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 Post subject: BA - CarPC
Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 11:12 am 
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OK, there's a wealth of knowledge out there about the ICC and how to integrate video with it. I've been reading through everything I can find with a view to doing my own multi-source camera setup.

My intention is to have a multi-input video system with a single push button that lets me cycle through various screens, but also automatically goes to the reverse screen when reverse is selected - with some added bits of course.

I have the following in mind, and have worked out most of my plan, and thought I'd share what I'd found so far.

(1) I have multiple video sources - CarPC, Reverse Camera, occassional XBOX in car, and a 4th as yet unused (possibly either a front mounted camera for tight parking, or a 2.5G wireless unit for when I pull up at home and wish to tap into the auto-cycling home surveillance system). This means I can't take the easy way out and use the RGB signals on the VGA output of the CarPC as described in an article on this site. So I have multiple composite video inputs to cater for.....

(2) The Composite RCA inputs (PAL or NTSC) will need to be converted to Component RGB outputs with NTSC signalling as per the ICC screen specs. The easy way out would be to fork out $420 for the ASL Logic unit (http://asllogistics.com/dvd_factory.html) but that switches only two inputs, and is a bit on the expensive side. I have a preference for a more do-it-yourself method using this NTSC/PAL to RGB converter (http://www.converters.tv/products/conve ... rs/43.html) and a simple pushbutton 4-screen input selector based on the MAX454 chip and a simplified version of this circuit diagram (http://www.glolab.com/freeinfo/images/videosw.pdf). The only bit I have to work it is getting a power supply of DC +5V AND -5V from a 12V DC Source, and buffering the Reverse selection line (I'll be tapping into reverse to power an aftermarket reverse sensor anyway) down to TTL which will be easy enough.

(3) Reverse Camera - I've looked at the flush-mounted CCD cameras, and while i like them (I'll certainly consider one in the front grille) they don't do quite what I want - and that includes (a) reversing the image (b) outputting as NTSC if possible and (3) Night Capability. I also wish to cut-out a bit of my bumper that is damaged, and the smaller cameras don't quite cover that area. So I found THIS unit to my liking (http://www.brashimports.com.au/Reversin ... -%2086.htm)

(4) Reverse Sensors - Whilst looking up the Reverse Camera, I also found some cheap Reverse Sensors that look suitable - (http://www.brashimports.com.au/Reversing%20Sensors.htm). For $50 they look good enough, and certainly are a lot cheaper than the $500 factory option. The only trick will be to find a pressure-pack of Blueprint so I can put a thin coat of paint on them - I have Blueprint touch up but the brush will put it on too thick.

(5) I also plan to grab some power for a basic AUX Audio pre-amp unit (Like this one: http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.as ... BCATID=557) so that I can finally hear music from my mate's iPod at the right volume - the ability to switch between audio sources on the AUX as the Screens are selected would be nice too.

(6) CarPC. I'm keen to run Windows Media Centre Edition 2005, as I already have this running at Home with dual Digital TV Tuners (one of them is a USB tuner so I can move it around) and have a spare MCE Remote. While it will do all the MP3/Video/DVD/TV Tuner stuff for me, I'll have to do some custom work to get a USB GPS Satnav system to integrate with MCE, but it should be doable. Of all the MiniITX systems out there, www.mini-box.com VoomPC Barebones system with intelligent PSU tickles me the most, and looks quite cheap at around $420 AUD. But I am struggling to find an Australia supplier (I have approached AusPCMarket to see if they can add it to their Catalogue) so would have to have it shipped over. And the other concern is - would a 1GHz embedded VIA Eden Processor,, even with 512M or 1G of RAM, be fast enough for MCE2005? I have my doubts.

(7) i have yet to select a USB GPS receiver and appropriate SatNAV software, so if anyone has any advice on that it is welcome, but when I get to that point I'll do some suitable research to learn more.


So at this stage I'll get started pretty soon on just the reverse camera integration and Audio Pre-Amp, and will move onto Video Switching and CarPC as time progresses.



Lukeyson

Last edited by Lukeyson on Thu Jan 08, 2009 8:31 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 1:02 pm 
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This is the reason I have joined all of the various forums I scour day and night......to find out about this sort of stuff without having to do all of the time consuming research myself.

Thank you Lukeyson, some good links there.....I'll be sure to check them out further.

I agree with you on the ASL stuff - expensive and not quite good enough.

As for the Sat Nav - on the http://www.mp3car.com website, Map Monkey is highly recommended. I haven't got that far with mine though, so I can't speak from experience.

Panda

 

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Posted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 4:51 pm 
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i have toyed with alot of the techno crap of the ICC, even to the extent of usung the sat nav sound outputs into the redundant sound inputs of the icc if sat nav is not factory fitted.

its all a great idea just make sure your reverse sensors can be panted to match your car a little better.

Also if you want some good GPS software for the car i have some good friend of a friend stuff that should get you started.

its an expensive hobby but its awesome when your car is full of screens and gismos.

 

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Posted: Sun Jan 29, 2006 8:10 pm 
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I just made a startling discovery.

The unit that ASL Logistics sells for $410 (and the same unit that is sold by some guy on eBay for $400) can be purchased direct from www.carconverters.tv for about $292 (http://www.carconverters.com.au/product ... r/236.html). This unit will take any two PAL or NTSC signals and convert to one NTSC RGB. The reversing line is auto-activating.

HOWEVER, if you can get all your inputs to be NTSC, then you can get a simpler unit for $264 that does the same two-input to a single output (http://www.carconverters.com.au/product ... %20target=). This unit has been -specifically- designed to be compatible with the BA Falcon.

There is a single-input unit (http://www.carconverters.com.au/product ... r/173.html) that looks like it could do the same thing for a single NTSC input, but for some reason they list it is incompatible with the BA Falcon - and also means that the barbones circuit I listed above may not be compatible as well.


And the hits keep comin'......

I'll be giving the $260 option some serious consideration, as all the devices i have in mind so far support NTSC (except perhaps the XBox unless I mod it) and I reckon I could get the remaining screens into the system by way of a cheap $10 A/V switcher like this Jaycar unit (http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.as ... &SUBCATID=).....although I'll keep hunting until I can find a unit that switches by way of a push-button and not a slider switch.


Lukeyson
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Posted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 11:12 pm 
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have you thought about using webcams?

not sure how webcam software can handle multiple webcams on one pc but i'm sure a bit of creativity could make it happen, that minimises the amount of inputs to switch.

also re mce2005 i assume you will probably need a decent video card which an epia system will probably not allow you to accommodate....
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Posted: Tue Jan 31, 2006 8:58 am 
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Yeah, I thought about that, but the hassle of driving the webcam through a PC is a bit much, especially if i want it to come on automatically when reverse is selected. The carconverters solution simplifies that, and doesn't require that the PC is booted.

I have since found a bunch of people at the australia xpmediacentre.com.au (yesm the English spelling of centre, and not the US product-name spelling of center) where a small number of people have MCE2005 going on ~1Ghz mini-itx systems. These systems are actually designed as silent Media systems, so will do the job.

However, it seems a shame for fork out $500+ on such a slow system, no matter how silent' I'm half thinking about just resurrecting an old 1G system and finding a smart 12V car power supply to get me up and running, although it will be much bigger and have to fit in the boot, rather than under the drivers seat as I was anticipating....


Lukeyson
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Posted: Sat Apr 07, 2007 9:15 am 
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I've come back to this after awhile too.

So far, I've chosen to simplify the reverse camera component by using a scan-converter and using basic cameras.

The details of what I've done regarding the reverse and in-car camera's are here:
http://www.fordmods.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=23440

I've also gone some way into reverse engineering a Falcon and seeing what information I can extract. Details on the scantool work are in this thread:
http://www.fordmods.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=25010

So now back to the multimedia player.

Both of the RCA inputs are now taken on the scan-converter. Some initial designs saw me using a video switch to switch more inputs. I may still do this. But I do still have an RGB pass-through input into the scan-converter, which is meant to allow for the pass-through of the factory satellite navigation system. I have all of the wiring in place to allow for pass-through, so my current research is exploring that option.

One option I have considered is a HDD Media Player with NTSC RGB output at somewhere between $200 and $300 AUD. One that I have identified is an 80GB Lacie Silverscreen which is capable of RGB output via SCART. Think of it as a 80GB USB Storage HDD with the ability to play audio and video media content of various formats - http://www.lacie.com/products/product.htm?pid=10480

The Lacie would easily let me transfer media between the XR and the SX Ghia and would be good for most things. Just not the OBD2 bit.

Initially I'd been looking at the VOOMPC case with a Minit-ITX Board. Still nice and an option, and would have to go under the passenger seat. A Barebone VOOMPC with 1.2GHz CPU is about $350 US before HDD and RAM. However the VoomPC has no room for a Optical Drive - although this isn't so bad. And Extenral USB Slot Drive could then be routed to the spare tissue-box DIN-slot in the Dash.
http://www.mini-box.com/VoomPC-MII12000 ... C-Barebone

Since then the VoomPC2 has been released - a little bigger, and with support for a slimeline optical drive - a 1.5GHz barebone unit is about $400US before HDD and RAM.

But talking about the tissue box made me go on a hunt for a DIN sized carpc, and there are some around.

At the moment one is quite compelling, but has a drawback for me.

The Lilliput Blaxtream is a 1GHz single DIN system with 512M RAM and a 40G Disk. It has a built in blue-tooth unit and a media-front-face that can be used for playing media before the PC itself is booted. A dedicated site in Oz rebrands it as the Vastute and sells it for about $1150 ( http://www.vastute.com/index.cgi?cart_i ... =101010122 ) but the same Aussie branded version can be found on eBay for around $900 ( http://www.vastute.com/index.cgi?cart_i ... =101010122 ) or from international sellers for as little as $750 before shipping.

The down side to this is that this solution still needs some research. This unit has no RCA output. So the only option is VGA. There may be some small chance we can get the Astute guys to look at getting the unit to ouput a 15.7kHz horizontal frequency so we can plug it straight into the ICC screen - and I have asked. I have also found some people doing some work in this area as well online.

But ultimately I would still want both a VGA output for the front screen, and RCA output for rear screens, otherwise I'd need an expensive multi-VGA splitter, and would need rear screens capable of VGA - doable but inelegant.

Most other single DIN CarPC players at that price point have less ram, or use a tray-DVD player rather than slot.

Single DIN carpcs are still emerging, so the good news is that I should be able to sit tight and wait till something comes along that I want - which I guess I've been doing for some time now. But for now, I feel the market is just not where I am yet.


Lukeyson


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Posted: Tue May 15, 2007 10:19 pm 
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Another Aussie distributor of the Single DIN Car PC calls it the Polares. http://www.polares.com.au/Catalogue/Pro ... atID=27344

I've actually been exchanging emails with this mob, and they indicate that a "Grand Hand View" (http://www.grand.com.tw/en/web/product/ ... and%20View ) or "Grand Hand View II" (http://www.grand.com.tw/en/web/product/ ... 0View%20II ) VGA to PC converter might be useful if we could find a unit that supports RGB SCART.

I'm going to investigate this further and maybe even get a Grand Hand View (I or II or even III) and trial an old PC I have lying around before I commit to a single-DIN CarPC. Funnily enough, the biggest motivator for me is that I need something in the car to do a whole lot more OBD2 logging. There have been some recent breakthroughs in that area, although I am in the middle if writing some VB code to help me flesh it out more.


Lukeyson

Last edited by Lukeyson on Wed May 16, 2007 8:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Posted: Tue May 15, 2007 11:05 pm 
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I'm using the carconverters unit. It's a quality bit of kit.

I'm using it to convert the output of my DVD head unit for the ICC. I have a front mounted camera plugged into the aux input on the head unit. Should I later add a reverse camera, both the head unit or the carconverter unit will support it.

 

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Posted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 7:39 pm 
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Thread reset.


Just quickly, I've had a Car Converters unit in my car for ages. It has 2 x Composite RCA inputs and 1 x RGB Passthrough. This allows for 1 x Reverse Camera (Composite), 1 x Video INput (I use ALL THE TIME as an in-cabin back-seat monitor which is Great at night with the kids) and 1 x RGB Pass through for supporting factory sat-nav.

I am once again entertaining the idea of a carpc.

I don't know if I will complete it, but I have some motivation at the moment, and this is what I would like to do.

(1) Obtain a Factory Sat-Nav DVD Drive Mount. (Check images below). This will be for locating a CarPC device in the factory Sat-Nav position. I don't know how much luck I'll have getting one, but I shall try.

(2) Obtain an ICC Touch-Screen Overlay. eBay has them for sale, custom sized for the BA ICC without the need to remove the IR receiver like other units I've seen. http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Ford-BA-BF-terri ... 240%3A1318

(3) VoomPC2 Case, mounted to the Factory Sat-Nav Mount - http://www.mini-box.com/VoomPC-Enclosur ... ategory=87

(4) i like the look of the Intel Atom motherboards - particularly the new Atom Dual-Core 1.6Ghz unit... http://www.mini-box.com/Intel-D945GCLF2 ... tegory=100

(5) M2-ATX vehicle power supply.

(6) The key to all of this is getting a 15.7kHz RGB 60Hz 640x480 Interlaced output from VGA Port. I'm currenttly trying to get this answer from Intel, to see if they can do it. Otherwise I may have to resort to a SCART ADD2 card - not that I can find one yet. I'd consider an ArcadeVGA if I thought one would fit in the chassis.

From then it's just a case of finding some DDR2 667 RAM, a 2.5" SATA drive, a slimline Optical DVD, and a copy of XP/Media Centre or Centrafuse - which should be easy in my industry...


Lukeyson

 

 

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Posted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 10:41 pm 
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Sounds like a good idea.

I didn't know they made specific touch screen inserts. Got my interest peaked right now.

 

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Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:14 am 
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I sent some questions to that eBay guy.

The overlay is 'glued' into place. So it must all be about finding the right sized overlay rather than it being custom made. My concern is that I would want to remove the Overlay sale-time, and the ICC would be unaffected. I expect any surface to be glued would be behind the bezel anyway, so i don't consider this a major concern.

Also, I was worried that having the PC in the boot and Overlay at the front would be too long for USB, but he said that his CarPC is in the boot and his works fine.

I also got an answer back from Intel support that the 945GC chipset does not support the modes we are after from the VGA port, but we could get an ADD2 card with RGB Scart that could do it. If only I could find any ADD2 cards I might listen to this advice. But any I DO see are full height PCI-E cards anyway, which gets me to the same place as buying an ArcadVGA in the first place - that it won't fit in a VoomPC-2 case. I consider that to be a 'low success rate' option.

So I went back to some old threads. Firstly toymachines Car-PC thread:
http://www.fordmods.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=58096

And then the one a remember the most, his thread with known-good Powerstrip settings. http://www.fordmods.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=49711

I once used that thread to try to get an old PC with an Intel 810e chipset to work, only to be halted at the list minute by teh fact that the 810e did not support interlaced mode.

So I've sent a question to the Entech Forum (The guys who write Powerstrip) to see if they can tell me whether the Intel 945GC supports the settings we're after:

Powerstrip Website:
http://www.entechtaiwan.com/util/ps.shtm

My question thread:
http://forums.entechtaiwan.com/index.php?topic=6751.0


Lukeyson
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Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 12:21 pm 
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I've got a printer hanging off a 10m USB cable, never a problem with it.

If you get really stuck, there are USB repeaters available. But I doubt you'll have a problem in that regard.

 

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Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:01 pm 
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Yeah, my Mongoose is flakey on a dumb 5M USB extension cable. With a repeater it is fine. It's just another expense to avoid if I can.


Lukeyson
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Posted: Fri Jan 09, 2009 11:45 am 
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Frac.

I just got a response at the Powerstrip forum, where I have been told that Powerstrip does not support setting 'Interlace' on the Intel 945. That s**t me really, since if you can get interlaced NTSC out of the the Composite/SVideo Outs that come from the same chip, why not on the VGA port?

I already know that the VIA chips don't support the modes we want.

So it's looking like the Video Modes needed to support our ICC are not available direct from any Mini-ITX Motherboard chipset.

Well, once again it looks like I'll have to can the idea of having a CarPC, because I'm not satisfied with having to use that humungous ArcadeVGA Card. And I'm stuffed if i can find any ADD2+ or SDVO that do RGB Scart - let alone a slimline version.


Munts.



Lukeyson
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