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    Well, I sent you the exe like I said, but google rejected it. I'll try resending it rared up.
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About Sonicxtacy02

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About Sonicxtacy02
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Recent Entries

Hardware Review: Integreight's Arduino 1Sheeld

by Sonicxtacy02 on 07-09-2014 at 02:41 PM

What is it?

The 1Sheeld is an Arduino shield that allows for smartphone sensor information to be used with an Arduino device.

The Verdict:

1Sheeld to rule them all! The 1Sheeld for Arduino is a must have component for beginners and advanced users alike. It's easy to use, easy to setup, and arms most Arduinos with a bevy of prototyping tools at their disposal. The bottom line is if you own a compatible Arduino and an Android device you should buy a 1Sheeld.


Description:

Anyone who's ever spent any amount of time with an Arduino knows of its seemingly unlimited potential. Arduino has an extremely large support community and because it's open source hardware, the number of ways you can expand are only limited by imagination. Buy an Arduino, and if you're anything like me you'll feel compelled to purchase many of the available shields add-on modules just to see what new possibilities exist. The cost of Arduino shields seem to increase based on their usefulness, so often times many of the cheaper shields you buy first simply get left out of any design when it comes to protect implementation time. What if "1 shield" could effectively replace the pile of shields you'd normally purchase during prototyping? Meet the 1Sheeld.


1Sheeld is a prototypers dream add-on. Using an Android device running 2.3+ and an awesome 1Sheeld app, your smartphone becomes your Arduino shields. 1Sheeld's job is to communicate between the Arduino and the Android. Using the built-in HC-06 Bluetooth module, 1Sheeld allows any available sensor in your smartphone to become a virtual shield, so that the sensor data can be used in Arduino sketches.


The 1Sheeld can serve as a GPS shield, Wifi shield, and most any other shield available today. In addition, it replaces smaller hardware components like LEDs, buttons, and buzzers. Want to design a sketch using a gamepad or keyboard? 1Sheeld makes this easy. Email, SMS, Facebook, and Foursquare implementation is a breeze thanks to the 1Sheeld.



With the power and flexibility the 1Sheeld affords, its easy to see an incredibly complex Android control app. I was frankly amazed at how clean and easy to use the app is. Upon first running the app, you're presented with a short tutorial, then a scan button that searches for 1Sheeld devices in the 30 foot range. Once a 1Sheeld is found, pairing is a single tap process. From there, the UI shows all of the available sensors the app has in a simple and clean manner. You can select which of the various sensors you would like to enable, and any sensors not available to the Android device are blocked immediately via toast notification. Once you've selected the sensors you want to utilize, a single button presents a screen where the selected sensors are displayed with their various values. The entire app interface is fluid, fast, and organized. There's even an included plugin for the powerful automation Android app Tasker. The available 1Sheeld library for Arduino is also top notch, with several example sketches for the various sensors the shield provides.


The 1Sheeld is designed to attach to the standard Arduino shield form factor. Connecting to an Uno or Mega is very easy. Compatibility issues do exist with Arduino's without the standard shield form factor. The 1Sheeld is also a pass-through shield, allowing access to the Arduino's input/output pins.

The Positive:

• Powerful, flexible platform
• Terrific Android app
• Arduino library all but eliminates sketch implementation issues
• Easy learning and setup process
• Standard shield form factor
• Tasker support



The Negative:

• No current Apple support
• Wont connect to Arduino's without the standard shield form factor.



The Verdict:

1Sheeld to rule them all! The 1Sheeld for Arduino is a must have component for beginners and advanced users alike. It's easy to use, easy to setup, and arms most Arduinos with a bevy of prototyping tools at their disposal. The bottom line is if you own a compatible Arduino and an Android device you should buy a 1Sheeld.

Categories
Product Reviews

Hardware Review: Portal Media Bluetooth TPMS module

by Sonicxtacy02 on 06-16-2014 at 10:31 AM

What is it?

The Portal Media Bluetooth TPMS module lets you monitor tire pressure wirelessly via Bluetooth.

The Verdict:

Portal Media's Bluetooth TPMS improves on the last generation of devices by allowing wireless communication via Bluetooth. The module is sleeker and reception appears improved. Once the kinks are worked out of the Android app, the Bluetooth TPMS module will be an awesome addition to any compatible car.


Description:

Quite a few years ago at mp3Car's first national car PC meet, I was lucky enough to win a prize for having as many as 19 USB devices connected to my car PC. The prize received was USB number 20, a car PC connected tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) from Portal Media. Many years and several dead sensor batteries later, the device had served me well, but it was time for an upgrade. Luckily, the guys at Portal Media have been busy at work improving on their existing technology. For years it's seemed that the Bluetooth variant of their TPMS devices was simply an idea in our mp3Car forum, but the time has arrived, and the device really exists. I've been privileged to spend the last few weeks testing this new device out and getting to see if the wireless abilities actually improved the experience.


Let's get the obvious information out of the way first. The tire sensors required for the Bluetooth TPMS device must be professionally installed, so be sure to account for the cost of installation when considering this purchase. My cost was roughly $30/tire, but yours can vary. Also, as if this review, there is no Apple or Windows application that will work with the Bluetooth TPMS module. It's unknown whether this will be created by Portal Media in the near future, but as the mp3Car community is founded on the idea of tinkering and fitting square pegs in round holes, I'm sure solutions will exist shortly. Once the sensors are installed in the tires, the rest of the process of setting the system up is a breeze. The TPMS module is smaller and sleeker this time around, so it's easy to plug into any available 12v source and slide in a glove box or other compartment. It's recommended to install the device in a centralized location in relation to the tire sensors, but I've had far more success with reception despite installation location in comparison to the USB unit. Once the device is mounted and powered, the Android application will need to be downloaded from the Play Store. Once the app is installed, its time to begin the process of synchronizing the tire sensors to the Bluetooth module. Check out the video below on the steps required here.


The Android application for the Bluetooth TPMS is very easy to use. The user interface is very simple, and once the sensors are learned, it will quickly and accurately report sensor information. In the app settings, there are a large number of variables which control sensor alert notifications and display preferences. The app is not without faults though. I have the application installed on three of my Android devices; A Samsung tablet with QHD resolution, a Samsung smartphone with HD resolution, and the ODROID X-2 Android low resolution head unit. Each instance gives me a different take on the app. The smartphone displays the perfect scaling of text, buttons, and images. On the tablet, the buttons are very small and often a chore to press, and the vehicle image and text does not scale to make use of the added real estate. The ODROID's low resolution allows for the buttons and images to display correctly, but the text is too large for the bubble window it's presented in. Portal Media has acknowledged some of the drawbacks of the app, and is aggressively working to correct the issues.




Ultimately, the experience of being free of the installed car PC screen when dealing with my tire pressure is a much needed improvement. Rather than having to run back and forth between tires and the monitor to check pressure levels, I can take my tablet with me to each tire. I'll still receive alert notifications through my Android car PC, but the flexibility to use an additional screen when I choose is awesome.

The Positive:

• Module has a sleeker and smaller profile
• Tire sensor reception seems improved
• Android ability allows for cross-device usage
• Easy learning and setup process



The Negative:

• No current iPod or Windows support
• Android app is functional, but will need work



The Verdict:

Portal Media's Bluetooth TPMS improves on the last generation of devices by allowing wireless communication via Bluetooth. The module is sleeker and reception appears improved. Once the kinks are worked out of the Android app, the Bluetooth TPMS module will be an awesome addition to any compatible car.

Categories
Product Reviews

Hardware Review: MICO Phone Interface Shield For Arduino

by Sonicxtacy02 on 03-06-2014 at 01:49 PM

What is it?

The MICO Shield is an Arduino add-on module which allows the Arduino to interface with a mobile phone.

The Verdict:

Provided you have a compatible Arduino device, the MICO shield can pull any vehicle closer to the connected car lifestyle with the power of a cell phone.



Most hardware DIYers have tinkered with or at least heard about the open source I/O powerhouse that is the Arduino. I've personally spent hours upon hours finding different methods to power on an LED from different Adruino add-ons, called "shields". The MICO shield just might be my favorite of the bunch as I feel its features can most likely be used with an Arduino installed in my vehicle.

As cute a name as MICO is, it really stands for Mobile Interactive voice response and COntrol. The premise is rather simple, connect the MICO shield to a cell phone headphone jack and MICO can answer any calls received. The real power in the MICO comes from what you can do with that call. MICO serves as an virtual operator to any number of functions.


MICO can tell you the temperature in the vehicle from its built-in thermosensor. MICO can read from a voltmeter connected to the Arduino and let callers know how much juice is left in the battery. MICO can be programmed to make a call when the car is located outside a geofence. MICO can also do, as shown here, where an Arduino-novice like me created a sketch to make MICO trigger my remote starter.


Installation of the MICO shield could not be easier. It simply plugs into the headphone jack of a cell phone. MICO answers calls in two different methods. The first method listens to the audio jack for ringing signal and answers after a configurable number of rings. There are two sets of jumpers on the device to allow MICO to listen in regardless of mic polarity. The second option depends on the cell phones ability to auto-answer, an option that is available on a great number of phones today. That being said, its important to know if your phone supports these methods to ensure compatibility. MICO also has an optional 2nd headphone jack which can be used to listen to what MICO is saying for testing purposes. The 2nd headphone jack does not however pass caller audio through.


MICO uses the Arduino SDK for its programming, so it's easy to adapt its features to your build. There's even handy example sketches to help get you started. To get much use out of this shield, you'll need to have a micro SD card, as the audible responses that MICO uses must be declared and saved as RAW audio files. MICO PCB is directly compatible with the Arduino Uno device, but sadly directly connect with the beefier Arduino Mega.




The Positive:

• High quality add-on which allows arduino/cell phone interfacing
• Compatible with most phones today
• Uses Arduino SDK for programming ease and comes with helpful examples
• Easy to create audible prompts for use and SD Card use allows for large variety of options



The Negative:

• Not (yet) compatible with Arduino MEGA
• Small number of phones will be incompatible


The Verdict:

Provided you have a compatible Arduino device, the MICO shield can pull any vehicle closer to the connected car lifestyle with the power of a cell phone.

The MICO shield for Adruino is available through the mp3Car store.

Check back soon for a video of the MICO device in action, as well as more blogs showing how the Arduino line of devices can be used to supercharge the connected car experience.



The MICO shield for Adruino is available through the mp3Car store.

Check back soon for a video of the MICO device in action, as well as more blogs showing how the Arduino line of devices can be used to supercharge the connected car experience.
Categories
Product Reviews

Hardware Review: Xenarc 700CSH 7" Capacitive Touchscreen Monitor

by Sonicxtacy02 on 12-09-2013 at 02:37 PM

What is it?

The Xenarc 700CSH is a 7 Inch display with a capacitive touchscreen input.

The Verdict:

Yes and yes! The Xenarc 700CSH's capacitive touchscreen sets it apart from other displays in the segment. The clear and precise overlay allows the quality of the monitors display to shine through any glare. The 700CSH proves that Xenarc has been watching, as it addresses most of the long-standing shortcomings of small display screens.



What’s in the box?

The Xenarc box comes with the touchscreen monitor, VESA mount, wall and car chargers, input cabling which includes HDMI/VGA/Composite video connections, a HDMI -> DVI adapter, full-function remote, instruction manual, and a cable locking clasp.


For a quick video of the unboxing for the 700CSH please click here.

Description:

Another year brings a another offering in the series of Xenarc 7 Inch monitors. The 700 series has seen its' share of small changes over the last few years, but nothing on the scale of the new 700CSH. This monitor shares the same physical dimensions as the older models, but offers so much more in the form of a beautiful capacitive touchscreen overlay.


The community here at mp3Car.com has long searched for a install monitor which attempts to draw us closer to the visual fidelity of today's smartphones and tablets. Like Xenarc, each competing brand attempted to fulfill the needs of the community with features like high-brightness displays and a greater set of available inputs, but each of the monitors were limited by the resistive touchscreen overlays. Resistive touchscreens will often mute the color of the underlying screen and disperse surface lighting in a manner which at times makes it dangerous to use while driving an automobile in the daytime. Capacitive touchscreen technology allows for more of the screen's natural tones to come through and focuses oncoming light rather than disperse it. The difference comparing the Xenarc 700CSH with a resistive model is truly night and day. Check out the following example showing the 700CSH when compared to last year's Xenarc. Both pictures were taken during similar lighting.


The improvements to the 700CSH didn't just stop at the touchscreen however. The display has received a bump up in native resolution. Instead of the 800x600 resolution we've come to expect, Xenarc has increased the 700CSH to 1024x600. The end result is a gorgeous display that does away with some of the pixilation seen on other models. It's still no Galaxy S4 or retina display, but the lines between have definitely been blurred. Car PC purists fear not, the 700CSH can still display between 800x480 and 1920x1080, PC willing. The brightness rating of 500nits and the contrast ratio of 400:1 are carryovers from prior models, but, because of the touchscreen, offer more bang for their buck.


Xenarc has carried over all of the luxury features from prior models. You can still expect to get things like auto-switching to a composite input, auto power-on, and auto-brightness via the on-board photosensor. The menu system of the 700CSH is more expansion, offering more control than older models. Options like audio-over-HDMI and input switching control are welcomed additions. The included remote is actually usable, as it allows for full operation of the device rather than a subset of functions. Xenarc advertises that the touchscreen will still operate even if a fingerprint or scratch protector overlay is used. Fingerprints almost seem more of an issue with this touchscreen, but I personally feel like it'd be a shame to do anything to alter the display quality.



The Positive:

• The best display quality for the segment, bar none
• Includes cable management options
• Rock solid build quality
• Fully functional remote included



The Negative:

• Bezel is larger than competitors


The Verdict:

Yes and yes! The Xenarc 700CSH's capacitive touchscreen sets it apart from other displays in the segment. The clear and precise overlay allows the quality of the monitors display to shine through any glare. The 700CSH proves that Xenarc has been watching, as it addresses most of the long-standing shortcomings of small display screens.

Stay tuned for more photos, disassembly videos, pricing information, and availability on the Xenarc 700CSH

Categories
Product Reviews

Automotive Computing (R)Evolution - The Android Head Unit Build - Apps That Rock!

by Sonicxtacy02 on 08-15-2013 at 02:33 PM

No matter what operating system you choose to control your automotive infotainment, software plays a heavy role in how the driver controls the solution. With Android, most every knows about the popular Google applications like Voice, Maps, and the Music, but someone venturing to install android as the heart of their car computer may not realize the power of the Google Play store in creating a terrific Android-Powered experience. The purpose of this post is to recognize some of the software products that provide functions to an automotive setup. So without further delay...


Car Home Ultra


I've mentioned this piece of software in prior posts, but it deserves recognition as a valued car Android software centerpiece. Car Home Ultra is a terrific solution for someone looking to access a host of android applications in a touch-friendly manner. Designed similarly to the Windows-based front ends we've all grown to love, Car Home Ultra may be the current best option to those looking for that experience. The buttons are large and touch friendly, allowing for 5 screens of 3x3 application launch buttons which can be customized to your liking. The colors can all be uniquely altered to match driver preference, and items like Speed, Weather, and Time/Date are all handy. Car Home Ultra can even be set to replace the Home launcher in Android. You can set the software to load on boot and use it exclusively to manage your android functions.

Tablet Talk


The would be hands-free solution for the ODROID. Short of creating a hands-free call link, Tablet Talk can do it all. The application must be installed on both your ODROID, and Android smart phone, but once the Bluetooth connection is made your Android car computer can send, receive, and manage your SMS messages. Users can select ringtones, receive text pop-up screens, and reply to texts via on-screen keyboard or voice. Tablet Talk will also ring for incoming calls, display incoming call prompts, and mute audio playback during a call. Keep in mind that with the ODROID, it can not play your caller through the audio system, based on lack of Bluetooth HFP profile support, but the app is still great!

Tasker


Anyone who has ever thought about automating an Android has probably heard about Tasker. There are many ways in which Tasker can come in handy when installing an ODROID in the car. While not the most touch-friendly application, Tasker can be used to automate tasks large and small. Want to dim your screen at a certain hour? Tasker can handle it with ease. Tasker can also tackle small tasks with the ODROID, such as reducing power consumption by underclocking the CPU when a Bluetooth phone is not connected. Tasker can lift heavy duty scenarios too with built in scripting support.

MortPlayer Music


I used to really love Google Music... until I tried to use it in a car. The interface is beyond chaotic to try to navigate, and if you're looking to play media from local storage like an external USB drive you better have a computer science degree. Enter MortPlayer Music. Built for touch from the ground up, MortPlayer can give you access to all of your music on local media in a clean and easy to use manner. MortPlayer does not rely on a database for music sorting, it relies on the user to have a folder structure in place to make the most out of the music library. MortPlayer has built in support for playlists, ID3, cover art, and more. It can also be heavily customized with themes, movable buttons, and color options.

Other Android apps that rock include...
Tunein Radio Worldwide radio stations at your fingertips. Nice touch interface.
Torque Pro Incredible OBD-II/CAN all in one solution. Heavily customizable and Touch-friendly.
Waze Crowd Sourcing navigation and live traffic information, Waze can many times serve as a free-replacement to Google Maps
Beyond Podcast A great podcast downloader and manager allowing for streaming and offline support of your favorite shows
PL2303GPS MockLocationProvider If you have a Prolific-based GPS device such as the BU-353, you need this app to make the device work with Android!
Paragon Ntfs Mounter Users playing songs from external based storage will appreciate this app which will auto-mount USB media at boot or when its plugged in.

Have an Android app you'd like to add, please do!