose at the top, there's just enough room to bolt on the bracket. .

Next, you reinstall the shock, mount the TIPM tray and connect the top of the straight bracket to the tray.

At this point the battery box is installed.  However, we still have to deal with the factory air filter mount that we removed.  The way Benchmark Designs handles this is by cutting the air filter mounting bracket from the large battery box assembly.  I was a bit skeptical of this, but it worked perfectly.  After cutting, just mount it back in the same location.
Next reinstall the power steering fluid holder and install the factory air filter enclosure.

The final step is to make sure all nuts and bolts are tightened.  At this point, the battery box is mounted!  Next up is connecting the wires and installing the battery's. 

Jeep Wrangler Unlimited - Dual Battery Install - Part 1

Most modified Jeeps can quickly overtax a stock electrical system.  Winches, lights, audio systems, etc. put a bigger load on the system than what it was designed for. A power spike from a winch or turning on powerful lights can easily damage the sensitive electronics.  Notwithstanding the fact that everything has to be connected to the battery, which makes it a rats nest of wires.  I've added quite a bit to my Jeep at this point.  A clean up in the battery compartment was in order.  A dual battery system will take care of the power surges and clean up wiring, so I decided now is the time to tackle this project.

Unfortunately, Chrysler doesn't offer a dual battery option for Jeep.  It's up to the owners to figure out how to do it.  There are a few after market vendors that sell dual battery kits for the Wranglers.  I did a ton of research on which one to buy.  My research always pointed  back to Benchmark Designs.  They are a small mod company in Seattle, Washington that doesn't make a lot, but what they do make is excellent.  I decided to go with their Dual Battery tray and added a smart battery isolator.  The battery setup I ordered isn't listed on their website, but it is basically the KISS system with a a different battery isolator.  You can contact John Carruthers at Benchmark (425.417.7372) if you want to order the upgraded system. 

NOTE: This is one of those projects that requires an solid understanding of electrical wiring.  Care must be taken throughout this project.  One shorted wire could blow the Jeep computer or damage who knows what.  You have been warned....

The first step is pulling the battery and getting the wiring out of the way:

Remove the electrical connector from the Evap Purge Solenoid

Remove the connector from the top of the battery box
Remove the battery and push the cables toward the engine and out of the way.

The next step must be done with care.  You need to disconnect the TIPM module (fuse box).  The only wire connector that you need to disconnect is the one on the outside facing toward the rear of the Jeep.  Do NOT disconnect the connectors under the TIPM module!!

Then you need to remove the 4 10MM screws that hold the TIPM mounting bracket.

I don't have a good picture of this step, but you need to remove the factory air filter housing.  This is easier than it looks.  It is mounted with rubber feet.  It pulls straight up and out.  You just need to disconnect the intake tube coming from the engine.

Now it's time to remove the entire battery box assembly.  It connects to the firewall with 3 washer nuts and goes to the front of the engine compartment.  This is one big piece of plastic.  To make removal easier, remove the power steering fluid tank first.  It is removed with one bolt.

Remove the 3 washer nuts on the firewall, then disconnect the fender nuts, finally remove the bolts that were under the air filter.

Finally, you just have to remove the box.  It is easy, but you have to be careful.  It is easy to scratch the paint or cut a wire. Start by lifting in the front then twisting a bit.  It will come right out.
Here's what it looks like with the box removed.  Lots of space!
Here's what it looks like out of the Jeep

Friday, March 26, 2010

Asterisk PBX Deployment - Part 1

When we established out our corporate goals for 2010, the senior leadership team unanimously decided to accelerate expansion of our business into the Asia/Pacific markets.  My engineering and entrepreneurial background was a good fit for this project, so I took on the role of designing and implementing a solution to achieve the following objectives:
  1. Minimize cost and Maximize Return on Investment.
  2. Sustain Sarbanes-Oxley and PCI security compliance. 
  3. Centralize customer servicing of 25 languages into existing contact centers.
  4. Deploy 15+ country's by the end of the year.
The risk with rapid expansion is that it can be costly and a support nightmare if not done right. It is also a gamble for the business to take on a lofty project such as this with limited resources and funds; however, if done right we will reap the benefits of being one of the first Company's to bring many of these markets to the Worldwide Web.  Suffice of to say, I have no alternative, but to get this one right. 

Cost Comparison
Traditionally from a telephony and networking perspective, we are an Avaya and Cisco shop respectively.  These systems are proven; however, top of the line commercial products come with a suitable price tag.  Here's a typical cost for a single 30-person site Avaya/Cisco solution:
  • Labor:                 $25K
  • Equipment cost:  $53K 
  • Total CapEx:       $78K
Annual Recurring costs: $63K
(MPLS network, Maintenance Contracts, Phone lines, etc)

With a 5 year amortization of equipment, the annual cost for an Avaya/Cisco implementation for this project would be: $79K/site x 15  = $1.2 million/yr = $6 million/5 year TCO

The $6MM is only network/telecom equipment.  It does not take into account office lease, payroll, advertising, etc.  Following the traditional route would make it virtually impossible to achieve profitability in these small markets, which is probably why most of our competitors haven't done this already...

The alternative...
the telephony solution we chose for this project is an Open Source Software PBX called Asterisk.
Asterisk is software that turns an ordinary computer into a voice communications server. Asterisk is the world's most powerful and popular telephony development tool-kit. It is used by small businesses, large businesses, call centers, carriers and governments worldwide. Asterisk is open source and is available free to all under the terms of the GPL. 
The solution to our SOX/PCI compliance was to utilize the Cisco Adaptive Security Appliances (ASA) in the satellite offices and tunnel the traffic through our commercial infrastructure.  The ASA solution enabled us to:
  1. leverage our existing Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) saving $15K per location. 
  2. encrypt all voice and data communication between and within the sites. 
  3. manage the sites/systems the same way we monitor our traditional infrastructure. 
Here's the cost of the Asterisk/ASA solution:
  • Labor:                 $2K
  • Equipment cost:  $3K 
  • Total CapEx:        $5K
 Annual Recurring cost: $8K

With a 5 year amortization of equipment, the annual cost for the Asterisk/ASA implementation is: $9K/site x 15  = $135K/yr!

The annualized savings for Asterisk/ASA versus the traditional Avaya/Cisco solution is $70K/site or $5.2 million in 5 years! 

Needless to say, it was an easy decision to make.  $5 million bucks can be used more effectively elsewhere.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Installing Wireless Camera on Motorcycle Trailer

Something that I've quickly grown accustom to is having a backup camera.  I love being able to see directly behind the Jeep -- especially since the huge tire takes up most of my rear window ;).  I was pulling the Harley trailer the other day and was thinking it would be nice to have a camera on the trailer as well.  It's impossible to see directly behind the trailer.  It would also be useful when backing it into a tight space or when changing lanes.  I'm getting ready for a road trip from Chicago to Key West, so I figured now would be a good time to find a camera and install it.

I previously installed an Alpine A/V system in the Jeep, so I already have the display.  I just need a camera mounted on the trailer and somehow wire it into the Jeep.  Of course, running wiring from the back of a 14 ft. trailer to the front of the Jeep is not a practical solution. I had to do a bit of research...

I came across a company called 4UCam on the web that sells wireless 2.4GHz vehicle cameras, displays and accessories.  There website isn't the best, but they have everything I needed to do the job (a good camera that could transmit a clean signal, IR night vision since the trailer doesn't have backup lights and parts to integrate the camera output with my Alpine A/V system).  They sell quite a few kits, but not exactly what I needed, so I pieced the parts together from their website. Here's what I ordered:
Note: you have to hunt around on their site to find the parts, but they seem to be a quality operation.  They shipped my parts within 24 hours and I had them in my hand in less than 3 days.  

The first step in the project is installing the wireless receiver in the Jeep.  This was super easy.  I mounted the receiver in the rear of the Jeep on the hard-top.  This is an out of the way location that puts the receiver as close as possible to the camera transmitter on the trailer.  There are only two plugs (composite video & power).  I used Velcro to mount it.  The entire receiver can easily be removed when I take off the top or want to use it in another vehicle.

Receiver mounted in Jeep

The next step was to figure out where to mount the camera on the trailer.  It isn't easy when the entire back is hinged for a motorcycle ramp.  I didn't want to mount it on the top because it could get damaged if I go under a low bridge or hit tree branches.  Looking at the Trailer lights the location seemed to be obvious.  There are three lights grouped together in the center.  I just removed the light in the middle.  This also solved the issue of getting power to the camera.  I wired it to the parking lights.  When I need to turn the camera on, I switch on the parking lights.  When the lights are off, the camera's off.  Not the most elegant solution, but it saved a ton of time by not having to run wiring that would require pulling the interior of the trailer.

Here's some pics of the project:

Trailer with running lights above door

Center light removed exposing power wire

Camera frame mounted

Soldering camera power to parking light circuit

Melting Heat shrink tubing

Crimping ring connector for ground

Ground installed then pushing wiring back into trailer

The completed project:

View from the display (excuse the messy shelves)

I will update this post after I get a chance to run it on the highway, but so far I am pleased with the results.  The camera works great in complete darkness and the picture quality is excellent.