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  • VGA to stock NAV RGBs/RGsB: research results and questions

    I'm am thinking of linking my stock nav screen to the VGA output of my PC.

    Why? Simply because there is no room to put a 7" touchscreen on my dashboard. No double din, or even single din kit for my car (Infiniti M35). Impossible. Here is a picture:



    Many have linked a computer to the stock nav screen, but their solution lies in converting VGA to composite cable, which is not enough for me.

    I've found a very expensive unit ($550) that links the computer to the nav through S-Video, which apparently is much better than composite:

    http://www.avelectronic.com/NavigationVid-Switcher.html

    Will the difference between composite and S-video justify the higher price? I'm not very interested in playing dvds really, although that is nice, a composite cable would be fine for that stock screen. What I want is a good computer functionality, with text as sharp and crisp as provided by the stock nav unit. If the manufacturer can do it, why can't we?

    I also found this, which is half of the price, but it comes with two composites AND a NAV IN input, which is RGBs or RGsB, don't know exactly which. Now can I link RGB nav in to my VGA computer?

    Some more details:

    http://www.gnetcanada.com/navvideo-m...X35%20-%20FX45
    Here is the 6 page manual with good pictures of the wiring:
    http://www.gnetcanada.com/downloads/..._GNET_RGB3.pdf

    This unit has the following inputs:

    NAVI IN RGB Video Input: to allow the addition of an aftermarket navigation unit that has an RGB output



    Now the NAV input I take will go directly to the stock screen, and it is RGB with composite sync (H+V), as you can see in the link above. NAVin = blue, green, red, sync, ground.

    Now I need to convert AND scale my computer monitor to make it work, right?
    Searching on this forum, I've found a lot of dead threads, and no one aparently did it.

    Some solutions I've found:

    1. http://www.converters.tv/products/co...erters/40.html
    This one says that it can "Can output a composite, S-video or RGB output at the standard 15K video signal", so it is not only converting (like this: http://cgi.ebay.com/Video-Adapter-S-...sid=p1638.m118), but also scaling. Is it really?

    This would be great to use with the vga out of a laptop. But does this work?

    2. http://www.ultimarc.com/avgainf.html

    Before somebody tells me to do a search, I can tell you, save your time, nobody has any of the solution above working, at least, didn't say so, or posted about it.

    If this is the only solution, well, I'd have to say goodbye to a laptop, a macmini or even any small form factor pc. No low profile PCI card, means a big computer on the trunk...
    Still, does it work?

    3. http://www.extron.com/product/product.aspx?id=rgb109xi

    Found on this thread:
    http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/lcd-...vga-input.html

    But according to BassbinDevil user: "The Extron box runs off 120 volts, but maybe it can be modified for 12V.

    Now, from what I can tell they only convert sync: they DON'T convert the scan rates. So, if the stock NAV screen runs at TV 15.75 kHz scan rates, this won't help you connect up a VGA source. Scalers do convert scan rates, and they're much more expensive."

    Also, the PSOne thread (http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/lcd-...tronger-2.html) is not really useful to me, I think, because the thread starter was using already outdated 2003 cards that could produce 15KHz signals. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    I hope this thread is relevant, but I really would like to know more updated info, and specially builds about the things mentioned in the many threads I visited.

    Well, thanks anyway for any input.
    Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
    Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

    07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

  • #2
    Don't know man, I am in the same boat. Trying to connect PC to OEM Nav.

    Found this... looks like his website is down, but he did something very close to what you are looking to do.

    http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache...nk&cd=10&gl=us

    read through, see if it helps.

    Comment


    • #3
      Update

      I just placed an order for the VGA to CGA/RGBs converter, after exchanging some e-mails with tech support, some of which I reproduce below. The only way it won't work is if the stock screen needs a sync on green RGB (RGsB), but I found out else where looking at this G35 solution that this is not the case at all for Nissan/Infinitis.

      It may take a couple of months to see if it will work, since I am still in the planning stages of my build, but I'm pretty confident that it will. This is my first buy for my first carputer, as soon as I take the dash apart I will post some work log. I am planning of using this with a DP4T relay before the stock screen and my computer, or with a switcher like this G-Net device:

      The advantage of which (if you click on the instruction manual) is that it has before the ubiquitous AV composite inputs (like the PAC, TVtoNAv, AVElectronics solutions) also has an RGBs input, to which I can connect my VGA to CGA/RGBs converter.

      This way I could also use another DVD or Baby camera if I wanted to (I already have a stock backup camera), plus, I would get an IR remote that could switch Audio and Video together. With the relay, I'd first had to press a button to switch audio, and then another to switch audio say, from a PAC audio/Cleansweep audio only solution.


      Back on topic, this is the relevant e-mails:

      >>Subject: Re: Inquiry: Product Id (40) - VGA to CGA - RGB Converter
      >>
      >>Hi Rippling,
      >>
      >>Thank you for your inquiry.
      >>
      >>We have sold a number of the #40 converters to the car industry with
      >>good success but please not we cannot guarantee that it will work
      >>perfectly (with the local guys we have sold to Ford installers and all
      >>worked fine but sorry not sure if there will be any mismatch with the
      >>Nissan).
      >>
      >>The #40 will take the VGA signal and convert to 15khz RGBS.
      Question:
      What if my signal is plain RGB (H & V separate sync) or RGsB (sync on the Green signal)?

      >I also think it should work but if the converter does not work you are
      >welcomed to refund (except for freight costs). I think the seperate
      >sync should also work however the sync on green will not work.
      Lastly:

      Sorry for the delay.

      This sounds correct (hack into the interface between the screen and nav computer) but I would definitely feed ground to the converter (both on pin 4+6) at all times, or feed ground through your switching matrix.

      Please note that we will be shipping your order on Wednesday which is the first day back from our holidays.

      Happy New Year.

      Kind Regards
      Steve

      Hope this helps. This may become a FAQ on how to hack the stock nav screen someday to accept VGA inputs, if this works. It would save a lot of research here and elsewhere.
      Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
      Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

      07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

      Comment


      • #4
        Hi,

        Interested in how the converter worked, did you receive it yet?
        I would like to use my Kenwood 7200 as a pc-monitor since the kenwood unit has
        a RGB-input I hope the converter will work...

        /L-O

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm looking into this for more thna a year now without finding a real solution. All the VGA2RGB converter are limited to three or four resolutions, none of them is wide screen like my stock nav. I got good results with an ATI video card and PowerStrip but don't like that solution because you cannot see the boot phase. There is a promising tool out there for arade monitors (http://community.arcadeinfo.de/showthread.php?t=8167) and I had some success, not as perfect as with PowerStrip though.

          Ideally someone with the right knowledge would take one of the working modlines from PowerStrip and create a custom Intel video BIOS. Composite sync (somehting the Intel video doesn't do) is easy to get with one of the many circuits found on the Internet. The problem is to get the video card to support the 15KHz frequencies needed by RGBS monitors. There are some solutions using a special PCIe or AGP video card, but I would like to go with an Intel or VIA based mini PC, and those usually don't have PCIe or AGP.

          Hopefully this topic gets some attention and eventually a solution for all of us who would like to use the stock nav as monitor.

          Comment


          • #6
            Humm, now I realize that my car screen looks to be widescreen (see the picture on the first post...looks like 16:9)...I wonder what will happen though...no image at all, proper scaling or just stretching?

            I won't have the thing anytime soon, it was just send it today from Australia. And still, my project is just in the beginning, so it will take a while before I fully test it.
            Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
            Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

            07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

            Comment


            • #7
              This is an ongoing project in another forum: click

              While many things are Audi specific, many others apply to any OEM screen with RGBS input. My frist attempt of a direct VGA connection looked like this. Using the Grandtec Ultimate XP VGA to TV adapter (one of the few that does RGBS) I got a picture but the quality wasn't that exciting, especially in computer mode (not watching a movie). Still using the Grandtec you can see that the colors are way off. I played a little with a VIA nano-ITX board that has a RGBS out for SCART but the results were disappointing due to poor implementation of the RGB out. Right now I'm back playing with a mini PC that has an ATI video adapter onboard, using PowerStrip I get a good 512x288 picture on my 400x234 screen, still a little scrambled but usable. I probably end up keeping that that setup and just get Windows to boot fast enough so that by the time I turn the head unit on, Windows is already up and running. There are many modlines that work on my screen, most of them found through trial and error and other screens may need slightly different values. But the bottom line is that most VGA to RGB adapters are only good for movies and low res media center front ends. Anything else has to be done using a direct VGA to RGB connection (no scaling) which either requires PowerStrip or a custom video BIOS (like they did with the ArcadeVGA card). Intel has their embedded driver out there for a while as well but I have no idea how to use that stuff. That would be perfect though since there are a couple Core/Core2 mini-ITX boards out there that could be used in a carPC application.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by audia4b6us View Post
                This is an ongoing project in another forum: click

                While many things are Audi specific, many others apply to any OEM screen with RGBS input. My frist attempt of a direct VGA connection looked like this. Using the Grandtec Ultimate XP VGA to TV adapter (one of the few that does RGBS) I got a picture but the quality wasn't that exciting, especially in computer mode (not watching a movie). Still using the Grandtec you can see that the colors are way off. I played a little with a VIA nano-ITX board that has a RGBS out for SCART but the results were disappointing due to poor implementation of the RGB out. Right now I'm back playing with a mini PC that has an ATI video adapter onboard, using PowerStrip I get a good 512x288 picture on my 400x234 screen, still a little scrambled but usable. I probably end up keeping that that setup and just get Windows to boot fast enough so that by the time I turn the head unit on, Windows is already up and running. There are many modlines that work on my screen, most of them found through trial and error and other screens may need slightly different values. But the bottom line is that most VGA to RGB adapters are only good for movies and low res media center front ends. Anything else has to be done using a direct VGA to RGB connection (no scaling) which either requires PowerStrip or a custom video BIOS (like they did with the ArcadeVGA card). Intel has their embedded driver out there for a while as well but I have no idea how to use that stuff. That would be perfect though since there are a couple Core/Core2 mini-ITX boards out there that could be used in a carPC application.
                Thanks for your valuable input, much appreciated. Hard to follow your posts on the Audi, it does seems very specific. What does RNS-E means? is it the lcd/lvds controller card, or the Nav computer that feeds the controller? Is it native RGBs, or it converts to RGBs? Do you have the option to link the PC to the RNS-E and/or the Screen directly? I'm still figuring out some of these, so pardon my ignorance.

                You mentioned one solution I have considered, the ArcadeVGA card. Do you know of someone who made it work? I'd be very interested to see that. I looked for it everywhere, even on the Ultimarc forums. Nothing.

                Did you take a look at the Australian Convert.tv that I ordered? What do you think of it?

                I rejected the ArcadeVGA card for the following reasons:

                1. It is BIG card, no chance of using it with an Aopen, MacMini or Laptop computer, or any small form factor computer (unless used with an AGP raiser card...does one even exist? I know PCI raiser cards only)

                2. It is an AGP card (why not PCI?); hard to find suitable motherboards with newer processors, although doable;

                3. It needs drivers and lots of work within Windows to make it work. I wonder how stable that would be with advanced windows software, like MPEG 2, MPEG 4 and DivX, XviD, Mkv file decoders, such as FFDshow, etc. What about DVD player software? Would that work?


                The Converters.tv card that I chose is a purely hardware solution that:

                1. Does not need drivers. Can be made to work with laptops, Macs, Linux, XP, Vista, win. 98, whatever you want that outputs VGA signals.

                2. It is a converter/scaler, it is not simply an interface adapter. It does convert VGA 60Hz to CGA/RGBs 15.750Hz. No sync issues, that is a BIG thing for me. I hope (and only hope) that I could make it work at an acceptable resolution (assuming PowerStrip will then be useless in this setup).

                3. Converts from VGA (640 x 480) ,SVGA (800 x 600) and XGA (1024 x 768) to RGBs 15KHz (typically 250-320 lines max) and also SVIDEO NTSC/PAL.

                4. It is CONFIRMED to work with Ford NAV screens, according to the e-mails exchanged above with tech support. Does not mean it looks good, though...

                4. Did I mention it does NOT need drivers?

                On the downside, it does not look as flexible as the ArcadeCard or the ATI+PowerStrip solution you ended up adopting. These can pretty much chose whatever resolution you want, apparently. On the other hand, I have no idea what resolution my Stock Nav Screen is, and I have no idea how the VGA to CGA converter image will look like when plugged.
                Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
                Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

                07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

                Comment


                • #9
                  The RNS-E is the double DIN Radio Navigation System used in the Audi A3/A4/TT/R8. It's an all-in-one device with the option to connect to several external devices, one of them being a TV tuner that gets connected via RGBS to the head unit. In TV mode it supports a few resolutions, most of them a variation of a PAL/NTSC RGBS signal. The native resolution of the display is 400x234 but I haven't been able to find the settings with PowerStrip that gets me to this size. The closest I could get is 512x288 with no overscan. 720x540 and 720x576 display fine as well but are not wide screen. I also got something like 940x533 to display properly, wide screen but too small to read anything.

                  In any case, it doesn't really matter because the internal circuit boards convert whatever supported RGBS signal is connected to the TV port to something the LCD can display. Luckily my screen doesn't blank if it doesn't like the resolution or refresh rate and it didn't die so far from high frequencies. I suppose that all the head units that support RGBS work in a similar way and once we find a device that supports one model, other models might be easier to support as well.

                  Regarding the ArcadeVGA, the same reasons that you mentioned caused me to no look into this further so far. While this video card sounds promising I have yet to find someone that uses that card in a CarPC application.

                  I like the converter you found because it seems to power on when you connect 5V (one of the issues I ran into with the Grandtec). I'm very interested to see how satisfied you are with the picture quality, especially when displaying high contrast items like white text on black background or grey areas. I'm also interested whether or not it is possible to use resoltuions that are not officially supported by the converter. With the Grandtec I get only a scrambled picture if I select anything but 640x480, 800x600 or 1024x768 - even though I was able to set other resolutions through PowerStrip. Ideally they would add something like 800x480 to the list of resolutions their adapter supports, that way it would almost be perfect if it works with a good picture quality (to be confirmed).

                  I did some more research and found some new developments for the Intel platform. It looks like recent embedded graphics adapters are very well capable of displaying custom resolutions. There are a couple of posts on the AVS forum on how to connect an Intel box to a big screen TV using a custom resolution. While this doesn't help us right away, the methods used may allow us to create a custom resolution for our nav screens as well. 800x480 seems to be a popular wide screen resolution that many CarPC front ends support and if it is possible to find a workign modeline with PowerStrip and an ATI/NVidia adapter, that modeline may help to get the DTD for an Intel adapter. And while not being the native resolution, it may actually look good enough (or at least better than an external converter box). I haven't had the time to try this out, maybe someone here has one of the boards that are supported and can give it a try: Link1, Link2

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Update: I made an inquiry about the lack of widescreen resolutions to the Converters.tv tech support and that was the answer I got, below:

                    Hi xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx,

                    I think its best to receive the converter and recheck what is possible as its very hard to predict what will happen once all connected.
                    My thoughts are that the picture will display fine, but possibly with scaling.
                    Kind Regards

                    Hopefully everything will work fine.

                    Steve
                    *********** REPLY SEPARATOR ***********

                    On 2/01/2008 at 8:10 AM XXXXXXX wrote:

                    >Hummm, now that somebody else brought up the issue, I realize that my
                    >car screen looks like it is widescreen (...) If I
                    >select 800 x 480 in my computer (or any other 16:9 resolution), what is
                    >going to happen? No image at all, or some scaling, or just stretching?
                    Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
                    Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

                    07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by audia4b6us View Post
                      The native resolution of the display is 400x234 but I haven't been able to find the settings with PowerStrip that gets me to this size. The closest I could get is 512x288 with no overscan. 720x540 and 720x576 display fine as well but are not wide screen. I also got something like 940x533 to display properly, wide screen but too small to read anything.
                      Impressive range of resolutions. All this with the ATI and Powerstrip? ATI graphics are impressive really. The Arcade one is based on an old ATI chip, that can be downclocked to 15Hz horizontal refresh rate. Can you reach 15Hz too?

                      Luckily my screen doesn't blank if it doesn't like the resolution or refresh rate and it didn't die so far from high frequencies. I suppose that all the head units that support RGBS work in a similar way and once we find a device that supports one model, other models might be easier to support as well.
                      Well, I am not that confident. I was pretty scared of using powertrip and fry my $1400 listed stock nav screen.

                      I like the converter you found because it seems to power on when you connect 5V (one of the issues I ran into with the Grandtec). I'm very interested to see how satisfied you are with the picture quality, especially when displaying high contrast items like white text on black background or grey areas. I'm also interested whether or not it is possible to use resoltuions that are not officially supported by the converter.
                      I'll make sure I'll test everything we can throw at it. I hope that this experiment can be useful to others as well, it would be a shame to see it work and simply abandon this thread. It's not gonna happen.

                      Ideally they would add something like 800x480 to the list of resolutions their adapter supports, that way it would almost be perfect if it works with a good picture quality (to be confirmed).
                      I'll suggest that to them after I test my unit.

                      I did some more research and found some new developments for the Intel platform. It looks like recent embedded graphics adapters are very well capable of displaying custom resolutions. There are a couple of posts on the AVS forum on how to connect an Intel box to a big screen TV using a custom resolution. While this doesn't help us right away, the methods used may allow us to create a custom resolution for our nav screens as well. 800x480 seems to be a popular wide screen resolution that many CarPC front ends support and if it is possible to find a workign modeline with PowerStrip and an ATI/NVidia adapter, that modeline may help to get the DTD for an Intel adapter. And while not being the native resolution, it may actually look good enough (or at least better than an external converter box). I haven't had the time to try this out, maybe someone here has one of the boards that are supported and can give it a try: Link1, Link2
                      I'll look closer to this later, but I have used a similar technique of modifying the .inf file with the Monitor ID information used by the videocard driver (check this for an example). I once upgraded the Vista driver for an 8800 Nvidia card, saw that it lacked support to 1080p to display the computer on my tv, so I had to resort to this technique. It worked, but in our case it would depend on the ability of the card to downgrade its internal clock to reach 15Hz, I believe. I'm pretty sure Nvidia card won't do it. Ati does do it, as you appear to prove, and there's the Arcade card too.

                      Now would the intel do it? I've seen only 50Hz and above in the discussions you linked.
                      Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
                      Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

                      07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well, the thing has arrived!

                        Can't wait to test it, maybe tomorrow. It needs 5v, so I just bought a DC-DC 5v adaptor at Fry's. I'm also using an old Velleman DC-DC converter that says it has regulator capabilities (also bought at Fry's), but who knows?

                        I going to connect it to an old Notebook, Compaq Armada M700, a Pentium III 700 MHz running Windows XP, and ATI graphics. Just updated the bios, graphic drivers, etc. Can't choose many resolutions with that thing, starting at 640x480 @ 60Hz and beyond. Also installed Roadrunner on it, with some skins, just to test the colors and fonts besides the desktop, and the web browser's. I'm also going to download some display calibration tests online, hope this will help me with the display control in the converter and in the driver (tint, brightness, sharpness, I don't know)

                        I'll keep you posted. I'll probably open an worklog for my carputer project later.

                        This will be my first carputer, let's see how it goes.
                        Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
                        Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

                        07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

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                        • #13
                          Some Pictures:

                          Box Contents: Circuit board (no cover, can't use it like this inside the dash), 5v power cable, CGA RGB+sync+2 Ground wires.


                          Plugged box contents in open circuit board plastic box (with Notebook VGA cable attached). Hope I can fit this somewhere inside the dash, to keep the video cables short. I couldn't find a smaller box, but with this one I think I can use double side tape to fix the relay on it.



                          Circuit box closed:


                          I plan to leave both ends of the box open, for air circulation, since there is a heatsink covering the main chip, it probably needs openings to avoid dead air. Since hot air goes up, two openings will do the trick.

                          Now I'm working on powering up all this. I'm working on it, I'll have to buy a couple of relays for the notebook and the 5vdc adaptors, otherwise they will drain my battery...An then to find IGN wires on the car. Tomorrow I'll probably just hook everything to the cig lighter though.
                          Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
                          Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

                          07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Can't you use USB as 5V power source? Just an idea.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Well, I couldn't wait for your test results and ordered one of those as well. Unfortunately the result is not as great even though the picture was pretty good actually. But in all three supported resolutions I have a black frame and overscan doesn't work. It was possible to move the visible area a little but since there is no horizontal/vertical resizing I was unable to fill the whole screen. Was worth a try though.

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