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Thread: Mazda RX8 CarPC 3.0 with stock navigator screen, ainol minipc, arduino

  1. #1
    Newbie joan's Avatar
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    Mazda RX8 CarPC 3.0 with stock navigator screen, ainol minipc, arduino

    (This project takes inspiration and some ideas from another project, more advanced, with lots of useful information: http://www.mp3car.com/show-off-your-...minipc-in.html )

    After 10 years using carpcs in my two cars, it's time again to renew them. So here we go!

    First generation was based on mini ITX form factor VIA motherboard. Now sitting around, but still working.

    Second generation was based on 6.2 inches phablet running android. Very promising but my experience with android in car has been no good: basically too much attention required while driving, and lack of stability. I know this is against mainstream opinion these days, and I won't argue about this. If you have an android based system in your car and you are happy with it, I'm happy too.

    Still using it in my other car (Mazda 6 sw) waiting for a unit of CarPC 3.0

    Third generation will be based on an ainol mini pc, linked with an arduino micro-controller capable to send key presses, detect external conditions,...

    Lets go into details. This is a 3D block model build in sketchup with all the relevant parts so far:



    Total size is only 26 x 16 cm (10.2 x 6.3 inches)

    Blocks are:

    - ainol mini pc Windows 8.1 64 bit Intel Z3735F 2Gb RAM 32Gb 7000mAh included battery

    - HDMI to VGA video converter

    - VGA to CGA video converter (I need this to use car's original navigator screen)

    - CPT DC-DC converter 12 to 5v 3A 15W

    - DC filter

    - Micro controller Arduino Micro ATmega32u4 5V 16MHz. (This one can emulate key presses through USB)

    - Module 4 relays 250v 10A opto couple (controlled by arduino)

    -USB HUB (not shown) 2.0 x7 powered separately

    1.- Strategies of design:

    1.1- Minimum power consumption: ainol mini pc only draws about 3 watts when fully working. It can run on battery for more than 7 hours.

    1.2.- Minimum distraction to operate while driving. Able to operate it without have to look at the screen. So no touchscreen: I’ve seen that operating a touchscreen that is always located out of direct sight of the road is distracting. I prefer a touchpad located near the steering wheel. That way a single operation can be separated into several moments, as driving allows it.

    1.3.- Ability to connect with internet, but normally disabled. Reception of messages and notices while driving is distracting.

    1.4.- Integration with car as much as possible: interior lights, windows, ODB2 readings,…

    1.5.- PC removable easily for maintenance


    2.- Arduino micro controller functions:

    2.1.- On/off carpc (resume/hibernate) based on ignition on/off and possibly door open + presence detection

    2.2.- Steering wheel resistive button input

    2.3.- Additional interior lights based on leds

    2.4.- Read old navigator buttons from central console and interface them with several functions / selections on the FE through simulated keypress and mouse movements

    2.5.- Switch rear video camera without rear gear engaged when desired

    2.6.- Interface with CAN bus to detect several conditions and actuate on the non-essential parts of the car


    3.- Planned functionality:

    3.1.- Music advanced player: playlists, cover art,…

    3.2.- Video advanced player (when not driving)

    3.3.- GPS navigation system (currently based on Igo navigator)

    3.4.- ODB2 integration to monitor different car values (coolant and air intake temperatures, malfunction codes,…)

    3.5.- Hands free Bluetooth phone interface integrated with the other functionalities

    Front end:

    I'm following an interesting Front End still under development but very promising:

    http://forum.offtware.dk/

    It has still no name, but uses PC resources very efficiently and is very stable.
    Last edited by joan; 01-06-2016 at 02:25 PM. Reason: Information added

  2. #2
    Newbie joan's Avatar
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    How to use stock navi screen with standard VGA signal

    Lets go to adapt the RX-8 original navigator screen to make it able to work with standard VGA video signal:



    This screens work with CGA signal, a sort of RGB + composite sync at 15KHz. Fortunately this was a standard used by video game machines during 80's 90's (the ones that could be found at bars). As there is a market for people that restore these old machines adapting them to VGA, it's possible to find converters from VGA to CGA:



    You can get them on ebay for about 20 USD:

    http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=%22vga+to%22++converter+-hdmi&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l13 13.TR0.TRC0.H0.X%22vga+to%22++converter+-hdmi+%2Bcga.TRS0&_nkw=%22vga+to%22++converter+-hdmi+%2Bcga&_sacat=0

    Beware not to get the opposite model (CGA to VGA) which is not valid for our purpose. Must be VGA to CGA.

    Finally, signal level must be adjusted connecting 75 ohm resistors between R, G and B wires to ground:


    Navigator is located between rear seats. Here is where screws are located to disassemble and reach the navigator unit:



    and then:



    The relevant connector on the unit:



    and then the relevant wires for R, G, B, sync and GND:


    This way we can use any VGA video source with the navigator screen. Open/close action when key is inserted, tilt and other buttons functionality are maintained in this way. Here is in action using a notebook as VGA video source:

    Last edited by joan; 01-08-2016 at 06:36 PM.

  3. #3
    Newbie joan's Avatar
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  4. #4
    FLAC Mickz's Avatar
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    Nice detail on that mod, how is CGA with text and Windows? I guess it's ok on a small screen but the old CGA standard was pretty poor. I'm wondering if it's just the interface that running at the old CGA scan frequency, and the screen is actually a higher dot count that the true original CGA standard?

    I like that someone else is focusing on the fact that a vehicle is not (99% of the time), a mobile entertainment lounge, and that it is sometimes used for - shock! horror! - actually driving from point A to B.

    You are pretty much going the same way I went after years of refining my FE, that is, the FE is used 99% of the time as an aid for the Driver of the vehicle and to cause as little visual / audible distraction as possible.

    I had to retain touch screen functionally as my old vehicle did not have NAV, so I use Garmin or Odyssey navigator and both require touch screen input for address, although I can plan any number of trips on the Home PC and then add them to the Car PC NAV route or favorites file. My wife actually uses the touch screen while I'm driving, she uses it to pick an album, DAB station or adjust the passenger zone of the climate control system. I actually find that less distracting then having her use the physical iDrive controls between the front seats, so from that perspective it's occasionally handy for me, but of course not necessary. For me as the driver, the iDrive and steering buttons are the only way to go, I can find/feel them (strange how they never shift) without taking my eyes off the road, and of course I have audio indication/feedback where required.

    One thing I wanted to add that I glossed over in my build thread, the Ainol was a dog on resume and would loose (not correctly initialize) random USB devices under WIN8.1, that was the main reason that I initially dismissed it as a viable alternative for a car pc, however under Win10, hibernate, resume, and general USB behaviour are all just brilliant, and I'm using the exact same drivers and driver versions. Watch the ainol bios - you can brick them with some bios versions. If there is an option to partly disable USB3, don't touch it, there is also another setting to leave alone but I would have to go back and search for it, this is the one I do remember reading a lot about.
    Last edited by Mickz; 01-08-2016 at 08:33 PM.
    Palm sized ainol MiniPC, 8" Transreflective PRO, Win10, Reverse camera, Dual 10HZ GPS RX's for Speed Display & Sat Nav, FM-DAB & Phone Modules, iDrive interface. T-Screen HVAC control, custom microcontrollers, microcode and FE.

  5. #5
    Newbie joan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mickz View Post
    Nice detail on that mod, how is CGA with text and Windows? I guess it's ok on a small screen but the old CGA standard was pretty poor. I'm wondering if it's just the interface that running at the old CGA scan frequency, and the screen is actually a higher dot count that the true original CGA standard?

    ...
    Quality is enough for me (direct sun against the camera):



    This is a close up of logo part of same screen above:



    It's not touchscreen. I've been using since 10 years an USB touchpad located under the steering wheel:



    It's very discrete and handy, and integrates very well with the car. I can break down an action into several separate interactions. This way I only have sight off the road a fraction of a second each time. It can emulate left and right mouse buttons and mouse wheel also. And it could be used at the same time with a touchscreen or other input methods.

    My ainol mini pc has been working ok so far with hibernate/resume and USBs under stock Windows 8.1. I have two more units coming and we'll see what happen with them, but this one works fine. Even an old GPS BU-235 that has no drivers for Windows 8, but works pretty well and stable with old drivers:


  6. #6
    FLAC Mickz's Avatar
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    That looks fine, not like the old CGA screens. Yes the ainol and Win8.1 worked fine with a few USB devices, once I increased the number past 5 it started to randomly drop ports on resume. There were a few complaints from reviewers about this behaviour. I initially thought that it must have been just the unit they tested, however I have used a few of these and all were the same until Win-10 went in, I can also confirm that it's not just the ainol, other minis and tablets have done this, a Win10 upgrade always fixed it. But as you noted, with most installations on Win8, it may not be a problem.
    Palm sized ainol MiniPC, 8" Transreflective PRO, Win10, Reverse camera, Dual 10HZ GPS RX's for Speed Display & Sat Nav, FM-DAB & Phone Modules, iDrive interface. T-Screen HVAC control, custom microcontrollers, microcode and FE.

  7. #7
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    I'll be following this. I like the idea of using the factory nav screen. How are you piping audio to your factory radio?

    Sent from my SM-N920T using Tapatalk

  8. #8
    Newbie joan's Avatar
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    I use Car2PC:

    http://indashpc.org/new/adapters/car2pc-maz.html

    Coming soon real pictures of the install...

    risk more than others think is safe dream more than othesr think is practical
    care more than others think is wise expect more than others think is possible

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