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GPS navigation, engine and trip monitoring, audio and video in 1 box


G&K

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I've been thinking, which usually turns out badly.

 

I haven't been particularly satisfied with any of the high-end, supposedly "integrated" solutions out there. They are all very expensive, hard to upgrade and don't work very well.

 

There are some very nice Android Single-DIN and Double-DIN Android-based units coming onto the market at a decent price. Display is a 7" monitor, with the ability to add two more monitors as required. The best are quad-core, Android Kitkat 4.4.4 and readily upgradeable to newer versions as they become available. You can load any app from the Google Play store.

 

I'm considering putting together a fully tested and supported package that would include CoPilot Truck GPS and perhaps BlueFire or SilverLeaf engine and trip monitoring and logging. I want a couple of these for myself - then a light bulb went off. These would be pretty good for RVers, not to mention the horse and trucking owner-operator crowd. Hmmm.

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.alk.copilot.market.uscanada.truck&hl=en

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.bluefire_llc.trucks&hl=en

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.SilverLeaf.vmsair&hl=en

 

The same box would also function as a backup monitor (single camera only), and can be used as a dashcam - (not quite convinced about that yet though).

 

The usual ability to stream music from your Smartphone (either Android or iPhone).

 

A DVD slot would be optional. If the DVD is needed, the display size drops to 6.2".

 

Standard features would include:

 

Capacitive Touch screen, Resolution 1024 x 600
CPU: RK3188 1.6GHz Cortex A9 Quad Core
1G RAM, 16 GB built in storage, ability to accept up to 2 x 128GB SD cards for music, maps and video
Steering wheel control for Volvos (at least) supported
Built-in CoPilot Truck GPS navigation, also supports Google maps, Waze, Sygic, iGo.
Built-in WiFi, will tether to your phone, home or other Access Point to access Internet data
Built-in Bluetooth for hand free phone calling, two devices accepted at the same time
Support Car DVR (dash cam)

OBD2 for pickups or J1939/J1708 for HDTs and DP Motorhomes

Support for Airplay on iPhone 6/6 plus/5/5c/5S/4/4S, and USB-only Android Phone Mirroring
2 x USB, 2 x SD, Auxiliary Input, Remote Control, vehicle logo on boot

4 channel output to speakers, or 4 channel plus subwoofer output to power amp

2 year warranty
External Mic for Bluetooth hands-free

 

Lets see if anyone is interested in the concept, if so I will put some demos and price points together.

 

Being true Android, and being able to upgrade the operating system and applications as new features and bugfixes become available is a big deal to me.

 

Geo

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I come from another school. I like individual devices.

 

For example, I want my "backup" camera on all the time because it is watching the toad behind, something I can't see in the mirrors.

 

I want my GPS navigation (I use CoPilot) on all the time because I am scanning the upcoming turns in the instrument scan. I prefer separate speakers for GPS navigation commends.

 

The radio (SiriusXM) just needs to play. Only need to see the display to change channels. I guess the same for playing from an Android device.

 

Phones work pretty good independently. While out truck computer can connect to the router in the trailer and the router in the trailer can be online to Verizon, we haven't fund a purpose for it yet.

 

We were recently doing Class-C, Class-A shopping in Elkhart while having repairs done. While the dealers think the multi-function units are great, I see them as almost useless. The operators manual for one stated not to have the "backup" camera on too much because of screen burn. Not good for watching the toad.

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I pretty much agree regarding the cameras. Don't really want dashcam integration. A lot of HDTers have a pretty sophisticated rear view system with multiple cameras. Not good for an integrated unit.

 

OTOH, I really like integrated audio and navigation. I like realtime traffic rerouting in urban areas so I use a combination of Waze, google maps and copilot to keep me informed.

 

I really like having nav, phones and audio (SiriusXM or streamed or radio) on the same system when you can balance volumes and auto mute the music or talk radio.

 

Different preferences to obtain the same goal. :)

 

I normally do most of this on my phone, but would prefer a larger screen and no visible wires. I'm also looking forward to the data integration from the engine and GPS. I'm somewhat concerned the newer Volvos won't play. Like the brake controller issues, but we'll see.

 

Geo

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George, I have a partial solution more along Mark's lines implemented. It still needs work, though.

 

I use the Silverleaf wifi dongle to connect a Windows 10 hybrid computer (Asus T100) to the engine system. I use just the tablet portion when running "live". The keyboard is detached.That same device can run navigation, but does not. Mainly because on that older device I need a separate GPS Blutooth dongle to get the GPS info....It works fine but I find I don't care about nav on that device. I have a Garmin (old) for backup nav and we use CoPilot on a (different) Android tablet (Samsung 8.4 pro) for navigation.

 

That navigation computer (the Samsung) also is the audio interface....it can blutooth to the radio either our collection of 45K songs (yes, 45,000, about), Pandora, Rdio etc. The radio also does XM. The radio is in the process of being "changed out" to something else....probably will not be done by the Rally. In fact I put my old radio back in for the moment. I still have the truck in the shop...

 

My camera system is 6 cameras all brought to a single 9" display that can show 4 views at one time. No recording. But I do run a separate standalone dash cam. I've thought of adding a 4-6 channel recorder and simply putting in a forward facing camera. And I may do that. But there are other irons in the fire at the moment.

 

When the radio swap occurs I will have to decide at that time if I want to add video to the radio "system". I think I'm going the opposite way. A simple radio that only does XM and Bluetooth....No CD (don't have any) and no video. I just have to "find" a simple radio. They seem to be rare.

 

One thing I've been considering is a dedicated 7" video display for my right side camera on the truck. That camera views down the right side....An always on monitor for that would be convenient as a supplement to the very good mirrors (side and fender). And I happen to have a good 7" monitor laying around. But that might be a good reason to integrate it into the radio and leave it just for the right side view.

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i dont like a ALL-in-one deal. one thing breaks and your out a Boatload of $$$... and Android... well your giving all your info directly to the NSA...

(no thanks, i value my privacy not that i have anything to be worried about though).... Windows 10 isnt a great option either unfornately from the

privacy stage or the monitor size it doesnt deal well with (double din 7" monitors with touchscreen)

 

there are some double Din 7" VGA monitors and run whatever kind of computer you want that will drive that VGA monitor and then your free to choose

whatever OS, software you wish. that way if a individual pieice breaks, you just replace one piece instead of a expensive boat anchor.

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I'm trying to get away from the whole "boat load of dollars" thing. I think its possible to put together a very capable system for not a whole lot of money.

 

If you're worried about the NSA, can't help there. I suspect they have hooks into all the major operating systems but who am I to comment?

 

I'm not really into the "all in one", but I do think there are some synergies from combining more than one function. I'm personally fairly fed up with shopping around for something that works well without having to guess all the time. And usually upgrading without having to buy new hardware is out, and even basic software upgrades are hit and miss. I won't accept this on my phone, tablet or laptop, so why should I accept it on a head unit in my hauler?

 

I have at least half a clue of the kind of systems that most people might like as a starting point and I think it would be fairly easy to develop something pretty flexible that offered much better than usual value for money.

 

I also think its going to take some Youtube videos and some hands on demos to show the concept adequately. So first, I'm going to get a couple of systems working the way I want them myself, then we can take it further for anyone that is interested.

 

I think we are right on the edge of a revolution in mobile audio/video, but we'll see.

 

Geo

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I'm trying to get away from the whole "boat load of dollars" thing. I think its possible to put together a very capable system for not a whole lot of money.

 

If you're worried about the NSA, can't help there. I suspect they have hooks into all the major operating systems but who am I to comment?

 

I'm not really into the "all in one", but I do think there are some synergies from combining more than one function. I'm personally fairly fed up with shopping around for something that works well without having to guess all the time. And usually upgrading without having to buy new hardware is out, and even basic software upgrades are hit and miss. I won't accept this on my phone, tablet or laptop, so why should I accept it on a head unit in my hauler?

 

I have at least half a clue of the kind of systems that most people might like as a starting point and I think it would be fairly easy to develop something pretty flexible that offered much better than usual value for money.

 

I also think its going to take some Youtube videos and some hands on demos to show the concept adequately. So first, I'm going to get a couple of systems working the way I want them myself, then we can take it further for anyone that is interested.

 

I think we are right on the edge of a revolution in mobile audio/video, but we'll see.

 

Geo

coming from a network Security background , i always aware of whats going on with everything security wise

in the computer arena.

 

(and will be less and less now that im caring for a parent with Alzheimers that recently had a stroke and moving

back to a brick and mortar home to care for Dad after full-timing since 2007)

 

anyways ive thought we have been on a revolution of mobile audio/video from MANY years but it seems to have

not materialized so far. i wish it would. unfornately we have tooooo much e-waste as it is now. i cant imagine another

20 years from now where we will be with this stuff.

 

understand i was in NO way was i putting down what you are trying to do. i will be following along as i have time to see what

you come up with and the price point. could be interesting.

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coming from a network Security background , i always aware of whats going on with everything security wise

in the computer arena.

 

(and will be less and less now that im caring for a parent with Alzheimers that recently had a stroke and moving

back to a brick and mortar home to care for Dad after full-timing since 2007)

 

anyways ive thought we have been on a revolution of mobile audio/video from MANY years but it seems to have

not materialized so far. i wish it would. unfornately we have tooooo much e-waste as it is now. i cant imagine another

20 years from now where we will be with this stuff.

 

understand i was in NO way was i putting down what you are trying to do. i will be following along as i have time to see what

you come up with and the price point. could be interesting.

All input is gratefully received. Like many others, I've been burned before with some so-called advances that turned into instant, expensive dead ends.

 

I think this time we may just have a shot at doing something much better, with less risk, for a lot less money. I'm 98% sure that we are going to see Android 5.x minimum on these units, and I'm maybe 50% hopeful that we are going to be able to get a processor/memory upgrade to the existing modular processor board. They have already moved the architecture from dual core to quad core, so another jump or two is not out of the question before the basic system design is updated.

 

Regardless, the hardware just isn't that expensive to replace, and the config should be pretty much plug and play, just like doing a restore to your phone after purchasing an upgrade.

 

Geo

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Hi George,

 

This discussion is good timing for me, as I'm just in the throes of thinking about a solution for navigation, cameras, and engine monitoring.

So far I have no cameras, have the stock gauges on the Volvo, and am using a Garmin Zumo that is shared with my motorcycle (it's a waterproof unit designed particularly for motorcycling). The gauge I miss the most is EGT, which is not part of the SilverLeaf solution AFAIK; I may have to simply install an analog EGT gauge.

 

The Zumo is fine as far as it goes, but I miss having truck-specific routing and POI's. I've been researching the RV/HDT GPS units available as well as the Copilot software. Right now I'm leaning towards Copilot running on a Windows tablet, which could also run SilverLeaf AVSpc. From what I've learned, the Windows version of the SilverLeaf software is much more configurable and user-friendly than the Android/iPhone version (VMSair). I believe VMSair basically only displays a list format of the various parameters; you can choose which ones to display, but cannot customize the display as much as you can with VMSpc. Beyond that I recognize there are reasons to prefer the Android OS over Windows OS (for instance, it appears Copilot is much better supported on Android than on Windows).

 

I had been thinking about integrating cameras, and maybe even using the tablet's main camera as a dash cam. However I agree with Mark and Jack that I would like to keep the camera(s) feed visible full time. So I'm not sure whether there's enough real estate on a 10-inch tablet to display both the VMSpc data and one or more video streams. Plus one would need a MUX switch plus a digitizer to convert the analog video signals to something the OS can deal with.

 

It's certainly feasible, but I can see the benefits of simply using a dedicated analog monitor with integral MUX (such as Leviathan on Ebay). These analog monitors (9" size) are typically 800 x 480 resolution, so a tablet having say 1920 x 1024 resolution would theoretically show the entire image (which could be four camera streams in quad 2 x 2 format) using less than 1/4 of its screen real estate. The navigation app could take another quarter of the screen, leaving 50% for AVSpc.

 

The only problem with that logic is that the video streams would be quite small physically (roughly equivalent to a 5-inch monitor), so although having the same number of pixels, it could be hard to resolve for those of us with tired old eyes. I haven't yet experimented with the newer high-resolution tablet screens to see what level of detail is usable at arm's length plus.

 

I hope to see other folks' solutions for this stuff at the HDT, and I'm sure it will lead to several fruitful discussions there. I will also be very interested to see what you come up with along these lines.

 

Regards,

Pete

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Pete, I've tried the multi-display with simultaneous navigation you talk about. Not EXACTLY what you describe, but functionally the same. For ME it just does not work. I frankly find anything smaller than a 9" monitor too small for video. Especially if you do multi-camera display. The 7" monitor dedicated to a single display image is just marginally acceptable for me. In the case I describe in my post above - using a 7" as a dedicated right view monitor - it works well only because I don't need a lot of detail. Other than that it is - for ME - marginal.

 

I've played around with these cameras and integrated solutions for years. If you want to talk at the Rally we should carve out some "patio time".

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Hi George,

 

This discussion is good timing for me, as I'm just in the throes of thinking about a solution for navigation, cameras, and engine monitoring.

So far I have no cameras, have the stock gauges on the Volvo, and am using a Garmin Zumo that is shared with my motorcycle (it's a waterproof unit designed particularly for motorcycling). The gauge I miss the most is EGT, which is not part of the SilverLeaf solution AFAIK; I may have to simply install an analog EGT gauge.

 

The Zumo is fine as far as it goes, but I miss having truck-specific routing and POI's. I've been researching the RV/HDT GPS units available as well as the Copilot software. Right now I'm leaning towards Copilot running on a Windows tablet, which could also run SilverLeaf AVSpc. From what I've learned, the Windows version of the SilverLeaf software is much more configurable and user-friendly than the Android/iPhone version (VMSair). I believe VMSair basically only displays a list format of the various parameters; you can choose which ones to display, but cannot customize the display as much as you can with VMSpc. Beyond that I recognize there are reasons to prefer the Android OS over Windows OS (for instance, it appears Copilot is much better supported on Android than on Windows).

 

I had been thinking about integrating cameras, and maybe even using the tablet's main camera as a dash cam. However I agree with Mark and Jack that I would like to keep the camera(s) feed visible full time. So I'm not sure whether there's enough real estate on a 10-inch tablet to display both the VMSpc data and one or more video streams. Plus one would need a MUX switch plus a digitizer to convert the analog video signals to something the OS can deal with.

 

It's certainly feasible, but I can see the benefits of simply using a dedicated analog monitor with integral MUX (such as Leviathan on Ebay). These analog monitors (9" size) are typically 800 x 480 resolution, so a tablet having say 1920 x 1024 resolution would theoretically show the entire image (which could be four camera streams in quad 2 x 2 format) using less than 1/4 of its screen real estate. The navigation app could take another quarter of the screen, leaving 50% for AVSpc.

 

The only problem with that logic is that the video streams would be quite small physically (roughly equivalent to a 5-inch monitor), so although having the same number of pixels, it could be hard to resolve for those of us with tired old eyes. I haven't yet experimented with the newer high-resolution tablet screens to see what level of detail is usable at arm's length plus.

 

I hope to see other folks' solutions for this stuff at the HDT, and I'm sure it will lead to several fruitful discussions there. I will also be very interested to see what you come up with along these lines.

 

Regards,

Pete

Pete, I'm with Jack and Mark on this one. Not enough screen real estate to do everything you want.

 

I also agree that SilverLeaf on Android does not give you a particularly good graphical display. BlueFire is about the same.

 

Torque Pro is likely going to run on top of the BlueFire J1939 adapter later in 2015 or early 2016, and that should deliver everything you want for a graphical interface.

 

I see a possible configuration of a 9 or 10" monitor running rear/side view cams + possibly a dashcam, then a 7" multi-function box running Nav/phone calls and managing audio sources and audio output.

 

Geo

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Geo,

 

To use the system that you want to come up with, do you need to have a smart phone ? My knowledge about this stuff is about zero. It sounds good but I am lost when it comes to the techie stuff. But that is me. I am willing to learn.

 

Will be watching this thread,

Al

Al,

 

You won't have to have a smartphone, but it will add value if you want to stream SiriusXM or get real time traffic updates.

 

Aside from that, CoPilot navigation maps are stored on the navigation device so you don't need a smartphone for that, and the device is quite happy playing music from Radio, CDs, DVDs or from SD cards or USB sticks.

 

There should be quite a few ways to configure it depending on what features you want.

 

Geo

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Time to start some development and see what works and what needs work.

 

First two units are on the way. More info in a week or so.

 

It's possible they may make a better dashcam than I originally thought. I'm thinking about how to hook up my GoPro...

 

Geo

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George,

I looked at those Allstays apps at your Google Play link; pretty snazzy.

So I read their FAQs as I was wondering whether they publish a Windows version. Short answer: no; not enough of a market.

But they did recommend something called "BlueStacks", which appears to be a way to run Android apps under the Windows OS (probably like a virtual machine??).

So that may be the solution to "having the best of both worlds", that is, being able to run apps that are only available on Android, on a Windows tablet, which can then also run VMSpc for a nice gauge solution.

 

Here is a comparo chart on BlueStacks' web site:

 

http://www.bluestacks.com/comparison-chart.html

 

I'm about to download their software and check it out.

 

Pete

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A little more info on BlueStacks courtesy of Wikipedia:

 

"App Player is a downloadable piece of Windows and Mac software that virtualizes the full Android experience. The software is free to download and use, later disabling itself and presenting users with the option to install sponsored apps or purchase a $2/month premium subscription.[3] This is not mentioned before downloading or during install. According to company sources, the App Player can run over 96% of the 1.4 million apps in the Google Play Store.[4] It reached the 85 million download mark in April, 2014.[5]"

 

So there is a cost of $24 per year...

 

Pete

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After more research I found a competitor called "Andy" that is free. An online comparison article claims it is at least as usable as BlueStacks. So I downloaded Andy and installed it on my desktop machine. The installation is quite slow and there is no visible indication it's working, but eventually (like 5 minutes later) it gets finished and puts an icon on the desktop. I had to revise the icon properties to make it Run as Administrator, and then it works. So Andy is worth looking into as well.

 

One thing that was weird running it: I kept trying to use my mouse wheel (scrolling) to move down on the page, such as in a list or in the browser. But that doesn't work. Instead you have to wipe upwards on the page using the mouse pointer, just as you would do using your finger on a touch screen (duh!). It took me a while to figure that out, as it is very counter-intuitive when using a system with a mouse!

 

Pete

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  • 2 weeks later...

The first two Android Head units are in my hands. 2 day shipping from Hong Kong. Plus I have the antenna amps, front view camera, rear view camera, external microphones, ELM327 adapters, fascia trim plates, map cards and a few other odds and ends to play with.

 

First unit is about half way into the F-350. Brackets are going to be a bit of a challenge, other than that everything is pretty impressive. Probably another three weeks to get it set up the way I think it should be. Sound is already wonderful and I have had a cursory cruise around the default apps.

 

But this is definitely the future of installed entertainment and the screen quality, responsiveness and sound quality have exceeded my expectations so far.

 

Geo

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  • 1 month later...

Hello Geo,

 

I was curious how your research has been going on your device. My truck needs a back-up camera for the trailer hitch. If your device can handle this plus have more features like you talked about in your first post, has me interested in the work that you are doing. I understand that it comes down to cost and time. I do have a budget myself. But the big thing could be the cost per feature that you are coming up with. I am not a techie myself. But I am looking for something to help me travel down the road and make things easier for me. I travel by myself. I need as much help as possible.

 

Wish you the best in your research,

I am always open to ideas,

Al

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Its coming pretty well.

 

CoPilot Truck is simply awesome on the 1024x600 7" screen. Very hi resolution, no lag, clear instructions. Runs audio instructions in the background just great while another app is running in the foreground. Music muting for GPS instructions works very well and is fully adjustable to suit. GPS performance is excellent.

 

All the mainstream GPS apps like Waze work fine if you want to run something instead of/in addition to CoPilot.

 

Backup camera for the radio unit is normal analog, probably about 480 lines vertical. Quite nice but not Full HD. The reverse sensing works great, runs off the reversing light power. Music is muted while reverse is selected, again adjustable.

 

FM Radio is fine and stored music playback, either on a MicroSD card and/or USB memory stick is excellent. Video playback is great, again either MicroSD or USB stick. Netflix works too if you are on good WiFi. Both WiFi and Bluetooth work well.

 

Bluetooth hands free phone works well, your phone directory is downloaded to the head unit for easy dialing. Music muting works properly with a phone call in either direction.

 

Dash cam works OK, I still have more work to do on this. The weakness is in the apps available. Same goes for Lane Assist, Lane Departure. So that is still a work in progress. Good quality USB cameras are not too easy to find either.

 

I have the mapping worked out for the Volvo wiring harness, including both the standard audio system and the premium audio system with power amp and subwoofer.

 

I'm on hold until the new year as Rocel and I are heading to the Philippines tomorrow for a mid-winter break. Some warm weather will be welcome.

 

I wouldn't be surprised if we have Android 5.1 to play with when I'm back in the saddle. I know its close.

 

I'm quite pleased with the Teclast X98 Pro Android/Windows 10 dual-boot tablet we sourced. Really nice display. Once I'm back I'll get the 1080p cam setup going and will be able to set up a multi-cam display on the tablet. I'm looking at a snap-in or mag mount for the tablet on the front of the dash just above the current Volvo radio. I'm thinking initially about being able to handle swapping between 5 cameras with a big main view and the others in thumbnails. Just touch the thumbnail to bring a different camera into the main display window.

 

There is no real reason not to mix and match applications between the tablet and radio unit. They both run Android, they both talk to Play Store so an app like CoPilot can be run on anything you own, and the only big hardware difference is the radio has a physical FM/AM radio tuner built into it. Other than that you can choose where you run to run your Nav app, and where you want to display the cameras as they are WiFi connected. In a campground you might want camera views on both units for example.

 

Geo

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