View RSS Feed

All Blog Entries

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

    by , 06-05-2013 at 02:49 PM


    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 Now that my seemingly powerful-enough hardware is becoming more and more unreliable (and outdated), I find myself smack dab in the middle of crossroads pertaining to the future of my automotive infotainment platform.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.

  2. Best of Mp3Car - volume 2, 4.21.09

    by , 04-21-2009 at 10:10 AM


    Community development

    IBUS interpreter - Community member Wanted has written a plug-in for Ride Runner that interprets BMW steering wheel button commands and relays them to your car PC. The plug-in is an attempt to improve on some of the issues he's experienced with the IBUSCOMM plug-in. It runs as a Windows service and allows the user to switch screens using the R/T key press. Support for up to 255 screens is available.
    Don't own an I-BUS equipped BMW? You can build an IBUS-2-COMport adaptor! Read post #8 for discussion and a link to how-to.
    Mac front end. The duo from down under, New Zealand brothers Stephen and Kevin Ramsay, have released ICE3 version 2.1, a front end for Mac that has quickly gained popularity on the OSX platform. Version 2.1 brings improvements to coverflow, native use of iTunes library, better video controls, among other improvements. The next version will begin to incorporate non-media functionality such as XM and OBDII. Read about it here.
    One-click web cam recording. Want to know how to record from a web cam while on the go? Capture! is a one-click web cam application by community member Prefect. Currently, members are working on adding the ability to overlay information on the recorded video. (See a similiar project in OBDII, below) Read about it in a loooong running thread since 2005!
    DVR capability for radio. Member Extide is working on a C# proof of concept application that allows DVR capability for radio or nearly any line-in source like XM Direct. He's targeting the SiLabs tuner, since that's what he owns. This is a work in progress, but head over and see what he's done so far.
    OBDII

    OBDII gauges - Member malcolm 2073 has released a GaugeDisplay application here. GaugeDisplay is a standalone app that provides gauges for frontends that may not have support for it but that do support external program embedding - like Ride Runner. Users can configure GaugeDisplay to display numerous values by editing the XML file.


    Overlay driving information on video - New member dirtysanchez from Poland scores on his very first post with an application that combines data from a VAG-COM OBDII cable and a webcam to record the RPMs, Throttle position, and speed over the video stream, allowing it to be played back at a later date. Check it out here.

    Fabrication

    New member lanceam24 is getting some tips on how to smooth out his fiberglas sub boxes over in the fabrication forum. Want to know how to get a smooth appearance without wavy lines? Check it out here.
    Wanna get rid of the fan noise? Watercool it. Member WuNgUn is 95% complete with his water-cooled system and custom fab job on his front bezel. Beautiful job and a nice, clean install. Check it out here.
    New forums

    Congratulations to Robby BMW! His long running thread on a Tire Pressure Management System (TPMS) is a great example of the community coming together to bring a hack to product status. The TPMS version 2.0 is available soon. The TPMS system is a wireless tire pressure monitoring system that integrates into Ride Runner via a USB receiver and plug-in, displaying pressures on the PC. This device was developed by the mp3car.com community first as a project and now as a product for the community.
    Here's a photo of version 1 and 2 side by side.


    Driveline - open source front end. User ClockWork has released a functional frontend in VB6 with source code. It uses VB.net 2005 and Win32API's. No external components except Windows Medial Player. A new forum has been created to allow bug reports, testing, news and notes.
    OBDII GPS logger.

    Member chunkyks has developed an OBDII GPS logger for Mac OS X and Linux. This is the first community developed and released software for OS X OBDII. A forum has been created for bug reports and testing of the software.
    The Unexpected

    Proving that the car pc scene is indeed global, check out user mpower86's install in a Mitsubishi Pajero 2004. The install is quite nice with double screens but the location is rather more unexpected - Iraq. As far as we know, this is the first Iraqi install of a car PC. mpower86 says he struggled to find all the parts he needed, but using an inverter and a Compaq Presario 2500 laptop, managed to make it work. Well done!

    Updated 09-17-2009 at 04:14 PM by optikalefx

    Categories
    mp3Car News
Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 12