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  • Two Din Droid

    (Also posted in the Open Source Hardware forum, it somewhat crosses boundaries.)


    Hi guys,

    I've just posted this up at he Android forums and not had much interest yet... I suspect I might have more luck here. Let me know if I should cross-post to another forum area?

    I've only just decided to register on here having poked about in a lurky way before, but it seems like the best place to get my ideas in order and look for folk who might have some ideas about a project I'm embarking on.

    It's called Two Din Droid, and the aim is to create a fully viable android-based car head unit for music, media, gps, phone interaction etc. This would make use of an existing platform for running android but would include some PCBs for audio control & amplifier, power control, control interfaces etc and would try to avoid using too much 'consumer' technology (VGA interfaces for screens, USB devices etc.) in order to cut down the build cost and physical size. There will also be a need to come up with a physical chassis for mounting in, whether that's designed and made within the project or one of the commercially available 2-din chassis that take ITX etc.

    It's the first thing of this scale I've tried and I'm still in the very early stages, but the more research I do the more plausible it looks.

    Here's a summary of the features I'd like to see implemented:

    Required features:
    -Minimum android 2.3 (Maybe move to ICS when it comes)
    -at least a 600mhz ARM cpu for responsiveness (currently looking at S3C6410 as most likely candidate. Beagleboard and pandaboard are better supported outside China, but less hardware-hack-oriented.)
    -Built-in touch screen (at least 800x480)
    -Customisable dashboard for car features, but full android functionality, nothing locked down.
    -Radio - At least FM, fully controllable from an android app.
    -Optical disc support (CD at least, preferably DVD - I still occasionally play CDs in my car, I'm sure other people do too.)
    -Full GPS support
    -At least 4-channel audio control (not necessarily 4 channels generated by Android - I'm looking a low-cost 4+1 i2c-controlled audio processor IC for front/back/left/right volume plus tone control and subwoofer output, the Princeton PT2348 - The UK distributor is sending me some samples!)
    -Standard 4x50w amplification built in, plus line outs for external amps
    -Interface for attaching to steering-wheel remote
    -Mixer app for different audio sources
    -Smart power management to minimise time between starting the engine and music playing
    -USB host support


    Nice to haves:
    -Bluetooth slave support - for built-in hands-free / dialing etc. (this one could be difficult.)
    -Video input / display (parking cameras etc)
    -Interface capabilities for OBD/CAN-bus etc for display/logging/diagnosis of on board diagnostic data
    -AM / DAB / HD radio support.
    -Built-in GPRS/3G support
    -Wi-fi hotpot
    -General purpose interface for other control projects (lights, other stuff)

    The idea would be to come up with a set of designs and a few implementations, with all designs publish freely for anyone to build. In the longer term there might be potential for kits etc - maybe even some of the Chinese head-unit manufacturers would pick up the design and use it instead of the god-awful Windows CE stuff that's currently out there. (I have one myself, hence the project)

    My intent is to build out the hardware in a rough form (modules and breadboards etc) and get the software stack up to scratch - this will involve some kernel fiddling probably, and some android app development. It's a good 15 years since I developed anything of any merit, but i'm going to give it a shot. Learning curves are fun

    As far as I can tell, no-one else has a project going like this, but I might have missed something - if so please let me know and I'll go help them!

    I'm curious to know what you guys think of this project, whether it's worthwhile, feasible, am I wasting my time etc. Also, if you're interested in helping...

    We'll see how it goes....

    -GS

  • #2
    please don't cross post the same thing on multiple forums, it's against the rules & just creates clutter & also keeps everything divided into multiple threads... don't worry man, it'll still be seen & replied to even in just one thread you had no interest here because this thread JUST got approved & is just now visible to the public... patience man

    I allowed your other post in the development thread too but there is no need to run all over the place with this...
    Last edited by turbocad6; 08-30-2011, 05:01 PM.
    MY NEWEST INSTALL:modded infiniti fx with big screen

    first windows carpc install........my liquid cooled LVDS screen :D

    Comment


    • #3
      Ah, sorry! I meant I had no interest so far over at androidforums.com, Didn't read the rules carefully enough on the crossposting thing for here it seems, though. Apologies! *embarrassed*

      Comment


      • #4
        np, I allowed your other post in development & directed any input to this thread for you... good luck with it

        if you decide this thread would be better suited somewhere else then ask me & I'll move it for you... here in general is ok for now I think...
        MY NEWEST INSTALL:modded infiniti fx with big screen

        first windows carpc install........my liquid cooled LVDS screen :D

        Comment


        • #5
          technically, installing a carpc is a waste of time...


          it is a different idea, and i try to support different(it tends to lead to other different ideas).

          but i guess the question is-- other then mounting options, what would this solution offer over fabricating a android tablet into the cars dash?
          My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
          "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"


          next project? subaru brz
          carpc undecided

          Comment


          • #6
            I think it would be a waste of time trying to roll your own hardware for this, the world of Android Tablets are moving very quickly with new models coming out all the time, (many people would say there are too many android tablets to choose from) and tablets are already pretty cheap, I don't think you could compete with them, especially with such a limited market.

            You could implement most of your feature list now with an Android tablet, then once you mounted the tablet you could focus on solving a lot of your feature requests in software.
            ie. Radio, external cameras, optical media, steering wheel controls, bluetooth receiver, CAN
            Personally I knew I'd be going without these when I went to do my install, and I have made do without them.

            Google is releasing a version of Arduino for Android, you should look into that.

            You could look into a prefabbed dock for a tablet that fits in a double-din, but with so many different tablet sizes and dash trim sizes, it would be difficult to provide a one-size-fits-all, there's still going to be a fair bit of diy involved for the customer. (Sorry, I'm not sure if you want to make a product to sell to people, or a collaborative project of plans and software)

            I like your vision, but I think you're trying to do too much. I think you're better trying to base a solution on tablets already on the market, people are snapping up tablets like hotcakes, and being able to take the tablet with you when you leave the car is an extra bonus.
            Android Tablet In-Car Sliding Dock using hacked DVD drive

            Comment


            • #7
              On the subject of tablet integration,

              Chaps,m your point is very much taken. I've also been considering the fact that the tablet market is exploding and if there is something to be tapped there, the tablets are probably it. The thing that bothers me with trying to tie an android tablet into a car system is the plain lack of consistency between the hardware - some have dock-connectors, some don't, and there's the question of USB host ports, etc. Ook, I'd better shut up about that in case someone tries to persuade me apple-wards

              But then perhaps I'm getting too complex

              What about a head unit that had no display or minimal, but contained the hardware for the things the tablet can't do (optical disks, radio, amp control, steering wheel remote. OBD etc) and then made that available to the tablet over a combination of WiFi/Bluetooth/ADK? Then you still have the problem of physical mounting of the tablet and that's something I find to be a bit ugly (if only 'cause there's nowhere to put a 10" tablet in my car that isn't in the way!), but I guess it's not insurmountable.

              There's a few ways to get it done, I guess.

              I do want to create something that would have the potential for broader uptake than just us lot that are willing to modify bits of car etc. - I don't expect the man in the street to fabricate the thing himself but it would be nice to come up with an open design that a manufacturer could pick up, tweak and put into production. And I want it to be... Elegant, conceptually as well as in terms of physical construction. That part gets harder with a tablet.

              Your thoughts are appreciated guys, I will keep working at it..

              -GS

              Comment


              • #8
                @godstalker, @badmonkey23 - It seems to me like you want to build an open source community generated hardware/software combo as a platform for innovation?

                Great points about the challenges of docking a tablet in a car. It is a mess unless you have a few days to spare and a bunch of hardware/plastics modification skills.

                Originally posted by Godstalker View Post
                What about a head unit that had no display or minimal, but contained the hardware for the things the tablet can't do (optical disks, radio, amp control, steering wheel remote. OBD etc) and then made that available to the tablet over a combination of WiFi/Bluetooth/ADK? Then you still have the problem of physical mounting of the tablet and that's something I find to be a bit ugly (if only 'cause there's nowhere to put a 10" tablet in my car that isn't in the way!), but I guess it's not insurmountable.
                This is the good idea if you ask me. We've actually talked about it on other threads in the past. If there were a open source cross platform, modular, universal translator that could pave the way to a lot of innovation in the car with not only android but with Iphone and other x86 architecture.

                The evolution of the product could be modular as well. For example: Universal translator --> Add on a display--->add on your ARM chip and other computing elements for those who don't want to bring their own tablet. Each one of these steps is a significant engineering effort.

                @godstalker Do you have an Electrical engineer, software, or industrial design background? Out our company meetings we've often toyed with the idea of jumpstarting a concept like this.

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                • #9
                  Also - Check out these android head units from ces 2011.
                  http://www.mp3car.com/mp3car-blog-ta...es-2011-a.html
                  http://www.mp3car.com/mp3car-blog-ta...es-2011-a.html

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Fiberoptic View Post
                    @godstalker Do you have an Electrical engineer, software, or industrial design background? Out our company meetings we've often toyed with the idea of jumpstarting a concept like this.
                    Well, I'd be overstating it if I said I had these. By trade I'm an IT Infrastructure architect / project lead / sysadmin (Linux-heavy) but I have a non-work background in making stuff which includes some electronics up to arduino gadgets and analogue audio bits and bobs, I was once a software developer but haven't done anything serious since about 2001 (with the exception of coding for Arduino projects and ) and on the industrial design front, well, basically no. I've hacked things together and I have some basic machining/construction skills but nothing major. To be honest half the reason I decide to do things like this is because there's a steep learning curve for me though - if I'm doing a project I don't have to get a bunch of research and learning in for, I don't have much fun!

                    Right now I'm just planning out things in my head and I'm going to brainstorm some block diagrams of how a thing like this might work. I'm also heavily in the process of moving house /city / job right now and I don't have any of my equipment with me so it can only be a theoretical exercise (this is very frustrating! I'm a solder-first ask-questions-later kinda guy.) at this point.

                    Once things have settled a bit I'm going to get myself some new toys (Android tablet / dev board / ADK bits) and start fiddling with one or two of the modular components, for some reason the audio-control & amp are calling out to me, I just like making noisy things.

                    If you want to pursue this and I can help... awesome Even if I'm lacking in the highly specific technical skills, I *am* pretty good at overall systems architecture and holistic design (that's what I get paid for!) and I learn *fast*.

                    Anyhoo.. I'll keep fiddling about and posting what I come up with.

                    -GS

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                    • #11
                      One advantage I see for using generic hardware instead of fabbing a tablet into the dashboard is versatility. I think pandaboard is a very promising piece of technology, and if most popular frontends ran on Linux-ARM/Android, I would have probably ended up doing my build with that board instead of x86. My X86 build runs Win7 but it can also run Linux and even Android (although I'm not sure how usable android-x86 project is). If you do a pandaboard build, you can install linux/meego/android, but your application needs to support ARM. Lastly, if you fab a tablet into the dashboard, you end up with Android, and that's pretty much it. There are some ports of Ubuntu for some tablets, but they are hardly usable.
                      I think you could make a killer in-dash unit by combining Lilliput 669GL (HDMI), Pandaboard, TDA7850 amp and Carnetix/Opus DC-DC. There's more than enough space and the heat production is pretty minimal. Once I get an itch to build another unit, I think I'll attempt to do that.
                      ------------------------------------------------------------
                      My Project: All-in-one Double Din Unit

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Here is another sample that can be purchased now, only for a few model cars at the moment but it is shipping. Maybe worth looking at to get a idea?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by davedave1234 View Post
                          Here is another sample that can be purchased now, only for a few model cars at the moment but it is shipping. Maybe worth looking at to get a idea?
                          Amazing! I didn't realize there are actual Android-based units in production. Two points:

                          1) The US retailer only sells car-specific installations, as in, the unit is built into a vehicle-specific bracket. Technically, you could remove the unit from the bracket, and, as long as your car supports Double-Din, you can install it there yourself. Still, why the trouble?
                          2) 600mhz? What is this, amateur hour? I'd go with Nvidia Tegra 2, or some other dual-core 1ghz.
                          ------------------------------------------------------------
                          My Project: All-in-one Double Din Unit

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Aha, so someone is making it now. I expected this would come along but hadn't seen this one yet. I've seen the Parrot stuff before, though.

                            It does seem strange that they're not selling a generic 2-din unit. Bit of a gap in the market there I reckon.

                            Even when this sort of thing is available I think there's still room for something that's a bit more of an open platform and supports more customisation and tweaking.

                            I would hazard a guess that the Dynavin product is based on the S3C6410 platform, which is a ~600mhz ARM11 part. This is widely available and supported. A lot of the previous-gen Chinese head units like this that ran WinCE were based on the lesser Samsung 2440 part (which, incidentally, can also be persuaded to run Android.)

                            600mhz does not seem like a lot, I know. But this platform does have hardware graphics acceleration and is really quite speedy in it's own right - I don't think there's a lot that you'd use in a car that'd justify pushing up to Tegra levels, let alone the price premium. I'd say even the pandaboard / beagleboard are probably overkill for running something like this, and if you have a look at the S3c640 dev boards, they aren't as powerful but they are more fully featured in terms of connectivity. (have a look at http://minidevs.com/minidevs/Tiny6410%20board.html) The tiny6410 and others like it (there are many) also give you the opportunity off fabricating a breakout board which has only the items you want on it (SD, USB, audio codec etc) as well as the audio controller, amp etc. and using the 'core' board as supplied. Designing that would be no small task, mind.

                            The only thing that puts me off the S3C6410 is the fact that the android stuff isn't as well documented in english but to be honest I think I can get over that.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by nivanov View Post
                              One advantage I see for using generic hardware instead of fabbing a tablet into the dashboard is versatility. I think pandaboard is a very promising piece of technology, and if most popular frontends ran on Linux-ARM/Android, I would have probably ended up doing my build with that board instead of x86. My X86 build runs Win7 but it can also run Linux and even Android (although I'm not sure how usable android-x86 project is). If you do a pandaboard build, you can install linux/meego/android, but your application needs to support ARM. Lastly, if you fab a tablet into the dashboard, you end up with Android, and that's pretty much it. There are some ports of Ubuntu for some tablets, but they are hardly usable.
                              I think you could make a killer in-dash unit by combining Lilliput 669GL (HDMI), Pandaboard, TDA7850 amp and Carnetix/Opus DC-DC. There's more than enough space and the heat production is pretty minimal. Once I get an itch to build another unit, I think I'll attempt to do that.
                              If you're going to build this, don't put a resistive touch screen in it. That will just kill the whole project IMO. You'll need to find a good capacitive multi touch panel. The extra bit about a system in the car (and why tablets are so attractive) is because the multi touch gestures allow users to be much safer for use in the vehicle. And if gestures were a more core component instead of an app to app basis, that would be a pretty big deal for the market accepting something like a 2 din unit.

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