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Thread: FM/DAB digital radio - THAT WORKS!!

  1. #971
    Constant Bitrate
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    Jun 2006
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    188
    some sony radios (eg.XDRS55) have shorter pin venice modules, they won't fit into craig's board without changing the pins to longer ones or a ribbon cable of some description.
    The epitome of Function over form and is probably the best Car PC in Europe.
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  2. #972
    Constant Bitrate HoSS's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
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    201

    Oobe

    I feel the need to post my Out Of Box Experience with this unit (as supplied by CB)
    It's not intended to be particularly attacking anyone, but i think its important to summarize the current status.

    Quality of hardware.
    -Upon reception, the (lack of) quality of the production was apparent. The PCB soldering was awful, dry joints and blobs of solder, broken pads & tracks in 3 places.
    -The USB board is not securely fixed (poor for automotive env).
    -The Venice board was mounted at an angle putting stress on the connector.

    I had to resolder virtually all of the joints, and found a break in the 3.3v that had been missed. This unit would not have worked OOTB, and therefore cannot have been tested before shipping.

    -Immediately I plugged the unit into my CPC it crashed the USB (lost all other USB devices), I tried it on my Desktop and it was recognised.

    I found the info regarding the port power and flashed it. But it still crashes the CPC USB if plugged in. The only way to make it work is to have it connected before powering up the CPC.
    This problem is due to bad design (as others have pointed out) The overly large capacitors are causing this. It is a violation of the USB spec. Caps of this size are totally unnecessary. The power section can be redesigned with correct layout & smaller caps, it has clearly been designed & layed-out by someone with very little training or experience. Indeed this unit should really be separately powered (not bus-powered). I am going to throw away this motherboard and redesign it with external power & correct layout.

    -PC software does not run. It shows an error. Latest info is that 'it will be fixed soon...'

    -Centrafuse plugin does not run (for me at least). I get as far as selecting the port (and manually setting it to 115200 as read here) but the plugin appears to do nothing, no buttons show any response, the AM/FM stays showing just that 'DAB/FM'

    I therefore have no way to test the unit. I saw reference to a 'test program' by CB, it would be a good idea to post this i think mate.

    In short, really not worth what i payed. And not ready to be called a marketable product.
    It beats me why centrafuse have endorsed this.

    I will expect a flame from the supplier. But others can take this as the objective analysis by a professional electronics engineer with over 25 years experience in the industry.

  3. #973
    Variable Bitrate
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    268
    -Upon reception, the (lack of) quality of the production was apparent. The PCB soldering was awful, dry joints and blobs of solder, broken pads & tracks in 3 places.
    All new units are batch produced so this problem won't happen in the future. All new orders will go out with the new board.

    The USB board is not securely fixed (poor for automotive env).
    This is no longer used on the new board so again solved.

    The Venice board was mounted at an angle putting stress on the connector.
    That is a mistake and can't happen on the new board.

    I had to resolder virtually all of the joints, and found a break in the 3.3v that had been missed. This unit would not have worked OOTB, and therefore cannot have been tested before shipping.
    All units are tested and the Venice chip reset before sending. Only things I can think of is a broken joint due to it being cold during transit. Either that or it was knocked about in transit.

    Immediately I plugged the unit into my CPC it crashed the USB (lost all other USB devices), I tried it on my Desktop and it was recognised.

    I found the info regarding the port power and flashed it. But it still crashes the CPC USB if plugged in. The only way to make it work is to have it connected before powering up the CPC.
    This problem is due to bad design (as others have pointed out) The overly large capacitors are causing this. It is a violation of the USB spec. Caps of this size are totally unnecessary. The power section can be redesigned with correct layout & smaller caps, it has clearly been designed & layed-out by someone with very little training or experience. Indeed this unit should really be separately powered (not bus-powered). I am going to throw away this motherboard and redesign it with external power & correct layout.
    Again, solved by the new design. I personally have not been able to replicate these problems on any USB hubs or computers I have.

    PC software does not run. It shows an error.
    Granted this is taking a while but it will be available shortly. That said, I don't think anybody has purchased it for standalone reasons nor has it been sold like this yet. It will be in the future and we still want to get this out there anyway.

    Centrafuse plugin does not run (for me at least). I get as far as selecting the port (and manually setting it to 115200 as read here) but the plugin appears to do nothing, no buttons show any response, the AM/FM stays showing just that 'DAB/FM'
    Latest plugin from http://www.craigbrass.net/centrafuse.zip changed a little bit from previous versions. Assuming port settings are correct and you restarted CF afterwards, hitting power should fire the unit up. If it doesn't work, try changing the COM port assigned in device manager and then set CF settings and restart the app.

    I therefore have no way to test the unit. I saw reference to a 'test program' by CB, it would be a good idea to post this i think mate.
    http://www.craigbrass.net/radio.zip is the raw control application. If it shows something on the screen at the top, it is working. If not, we have a joint not connected somewhere.

    It beats me why centrafuse have endorsed this.
    CF endorsed it as it is the only DAB solution available and because when I tested it with them, it worked very well. Also, I had many happy customers contact them reviewing it.

    All in all, the new professionally produced design will solve all remaining problems and we have a minor tweak CF app coming out in the next week and hopefully the standalone app too.

  4. #974
    Variable Bitrate
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    Apr 2010
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    268
    Forgot to add, if you want a refund, return the item and I will provide one. Perfectly happy to do that.

  5. #975
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    Apr 2010
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    Attached is pretty crappy image from my phone of this device. Haven't got a digital camera where I am now but it gives you an idea of how good it is professionally produced.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  6. #976
    Newbie
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    7
    I'm one of the happy customers.
    My unit dispatched immediately and worked great ootb, so I never went looking for any faults.
    I have crystal clear cd quality audio on both DAB and FM so for me this unit has been a great success.

    Here's a headache that fought me-
    One thing people do need to be aware of is that a USB port shares a common ground with the PC power source all the way back to the wall socket. In a vehicle this can be an issue.
    The problem I had was that when I plugged the antenna in I would get a ground thru the antenna cable, into the dab unit, up the audio jack, into my usb sound card, and then up the usb cable to my computer. When I plugged my 12v charger in there was noticable noise/ interference coming out of the speakers because the computer was getting a ground from a source other than the charger cable. With the laptop running off the battery and the noise was gone. There was also no noise if I had the charger plugged into the wall 240v socket.
    I had the same problem before I switched to an optic output from the soundcard. I was getting a ground thru my amps, up the rca cables, into the sound card etc...

    So if anyone has a noticable buzz in the speakers when the pc sound is muted then this could be an issue, and might not be the dab unit.

  7. #977
    Variable Bitrate
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    Apr 2010
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    268
    Thank you Dan for posting as a happy customer. There are many who have emailed me to say how good this unit is after dispatch.

    As for the buzzing issue, it is generally a grounding issue with the antenna.

  8. #978
    Constant Bitrate
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
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    188
    Quote Originally Posted by HoSS View Post
    I feel the need to post my Out Of Box Experience with this unit (as supplied by CB)
    It's not intended to be particularly attacking anyone, but i think its important to summarize the current status.

    Quality of hardware.
    -Upon reception, the (lack of) quality of the production was apparent. The PCB soldering was awful, dry joints and blobs of solder, broken pads & tracks in 3 places.
    -The USB board is not securely fixed (poor for automotive env).
    -The Venice board was mounted at an angle putting stress on the connector.

    I had to resolder virtually all of the joints, and found a break in the 3.3v that had been missed. This unit would not have worked OOTB, and therefore cannot have been tested before shipping.

    -Immediately I plugged the unit into my CPC it crashed the USB (lost all other USB devices), I tried it on my Desktop and it was recognised.

    I found the info regarding the port power and flashed it. But it still crashes the CPC USB if plugged in. The only way to make it work is to have it connected before powering up the CPC.
    This problem is due to bad design (as others have pointed out) The overly large capacitors are causing this. It is a violation of the USB spec. Caps of this size are totally unnecessary. The power section can be redesigned with correct layout & smaller caps, it has clearly been designed & layed-out by someone with very little training or experience. Indeed this unit should really be separately powered (not bus-powered). I am going to throw away this motherboard and redesign it with external power & correct layout.

    -PC software does not run. It shows an error. Latest info is that 'it will be fixed soon...'

    -Centrafuse plugin does not run (for me at least). I get as far as selecting the port (and manually setting it to 115200 as read here) but the plugin appears to do nothing, no buttons show any response, the AM/FM stays showing just that 'DAB/FM'

    I therefore have no way to test the unit. I saw reference to a 'test program' by CB, it would be a good idea to post this i think mate.

    In short, really not worth what i payed. And not ready to be called a marketable product.
    It beats me why centrafuse have endorsed this.

    I will expect a flame from the supplier. But others can take this as the objective analysis by a professional electronics engineer with over 25 years experience in the industry.
    with regard to the caps. I built a new one a couple of pages ago and used small caps and fitted everything in the same footprint as a Venice5. Channel 11D presents a problem especially in a carPC which I have traced as something to do with the alternator (Denso, bosch and VDO). All other channels are fine but this particular channel will sound like a muddy puddle or have severely reduced range.

    The caps are not there to regulate the power so much but to filter it through an LC filter.

    Looking at the style of that PCB in CBs picture, I'd say someone without access to a DAB/DAB+ signal designed that board.
    The epitome of Function over form and is probably the best Car PC in Europe.
    Visit my Homepage

  9. #979
    Constant Bitrate
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    Aug 2009
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    178
    Quote Originally Posted by dansblackcat View Post
    Here's a headache that fought me-
    One thing people do need to be aware of is that a USB port shares a common ground with the PC power source all the way back to the wall socket. In a vehicle this can be an issue.
    I fixed this issue by impedance matching the aerial ground with the audio and usb grounds, the details of which are a few pages back. Others have cured the ground loop problem by using ferrited audio cables.

  10. #980
    Constant Bitrate
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    Aug 2009
    Location
    UK
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    Quote Originally Posted by nrgizerbunny View Post
    Looking at the style of that PCB in CBs picture, I'd say someone without access to a DAB/DAB+ signal designed that board.
    What makes you say that?

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