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MMI style rotary encoder install - details

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  • MMI style rotary encoder install - details

    This is the solution I have been using for the last 18 months, and I would like to share more information on what is a very reliable and flexible solution. (Installed in an Audi coupe).

    Also my apologies for "dipping in" to some previous discussions and not following it up with detail.

    Background:

    What I wanted was an encoder that could be used in all situations e.g. menus, audio/video scrubbing, navigation zooming etc - think audi A8 MMI

    I looked at the powermate but it all looked too "locked down" in terms of what comes out of the box. For my install it was also a little too large...

    The solution came with the girder "mouse" plugin by J Hind. This allows the scroll-wheel and buttons to take on different roles such as cursor up.

    So, you buy a mouse with a scroll wheel. You buy an alps 3 pin encoder that can be panel mounted. You remove the cheap and fragile 3 pin scroll-wheel encoder inside the mouse, and solder a cable to your panel mounted alps encoder. The encoder has indents, so each "notch" equates to a new line say in a dialogue box.

    For mounting, I stripped a cigar lighter for an illuminated "collar" with LEDs and mounted this in an audi TT alloy collar (used for the 5 round switches).

    Details:

    Encoder -

    ALPS STEC11B series - RS components (RSWWW.COM) part number 265-2930. If it doesn't work quite right in both directions, don't panic: swap one of the centre and outside pins.

    Control Knob - from broken Audi "Symphony" head unit. Fits the APLS shaft very nicely.

    LEDS - 5 LEDs provide even illumination at night. I have 4 * connected to the PC "on" output, and 1* connected to my startup PIC unit, which flashes in various states, but is on when fully booted. I like this extra feature!

    Mouse modification/Girder plugin.

    I bought a 4 button mouse, which allowed me to hard wire three "soft switches" i.e. menu specific, plus the "enter/select" switch of the alps. All these functions can be setup using the mouse plugin by J Hind. Get into enabling and diabling groups within girder and you have a set of controls you can "repurpose" for each application.

    Functional examples

    In Music/movie mode
    Default rotary = scrub up/down timeline
    Soft switch 1: Select artist/film (rotary becomes up/down menu)
    Soft switch 2: Select track (as above)
    Soft switch 3: Eq select (as above)

    In navigation mode
    Default rotary = zoom in/out
    Soft switch 1: Select route (rotary becomes up/down menu) - scans any route on SD card reader
    Soft switch 2: "Find nearest" (rotary takes through the various pushpins)
    Soft switch 3: Display type (rotary becomes up/down menu)

    All told it took about 4 hours to make, 3 hours to wire (and about 4 months to figure!)

    More details and tips:

    Use the ALPS encoder to replace scroll-wheel encoder NOT X/Y encoders on mouse board.

    I have used 3*illuminated switches ABOVE the encoder knob - for me, this is more ergonomic than the audi MMI solution, which places 2 * switches above, and 2 * below the encoder. The switches are round "tactile" illuminated switches which protrude though a bevelled hole. I bought them from RS.

    The illumination of the three switches are hard-wired to the "num-lock" "scroll-lock" "caps lock" LED output of a keyboard (you could use other methods such as USB i/o boards). WHY? depending on the menu / sub-menu you are in, only the viable switch options are illuminated. Slight overkill, but looks very slick.

    The encoder is a switched version, which provides a good way to confirm selection. Hard-wire to one of the mouse buttons, again controLled by the girder mouse plugin.

    Placing the encoder where Audi and BMW place theirs IS very comfortable.

    Encoders and soft switches is better than a touch screen. Why?
    1) you get used to the position of the encoders and switches so that you can often navigate without looking at the screen.
    2) have you tried reading a touchscreen after a week of use? all the thumbprints in sunlight really affect the clarity. Too much cleaning makes for a shiny screen too..

    Use Girder! - apologies to any front-end writers are coding for modified mouse boards!
    Attached Files

  • #2
    OMG Tony you legend. i have been wanting more info on how you did this and how you have yours setup is pretty much how the idrive is being setup (when dancehaven and i get round to working on it).

    The nav zoom and scroll up/down is what I have planned. Unfortunatley the alps encoder I want is only available in the US - it has the added benefit of an 8-way joystick which requires a PIC to get it to work - although i am sure we could do it by hacking a mouse and keyboard. But DH wants to do fancy stuff with the lighting so that really does need a PIC.

    Comment


    • #3
      Tony, it might be possible to work on a 'widget' to display the functions off the soft buttons on the screen. Would be nice for those forgetful moments and could be alwasys on screen or activated by a 4th button or whn you start using the controller - ie sense the mouse scroll.

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi SM,

        Agree. With many screens and menus, you need to know what the encoder and switches are doing.

        Within girder, I use 3 OSD plugins. These either present a full screen (HTMLOSD) or an "overlay" screen (XPOSD) which is perfect for sitting on top of the MS menu in mappoint and Winamp albumlist. In this way, you never see a MS/ XP menu. In addition, I use DVD-spy plugin to overlay what music is playing, even when in the navigation screens. In this way, you are not having to "play" with the controlds too often.

        When I change control mode, say from navigation to media, I use a third "pop-up" OSD that shows what the buttons and encoder do (this lasts for about 4 seconds).

        I have attached some demo screens of how this looks. These are not actual screen shots, but some of the master bitmaps - some of the overlays and full screens are missing but hopefully shows the final "feel".
        Attached Files

        Comment


        • #5
          What mouse did you use? Did it have a mechanical wheel encoder or an optical one?

          Can you post PCB pics?

          Comment


          • #6
            Very cool. Seems like a job, but well worth it once its going. I like the red LED glow.
            SP13000|M2-ATX|512MB DDR400|2.5" 7200RPM S-ATA|Trans-7"|Slim SL DVD-CDRW|KEH 5.1 DSP|SB L!ve Ext|Gyration PowerMate|BT|WiFi|GPS|WinXP|VoomPC
            GPSing - Digital Speedo
            Relocating headunit and extending faceplate
            Button app to Alt-Tab between two programs

            Comment


            • #7
              Wow, great work.
              I would love to have something similar in my car as well, but I don't have any space to put it.
              Installed
              Asus A7N8X-VM - AMD Mobile Athlon 2400
              512 Ram - 60GB HD - Opus 150w
              Lilliput 7" - Rikaline 6010
              [00000000000001100010-] 98% Completed

              Check Out My Install!!!

              Comment


              • #8
                @aec merlin

                As you substitute the scroll wheel encoder it doesn't matter. I used a mechanical 4 switch (3 soft + 1 for the encoder switch) as it was cheap.

                I haven't taken shots of this, but take out the scroll-wheel encoder - and its a 3 wire-for-wire replacement. Let me know if I can help any more.

                @quattro
                Most A4s have a tidy area next to the handbrake (mk 1,2 and new I think). It has removable panels (for either drinks holders or blank) which makes it nice to modify.

                Is this space available on yours?
                Attached Files

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Scouse Monkey
                  OMG Tony you legend. i have been wanting more info on how you did this and how you have yours setup is pretty much how the idrive is being setup (when dancehaven and i get round to working on it).

                  The nav zoom and scroll up/down is what I have planned. Unfortunatley the alps encoder I want is only available in the US - it has the added benefit of an 8-way joystick which requires a PIC to get it to work - although i am sure we could do it by hacking a mouse and keyboard. But DH wants to do fancy stuff with the lighting so that really does need a PIC.

                  Well my pic skills are flying along scouse so its only a matter of time

                  Great job Tony im very impressed, thats a very professional finish plus i like

                  your use of parts from other audis i.e the knob and surrounds etc

                  You pics resemble how i visualise mine and scouses work to look
                  Co Develper of A.I.M.E.E Automotive Intelligent Multimedia Entertainment Engine
                  www.aimee.cc

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tony G
                    @quattro
                    Most A4s have a tidy area next to the handbrake (mk 1,2 and new I think). It has removable panels (for either drinks holders or blank) which makes it nice to modify.

                    Is this space available on yours?
                    Yes there is space there, I current put my cell phone in that spot. But that space is not the best, its hard to reach, you have to angle you hand back, especially when the arm rest is down, which for me is all the time.
                    Installed
                    Asus A7N8X-VM - AMD Mobile Athlon 2400
                    512 Ram - 60GB HD - Opus 150w
                    Lilliput 7" - Rikaline 6010
                    [00000000000001100010-] 98% Completed

                    Check Out My Install!!!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      @Danceheaven and Scouse Monkey

                      Just as touch screens have become a standard option for most front-ends, it looks like we need a "second standard" - the rotary encoder. I would imagine you are working on a PIC option with USB? which could be become the standard for rotary encoders. Front end coders take note! - what about adopting a standard input solution? you then choose touch screen or encoder.

                      SM - what is the part number of the ALPs encoder with the extra 8-way joystick option? - I have already thought of some great uses e.g. joystick "lookaround the map" in navigation mode. With luck it should be a direct swop-out with my current encoder.

                      @Quattro
                      Audi/VW armrests - not their greatest hour! - my wife's MKIV has the same problem, only with the bloody handbrake. Too bad.

                      I have toyed with an extension to the armrest with the encoder on the end, therefore being comfortably at the end of your arm. The problem is it further blocks the use of the handbrake.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Tony G
                        @Danceheaven and Scouse Monkey

                        Just as touch screens have become a standard option for most front-ends, it looks like we need a "second standard" - the rotary encoder. I would imagine you are working on a PIC option with USB? which could be become the standard for rotary encoders. Front end coders take note! - what about adopting a standard input solution? you then choose touch screen or encoder.

                        SM - what is the part number of the ALPs encoder with the extra 8-way joystick option? - I have already thought of some great uses e.g. joystick "lookaround the map" in navigation mode. With luck it should be a direct swop-out with my current encoder.

                        @Quattro
                        Audi/VW armrests - not their greatest hour! - my wife's MKIV has the same problem, only with the bloody handbrake. Too bad.

                        I have toyed with an extension to the armrest with the encoder on the end, therefore being comfortably at the end of your arm. The problem is it further blocks the use of the handbrake.

                        Well out front end well support all sorts of input control methods

                        ideally USB but will take some further development as its currently RS232

                        Alough you can use a USB to RS232 convertor as there only cheap

                        and developing USB devices legally requires a costly Vendor ID license

                        But i tottaly agree with you on touchscreens, theres many issues with them

                        that could be avoided with various other control methods

                        Reflective screens

                        Break frequently

                        Scratch and get damaged from incorrect use

                        Finger print smears

                        and worst of all they seriously limit the brightness of the screens

                        plus controllin a touchscreen requires you too look at it, not always a good

                        idea while driving

                        So its definalty time for Other smart methods
                        Co Develper of A.I.M.E.E Automotive Intelligent Multimedia Entertainment Engine
                        www.aimee.cc

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          yeah i have been wanting to go with a rotary controller for a while. Even more now than ever so i can just use one screen that pops up (i might do away with my twin screen design).

                          Glare is the main problem i have with touchscreens.

                          I dont have the Alps details to hand but there is 2 threads about it on here somewhere. I need to order a load from Mouser when i get 50 spare.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Working with incremental encoders using a PIC is very simple.

                            Basically compare the current 2 bit value from the previous reading.
                            If same, no movement.
                            Otherwise XOR the right bit of the current value from the left bit of the previous.
                            0 = counterclockwise ; 1 = clockwise.

                            Not 100% sure, but I think you only need a vendor id liscence if you plan on selling or distributing the device.
                            GE Cache Builder | [email protected] |Coolstuff :autospeed.com | bit-tech.net | Nitemax Ultra Pinouts

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                            • #15
                              THe 8 way encorder is the RKJXM which is what is in the '05 Renault Laguna would love to encorporate that into my car pc/multimedia setup.

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