I designed this version of the ITX skin for Roadrunner touch screens for a fellow car computer enthusiast from Sweden, who contacted me via this site, requesting a custom-designed ITX skin based on the original skin for the Acura ITX carPC project. He intends to display his vehicle, a Nissan 200sx s14a (240sx), in Sweden’s largest car show…
We discussed his needs and requirements over the course of a couple days, settled on a price based on the amount of work required, and I set about designing a series of screens and RoadRunner scripts customized to his vehicle and the color-scheme he requested.
Here is a sampling of the screens which I designed for his car computer system:
1. The Loading screen
This is the screen which is presented after the car computer system has booted up and while the RoadRunner touch screen application is first loading. Here we see the Nissan s14a prior to the overlaying of any of the ITX Skin’s menus.
2. The Main Menu
Once RoadRunner has loaded, the main menu, shown here, is presented to the user. This screen gives access, via the lozenge buttons across the top, to the Audio Player, Audio Browser, Video Players, and embedded GPS navigation.
It was long past due getting rid of Microsoft Streets and Trips and replacing it with iGuidance on the car computer. Don’t get me wrong, S&T is a more-than-decent GPS mapping application, but it falls short in two very important areas when it comes to being used in a mobile computing environment. Specifically, it has very small navigational controls and poor rerouting functionality. Streets and Trips is a great application when running on a small 12- or 13- or 14-inch laptop screen, but when running on the small 7in or 8in touchscreen typical of most carPC installations, the navigational controls are very difficult to manage, especially considering the fact that you’re behind the wheel of a ton of moving steel while trying to navigate the GPS screen. It’s bad enough some of us engage in cellphone conversations or eat breakfast while driving. We don’t need the additional distraction of hunting down minutely-sized buttons on a dashboard mounted touchscreen…
…so I decided, at long last, to integrate iGuidance v4.0 into the Acura ITX mobile computer…
The iGuidance v4.0 application comes with three versions of the program on the installation DVD (PocketPC, Laptop, & UMPC/Car PC). For use in the carPC system I chose, obviously enough, the UMPC/CarPC version. Installation is fairly simple, finishing quickly and requiring a reboot of the computer prior to first-use.
I redesigned the original Acura ITX blue skin in a green version for night driving. I’m still not quite sure about the exact shade of green and might, in the coming weeks and as time permits, attempt to shift the green to approximate a more striking neon shade of green, as well as increase the saturation of the shadowed areas so that they approach black, providing a higher contrast to the overall design.
The following screens were taken directly from the Photoshop master file for this skin layout, and not from a running copy of Roadrunner. Hence, no in-action text or album art can be seen in these screens. I hope to have some photos up in the next few days which will show the Acura ITX skin running in the car PC environment.
For a different view of this skin, in its active context, feel free to take a look at the original Acura ITX front-end design for Roadrunner post, which displays the same screens (among others) in the original blue version, captured from a running copy of Roadrunner, and which show such things as music playlists, GPS maps, album art and embedded PowerDVD software as it is displayed while the skin is running.
1. The splash/loading screen:
Last weekend I pulled the computer system out of the car to troubleshoot some GPS issues and decided to make some enhancements to the layout of the original Acura ITX skin. Having the system in the car for a year has given me plenty of time to get a feel for how button-placement could be rearranged and optimized on the overall touchscreen interface.
Among the changes I made was the addition of an on-the-fly playlist builder. This will allow me to build individual lists of my favoritest ;) tracks from the overall collection, all gathered in one place, rather than having to load dozens of albums and skip tracks to find the ones I like.
Below is a screencap of the playlist builder screen in the OFF state:
The playlist editor screen also contains a pair of “Favorites” buttons, one each for driver and passenger to build their own custom lists. Music controls as well as access to system gamma and day/night skin-switching are all available from the playlist editor screen, and follows the general design layout of the rest of the interface design.
- Pressing the ‘Add Track’ button, followed by one of the playlist buttons, saves the currently playing track to that playlist.
- Pressing the ‘Open List’ button followed by any of the playlist buttons replaces any current tracks in the system playlist with those stored in the selected playlist.
- Pressing the ‘Save List’ button, followed by any playlist button saves all tracks in the system playlist to that button.
Additional screens in the Acura ITX Blue Skin are displayed in the original Acura ITX Front-End Design for RoadRunner post.
or, What my speakers are currently pumping…
Ed Rush & Optical - The Original Doctor Shade (Disc 01 Unmixed)
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The dashboard installation of the Acura ITX mobile system is now complete. I've reinstalled the rear seats, as well as the entire dashboard and center console, reversing the procedure outlined in the original dashboard removal thread. The reinstallation went pretty smoothly, and once it was complete I removed the protective plastic sheeting over the burlwood woodgrain trim and the touchscreen. (Some of the photos show some remnants of the adhesive layer of the protective plastic sheet which covered the burlwood woodgrain. I've been trying to remove it all but it's pretty tenacious, so any little surface distortions or smudges you may see in the woodgrain panel can be attributed to that. Rest assured they'll be dealt with).
Here's an overview shot of the finished installation, showing the screen in a closed position.
If you'd like to see actual captures of the Acura ITX skin, you can see them in the Acura ITX Front-End Design for Roadrunner post, or read the full text of this post to see additional photos of the installed system.
UPDATE: Additional photos have now been added.
This photo shows the main menu screen of the Acura ITX skin I designed for RoadRunner:
If you missed Part 1 of this story, you can catch up here:
Voodoo FBVC14DGU Digital Fused Distribution Block, Pt 1
Using an 8AWG copper terminal connector, I crimped a short section of the 8AWG power cable and attached it to the positive terminal of the battery...
If you missed the first part of this story, you can read it here:
Running the System Wires, Pt 1
Continuing with the wiring run, wires were fed down the length of the centerline of the car. These wires provide:
- power to the LCD screen, which will be powered from a standard computer molex connector via the OPUS120, which will provide a regulated 12V current to the screen
- grounding for the LCD screen, which is connected to the same molex connector as the screen power
- the ACCessory wire for the OPUS 120 ignition signal
- a pair of 3.5mm Audio cables for connecting to the MIC and LINE-IN connectors on the computer system
- a pair of USB panel-mounted connectors
- VGA cable for bringing the video signal to the touchscreen
- a pair of RCA cables with video for connecting to the VIDEO input of the screen, and for splitter connection to the Alpine headunit
The main RCA Audio cable is a 4 meter length of triple-shielded oxygen free RCA cable, and was run down the passenger side of the vehicle, keeping it as far as possible from the assorted power cables.