- Ghetto Laptop Car Mp3 Player.

introduction, 2002/01/07

What follows is a brief description with plenty of photos of my latest creation, the ghetto car mp3 player.

The Ghetto Car MP3 Player project spun off of my latest ebay selling rampage and the realization that the body of my old laptop, which i had removed every valuable part from and sold on ebay after a terrible hacking accident cost me it's LCD. (CRRRRRACK, DOH!). I realized that I could still use the moderboard/processor/cpu to decode mp3's if i could hack a glamorous or otherwise way of powering it's 15v needs off a 12v car outlet. I decided... What harm is there in trying to run it off the car's 12v. And, alas, the damn thing worked (once i got the polarity correct).

I am running winamp on the machine under windows 98. I have it booting directly into winamp instead of explorer as the machine has only 16mb of ram. Everythgin in software is pretty basic. Only tricky part was disabling startup scan as shown on Jeff Mucha's MpegBox Site

It may look like there is some sort of conversion in my lighter adapter but I assure you I removed all traces of circutry and electronics. Besides, this cheapo adapter snaps in place much better than anything else i've ever used.

Realizing I was well on my way to victory, I decided I needed to think of a good way to interface with it. I pondered trying to get my IRman to work (although my IRman was the original hand-made caseless model Universal infrared reciever by Ties Bos), but it was at school and a remote seemed unnecessary in a tiny car. (I would have just lost it). So i took it upon myself to make a keyboard that responds only to the winamp control keys z,x,c,v,b. (for: prev, play, pause, stop, next) I would liek to add additional functionality, such as shuffle toggling, repeat toggling, and the ability to flip between multiple playlists but that can wait. The IRman drivers support all this so I may use a remote afterall.

Thus began the keyboard adventure. I took apart one old keyboard, found which connections when shorted were equivalent to the keys i wanted and began to try and solder them in place. Unfortunately, this was harder than anticipated as there were no solder pads to soder to, only wierd conductive squishy material that is pressed against the 2 mat patterns that mkae the keyboard work. Bummed, I wondered what I shoud do. I decided to try a few more keyboards, finally finding a really old AT keybard whihc had a different mount and thus had easy solder points. I wired everythign up and had success in testing. I decided to buy buttons and a project box at radioshack until i saw it would have cost me 10 bucks. I decided to improvise a solution (read: bad idea, more work than worth). But in the end I have a usable product, and ghetto enough to find its way onto the web.

The keys are in the same order as winamp so I don't get confused, and are labelled with sharpie. Plus, this puts "next" my most-used key on an end of the controller, making it easier to strike without looking.

Check out the pics below. The case is an old casette box. the buttons were desoldered from old mice (which explains why they don't match). This is wired into the cardboard box that turns raw signals into AT-Friendly keyboard signals that are finally passed to the PC.

I had a lot of fun making this project. I especially enjoyed using approved materials and spending no money. From the toolbox we used: hot glue, soldering iron and solder, wire stolen from old dead ribbon cables, dead keyboards, electrical tape (sorry, no duct tape yet), and assorted odds and ends. And the best part isd the freedom I have to drive around and hear what I want! (5 gigs of electronica at the moment).

update 2002/01/09


I decided the above setup was too ghetto, so I have revised my setup. I still have a 5 button controoler, although this one is substantially more aesthetically pleasing. The buttons are from super nintendo controllers and the actual switches are stolen from mice. The new controller is qute good i have to say.

An improved controller wasn't enough for me... there is never enough for me it seems... I wanted to know what was playing and be able to switch playlists and all that sort of good stuff. I found a basic LED module I hoped would be pin compatible with the hitachi HD44780 for markus zehnder's lcd plugin for winamp. and it wasnt pin identical but by reading the schematics it worked :-). So enjoy the pics of higher ghettoness.


My next model will be 4 buttons as shown in the below picture...

... I suggested to the guy who writes the LCD plugin I use to allow dual usage of the command keys. In a future release, the keys: (LCD up),(LCD down),(LCD enter) will also act as previous song, next song and play/pause when the menu is not active.

4 buttons is nice and easy to wire up anyhow. i might add a second above the menu trigger to enable/disable the visualization but we'll see.

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