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LavaJoe
2005-10-29, 20:11
Today I successfully installed an SB2 in my Nissan Xterra (see attached photo)! Always dissatisfied with the factory 6 CD changer (when I had a whole library of music on my computer), I have been trying to build an audio system form playing my MP3 library in my car, and I think I have finally come up with the right way to do it.

I had built a car pc, which sits under the passenger seat, and I had originally planned to use its audio output for playback, but the question was always how to control it. I tried an in-dash LCD monitor with a touchscreen and custom software I wrote for the task (in Python - the system runs Linux), but that proved to be too distracting to operate while driving. Plus, the sound quality from the built-in audio of the VIA M10000 motherboard was horrible (harsh, etc.).

Then I thought of trying to mount a SqueezeBox2 in the dash. I already had access to 5V power from the PC power supply and an AUX input on the aftermarket stereo - hooking it up was easy. And it sounds great! The hardest part was getting the SB2 to fit. I had to do a bit of cutting (plastic and metal - ugh) to get the unit to fit (the SB2 is 1.5 inches wider than a standard DIN unit). After spending hours at this, I mounted it below the stereo in the original factory double-DIN opening.

Given the form factor, using the SB2 over the newer SB model makes sense for this application. The new one looks great, but I think mounting it in a car dash would not work as well, given the shape.

-Joe

Mark Lanctot
2005-10-29, 20:24
Very cool!

Is the SB attached to the PC wirelessly or by
Ethernet?

--- skyrush
<skyrush.1xp3ez (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:

>
> Today I successfully installed an SB2 in my Nissan
> Xterra (see attached
> photo)! Always dissatisfied with the factory 6 CD
> changer (when I had
> a whole library of music on my computer), I have
> been trying to build
> an audio system form playing my MP3 library in my
> car, and I think I
> have finally come up with the right way to do it.
>
> I had built a car pc, which sits under the passenger
> seat, and I had
> originally planned to use its audio output for
> playback, but the
> question was always how to control it. I tried an
> in-dash LCD monitor
> with a touchscreen and custom software I wrote for
> the task (in Python
> - the system runs Linux), but that proved to be too
> distracting to
> operate while driving. Plus, the sound quality from
> the built-in audio
> of the VIA M10000 motherboard was horrible (harsh,
> etc.).
>
> Then I thought of trying to mount a SqueezeBox2 in
> the dash. I already
> had access to 5V power from the PC power supply and
> an AUX input on the
> aftermarket stereo - hooking it up was easy. And it
> sounds great! The
> hardest part was getting the SB2 to fit. I had to
> do a bit of cutting
> (plastic and metal - ugh) to get the unit to fit
> (the SB2 is 1.5 inches
> wider than a standard DIN unit). After spending
> hours at this, I
> mounted it below the stereo in the original factory
> double-DIN
> opening.
>
> Not that an SB2 makes sense for this. I saw the
> announcement for the
> SB3, which looks great, but I think mounting it in a
> dash would not
> work as well, given the shape. With a little
> tweaking, I know the SB
> hardware would fit in a DIN case nicely.
>
> -Joe
>
>
>
+-------------------------------------------------------------------+
> |Filename: xterra_sb.jpg
> |
> |Download:
>
http://forums.slimdevices.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=445|
>
+-------------------------------------------------------------------+
>
> --
> skyrush
>

LavaJoe
2005-10-29, 20:31
Very cool!

Is the SB attached to the PC wirelessly or by
Ethernet?


Mark,

It's a "wired black" SB2 unit. Since I had a bunch of other wires already (power to the PC - ground/switched/unswitched, regulated 5V power back to the SB from the PC...), I just ran a crossover ethernet cable to the between them. You can see the colorful wires in the picture (I have not hidden them under the interior trim yet).

I think going wired whenever possible is a good idea - more speed, resistance to interference, etc. Plus it's less expensive!

-Joe

Michaelwagner
2005-10-29, 20:35
very cool.

I considered doing something similar, but as you say, it's just a bit too big to fit in a standard car audio spot.

I notice your already built in stereo has an Aux input. The one that came with my car didn't, so I'd have to replace that too. Starts to be a big project. ...

I considered the transducer that pretends to be a tape, but my tape desk doesn't understand them and keeps switching to rewind (or fast forward, don't remember) when it can't feel the resistance of a tape.

There is also the tiny FM broadcaster device. I've done that with a portable MP3 player, and if you put the transducer right under the car audio unit, you get not bad results. Not brilliant, but then, it's a car. You already have all that road noise.

How did you do the power management for the PC? Does it shut off when the car does? How? If not, what do you do?

LavaJoe
2005-10-29, 20:39
Two things I forgot to mention:

I have a Linksys USB wireless LAN adapter, and I tuck this in the glove compartment. When I attach it to the PC and am in range of my LAN (w.g. garage or driveway), I can then connect to the SlimServer Web interface and/or ssh into the car PC. To update the music collection, I can then rsync the files to the car PC and initiate a re-scan via the web interface. Yeah, this requires me to turn the key in the car and then run inside to do this, but it's no big deal. Initiating an rsync from the remote on the SB is an idea to consider, since it's already possible to initiate a re-sync this way...

Also, the Nissan Xterra has a few steering wheel buttons that are now inop (they interface via a single wire - resistance to ground determines button pressed, and the factory stereo used this signal). I am thinking of putting a cheap A/D converter on the PC to detect these signals and pass instructions to the SlimServer to control the SB. For now, I just use the remote. :)

-Joe

pfarrell
2005-10-29, 20:40
On Sat, 2005-10-29 at 20:31 -0700, skyrush wrote:
> Mark Lanctot Wrote:
> > Very cool!

> I think going wired whenever possible is a good idea - more speed,
> resistance to interference, etc. Plus it's less expensive!

This is a very cool hack.
Now, does the linux PC in the car talk to your house network when
you park it in the garage? Thus being able
to sync with new music, podcasts, etc. while you sleep?

My guess would be that a SB1G would be more than sufficient,
and they'll be getting cheap now that the SB3 is out.

--
Pat
http://www.pfarrell.com/music/slimserver/slimsoftware.html

LavaJoe
2005-10-29, 20:56
very cool.

I considered doing something similar, but as you say, it's just a bit too big to fit in a standard car audio spot.

I notice your already built in stereo has an Aux input. The one that came with my car didn't, so I'd have to replace that too. Starts to be a big project. ...

I considered the transducer that pretends to be a tape, but my tape desk doesn't understand them and keeps switching to rewind (or fast forward, don't remember) when it can't feel the resistance of a tape.

There is also the tiny FM broadcaster device. I've done that with a portable MP3 player, and if you put the transducer right under the car audio unit, you get not bad results. Not brilliant, but then, it's a car. You already have all that road noise.

How did you do the power management for the PC? Does it shut off when the car does? How? If not, what do you do?


Actually, the stereo is aftermarket - the factory stereo was a double-DIN 6-CD changer. Nice, but it did not play MP3s, only regular CDs, and I hate carrying CDs in my car.

Since I needed the extra space anyway, I went ahead and got a unit with an AUX in.

For power, the car PC uses a small "M1-ATX" DC-DC converter board (if you go to www.mp3car.com, you'll find these). It takes the car voltage and outputs regulated 5V and 12V. It also has logic that keeps the power on for a user-configurable amount of time after you turn off the ignition. The PC gets a power-down signal and actually gracefully shuts down, and the time delay on the pwoer supply allows this to happen before hard power-off. I ran power wires from the 5V supply to the SB, so the SB will actually stay powered too until the timeout happens.

The one thing I had to do (differently from home operation) on the SB is to set a static IP. This is because when you turn the key and the whole system powers up, the PC is not booted yet, and the SB expects to find a DHCP server fairly soon after power-on. If in DHCP mode, it tended to give up before the PC was booted. With a static IP, it simply gives an error about contacting the SlimServer for a while, and then after a while it finally sees the server and everything is OK.

-Joe

MrC
2005-10-29, 20:59
The next hack will be to tap into the car's central monitoring CPU to get smog balls to puff out the exhaust in synch to the beat of the SB.

PUff.... Puff... Puff puff ... Puff...


(very nice addition to your car by the way)

stinkingpig
2005-10-29, 21:43
Michaelwagner wrote:

>very cool. ...
>There is also the tiny FM broadcaster device. I've done that with a
>portable MP3 player, and if you put the transducer right under the car
>audio unit, you get not bad results. Not brilliant, but then, it's a
>car. You already have all that road noise.
>
>
....

I travel a lot and the FM transmitter is my only option (rental cars
rarely have tape decks any more). It's a fine option in relatively
non-crowded environments, especially if you can get a transmitter that
will use the whole FM band. My iRiver branded one does this, and is a
single package -- older and cheapers ones will only offer a few possible
stations and typically use a separate power supply.

However, the FM transmitter stinks in urban radio markets, because you
can't get a clear station to transmit on. Some Western US cities I've
used it in:

Not very OK: San Francisco Bay Area including East and South Bay, LA
Metro area (anywhere from Anaheim to San Diego).

OK, but not great: Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Denver. Typically I'll need
to change the channel from time to time to continue getting a good signal.

Suburban locations, smaller cities, and the backside of nowhere are
usually great though: No signal problems in Park City, Boulder, Colorado
Springs, Tucson, Sacramento, Butte, or Fort Huachuca :).

--
Jack At Monkeynoodle Dot Org: It's A Scientific Venture!
"I spent all me tin with the ladies drinking gin
so across the Western ocean I must wander" -- trad.

pfarrell
2005-10-29, 21:52
On Sat, 2005-10-29 at 21:43 -0700, Jack Coates wrote:
> Michaelwagner wrote:
> It's a fine option in relatively
> non-crowded environments, especially if you can get a transmitter that
> will use the whole FM band.

I had to custom order one a few years back, the standard ones wanted to
use 88.5, and there is a strong local NPR station on that frequency
in the Washington DC area. I got one using 88.3, which was OK, but
most car FM tuners don't have great rejection that close.

I expect if you are willing to do all the work that the original poster
did, you could pop in a new head unit with RCA aux in.


--
Pat
http://www.pfarrell.com/music/slimserver/slimsoftware.html

Vince LaMonica
2005-10-29, 22:36
On Sat, 29 Oct 2005, skyrush wrote:

} is to set a static IP. This is because when you turn the key and the
} whole system powers up, the PC is not booted yet, and the SB expects to

If the PC has a PCMCIA or CF slot, you might move your boot partition to a
CF card, and install Linux there. There's a dist that runs well on a CF
card:

http://www.goosee.com/puppy/index.shtml

Only catch is your BIOS may not have an option to boot from PCMCIA/CF/USB
[if it has USB boot, then a USB CF reader would be needed].

/vjl/

--
Vince J. LaMonica Knowledge is knowing a street is one way.
vjl (AT) cullasaja (DOT) com <*> Wisdom is still looking in both directions.

When there's nothing else to read: http://w3log.vjl.org/

LavaJoe
2005-10-29, 23:03
On Sat, 2005-10-29 at 21:43 -0700, Jack Coates wrote:
> Michaelwagner wrote:
> It's a fine option in relatively
> non-crowded environments, especially if you can get a transmitter that
> will use the whole FM band.

I had to custom order one a few years back, the standard ones wanted to
use 88.5, and there is a strong local NPR station on that frequency
in the Washington DC area. I got one using 88.3, which was OK, but
most car FM tuners don't have great rejection that close.

I expect if you are willing to do all the work that the original poster
did, you could pop in a new head unit with RCA aux in.


--
Pat
http://www.pfarrell.com/music/slimserver/slimsoftware.html


Yes, I had originally thought about trying FM modulators, etc., since I liked my original head unit (plus, the Xterra has a non-standard factory amp as part of the system, and I was unsure an aftermarket stereo would work with it). But given that I wanted to go to a single DIN anyway, it made sense to bite the bullet and get a real AUX input. Now that I have read these accounts of the troubles with using an FM modulator (plus, FM has a limited frequency response - I know, not a huge deal in a car), I'm glad I went with the new head unit.

-Joe

mherger
2005-10-30, 13:57
> I considered doing something similar, but as you say, it's just a bit
> too big to fit in a standard car audio spot.

You might ebay around for a sb1 (NOT sbg!): the display is a little less
wide with the IR sensor on a separate board. It might be the inch you need.

--

Michael

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mherger
2005-10-30, 14:00
> If the PC has a PCMCIA or CF slot, you might move your boot partition to
> a
> CF card, and install Linux there. There's a dist that runs well on a CF
> card:

Even better ;-): the SlimCD
(http://www.herger.net/slim/detail.php?nr=763). It's a byproduct of my
wish to have a linux box boot from a CF card. Everything except the music
collection is on CF and run in RAM. It's based on damnsmalllinux.org's CD
image.

> Only catch is your BIOS may not have an option to boot from PCMCIA/CF/USB
> [if it has USB boot, then a USB CF reader would be needed].

I'm using an CF/IDE adapter with a VIA M6000 board.

--

Michael

-----------------------------------------------------------
Help translate SlimServer by using the
StringEditor Plugin (http://www.herger.net/slim/)

dbls
2005-11-01, 08:06
There's another option for auxiliary input, which I just discovered in the last week or so -- there are aftermarket products that hook into your existing audio wiring harness that have RCA connectors. Try Googling "car stereo aux input". I, too, am getting fed up with fiddling with CDs in cars, although at least now I can have the CD in the car and still listen at home!

Of course, in the future, we'll just use SoftSqueeze on the in-dash computer to listen to our home servers over the Internet...

fathom39
2005-11-01, 19:39
I am very impressed with skyrush's creativity, efforts, and results, especially the ssh-into-linux-box-under-the-seat via wireless and the future steering wheel controls project. OK, here comes the but ... After thinking about how cool his in-dash unit was for a day or so I saw a Fry's ad for a 30 GB Zen mp3 player for about $150 after rebate. The legitmacy of using VBR mp3 audio for cars or head phones has been discussed and settled in the forums already.

LavaJoe
2005-11-01, 21:11
I am very impressed with skyrush's creativity, efforts, and results, especially the ssh-into-linux-box-under-the-seat via wireless and the future steering wheel controls project. OK, here comes the but ... After thinking about how cool his in-dash unit was for a day or so I saw a Fry's ad for a 30 GB Zen mp3 player for about $150 after rebate. The legitmacy of using VBR mp3 audio for cars or head phones has been discussed and settled in the forums already.

In a way, yeah, it's overkill. I mean, who needs a full-blown PC connected by ethernet to a Squeezebox in the dash when there are embedded solutions that are cheaper? But still, it is awfully cool to ssh to the Linux box under the seat! ;)

Plus, I have a lot of freedom to make it work the way I want it to. There is another device ("Omni" something or other) that has a wifi solution to sync with the PC in the house, but I can imagine running into road blocks with proprietary software, etc. Hey, I just use the standard Linux tools and scripts, and it works great!

And personally I ruled out portable solutions like Ipods (the Zen you mention is portable, right?). The basic reason is that that are *portable*. With a portable unit that interfaces to a car stereo, there's always a chance the unit is in the house, in your backpack, whatever. I like the idea the the music will always be there in my dash. Strange reasoning, perhaps, but it works for me.

I've been having a blast with this - the sound is awesome! And at night, the glow of the SB2 display is pretty damn cool!

-Joe

Roy Owen
2005-11-02, 07:20
>>In a way, yeah, it's overkill. I mean, who needs a full-blown PC
connected by ethernet to a Squeezebox in the dash when there are
embedded solutions that are cheaper? But still, it is awfully cool to
ssh to the Linux box under the seat! ;)<<

I've been looking for embeded solutions to no avail, do you have a source?
Thanks


On 11/1/05, skyrush <skyrush.1xuq6z (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:
>
>
> fathom39 Wrote:
> > I am very impressed with skyrush's creativity, efforts, and results,
> > especially the ssh-into-linux-box-under-the-seat via wireless and the
> > future steering wheel controls project. OK, here comes the but ...
> > After thinking about how cool his in-dash unit was for a day or so I
> > saw a Fry's ad for a 30 GB Zen mp3 player for about $150 after rebate.
> > The legitmacy of using VBR mp3 audio for cars or head phones has been
> > discussed and settled in the forums already.
>
> In a way, yeah, it's overkill. I mean, who needs a full-blown PC
> connected by ethernet to a Squeezebox in the dash when there are
> embedded solutions that are cheaper? But still, it is awfully cool to
> ssh to the Linux box under the seat! ;)
>
> Plus, I have a lot of freedom to make it work the way I want it to.
> There is another device ("Omni" something or other) that has a wifi
> solution to sync with the PC in the house, but I can imagine running
> into road blocks with proprietary software, etc. Hey, I just use the
> standard Linux tools and scripts, and it works great!
>
> And personally I ruled out portable solutions like Ipods (the Zen you
> mention is portable, right?). The basic reason is that that are
> *portable*. With a portable unit that interfaces to a car stereo,
> there's always a chance the unit is in the house, in your backpack,
> whatever. I like the idea the the music will always be there in my
> dash. Strange reasoning, perhaps, but it works for me.
>
> I've been having a blast with this - the sound is awesome! And at
> night, the glow of the SB2 display is pretty damn cool!
>
> -Joe
>
>
> --
> skyrush
>

LavaJoe
2005-11-02, 07:44
I've been looking for embeded solutions to no avail, do you have a source?


I now remember the name - one is Omnifi (the one that has wifi ability):

http://www.omnifimedia.com/home/

Before they existed (and crutfield has dropped Omnifi, so I wonder...), there was/is Phatnoise and Kenwood's version of Phatnoise (the Kenwood Music Keg, and it looks like the higher-end 20GB model is gone now):

http://www.phatnoise.com/
http://www.kenwoodusa.com/products/ListProduct.aspx?k1=2&k2=5&k3=71&pr=2008

A few years ago, when I looked into Phatnoise, they were expensive (~$900), and they were designed to work with specific factory radio setups (mine was not one). Kenwood's version will interface to a Kenwood head unit or has an option of a separate control faceplate. Looks like Omnifi has this as well. I do not know how good navigating the library is. Only Phatnoise seems to have decently large hard drives now (another advantage to using a small "PC" instead of an embedded unit is that you can get as much storage as you want).

-Joe

Roy Owen
2005-11-02, 07:54
Sorry,
I thought you were talking about embedded Linux Controllers with SSH and
network interfaces. I'd like to build a hardware interface for my squeezebox
at work to conenct to my ssh server.

On 11/2/05, skyrush <skyrush.1xvjcz (AT) no-mx (DOT) forums.slimdevices.com> wrote:
>
>
> Roy Owen Wrote:
> >
> > I've been looking for embeded solutions to no avail, do you have a
> > source?
> >
>
> I now remember the name - one is Omnifi (the one that has wifi
> ability):
>
> http://www.omnifimedia.com/home/
>
> Before they existed (and crutfield has dropped Omnifi, so I wonder...),
> there was/is Phatnoise and Kenwood's version of Phatnoise (the Kenwood
> Music Keg, and it looks like the higher-end 20GB model is gone now):
>
> http://www.phatnoise.com/
>
>
> http://www.kenwoodusa.com/products/ListProduct.aspx?k1=2&k2=5&k3=71&pr=2008
>
> A few years ago, when I looked into Phatnoise, they were expensive
> (~$900), and they were designed to work with specific factory radio
> setups (mine was not one). Kenwood's version will interface to a
> Kenwood head unit or has an option of a separate control faceplate.
> Looks like Omnifi has this as well. I do not know how good navigating
> the library is. Only Phatnoise seems to have decently large hard
> drives now (another advantage to using a small "PC" instead of an
> embedded unit is that you can get as much storage as you want).
>
> -Joe
>
>
> --
> skyrush
>

Aaron Zinck
2005-11-02, 14:17
> I now remember the name - one is Omnifi (the one that has wifi
> ability):
>
> http://www.omnifimedia.com/home/
>


I actually have an Omnifi...it has it's plusses and minuses but overall I'm
quite happy with it. I considered building a car computer for some time but
couldn't justify it since you can find the Omnifi for ~$100. Navigation is
pretty good--one of the biggest drawbacks is the inability to create custom
playlists on the fly. You're limited to existing playlists, or
album-at-a-time, artist-at-a-time, or genre-at-a-time.

The software it's initially packaged with leaves a lot to be desired, and
the device's firmware was lacking some functionality, but there's quite an
active Yahoo group that has managed to hack the device and add a lot of much
needed functionality. They've really opened it up to the point where it's
nearly just an open linux machine. Along the way they've also discovered
that the GPL was violated for several elements of the device's firmware. A
replacement, open firmware has been developed by some devoted hackers.
Check out this site for more details:
http://openfi.sourceforge.net/

LavaJoe
2005-11-02, 18:58
Wow, that's great to hear - sounds like a nice alternative then. I like it when enthusiasts get in there and make new open source stuff for embedded machines. The same is true of the Linksys WRT54G router- there's a great alternative firmware called OpenWRT. Gives more functionality and works great! Plus it has that command-line feel that we Linux hacks love. :)

-Joe



> I now remember the name - one is Omnifi (the one that has wifi
> ability):
>
> http://www.omnifimedia.com/home/
>


I actually have an Omnifi...it has it's plusses and minuses but overall I'm
quite happy with it. I considered building a car computer for some time but
couldn't justify it since you can find the Omnifi for ~$100. Navigation is
pretty good--one of the biggest drawbacks is the inability to create custom
playlists on the fly. You're limited to existing playlists, or
album-at-a-time, artist-at-a-time, or genre-at-a-time.

The software it's initially packaged with leaves a lot to be desired, and
the device's firmware was lacking some functionality, but there's quite an
active Yahoo group that has managed to hack the device and add a lot of much
needed functionality. They've really opened it up to the point where it's
nearly just an open linux machine. Along the way they've also discovered
that the GPL was violated for several elements of the device's firmware. A
replacement, open firmware has been developed by some devoted hackers.
Check out this site for more details:
http://openfi.sourceforge.net/