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Xumbi
Ok, prepare for a long post, but first, something to pique your curiosity:



I wasn't sure where to post this, seeing as I'm sure this could be accomplished using any Zaurus with a 640x480 display.

What started everything was my desire to be able to have access to all of my music (40+ GB of oggs) in my car. I came accross mp3car.com, and it was all downhill from there. I realized that the most expensive part of a car computer is the display. So I said to myself, why can't I just use the screen on my Zaurus? It's 640x480, touchscreen, it's perfect! And so began my quest...

I want this post to serve as a guide for anyone who might attempt something similar, so that they don't have to make the same mistakes, and agonize over the same problems that I did. So if you just want the pics, feel free to scroll down, otherwise read on.

Here's what makes it all work:

Stuff I had-
* Sharp Zaurus SL-C750 running pdaXrom
* Old PIII 500MHz, 256MB running Windows 2000
* Seagate 200GB 7200RPM HD (a bit overkill)
* Sony CDX-7000X head unit
* Sony XA-300 Auxiliary Input Adapter
* LG VX3200 phone (Verizon service)

Stuff I had to buy-
* 400 watt inverter
* Opus 150W DC-DC power supply
* 8 10' USB extension cables (only using 5, but buying 8 gave me free shipping!)
* 4 port USB hub
* 6 AWG wire from a local car audio shop (FYI, don't buy cable from Home Depot, that stuff isn't meant for cars, I found that out the hard way)
* Lots of other small wire and connectors from Home Depot
* 80 amp in-line fuse close to the battery (is this too much/little?)
* Universal PDA car mount off ebay (got it for $10!)
* LG USB cable

My first attempt at getting everything together was with the inverter (I didn't have the Opus yet). As soon as I plugged in my computer the "fault" light on the inverter would come on, and the computer would not power on. I spent a while searching the mp3car forums, and eventually I found an answer. I had to disconnect the ground wire in my computer's power supply:


(I had tape on the connectors just to be safe)

Apparently this is a problem specific to Vector inverters, it seems that other brands of inverters don't have this problem. Obviously this is a bad idea electrically, so I made sure that I grounded the case to the car chassis. Once I did this the computer would power on via the inverter.

Next, I needed a way of getting the display from the computer onto my Zaurus. Luckily, VNC runs on both Windows and Linux. I did have to setup an "ethernet over usb" connection between the computer and the Zaurus, which was pretty easy. Then I had to create an icon on the Zaurus to make it easy to connect.

So now I could connect, launch Media Car, and start playing music (by the way, I'm using the USB connection on the AX-300). At this point I encountered the problem that would take me weeks to figure out...

Clicking and popping noises(!!?!?)

These noises were completely different from any electrical noise I had ever heard. I spent hours, days, weeks even, grounding to different places, trying different power supplies, cables, connections, NOTHING made a difference! So then I finally broke down and bought the Opus 150W. The Opus arrived, I got everything connected and working, and to my horror, the noises were still there!!!!! So at this point I knew it wasn't engine noise, or bad cables, the inverter, or whatever. Just for the hell of it I tried disconnecting from VNC, and to my amazement, the noise was gone!

It seems that there is something to do with the VNC connection that is introducing these clicking and popping noises. So this is a pretty big problem, as it means that I really can't be connected to the computer while it's playing music. Luckily I came up with a relatively easy way of disconnecting and reconnecting to the computer. So how it works is, I get my playlist together, hit play, disconnect, then if I need to pause/change tracks/add tracks, I just reconnect, do it, and disconnect.

It's not perfect, but it beats paying ~$300 for a display!

Ok, time for the pics...



My awesome wiring job with the 80 amp in-line fuse.



A crappy picture of the computer and inverter in the trunk. As it is, I've connected the positive and negative wires from the Opus to the terminals on the inverter. I'm sure there's a better way to connect them.



The AX-300 and USB hub are in the arm rest. All of the USB and power cables go under the passenger seat and underneath the center console.



Two USB cables come out beneath the center console.



The powerstrip on the passenger side. Right now I'm only using it for my Zaurus.



The CDX-C7000X, USB!!!



Here's what the mount looks like. All I did was super glue the battery cover for the Zaurus onto the pda mount. So far it seems very sturdy, I'm surprised. Now I just need to order another battery cover... wink.gif



The mount from behind, notice the vorbis fish!
Xumbi






Media Engine in action, stupid glare!



Media Car in action, I haven't decided which front end I like best yet.



The interweb! Thanks to this thread!



For me, this is the coolest part of this whole project. I'm listening to my internet radio station IN MY CAR!!! It's not quite ready for driving while listening, it buffers a lot, but it works!! AM/FM is dead.



Like I was saying, I have to disconnect to get rid of the noises. So I mapped a key on the Zaurus keyboard to F8 (menu for VNC), then I hit 'exit'. It's actually kind of difficult to do while driving.



Which brings me back to pdaXrom.

I know what you're thinking, Xumbi, that's cool, but can it play movies/videos? The answer is yes! Sort of... The VNC connection is way too slow to play videos, so I have to mount the computer's hard drive on my Zaurus, and play them over the networked USB connection. Another drawback is the videos have to be encoded in 320x240. The Zaurus isn't quite fast enough for 640x480 videos. I wrote a script that resizes the resolution automatically. smile.gif
Xumbi


Family Guy!



Gladiator!



Call for Help!



I'm not sure why I'd want to, but I can play music over the USB connection with XMMS.

I know that I've left out some specifics, but if you want more information feel free to reply or send me a PM.
doc
That brings to mind that great song by Styx...."Too much time on my hands!"

That's awesome!
Laze
A quick and stupid question.. Did you try remote desktop instead of VNC.. Remote Desktop works quite different that VNC and not as much traffic - maybe that won't cause hissing noises.
Xumbi
QUOTE(Laze @ Apr 19 2005, 02:19 PM)
A quick and stupid question.. Did you try remote desktop instead of VNC.. Remote Desktop works quite different that VNC and not as much traffic - maybe that won't cause hissing noises.
*

Well, yes and no. As far as I know, rdesktop only works with desktop sharing in XP, and I'm running 2000, is that right? However, in the past I have remotely connected with rdesktop to systems running XP, but when I try to play audio it gets confused and errors out. It's like it tries to play the audio on the computer running the remote connection. Maybe there is a way around that?

If I knew that I could make the audio play on the computer and not the Zaurus, then I would love to give it a try.
Gondola
Cool stuff, but the VNC issue sounds like a dealbreaker for me.

If using VNC causes the hissing and popping, it sounds like the USB traffic between the Z and the PC is causing the issue.. which means the USB cables aren't shielded enough? Maybe try USB->Cat5 on the Z and then run one cat5 drop through the car instead of all those USB cables. You'd at least cut out all the USB extensions.

Which machine is actually outputting audio? I assumed it was the PC.

Still, good job!

QUOTE(Laze @ Apr 19 2005, 07:19 PM)
A quick and stupid question.. Did you try remote desktop instead of VNC.. Remote Desktop works quite different that VNC and not as much traffic - maybe that won't cause hissing noises.
*
Xumbi
QUOTE(Gondola @ Apr 19 2005, 02:36 PM)
Cool stuff, but the VNC issue sounds like a dealbreaker for me.

If using VNC causes the hissing and popping, it sounds like the USB traffic between the Z and the PC is causing the issue.. which means the USB cables aren't shielded enough?  Maybe try USB->Cat5 on the Z and then run one cat5 drop through the car instead of all those USB cables.  You'd at least cut out all the USB extensions.

Which machine is actually outputting audio?  I assumed it was the PC.

Still, good job!

QUOTE(Laze @ Apr 19 2005, 07:19 PM)
A quick and stupid question.. Did you try remote desktop instead of VNC.. Remote Desktop works quite different that VNC and not as much traffic - maybe that won't cause hissing noises.
*

*


In all of the pictures except for the last 4 the sound is coming from the computer. In the last 4 pictures I used smbmount to mount the drive on the computer on my Zaurus, so the sound comes from the Z.

Laze might have come up with a solution by using rdesktop, I'm looking into it right now. If not, using shielded cables sounds like a good idea to try!

UPDATE:

After googling I found this for rdesktop and "device redirection":

"local" means "Bring to this computer"
"off" means "Do not play"
"remote" means "Leave at remote computer"

Example: -r audio:remote

Now I just have to install terminal services (I think) on my car computer and see if I can get this working. Maybe this will fix the noise!

UPDATE:

Crap, it looks like you have to pay for terminal services for win2k. Oh well, maybe I'll have to upgrade to xp pro...
seinfield
Good Job.

Can you make a HOW TO???

I do not know linux, and i want to do what you did, but using my laptop biggrin.gif

Regards
Gilberto
Xumbi
QUOTE(seinfield @ Apr 19 2005, 06:43 PM)
Good Job.

Can you make a HOW TO???

I do not know linux, and i want to do what you did, but using my laptop biggrin.gif

Regards
Gilberto
*

Well, this thread is probably as close to a howto as I am capable of producing. The best resource I've found is mp3car.com, although they're not very nice to "newbies".

So do you have a Zaurus that you want to use to connect to your laptop, or do you just have the laptop?
luka
Man this is *great* i was thinking what to do next with my Z smile.gif , looks like you have made it easy for me. smile.gif

A little suggestion, you dont have to use a adapter charger you can make yourself a USB charger, just plug it in that ol Pentium and you have saved yourself some place under the seat wink.gif

here is the link ( japanese - use bablefish)

http ://cc-sakura.dip.jp/eldar-star/doc/usbpow.htm

cheers!
kronchev
wow, you did an amazing job.

sucks about the hissing and such. i wonder if I could get this kind of thing set up with my axim....with wireless smile.gif


whats really stopped me is the fact that i have no way to input to my stereo. its a goddamn blaupunkt and you need a special hardness for input which i dont have no can I find anymore (long been discontinued model). FM transmitters suck for me. I might just hook up a modulator since the antenna is right next to my trunk

you dont say how the computer is secured, is it?
Laze
Hmmm... I think default behaviour for sound is to leave it on the PC you connect to - but it should be documented in the help for rdesktop.

But as manu have suggested its probally problems with badly shielded USB cables... Try disconnectin the entire thing so the pc and stuff is on the frontseat right next to the car radio ;-)
zmiq2
And what about connecting the zaurus to the PC via wifi or bluetooth, thus getting rid of the usb completelly ?
omega
My suggestion, as an electronics engineer is that it's something to do with a grounding issue........ Question. Does it happen when you use vnc but disconnect the charging cable from the sharp i/o connector.

Using a switch mode power supply on an invertor is not the best of ideas... (the zaurus charger). IF my suggestion solves your problem, make a plug from your computers 5v line to the zaurus...
Xumbi
QUOTE(kronchev @ Apr 20 2005, 12:46 AM)
wow, you did an amazing job.

sucks about the hissing and such. i wonder if I could get this kind of thing set up with my axim....with wireless smile.gif


whats really stopped me is the fact that i have no way to input to my stereo. its a goddamn blaupunkt and you need a special hardness for input which i dont have no can I find anymore (long been discontinued model). FM transmitters suck for me. I might just hook up a modulator since the antenna is right next to my trunk

you dont say how the computer is secured, is it?
*

There's no reason why it shouldn't work over a wireless connection. I've heard of kits that are supposed to add rca inputs to any stereo, but I forget where that was. I'll look around...

Right now the computer is not secured, which is a bad thing. Honestly, it's heavy enough that it doesn't move around very much, and I made sure that the wires were long enough so they won't break if it does move. You're right though, I need to find a way to secure it soon.
QUOTE(Laze @ Apr 20 2005, 01:35 AM)
Hmmm... I think default behaviour for sound is to leave it on the PC you connect to - but it should be documented in the help for rdesktop.

But as manu have suggested its probally problems with badly shielded USB cables... Try disconnectin the entire thing so the pc and stuff is on the frontseat right next to the car radio ;-)
*

I tried these options with a system running XP:

rdesktop -r audio:remote
rdesktop -r sound:remote

When I try to play any sound it gives me an error saying it can't determine the sound driver or something.

I'll have to come up with another way of connecting besides usb. I have a spare router at home, maybe I'll try connecting the computer and Zaurus to that and do a regular TCP/IP connection. If that works I'll know the usb connection is the cause of the problem, and I'll see if I can configure an ad-hoc wireless connection, which would be much cleaner.
QUOTE(zmiq2 @ Apr 20 2005, 04:51 AM)
And what about connecting the zaurus to the PC via wifi or bluetooth, thus getting rid of the usb completelly ?
*

It should work, I'd think an ad-hoc wifi connection would be the easiest method.
QUOTE(omega @ Apr 20 2005, 06:03 AM)
My suggestion, as an electronics engineer is that it's something to do with a grounding issue........  Question. Does it happen when you use vnc but disconnect the charging cable from the sharp i/o connector.

Using a switch mode power supply on an invertor is not the best of ideas... (the zaurus charger). IF my suggestion solves your problem, make a plug from your computers 5v line to the zaurus...
*

Yes, it does happen if I disconnect the charger. I am not using the inverter to power the computer, I am using a 150W DC-DC power supply. Right now I only use the inverter on long trips to charge the Zaurus, or my cell phone, and other gadgets.
kahm
Wow! It's been a long time since I looked into car MP3 players! smile.gif Back in '00 I put a linux box in my car, using a 6in NTSC LCD I bought bare from a surplus shop for $99. (I had to build a powersupply and case, and add an inverter sad.gif ) I wrote the software in C, displayed using SVGALIB through a Trident card with TV-Out. It displayed a moving map (courtesy of a Garmin GPS12 and a script to suck maps out of then non-Microsoft owned Mapquest), and played MP3s. I've also used the LCD and inverter to play Dreamcast in the car - we were stuck waiting in front of a computer store in -25 celcius all night for a special. Everyone else was freezing on the sidewalk while my friend and I played games in my car biggrin.gif

How times have changed. I envy that DC-DC powersupply you've got! Your setup looks very clean - I especially like the mount for the Z! I'd be tempted to try bluetooth to network the two of them together. Might be a bit slow for playing movies, though.
Xumbi
Wow! You win! smile.gif

I'm still ashamed that the computer is running windoze, but as soon as someone develops a good front end for linux in the car I'll go for it. What about a linux distribution just for cars??
kahm
QUOTE(Xumbi @ Apr 20 2005, 01:45 PM)
Wow!  You win!  smile.gif

I'm still ashamed that the computer is running windoze, but as soon as someone develops a good front end for linux in the car I'll go for it.  What about a linux distribution just for cars??
*


It was too much work for too little gain. I live in Canada and with the winters we have I couldn't leave the unit in the car. The software never made it past proof of concept, either. I was rather proud of it at the time, and it remains the only reasonably complex bit of programming I've done for myself.

I gave up and started running text based MP3 software on an old laptop, which made it easier to move in and out of the vehicle. Now I just use the Zaurus smile.gif

There are, or at least used to be, linux distributions especially for cars. When I was last actively looking at it in 2002 or so, at least a third of all installations I'd seen were linux based.
doc
I was wondering what you do for cooling on that PC in the trunk?
It has to get extremely hot in there...unless you live in Northern Alaska?
Xumbi
QUOTE(doc @ Apr 20 2005, 01:07 PM)
I was wondering what you do for cooling on that PC in the trunk?
It has to get extremely hot in there...unless you live in Northern Alaska?
*

Hey, you're assuming that I'm thinking that far ahead! I live in New Hampshire, and it just recently got up over 50 degrees! You're right though, it might be a problem in the summer. I've seen lots of other projects where people put their computers in the trunk and it works for them, so hopefully it won't be a problem.
speculatrix
A colleague built an mp3 jukebox for his car. It runs SuSE, uses LCD4Linux plus a cheapio LCD panel and a simple button panel. He spent as much on the car inverter, display and button panel as the PC (made with spares)!

I myself would probably try this: http://www.giantdisc.org/
as a project - old Palms are very easy to get hold of, and cheaper than buying an LCD kit and buttons.

For the moment, I rely on my Z-860 with a 1GB SD card storing about 8 albums (I rip at 192kb/s, depending on quality of the original material), and an FM adaptor which I bought from Brando; it's this one:
http://shop.brando.com.hk/wirelessfmtransmitter.php
- a little bit more expensive than most, but comes complete with car lighter adaptor, and has a better range of FM frequencies than most. Has quite a good sound too!
I'm waiting for 4GB cf cards to come down in price, or for the next generation Z (4000?) with bigger hard drive which can then store many more mp3s.

Paul
Xumbi
Giantdisc looks very cool. If I had known about that before I started I might have tried that first.

The only drawbacks compared to what I did would be that it can't play video, and you can't get online. But in the interest of safety I won't be doing either of those while driving! wink.gif
seinfield
QUOTE
Well, this thread is probably as close to a howto as I am capable of producing. The best resource I've found is mp3car.com, although they're not very nice to "newbies".

So do you have a Zaurus that you want to use to connect to your laptop, or do you just have the laptop?


I have a zaurus c700, and i use my laptop as a mp3 player in my car, but i do not like having the laptop open all the time in order to see what i want to play.

I will ask to friend in order to help m doing these. biggrin.gif

Great Work.
Xumbi
QUOTE(seinfield @ Apr 21 2005, 01:40 PM)
QUOTE
Well, this thread is probably as close to a howto as I am capable of producing. The best resource I've found is mp3car.com, although they're not very nice to "newbies".

So do you have a Zaurus that you want to use to connect to your laptop, or do you just have the laptop?


I have a zaurus c700, and i use my laptop as a mp3 player in my car, but i do not like having the laptop open all the time in order to see what i want to play.

I will ask to friend in order to help m doing these. biggrin.gif

Great Work.
*


Ok I see, then you can definitely do this. You'll only have 3 problems that I can think of:

1. Getting power to the zaurus and laptop, unless you alreay have adapters. However, if you're not going on long trips you probably won't need them.
2. Mounting your Zaurus. If you want to mount it like I did you'll need the EA-BL08 battery and 2 battery covers (one for the mount and one for regular use). You can also use a mount like this but it's designed for the Cx60 models, so you'd need the EA-BL08 battery and cover anyway.
3. Getting sound from the laptop. It sounds like you're already using the laptop in your car, so you probably already figured this out.

I'd be interested to know if you get the same noise that I get when you connect over VNC.
slapout
Very cool. Just don't try to watch videos while you're driving.
omega
That noise is very strange! The only thing i can think of is that your on-board sound isn't shielded very well... have seen that with other motherboards... Also are you SURE that nothing requires -5volts? Try adding -5 volts (easy to do) or a plug-in sound card...
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