?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Off in the distance
browse
my journal
links
May 2016
 

The Bellinghman
Date: 2008-06-10 13:44
Subject: Dear Intaweb
Security: Public
Look, I know what I want.

I want the ability to receive DAB stations in my car. I happen to like BBC7 and so on.

I want the ability to play MP3s from a reasonable size storage. (A few gigabytes would be fine) No, I don't want to have to plug an MP3 player in: I'd be happy with the ability to put a USB drive in the glove compartment.

I want to be able to use the existing steering wheel controls to be able to change track or station or whatever.

That's all I think I want. I don't actually need the ability to play a CD. Or a cassette.

So why is it so hard to find the right product?
Post A Comment | 21 Comments | | Flag | Link



Erik V. Olson
User: erikvolson
Date: 2008-06-10 12:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My incomplete answer. I have a device that interfaces my iPod to my car's stereo via the CD changer disc. I can't control via the steering wheel, because I don't have input controls there.

The iPod lives, in fact, in the glove box.
Reply | Thread | Link



The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2008-06-10 12:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I don't want to have to buy an iPod or similar. I'm also not keen on plugging stuff into the front of the unit.

The steering wheel controls effectively repeat some of the control functionality available on the head unit. If the head unit controls can do the next/previous track stuff on the iPod, then the steering wheel commands should do too - they're only volume up/down, change source, and previous/next.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Erik V. Olson
User: erikvolson
Date: 2008-06-10 13:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ahh, I thought you didn't want to rip out the head unit and replace it.

The iPod doesn't plug into the front. How it works (at least on mine.) Interface box plugs into back, into the CD changer port on my Honda. Cable runs to glovebox. Ipod lives there. It communicates via the iPod dock port, so it gets full interface to the unit. On head units that are better than mine, you can get playlist control, title/artist display of current track, etc.
Mine? Play, next track and previous track work. I have some limited playlist control, I can build six lists and use the CD change control to select them. None of this is limitation of the interface, it's my head unit's limited control set. On my car, I was able to do it without removing much of anything, and the install is completely hidden.

Having the music on an iPod makes sync easier -- unplug, bring inside, sync new data.

I didn't want to replace the head unit on the car, because most modern head units are variations of "steal me" and have lots of bright, blinky things that distract me when I'm driving.

I might be able to point you to examples, if you can send me make/model/year, but I'm going to be oriented to US cars.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2008-06-10 13:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ah, no, I'm very happy with the idea of changing the head unit. The current one is a VDO Dayton unit, connected to a VDO 6 CD changer in the boot trunk.

(Since the capacity of 6 CDs is that of a medium size memory card, I'm expecting that to become a fairly useless brick.)

It's the DAB that seem the problem. Apparently there's this thing over your side called satellite radio, which is pretty well unknown over here, but which is what the manufacturers have been concentrating on.

As for the interfaces, I'm effectively running a BMW. (Strictly speaking, it's a 2004/5 MG ZT, but that should be the same as the same era Rover 75, and the connectors are either BMW or ISO, depending, it seems.)
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Erik V. Olson
User: erikvolson
Date: 2008-06-10 13:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Actually, there's two digital radio systems. There's the Satellite providers, like XM, and then there's HD radio, which many of the terrestrial broadcasters use.

Given that I've completely and utterly misunderstood what you were asking (DAB wasn't a TLA I knew), I'm sorry for wasting the time, but maybe this thread will lead others to the light.

A quick google shows that DAB is similar to HD radio here, not XM sat.

Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Ross
User: crazyscot
Date: 2008-06-10 13:25 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
XM currently only serve the US and Canada.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2008-06-10 13:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes, DAB is Digital Audio Broadcasting. The US does seem to use different technologies from us the moment any form of broadcasting comes along. TV. Mobile phones. You even seem to have a different standard frequency step on some of your radio bands, IIRC.

Thanks for the thoughts, though.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



The Magician
User: the_magician
Date: 2008-06-10 14:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
And there is a new DAB+ coming soon, obsoleting the current DAB sets (new compression routines).

Previous job work colleague upgraded his BMW multi-changer to an MP3 playing CD changer, so he could have 6x650Mb of MP3s ... used to drive down from Derby to London listening to the complete Hitchhikers Guide and things like that ...

... there are DVD head units now (4.6Gb of MP3s per DVD+R).

Many of the head units with a front USB socket also have a rear socket and you can run the cable from there to the glovebox.

Warning: at least one headunit I heard of has to index the entire USB drive each time you start before it will play music. This means if you plug in a, say, 16Gb memory stick, you can have to wait a couple of minutes before you can play your first bit of music from it, each time you start the car.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Ian
User: liasbluestone
Date: 2008-06-10 16:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Mine doesn't like any thing bigger than about 512Mb.
A 512Mb SD card is fine, a CD-full of MP3s will glitch now and again, and a 1Gb card is virtually unlistenable.

I guess it's to do with the amount of internal memory - it keeps an index of all the tracks so you can search it alphabetically, and if you have more than about 150 tracks there isn't enough memory left to run the decoding software.

But 512Mb is about 8 hours of listening time, and it cost less than 60 quid, so I'm not grumbling. I just copy in a new batch of random tracks every couple of weeks.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2008-06-11 08:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Which unit is that?

(Just so I can avoid it, you know - I'm perfectly happy with a linear next/previous control, and this sounds like extra features being added in such a way as to break it.)
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2008-06-11 08:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
My changer is a 6CD MP3 player, and that does store a lot of music.

Which unit has the startup issue?
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



The Magician
User: the_magician
Date: 2008-06-11 08:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
no idea, sorry. But more than one as I've mentioned this to other people and had them saying "me too".
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2008-06-11 08:48 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
OK, thanks
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



User: silly_swordsman
Date: 2008-06-10 13:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Is there a standard interface for steering wheel controls, or is it all hard tied to the pre-fitted stereo? I think that's the first question to answer.

While there are MP3 car stereos around, they're very niche. The done thing is to fit an iPod dock (which all three German car makers do on some models now, I believe). These cars have the steering wheel controls tied to the docking station, too, AIUI. Maybe you need a new car?
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2008-06-10 13:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Standard interface? Not quite, but there do seem to be adaptors so that if the head unit understands the concept at all, you can get most steering wheel controls to work. I've certainly seen which part numbers are relevant for this one with one unit.

(New car? This one hasn't had its first MOT yet.)
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Gid
User: caerleon
Date: 2008-06-10 13:13 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You want to receive DAB whilst mobile?.. oh dear.. oh dear oh dear.. oh dear oh dear oh dear..

FM is bad enough around here..

:-)
Reply | Thread | Link



The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2008-06-10 13:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ah, but I don't live anywhere near you. I'm almost surprised you get sunlight over there, let alone anything more recent.
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Autopope
User: autopope
Date: 2008-06-10 16:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Pure have just launched an in-car DAB radio add-on; can't remember the name, but you glom it inside your window using suckers and it acts as a DAB receiver, rebroadcasting on FM at short range. Quality is obviously limited by the FM/analog stage, but at least it gives you the stations -- and as it's battery powered and removable there are no wires to worry about and you don't need to leave it in your car.

No, it doesn't work through your steering wheel controls. What do you expect for sixty or seventy quid? (I'm probably buying one next time I go on a long road trip.)
Reply | Thread | Link



The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2008-06-10 16:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yeah, I've seen those, though something deep within my engineer's soul protests at the inelegance of the solution.

What makes me think that what I actually want is a year away?
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



Jos Dingjan
User: happydisciple
Date: 2008-06-11 09:49 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
A year from now all cars will have cable radio.

Wait, what?
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link



The Bellinghman
User: bellinghman
Date: 2008-06-11 10:02 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Hmm, not a bad idea. If it could pick up media servers, then I could just leave all the music on the server at home and listen to that.

It'd be especially useful for the electric cars if they did TCP/IP over power. That way you'd need only the one cable.

Oh, wait ...
Reply | Parent | Thread | Link