Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Taking the plunge: CarPC to CarDroid

For the past seven years I have had a computer in my car and it has been a great project. The problem  been reliability for every day use. Running on a hard drive or flash memory, I have had problems. Surprisingly, the hard drive had less problems than running from compact flash. It turned out to be bad flash card though. I found out after I pulled the card for another project. Now I am waiting for the RMA replacement. Last year I had been playing with the idea of pulling the computer out and just integrating my Android phone somehow. I had tried a test with my old phone but I didn't like the results. It was a Samsung Galaxy S, Capitvate version. All it had was composite out which doesn't look so good and there is also the control problem. Not near as seamless as a carPC.

In October of last year I got the Galaxy S II. Much better phone with MHL and native support for HID devices. After some research I bought a MHL to VGA adapter and an OTG cable. During testing both worked very well so I decided to install it in the car. For power, I hacked a USB to cigarette lighter adapter since I won't have the computer's power supply any more. (I might have to use it for clean regulated power later on for the LCD screen.)

So far it has been pretty sweet. I had to order a USB extension cable which turned out hard to find but I found a good quality one on eBay from the States. Using the cable got rid of the few issues I had with some interference and the signal cutting out.

Now that I am happy with the results, it's off to solve the final problem of how to best to control input. Touchscreen would be best but I'm also thinking about some sort of Bluetooth trackball.

Stay tuned for my next post on my proposed solution.

P.S. My first mobile post from my HP Touchpad using SlideIT keyboard, running CM7 customized version by Team Xron.