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

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by , 06-05-2013 at 01:49 PM (22238 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 Now that my seemingly powerful-enough hardware is becoming more and more unreliable (and outdated), I find myself smack dab in the middle of crossroads pertaining to the future of my automotive infotainment platform.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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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!