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Integrating carPC with BMW E38 wide OEM nav LCD+TV module

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  • Integrating carPC with BMW E38 wide OEM nav LCD+TV module

    The idea of building a carPC for my E38 is bothering me for some time now. The fact that, as weather gets colder, my CD-changer starts to show its age by refusing the CDs one by one adds to the problem. Now, to conclude, it has failed me completely by not recognizing ANY kind of CD. Carefully opening it and painstakingly cleaning the lens did not help.
    "Well, it's time to put that wide display to a new use, it's time for a carPC!" I told myself. After countless hours of googling and documenting, and after a few new dozens of bookmarks in my favorites folders, I have returned to mp3car.com as the best possible source of information. I have found here answers to most of my unasked questions as well as an extremely well formed community of pros.
    So, this is my first post, with a new thread!

    First of all I have built myself a list of requirements for my future system, and with it, a list of problems, of course.
    The prime issue here is the video signal. My 2001 BMW E38 is equipped with MKIII widescreen navi, TV module and hifi radio (no DSP). I discarded the option to use PAL/NTSC input from the beginning. Of course, the TV module is an advantage, but the image quality is horrible. Therefore I went straight to RGsB input. I've got the basics from here and here.

    For testing purposes I found an old (1996) PCI Matrox Millenium card (the only brand that seem to output sync on green in hardware) and I started fiddling with PowerStrip. I didn't know much at that time about vga signals but everyone's got to learn and learn.
    It wasn't much until I learned that my Matrox Windows drivers will not accept 800x480 resolution and would throw me away with compatibility VGA mode. I turned to an old PCI ATI then, also without any succes. Even my old trusty ATI Rage128 AIW refused the resolution! Than I remembered that my laptop has a somewhat newer video card with dual RAMDAC, one for the onboard LCD and the other for the VGA connector. The R300 on that laptop accepted the resolution. I quickly built an adapter cable for combining csync with green and started working with powerstrip onsite, on my car.

    After a terrible icy afternoon, I managed to get the settings right for powerstrip and I've got my first XP background on the OEM LCD. TADAAA!! Only than I could finally understand how can I send a 800x480 image onto a 400x240 fixed freq screen!

    Well, part of the "video problem" being solved, here comes the hardware.
    From the start, I must tell you that I am NOT a fan of Epias. So, I have chosen the uATX format. It is far more manageable and flexible. I am thinking a small uATX AM2 board with Athlon64 is the best option here. I want to use a 4000+ Orleans CPU, underclocked to about 800MHz with 0.9-1V vcore. That setting will transform the heat of Arizona into a gentle breeze of Miami, I think, in terms of heat production. It will also bring me much power economy.

    And here comes the first question. I have to choose basically between Asus M2N and M2A series. That is GeForce 6100 and ATI Radeon x1200 GPUs. I have to limit myself to onboard graphics because the allocated trunk space is limited. Which one of the board is more flexible in terms of custom resolutions? Should I choose ATI (one of my favorites) that I know supports powerstrip and outputs Csync, or nVidia (never used it before, but I read that it has native driver support for custom resolutions).

    This is the first problem I need help with, guys! Thank you in advance!

  • #2
    Bmw Lcd

    Coolshark,

    WELL DONE, GOOD JOB!

    I am trying almost the same thing in my MINI COOPER S.
    Test setup using NEC laptop, homemade VGA to RGsB converter, feeding the NAV displays RGB lines.

    What Powerstrip settings work?
    I have tried various with 800*480 resolution and I can get a very quickly rolling display but no stable settings.
    Does the unti need an interlaced feed?

    Many Thanks in advance for a reply.

    Chris
    MCS
    Warwick
    UK
    MINI COOPER S PRO

    Comment


    • #3
      Hello Chris. Due to the fact that this thread is almost 2 month old, I have given up the hope that anyone could have actually read it! Well, I'm happy that I'm wrong!

      About the VGA signal I've got, it is good, the image is stable, but the quality of the image is poor. This is due to the poor quality cables I used (cheap unshielded ones) and the adapter itself, which is ... simplistic at most. But for the beta stage I am in, is it good. You see, I haven't got the hardware just yet. I am still working on the adapter, and without an oscilloscope it is pretty hard.

      The PowerStrip settings that worked for me are: 800x480=800,36,64,124,480,60,3,34,16002,312.
      A setting also reported to work here is: 800x480=800,41,56,119,480,25,3,32,15658,175.

      Anyway, if you study for a little bit the timings in PowerStrip and compare it to our LCD specs you will find out that we are using twice the required resolution (the LCD being native 400x240). In practice this only works by squeezing horizontal data by doubling the pixel clock (16MHz instead of native 8MHz) and squeezing vertical data by using interlaced signal. So yes, we MUST use interlace. The one most important parameter seems to be vertical sync width of 3. All the other parameters can be adjusted with small margins.

      I am very curious about your homebrew adapter. Did you actually measure the signals it sends? How does it perform? Can you show me the schematic?

      About the status of my project, I am struggling now with the software configuration. I decided to use Winamp for audio and MediaPlayer Classic for video. Because BMW LCD does not have touch screen I must find a way to control them with standard BMW buttons and knobs via i-bus. ibuscomm is a start, but it is too limited. So, I started working at an application to do that.
      Basically I am using a FLASH platform supplemented with Windows API access to read/write the serial port and Windows sockets. The idea is to have an app that will intercept ibus messages and convert them to standard WinLIRC messages. This way I can control any application. The software will also answer the polling data from the radio to simulate a CD-changer. It will also display OBC parameters, it will interface with IKE to display Winamp title/track on the OBC text bar it will manage GPS tracking and logging, etc. It will be in essence a touch-screen disabled, ibus-oriented, front-end.

      Anyway, because I can only assign only a few hours every weekend to the project, it is advancing slowly.

      So, please tell me more about your configuration too, hardware and software. What have you got and what are you planning to do? How are you planning to power up or down your laptop?

      Comment


      • #4
        Hello Coolshark,

        I am glad you are happy I have taken an interest in your post.
        I thank you for it as it has helped me no end.

        To answer your questions.
        My VGA to RGsB adaptor is the same as your current one, I made it using an old CRT VGA cable connected to a small Veroboard circuit and on to the display RGB cables.
        I can not measure the signals as I don't have acees to a scope, so I am flying a little blind.

        Yesterday I had success getting Powerstrip to output the correct signals.
        My problem was a graphics card that could not output an interlaced signal!
        One new card (GeoForce4 MX4000) later and I get a desktop on the screen.
        It's a little dark and green so sounds like I have similar problems with cable quality as yourself.

        Planned final setup is to install a small mobo in the CD changer enclosure in the boot with display output to the NAV screen.
        Input will either be an overlay touchscreen (yet to find a suitable sized one!) or IBUS interface to the rotary controller on the NAV screen.
        My car does not have NAV computer so can't interface to it to the screen.
        Software is unknown yet.

        I too wish that I could spend more time on this, howver a new little daughter is a big good distraction.

        Lets keep in touch here ? to exchange information as I am always willing to help (and be helped) by other BMW fans.

        TTFN

        Chris
        MINI COOPER S PRO

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by chrislamb View Post
          ...
          Yesterday I had success getting Powerstrip to output the correct signals.
          My problem was a graphics card that could not output an interlaced signal!
          One new card (GeoForce4 MX4000) later and I get a desktop on the screen.
          It's a little dark and green so sounds like I have similar problems with cable quality as yourself.
          Be careful Chris! If your image is a little green that means you have a little too much sync signal into the green line. Without proper signals you can easily burn the green channel amplifier and bye-bye LCD! Not to mention that is an EXPENSIVE piece of equipemnt. That's why I have stopped working on my adapter until I can get my hand on a scope.

          Originally posted by chrislamb View Post
          Planned final setup is to install a small mobo in the CD changer enclosure in the boot with display output to the NAV screen.
          Are you sure the mobo can fit into the enclosure? I have opened mine once, and a lot of space is taken by the shock-dampening system BMW has decided to use! I'm afraid the mobo has to be pretty small.

          Originally posted by chrislamb View Post
          Input will either be an overlay touchscreen (yet to find a suitable sized one!) or IBUS interface to the rotary controller on the NAV screen.
          My car does not have NAV computer so can't interface to it to the screen.
          Software is unknown yet.
          Yes, I have thought about an overlay too. You can find a very good one here. But for me, I am afraid it is a no-go. The overlay is pretty thick (about 1mm) and the actual space between the display and the bezel is almost non-existent. I would have to make serious modifications to the bezel. Not to mention the sliding mechanism of the LCD which would have to accommodate the connector strip. I hope your LCD is more manageable about that than mine.

          Anyway, I am curious: without a nav, what image do you get on the LCD? Do you have a TV module? Where do you get the BMW user interface from?
          And most of all, where is your display located? Can you post a pic? I have seen a lot of Mini pictures on the net, but none of them with a LCD. I was wondering, where could it be located?

          Well, keep in touch!

          Comment


          • #6
            Integrating carPC with MINI R53 wide OEM nav LCD

            Coolshark,

            Thanks for the warning about too much green.

            I think I need to feed the Csynch signal into Green using a resistor to reduce the voltage or use a better VGA to RGsB circuit?

            I connected Sync earth to Green Earth, could this be the problem?

            I don't have a CD multi changer in the car just the bracket which holds it to the side of the boot area, its item no. 1 here :-

            http://www.realoem.com/bmw/showparts...04&hg=65&fg=10

            This should allow the use of a standard 26cm by 23cm MOBO as I can use the small storage compartment next to it in the car for the PSU etc.

            The touch panel you have linked too is too big for the display ?
            I am trying to get this one:-
            [media]http://www.magictouch.com.tw/download/products/pdf/4%20wires%20flat%20for%20lcd/Ac15790.pdf[/media]
            Which is only 1mm bigger than my display and can be driven with a standard USB driver.

            The display is yet to be installed in the car and without Navigation computer it will only be used for CarPC.
            I bought it from a local car dismantler.
            In the MINI it replaces the center speedo when fitted, see here :-
            [media]http://www.windowsfordevices.com/files/misc/cebit-mini-dash.jpg[/media]

            TTFN

            Chris
            MINI COOPER S PRO

            Comment


            • #7
              Sorry the link to the Touch Panel fell off somewhere.

              http://www.magictouch.com.tw/downloa...cd/Ac15790.pdf

              OK this time ?
              MINI COOPER S PRO

              Comment


              • #8
                How about this Csync circuit ?

                [media]http://www.nexusuk.org/projects/vga2scart/schematic.png[/media]
                MINI COOPER S PRO

                Comment


                • #10
                  Originally posted by chrislamb View Post
                  How about this Csync circuit ?
                  [media]http://www.nexusuk.org/projects/vga2scart/schematic.png[/media]
                  Yeah, I've seen it before. I haven't tested it but I doubt it works as expected... The voltages on the sync lines are pretty small and I doubt that a simple polarized transistor would do the trick. A field effect transistor may be required.
                  Anyway, the circuit is only a part of what's required. It only creates csync from hsync and vsync, it DOES NOT multiplex it with the green line. For me personally it is of no use, my video is based on ATI, which can be configured to output csync directly.

                  Originally posted by Enforcer View Post
                  Hmm surprised this is not a more popular thread as I can imagie there are quite a few BMW owners with the factory fit screens wanting to put PC's in there.
                  You're right Enforcer, I am surprised too. This may be due to the fact that "normal" BMW owners just use the composite video input (the input from the reverse camera) and so, they don't bother with RGsB and stuff...

                  Comment


                  • #11
                    A quick update on my progress.

                    2 off the touch screens should be collected by DHL for me from Taiwan tomorrow.
                    I mocked up their installation into my centre instrument pack display and one should fit given a little trimming.

                    I have purchased & assembled an IBus to serial coverter and can now see IBus on COM2 using Navcoder.

                    Plan is to use CarX with the touchscreen and VGA to RGsB converter.

                    As an aside I also bought a BMW Navigation Computer Mk3 to test the display in car and will fit it once I have made up the harness. If OK I can use a SCART switch to switch between BMW Nav & XCar.
                    MINI COOPER S PRO

                    Comment


                    • #12
                      MyStory E38 / CarX / Dell Laptop

                      Hi Guys,

                      Its really great to be here, actually for long time i was searching for a group working on same thing, but what i got is just past posted forum messages, its like talking to dead bodies, no reply, anyway, lets hope for the best and continue sharing our stuff.

                      Here I introduce myself and my Car, I am Computer Professional, (can help on computer related topics). and i have 735iL, 2001, Thats an E38, with WideScreen, MK3 Navigation Computer, and GCC Specs, Anyways till now was a general Intro.

                      Come to my Setup, from last six months all this started, so where i stand i dont realy know, but still project is undergoing, learnt a lot of stuff, will be able to help and seek help. Everything started with a standard Laptop, thats Dell or any brand, preferably with Video Out, instead of VGA, i have XPS 1200, as my test machine, and Dell C400 costs under 200$ as production machine. Thanks to Rolf Resller's Ibus adaptor, works straight forward, so no tention there, For video i already had Camera Cable harness which made it a breeze to install PC video in, remains How to SWITCH video to PC. Rolf's adaptor comes with NTSC Switch Relay, thats the forth cable that goes to 17th PIN of Video Modules White Connector,

                      (By the way, i have very good resources regarding those stuff like BMW Technical Information System (TIS), BMW Wiring Diagram System (WDS), BMW ETK thats electronics Part Catalgue.) Incase anybody needs any assistance in this regard.

                      So Lets Continue with out setup, so Software i choosed the CarX, beleive me or not thats the only software that deserve to be there in your CarPC, Man we have everything a normal CarPC Project will look for, so common, we dont need that navigation, we dont need and amplifier, we dont even care about touch screen, i love the way my BM is, so the things remains is DVD/MP3. simple solutions i have Ipod 30 Gigs, that resolve that too, DVD, i have DVD player in the BOOT so no need to bother on that, BUT just for fun the project started to get Wirless/Emails/Ibus Connectivity, Backup Camera to name a few.

                      So for my setup Video part is done, switching is being handled very smoothly, i control the whole PC from the Front buttons, Steering wheel buttons, and Rotarty KNob, Beleive me, Thats working,

                      You will be thinking then where i am stuck, Audio MAN, in my car i dont have DSP, and I am using Tape Emulation for switching between BMW/CarPC Screen, now stuck on fining the tape cables, someone told me its behing the monitor in center console, i dont want to risk that much, so waiting for someone to come up with a nicer solution.

                      This was basic general intro, let me know in case you need details on any part, and lets start communicating. I promise to be regular and active user, so lets hope the same from all of you too.
                      Asif Saif
                      BMW E38, 735iL, 2001
                      ---------------------
                      Sometimes...Google IT

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        Hello AsifSaif and welcome aboard!
                        Now, for you tape cables problem, the solution seems very simple. Since you do not have DSP in your car, you most probably have a premium sound system, with a separate radio and amplifier in the boot and a tape in the front. Right? So, why don't you just check the amplifier pinouts on your WDS and see which cables are for tape input. Afterwards, it is just a simple matter of tapping in those wires with ones of yourself.

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          I really appriciate the QUICK response COOLSHARK, the problem is, what i beleive is very unique situation, i dont have DSP, so what i have, its 10 Speaker System, which are connected to Amplifier in the Trunk, there is no RADIO, beleive me i took out every single thing from the trunk, i looked online, in WDS, even, they said there has to be radio unit, even the pictures, and stuff they show, but i have nothing like them, may be Caz my car is 735iL, unlike the americans they have 740iL, so thats where i am stuck, in the apmlifier i traced back the cables, there are two connectors on that things lets say we call it amplifier, one is 26PIN, blue connector, and on 10 PIN Connector, I will post the pinout for you for that connector, see if you can help out. One thing whats are the possiblities of having the Radio, i mean location possiblities, if its not in the trunck?
                          Asif Saif
                          BMW E38, 735iL, 2001
                          ---------------------
                          Sometimes...Google IT

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            The pinouts for the 26 pin connector are:
                            PIN - CONNECTION
                            1- LH front woofer +
                            2- LH front woofer -
                            3- Not used
                            4- RH front mid-range -
                            5- LH front mid-range +
                            6- Not used
                            7- Not used
                            8- Not used
                            9- RH front mid-range +
                            10-LH front mid-range -
                            11-Right rear mid-range speaker/tweeter +
                            12-RH front tweeter +
                            13-RH front woofer +
                            14-LH front tweeter +
                            15 LH front tweeter -
                            16-Left rear mid-range speaker/tweeter -
                            17-Not used
                            18-Not used
                            19-Left rear mid-range speaker/tweeter +
                            20-Not used
                            21-Not used
                            22-Not used
                            23-Not used
                            24-Right rear mid-range speaker/tweeter -
                            25-RH front tweeter -
                            26 RH front woofer

                            I checked this is what i have . . .
                            Asif Saif
                            BMW E38, 735iL, 2001
                            ---------------------
                            Sometimes...Google IT

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