Around May of 2018, a thread under the ADVrider Forums/Gear/Vendors regarding a Kickstarter campaign for a new CANbus interface device using a smartphone as the controller caught my eye but, I admittedly didn’t follow up at the time.
Zoom forward to late last year…in revisiting a longish list of things to pursue as product reviews or technology investigations and in having received some emails from fellow riders with questions about CAN-based interface devices, it was time to revisit the WunderLINQ activity and perhaps arrange to get one for a wBW review.
With some emails and introductory information exchanged, Black Box Embedded had one on its WunderLINQ products on its way north, along with one of their new magnetic mounts and a USB-C power cable for use with the personal daily-use Nokia 7+ smartphone.
WunderLINQ By Black Box Embedded
Black Box Embedded is two engineers, both motorcyclists, one in Colorado and one in California. As identified on the website, the WunderLINQ initially came about as an engineering activity for personal (motorcycling) use. In deciding to move it up to the next level, WunderLINQ became a Kickstarter initiative.
Since this successful Kickstarter activity, the principals have been slowly building the company and ramping up production, with all assembly, production, and ongoing development efforts done inhouse.
Since March of this year, injection molding production of the newest module housing is done by a US-based company with the updated design providing a textured surface, an integrated rubber plug for the USB port, and no visible fasteners – for that Black Box look.
In May 2020, in response to requests from developers and app integration teams, the WunderLINQ Control and WunderLINQ DFU Apps became open source, a response that Black Box Embedded feels promotes continued innovation regarding development and use of the WunderLINQ product.
Going forward, Black Box Embedded will continue to support the data available through the BMW Motorrad interface and selectively add onboard system data points to the WunderLINQ ‘My Motorcycle’ screens as some data from the smart device is now available from the ever-growing motorcycle sensor suite.
The WunderLINQ by Black Box Embedded is a hardware and software combination comprised of a plug-n-play module with upgradeable firmware that fits into the (optional) Navigation Preparation cradle taking the place of a BMW Motorrad Navigator V or Navigator VI.
And if the motorcycle has the BMW Motorrad On-Board Computer Pro option the WunderLINQ as a passive CAN-interfaced device also receives, decodes, and displays onboard performance and fault-related data.
Before the WunderLINQ Control App is installed and launched, with the WunderLINQ module mounted and control of the Multi-Function Controller or Jog Wheel passed from the ‘TFT’ to the ‘NAV’, the Jog Wheel can be used to provide keyboard input – similar to the functions users have when a Navigator V or VI is installed in the cradle, but better.
With the WunderLINQ Control App for Android or iOS installed on the smart device controller providing the UI and Bluetooth the wireless link between the WunderLINQ and the controller, the system is formed and all managed by the user through the Jog Wheel and WunderLINQ App interaction.
WunderLINQ System Features
- Utilizes the Motorrad Navigation Preparation option, replaces a Navi V or VI GPS units
- Provides motorcycle data and fault decoding if Onboard Computer Pro option is installed
- Plug n Play injection molded housing (new) with integrated USB port and weather plug
- Tough textured surface for ease of handling and durability
- AMPS pattern mount on the front face of the module
- Optional Magnetic Phone Mount (AMPS pattern)
- 10W or 2.0A (@5V) charging port for controller device
- Status LED
- Multifunction Controller (aka Wonder/Jog/Scroll Wheel) functionality for input
- Controller (smartphone/device) pairs to WunderLINQ using wireless Bluetooth link
- Multifunction Controller can act as wireless Bluetooth keyboard
- Multi-screen WunderLINQ App provides the dynamic User Interface (UI)
- Near real-time motorcycle performance data (25+ data points) ((see Note))
- ‘My Motorcycle’ data display with user-defined layouts, settings, etc.
- Trip Log, Waypoint/Location, and Motorcycle Performance Data logging
- Music Control for popular Android and iOS Music Apps
- Video Recording or Photos from front/rear cameras of WunderLINQ controller
- Wireless shutter control for some popular video products (GoPro)
- Evolving integration with or ability to link navigation and mapping apps
- Designed, built, and supported in the USA
Note -requires BMW Motorrad Onboard Computer Pro option
The hardware or black box portion of the WunderLINQ system is simple – a small rectangular module measuring 8.0cm x 6.0cm and 1.7cm thick (3.14in x 2.4in x 0.66in) with a slightly recessed 18-point contact strip on the back.
A 10W rated USB-A outlet port sits centred on the right side, with a small LED immediately above the port. Bottom and top slot recesses are for mounting the module to the BMW Navigation Cradle. The WunderLINQ module simply replaces the Navigator V or VI.
The WunderLINQ module is not certified as waterproof; but through extensive testing, including some submersion tests in which the test units survived, it is deemed to be weatherproof. The hardware version (1) provided for this review has been through some good rain and hose sessions (for testing, not washing the motorcycle) and remains functional.
The firmware used with the hardware side of things is upgradeable using the WunderLINQ DFU app. The current firmware is v1.8 for the HWV1 (hardware version) baseline with v1.9 identified for the new HWV2 products.
Supported Data Points from Motorcycle & Smart Device Controller
In general terms, a ‘data point’ is a discrete unit of information, such as a single fact or derivative from a measurement or an identifiable element in a data set; data points can be represented numerically and/or graphically.
Like virtually every other CAN Bus interfaced product on the market today, the WunderLINQ interface (via the Navigation Preparation Cradle) with the onboard motorcycle system is ‘passive’ in that it can only monitor and read the data.
Desired data is read and interpreted by the firmware and, as is the case with the WunderLINQ, presented as viewable scrollable data on the smart device (controller) screen.
With Jog Wheel control switched from the (default) TFT mode to the ‘NAV’ mode, the user can also use the Jog Wheel as a keyboard to navigate through WunderLINQ App screens and select functions; this serves to keep the hands on the bars so to speak, reducing ‘reach and touch’ interaction.
The following listing is a table created for this review from the current Supported Data Points listing under the ‘Other Information’ on the WunderLINQ site.
|Smart Device (Controller) Based||Motorcycle Based|
|Date and Time||VIN|
|Location (Latitude & Longitude)||Motorcycle Base (w/Computer Pro Option)|
|Altitude||Next Service Date|
|GPS calculated speed||Distance to Next Service|
|Requires Smart Device Sensors||Gear|
|Lean Angle||Engine Temperature|
|Bearing||Front Tire Pressure|
|Barometric Pressure||Rear Tire Pressure|