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Thread: Help Bugbyte kill his car PC with an iTouch/iPhone install

  1. #1
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    Help Bugbyte kill his car PC with an iTouch/iPhone install

    February 2010. As I have been expecting, the hardware developments have solved many of the problems of killing your PC with an iPhone. The announcement of the iPad presents a new 'Smart' device, much more suited for the car. You can read about my current iPad install here. It solves the issue of touchscreen control and screen size that are present with an iPhone solution. What is lacking is what to DO with the connectivity to the net and that has led to the development of the OSDash project. OSDash is a set of services that can be accessed for mobile users. It is developed by the mp3car.com community. Find out more about OSDash here.

    Updates:

    • February 2010 - This project has led to the OSDash project. Announcement of the iPad solves the issues of both screen size and touchscreen control.
    • May 2009 - Late May 2009 - Sheeva plug computer (runs Linux) has arrived. I'm working on learning Linux in order to set up a helper computer that the iPhone can use to interact with external hardware such as relay boards, OBDII, XM Direct and so forth. A thread on the Sheeva was started here
    • May 2009 - Sheeva plug computer arrives. Used to help the iPhone interact with external hardware. Info here.
    • April 2009 - Bluetooth touchscreen for netbook purchased for experimentation.
    • April 2009 - Sheeva plug computer purchased to help iPhone connect with outside world.
    • April 2009 - Mp3Car sponsors project by lending me an iPhone
    • Early March 2009 - Video output has been solved. Working now on trying to understand how to interface the device with the real world - either control from the touchscreen or an external device like a Powermate.


    Index

    • A video of my findings to solve the video output problem: Post 44
      [MEDIA]http://www.youtube.com/v/LcGXHE1yh7Y[/MEDIA]
    • How I'm currently using the iPhone in my car and why it gets a grade of 'C+' so far.
    • Using a helper computer so the iPhone can interact with the outside world.
    • Getting a bluetooth keyboard and mouse working on an iPhone Post 303
    • Discussion about the new iPad introduction. URL="http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin129649-post312.html"]Post 312[/url]


    Original Post

    I've decided that the time to kill my car PC is NOW. The stars are all aligning behind devices that are more powerful, smaller, cheaper, and connected than ever before. They are currently known as smartphones and I intend to try to kill my car PC by replacing it with one.

    My reasons for thinking the way I do are set out here. My inspiration for killing my car PC is here.

    The device I'm going to try to use to kill it is here.


    The device I'm going to kill is here. Actually, that's the previous installation with an Epia M10000 mini-itx mobo but it's basically the same stuff with an Intel D201GLY mobo, an 80 gig HD, and all the other stuff everyone else has like XM, GPS and so forth.


    Actually, I'm going to try to kill two devices. First is my car PC, second is my car Mac. Yes, I have two car computers and I'm not going to explain to you why. This is the Mac.

    I'm going to use this worklog to track just how successful I will be in replacing the car PC with a smart phone.

    Why iPhone?

    Actually, I don't own an iPhone. [Edit: mp3car sponsors an iPhone for this project now!] I love them, but they are expensive and I haven't had a need for one. Until now. Heh-heh. I'm going to prototype and use an iPod touch to get me started and later, as I need to add capability, I'll switch to the iPhone. But, because I'm fundamentally cheap I'm going to use what I have on hand, which my lovely wife gave me for my birthday just a few months ago. Little did she know what was in store for it.

    As for why the iPhone vs. something else, well again, I already own the iPod touch, which is very, very close to the iPhone. Also, the number of apps that are being developed for the iPhone is a very large number, and lastly the iPhone is a global device that works in 75 countries so it seems like a good choice and likely to be a lasting platform -at least in computer years.

    Others (chronoguy) have done something similar with other devices like the HTPC. I'm going to do it with the iPod/iPhone.

    Why do you think this will work?

    1. Actually, I'm not sure it can be done. I AM sure that the time will SOON be ripe for this and frankly, I'm a little weary from endlessly configuring my PC to work in my car.

    2. I'm too slow on the uptake to figure out all the bits and pieces of my PC and sometimes it seems like just when I'm getting it to work like I want, it goes unstable and I end up searching the forums to figure out why. Each time I add a layer of functionality to my PC, it adds another layer of complexity in supporting it. I'm spending way too much time trying to get it to do stuff other people already have their PC's doing. If I'm going to spend that kind of time, it is going to be on something new.

    3. Something new. New challenges to define, new problems to solve, new technologies to learn. I don't know enough about mobile phone tech and the web and its time I get a trial by fire.

    4. Maybe I'll inspire a new section of the community. I'm going to need help. I don't have the hardware and software skills to do this but I know this community does. Pretty much every time I post a question about car PC's I get good answers from hobbyists, developers, and both software and hardware engineers who can answer almost anything I need to know. I'm hoping some of them will get interested and come along for the ride.

    How will you do it?

    Baby steps, baby steps. My first attempts will be crude. I will go backwards in terms of capabilities. I'm certain I'll be frustrated and stuck for long periods of time before I find a solution, but I'm going to employ the techniques used by the ancient generals of burning the transport ships after the army arrives so the only way to survive is to win the battle. I'm going to force myself to go cold turkey.

    When ice station zebra (that would be my back yard) gets warm enough, I'll pull the computers out of the car and start over with an iPod in mind. The only thing I'll leave in it is the LCD display. All the other wires, power supplies and cables come out.

    Meantime, I'll need to:

    1. Jailbreak my iPod Touch. Here's a video of how to do it as of Feb 2009. [Edit: Blackra1n makes it even easier. Google it.] Done!

    2. Buy an ipod to composite video cable to drive the screen display. Purchased today. Will arrive in 4-5 days (chose default shipping, I told you I'm cheap) Video review of the video output options for iPod/iPhone. Done!

    3. Start looking into the iPhone SDK to see how gnarly it is to do stuff on your own.
    More posts as the project continues.

    ***** Attention! There is a mp3car wiki page on this topic here If you have something to contribute, please add and adjust as necessary. ******
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  2. #2
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    Capabilities of the iPhone so far:

    1. Music. Duh.
    2. Video. Also duh.
    3. GPS navigation - via xGPS, turn by turn navigation with spoken instructions
    4. GPS tracking - via GPS tracker. Results displayed on instamapper.com
    5. Photos - Camera app built in
    6. Video recording - Cycorder
    7. Internet connectivity - Edge, 3G
    8. WiFi connectivity
    9. Gas price finder - Gasbag app
    10. Web surfing - Safari browser
    11. Email - built in Mail app
    12. Calendar - iCal app
    13. Streaming internet radio - Pandora app
    14. Streaming video - Youtube only
    15. Photos - built in app
    16. Google Earth - app
    17. SMS - built in app
    18. Customizable themes - Winterboard app
    19. Video output - Screensplitr or TVOut app
    20. Phone - built in
    21. Multithreading apps - Backgrounder app
    22. Tethering - PdaNet app creates mobile hotspot
    23. Speedometer - Speedometer app (digital or dial)
    24. Weather - built in weather app
    25. Games - custom plus Gameboy and GB advance emulators
    26. Stream video live to the web using QIK application

    Price: $499 or $599, about 1/3 less than a comparable PC based system.

    Pros: Three weeks with the iPhone has easily exceeded the capabilities of my PC based system in 3 years. Many, many apps are available for the iPhone and many more are under development. It is not difficult to find and install programs for the iPhone that match or exceed the capabilities of the PC in most areas, and to customize the iPhone's look and app mix to fit your needs. Adding apps is a snap and they are easy to operate once added. Boots fast and OS is fairly stable.

    Cons:
    1. Not expandable.
    2. Can't be easily interfaced with external devices.
    3. Video outputs are not consistent with normal screen resolutions. Composite video out is poor, RGB may be better, but is poorer than VGA.
    4. Much of the functionality is dependent upon network connectivity or else music and video storage is limited. Interface looks nice in the store but is difficult to use in the car.
    5. Not an integrated experience in the same sense as Ride Runner or Centrafuse or Streetdeck as apps are separate and require user switching from one to the other.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  3. #3
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    To satisfy my own curiosity, what's the rationale for trying to downgrade? I haven't had the iPot since I got my iPhone but Veency and PdaNet work fine on my 2.2.1 jailbroken iPhone 3G, even with the 2.30 baseband (altho your iPot won't have that part)

    I ask because it is an issue for iPhone users who've accidentally updated to 2.2.1 and got the 2.30 baseband update with it since it prevents unlocking, but not jailbreaking.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by stratosigma View Post
    To satisfy my own curiosity, what's the rationale for trying to downgrade? I haven't had the iPot since I got my iPhone but Veency and PdaNet work fine on my 2.2.1 jailbroken iPhone 3G, even with the 2.30 baseband (altho your iPot won't have that part)

    I ask because it is an issue for iPhone users who've accidentally updated to 2.2.1 and got the 2.30 baseband update with it since it prevents unlocking, but not jailbreaking.
    It should be straightforward - upgrade to 2.2.1, then run QuickPwn. But when I did that, it would get all the way through the process, report success (I haz succez!), then say it was going to restart the iPod after installing the apps and it would hang.

    Some people also had trouble with this and found that they needed to downgrade to 2.0, jailbreak, the update. When I tried to do this, I bricked the iPod twice.

    There's something I'm not getting about it, any suggestions are welcome.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  5. #5
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    I don't know what I'll be able to offer in this project, but I'll help any way I can, even if it's just cheering.

    For me, the big hole in phones as carPCs is the external display. I don't want to have to squint at a tiny screen -- even a 4-inch screen -- to navigate. I've read that the new iPhones support both composite (TV) output and higher-resolution component video output. It'll be interesting to see how much difference there is between the two; the composite cable can be found for under $10, where the component cable is over $30.

    For just testing, perhaps the iPhone touchscreen really is big enough.

    We were just discussing last week how much functionality of the carPC is built into our cellphones. We were talking Blackberry, using Google Maps as an example, but the effect is the same: it diminishes the need for dedicated GPS in the car when were already carrying one with us.

    I'm hoping this convergence will persuade automobile and phone manufacturers that there should be a standard interface built into every vehicle -- much as the iPod interface has become nearly a standard. It would be excellent if every new phone released would be able to use that interface for an external video solution, maybe even a two-way solution that would enable use of a touchscreen. That would let us link our pocket-borne PC/phones to our vehicles.

    Perhaps part of that interface could even be Bluetooth; once we've done the initial setup, our phones and vehicles discover each other and automatically link up. We might still need a dock with a high-speed interface to carry video data . . .

    Think how much auto manufacturers would save if they could provide a simple link to a cellphone instead of providing complete entertainment and navigation systems. About all they'd need to install would be amplifiers and speakers, and perhaps additional screens. Imagine the battle going on in a car over whose phone to use for the entertainment . . .

    I hope the work you've embarked on here can be a major step toward proving the viability of that vehicle-phone interface.

    I'll be watching and cheering, and I'll add what I can.
    .
    If just enough is really good, then too much ought to be perfect.

    2006 Scion xB with in-dash Atom & Lilliput 889GL -- Worklog at http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/work...res-links.html
    .

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdholtz View Post
    For me, the big hole in phones as carPCs is the external display. I don't want to have to squint at a tiny screen -- even a 4-inch screen -- to navigate. I've read that the new iPhones support both composite (TV) output and higher-resolution component video output. It'll be interesting to see how much difference there is between the two; the composite cable can be found for under $10, where the component cable is over $30.
    Me too. I have an 8" screen in my car -larger than most installs. I want the iPhone on that screen.

    First, the bad news. All G2 and up iPods and iPhones have been crippled by Apple in terms of video output. There is a special chip in the cable that requires you to purchase the cable from Apple or else video output doesn't work. Price of the cable? $49!

    I think that, rather than being a greedy corporation (who, Apple? Never!), this chipping requirement is part of Apple's patching of the so-called analog hole and may have been part of the price of getting movies on iTunes. The Macbook has the same issue and in some cases when you try to play an iTunes movie on it, the system will inform you that you cannot do so because of content restrictions!

    I will not rail on about DRM or how it is unfair to punish people who pay for content because of the behavior of people who don't pay for it. Suffice it to say that either motive - money or DRM stinks. Still, I felt better off about ponying up the $49 because I lost my charger brick and needed a new one anyhow and the cable come with one. But most people don't need this.

    Anyhow, I've seen the iPod on a computer monitor and it looks pretty good. The issue will be how to control it. That's something I'll experiment with when I get the cable later this week. (BTW, to see what it looks like on a 7" monitor, watch this video)
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  7. #7
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    Bugbyte, do you know if the headphone jack still works with the Component AV cable hooked up?

    If so, I wonder which option would provide better audio quality... the Component AV cable or the Monster iCable that converts headphone out to RCA.

  8. #8
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    Hmm. I don't know. As soon as I get the cable, I'll check to see if there is a difference.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  9. #9
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    bug byte I like this idea. I have the iPhone that I use every day on my pioneer navi screen playing pandora over video out. I like this idea alot. If there is anything I can do to help I'd be happy to. Ur on to something here if we can control the phone with the touchscreen.

  10. #10
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    Also I've tried xgps and I can't really get it working it just says it can't get directions to the destination or something.

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