KarKomp: Car Computer

KarKomp Updates Software Power Control TV out Pictures

KarKomp Status Updates


My serial usb adapter got hurt, so I had to repair it. It also didn't work at all with the 2.5 kernal cause it didn't want to load any of the modules I built.
I switched back to 2.4 since I'm not trying to hibernate right now anyway. I also wrote a simple app to do digital camera operations with the karkomp. When it's finished I'll be able to mount/unmount the camera/cf card, copy over the files, kick off the album generator, and have a link to view the photo album. I'd like to add a slideshow capability to it if I can. The idea is when I get home, I'll rsync the new pics over the wireless interface.


I managed to get the new touchscreen mounted. It's not as bright as the old display, but it's also in a higher glare position. I finished up the wiring last night, so I've been cruising around listening to my music instead of the crap on the radio. I also made some headroom with the gps boards. The revision of board I recieved apparently will take commands via NMEA or SiRF and apply them to the static ram. When I power one up tonight I'll find out if it kept its settings in sram or not and I'll know if it's working. I created a skin for xmms to make it easier to use. I haven't seen one of these skins with a random button on it yet, so that's annoying. For now I've chosen a high contrast skin. XMMS is close to being acceptable, but it really needs big playlist editing buttons. With some luck I'll get the GPS stuff working this weekend... I've got gpsdrive and streetatlas setup and working at the moment.


So Much work to do!
Configure software on the karkomp.
Install the new display in the jeep
Finish upgrading the new GPS hardware - which is being a biatch right now.
Reinstall the tracker
Install the new GPS antenna
Install the DGPS reciever
Install DGPS reciever antenna
Get some sort of multiple serial card working $30/port is too high!
Come up with a better MP3 Interface!

I've got a trip down to Arkansas coming up so I can check out for scuba class and I'd like this stuff working for it.
An interesting project if something good comes up it, I've yet to play with it. Linux GPS Navigator Project

After much gnashing of teeth I've come up with a 'reasonable' config for the touchscreen.
Section "InputDevice"
    Identifier "TouchScreen"
    Driver "microtouch"
    Option "Type" "finger"
    Option "Device" "/dev/ttyS0"
    Option "MinX" "1000"
    Option "MaxX" "16000"
    Option "MinY" "16000"
    Option "MaxY" "500"
It turns out that the dashpc code doesn't like spaces in the file commands, which is lame. I solved my problem by adding a symlink throught the problem directories. StreetAtlas USA was MADE for touchscreens. The 98 version is really easy to use for this purpose. It does have one problem. Since you can't right click, you can't set markers for starts + stops without using a normal mouse or something. (sigh) I suppose I may add a touchpad or something for the purpose.


I sold the 12.1" display and bought a Datalux 10.4" display with builtin touchscreen. This is nice, because now I can use the DashPC frontend to control the machine. It's also much easier to interact with applications. I feel that this will make the machine truly more functional for me, and allow me to have perform different tasks with far less effort. It also means it could be potentially far more distracting. We'll see how it does.
There's some interesting radio controller software called OZRADIO It seems promising. Bergeron says he hacked it alot to for the dashpc, so maybe I'll get a copy of it from him. It sounds interesting, and I may decide to get a radio interface because of it.
I've had the machine out of the car for a while now, so maybe with the new hardware infusion I'll get motivated. I've really been sick of listening to the crap on the radio around here. I've made no progress with the serial cards, so I may have to find another card or stick with USB serial adapters.


Updated the site to use css a bit. Still tweaking the settings a bit, if you see weird things then maybe you should stop drinking so much.
No real progress on the box... but:

From: Adrian Sanabria To: dashpc@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [dashpc] Possible Dashpc Distribution

I started running development Kernels last week, and have used 2.5.64,
2.5.65, and 2.5.66.

I've noticed that starting with 2.5.66, this "suspend to disk" feature is
included. It basically saves your whole system to your swap location, and
then, when you boot back up, you start the kernel with
"resume=/path/to/swap", and voila! You get your system back like you left
it. You can find it under "Power Management Options" in the kernel config.

Also, it is worth noting that 2.5.66 also includes support for the Via C3,
and Via C3-2 (Nehemiah) chips.

The development kernels are very stable now also, since there has been a
feature freeze for almost 6 months now, and people have been doing nothing
but fixing bugs and reorganizing for the last half-year.


This means I can use software suspend with the Via Chipset!
With some luck, I'll get around to testing it out sometime soon.


No machine that I put the serial card into will boot, at all, so it seems I have a bad card. A replacement is on its way.
Nothing terribly new otherwise, but I'm seriously considering getting a different display. It's very possible that I'll sell that display I'm using now.
Added U-blox gps info to my ham radio page.


Played with the hardware some more. Turns out I had a few problems. I removed the annoying connector from the gps board, and that made the pinout sheet all wrong! That connector mirrors the pins below, so they're opposite the drawing. I also realized I was being stupid. The gps unit I had actually puts out TTL, not rs-232. Time to buy some max232s.(Doh!)
I got the DGPS unit working. It's somewhat picky about power. It'll start up, but if the voltage isn't high enough(like towards 14V) with some good amperage it'll shutdown after a while. Hooked it up to the car power, and it worked just fine. Talked to it with the dgps software from csi-wireless and found that it works, but the signal where I was sucked. I just hooked it up to my 2m j-pole antenna on the deck. That antenna is pretty tuned for 144-148Mhz, and not 315Mhz or so that dgps wants, so that may have tuned it out somewhat. I'll need to build a new antenna for the dgps reciever to put on the jeep.
The karkomp won't boot with the serial card plugged in. Seems like I'm screwed there. Next chance I get, I'll try out the pci card in one of my other machines. I suspect that the serial card doesn't want to work cause of the funky strain on the pci riser. I refuse to spend $70 on a different case to fix the problem. If the card will work, I'll remove the rj45 jacks and make a header with DB9s, since they're easier to make and troubleshoot on my other machines.
Score: Down 1 tracker for now, up one functional dgps reciever, still no joy with the serial card.
I miss my nice tenma soldering station! I've been using a small pencil iron for some stuff, and I just picked up a radioshack 20/40w iron, and it works, but it's really too hot for alot of my work.


New parts showed up today!
The dgps reciever, gps boards and pci serial card showed up. Fast shippers galore out there. I'll have fun setting stuff up tonight. Still need to make some cables for the serial devices. Where'd I put those rj45 ends...
11:18pm - Gah!
Played with the new hardware. The serial card is too thick thanks to the rj45 jacks, the dgps reciever had a funky power connector that seems to be causing a problem. I've yet to try the gps module, but it's tiny-tiny. The antenna connector is going to be a pain, cause it's some micro tiny thing. The i/o connector is gonna suck too, time to look up some stuff at digikey... My head hurts, I'm going to sleep now. (sigh)


Decided on some of the GPS stuff today. I found some sweet oem card gps units that support everything (active antenna power, dgps input, etc) for $35 and I've got a bid on a dgps reciever for a mere $9. Just add some cabling and a mast antenna and I'm there. 1-2M accuracy when I'm near a dgps beacon. Now I wish I had my icom HT so I could check the frequencies for DGPS signals. I'm also thinking I'd like to one-up the fm tuner guys. I'm thinking about either an external winradio or an icom PCR-100/PCR-1000 wideband serial controlled scanning reciever. With touchscreen controls and that tuner it'd be rocking. Not only FM, but AM, USB, SSB... Major scanning abilities. I've now spent too much money and must layoff for a while til my pocketbook heals. With any luck I'll get ahold of a reasable prices touchscreen to add to my lcd and I'll be cookin.
I don't think I fried the LCD! I've been playing with the one that I've wired up directly to the paralell port. So far I've gotten it to display some garbage by grounding the register select. LCDproc is certainly sending signals out the paralell port. They're not very hot, in the neighborhood of 3.5v. I'm suspicious of the pinout sheet that timeline sent me with the displays. I'm trying to hunt down the data sheet for the controller chip so I can verify the pinouts. If data is going to the wrong place, then it would explain the behavior. LCDprocs documentation really sucks btw.


I ordered a 4 port boca serial card. PCI with 4 rj45 serial ports. Should replace the pcmcia adapter nicely. I've also been shopping around for a better GPS to replace my current one which hasn't been performing so well. I think I'm going to add in a differential gps unit as well, to get it really accurate. differential units are very cheap, cause not many people want them anymore. I'd really like to have some serious accuracy, and I get to add *another* antenna to my roof rack! I'm also eyeballing a touchscreen for the lcd. we'll see how that one turns out.


My character lcds showed up. :)
I think I'll use this spiffy bit shift register to run the lcd off the paralell port using only a few wires. Working on adding software suspend to speed up boot time. If it behaves, boot should only need to bring up the kernel and start kickin.
Sadly, I don't think I can use the hibernate software. The Via C3 doesn't support the neccesary CPU flags. Also, VMware, which I'm thinking of using with the newer street atlas doesn't play nice with it at all.


I've been reworking the karkomp extensively. The stinkin character lcds haven't showed up yet, but I've used the time to do some massive id3 tag fixing on my mp3s, encode some of my wifes cd collection and consider what to use with the lcd system.
Cajun looked interesting, but I've decided it really isn't all that feature rich. It's more of a lets hack on it to make it work for a while thing.
irmp3 looks more interesting to me. It uses lcdproc, and uses m3u playlists. I found a nice simple web based playlist editor called SimPleEdi to use for building playlists. I can run it on one of my home boxes and use rsync to keep playlists and mp3s concurrent between the house and the car. I'm going to build a stereo component mp3 player and use irmp3 on it as well. It'll be nice to have the same music interface everywhere. My wife wants me to build her one at some point, so maybe I'll do that for her birthday later this year.
I'm still disapointed in the inability to run street atlas 2003 under winex. I'll continue to play with methods to do this. I hate to use vmware for it, considering how elegant using winex is in comparison.
I put my orinoco card in the firewall cause the cheap(really cheap) Melco card kept screwing up. I tried using it in the karkomp pcmcia slot and have been really annoyed by it so far. I'm probably going to settle for a usb 802.11b adapter and put a 4 port serial card in place of the pcmcia adapter.
I need the serial ports anyway, so I can add the obd-ii stuff and avoid using a really HUGE cable for the character LCD interface.
Finally, I should spend some time playing with PIC controllers. The one in the tinytrak is super reliable, and I'd like to make a better power controller. Ideally it would keep track of the car's power status (running/off) and keep track of the karkomp. I'd like the karkomp to stay up until it either succeeds or fails at rsyncing with the house, then notifying the pic controller to shutdown. I'd also like the pic to watch the voltage, so if it gets too low, it should do an override shutdown of the karkomp.


I tried windows out on the box for a little bit. My reason: Updated windows GPS software.
I got fed up with windows really fast, since it didn't play nice with the usb hardware when it woke up from hibernation.
I just reinstalled with Mandrake 9.0. I picked up a copy of Street Atlas USA 2003. It doesn't want to install under winex.I'm trying to decide if it's worth the $15 risk to get a new copy of winex, since my subscription ran out recently.
I ordered a couple of 40x4 EL backlit lcds from timeline for $15 each. I already have an inverter for the backlight that I got from digi-key a while back. The goal is to make the mp3 info availible on the LCD while the GPS software is running on the main screen. Still need to build a nice button interface to use with the gravis gamepad USB hardware. For now I'm still using the vanilla gamepad. I also need to set up rsync or something to keep mp3s updated from the house to the car. I don't want to open up my wireless network for that, so I'm putting it off til I setup up some sort of tunneling.
I've been busy doing SCUBA and having a life, so my inanimate objects have been getting lonely without me.


Noticed a similar box, but just for music. Oggbox


The machine ran pretty well for a few months. Unforunately, several ungraceful shutdowns due to some sort of power issue caused some damage to some of the partitions. I'm reinstalling the box, and making a few changes. Sometimes disaster is needed to innovate. I'm going to add at least one serial interface, and I've dedicated the onboard serial interface to the wireless keyboard/mouse. At least the keyboard will work now. With the Ricoh PCMCIA cardbus bridge, it is neccesary to tell the driver not to look as isa interrupts. If you don't, the driver will barf.
PCIC_OPTS=irq_mode=0 #tell the driver that it's pci only.

While I'm at it, I'm thinking about going ahead and ordering the new serial display for the mp3 interface. I find it inconvenient to look down while changing songs. I'm thinking of using a paralell port interface, since mine is unused and I'm unlikely to use it any time soon. I also have a gravis gamepad in pieces, which I plan to use for the mp3 controller system.


My question to slashdot about gps software got posted!
Someone posted that they got street atlas usa to work under winex. I ponied up the $15 for a 3 month subscription and downloaded the binary package. It worked excelently. I was even able to use the installer on the cd under it. To make the maps work, I did have to mount the map cd as a loop device, but that was easy.
I've got everything starting up perfectly now! SAUSA, xmms, and xawtv all start up with no tweaking. I may have to do some stuff to sausa, depending on an annoying dialog box that pops up. hopefully it'll go away once the gps gets a fix...
Managed to make the screen stop blanking. Added a couple of lines to my .xinitrc to do it.
xinit +dpms
xinit s 60000000000 s blank
now the screen will blank out in about 3 years. IF I drive the car that long in a row, I probably deserve to have it blank on me.


Just ordered a wireless keyboard from surplus computers. Aitech Airboard Wireless Keyboard w/Mouse

9/9/02 - Babycam!

I also added my quickcam to the system. I'm setting it up so that it will give me a picture of the baby seat on the display so I can check on my daughter without having to perform yoga while driving.


Today I got the display wiring finalized and mounted the lcd. There is a 2 pin dimmer header on the lcd, so I hooked that up to the light circuit using a relay. I also mounted a LM1085 3Amp 12V regulator in the case to provide regulated power to the LCD. I mounted it to a radioshack heatsink I had laying around and stuck it in front of the case fan using some double sided tape. The nice thing is that I can see all the boot and shutdown messages since the lcd is powered off the same relay that provides master power to the computer itself. The display is plenty bright for the car during the day and is nicely visable. When I have time I'll put up some pics.


I managed to get the computer power wired up, so I took the karkomp for a spin without the display tonight.


Added updated schematic to ATX shutdown controller seciton.
I finally put the case lid back on after days of messing with the case. I added a power harness for ground, 12+ and 12Vacc to the case. I also added a diode circuit so that I can bring the box inside, plug it in with the original power adapter and go. There's a diode from the power adapter in to the main power circuit so that the Vacc and V+in will be hot. I've also modded the case to use a pci riser card so I can use a standard pcmcia card for 802.11b, etc. I'm still waiting for an order confirmation from earthlcd... Right now, the case is ready to run in the car. Still much software tweaking to do. Next to play with is the ibm ViaVoice stuff with xvoice. I also need to continue work with navigation software.


Currently the machine is sitting on my desk open to the world. The ATX shutdown controller is built and mounted with zip-ties. Right now I'm testing out various bits of software with the 5" LCD screen evaluating usability. Last night I tried out street atlas usa under VMware. I wasn't happy with how it ran. It would be difficult to get it to start up automatically, and it would eat too many system resources when it was running. XMMS runs just fine, and sounds great. The joystick plugin is super easy to use with XMMS. It works just fine with the gamepad controlling it. I would like to see some changes tho. It would be better if while the thing's not playing, the playlist could be manipulated with the thumb pad. But, it will get it running. Eventually I may add a 4x40 lcd and dedicate a gamepad controller for the buttons. Maybe use a second gamepad to provide controls for the gps system. Eventually I'd like to have them run concurrently.