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Automotive Computing (R)Evolution - The Android Head Unit Build - The Quest for Power

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by , 06-22-2013 at 08:05 PM (10899 Views)


The Quest for (always-on) Power

A part of the challenge when planning the Android head unit build was finding the best way to power the development board in the car. One area that tablets and smart phones have an advantage over a development board like the ODROID-X2 is that they come with a battery. This means that not only can the be powered by something as simple as a 12v car plug, but also that there's some level of power remaining after the vehicle ignition stops.

As mentioned in previous posts, my choice to provide a stable power output to the 5 volt 2 amp ODROID-X2 is the Minibox intelligent DC/DC converter. The Minibox device can be configured to provide the 5 volts the X2 needs, as well as the 12v a standard Lilliput touchscreen requires. While this device can provide the power the development board demands during a drive, there's no easy way to notify the ODROID-X2 that the ignition signal is off and the board needs to shut down gracefully. A quick search on Amazon presented me an opportunity to potentially never have to shutdown, effectively creating an always-on solution for the ODROID-X2.




The Anker Astro E4 is an external power source specifically designed to recharge tablets and smart phones. It provides a mammoth 13000mAh, enough juice to completely recharge a Samsung Galaxy S3 twice over and then some. The new plan given the E4's specs is simple. Instead of the Minibox DC/DC powering the ODROID-X2 directly, it will instead charge the external battery pack. The battery back will then serve a constant dose of 5 volt power to the ODROID-X2. Using the all too valuable android app Tasker, I can set the development board into a low power state, stopping all non-critical processes and turning the WIFI and GPS devices off. Tasker can automate this task based on my phone disconnecting from the Bluetooth connection the ODROID-X2 creates upon startup, then automatically restore the power state upon Bluetooth reconnection.


The key to the planned implementation of the battery is the real-world battery life available, a factor that I've only begun to start testing. Nevertheless, the preliminary results are very promising. With the ODROID-X2 in full power mode (no services/devices disabled), the Anker battery has been running 6 hours without 1 of the 4 charge light indicators showing a partial discharged state. If I can effectively achieve 2-3 days out of a battery charge, the always-on portion of the Android head unit build will be considered a success!

More test results soon to come, along with a video breakdown of how Tasker automates my Android install.

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The Utilite device looks promising, once it gets released. Specs claim 10-16V range on input power.

http://www.zdnet.com/meet-utilite-ne...al-7000018083/
Quote Originally Posted by michrech View Post
Out of curiosity, did you look at the Wandboard Dual/Quad when you were determining what ARM board to use?

I'm considering the Quad, but the community for this board doesn't seem to be anywhere near as active (on the Android front -- LOTS of folks using it with Ubuntu) as the ODROID side. As a result, it's been difficult to see if the JB 4.2.2 image they created supports GPS devices at all (that's what's holding me back right now)...

The *primary* reason I'm considering it is that I can get the board, case, and an antenna (for the built in BT/WiFi) for $154 including FedEx "3-5 day" shipping at FutureElectronics, whereas the ODROID requires external USB devices for both, and doesn't have an official case available (though there is a third party 'case' available for yet *more* cash). The Wandboard is also sold through two or three US retailers, which makes getting them faster/easier...

I don't plan on playing games or watching movies on the device -- it's going into my truck for a head unit replacement (like what you're doing with the O-U2) and will be used for Pandora/Slacker/etc and navigation, so graphics performance isn't extremely important to me (though it looks like the Wandboard is fairly capable here).

So, after all that rambling, I guess I'm just looking for thoughts...
Hadn't heard of that board honestly. I still have no complaints about the X2, all the power in the world and the USB accessories allow me a little bit more capability to manage power and the like.

Quote Originally Posted by HiJackZX1 View Post
Lord, has it been a long time. Its awesome what you're doing. I left the PC in to handle certain things the Androids couldnt. I also left mine in to act as a GPS gateway for all the devices since most Android on a stick do not have GPS. It also does a few other things, but most def not doing like it used to.

Here is my question, I went the PC on a stick route. I just didnt want to spend the extra money, but seeing the stats is making me reconsider. I just want to know if you have squared away the touchscreen deal because all though I think I may have found a answer for my devices (I parted out the 7inch screen, but havent bought the 10inch replacements), so I dont know for sure if it works.

Now this is a side question. You know im all about multizone, so do you know of anything to bridge all the units together? I use Miracast on my phone, and it looks to be the answer, but its fairly new and not fully developed. I could always go back to the KVMP idea, but God does it require so much!
I cant think of any solution that doesn't require some heavy duty software. This would be an awesome board to have multiple of in the car though. Easy to tuck away and all the power you need for video/gaming.

Again guys I'm sorry the blogs have slowed down some, the "play" time has been short over the last couple weeks. The X2 IS still in the car and an experience blog is forthcoming!
Lord, has it been a long time. Its awesome what you're doing. I left the PC in to handle certain things the Androids couldnt. I also left mine in to act as a GPS gateway for all the devices since most Android on a stick do not have GPS. It also does a few other things, but most def not doing like it used to.

Here is my question, I went the PC on a stick route. I just didnt want to spend the extra money, but seeing the stats is making me reconsider. I just want to know if you have squared away the touchscreen deal because all though I think I may have found a answer for my devices (I parted out the 7inch screen, but havent bought the 10inch replacements), so I dont know for sure if it works.

Now this is a side question. You know im all about multizone, so do you know of anything to bridge all the units together? I use Miracast on my phone, and it looks to be the answer, but its fairly new and not fully developed. I could always go back to the KVMP idea, but God does it require so much!