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Thread: Multi-Zone Tutorial (work in progress)

  1. #1
    Maximum Bitrate jmullan99's Avatar
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    Post Multi-Zone Tutorial (work in progress)

    This thread is a tutorial on configuring openMobile for multi-zone use. It is based on the default skin. And it is under construction and subject to change (error correction). I am building bit-by-bit over the next couple of days.

    First, your operating system needs to use extended desktop mode for multiple displays. Multi-zone operation will not perform properly without it. It's an OS thing. Make sure your touch-screens are all calibrated and working as intended. Ensure your audio devices are all registered and functioning.

    Multi-Zone (MZ) is the scenario where your car computer drives more than one audio/display hardware devices. It is NOT multiple independent computers. For the purposes of this tutorial, the target system is installed with 3 displays and 3 audio devices. One is the on-board built-in audio device and display output. The other are USB video adapters and USB audio devices (headphones). The on-board audio drives amps that drive the vehicle speakers. The following diagram depicts this setup:

    Name:  zone_all.JPG
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    When you start up openMobile, it will auto-configure some zones for you. Each detected screen will be numbered starting from Screen0. Audio devices will be named according to the OS name, and a "default audio" (typically the on-board OS default).

    To begin, select the 'Settings' button from the main menu and you will be presented with various settings options. Select 'Multi-zone Settings'.

    Name:  settings_screen.bmp
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    You will then be presented with the currently configured zones. Note that I have already re-named the 2 zones that OM created for me upon startup.

    Name:  zones.bmp
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    At this point, you can either select the "Menu" button at the bottom, or long-click the zone you wish to work with, giving you the following pop-up panel

    Name:  zone_menu.bmp
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    Last edited by jmullan99; 03-09-2012 at 04:25 PM.
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  2. #2
    Maximum Bitrate jmullan99's Avatar
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    From part 1, we have opened the Zone Menu for the selected zone. You may elect to create another zone, or edit the selected zone. In either case, you will end up on the zone editing screen

    Name:  zone_edit_details.bmp
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    Hopefully it's obvious, that you can edit the name and description of the zone. Recall our planned layout in the first post. We will have a zone in the front, and 2 in the rear seats. We could give those zones meaningful names on this screen. Like "Front", "L-Rear", "R-Rear".

    Name:  zone_name_update.bmp
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    Selecting the 'AudioDevice' field will bring up a list of valid audio devices from which you can choose the audio device to be associated with this zone. 'Default Device' is the host OS's default audio device.

    Setting focus to the 'SubZones' field will bring up a list of currently configured zones that you can attach to this zone. This is where some neat magic happens. You can define an 'All' zone (which OM does by default) which essentially means that any media action you take while using the 'All' zone will be duplicated on all zones. Likewise, you can set a zone 'Rear' which (in our scenario) would have sub-zones 'L-Rear' and 'R-Rear', and a movie can be played to both these zones.

    NOTE: You do NOT need to specify audio devices for a zone that will be using sub-zones.

    So how do we do this you ask?

    In the media player screen (music shown), you notice the tab that says "front"....., click that and a zone selection pop-up will be presented to allow you to select your target zone

    Name:  media_playto_zone_select.bmp
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    So now if you select "Rear", you can play your media to the two rear zones (L-Rear and R-Rear via the "virtual" zone we created called Rear).

    Note that this "play to" function can also me set via the media bar (Media tab at bottom left corner).
    Last edited by jmullan99; 03-09-2012 at 10:44 AM.
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  3. #3
    Maximum Bitrate jmullan99's Avatar
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    openMobile also offers Input Routing. While not actually part of multi-zone (but users will think its related so I include it here), input routing allows you to assign input devices to specific screens.

    From the settings screen, select Input Routing. You will be presented with the available screens.

    NOTE: This display shows Screen0 as '1' and Screen1 as '2' and will be fixed shortly.

    Name:  input_routing_select_screen.bmp
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    Select the screen you wish to associate a keyboard/mouse/touchscreen to. Note that touchscreen devices will appear in the mouse list.

    The following screen is displayed

    Name:  input_routing_define.bmp
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    You will notice that you select two types of input. Keyboard and Mouse. The currently assigned value is shown just below each list item. The scroll arrows allow you to select among the available items.

    The buttons labeled "Detect" let the user may tell OM to detect which device to pick. When you click it, OM will warn you that you are about to pick what device. Then you will press a key on a keyboard, or click a button on a mouse, to be assigned to the screen.
    Last edited by jmullan99; 03-09-2012 at 04:12 PM.
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  4. #4
    Maximum Bitrate jmullan99's Avatar
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    Okay. So far, that's it in a nutshell. In practice it may take a couple of attempts to get things where you want them. But it really is quite easy.

    I leave the rest of this thread open to hints, tips, comments and suggestions regarding openMobile's implementation of multi-zone. These first 4 posts will be updated as necessary with appropriate information and updated screenshots.

    John
    Last edited by jmullan99; 03-09-2012 at 03:58 PM.
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    With my limited experience working with multi-zone settings, I say be careful when adjusting the audio devices...

    Maybe it's just a laptop thing, I'm not sure, but default device will play through speakers OR the headphones (if connected). Where as if you define either the speakers or the headphones, it will play out of the same selected port. On my dev laptop if I set 1 zone at default device (with external speakers connected), and 1 zone at headphones, they will both play out of the headphone port at the same time.

    My suggestion, if you're into doing multi-zone stuff, define your audio devices/ports specifically and forget the "default device", it might save you a heap of ??? moments!
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  6. #6
    Maximum Bitrate jmullan99's Avatar
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    I do not count the laptop's speakers and headphone as separate devices. They are, to me, the same audio device. I use headphones that have their own USB sound card built into them, providing completely separate audio devices. Works well. And in the car especially well. And it tends to be cheaper compared to buying nice headphones AND sound card.

    John
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  7. #7
    Maximum Bitrate Borte's Avatar
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    Just a heads up: The latest build is available at the OpenMobile BuildFarm: http://openmobile.sourceforge.net/main/trunk/ (scroll all the way to the bottom)

    Be aware though that this is not the final public version, this is a trunk build and might contain bugs and partly implemented features. It also has limited plugins (only the very basics) at the moment.
    Last edited by Borte; 03-13-2012 at 04:14 PM. Reason: Additional information
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