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Thread: Ambitious Pico-ITX-based Car PC Project

  1. #1
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    Talking Ambitious Pico-ITX-based Car PC Project

    Okay, this is a complex project, and will probably take at the very least, a year or longer to develop.

    I just bought a Pico-ITX board, and a bunch of parts from Mouser Electronics to get my PC functional right out of the box. I have the following parts for the project:

    • Lilliput 7" Touchscreen LCD Display
    • radioSHARK USB AM/FM Tuner
    • Bluetooth USB Connector
    • Generic GPS Receiver - USB-to-Serial


    And, what I want to do with this project, eventually, is the following:

    • GPS Navigation
    • Bluetooth-based Hands Free Phone
    • Bluetooth-based Internet Browsing
    • AM/FM Tuner with realtime capture
    • CD Capture with Encode (later lookup via CDDB when Internet is present)
    • DVD Rip and Encode
    • MP3/WMV/ETC/ETC/ETC format music player
    • DVD/MP4/etc/etc/etc movie player
    • iPhone-like keyboard interface (as long as it's not a patent violation)
    • Lock/Unlock Computer System via a multi-digit based code
    • Touchscreen interface
    • Slide-to-lock and Slide-to-Power-Off interface (like iPhone!)
    • Preferences available at any time by clicking a bar at the bottom of the display.
    • Boot in less than 5 seconds to GUI
    • Auto Software-Update via Internet when Internet Present
    • Gentoo-based installation


    I want to program it using GTK or Java, but am having a tremendous amount of problems finding the resources necessary to learn or know how to program this. I am proficient at C/C++ and Java, so the technical knowledge is there.

    If I'm posting this to the wrong place, then , otherwise, I'd love to hear what people have to say about this. I'd even love to see if there are people interested in helping me with this project.

    It's ambitious. I know it can be done with Python, but Python-based projects of this nature make me

    I am designing a Car PC case for this using eMachineShop's design tools, and will front the cost of the mechanical design. It's going to be a two-slot-high design. This is an 8-year in-the-making project, and I don't plan on abandoning it!

    So, I'm looking for someone to help me (or a group) with this project. I am passionate about getting it to work. I am passionate about this project. And I an passionate about helping everyone else!

    I look forward to any responses!

  2. #2
    Low Bitrate benedums's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Dual Din Pico-ITX Java box

    Sounds like what I have been planning for the last year or so.
    I too like the idea of using Java, one because I am familiar with it and two because of the flexibility.

    Hardware wise this is what I am planning on using;
    Pico-ITX EPIA PX10000G (I like the size & 7.1 audio out pin headers...)
    PW-200 dc-dc PS (from mp3car.com)
    SATA HD probably 80-120GB
    1GB+ Compact Flash (for OS)
    1GB DDR2 DODIMM
    Panasonic UJ-85J-B slit loading DVD RW
    Lilliput 619GL-70P touchscreen
    Mechatroniks dual-din in-dash chassis for the Lilliput 619GL (also available on mp3car.com)
    Micro Shutdown Controller
    Class-T 100x4ch amp
    (like the AMP9 from 41Hz but I may design a custom board with only DC, size would then be about 50x100 mm (2"x4"))
    GPS
    Bluetooth
    WiFi
    Speech
    probably more but this is a good start.

    Software wise;
    Custom Linux distro (Ubuntu based, possibly a modified LinuxICE with java)
    Custom Java frontend using the following projects;
    -Sun's JRE 1.5 or 1.6
    -javazoom (Customized jlGui music player)
    -OpenMap (Components for GPS Nav using shape files)
    -Custom Skin and/or LF manager
    -OBDII Elmscan Java library (not sure if one exists)
    -I would like to be able to load .jar files on the fly to add more modules.
    -A lot of the other basic functions would use the standard java libraries; javax.media, javax.speech, javax.usb, etc...

    here is a link to another thread that is a bit old but on the same topic:
    Java FE

    Also, here is site that is working on something similar;
    http://carpcgarage.com/

    Let me know if you would be interested in collaborating on a project.
    Sailin
    ________________________________________
    CarPC Status:
    Planning.......[--------x-] 90%
    Parts..........[------x---] 70%
    Fabrication....[----x-----] 50%
    ________________________________________

  3. #3
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    I'd absolutely be interested in collaborating. The problem is, I haven't found a full suite of software that I've been happy with for Java, so I've been toying with the idea of writing something either in Qt or Gnome. Problem with Gnome is, the library is fairly difficult to write programs with without using a ton of specialized tools to generate your form files. Qt is good, but cannot be used freely for commercial apps without paying a huge license fee.

    Therefore, I've thought of programming the main shell using Qt Jamba Open Source edition, which is Qt's bindings for Java, which has Eclipse plugins. I may pursue that, since I'm going to be contributing drivers for the Griffin Technology RadioShark USB AM/FM Tuner device to the Linux kernel.

    I am also thinking of buying the double-din project and modifying it for the Pico-ITX board as well as a few other modifications on the front. I was planning on extending the front panel with a hinged control panel that has an additional USB port (or two) and video input receptacles, as well as a pin-hole for reset and power buttons, as well as HD and Power indicators. Was also going to put in some hard drive mounts with rubber grommets so the hard drives experience less vibration when in use.

    Like I said - ambitious project. The biggest part of the project is the software. I'm wanting to design it all in Java, but the concern is that there's enough power on the system to handle the load, and getting the Linux kernel to boot quickly enough.

    I may start a WIKI site for this, or a sourceforge site (or both) for this. Contact me and let's move forward!

  4. #4
    Low Bitrate benedums's Avatar
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    Have you seen the threads on LinuxICE;
    http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/linu...nt-distro.html
    It may be possible to add a Java VM to that and launch a .jar directly into the frame buffer with no WM.?.?

    They have mentioned boot times close to 5-10 sec and with an option to come out of Hibernation in less than that. I know the VIA chips don't use much power at all (0.6 watts for the 1Ghz in hibernate),, so that might be a "fast boot" option.

    I'm not that familiar with Linux yet but I'm learning...

    I have also made some pretty good progress with the media player using javazoom.jlgui components.

    and plan on working more on a GPS package that will read shape files.
    Sailin
    ________________________________________
    CarPC Status:
    Planning.......[--------x-] 90%
    Parts..........[------x---] 70%
    Fabrication....[----x-----] 50%
    ________________________________________

  5. #5
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    Software Update

    Okay, so I've been toying with several options out there, but I haven't found a CarPC software that I really like. I see several options from several libraries, but I don't actually see anything that makes me happy. What I've decided to do is write my own software, and since I'm proficient in Java, I am doing so now.

    I have decided to use Qt Jambi from http://www.trolltech.com/, the free version, for now. If I decide to sell it at some point, I may grab the licensed version, but don't know if it'll be worth it, due to the demand (or lack thereof.) Therefore, right now, it's a free project.

    I'm designing it so the dashboard software looks similar to the iPod: main applications in the main screen, easily navigable using 64x64 PNG icons that make sense for each application. Instead of "growing" and "shrinking" into the screen, it'll scroll side-to-side. I'd love to see the Media code that you've done with the player so far. I believe I could use xine for most of the playback, but that may be interesting to make the two work together - especially considering that there's no Java work done with Xine yet - so far as I can tell.

    I'll probably use the Java library to play music, unless there's a compelling reason why I shouldn't. I have several other ideas for the software, but so far, it's completely pluggable. Each module can display what it wants, and can handle whatever functions it needs - all it needs to do is tell the underlying library that it should "hide" or "show" itself.

    I can send a link to the software if you would like. The software is vastly incomplete, and I'm still working on it daily. I'll post an update here soon.

  6. #6
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    Obligatory "me too"

    This is pretty much exactly what I've been working on for a little while, with a couple exceptions. So please let me know how it goes, and I'll post what I find when I build it (ordering the parts this week as soon as I finish negotiating pricing). As a site note, I've been talking to Howard at e-itx.com quite a bit and he's been very helpful as far as matching pricing and helping me find and build the right system. I'd recommend them to anyone out of all the places I've researched online.

    VIA PX10000G
    120G SATA
    1G Dual pin Disk on Module

    http://e-itx.com/apacer-adm-ii-1gb-fm1024a60c5g-tp.html

    Note on this, the module plugs directly into the IDE pins with a female 44 pin connector on the reverse side, meaning you can plug the slot loading IDE dvd drive into the back. This saves a USB port.

    Lilliput 2din in dash screen mount
    PICO itx case (this is the only one i found, should fit entirely in the dash and eases cable management.

    http://www.idotpc.com/TheStore/pc/vi...?idproduct=507

    All of the other hardware is pretty much the same as yours as far as the power controller, USB devices, etc. The only difference is i'm taking the easy way out and using centrafuse. I'm a network engineer, not a software guy. If I tried to code in java i'd be the one guy out there that managed to make it explode. =)

    That said ... if you get this working I would love to give it a shot. Always prefer linux over windows, and especially if its and open source FE.

  7. #7
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    subscribe, my goals are similar, please keep updating.

  8. #8
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    Yeah, the main problem I currently have is the system hardware. The software is coming along, and I'll probably start a Sourceforge site for it shortly. I do need some help with it, as this is going to be a rather long and tedious project to finish. As for the hardware side, I'm just waiting on a couple of items to purchase, then I will be posting pictures of the progress.

    I did buy a 2 din style slot system from one of the manufacturers listed above, but I have a friend who is getting a milling machine, so I'll be milling my own parts and possibly selling them for specs on Pico-ITX boards (with a hard drive right next to the board, if I can fit it.)

    The 2 din slot fits *perfectly* . I couldn't have asked for a better solution. But, as I said, I'll be posting more shortly.

  9. #9
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    same goal, different technique

    Hey all,

    I have been working on a very similar goal. Right now I have three applications written in Java. I realized that it was too difficult to develop the UI, and so I am moving to a XUL / Java hybrid applet running on top of xulrunner. If anyone is interested in something like this, let me know.

    also, I already have the bulk of the code to implement the bluetooth handsfree protocol in java. Once I figure out how to interact with the SCO layer, that will be complete.

    cheers,
    robert

  10. #10
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    Exclamation

    So, I now have most of the parts that I need to start putting this bad boy together. I've got software and the like already, but I will be writing my own with a similar interface to that of the iPhone - eventually.

    Either way, I need to either find plans for a small 4/5 channel amp that can be put inside this 2 din setup, or I need to find some way to take the outputs of my audio and amplify them using something really simple.

    I've looked around, and everything I've found - so far - is either too large, or generates too much heat. If anyone has a suggestion on where I can go to find a board that handles direct DC input, and is a small enough form factor that I can easily mount it in my case, I would highly appreciate it.

    I'll keep looking around and posting what I've found if no one else replies here - either way, I need something small.

    AND DON'T WORRY! I'll post pictures soon!!

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