RISC Carputer 2 – Setting up

The next step was to plan and set up the electronic items.

Prior to this I had completed a test fit with the unprimed console:



I’m using Am Player to control the mp3’s along with WinMenu as the keyboard is a 2 button affair. Both have been downloaded from 7th Software
7th software link

I needed something small and backlit so opted for the RII ProMini from amazon here
It comes with a small dongle that plugs in to the pi – I was a bit wary that it wouldn’t work with RISC as the instruction state that it is only compatible with linux and windows however it worked perfectly. The only issue happened when I forgot to plug in the dongle and shoved it in when RISC had booted causing the mouse to stay at the top of the screen but this was fixed with a reboot.
It also works with WinMenu requiring the Fn & Ctrl keys to be pushed at the same time.
The backlight is not as dazzling as described however it is adequate and useable once I’d found the correct key (red dot in the top left). The instructions are vague however it didn’t really need anything as it plugged in and worked.

I didn’t want to spend too much on a screen at this stage thinking that if it was a really handy addition to the car then I could upgrade. My big concern was that the screen needs to be positioned right in front of the gear stick and there is the potential to punch it really hard when changing gear if your hand slips!
I went for a low res TFT screen from amazon.
It’s a pretty poor resolution however with a bit of fiddling about on the os comes up with a readable output. One tip I did read about was turning the screen upside down and setting the picture up the display at 180 degrees (a simple couple of clicks) as it makes it a lot more readible.
It comes with a plastic mounting bracket for fitting in to a car which is handy along with a remote control and facilities to add on a further AV input along with a trigger to enable a rear parking cam to be fitted. I’ve not yet set this up but I’d like to make use of it in the future.

The biggest suprise of all was that the keyboard and screen just plugged in and worked! I really thought I’d have some issues (especially the keyboard) and would have to go back to plan B using linux however I was delighted to see it all working on the dining table!!

The next stage was to set up the software. I’m still with my L-plates on as a RISC user however a quick read of http://lehwalder.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/middle-mouse-button-fuer-riscos-mit-winmenu/ got me to understand the process of running things from boot so I did this for WinMenu and AMPlayer. Both of these work perfectly with AMPlayer remembering its position on the screen and returning after rebooting which is very handy.
I’ve also downloaded the config and control files for AMPlayer again from 7th Software. I have a plan of creating my own screen and utilising the control hooks however this will wait until I’ve got the main body of it all working.

Note: I origonally had digital cd working initially – this was great however the small screen made it pretty hard to hit the buttons so I opted for AMPlayer.

I’ve taken advantage of the new amazon facility which allows you to download your previously bought CD’s as mp3’s and saved them to a usb drive, then transfered them to the sd card on the pi. It works pretty well and is a case of simply dragging and dropping.

Type of PI.
I am conscious that the sd card is a finite size so I’m going to have to build a method of reading usb drives in the system. This then limits me to the type of pi – I’d hoped that I could get away with a model A without all the networking and a single usb drive however it may be better to use a model b that I could potentially have some sort of LAN to wireless connector and the additional usb port.

The Land rover is pretty well catered for in the electrical department – It’s got 2 x 12v batteries that are connected in parallel with a connection from the winch to make them in series giving 24v. Behind the passenger seat is a fuse board to control the aux equipment and I intend to fit a further fuse board so that my modifications are separate from the existing equipment.

Power to pi
Initially I was going to run a new power supply form the new fuse board to power 2 x cigar style sockets with a usb adaptor to run to the pi. I managed to loose the adaprot somewhere and ended up altering a halfords 2 x power supply and usb charger. I pulled the tiny usb circuit from it (retaining the 2 x power sockets) and ran power directly to it from the switch, plugging the pi in with a flat, noodle lead from Pimoroni http://shop.pimoroni.com/

Power to amp
This needs about 3 amps so it’ll be run separately from the new fuse board.

Power to screen.
The screen comes with its own fuse and bare wires that I’d like to link up with my own fuse run from the new fuse board.

I had intend to have 2 x usb ports on the dash – 1 as a data and power to the pi and 1 as a power only for charging my phone. In pratice I’ve gone for a single usb port in the centre glovebox so that I can charge my phone and stick in my usb pen drive to transfer data to the pi.

The screen has taken up more space that I’d imagined! Initially I’d though about having the amp below it however it may be better for it to be positioned in the centre console. This would give me the option of pluging in the ipod directly and letting it sit in the soft bit at the front and also having dsomewhere for the keyboard to sit when not used.

At the end of this I had a working version in my front room:

working prototype


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