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Atheist Libertarian
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669 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys, I'm interested in hearing feedback on my thoughts as well as some info on a few things. I am in the conceptulizing phase of an in-car computer. This arose from my dissatisfaction with current off the shelf car audio components. I don't really need or use 90% of what is included in a head unit (like the radio, typical "eq" controls, remote controls, bass enhancement, internal amplifiers, etc...) and would like more practical things (like balanced outputs, superior DAC's, easy to use knobs, functional displays, etc...). Along with that is the OUTRAGEOUS cost for good dc powered signal processors. I don't like that if I want an outboard x-over I have to settle for less than a 24db/octave Linkwitz-Riley. I don't want to lose fade controls from my dash to do it either. If I want a sophisticated tone control with constant q filters in my dash, I wind up with 2 volume control knobs (HU/Preamp). I hate that car amps don't come with clipping indicators, or limiter functions that can be set to block clipping.

The computer I have in mind will store music on a hard drive in whatever format you like (.wav, mp3, .ogg, flac, etc...). The player will be clean, stripped down to its primary functions, and run fast and smooth. Attaching to this player is any number of software plug-ins that provide any style of eq, x-over, delay, or other enhancement. This are mapped virtually and applied in the chain however you like. For instance, original signal goes to virtual splitter that divides it into, say, 7 channels identical. These get mapped to frx2/flx2/rr/rl/sub. The fronts are doubled and bandpassed to both midbass and tweeters with eq'ing applied however you like to each stream. You could eq each indivdual speaker seperately, and give it its own pass band with x-over slopes up to maybe 48db/octave. Rears would get the same, with custom eq'ing to provide rear fill, and maybe a little delay to image the front even stronger. Same with the sub. Reversing phase would be no sweat, if needed. Realtime analyzer would likewise be software based, and controlled from the computer (along with pink noise, sinewave sweeps, whatever). Any exposed input device like knobs, buttons, etc... would be completely mappable to the user's sprecification. Output is the hardest thing right now; ideally the computer would interface with a breakout box via digital line. The break out box would have maybe 8-10 completely assignable outputs to route any signal to any chain. The computer would likely be mounted in the cabin, the break out box close to the amps.

Visual interface would be from a 7-8" lcd monitor (touchscreen currently available), the only thing to be fitted in the dashboard. A slimline, slot loading dvd drive could easily be mounted underneath. Control would either be touchscreen (more elegant) or keypad (disassembled and fabricated into armrest for the tactile, no need to take eyes from the road).

2ndary functions include wifi, free gps, map service, movie player, obd II code reader, or any other software that can run on a pc. Most of what I gathered for hardware ideas, OS set up and things non-audio came from this site: http://www.mp3car.com/
Audio solutions are entirely my own.

A question I have for the gurus here is, Does any respectable car amp company build amps with good digital inputs? If I can locate that, I can drop the breakout box entirely and run digital coax straight from the computer to the amps. Barring that, I am still looking into building my own amps and DAC's, so if anyone has a reference for me (book, website, etc) lemme know.

This project is probably gonna happen over the next 2 yrs as I aquire parts, tweak software, and generally troubleshoot.
 

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89 Posts
man, i think you went over alotta peeps heads w/that one. sounds good though. best o luck to ya
 

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RAWRscareh
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604 Posts
heh, as far as what you're looking for, not a damn clue....but it sounds like a sweetass setup...lemme know how it turns out! (i can get shuttle computers cheap, and that'd be a cool thing to have heh)

only suggestion i can offer is from experience. i helped a buddy of mine do a car-puter in his 99 Alero...we fiberglassed the keyboard (a mini one) into the drivers side visor, and did your run of the mill 7inch LCD in the dash (those oldsmobiles have an assload of space). the only thing he ever had issues with was the mouse. we made a fiberglass/MDF tray for the mouse, that was basically a 14"x18" board that had a fiberglass boxes glued to the bottom of it so it'd sit inside his center console when it was open, basically giving him a small desk. we also added a USB splitter (in the map pocket) so he could plug in a full size keyboard if he wanted, or a digital camera, or almost anything else.

just some ideas

good luck with this man
 

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Atheist Libertarian
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669 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I have a smaller form factor than what those shoebox shuttles use (called a mini itx, its 17cm by 17cm square) and a dc to dc power supply specifically for cars. It will survive an engine crank w/o rebooting. I have usb ports to plug in a keyboard for occasional use, but the majority of the functions will be macro'ed to a small integrated keypad. Once the setup is configured, a keyboard/mouse should be unnecessary for general use. Something else I forgot to mention... you can get finger print scanners for ~$50 that attach via usb. Maybe I can configure that to start the car as well, but that is a project for later. It just seems to me that all the things we use for car audio are so damn expensive so it makes sense to try a software solution where you just buy the hardware once and configure it all digitally (for free). I'll tell you what, if I get this shit working the way I envision it, you might just find me competing. When I start installing, I'll either post pics or set up a website with the saga on it.
 
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