Raspberry Pi Car Computer

I want to build a raspberry pi based in car computer. The main uses will be as a media centre and a web browser. I may also see if I can add car diagnostics information as well.

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Final Install

I decided to change the OS to openELEC so I can boot Kodi automatically. 

Here's a few pics of the final install...

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Ollie commented on Final Install:

Looks good, did you do anything with the OBD stuff?

Mark replied:

Hi Ollie, i've done a basic setup https://incredibits.io/project/raspberry-pi-car-computer/car-diagnostics but looking to do something more advanced as a separate project.

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Looks good mate!

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jaffacakes replied:

Yeah it's actually quite alot to do , you don't realise at start. Sometimes the pi don't act like you want it to. And there's alot of research to do what you want it to do :)

Mark replied:

You’re so right! i’ve just started with Pi - it reminds me of the old PC’s where you had to install the operation system/software etc. It can be a bit frustrating but it makes you learn and understand how it all actually works.

jaffacakes replied:

I'm only using a spare room at mo but could really do with a work shop to do everything I want. I've also ordered alot of stuff from China makes the project so much cheaper , I think my project has cost around 80 quid so far, I have parcels delivered so regularly I get funny looks from the postman hahaha

Jack replied:

When I got back in to making stuff, I was amazed at the amount of really sophisticated components that are available from china at really low prices. When I use to make things, it did not get any more sophisticated than a 555 timer and maybe the odd AND gate chip...

Mark replied:

That's amazing you've done all of that for £80!

jaffacakes replied:

Yeah it's not bad when you think of it, and the heart of it only costs £4.20 hahaha really amazing!

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Car Diagnostics

I've managed to set up the car diagnostics on the Raspberry Pi using pyOBD. The setup was fairly simple, all the instructions and download can be found at https://github.com/Pbartek/pyobd-pi.

I used aLYL® super mini Bluetooth Scan Tool OBD2 (Amazon - around £9). This just plugs into the car diagnostics port. At first I wasn't sure it was working as I couldn't connect to it from my iPhone but it was fine on the Raspberry Pi.

Next I installed bluetooth and pyOBD on the Pi.

Here's it working in the car...

Only one problem, my car has a safety feature that disables the screen when the car moves!!

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Bob commented on Car Diagnostics:

Have you given any thought to setting this up to control lighting such as fog lights?

Mark replied:

I hadn’t thought of that! Great idea!

Bob replied:

I have a relay box I posted here on incrediBits. I want to morph it into an either Audrino or Raspberry pi based system with touch screen to control the lights.

Mark replied:

Sounds great can’t wait to see it! Will hopefully give me some inspiration!

Bob replied:

Found this for the screen. Programmable touch screen.
https://www.itead.cc/display/nextion/nextion-nx4024t032.html

Jack replied:

That looks quite interesting. I guess you then plug it's UART into an Arduino to drive light Relays or use a Pi and the bluetooth OBD thing Mark is using?

Mark replied:

The screen looks good. I wasn't going to use a touchscreen as wanted to use the factory fitted screen (To keep things simple) but now i'm thinking about using a touchscreen like that as remote control.

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Jack commented on Car Diagnostics:

That looks good! Shame it does not work when the car is moving! is there something that you can do about that?? Do you have a list of the values that you can get from it.

Mark replied:

I think it's possible to bypass it but the car dealer won't do it! I don't have a full list but it's most of the vehicles data.... engine RPM, vehicle speed, throttle position, intake air temp, engine fault codes etc.

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Media Center

I've finally got round to setting up a media server! I used Kodi, it looks great and has lots of add-ons like YouTube and BBC iPlayer.

Download and Installation was straightforward on the Raspbian OS. You can download using the APT-GET command in Terminal. For more details visit http://kodi.wiki/view/HOW-TO:Install_Kodi_on_Raspberry_Pi 

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install kodi

After installation it appears in the main menu under 'Sound & Video'.

I installed the BBC iPlayer and YouTube add-ons. These can also be downloaded from the Kodi website. Once the zip files have been downloaded you can install the add-ons within Kodi. Open Kodi and goto 'Settings > Add-ons'.

Select Install from zip file and navigate to the downloaded zip file location..

Kodi running on the car screen...

Watching BBC iPlayer... Sounds great using the in car sound system!

Next steps are setting up in car diagnostics and tidying up the install. I might also look into being able to control it from my iPhone.

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Mark commented on Media Center:

I've downloaded a Kodi remote control app... it works great!

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Jack commented on Media Center:

Looks great. Is it using internet access from your phone? also did you manage to get the video connector setup right? Or is it still not plugged in properly?

Mark replied:

It's still not plugged in correctly but it all works (both audio channels). i'm gonna come back to that when I do a proper fixed install.
internet access is just a Wi-Fi hotspot on my iPhone.

Jack replied:

That is odd that you get both audio channels working and video with it not fully plugged in? Are you sure you have two seperate left and right audio and not the same going to both sides?

Mark replied:

I didn't do a proper check but sound was coming out of both sides

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Car Screen Working! Sort of.....

I've finally got the car screen to work with the Raspberry Pi!! The slight problem is that it only works if the 3.5mm jack is about 3/4 of the way in! I expect one of the audio channels won't work, although I haven't tried this yet. Thanks to Jack and Ollie who have provided a lot of help on this!!

The problem has been with the order of the black rings on the RCA to 3.5mm adapters. I'll have to take the adaptor apart to get the order correct, just swapping the RCA leads doesn't work. At least I know that the screen works and I can carry on with the project!!

Comments

haha! at least that proves that its just the cable being the wrong away around. Which side do you have only partially in, we should be able to work out/confirm which thing is on which ring of the plug.

Mark replied:

I got a new RCA to 3.5mm cable, the 3.5mm jack that plugs into the car aux-in is 3/4 of the way in. I'm assuming the ground must be wrong on this too? I tried swapping the RCA cables around.

PaulTech replied:

. . .why not use the RPi composite video out?

Mark replied:

I only have HDMI or 3.5mm on my Raspberry Pi 2, I think it’s only the first version of the Raspberry Pi that has a composite video out.

Mark replied:

Thanks for the link, i’ve used the 3.5mm port on the Pi (Which works fine with a normal TV). The problem is with the order of the of the pins on the car screen 3.5mm Aux-In. I can’t seem to find a cable that has it the right way round.

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I did this project a while back. Check it out. https://youtu.be/4insWMvnzkg

Mark replied:

Thanks, great vid! Kodi is exactly what I was looking for!

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Basic Set-up and Test

Finally got round to connecting everything up and giving it a test but it didn't go very well! Everything powers up but output on the screen is all messed up. I think the problem might be with the HDMI-to-RCA adaptor (Woowo HDMI to RCA Composite AV). I tried using the adaptor on my TV, it worked better but was in black and white.  I'll have to test the screen aux-in separately without the adaptor. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know.. Will post another update when I get it working!

Output on the screen.....

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I am not sure how it works with regards to the RCA converter, but with some displays you need to manually set the hdmi output mode. This is done in the confix.txt file, which I think is in the top level folder. I have no idea what you would need to set it to though...

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Mark replied:

Just tried it using the adapter and another device and get the same problem. It looks sealed but i'll try breaking into it!

Mark replied:

I just checked the product description...

This adapter is only suitable for devices where the ground is the 2nd connector from the base.
Some devices are setup to have the ground at the tip or at the base.

Jack replied:

yeah, i think that you need one where the ground is nearest the base then. Any luck breaking into it?

Mark replied:

Managed to take the case off...

Jack replied:

is that some kind of plastic gel it is all in?, is the case still useable or is it broken up? if you have a soldering iron, what you want to do is swap over the connections that go to the bottom two rings on the plug. hopefully you know which way round it is, so you know which is currently the video connection. the ground should be obvious as it will have three bits of wire going to it.

Mark replied:

Its like a hard glue. I'll try swapping the wires around. I've ordered another one with the ground at the base (Hopefully) - its difficult because the product descriptions don't include the order of the rings.

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Components

Here's what I've got so far...

1 x Raspberry Pi 2

With SD card and Raspbian installed. 

1 x Woowo HDMI to RCA Composite AV (Amazon - around £7)

This is required because the in-car screen input is RCA.

1 x LYL® super mini Bluetooth Scan Tool OBD2 (Amazon - around £9)

This sends the cars information via bluetooth.

1 x Rii i8 Multifunction Bluetooth Connected Portable Mini  (Amazon - around £14)

1 x in car micro USB charger, 1 x HDMI cable, 1 x RCA cable, 1 x USB Wi-Fi dongle, 1 x USB bluetooth dongle

All the components together...

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You can buy OBD2 compliant adaptors that you plug into your cars diagnostic port you can then connect this to the uart on your PI (you will need drivers). You can then read the registers within the cars ECU

Mark replied:

Thanks for your help, I've ordered a OBD2 bluetooth adaptor. Hope to have it set up very soon!

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The Plan

The initial plan is to create a basic in car computer using a Raspberry PI. The main use will be as a media player (Possibly just Youtube to start with). I would also like to use it for web browsing and to display vehicle information. Luckily my car (2011 Mercedes C-Class) has a factory fitted display screen with an aux input (Makes it a bit easier!). I will use my iPhone as a Wi-Fi hotspot and use a bluetooth keyboard as the input device. Vehicle information looks quite straightforward, I've ordered an OBD2 (On-Board Diagnostics) bluetooth scanner, I was surprised that all cars 1996 and onwards have the same standard socket. Thanks to Jim G and Jack for pointing me in the right direction.

I'll do a full components list very soon and then a post on the basic installation and setup. Once I've managed to set it all up and get it working I'm going to try some more advanced stuff. Maybe even build my own custom digital dashboard, or use it for navigation, or possibly even remote monitoring. It would also be great if i'm able to create events/alerts based on the vehicle information. Please feel free to make suggestions and let me know if you've tried anything similar!

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Hi Mark, you want to look into something called OBD (which i think stands for On-Board Diagnostics) this is a common protocol that car manufactures use to allow the car to report data to diagnostic equipment. You will probably find examples of how to connect to it on the internet. I have not used it myself but some of the guys at work have used it. I believe you can get information such as speed and rev count etc. Look forward to seeing how you get on with it! Good Luck!

Mark replied:

Hi Jack, thanks i'll look into that..

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