log of project where a computer system is integrated into a 1997 neon

Monday, September 19, 2005

Tweaking: Software, Shielding, Extigy

Time to start making this thing actually work! I have started to investigate more of the so called "front" end scene and have decided to go with frodo player.

I've found frodo to be well thought out, fast, customizable, and works with embedded album art!!!

The default skin sucks, but I've found that the "brightlife2" skin fixes that problem.

I also think that I might have some interference issues. Either that or a ground loop. Either way there was some noticable noise in the audio from the onboard soundcard. I attempted to add some shielding.

For my shielding, I again went to the piece of aluminium flashing I had laying around. I found that I was able to cut this best by scoring it with a utility knife and then bend the metal on that cut.

The shielding was then wired to the PSU ground and attached use a screw.

Unfortunately, the shielding didn't really help matters at all. I have no friggen idea what is going on.

Instead, I decided to attack the problem another way. I had an external sound card at work that I didn't really need anymore. It is the soundblaster extigy.

Upon investigation of the AC converter, I found that this device requires 1A @ 12V. Perfect fit for the M1-ATX 12V rail!

I plan to modify my wooden case at some point in the future to better house this external card. For now it is just in the back chillin with Poland Spring water bottles.

The good news is that there is no distorition anymore on the audio and the quality of sound is very good.

The only other thing that has been done since my last post was that I soldered some wires onto the XM cigarette power "egg" and wired that onto the 12 volt ignition switched line going into my deck. Don't ask me how but the XM device (and my head unit) must get a pulse signal on this line when the ACC line is tripped from my ignition switch. That basically makes the XM raido turn on and off automatically, as well as free up my cigarette lighter for other things.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Roady 2

I ordered an XM Roady 2 that should come to 10 bucks after rebate, also using a code availbe in fatwallet forums you can get 3 free months of service. So this is pretty much a risk free way for me to try out XM.

One thing that instantly struck me about the device was the station selection switch. This is located in the upper right hand corder of the device. You roll up, down, and then press in to make your channel selection. Using this switch is very uncomfortable. What do do? Let's add our own switch.

The first thing was were to get a switch. I had an old broken receiver laying around that i decided to go investigate. I found a knob type device on there that was used to make selections in either the left or the right direction and then the selection was chosen by pressing down. This was almost a perfect match of the behavior that I needed. Time to start tearing things apart!

Check out all those white buttons. Well save this for later.

Check out this spring loaded door. I can see this being used when I make a housing for my screen.

This is what I was most interested. You can see here the mode selector knob as well as a few simple buttons and a volume knob post which is nothing more than a potentimeter (variable resistor)

Swithces generally work by connecting two
points when the switch is closed. Thefore with a
multi meter you can see when the resistance goes from one (infinity) to zero to determine how the switch works. Using that method I was able to determine how this switch works.

There are 5 pins. 1-2 connected is left, 2-3 is right, 4-5 is select. I also connected 2-4 so i have a common close line.

Using the same method, I determined that the Roady 2 has the following switch configuration.

Notice how small and awkward the switch on this device is.

Once we have both of these switch configurations known, we simply connect wire between the "common", "left, "right", and select pins.

You'll need a pretty steady hand and a good low watt iron on to get these Roady 2 points.

Here is the test rig. I usuall try something out like this before you go tear the entire car apart.

I couldn't really think of a place on the car to mount the switch that I really liked but ended up going with mounting the switch on the center console. One advantage of this is that you can rest your arm while manipulating the control.

This does not seem like a big deal, but when you consider that there are 100+ stations, you don't want to have your arm extended for that long of time.

Here is a (blurry) view of the control knob mounted in the car.

After running power, audio, and antenna wires under the carpet and through the front of the car I'm just going to throw the thing up on my dash for now. Nothing too permanent - I don't really even plan on keeping my XM device.

The end.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Finishing the core install

My girlfriend has informed me that I need more of an executive summary at the beginning of these posts.

As you can see I have take some time to make an initial mounting of my touchscreen. Obviously this is roughed in but I am well aware that to do this properly i'll be needing to make a frame, fiberglass it in, and putty it to the dash.

So, to summarize, the screen is in the dash!

This is the section of the dash that was most modified. I pretty much just winged this process and made some rough marks as to what I wanted cut out.

I pretty much removed the entire section where the two AC/Heat vents go.

Using some scrapwood I made this rig. As you can see I have pretty primitive tools to work with. The cross section is attached by fitting into a dremeled out slot on the right and screwed into the existing dash area on the left.

Here is another shot of this setup.

Once the screen was in a good state to be mounted, I also took some time to run USB, VGA, and power switch wires under the carpet.
This required that I take out the seat and center console, which also gave me a much needed opportunity to clean 3 year old frenchfries, etc.