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Sonicxtacy02

Automotive Computing (R)Evolution - The Android Head Unit Build Part 1

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by , 06-05-2013 at 02:49 PM (24721 Views)


The Crossroads...

Somewhere, far too long ago to remember, I realized that a “practical” Windows-based car PC platform with all the bells and whistles may perhaps be an unreasonable goal. Now that my seemingly powerful-enough hardware is becoming more and more unreliable (and outdated), I find myself smack dab in the middle of crossroads pertaining to the future of my automotive infotainment platform. On one hand, I’ve got years and thousands of hours invested into attempting to create the perfect Windows automotive ecosystem. The other hand sees a more efficient platform brewing in Android, with updates and supporters that are seemingly blurring the lines between “on the go” and “in the car” applications.



Old (Not So?) Faithful


Perhaps I should have prefaced this blog with the fact that I am not a user of the “common” Windows car PC. My current Zotac/Intel dual-core car PC features include the following capabilities:

- GPS Hardware with live tracking
- Tire Pressure Monitoring
- SpaceNavigator Control
- Parking Sensor Interface
- Rear Backup Camera
- Fusion Brain with a host of various Sensors
- XM/HD Radio
- Custom Bluetooth Phone Hardware
- Bluetooth ODX MX
- USB Array Microphone for hands-free communications
- A total of 21 USB devices, spread over 3 self-powered USB hubs


All this hardware and more is being delicately managed by my choice of front end software. For the most part, the system as a whole works. But there are times where resume for system sleep doesn’t occur so smoothly, HD Radio fails to initialize, or the system draws so much voltage at rest that it completely drains an auxiliary power cell.


The New Kid On The Block



Now, based on the details of the Windows system, one might surmise that the run of the mill android tablet install might come short of fulfilling my demands. Raspberry Pi seemed initially intriguing, but falls short on true horsepower. In short, I need an Android board that can haul the load without compromise, all while sipping power. Enter the ODROID-X2, a 1.7ghz quad-core Android development board, complete with 2ghz RAM and a 64GB eMMC module. Essentially, this is the same Exynos4412 chip that powers the international variant of the Samsung Galaxy S3. It’s safe to say this device should meet my demands at a mere 5 volts and be powered by a Mini-Box DC/DC Power Converter.


So the challenge as I so dramatically impose on myself, is to build a complete and total Android-based car PC platform to replace my current system and all of its capabilities. Join me as I get to know the development board, power up the system for bench testing, attempt the in-vehicle installation, and configure all necessary software along the way. Ultimately, the project may finally solve my longing desire to reliability integrate all of my madness into a modern automobile. Success or failure, every few days comes a new adventure. Check back next time for a new hardware component overview.

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Quote Originally Posted by Sonicxtacy02 View Post
The absolute biggest question I have upon completion of the install is managing the apps within Android. Obviously there's no front end available aside from the car dashboard type applications, but I need a solution that's not going to solely depend on clicking the Android softkeys to switch apps.
I was thinking about it earlier. It would be nice to have a Centrafuse like software running on Android, because in my opinion Android is much suitable for car computing then Windows.
Quote Originally Posted by dskummp View Post
Any further progress on this? I was thinking of something similar. Was initially thinking of doing with RasPi. But still its on the lower end for processing power for Android ICS/JB. With the arrival of BeagleBone black, looks like the hardware is good enough for using on a head-unit. I'm trying to build this to replace my current WinCE chinese head-unit given poor sound quality and being terrible in speed/reliability.

Given BeagleBone black can run Android and decent peripheral support and very reasonably priced, the only main obstacle is the software platform. I was thinking of using the Double DIN case and HDMI adapter sold in ebay. (there is a thread on this forum related to it)
been away for a couple of days on a little vacation but the project still moves in. Expect a new blog post soon detailing the first in-vehicle test drive!
Any further progress on this? I was thinking of something similar. Was initially thinking of doing with RasPi. But still its on the lower end for processing power for Android ICS/JB. With the arrival of BeagleBone black, looks like the hardware is good enough for using on a head-unit. I'm trying to build this to replace my current WinCE chinese head-unit given poor sound quality and being terrible in speed/reliability.

Given BeagleBone black can run Android and decent peripheral support and very reasonably priced, the only main obstacle is the software platform. I was thinking of using the Double DIN case and HDMI adapter sold in ebay. (there is a thread on this forum related to it)