Compare and contrast

After reading about the utterly preposterous Magic Power System Power Shift Bar, a reader pointed this thing...


...out to me.

Regrettably, the fifty-dollar "MizerPod" will not give you more horsepower, electronically clean your car, render you invisible to radar or repel parking enforcement officers.

What it will do - when you can actually buy one, which you apparently can't quite yet - is beep at you when it detects more than slight "longitudinal acceleration" - speeding up or slowing down.

To avoid the beeps, you'll have to drive more smoothly. Drive more smoothly and you'll use less fuel. And there you go!

Regrettably, I don't see any reason to suppose that the MizerPod's "state of the art MEMS semiconductor accelerometer technology" has any way to tell the difference between acceleration and merely going up, or down, a hill. If you live in San Francisco, I presume it'd never shut up.

And real men use an Ozzy Osbourne Inertial Penalty Horn, anyway.

(Now would probably be a good time for car manufacturers to reintroduce the
good old
"economy meter", which actually just measured manifold vacuum. Modern cars have a manifold pressure meter anyway, so it could just be one more electronic gauge to make the driver feel even more like an astronaut.)

Posted in Cars. 15 Comments »

15 Responses to “Compare and contrast”

  1. Erik T Says:

    CURSE YOU IN FIVE WAYS, I was going to link to the Inertial Penalty Horn.

    In a different post, there's video of it. It's amazing. I wasn't able to quickly find it.

  2. reyalp Says:

    Many modern cars (even crap econoboxes like the cobalt I rented a few years back) have real time mileage displays already. The computer already tells the fuel injectors exactly how much squirt, so all the manufacturer needs to do is hook it up to a display. Corvettes had this as far back as the mid '80s (not coincidentally the same time they switched to EFI)

    There are also plenty of third party devices that plug into your cars diagnostic port, either displaying the data directly, or sending it to your laptop/pda/phone. Some of them cost little more than the MizerPod. For this you get a lot more than a mileage indicator. If it saves you a single trip to the dealer to have a code read, it will almost certainly pay for itself right there.

  3. peridot Says:

    That would be this blog post with the Ozzy device?

  4. Changes Says:

    I found this in reyalp's ScanGaugeII link:
    "You can also turn off the “Check Engine” light and avoid those costly trips to the mechanic."
    Yeah, cos all the mechanic does is switch off the light, the wall full of tools is just there for show...

  5. mlipphardt Says:

    @Changes - you could do what I did with my '86 Chevette. Put electrical tape on the dashboard over the check engine light. It's a lot cheaper than the ScanGaugeII. And you save a trip to the mechanic - a twofer!

  6. evilspoons Says:

    I think what reyalp is saying is you can turn off the Check Engine light after you've done the maintenance yourself, rather than having to pay for the dealer to plug in a computer and press a button to turn the light off. This means the light is actually useful the next time something goes wrong.

    If you haven't fixed your problem, any sane engine computer will just throw the same code again.

  7. Gareth Pye Says:

    Yeah I do find it hard to work out how a small device like that can determine that your accelerating too hard and wasting fuel. It could be smart enough to not detect hills, but then it would have problems with corners at speed.

  8. Red October Says:

    As I read through that I recalled a lovely Mercedes SL 560 I drove a while back, which had the little economy meter Dan mentioned. That car was amazing, and the economy meter was fun to play with (bury the throttle and the meter would peg in the red to tell you you've been very bad indeed). I have one of the Corvettes in question (84 -first year of electronic injection, although it is a hybridized system) and the economy readout can do either instant or average. Not surprisingly, my Suburban (2002) doesn't have one even though it has all the electronics of the 'Vette and more... probably because it takes hours of high-speed highway cruising to even come close to 20 MPG with the thing...

  9. Ence Says:

    Now Dan, constant speed uphill/downhill == zero acceleration (aside from the ambient 1G). Remember that change in potential energy does not necessarily imply acceleration. Of course in SF, what with all the intersections on sloped streets having that flat spot, there's plenty of opportunity for acceleration at both edges of the intersection (reference each and every episode of Streets of San Francisco in which Michael Douglas was behind the wheel for more than 0.1 seconds).

  10. FuzzyPlushroom Says:

    As soon as I read the description, I decided to mention the Ozzy Horn. As soon as you mentioned it, I decided to post a video of it in action.

  11. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Ence: Many MEMS accelerometers are, as far as I know, unable to tell the difference between acceleration and tilt. The normal type just measures the deflection of a tiny beam, which will deflect in response to changes in orientation as well as in response to acceleration. And just as well too; MEMS accelerometers are used as tilt meters in devices like the iPhone.

    I think there are accelerometers that do compensate for orientation somehow, but I don't know whether this device uses them.

  12. reyalp Says:

    There are plenty of useful accelerometer gadgets for cars. The better ones do deal with tilt in various ways, but AFAIK this is mostly by integrating from a known state. Good enough for dealing with suspension movement on 1/4 mile or skidpad runs, but probably less so for long drives.

    Note that you could easily program your iPhone or similar to do the same thing as the "MizerPod"

  13. reyalp Says:

    Apologies for the double post, but it appears Honda was paying attention to Dans call for the return of the economy gauge.

  14. Mr. Peepers Says:

    Couldn't you just attach a bell to a stationary part of your car, and when the clapper swings enough to hit the side of the bell, you'd know you accelerated too hard. Granted, it'd have the same problems as the MiserPod with a tilted road, but you'd be able to buy an extra tank of fuel with your savings.

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