Small Scale Keyboards

Published by Andrew Hreschak in research and planning, the hardware, input devices
Published on 01/13/06 @ 05:35:00 pm using 192 words, and has 1813 views

Electrone 9007
6.5" x 3", PS/2, raw/kit form, $105

I just found this mini-sized keyboard on the web, by a company called Electrone (http://keyboardspecials.com/mini.htm). It's the 9007 model at the bottom of the page. The keyboard is raw, in kit form (no enclosure), and measures 6.5" x 3", with a 6' flat PS/2 cable. This would be perfect for mounting in the cup-holder compartment in the Acura CL, since I rarely use it for actually holding cups. I gave them a call to inquire for more information. They want $105 for it, which I think is very steep, and will probably preclude me from trying it out. Too bad, because it's the nicest tiny keyboard I've seen so far which is fully functional; most don't include all the keys, especially the ESC key which is critical for escaping from full-screen visualization apps.

Ione 2-Tone Wired Keyboard
Available from NewEgg for $35 shipped.

This is a nice small keyboard, laptop sized, with built-in trackball.
Ione 2-Tone Wired Keyboard

Originally posted 05 December, 2005

Contemporaneous Auditory Narcotics:
or, What my speakers are currently pumping...
Dub Syndicate - Classic Vol 1

Creative Commons LicenseThis post is the creative work of Yours Truly and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

System Installation and Tweaking

Published by Andrew Hreschak in installation overview, research and planning, the software
Published on 01/11/06 @ 07:47:00 pm using 526 words, and has 6786 views

Mini-ITX in open testbed environmentTesting the EPIA MII-12000 in an open testbed

I had some spare time this evening and got around to setting up the system in an open testbed environment. I figured this would save some time, rather than having to install the board into a micro-ATX case and then removing it again once the final choice of mini-ITX case is made.

I'm currently trying Windows 2000 SP3 in the testbed stage, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the EPIA MII-12000's performance under Windows 2000. Currently the system is pretty bare. I have installed the chipset drivers, along with the drivers for onboard audio, lan, usb, firewire, and video.

I've installed TweakUI from the Windows 2000 PowerToys kit. This allows me to get to the desktop without being prompted for a username and password, adding to the hands-free usability of the overall system environment. Once RoadRunner is installed, I'll configure it to enter directly into the RoadRunner environment on bootup, bypassing the desktop entirely.

Fullscreen voiceprint analyzer visualizationTesting a fullscreen vis voiceprint/spectrum analyzer

I've installed WinAmp 2.7 (I can't stand newer versions of WinAmp) and have done some preliminary tests for sound quality and fullscreen visualization responsiveness. The EPIA board handles the Geiss plugin almost flawlessly, which was another nice surprise. I don't plan to run the Geiss Vis on the actual system, but it's nice to know this little board can handle it. The plugin in the attached photo is a fullscreen voiceprint analyzer and spectrum analyzer, which is probably one of the visualizations I'll include in the final install.

I've also installed Alcohol 120% v1.9.5 (Build 2802). I plan to use Alcohol 120% only for its ability to create virtual cd-rom drives. I've set it up with five virtual drives so far. This way I can create images of my GPS Map discs, and mount them virtually on the system. This will allow me to run multiple different GPS Mapping applications, while only having to switch from one mounted disc to another. Additionally, the fact that they'll be running from virtual cd-rom drives means they'll be a lot faster than reading maps from a cd-rom.

The machine has, admittedly, very little software installed on it to this point (I still have to install the actual GPS apps, RoadRunner, and possibly a DVD player), but the system currently goes from a cold boot to the desktop in approx 15 seconds, which isn't too bad. It shuts down from desktop to off in about 4 seconds.

I might try Windows 98Micro (http://www.litepc.com/98micro.html) on this board to see how well it fares, though I worry about compatibility issues primarily with modern GPS apps running under a stripped down version of Windows 98. The nice thing about 98Micro, however, is that people have reported going from cold boot to desktop in under 8 seconds, which would be very nice indeed.

Note: Be sure to read the follow-up article in which the mini-itx system is fully wired and running from a car battery, simulating the vehicle environment and ignition states.

Contemporaneous Auditory Narcotics:
or, What my speakers are currently pumping...
Talamasca - Illusion World

Creative Commons LicenseThis post is the creative work of Yours Truly and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Parts List Overview

Published by Andrew Hreschak in general information, research and planning
Published on 01/11/06 @ 06:10:00 pm using 314 words, and has 1558 views

This post is simply for tracking the component front-runners, and their associated power consumption and wattage output. It'll be adjusted as necessary...

Primary parts list:

  • Alpine CDA-9851 HeadUnit (w/ AUX RCA input from carPC)
  • EPIA MII-12000 mainboard
  • Akiwa GHB B05-A Mini-ITX chassis
  • 512Mb PC2700 memory
  • 40Gb laptop hard drive (600mA on the 5V rail)
  • slimline cd-rw/dvd drive (unknown Amperage, assuming full 500mA)
  • Opus Solutions 120W vehicle power supply
  • Road Runner touchscreen front-end package
  • 4cm cooling fan (approx 150mA on the 12V rail)
  • MTSVO-SC 7" LCD screen (approx 10W [Max 1.2 Amps] on the 12V rail)
  • USB1: LCD touchscreen overlay (max 500mA)
  • USB2: Rikaline 6010 USB GPS receiver (approx 100mA on the 5V rail)
  • USB3: spare panel-mounted USB port (Amperage dependent on device attached, but most often just a USB-key storage device, so probably 100mA)
  • USB4: spare panel-mounted USB port (Amperage dependent on device attached, but most often just a USB-key storage device, so probably 100mA)

Supplemental parts list:

  • VooDoo FBVC14DGU fused digital distribution block
  • Scosche EFX barrel fuse assembly
  • Approx 15' of 8 Gauge wire (black) to tap 12V battery current. (Start with 30A inline barrel fuse).
  • Approx 10-12' of 16 Gauge wire (red) to tap Ignition ACC signal for Opus120 (approx 5mA)
  • Approx 4-5' of 16 Gauge wire (red) to tap Ignition ACC signal for MTSVO-SC LCD screen (approx 5mA)
  • Approx 10-12' of 16 Gauge wire (yellow) to run 12V to dashboard LCD screen (Max 1.2Amps)
  • 2x10' panel-mount USB cables to run from trunk to dashboard or center console
  • dual USB backplate connector using the onboard USB pins instead of using a USB hub.

Useful tool for calculating power requirements in mini-ITX computer systems: mini-ITX Power Simulator

Originally posted 28 November 2005

Edited 08 January 2006
Edited 11 January 2006
Edited 15 March 2006
Edited 20 April 2006
Edited 18 May 2006
Edited 29 May 2006

Contemporaneous Auditory Narcotics:
or, What my speakers are currently pumping...
DJ Spooky - Riddum Warfare

Creative Commons LicenseThis post is the creative work of Yours Truly and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Tapping the Onboard Diagnostics

Published by Andrew Hreschak in research and planning, the xtras
Published on 12/04/05 @ 12:44:00 am using 322 words, and has 14028 views

AutoTap Diagnostics InterfaceCAPTION: The AutoTap System Diagnostics Display

A few nights ago a friend and I were discussing Dyno Scans, and tapping the onboard diagnostics (OBD) port to get an inside look at engine operations. I got to thinking about that, and dug up a bunch of links that deal with hardware/software options for tapping the OBD port that comes standard with every car manufactured after 1996.

I'm not sure if I'll implement this as an addition to the Acura ITX project, but while the planning stages are underway I'll keep the links available here in case I decide to hardwire a tap into the OBD port.

The first thing I did was to perform a quick visual inspection of the Acura's OBD port (first picture), to learn exactly which language it speaks. Shining a flashlight onto the port itself, I saw that pins 4, 5, 7, 9, 14, and 16 were active, which means the Acura uses the ISO language. The language is crucial, as not all taps and software apps will communicate with all vehicles.

In any case, here's a brief list of links for OBD software and taps:

OBD Scanner circuit schematic, including part numbers

AKM Electronics OBDII Information

Andy Whittaker's OBD-II Hardware Site

Andy Whittaker's OBD-II Software Site

Auterra's OBD II Scan Tools for Windows and Palm OS

AutoTap OBDII Diagnostic Scanner - Product Information - Screenshots

Dyno-Scan - Automotive OBD II Scanner Kits for Windows PCs

FreeDiag, Open Source OBD Software Interface

Introduction to OBD-II

Jeff Noxon's ODB-II PCB schematics: Build Your Own

MP3Car OBD-II Forum

Multiplex Engineering, Prebuilt OBD Modules

OBDII Automotive Diagnostics Homepage

OBDII Automotive Scan Tool and Virtual Dashboard

OBDII OpenDiag Software

OBD-2 Vehicle Explorer Scan Tool Browser

ScanTool.net - ElmScan ISO OBD-II Scan Tool

TroubleCodes.net- engine & OBD2 Trouble Codes and Technical Info

Contemporaneous Auditory Narcotics:
or, What my speakers are currently pumping...
Miles Davis - On the Corner

Creative Commons LicenseThis post is the creative work of Yours Truly and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

VGA Extension Cables

Published by Andrew Hreschak in research and planning, the hardware, cables & wiring
Published on 12/03/05 @ 06:52:00 pm using 113 words, and has 1249 views

Originally posted 19 July 2005

Useful when installing the computer somewhere other than in the dashboard (i.e. under the passenger seat, or in the trunk). Specifically, the combo VGA/USB cable looks good, since the touchscreen needs USB.

http://www.vpi.us/cables-g.html

Here are some additional thin VGA cables which might be useful for connecting the computer (in the trunk) to the LCD screen (in the dashboard).

10' High Performance UltraThin VGA HD15 Triple Shielded Cable
10' Combo High Speed Coax VGA/SVGA Cable w/3.5mm Stereo Audio Cable

Contemporaneous Auditory Narcotics:
or, What my speakers are currently pumping...
Asian Dub Foundation - Facts and Fictions

Creative Commons LicenseThis post is the creative work of Yours Truly and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Material for Headunit Faceplate Mod

Published by Andrew Hreschak in research and planning, the headunit
Published on 11/21/05 @ 07:40:00 pm using 246 words, and has 3052 views

Planning for the dashboard faceplate mod

Sample of possible Burlwood trim
Sample of possible Burlwood trim

Just got sent the above photo by a member on the Acura user forums, who also refered me to a source for Burlwood ABS trim which is an almost exact match to the existing woodgrain trim in the Acura CL. I've contacted the vendor to see if I can get a scrap piece of the material so I can do some color comparison prior to buying, but no dice. Apparently they're just a reseller and get the material ready-to-ship from the manufacturer. In any case, here's a picture of the trim in question, sent to me by the person who bought it and built a customized faceplate for their Acura TL. The vendor calls it "Floritine Burlwood" but I think it's supposed to be "Florentine". I think it should make a pretty darn good faceplate for this project, after some templating and cutting. Additionally, it only costs approx $16 for 2 square feet, so I have a little leeway to make a mistake or two.

The vendor to whom I was refered is located at: https://www.selectproducts.com. I'm going to try to find a local vendor to possibly be able to verify the color in person.

Check out the burlwood sheet installed in the Acura ITX system.

Contemporaneous Auditory Narcotics:
or, What my speakers are currently pumping...
Killer Moses - Insomnica

Creative Commons LicenseThis post is the creative work of Yours Truly and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Regulated Vehicle Power Supply Options

Published by Andrew Hreschak in research and planning, the hardware, power
Published on 11/20/05 @ 08:52:00 pm using 902 words, and has 18164 views

One of the trickiest parts of the Acura ITX project is that I'd like the system to be largely hands-free. The system will have a keyboard only as backup, and will rely on the touchscreen interface via the LCD panel.

When it comes to powering the system on and off, the plan is to have the computer wired directly into the ignition of the Acura CL, so when the car is turned on, the computer boots up, and with a kill-switch wired inline between the ignition and the computer, for those occasions when the headunit is preferred over the ITX system.

Here are the power supply options I'm currently considering. They each have their pros and cons.

OPUS120 12Volt 120W DC ATX Power Supply

OPUS120 120W 12V DC ATX Power Supply The 120W DC-DC Power supply has a micro-controller that controls and monitors various functions of the power supply operation. It monitors automobile battery voltage to protect against deep discharge. The Power-ON lead is monitored to start the PC when the power is turned on and to implement a safe shutdown procedure. It controls and monitors motherboard signals to provide smooth power-up and power down sequences. In addition, it also responds to shut down, stand-by and hibernate modes.

The power supply can be programmed to shut down the PC after a delay of time. Its outputs are monitored to assure proper PC operation. A green LED indicator in the power supply continually indicates the power system status and health. It is also used for troubleshooting. There are features that are built-in for trouble-free and safe PC operation. The input power is protected against transients, load dumps and double battery during jumpstarts. The PC does not reboot during engine start or cranking. It also uses state-of-the-art technologies and the most advanced techniques to maximize efficiency, performance and reliability. Simply put, there is no other PC power supply like it.

Here is a diagram of how the OPUS 120 is wired from the car battery to the computer system. This is a rather simplistic diagram and does not take into account the wiring via the vehicle's 12v ACC connection, nor the fused digital distribution block mounted in the trunk.

OPUS120 User guide (requires Adobe Acrobat)

M1-ATX DC-DC ATX Automotive Computer PSU

M1-ATX DC-DC ATX Automotive Computer Power SupplyM1-ATX is an intelligent vehicle (car, boat, electric cart, etc) 12V DC-DC ATX PC power supply. Designed to provide power and to control the ON/OFF switch of a motherboard (PC) based on ignition status, M1-ATX is a wide input (6-24V) vehicle or car DC-DC ATX power supply capable of surviving tough car engine cranks (down to 5.7V) as well as transient over-voltage situations.

M1-ATX Product Manual
M1-ATX Specs, including power ratings
M1-ATX User Guide
M1-ATX Schematic Diagram and Dimensions

This power supply provides a direct bridge between the vehicle battery and the computer system. It has onboard LDO (Low-voltage Drop Out) circuitry, and has 8 user selectable microcontroller driven timing modes, allowing you to choose up to 8 ignition/shutdown timing schemes via a built-in shutdown controller. It can be purchased for approx $75 from various vendors specializing in vehicle computing electronics.

M2-ATX 160W ATX Power Supply

M2-ATX 160W 12V ATX Power Supply M2-ATX is an intelligent, high power, vehicle (car / boat / electric cart) 12V DC-DC ATX PC power supply designed for car pc and battery powered applications. Designed to provide power and to control the ON/OFF switch of a motherboard (car PC) based on ignition status, M2-ATX is a wide input (6 to 24V) vehicle / car / battery operated ATX power supply capable of surviving tough car engine cranks (down to 6V) as well as transient over-voltage situations.

The M2-ATX comes with complete cable harness consisting of:

  • ATX cable extender plus HDD and Floppy power (9inch)
  • Power input cable harness terminated in 0.25' fastons (12inch)
  • 2 pin M/B on/off power ON control wire harness (9inch)
  • set of LBJ (little black jumpers) to control various power sequencing schemes

M2-ATX Product Manual (English)
M2-ATX Specs, including power ratings
M2-ATX Schematic Diagram and Dimensions
M2-ATX Undocumented shutdown timings

M2-ATX has 8 user selectable microcontroller driven timing modes, allowing you to choose up to 8 ignition/shutdown car pc timing schemes via a built-in shutdown controller. By removing all user-selectable jumpers, M2-ATX becomes a traditional PC PSU with no ignition control (shutdown controller bypassed) and it can be used in non-vehicle computer applications.

Alternate option:
80W DC-DC Power Supply 12V Output from Opus Solutions. This system provides most of the same features as the m1-ATX power supply, including a micro-controller that controls and monitors various functions of the power supply operation. It monitors automobile battery voltage to protect against deep discharge. The Power-ON lead is monitored to start the PC when the power is turned on and to implement a safe shutdown procedure. It controls and monitors motherboard signals to provide smooth power-up and power down sequences. In addition, it also responds to shut down, stand-by and hibernate modes.

However, the Opus 80W Supply is not compatible with the EPIA M-series of mainboards, as the M-series requires a standard ATX power interface. The Opus Power Supply is designed for motherboards with 12V input power. Since the Acura ITX project will use an EPIA MII-12000 mainboard (for the onboard CompactFlash and PCMCIA slots), the Opus power supply is not exactly suitable to this project, but is listed here for reference.

Contemporaneous Auditory Narcotics:
or, What my speakers are currently pumping...
Dope on Plastic - Volume 3

Creative Commons LicenseThis post is the creative work of Yours Truly and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.