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Thread: CarPC AM/FM radio options

  1. #1
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    CarPC AM/FM radio options

    This question always seems to come up, and there are still no real answers. Searching will find a lot of reading that always comes to the same conclusion:

    There is no device that is perfect for getting AM/FM working on a CarPC.

    So here's a bit of a summary. I'm sure I've missed some points, but feel free to pipe in..

    The best solution so far is satellite radio like XM or Sirius. Not so useful for those living in countries where this is not available - we need an old fashioned radio-wave signal.

    The holy grail is this home-baked solution primarily from mp3car members rando, seth, antimatter racemier. There have been a couple of working prototypes made, but low volume parts purchase is the major stumbling block.
    HU Quality AM/FM RDS/RBDS Radio with Features

    Then there are a few USB or PCI based Radio/TV cards available, most of which are FM only. Major problems with all of these devices are their inability to hold a signal whilst on the move, or lack of software control via APIs for integration into front-ends:

    D-Link DRU-R100: has been around for a while, and reception is generally thought to be rather poor. It is also no longer in production, but does occasionally show up on ebay or rebadged by other vendors. Software control via Radiator (http://flesko.cz/radiator.htm)

    Griffin RadioShark: One of the few devices which includes an AM tuner. Some people are having success with this device, again with mixed reception reports. The packaged software is extremely poor for integration into a front-end, and although a WinSDK has been promised, there has been no word on it for close to a year.

    Hauppauge WinTV: Good software options for these cards and USB devices for both FM and TV, but once again YMMV with reception.

    Winradio WR-1550e (or WR-1550i): Excellent receiver well suited to mobile application, comprehensive and documented SDK as well as feature packed factory software, RS-232, USB or PCMCIA interface to PC. Also has a frequency range of 150KHz to 1.5GHz, covering not only AM/FM but also UHF/VHF, AM CB, UHF CB, emergency bands, shortwave, commercial bands, etc etc. Only two problems are that it is mono only, and the price point is around US$600

    I know I haven't included all options, but at least its a start..

  2. #2
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    GNU Radio?

    One of the things that caught my eye recently was the GNU Radio project:

    http://www.gnu.org/software/gnuradio/


    One of its main ideas is that with a moderately fast PC, you can do AM/FM/etc signal processing in software across a large radio frequency spectrum.


    They have a hardware device comparable in scale to the WinRadio here, at about the same price point, about $625 USD for the board and a receiver module:

    http://comsec.com/wiki?UniversalSoftwareRadioPeripheral


    The board uses USB 2.0, and does the Analog to Digital conversion across the USB bus - ie, DIGITAL SOUND, straight into the PC, to be manipulated however you'd like with software.


    Pros and Cons:

    Pros:
    • The hardware device is software programmable, and can handle most of the math-intensive processing operations on the board.
    • You're not limited by the hardware - if you wanted to add a feature like RDS decoding, just write the software.

    Cons:
    • The Gnu Radio software currently only runs under Linux, but there are Windows and Mac ports in process.
    • The hardware device does not (yet) support Windows or Mac.. someone would have to write drivers or code.
    • Most of the current Gnu Radio software is geared towards basic radio frequency analysis, kind of line oscilloscopes or frequency meters. A TiVo Radio like feature is possible, but someone would have to write it. Same goes for a typical "Car Stereo" type front-end.
    • Software signal processing still requires a moderately fast CPU - a Pentium M or Pentium 4 would probably work well, but a lower-end Epia board probably wouldn't do the job.


    The thing that really caught my eye was that once you made the investment in the hardware, the rest of the features are software, and can be updated over time.

    All the software, schematics, and diagrams are open source.

  3. #3
    lez
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    you did say $625 for a piece of hardware that needs software from opensource ?

    I was worried about starting a thread using $100 of prebuilt functional hardware because I didnt think it would get enough interest at that price to allow an interface and control software to be developed, although a 16 port io could run it.
    Lez, more widely known as flez1966

  4. #4
    Variable Bitrate lerandell's Avatar
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    dont forget the little FM Radio Mouse piece of crap. It works with radiator, when it wants to.
    anyone want to buy mine?
    Randell Kelly

  5. #5
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    Try a Reveal Radio Card if you can find one, it gets really good reception in my area with my car antenna. It's an old ISA card that works with Radiator.

    https://secure.reg.net/product.asp?id=792

  6. #6

  7. #7
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    Radio!

    In arragement with Rando/Seth/... I can present my Radio:

    I have hacked/am hacking a Grundig R 100 CarStereo - it is technically equal to the Opel CAR200 (Opel is a GM trademark in Europe) the Opel was built in several models: Astra and Corsa (,...) around 1995 until 1999.
    The reception of the Grundig is very good but It doesn't have a cassette nor a cdplayer (i am sure this doesn't matter ).

    It offers FM, MW (is that interesting in the US?) and LW.
    To control the Radio I have to replace the f*** NEC Processor with an Atmel and a PLL. Look at my Visio drawings *...

    Does the radio work in the US ?
    - the frequncy can be tuned easily from 60-120Mhz
    - the RDS decoder also works with RDBS (certainly i can't test this )

    I have manged to get the PLL running and now I am just working at the RDS preprocessing stage ...

    What about software-support:
    I have developed a Hardware-Abstraction-Layer which works for ALL RADIOS (yes also for Rando/Seth's...) especially for Frontends.
    (to get the drivers out of the frontends which makes me - are printerdrivers in MS Office ???)
    More information here:
    FMRadioHAL
    (i will soon present my HAL into the Developers Corner...)

    You ask me "damm are you stupid ? - where should we get your Grundig ?"
    Easy I think just buy from me !
    I will sell a PCB DIY Kit WITH Radio for around 50-120 Euros without shipping (!).
    I can also assemble it for a fee.

    Currently I am getting "cold feet" with my Grundig source and I am planning to order an amount to prevent that they run out of stock (Radios are from Bankruptcy) - I will buy an AMOUNT of them THIS week.

    So i need your interests (not orders ) NOW !
    (and this is the reason why i post here)
    ---------------------------------------------

    *=Translations (i am too lazy to redesign the Visio):
    Feldstärke: Fieldstrength of current station
    Tasten: Keys
    "Brei" is what Babys eat (this D17003 suxx to combine a CPU and a PLL: IDIOTS!)
    Meine Platine: my PCB which has to be placed (with screws) inside the radio
    Mono erzwingen: Force MONO
    Attached Images Attached Images     

  8. #8
    Constant Bitrate Putput's Avatar
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    Alternative for FM/RDS receiver chip

    A solution for those people who are only interested in FM receiver and RDS/RDBS:
    http://www.silabs.com/tgwWebApp/publ.../Si4700-01.htm
    Its a simple one-chip solution that only needs an external clock and 2 or 3 other components, an evaluation kit is available for 150$. Nothing mentioned about using this chip in cars though.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Putput
    A solution for those people who are only interested in FM receiver and RDS/RDBS:
    http://www.silabs.com/tgwWebApp/publ.../Si4700-01.htm
    Its a simple one-chip solution that only needs an external clock and 2 or 3 other components, an evaluation kit is available for 150$. Nothing mentioned about using this chip in cars though.
    Nice... the chip itself is only 4mm square, which would make it near-impossible for hand-soldering to a board.

    Where did you see that eval kit for sale? Got a link?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giuliano
    One of the things that caught my eye recently was the GNU Radio project:

    http://www.gnu.org/software/gnuradio/
    ...


    WOOOOOWWW !!!!!
    THIS IS THE WAY TO GO !!!
    (and if you are using the right hardware it should be affordable)

    Do you know the Blaupunkt Name for it ?
    "Digiceiver" !

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