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  • iPod-based Car PC

    I was thinking of setting up a car PC in my car for a while, but I sort of like the factory-look of my radio (Symphonic II) and I already have an iPod interface as well as iPod touch. While I really want the GPS functionality, and a bit more gadgets than my iPod, I don't want another screen in my car. I have also fallen in love with the iPhone-like interface of my iPod, which would probably be quite time consuming to write myself for a car pc (I program as a hobby). I came up with a slightly different idea of a car pc.


    I want to build a very low-power Linux box with WiFi inside my car that would run no GUI, and have no display. The box would be hidden in my car so I wouldn't have to see it. I plan to run the following on the box:

    -A GPS Positioning System to know my current coordinates
    -A map/road application that uses preloaded data from openstreetmap.org (this will be the trickiest part)
    -An algorithm for planning a route
    -A web-app for displaying the data and GPS controls
    -A web server such that the iPod can access GPS functionality using safari browser
    -An ssh server so that I can log in from my iPod/laptop for admin settings and maintenance
    -An ad-hoc WiFi for my iPod to connect to
    -A tiny backup battery (doesn't have to run more than a few mins) and a script to automatically poweroff the device upon car poweroff.


    I was considering trying to find some MiniITX board with Atom processor and integrated WiFi, then slapping on an SSD, memory, and some DC-DC converter. The reason I want low-power is because I'm already keeping my radio and iPod in the car, and I don't want the car battery to die. I also know that WiFi can use quite a bit of power, that's why I want to minimize its range to just a few feet if possible and set the PC to turn on/off with car ignition (I would obviously need something that boots up in seconds). Please tell me what you guys think, from the software point of view this idea seems plausible to me. I haven't worked with low-power devices, however, so I don't know how crazy this idea is from a hardware perspective. I have no idea which parts would be best, how much power draw I'm looking at, or even how much power draw my car can tolerate. Thanks.

  • #2
    There are plug-in options for the iPod that will add GPS to it. Also, xGPS will provide you not only with turn-by-turn directions on the iPod, it can use those GPS devices and you can download maps to your iPod for various areas, negating the requirement for a constant connection.

    The main issue is to get a routing when you are out of WiFi range.



    Originally posted by ghettocruzer
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

    Comment


    • #3
      When connected using WiFi, however, the apps get your location using your IP address. If I'm using a local WiFi (car->iPod), the IP address technically doesn't give me any useful info. Maybe I can just tell the server to pretend like it's connected to the internet, and reply to IP-based location request from iPod using GPS data. Btw, I can't seem to find the app you suggested in the app store. As far as plug-in options, I've done some research in the past, it seems a company came up with a solution and presented a prototype, but never went to mass-produce it.

      Comment


      • #4
        xgps is in Cydia thus your ipot has to be jailbroken.

        Also if you upgrade to the iphone 3g it has an actual gps reciever (or so I'm told). I'm currently using my iphone 2g and the xgps works ok on the edge network but it can be a li'l slow.

        Comment


        • #5
          $90 - igpsd

          Originally posted by ghettocruzer
          I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
          Want to:
          -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
          -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

          Comment


          • #6
            The problem with that solution is that it leaves my iPod with an additional brick at the bottom, preventing me from docking it in the cradle I already have, taking away both my ability to recharge the iPod and to listen the songs on my iPod using the interface I already have. The GPS solution I mentioned was a WiFi device that didn't interfere with my current iPod functionality (locoGPS have created a device like this and promised to start selling it, but have not updated their site in over half a year). If this solution at least included an additional iPod connector, forwarding iPod signal to the dock, it would be useable. I don't mean to be difficult, but I want a GPS functionality in addition to music, not instead. If there is a solution that already solves that, I don't mind using that. If not, I want to create my own as outlined in initial post.

            Comment


            • #7
              You're not being difficult - it's just that you said you wanted to connect to a WiFi server but all you listed for functionality was GPS.

              I agree 100% that this is the right way to go. An app on the iPhone that interacts with the server in the car is the way to connect the iPhone to the outside world.
              Originally posted by ghettocruzer
              I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
              Want to:
              -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
              -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

              Comment


              • #8
                After some more research, I found a compact module named iGPS360 that connects to the iPod and has additional USB connection on the bottom. It still doesn't integrate with my current iPod interface, but it might be cheaper/easier to buy new iPod interface + GPS attachment than building a CarPC, as long as the new interface supports USB devices. The only thing I'm wondering about, if I connect the iPod interface to my iPod using USB, will it still allow me to switch songs/playlists using my steering wheel controls?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Also, like you said, I haven't mentioned the full uses of my carPC, so here are the other features that I eventually want. These features are not mandatory, but would be neat to have:

                  -Monitor Car Statistics (Rev + ODBII hardware already handles this with just iPod and $350 of HW+SW)
                  -Distance sensors (this is like parking sensors but I want higher range, that way I can tell if there is something in my blindspot without glancing over, also I don't like current solutions since they consist of ugly pins on the outside of my car -this might actually require some sort of car PC or maybe fusion brain with wifi)
                  -Voice recognition so that I can send commands to my iPod/GPS without having to look at it, for example switching a song or changing GPS destination (my iPod Touch 2G supports external microphone connection, so technically all I need is voice recognition software and a filter to cancel out the song currently played through the iPod from being recorded)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Iphone OBD-II

                    Originally posted by R3N3G4D3 View Post
                    -Monitor Car Statistics (Rev + ODBII hardware already handles this with just iPod and $350 of HW+SW)
                    Here are some links to the above hardware:

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The no-PC solution Bugbyte recommended is starting to look possible. It will, however, require me to jailbreak my iPod and write a few applications for it myself (I'm hoping iPod will have the processing power to handle this). I would also have to remove the iPod interface I already bought.

                      Radio to PC interface (allowing me to use my steering wheel controls and radio buttons) ($80): http://indashpc.org/new/adapters/car2pc-vag.html
                      GPS module (adding GPS to iPod and interfacing with the PC interface) ($75): https://www.orangegadgets.com/shop/p...77263bab2aea1a
                      kiwiwifi module (for ODB-II data) ($150): http://www.kiwiwifi.com/buynow.html
                      Rev iPod app (for showing ODB-II data) ($50): Apple Store

                      The result is that for $355 (not including the price of my iPod Touch) I can get GPS, WiFi, music, movies (iPod-compatible format), and ODB-II data in my car. I will also have to buy a new iPod mount since my current one is attached to my iPod interface. My guess is that even a basic CarPC with no monitor (as described in post 1) will cost me more than that to build.

                      The catch is that I will probably have to write an app for my iPod to communicate with the Radio2PC interface, since they're both expecting to be connected to a computer.

                      Still not covered by this solution:
                      Parking Sensor integration (I might have to build a small board with a WiFi transmitter to send the data to iPod)
                      Voice Recognition (microphone easily interfaces with iPod Touch 2G using headphone jack, the tricky part is software that's also not resource intensive)

                      Possible problems/risks:
                      Too many apps running at once on iPod, resource intensive, it might not handle it (parking sensors, voice recognition, GPS -I'm assuming GPS/music/Rev will be mutually exclusive)
                      Car2PC might not talk to iPod correctly even after it's jailbroken
                      Jailbroken iPod might crash when running store-bought iPod apps (Rev)

                      Feedback is appreciated.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        It seems that my idea might not work. After sending an email to iGPS360 iPod module creator asking him if all of USB data between iPod and whatever is plugged in gets forwarded through the GPS, his reply was that that's not the case, since the module doesn't use USB. This answer seems weird to me, why wouldn't the module still be able to forward the USB data through itself even if it doesn't use it, but the creator probably knows his design better than I do. He did say that the USB connector can be used to charge both the iPod and the GPS. If that's really the case, I will have to build some sort of a carPC. But instead of adding WiFi to it, it might make more sense to remove the current iPod interface, replacing it with PC interface and connecting the PC to iPod using serial connector directly.

                        So my questions are:
                        1.) Do I still need 3rd party ODB-II module or can I just connect my carPC to my car's ODB-II connector using serial port and forward this data to my iPod?
                        2.) Is there ODB-II software for Linux or would I still need to run the ODB-II app on my iPod?
                        3.) If I have to build a carPC anyway, I might as well buy cheaper GPS antenna for it than one for my iPod. Are all antennas the same in terms of reception or are there ones that I should stay away from?

                        Thanks

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          So, how about using an inexpensive device like this: Sheeva plug.





                          It's a low cost linux embedded device based on an open source design and implementation.

                          I've got an old router just laying around that I can plug into this thing to put it on a network in the car. Then, you'd need to put apps on the Sheeva plug to serve this stuff up to the iPod. Perhaps it is possible to build an app that runs using Backgrounder on the iPhone and makes GPS data available, along with other info like XM or whatever.

                          The app you would write for the iPod would be the basic front end that helps your iPod communicate with the outside world.
                          Originally posted by ghettocruzer
                          I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
                          Want to:
                          -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
                          -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

                          Comment

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