This FAQ is updated with the latest project information. Please, do not ask questions that are already answered here. When new information becomes available, it will be included.
There hasn't been an update to the FAQ in over <insert time frame here>. Is it up to date?
What are the Goals of this project? What will this thing do?
- A PC controlled AM/FM radio
- Reception quality comparable to a car radio head unit
- RDS/RBDS decoded data output
- Control via USB or Serial or I²C
- 4 channel analog audio output (mirrored front/back pairs)
- 2 stereo analog audio inputs
- Powered straight from car OR PC regulated outputs (+5V, +12V)
- Automotive antenna connector
- I²C auxiliary connector
- Small physical foot print
- Low power
- Integration with common CarPC front end software
- Parts easily obtained or made available as kits
- Open hardware and software design.
When will this be available?
This is a hobby project and is funded solely by its participants. We each have full-time jobs and families. There is no fixed schedule for completion. We cannot provide even an estimated release date.
How does it work? Can I get a schematic? Can I get the source code? Can I get the layout in xyz format? What's left to be done?
There are several potential solutions being worked right now. Below is the latest known information about each. Design and build information may be released when available and only after reasonable troll prevention has been implemented. If it's not in this FAQ then it's not available.
SEE THIS POST FOR THE LATEST STATUS
What bands will the radio tune?
The project goal is an AM/FM radio that tunes over the ranges used globally. All designs currently in work use the same tuner module. Specific frequencies it can tune are here.
How much will it cost?
The final cost is unknown at this time but our target has always been the cheapest design possible -- while meeting the Project goals. If we can find the 'right' suppliers, it should be possible to sell kits at a price far below what it would cost to buy the individual components (if that's even possible).
Should I start buying the parts now?
Final testing of our solution(s) has not yet been completed. Also, a final BOM has not be released. It's possible (likely) things can/will change. Use that as your own guide to decide if you want to start buying stuff or not. My advice to you is to wait.
Can I buy this assembled? Can I buy a kit? Can I do this myself?
This is an open project and we hope to release enough information or materials to allow you to to build the radio yourself. Because some of the parts are difficult to obtain and require SMT soldering skills, we plan to offer partially assembled kits. Fully assembled boards may also be available.
Can I preorder a kit now?
No pre-orders are being accepted at thist time.
Will this card plug into my motherboard?
It's not an ISA or PCI card. It can be controlled via USB or an I²C bus. If you have a USB or I²C header on your motherboard then you may be able to squeeze this board inside your case.
I read this board works from the parallel port. The parallel port is ghey. I want USB!
The board will have USB and I²C interfaces, not parallel. Initial prototyping boards will probably only have an I²C interface since the on-board USB solution will be non-trivial. It's possible to implement an I²C master controller over a standard PC serial or parallel interface. A USB->Serial dongle combined with a DS275 or MAX232 chip would be a good choice.
Will this card output digital audio over USB?
The board will provides line-level analog inputs and outputs. Digital audio is not planned at this time but could be added in the future if someone wants to tackle the hardware and software to support it. This is not a trivial undertaking.
Other PC radios suck in the car. Reception wanders in and out and is otherwise horrendous. Will this one be better?
Yes! That's the main project goal. If the current solution doesn't perform well, it will be scrapped for a new design.
Why are you doing this? There are several inexpensive PC radios on the market.
See the question above. :D
What software will this work with?
We have support from most of the front end developers here at mp3car.com to support this project. There's a chance a Radiator plug-in will be developed but be advised that Radiator CANNOT support AM or RDS. If you want to develop something for this, everything you need to know is in the data sheets for the parts shown in the schematic
Will this be bus powered from USB?
At this moment, the design requires an external 12V source. Full operation specifications will be provided once the design is stabalized and tested.
Will I be able to hook this to my car's antenna?
Yes, the board will have a standard Motorola antenna recepticle. Depending on your car, you may need an adapter.
Will this board control my power antenna? I don't like it extended when I'm not listening to the radio.
That's primarily a software issue and requires an interface between the PC and your antenna motor. This circuit may provide a low power signal to indicate when your antenna should go up. For many automotive antennas, this is all you'll need. Again though, the front end software will have to be designed to control this in the way you want
Who is participating in this project?
Essentially the entire MP3CAR community is participating by providing the feature and interface requirements. The members below are handling the day to day project managment, decision making, funding, engineering, and implementation.
Can I help?
We need people to assist in locating inexpensive suppliers for the parts and circuit board fabrication in the US and Europe. If you are that person, please PM Seth.
I'd like to make a donation. Who should I send it to?
Thank you but we have decided not to accept any payments or donations at this time.
Where can I find information about the history of this project?
This project was officially born 7/24/2004 -- that's the date of Seth's first post on the subject. For the historians among us, there are two previous threads on this topic. Please note that much of the contained information is now outdated.