project was inspired by a love for music. Specifically, a love for free
music. My mp3 collection had been getting out of hand. Unfortunately,
the place where I listen to the most music: my car, did not have any way
to play this ginormous collection of music.
solution is the muzak car mp3 player. This player has been inspired by
other similar projects such as the CAJUN
project and the route66
project. The idea is to use a Linux powered PC to play mp3 files to a
car stereo system. Feedback is provided with an LCD display and the system
is controlled with an infrared remote control.
with very little knowledge of Linux, an old Pentium and lot of illegal
music, I set out to build the ultimate car stereo.
are some entries from the log of events over the last few months:
Confirmed group memebers
Got a new P133 motherboard to use since the old P120 motherboard was flaky.
P133 motherboard won't boot. Tried installing both Linux and Windows.
Both froze up every time in the install program. In 6 install attempts
with Linux, I got a different error every time!
Got an old 486/DX 100 computer. I'm not sure if it will be fast enough
to decode mp3's or not so I'm going to have to test it out.
Tested the 486 board. It won't boot at all. No lights, no sounds, no memory
check or anything. This is very strange since I was told it worked fine
before I took it apart. Uh oh.
Got the 486 motherboard to power up. Turns out the floppy connector has
to be put on backwards on this motherboard. Unfortunately, I have no documentation
for it so it's a little hard to get it working. I still couldn't get it
to read from the floppy disk. Now it is simply at the point that I can
get into the BIOS settings. I may have to go back to my original flaky
Got a car stereo mounting bracket from A & B sound. The guy gave it
to me for free when I told him what I was going to be using it for, on
the condition that I show him the mp3 player when I'm done.
Got my Irman infrared receiver. Can't wait to get it in, if only my motherboard
Bad news, the LCD display I have is too tall to fit in the mounting bracket
for the car. This is a HUGE problem because one of my main goals for this
project is to have the system fit in a standard car stereo slot. Now it
seems like this will be impossible unless I resort to using a 2 line LCD
display. A 2 line display is way too small to be able to make effective
menus and scroll through long lists of tracks. Now I'm going to have to
either mount the unit somewhere else in the dash, or use two slots instead
of one. Two slots would be bad though, because it means the driver can't
keep an existing CD deck and the mp3 player, they would have to remove
the CD player to accommodate the mp3 deck. Damn! I even checked new LCD
suppliers but the circuit board on all of them is past my height restriction.
Well, today we took apart all the panels on Alex's 1986 Toyota Celica
and figured out that despitethe fact that the LCD display will not fit
into the normal car stereo deck space, we can fit it into the ashtray
slot by building a nice mounting system for it. The idea is to custom
fit two pieces of wood. One will remain permanently in the ashtray slot
to hold the serial connector and the other will house the LCD display
and be removable so I can work on the system at home, and also so the
LCD display can be hidden as a theft deterant (people will steal anything!).
is good news, but unfortunately I've been trying yet another motherboard
and I can't get it to work. First I couldn't get it to show anything on
the monitor, but after flipping around an IDE connector, I got a memory
check at least. Then I get the error:
conflict: 3F8 2F8
a little research I found out that those are the addresses for COM1 and
COM2. So I went into the BIOS settings and disabled the COM ports to see
if I could get rid of the error messages. No luck. I tried a bunch of
other settings too and nothing worked. Grrrrrrr
. So frustrating!
I am giving up for now and going back to my original motherboard (which
is known to be flakey and I really don't want to use but it's the only
one I can get to work). Getting the hardware set up is taking way too
long and I have to get back to coding soon.
Now I've got a motherboard to use, I tried to install Redhat Linux
6.0 onto an old 2GB laptop hard drive that I had. Unfortunately, formatting
a 90 MB partition was taking over 4 hours on it which led me to believe
something was seriously wrong with the drive. I decided not to use it
and switched it for a 1.4GB laptop hard drive. In the end I will probably
be using a regular hard drive because they are cheaper, and eventually
I'll want a bigger drive.
partitioned the hard drive with 90 MB swap space, 1000 MB mounted on /
and 400 MB mounted on "/mp3". I don't really want mp3 to have
such a small partition, but I have this incase I want to install windows
in that partition at some point. Sometimes it helps to loop up IRQ's and
stuff in windows and then configure Linux from that. Hopefully I won't
have to do that.
The mp3 playback using the mpg123 program seems to drop frames once in
while making the songs sound like they're skipping a little. I'm going
to try and remove some of the unnecessary programs that get loaded automatically.
These might be stealing cpu cycles from the rest of the system.
figured out that it only skips on the tracks when playing off the cdrom.
That's fine since the system is not designed to play off the cdrom anyways.
Now that I have the display on COM1 and the infrared sensor on COM2, I
have no place to plug in a mouse during development. I found that there
are PS/2 pins on the motherboard, but I'll have to figure out the pin
layout to make it work and then reconfigure X Windows for the new mouse.
I hope it works because I really don't want to have to finish developing
using only a keyboard (although it would force me to finally learn all
the emacs shortcut keys).
I finally got Hummingbird Exceed to work. It's an X Server for MS Windows.
It is the greatest software ever. It lets me run X windows apps off of
the Linux box in a window on my MS Windows desktop. It also means I never
need a monitor for the mp3 box. Also no need to worry about not having
a mouse, just run the apps through another machine.
My display wasn't working properly and after inspection I found that it
wasn't getting any power. Tracing the wires back with a voltmeter, I found
that some weird build up on the cantacts of my fuse caused it to stop
transmitting power. Very strange. I think it might be because I used scotch
tape around it instead of electrical tape.