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iPAQ AutoMP3 Jukebox How-to 71

Ralph Cottenham writes: "tinytechnews has just put the finishing touches on its first how-to article; a complete MP3 jukebox in your vehicle with a sleek interface provided by the Compaq iPAQ. This article shows you how to use your iPAQ PocketPC to supply your favorite music wherever you go." A lot of the "how-to" work here is accomplished by adding an external hard drive to the iPAQ (running Windows, not GNU/Linux) with Addonics' PocketEX enclosure and an IBM diskdrive, but consideration is also given to various ways to pipe the sound into a car stereo system.
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iPAQ AutoMP3 Jukebox How-to

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    These [] are the systems Maximum Linux used.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    to change the mp3, why not use one of those IR remote controls connected to the serial port of the laptop? winamp has plugins for something like that. if you're not using windows, something else should be available.

    I'm thinking of doing the same thing, provided I can find a cheap laptop, as mine is still too new to stick in the trunk of my car. to control the player I would use a ir remote, with the receiver in one corner in the rear window, one of those LCDs 20x2 to view the song info somewhere in the dashboard, and the output connected into the cd changer inputs of my car stereo. so.. anyone having a cheap p90 for sale? :)

    pedro cardoso
    nipjc at ua dot pt

    - too lazy to login and have a sig
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 11, 2001 @12:03AM (#161249)
    For those who don't want to buy the iPAQ, Hard drive, and enclosure, you can just get the Archos 6G handheld mp3 jukebox and it's practically the same, without all the extra wires and crap. It can send music to the car stereo in the same way as the setup outlined in the article.

    it's a lot cheaper, too.

    Archos Website []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 11, 2001 @12:09AM (#161250)
    .....How-to? How-to what? Spend a lot more time and money than necessary?
  • Well said brother and it's only $549 for 20gig.

    Nope, it's only $468 [] now. =)

    I'm gonna second this... the PJB-100 is the only way to fly. And they've got a 30GB version on the way. At this rate I'll soon be able to put all 45GB of my collection on it. =)

  • by Eccles ( 932 )
    RCA jacks. More rare, but I refuse to hook up a device through the casette deck (I don't even have one in my car anyway).

    What about an RF transmitting system? I've never heard one to know how the audio quality is, but I know a number of CD changers can broadcast to some unused channel. That would make it easy to move the player from the car to another location, no hard-wired stuff.
  • I know we're supposed to be moving away from desktops and to handheld devices but what if there was a way to reuse an old AMD 450 as a car mp3 system. The biggest problem is rapid startup and shutdown while retaining state and without corrupting the filesystem but I'd be willing to buy the extra components if any still existed for desktops.

  • If you're just going to use it in your car, this isn't the best thing, but the article overlooks the best reason to use an iPAQ and enclosed drive: you can use it without the car. It has its own battery, so you can drop it in your bag and walk around with 40GB of music. (IBM has a low power 40GB 12.5mm 2.5" drive.)

    I'm going this route as soon as the 2-slot PCMCIA sleve comes out so I can have a microdrive for OS and buffer and keep the big drive spun down most of the time.

  • Maybe it's just me, but I can identify any of my home-burned compilation CDs from the first track - and usually know what else is on each one pretty accurately. I would imagine that what most people would do is set up playlists for particular moods/genres, which would work about the same as the CDs in the changer.

    If you are looking to pick one song followed by another completely random-access, then of course you are right.
    the telephone rings / problem between screen and chair / thoughts of homocide
  • by Howie ( 4244 ) <howie.thingy@com> on Monday June 11, 2001 @03:19AM (#161256) Homepage Journal
    I have no problem navigating a 10-disc changer without looking at it while driving... why should MP3s be any harder? (Apart from the sheer volume of course).

    Kenwood now make a $450 headunit that will play CDROMs of MP3s as well as regular CDs, anyway, so the utility of a lot of these things is fading. The UI is a bit basic so far, and they don't have a changer that can deal with data yet, but it's a good first step.

    Or, the PhatNoise ( when it's finally done, gets you an MP3 changer compatible with your existing head unit, which is especially handy if you have one of those 'built into the whole dash' things, like Audi, Alfa and Vauxhall do.
    the telephone rings / problem between screen and chair / thoughts of homocide
  • I set up a similar system using my Palm V to control a PhatBox (arm/Linux computer) in my trunk. []
  • Seriously. This is a major waste of an iPaq. If you have enough disposable income to buy the ipaq and all the other kit, then just buy the cheaper portable mp3 players. Hey, if you still want the ipaq, you can still have it, and take it with you without having hook and unhook it from your car every time you take a drive! Woohoo!
  • Actually it's not even $300 anymore. I noticed Best Buy now has it for $199. Very cool. 88 &cat=538&scat=539
  • The important thing about the empeg that people don't seem to take into account with most car mp3 solutions is the audio quality. Your typical PC sound card still stucks, especially when the PC is getting power from the car. The folks at empeg put a lot of work into making the empeg a professional piece of audio equipment and it kicks ass over the homebuilt systems I've heard.

    Only problem is, it reproduces the sound so faithfully and clear that now I can hear all the artifacts of the MP3 compression, even at 160kbps. Sigh. Still, I've found it to be worth every penny.

    By the way, empeg's customer support kicks ass! They are the one tech company I've dealt with that leaves me smiling after contacting support. You won't regret buying an empeg. Or Rio Car or whatever they're called now. They're great! Go get one! Buy buy buy!
  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Monday June 11, 2001 @04:15AM (#161261)
    Ogg/Vorbis recently changed the license for much of their stuff (the libraries, etc.) from GPL to FreeBSD in order to facilitate the incorporation of Ogg/Vorbis into hardware. This was done because of the legal complexities of incorporating GPL firmware with hardware and was fully endorsed by the free software foundation. As one who generally makes use of the GPL (and has even written a GPL-like Free Media License [] for other forms of artistic media (films, music, etc.), I found this to be very interesting ... a vindication that no single free license fits all, and a strong indication that the Free Software Foundation can be very flexible in supporting whatever measures enhance software (and hardware) freedom, even when it means putting the good of the community before their own pride.

    Given the interest hardware manufacturers have expressed in OggVorbis (remember, they could well take the brunt of the hit when the royalty demands for MP3 start rolling in), I would be very surprised if many, perhaps even most, hardware players aren't supporting both MP3 and OggVorbis in the near future.
  • ... if according to this this article [] they are not willing to sell you the rights to broadcast it outside a secure device in a private home? While it is a little far fetched, as soon as you open the door or blast it out on a trunk-sized ghetto blaster, it could cross the line into a public performance of a recording. It's bad enough having police seize cars for even a scent of a weed but giving radio companies (most likely losers from streaming MP3 car stereos) an excuse to hassle your habits is getting a little rich.


  • While it's proprietary and all, BeOS (even personal edition) would be more than adequate for this kind of job. Because of it's database-like file structure, I find that taking extra time when I'm ripping CD's to enter extra data is well worth it, especially when searching through 20+gigs of files. For the Vorbis crowd, yes, there's even OGG rippers out there.

    And, while BeOS is for the most part, dead, it still works and works *great* for this kind of application.

  • I would imagine that what most people would do is set up playlists for particular moods/genres, which would work about the same as the CDs in the changer.

    This is exactly what I do with my CD/MP3 player - each disc is loosly genre-based, sometimes with full albums, sometimes with mixed tracks. I do keep index cards in the CD slot that just outline what track number each album/mix starts with, so I can skip around if I need to. Very easy, and no more dangerous than searching for tracks on a regular CD.
  • Oh wow. I've already got a computer in my car ( ), but those laser windshield robots sound like a pretty good idea. :)

    My next addition was going to be wireless networking, but I may have to rethink.
  • by SETY ( 46845 )
    Hardly worth a response......

    Some of us drive quite a bit and need more music than can fit on a CD. 640 megabytes: thats about 20 songs at decent sounding bit rate.

    I'm sure you are aware that if you do a search on napster, etc. Most of the songs with be 128kpbs and the better quality ones are 160-192.

    This means that the majority of people find this type of bit rate acceptable to listen too.

    For instance the new Weezer albulm at 192kpbs takes up 41 megs.
    So I could store this 16 times over on a CDR. This is a relatively short cd (less than 40 minutes I believe, 10 songs).

    Putting only 20 mp3's on a CDR is basically utter BS, that is why this is flaimbait! But I am sure you already knew that.

  • by cansecofan22 ( 62618 ) on Sunday June 10, 2001 @11:50PM (#161267) Homepage
    A better way, in myopinion, is to add a 1U rackmount server case to the trunk and put a celeron or duron system with a few 20 gig hard drives and your os of choiceto server up the MP3's. I remember seeing an article in Maximum Linux (now out of business) that explained how one person did it with a database and all. It just would look A LOT cooler than the I-Paq.
  • Now that is what I call a review! Holy cow! It's just plain huge! ;^)
  • 1. Cheap X enabled box
    2. XMMS
    3. That xmms plugin that lets you control it via a palm
    4. a power adapter for your palm.
  • I forget to mention, Linux on the iPAQ already supports a large number of devices... I'm pretty sure soon enough you should be able to add a SCSI external hard drive to the ipaq (via the pcmcia sleeve) and load your mp3s from there too... By default, the intimate distributions uses usbnet so you can use a simple usb connection to your host pc (or laptop in my case) for a network connect. (I think some 2.4.4 ac patch has the usbnet module)
  • by catch23 ( 97972 ) on Monday June 11, 2001 @01:19AM (#161271)
    There is a very nice iPAQ distribution called intimate [] which is semi-based off of the Debian distribution (yes you can even add the debian-arm source to it's sources.list file). This "intimate" distribution can be operated off a microdrive (or nfs-root using wireless which I'm doing). Check out this page for some screen-shots []. At the bottom you'll see that this is a great candidate for mpeg playing. At my university, I use the wireless network for my ipaq to stream mp3s using a distribution mounted remotely using nfs!

    Instructions for loading Linux on the iPAQ can be found here: test/install/H3600/install.html []. Do what it says, then use ipkg to install the package "intimateboot". Finally, take a look at this page: []. The current base is at about 200 megs uncompressed. There should be a new version coming out in the next few days with a smaller base, but a much more dpkg-conforming installation process!
  • by Sc00ter ( 99550 ) on Monday June 11, 2001 @12:41AM (#161272) Homepage
    There's way to many hardware devicese out there now for it to die out anytime soon.. Portable systems, car systems (like the Aiwa MP3 CD player in my jeep).. Hell, there's even a car [] now.. the Mazda MP3.


  • by Captain_Chaos ( 103843 ) on Monday June 11, 2001 @12:15AM (#161273)
    Buy an empeg (or Rio Car, as they're called these days). Look here []. 60 GB of MP3's (or WAV's or WMA's with the next update) in your car or at home. I own one and it's the best value for money I've bought in a long time.
  • Very kind of you to say so. Cheers. Just shows what happens if you're bored and cynical enough : )
  • by Dr_Cheeks ( 110261 ) on Monday June 11, 2001 @01:16AM (#161275) Homepage Journal
    Here's some more suggestions for them if they feel that their solution was so much better than just getting an MP3 player and a car-kit:
    • Replace your car steering wheel with a fly-by-wire system using a force-feedback gamepad.
    • Replace your suspension with a liquid N2 cooled ceramic HT superconducting magnetic levitation system.
    • Replace your wipers with dozens of tiny robots that constantly crawl across your windscreen blasting dirt off with teeny lasers ripped from CD players.
    • Replace your engine with a cold-fusion reactor
    Etc. etc. etc.

    Can you say "Overkill"?

  • "People from India stole my fucking job at the tech company I (used) to work at. They should revok those goddamn H1B's once and for all."

    Maybe you should try some education, so you are become a better employee than the average Indian person?
  • There are already $300 units for sale from major vendors?

    Aiwa CDC-MP3 []
    Aiwa CDC-MP32 []
  • I don't see whats so cool about this thing..

    It sure is cool to have an MP3-player in your car, but I don't get the stir on this either. My brother, who's got two left hands, bought a Yepp, made a clamp for it and connected it to his car radio. Nothing special, works fine.

  • by loraksus ( 171574 )
    Get a Rio Volt for $150, or one of the genica's for $70. Then buy a car kit. I don't see whats so cool about this thing..

    The slashdot 2 minute between postings limit:
    Pissing off hyper caffeineated /.'ers since Spring 2001.

  • I guess, but how much will it cost to add that functionality - he spent $986 for this - for that price, you can buy a lot of stuff, needless to say a mp3 player to mount in your car / made for it.

    The slashdot 2 minute between postings limit:
    Pissing off hyper caffeineated /.'ers since Spring 2001.

  • yeah, but my point was not that it is a better solution, but one that is a shitload cheaper. there a 900$ difference between the genica and the ipaq. I can live with flipping a few cd's every 20 hours or so, in exchange for saving enough $ to buy a nice laptop.

    The slashdot 2 minute between postings limit:
    Pissing off hyper caffeineated /.'ers since Spring 2001.

  • All you need is a 486DX 100 lying around. That's my MP3 box, complete with a 3.2 gb drive (I can handle up to 8 with the bios card ;) Use MPXPlay for the software, works like a charm, even with high bitrate MP3's Controll it with a numeric keypad. -B
  • Just stick a small computer somewhere and run a SCSI cable to a removeable HD bay in the dash. The exchangeability of CDs with the size of HDs.
  • There are always reasons to add more functionality to a device. If you can combine the palm (you are already carrying with you) with an MP3 player (you want to carry with you) you ease the presure in your pockets.

    I normally carry around a mobile phone, the wallet, keys, and a pen. If i'd be wearing a palm as well, i'm prety sure i couldnt make room for a Rio too. Adding MP3 functionality to the mobile phone is an excelent idea, imho, the same goes for the palm.

  • to change the mp3, why not use one of those IR remote controls connected to the serial port of the laptop?

    Not a bad plan, I've got an old Panasonic stereo with a remote, but no CD changer for it. I could probably use that. It's even got velcro to stick it to the dashboard.

  • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Monday June 11, 2001 @12:03AM (#161287) Homepage
    ... changing an MP3 is much harder to do while driving than changing a tape. I started to build a car MP3 player, and might well finish it in my copious free time. Just now, I use a P166 laptop with a 2 gig drive, with one of the cassette adapters in the stereo. Safety while driving is a concern, because it's really easy to eject and change a cassette but to change an MP3 you need to look at the screen, or find the right button on the laptop.

    I found that a good solution is to make up a playlist long enough for the journey I'm making, start it off, then just let it play.

    "Dark Side of the Moon" is just long enough for my drive home at night - from "... bumbump Bumbump BUMBUMP" to "As a matter of fact, there is no dark side..." is roughly the 44 miles at motorway speed, at 8pm...

  • Geek Girls? Where can I download one? ;-)
  • Wow! $2,199 US. 60gigs shock mounted in nice little unit that slips into your car stereo slot and USB (or others) to your PC. Nice unit, if you've got that sort of money to throw around...
  • How about something totally different?

    Why not buy a MD player with LP4 compression? I know this doesn't play MP3's but you get a very small and sexy machine [] with long playback time on only one battery and 4 albums on one MD.

    Of course, it doesn't beat mp3's compression but the cd-mp3 players out there at the moment don't handle knocks very well and look very cheap and plasticy.

    As soon as I've saved up, that will be what I'll be doing. Yes it would be nice to run mp3's from an ipaq but the battery life on one of those things is low enough as it is, without hammering it playing music.


  • Well, yeah. But I can dream, can't I. ;-)
  • by karma kameleon ( 222035 ) on Monday June 11, 2001 @12:17AM (#161292)
    Perhaps you meant this article [] for the, in MaximumPC. It's a pretty kickass system and I've been thinking of throwing one together myself.

    This one is penguin-powered, too, which I think is pretty cool, since I wouldn't want to spend another $90 on an operating system for my car stereo. Please consider Ogg Vorbis [] though; MP3 is patent-encumbered and I'd like to see it die out.

    Unfortunately, it's still gonna be spendy no matter how you do it. The parts and prices listed in the article are a little bit outdated, but the system they built cost about $1200 I think...

    It would hold a helluva lot of music, though, and you'd be very popular with the Geek girls. ;-)

  • I am a co-author of "Scream" which is a front-end for madplay in the familiar [] distribution of linux for the iPAQ.

    Scream is written in python, utilizing pygtk and libglade. I've just added Icecast support with Shoutcast support forthcoming.

    Scream is available at m/ []

    Over the weekend, I used it for 3+ hours in my car on a roadtrip usingt a cassette adapater available at Radio Shack (tunes on microdrive). Worked well for my purposes.

    License is GPL.

  • running windows....

    Microsoft OLE DB Provider for ODBC Drivers error '80040e4d'

    [Microsoft][ODBC Microsoft Access Driver] Too many client tasks.

    /inc_top.asp, line 15

  • IDE connecter. Let me hook up a filesystem on an IBM microdrive. 20 or 30 gigs of music from a laptop filesystem would be sweet. I haven't seen a commercial device that does this yet.

    Just an FYI, the microdrives use a flashcard interface, not IDE. As a bonus, it is actually a lot easier to set these interfaces up as IDE requires a good deal of extra electronics while flashcard barely requires pinouts.

  • Wow, another guttless 'AC'! They're a dime a dozen here on Slashdork.

    "I am a negative Karma whore"

  • Well that seems much more logical, and efficent.
    Somthing like that I would more likely agree with.
    Ive had 2 people I care about get seriously f*$#$% up in car accidents because of stoopid distractions. Something more oriented around the driver seems much more worthy.
  • But why the heck in the car? I cant drive and talk at the same time let alone drive and type. I would have to drive with my hazzard lights... Why make it all too perty when its really of no good use... maybe running in the back of a company vehicle or something but isint that why we have laptops:?
  • I got one too. They kick the preverbial ass out of all the alternatives (that I've seen so far). And you can get a tcsh if you type q into the serial port ..... ;-)
  • I'm sure you are being humorous, but let me take your idea seriously, for a sec. All you need is your OS of choice, modified for hotkeys to control your media player of choice (of course, that will start up automatically). Then, grab a keyboard encoder (about $150 at Happs Controls, or you can rip apart a keyboard and have fun with playing with hardware (not that hard, really). Then just mount the buttons up on the dash, and you are set. As for the display, well, that's another post.
  • why not use one of those IR remote controls connected to the serial port of the laptop?

    You can also get numeric keypads that plug into a serial port; there are only 17 buttons on that, which is a smaller number of controls than on my in-car CD player/radio. The controls would obviously depends on personal taste and back-end player, but it would be quite easy to remove and blank out some keys if you didn't map functions to all of them and wanted a simple control panel.

    It would be easier to mount in an accessible place too.

  • I must say, I have silently criticised (or laughed) at some of timothy's antics in the past, however at least he remembers the GNU in Linux. Thanks Tim!
  • by eXtro ( 258933 )
    Thats an inane comment. What kind of music do you listen to that you absolutely can't tolerate an eight track tape? Even if I could handle a lesser bitrate in my car, why should I? I've got a huge collection of MP3 that I've recorded from my CD collection. It's been ripped at a bit rate that preserves a good portion of the original sound quality. I don't want to have to create a second archive to justify somebody elses product.
  • by eXtro ( 258933 )
    I meant about 20 albums and I was being generous. Yes, most songs on Napster are 128 kbits, it doesn't mean that I find it satisfactory. Most songs on Napster can also be categorized as top 40, but I'm not about to change my musical tastes to suit the status quo. The Nakamichi CD/CD changer in my car can keep 8 CD's running. The standard CD/MP3 players aren't significantly better than that unless I degrade the signal quality to the point where I get annoyed.

    The few I've looked at (20 albums is fine for work) sound like cheap "give away" portable radios, so a better bit rate wouldn't help them anyway. I've ripped most of my CD collection already, somewhere upward of 2000 CD's. I've got a 20 gig drive at work that I swap songs in and out of from my home collection and play through a set of decent headphones. I want to do something similar in my car. I'd like to buy a 20 or 30 gig IBM laptop drive and hook it up. No device currently lets me do this other than a few kits that suffer from a lack of directory structure.

  • by eXtro ( 258933 )
    Some of us drive quite a bit and need more music than can fit on a CD. 640 megabytes: thats about 20 songs at decent sounding bit rate. If I've got to flip CD's anyway I'd rather have a CD player, the sound quality is a whole lot better, I don't have to waste time organizing tracks and burning them onto a CD.

    The main problem with all of the commercial devices is that they're cheap pieces of crap and don't do what I think they should be able to do. By and large they're the equivalent of CD players you find in deep discount stores.

    What I really want, and so far nobody has delivered (at least in one piece of hardware) is this:

    • Decent electronics, don't salvage the analog backend from a discount electronics maker that filed Chapter 11. I haven't seen any that have passing marks here.
    • The ability to read CDR. Lots of devices can do this.
    • Headphone jack. Again, lots of devices have these.
    • RCA jacks. More rare, but I refuse to hook up a device through the casette deck (I don't even have one in my car anyway).
    • IDE connecter. Let me hook up a filesystem on an IBM microdrive. 20 or 30 gigs of music from a laptop filesystem would be sweet. I haven't seen a commercial device that does this yet.
    • Understand a real filesystem. 20 or 30 gigs of MP3 in a flat filesystem is insane. There needs to be some hierarchy to it. Document the Hell out of the filesystem. I want to be able to write it out even if I don't use hardware that you support.
    • USB or other serial interface. A CD full of MP3 is easy to navigate through with a handful of buttons. Better control is needed for mass quantities of MP3 though. Document the protocol for organizing and browsing the MP3 database as well as the control codes for play, next track, pause etc.
    I don't care what operating system it runs. I'd argue that it shouldn't run an operating system and should use MP3 decoder IC's anyway. Sell it for 500 bucks and I'll be the first to buy it. I've got a long drive to Alaska and back this summer. I'd love to be able to take a large cross section of music with me. A large portion of the journey will be through areas without any interesting music (or more likely, Billy Bob's Gospel Hour)
  • by eXtro ( 258933 )
    Why is this flamebait? Somebody stated that nobody needs anything more than a glorified CD player and I stated why I want more and what I actually want.
  • A changer is just a hierarchically ordered pair of numbers. You don't get much info about a song from the number. Try navigating an arbitrarilly deep layer of text labels. You'll find what you want much faster, but you will definitely have to look at it.

    It really depends how you organize your songs, whether it is as safe as a changer, but if you read things while choosing songs, it would be much more dangerous.

  • If you need a website to figure out how to hook an ipaq up to your stereo you probably shouldn't use one...

    Seriously though - I've got a Phillips MP3 CD player which I highly recomend - first it lasts longer then the Ipaq (I don't know about the travelstar, but the IBM Microdrive you can listen to about 2 hours of music with the built in batteries and the external battery in the pcmcia sleeve) but you can get it for 125$ and it comes with a car kit so all you have to do is plug it all in. And it works like a top - and it lasts about 8-10 hours on two AA batteries.

  • I've got a Sony R90 (about a year ago it was top of the line) - its okay and it sounds great, but it has a few problems compared to a real mp3 player.

    First you have to record all your songs to it - one at a time, and if you don't have a digital sound card heaven help you because you have to adjust the line level for each song.

    Second the R90 (I don't know about the MZR900) has some of the slowest seek times in the world - it takes over 10 seconds just to skip tracks. And if you close the door with no disk in it - it takes about 15 seconds to tell you that.

    With a real mp3 player its all just drap and drop. I've got an ipaq and a mp3 cd player (phillips) - if you want to listen to mp3 files get an mp3 player. The Phillips mp3 cd player lasts about 8-10 hours and thats over 200+ tracks per disk - plus it has a 100 second esp - I've never had the thing skip. My only complain is the size (cds are kinda bulky!)

    I think the mini-disc recorders are best suited for recording tapes, live stuff, and cds to md.

  • No hard-wired stuff??? I would think the RF-interface has to be placed on your antenna wire right before your carradio. Otherwise you'd be broadcasting close to the regular radio band, plus quality would probably degrade, since there could be random noise on the selected frequency.
  • Yeah, i remember a slashdot story a while back that told of a hack to the nomad that would involve taking it's drive out and replacing it with a larger one. The best part of it was that the drive they removed from the nomad was just a standard Seagate IDE drive. All you need to do is get a larger Seagate drive, format it properly, then stick it in. Sure it voids the warranty, but it's still a cool hack.
  • Kind of takes most of the fun out of this project doesent it? Im not going to make this one my self, because, well, i dont have a car... and i dont have an iPaq eather... or the harddisk and i never heard about the archos thing (will check). But i do like assembling things like this. Especially Audio things
  • I read quite some time ago about a setup some guy made that was even cooler than this. he modified his Nassan Pathfinder byy putinng a Powerbook G3 in the back. He then rigged up a touch-screen in the front dash which would display his list of MP3s, and reconfigured the CD player controls Nissan puts on the steering wheel to control his MP3 player on the Powerbook. THe front controls talked to the trunk-mounted Powerbook via IR, and for the coûp de grâce, he set the whole thing up with an Airport card (wireless 802.11 networking) so that he could download songs from Napster while sitting in his driveway. Now that is cool. The article on how he did it is at, although it didn't work last time I checked.
  • Believe it or not, when you run only one application on Windows, and you've fine-tuned the system for that purpose, it doesn't crash at all!! If / when I add GPS, or other functions, I'm sure I'd have problems staying on Windows. :-)
  • Look around for Book PCs! I bought one at a computer show for $150, and it is a great system for a car player.

    I'm using WinMe of all the horrible things, just because it was quick and simple (anyone can build a player like mine). I use WinAMP with a Joystick plugin and the resumer plugin, and a removable hard-drive bay with an old 6GB drive. The only things I needed to buy were:

    • $150 BookPC (had most stuff on board)
    • $60 Celeron processor
    • $20 2 Removable Hard-Drive Bays
    • $30 Power Inverter
    • $10 tape adapter
    I already had a spare 1GB hardrive for the OS, a spare 6GB for the songs, and a couple of 32MB DIMMS lying around.

    A device like the iPAQ player is nice, but for $1000, I could totally Mack-out my Winblowz standard machine, which fits under the seat in my Corolla. And, it doesn't require you to look at it! I just alphabetically sort my playlists, and use the joystick to traverse tracks 1 or 10 at a time; a lot safer while driving! If I ever want a display, I can add any RCA video-input screen later, and it'll just be for convenience, not required.

  • They also have a much cheaper version, though with a smaller hard drive. The cool thing is, once you've filled one hard drive, you can add a second, and by that time, IBM's new drives using pixy dust should be out. This means massive amounts of storage! Certainly seems like a much better solution. Plus it runs Linux!
  • Sony($300) and Kenwood($350) make in-dash DIN size stereos that will play mp3 off of cdr or cdrw
    they also play regular compact discs

    kenwood has had one out for a year and a half

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun