RaspberryPi, Android or Crankshaft | Volkswagen Golf MK2 | on-board computer | Part 2

RaspberryPi Android APP Crankshaft

In the past few months, I have been exploring different options for my onboard computer/car computer project, whether to use the Raspberry Pi with Node-RED, Crankshaft, or develop my own Android app. Here, I have listed the advantages and disadvantages of each solution.

Raspberry Pi

My initial thought was to use a Raspberry Pi with Node-RED and MQTT. While I still believe in this idea, it is no longer my top priority. The Raspberry Pi has the advantage of being an open system that can be expanded as needed, with a wide availability of sensors and software. It can also be connected to a mobile phone via Wi-Fi/Bluetooth, eliminating the need for a display. However, the Raspberry Pi has a boot time and does not handle sudden shutdowns well. Although this can be mitigated with a backup battery, it would increase costs and introduce a component with a limited lifespan.

Pros of using the Raspberry Pi:

  • Open system
  • Easy to set up
  • Wide availability of sensors
  • Compatible with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Lots of open-source software options

There are also some drawbacks:

  • Boot time
  • Recommended backup battery
  • Possible need for a keyboard and touch interface
  • Currently high purchase cost


Crankshaft allows turning a Raspberry Pi into an Android Auto system, providing the ability to connect a mobile phone via cable or, with some patience, Bluetooth, just like with Android Auto. However, this combination of Raspberry Pi -> Crankshaft -> Android introduces some challenges. So far, I have not been able to integrate the necessary components to read vehicle sensors. Ultimately, I would need to make modifications to the software, which leads me to the last option, an Android app.

Pros of using Crankshaft:

  • Free software for implementing Android Auto

Cons of using Crankshaft:

  • Lack of support for vehicle sensor integration
  • Requires a display

Android App

In recent weeks, I have been leaning towards developing my own Android app. To analyze vehicle sensors, I would use a NodeMCU based on the ESP32 chip. These modules are cost-effective and, like the Raspberry Pi, allow sensor integration. The connection to the mobile phone would be done via Bluetooth, and the control configuration would be performed through a mobile app. This eliminates the need for a display. Additionally, this approach provides the flexibility to expand the car computer with additional “control devices”.

Advantages of using the NodeMCU:

  • Very short boot time
  • Does not need to be powered off
  • Low power consumption during operation
  • No need for a monitor
  • Wide range of available sensors


  • Effort required to develop a custom Android app

Conclusion | RaspberryPi Android APP Crankshaft

In recent weeks, it has become apparent that a cost-effective and modular solution is not feasible with the Raspberry Pi or Crankshaft. Both systems have limitations that have led me to reconsider using them, although I still see a potential long-term use for the Raspberry Pi, which I will discuss in another post. Crankshaft is no longer an option for my project, as it may not meet my requirements.

The NodeMCU stands out due to its price, sensor advantages, and the fact that I can start using the system shortly after powering it on. Do you have any ideas for modernizing your vehicle? Share them with me in the comments.

For more information on the topics discussed, please visit CarComputer, Developing Android Apps, and Crankshaft.


One response to “RaspberryPi, Android or Crankshaft | Volkswagen Golf MK2 | on-board computer | Part 2”

  1. These are actually great ideas in regarding blogging.
    You have touched some good factors here. Any way keep
    up wrinting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *