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  • New Mac Front-End (in progress): AstraMac

    Hi there.

    I've just started building a Mac carputer. Seeing as I have a Vauxhall Astra and a Mac... the project is called 'AstraMac'. I know, aren't I a creative genius?

    Anyway, I'm programming my own front end for it, and I thought you'd like to see what sort of thing I'm doing and maybe have some input towards it.

    Ok, here is a basic screenshot of where I am so far. The buttons along the bottom will be better when I bother designing them. Also, the look is fairly plain, but I'm designing this look first (Skin will be called 'Plain') as it's easier to work with simple looks to begin with.

    Remember: This is very very early in developement. Stuff *will* change!



    The main bit displayed is the 'iPod' section of the Audio tab. Press the scan button, the iPod's playlists appear in the left list box.

    Other audio sections:
    • Radio - Uses the radioSHARK program with a cutom skin to fit the look + feel of AstraMac.
    • CD - Plays a CD.
    • Library - Views and plays the Audio library on the computer's hard drive.
    • iPod - Play music from connected iPod(s).
    • Aux In - Play from the computer's sound input.
    • Audio Settings - Adjust Bass, Treble, Balance, etc.

    Also, the tabs down the side let you get to different things:
    • Audio - see above.
    • DVD - play inserted DVD disc (using DVD Player) or DVDs saved onto the machine.
    • Network - Stuff related to networking and internet - connecting to wireless networks, bluetooth phones, etc etc.
    • Advanced - Quit/Hide the front-end, other programs, etc.
    • System Setup - Themes, fonts, other general (but basic) settings.

    At the moment, audio playback will not be using iTunes. iTunes tends to muck about with iPods when you connect them, and will be a pain in the arse to deal with. I can easily make my own player that plays all iTunes supported formats and has it's own visualisations if wanted. The music library will use a database in it's own format, but I'll write a program that makes an AstraMac music library from an iPod/iTunes/Windows Media Player library.

    Support Programs

    AstraMac will interface with the following:
    • DVD Player - Playing DVDs and saved DVDs.
    • radioSHARK - for FM radio.

    In addition to this, there will be a program called "AstraMac Companion". You will be able to install it on the carputer itself or any other machine that has network access to AstraMac. It'll let you manage music libraries, do advanced configuration, install skins, perform program updates and so on.

    I welcome any ideas/feedback!
    AstraMac

    Power a Mac mini from 12v: Here
    Front end status: Here

  • #2
    Looks great,

    Do you allready use/have the radioshark? Does it work in a car?


    Som idea's:
    GPS
    How about GPS use for registrating business or private trips. Simply by pushing a private/business and start/stop button. Then it should record the date/time/distance (travellog) and should be able to export is to an excel compatible file (with your AstraMac Companion).

    Phone
    How about using it for calling and receiving in combination with a Bluetooth phone ans addressbook. (mayeby with BluePhoneElite) There will be a possibility in OS 10.4 for speaking and listening phone calls through your Mac. This would make a great handsfree kit.

    Comment


    • #3
      if a mac would work properly with phone integreation/handsfree kit i would definatly consider changing, i'm sick of windows sucking as a handsfree
      Signature: [==||========] 20% complete

      Comment


      • #4
        hey im willing to work on a skin or 2 for you...


        and when will the first beta come out? let us know okay? this is exactly what im looking for for my truck.

        Comment


        • #5
          Umm... beta/alpha will be... soon. 1-3 weeks. Ish.

          It'll need QuickTime installed to work, and will be Mac only. Which means QuickTime will be installed anyway... Well, you get my drift.

          It's designed to run on a 800x480 screen - as I'm primarily writing this for myself (sorry!) it'll stay that way until most/all functionality is there and I can use it in my car... Then I'll work on making is customisable for different setups.
          AstraMac

          Power a Mac mini from 12v: Here
          Front end status: Here

          Comment


          • #6
            That looks very nice. I'm interested. I've got a post on what I'm doing to install an iICE system in my '04 Nissan Titan. "iTitan" to be creative. Here is the link to give you an idea of what I would like to do.
            http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=43161

            Nissan charges up wards of 4k for the DVD player, GPS navigation, and satellite radio option for this truck. So far I've got less than 1400 invested in a Mac Mini (w/512mb, bluetooth, and Airport), Holux GR-231 gps, XMDirect PCR, Lilliput 809gl-80np, and Maxtor 7200rpm 250gb 16mb buffer HD with external enclosure firewire capable.

            My goal is to set up the system to run Itunes, DVD's, XM satellite radio, and GPS navigation.

            Comment


            • #7
              I too am interested. I am trying to interface a Powerbook Pismo to my Zafira equipment (steering controls, opel radio DCR500, opel display) and am gathering all hardware & interface info. Found controls diagram, display interface and radio pinout but still lack DCR500 internal schematics....seems a mission impossible.
              My target would be to build a PIC interface between car controls & display and a USB port of the Mac.
              About your interface:
              1) I would consider making it function compatible with (six ?) steering controls.
              2) The Mac can drive only 1 stereo sound. How are you planning to drive 4 speakers?
              Greetings from Italy. Ciao Andrea

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by andreaB
                ....

                About your interface:
                1) I would consider making it function compatible with (six ?) steering controls.
                2) The Mac can drive only 1 stereo sound. How are you planning to drive 4 speakers?
                1) That's the plan! I'm assuming that since there's only one wire coming in to the stereo for the steering controls the signal is just a different variation of voltage and/or current for each button. If this is the case, it should be fairly easy to wire this up to an A/D convertor for reading by the computer. One way to do this is to take a USB gamepad apart and wire the wire (with resistor, if needed) to one of the analog stick's axis sensors. Then you can read the value via the standard OS X gamepad/HID APIs. If it's not a simple voltage/current fluctuation, then... well, I dunno.

                2) I have installed a 4 channel amplifier into my car (along with new speakers) which has two stereo phono inputs (front and rear).

                There are two ways of doing this:

                a) Simple: Just split the left and right audio signals and connect the (now) two lefts and rights into front left + right and rear left + right.

                b) Complex: Get an extra USB sound output interface and figure out how to send the same sound stream out of two interfaces at the same time. Maybe playing any mp3s or whatever twice at the same time, feeding each one out of a different audio interface. This way you can control fading and so on.

                B) is the preferred method, which I'll work on implementing. If not, simple splitters it is!

                I do like your idea about outputting to the screen, but haven't a clue on how to even start approaching it!
                AstraMac

                Power a Mac mini from 12v: Here
                Front end status: Here

                Comment


                • #9
                  5 spkrs

                  Hmmm... how 'bout 5.1 ?

                  http://www.griffintechnology.com/pro...wave/index.php

                  Hope this helps :-)
                  __________
                  rgds, raceer

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by iKenndac
                    1) That's the plan! I'm assuming that since there's only one wire coming in to the stereo for the steering controls the signal is just a different variation of voltage and/or current for each button. If this is the case, it should be fairly easy to wire this up to an A/D convertor for reading by the computer. One way to do this is to take a USB gamepad apart and wire the wire (with resistor, if needed) to one of the analog stick's axis sensors. Then you can read the value via the standard OS X gamepad/HID APIs. If it's not a simple voltage/current fluctuation, then... well, I dunno.
                    The controls work short-circuiting some resistors. So at the end of the chain (2 wires) you will have different total resistors for different buttons. If you don't have the original Opel radio installed, you can use any circuit you like. If you have the original radio (like me) it's more difficult because I wish to detect the buttons to use them for additional commands (say selecting some iPod mp3s) while retaining the original command.
                    Your idea of modified USB mouse if very good. Perhaps adding a buffer operational circuit in the front will make the job.

                    Originally posted by iKenndac
                    I do like your idea about outputting to the screen, but haven't a clue on how to even start approaching it!
                    I found a couple of internet references (in german) with a description of Opel-Vauhxall Display protocol. It's a custom 3 wire serial protocol, but i don't think it could be easy to drive the protocol directly by the Mac. I think that a USB-RS232 converter could be used and then develop a small PIC circuit that could take care of 1) detect steering controls and 2) write a line to the Opel display.
                    I got today a USB-Rs232 OSX compatible converter and plan to start playing with it and with a Pic protoboard in the next weeks.
                    If you are interested I will be glad to share the results. The biggest problem at the moment is that I don't wish to disassemble the original display (I can easily replicate the steering controls), so I am trying to find a spare one, without purchase it. Or make all development in the car. But today we had around -5 degrees outside........
                    Ciao Andrea

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by iKenndac

                      In addition to this, there will be a program called "AstraMac Companion". You will be able to install it on the carputer itself or any other machine that has network access to AstraMac. It'll let you manage music libraries, do advanced configuration, install skins, perform program updates and so on.

                      I welcome any ideas/feedback!
                      Makes me wishI was a Mac lover, because this is great! I mentioned it to the MMC guys and their answer was their system just automatically rips yur CD's when you load one.... That isn't a solution! What about the music on my PC? and who wants to have to spend all their time in their car to manage their music...

                      Glad someone else sees things my way...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Nic
                        if a mac would work properly with phone integreation/handsfree kit i would definatly consider changing, i'm sick of windows sucking as a handsfree
                        OS X 10.4 (Tiger)
                        Chrysler 300 - Fabricating
                        http://hallert.net/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Request for Vauxhall pin-out, display, steering wheel remote details

                          I found a couple of internet references (in german) with a description of Opel-Vauhxall Display protocol. It's a custom 3 wire serial protocol, but i don't think it could be easy to drive the protocol directly by the Mac. I think that a USB-RS232 converter could be used and then develop a small PIC circuit that could take care of 1) detect steering controls and 2) write a line to the Opel display.
                          I got today a USB-Rs232 OSX compatible converter and plan to start playing with it and with a Pic protoboard in the next weeks.
                          If you are interested I will be glad to share the results. The biggest problem at the moment is that I don't wish to disassemble the original display (I can easily replicate the steering controls), so I am trying to find a spare one, without purchase it. Or make all development in the car. But today we had around -5 degrees outside........
                          Ciao Andrea
                          Andrea,
                          You mentioned that you've found some info on display interface, radio pinout, etc(QUOTE "Found controls diagram, display interface and radio pinout but still lack DCR500 internal schematics"). Do you think you can email them to me? -> [email protected]
                          Btw how's ur project going in interfacing Mac to Opel display? Do you know the differences between your Zafira and my Astra '04? I think they should be quite similar.

                          Thanks,
                          Jeff

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            looks great mate, im sure later on you will add some great features, and just wondering, i dont suppose you could add a optional button that goes to VPC (only for GPS) cheers mate.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Is this workable and is it able to ever be shared amongst other Mac users?
                              The Car:
                              2003 Nissan Pathfinder
                              4x4, MacMini, In-Dash


                              Part of the following Forums:
                              audiforums.com - afruss2007
                              theaudiroom.com - airforceruss
                              mp3car.com - airforceruss
                              r6-forum.com - airforceruss

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