Do you know of any good iOS or Android freeware apps that perform home alignment measurements & conversions?

Do you know of any good iOS or Android freeware apps that perform home alignment measurements & conversions?
I openly admit that the (conversion) math makes my head explode.
Only someone who has done their own alignment at home would understand why I say the math makes my head explode - which is where a cellphone app could play a key role in simplifying things.
You see, what you measure at home for an alignment is (almost) NEVER what the spec actually is. Why? I can't tell you why. I can just tell you that it always seems that you have to CONVERT your measurements to the spec.
For example, my ancient bimmer has toe spec'd in degrees, but, at home, you typically measure toe in inches, not in degrees ... simply because it's trivial to measure toe in inches at home to the desired accuracy (all you need is a home-made U-shaped toe rod where you mark the tire centerline at a certain height and then lock the toe rod into place for a subsequent distance measurement).
Luckily, instead of in degrees, most American cars (thankfully) seem to spec toe in inches (which, for once, makes sense), but of course, it's often inches to centerline, where you then have to figure out what they define as the centerline (which can be different on every vehicle).
For camber, at least you normally get a spec in degrees, but you can rather easily measure camber in inches using just a plumb bob and a ruler, so again, you have to convert (using basic trig) from inches to degrees.
Meanwhile, you compute caster from the other measurements.
The point is that (a) each vehicle is different in how it differs from (a) the specs it gives you, and (b) the specs you can easily measure at home to the required precision & repeatability.
IMHO, all the work is NOT in the measurements themselves, nor is there much additional work in the adjustments (twisting a bolt is easy, and even easier to replicate the normal position of the vehicle with niceties like toe plates and camber jigs).
IMHO ... *All the work is in the math.*
That's where an app that measures angles and which can take as input distances, can be a wonderful app that, to my knowledge, doesn't exist yet.
Hence, the question...
Do you know of any good iOS or Android freeware apps that perform home alignment measurements & calculations?
--
Note: Basic home alignment is restricted, by definition, to those things
that you typically ADJUST (without adding, for example, camber plates).
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On Friday, November 16, 2018 at 3:17:01 PM UTC-5, arlen michael holder wrote:

Why don't you create the app, charge $5 for it and see how many you sell?
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arlen michael holder posted for all of us...

I presume you mean vehicle alignment?
Not to be negative but how many times would the average homeowner use this? Since you wrote that other app write one for this. You could write it just for the sheer joy. The spec input would be quite a project. I don't see the market for it as alignment machines are computerized and take specs into account.
I do not want to discourage you but a spreadsheet might be an easier task. Are there spreadsheet apps for phones? I do not put apps on my phones as I am confused enough with the junk that is already on there. I admit I am a dinosaur.
--
Tekkie

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On Fri, 16 Nov 2018 16:36:06 -0500, Tekkie? wrote:

Yeah. Vehicle suspension alignment (hence the cross post to r.a.t).
I realize, from the jokes thpough, which I admit are funny, that a "home alignment" isn't needed, except, maybe, in California after an earthquake.

There are six relatively common automotive tasks nobody does at home, one of which is vehicle alignment, so, for today, the answer is zero average homeowners..
However...
Things are changing, where the phone has so much power, that you do stuff with the phone that you couldn't do when we were younger.
One thing you can "do" with a phone is vehicle suspension alignment checks.

Actually, I've written 8 apps in the past few days... <
http://www.bild.me/bild.php?fileW14883androidstudio82.jpg
app01 === "hello world" app02 === "enter text, press button, shows up in next screen" app03 === adder of two numbers app04 === working port of the previous app (no small feat) app05 === opening of an outside activity (web browser) app06 === simple grocery list app07 === variable-seed random die cast app08 === Custom port of the simple grocery app to my grocery store
My first "real" app will be a ten-minute timer that is so easy to set that it takes only a single button press, which is to forestall me burning the house down because setting a multi-press timer is too onerous when I make coffee (I've ruined plenty of pots).
My second real app will be a camera app that you can use while working on the car, where, if you've never tried the existing camera apps in low light, under a car, holding the starter motor in one hand (which might as well be a cannon ball), and then focusing with the LED flashlight, and then snapping the shot with gloved hands, etc., without accidentally hitting the "selfie" button, and without having to worry about the settings reverting back to what they were because you took too much time setting it up.
After that, who knows ... what kind of app do you need for home-repair use?

I think you figured out my plan, which is, of course, to write the app (eventually); but I'm so far from being able to do that at this point that it's not a viable suggestion.
The question is only whether you know if the app already exists.

Sure, spreadsheets work on mobile devices, but spreadsheets are a far cry from an alignment app.
An alignment app walks you though the steps for your particular vehicle, e.g., for camber, it might start with... o CAMBER: Place phone edge alongside wheel & press button when degrees stabilize. o TOE Tape laser to front wheels & enter distance to wall
There are likely zero alignment apps to date, which means the market is wide open, but I first wanted to check.
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On 17/11/18 1:10 pm, arlen michael holder wrote:

You will find that average will remain at zero because wheel alignments are not the simple tasks they once were since now it usually involves 4 wheels, not two. Get it wrong, you create a very dangerous car.

They make auto off electric jugs just for people like you. No need for a timer.

There is a reason there are zero alignment apps - because it isn't as simple as you make it out to be.
--

Xeno


Nothing astonishes Noddy so much as common sense and plain dealing.
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On Sat, 17 Nov 2018 15:10:56 -0500, Clare Snyder wrote:

Hi Clare,
I find writing Android apps to be yet another "tool", where I love tools.
I've "done" 9 apps so far, but I've only been doing this for a few days (and 6 of those 9 were straight out of the tutorials) <http://www.bild.me/bild.php?file 19905androidstudio85.jpg>
All my tools are simple. For example, I hate all-purpose wrenches or multiple-head screwdrivers.
They're fine in an "emergency kit"; but they suck (IMHO) for general use.

If you think the problem is the phone, then you don't understand the problem. The problem is the camera app, not the phone.
Since I already explained the problem set, and since you didn't get it from that explanation, I can't explain it any more than I already did.
Or, you have better fingers than I do. Or better gloves. Or better light. Or more room under the vehicle. Or whatever.
But there is nothing wrong with my LG Stylo 3 Plus Nougat phone. It's the camera app that I need.
For an example that you can comprehend, try setting a timer, and then, don't use the phone for, oh, the next hour as you do work, and then come back to taking a picture with that timer ... is it still set? o On most apps, it resets o Maybe not on all apps, but on most it resets.
It's the app ... not the phone ... that is resetting that timer. But you can continue to believe it's the phone as that's off topic anyway.
Back on topic...

Hi Clare, You're likely the only one on this newsgroup who has done an alignment (AFAIK) other than me (but I'm a noob at it).
The phone *is* the level!
You place the phone against the wheel, and it gives you the camber angle. Right?
Do you agree that the phone can give you the camber angle that way? o Yes? o No?
If yes, then let me ask you another question, which is how *long* is the typical electronic level?
HINT: Compare that length to the fact that tires bulge out at top & bottom.
Since you've done camber, Clare, I know that you comprehend what I'm getting to. The normal home level is far too long to *fit* where it needs to fit, right Clare?
You know I'm right. You also know that they make jigs to solve for this problem. Those jigs *offset* the level from the wheel, but they have to be straight!
The phone *fits* on the wheel. Sure, it has to be straight too; but it doesn't need a jig.
Right?
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On Sat, 17 Nov 2018 20:54:25 -0000 (UTC), arlen michael holder wrote:

This is nice!
On my vehicle, caster isn't settable so it's out of range for this app.
But it's still nice to _check_ it!
The phone can do all the calculations for you, and, the comparisons to spec. Also the phone *is* the tool that does the camber measurement.
If done right, under good conditions, no camber jig is necessary to get past the tire bulge.
Thanks!
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On Sat, 17 Nov 2018 20:54:25 -0000 (UTC), arlen michael holder

perhaps not accurately You need accuracy to 1/2 degree - 1 at the very minimum. It "might" be accurate to indicate level or plumb if properly calibrated. Apparently there are "clinometer" apps too - some of which can be zero'd, some of which are accurate to fractions of a degree. Is there one that is both? If so it can be used. Then the calculator on the phone can do the conversion.

No. a torpedo level would work fine, but a level doesn't give you a degree readout. Which you need.

Depends on the wheel. What wheel has a perfectly perpendicular face???? You MIGHT find one - but chances are it won't be on the car you are alighning. And measuring from the tire doesn't work either.
Real alignment devices either mount to the hub (not reliably accurate) or use a mounting jig that you "center" on each wheel using the level to measure runout.. They "clamp" to the wheel and are adjustable to "null out" any runout. - so yes, it DOES need a jig unless it connects to the face of the hub, and that face is totally true.
Make an app if you like - just for the experience. Certainly do not expect it to be a "commercial success" - and even with that "app" you still need the slip plates - of some sort.
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On Sat, 17 Nov 2018 20:50:01 -0500, Clare Snyder wrote:

I agree that the accuracy (& repeatability) are critical, where phones, today, are just about approaching the accuracy that you need.
Of course, they'll likely just get better where, you need just a tad more accuracy, I think, than phones can do at the moment given camber is, for example, -2 degrees (my spec for my bimmer where I have the rears set to at as close to 0 degrees camber as possible).

It's OK if the phone isn't as accurate as it needs to be, as it's pretty close now, and will (likely) only get better.
Certainly accuracy is affordable in home tools nowadays.

My level has electronic readout.

True. The fact is that, as you noted, the hub is best.
But you need the full weight of the vehicle (plus about 500 pounds for a bimmer) just to put the suspension in the position that the specs are written for (it's called the "normal position" for bimmers).

Agreed that a "jig" mounted to the lug threads (my bimmer has lug bolts so they'd be lug threads for the mounting jig) is probably needed since we have to measure in fractions of a degree given it's 2 degrees negative camber as the spec.
Luckily, I want close to zero degrees, so, accuracy doesn't have to be to the tenth of a degree for such things.

Commercial success is way later. It's like writing a book expecting it to be a NYT Best Seller. It's not feasible. Just getting something done would be the most one could hope for.
Agreed on the slip plates for toe adjustment. Toe plates aren't expensive though, but I use loose thin greased linoleum tiles which work ok (but not all that great).
In the end, a camber jig and toe plates are kind of necessary, where the former is for the measurement and the latter for the adjustment. (You know what I mean even if others don't, so I don't have to explain it in gory detail.)
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On Sun, 18 Nov 2018 03:29:09 -0000 (UTC), arlen michael holder

If you are only looking at camber you MIGHT be "close enough" - but setting camber is NOT an alignment. It is one SMALL part of the alignment. If you set the camber the same on both sides you will have a bit of a problem. You need "lead" - to counter the tendancy of a vehicle to climb crown or head for the ditch, depending how the alignment is set.
A car will pull to the side withthe most positive camber. A car also pulls to the side with the most negative caster - SO, if you set your bimmer to zero camber when the factory spec is -1.1 and the caster (about 5.1 degrees) isn't changed the bias between caster and camber has changed and you will LIKELY end up with a pull. Also, zero camber does not give you the stability that a bit of negative caster does, and will cause accellerated wear on the outer edge of the tire compared to a slight negative camber. The rear on most Bimmers is closer to -3 degrees from memory. It helps the cornering significantly and also seams to help tire wear
To check the caster the accuracy is a lot more important - you need to measure the camber at 11 degrees in and 11 degrees out and calculate the difference. You need to be 1.5 times more accurate than you do for camber because the difference between the 2 camber readings is only about 2/3 of the caster angle. If you are out only 1 degree , in opposite directions, on each measurement you are hout 3 degrees on your caster. NOT ACCEPTABLE - and even if the phone is dead accurate to one degree, if it's resolution is only 1 degree you can still be out up to 2 degreesX1.5=3 degrees EITHER WAY. Youi could have a 6 degree caster pull and not know it till the car tryed doing tight circles in the parking lot whenyou take your hands off the wheel, HALF A DEGREE can cause a noticeable pull. When custom aligning a vehicle a 1/4 degree change can sometimes make the difference between a happy customer and a come-back (on some vehicles)
Also, changing camber may necessitate tayloring toe as well. By setting your camber more positive (zero instead of -1.1) both tires tend to pull outward - causing the wheels to attempt to "toe out". If the vehicle has minimal toe in specified, you may need (or want) to increase the toe-in "slightly" to compensate. If spec is slightly out you may want to reduce the toe out slightly (assuming caster is not changed)
To change ANYTHING other than toe on an E39 you need to replace parts with adjustable parts (like drifters and track racers do) Many other recent BMWs are the same.

And being an "engineer" you should know that "success" is far from guaranteed, no matter what metric you use to define it. And there are definitely hundreds more awfull, terrible, useless, shitty apps out there (both free and paid) than decent ones - and many more times as many "decent" ones as good and usefull ones.

No, BOTH are required for measurement. You can't accurately measure a pre-loaded suspension. The slip plates allow the suspension to float, taking the side load off the ball joints and tires. Absolutely 100 percent required. I'd lioke to see you explain it in detail (acxtually, no I wouldn't - it would be too painfull to listen to or read - - - - - - - - - - .
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wrote:
Just an additional note. Maximum Motorsports (in San Louis Obispo) provides a cheap and accurate camber guage accurate to 1/8 degree - for about $60 bucks if anyone is interested. Part id is MMT-3 - used by a lot of racecar teams to set and confirm alignment at the track.
Good for settings from +7 to -7 degrees

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On Sun, 18 Nov 2018 00:42:20 -0500, Clare Snyder wrote:

This is nice. The price is right. It's temporarily unavailable... but should be back soon.
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On Sun, 18 Nov 2018 00:31:41 -0500, Clare Snyder wrote:

Hi Clare,
I appreciate your advice as you're likely the only one here who has actually also done alignments, where you know, better than I do, that, for example, on my bimmer, there's toe & camber in the rear & in the front, there's only toe that _can_ be adjusted (normally).
That's it! o Rear camber o Rear toe o Front toe
Actually, there's four things because you can't even _start_ the alignment on a bimmer until you bring the vehicle to the "normal position", which is simply a measurement of something like so many inches between the center of the fender well to the center of the wheel.
This is what a typicaly 15K mile maintenance schedule would be: o Normalize the suspension o Check/adjust rear camber o Check/adjust rear toe o Check/adjust front toe
There's nothing else you _can_ adjust as part of a conventional adjustment (I'm not talking adding aftermarket front camber plates, for example).
Of course, there are "full blown" alignment checks (like what you'd do if you're purchasing a used car or if a car has been in an accident), but, for normal home yearly maintenance, those are all that are in the specs.

Thanks Clare for the information about the effects of a poor alignment, where, the point you make is that it's not just a "number", but it's an implication of how changing that number affects handling.
While I don't doubt a word you say, I have the rear camber set to close to zero and I don't notice a thing. But that's just me. Some "boy racers" seem to swear they'd notice a third of a degree difference - but I make no such claims.
I'd have to doublecheck the spec, where I've seen plenty of specs which show what you speak of (differences in spec between sides), so I don't doubt a word you say.
But also, I don't feel it no matter what, so what matters to me is economy, not handling (I drive like a little old lady drives).

This is GREAT information, Clare, as I understand that alignment isn't just setting things to the numbers ... it's all about how everything plays well together.
I'd have to doublecheck, but I don't remember the spec being different for the two rear wheels. But I know what you're talking about as I've certainly seen specs being different from side to side, so I fully believe you.

That's good to know, so I appreciate that you added that caveat about not wanting absolute zero rear camber.
You may notice I said I have the rears set to "as close to 0 as possible".
You can't actually get to zero on my bimmer. They designed it such that you can get close, but never to zero. You can't get to positive camber ever.

I don't disagree with you ... where the spec is different per model.
My rear camber spec, last I checked, is -2 degrees but I don't have the sport suspension. Nor the M. That may make a huge difference in camber spec.
I forget the +/- but it's pretty huge the variance allowed (as I recall).

Thanks Clare for that 11-degree in/out hint, where, I wonder how one would ensure the wheels were 11 degrees at home?
Seems to me the _simplest_ way do get 11 degrees at home might be to draw with a protractor the 11-degree lines on the garage floor, with a "bump stop" for the front edge of the tires (I generally align alone, but with two people it would be a _lot_ easier.)
The question would be how to get accuracy at home for those 11 degrees?
Another way, perhaps, might be to have a laser light taped to the wheel & aimed at a wall (or large box) 30 feet ahead. The further ahead we can put the box/wall, the more accurate our 11 degrees would be.
Do you think that would work?

As you're well aware, the home instruments need two things o They need to be as accurate as is required o And they need to repeat their readings under the same conditions
I've been wanting the measurement tools for decades (I love tools!), where, as you know, home equipment for toe has _always_ been accurate enough, but where ... only now, are home devices even _approaching_ the accuracy and repeatability you need.
At this moment in time, my understanding is that phones are just slightly not accurate/repeatable enough, while home electronic measurement tools (lasers & levels) are just accurate/repeatable enough.
Both are getting better by the day... :)

This is great information, Clare, as you know, more than anyone here, that each measurement affects not only handling, but every other setting, which is why the order is "caster first, then camber, then toe, then double back and check caster... repeat as needed".

The funny thing is that, at least on the bimmer, the rear camber and toe never seem to change. The front toe changes. On the SUV, Jesus, I can't get that front camber & toe to stay the same. I don't know why, but the bimmer stays and the SUV doesn't.
So mostly the SUV is where I need to put my efforts but I generally spend my time on the bimmer because it breaks so much more often that I know it better.

Yup. Some people add camber plates to the top mounts, but the moment the car is in an accident or is "customized", I'm dropping it from the question because the question is only about typical home stuff, not specialized customized stuff.

I have been making apps for only a week, so I think any prophesy of success on my part would be futile. If I can just make my own ten-minute time so that I don't burn the house down when I cook, I'll be happy. :)
Here's the "my very first app" thread, for example, which is intended to document the learning curve of a noob, where two of us (Bill in the UK, and me) are writing our very first apps, using tutorials on the net: <https://comp.mobile.android.narkive.com/0dR8Lodl/report-my-first-hello-world-using-android-studio-freeware-on-windows-worked-just-fine-in-about-an
Given that I'm a noob, I make zero claims of any success.
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On Sun, 18 Nov 2018 16:14:24 -0000 (UTC), arlen michael holder

With a decent set of alignment plates. They not only slip but turn - and have - you guessed it - a PROTACTOR SCALE to measure the turn - - - - -

Like I've said before, many times - If you can't afford a new Bimmer you darn well can't afford a used one --- Same with Audi, Porsche, Mercedes, and even the lowlyVeeDub.

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On Sun, 18 Nov 2018 14:50:15 -0500, Clare Snyder wrote:

That's the answer! (I hadn't thought of that!) Thanks.
It makes sense. I'm using greased linoleum but protractor toe plates make more sense.
Does this $210 system seem like it would work, to you? <https://www.wheelalignmenttools.com/product/2-wheel-alignment-system/
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On Mon, 19 Nov 2018 03:53:51 -0000 (UTC), arlen michael holder

Cannot see from the lousy pictures how it works but if their claims are true it would work. Big IF though - - -
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On Monday, November 19, 2018 at 3:55:59 PM UTC-5, Clare Snyder wrote:

with a laser pointer, mirrors, and some dowels, you should be able to figure out how to check that the two wheels are parallel (toe)
the laser point is key. m
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On Mon, 19 Nov 2018 13:43:17 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

The toe in measurement has NEVER been the sticking point in this discussion. Two broomsticks and a tape measure can handle to-in Camber is not even much of an issue. Caster and toe-in on turns and steering axis inclination are the sticklers - and we have not gone beyond Caster (as that's as far as virtually any alignment adjustment goes - beyond that you are getting into the engineerining aspects - Ackerman and KPI are basically designed in.
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On Sunday, November 18, 2018 at 11:14:27 AM UTC-5, arlen michael holder wrote:

That's what the maintenane is if you want to make the BMW dealer rich. My 15K schedule is if it's not pulling, drifts very gradually to the correct side of the crown of the road when you let go of the wheel, the tires are wearing OK, leave it alone. And don't tell us that more than an insignificant percentage of people are going to do their own alignment at home. I've gone 100K miles without getting an alignment, with no ill effects.
And when you take a car into the stealership, it's not unusual for them to claim all kinds of things are wrong, eg needs new tie rods, new control arms, when in fact nothing is wrong. How do you think those 10 service advisers sitting around get paid?
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On 11/16/2018 02:36 PM, Tekkie® wrote:

I'm getting a little deja vu about this poster...
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