Got my Car2PC Unit last night! Did some testing tonight! I did a quick write-up and review with pics as promised. I tried to post on the Car2PC forum, but it's not responding sometimes and when it does, it won't let me post because it requires a certain number of posts and I need to be a member for 7 days, so I'll post it here for now...
Ken830's Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep Car2PC Beta Testing Results
January 12-13, 2007
Okay.. I received my Car2PC Beta adapter last night and got down to testing it right away tonight after work. I've had Chrysler vehicles in my family for many years, so I'm familiar with them. I'm also very familiar with the various headunits available and their options too.
As you can see from the image above, the package includes:
- The Car2PC unit itself
- A cable that connects the Car2PC to the headunit (CD changer-plug on one end, and a 20-pin ATX-power-like connector on the other end.
- A cable that connects the Car2PC to the PC (Round 7-pin DIN connector on one end, and USB + Audio connectors on the other end)
- CD-Rom disc with drivers and Winamp+WMP plug-ins
- Several pages of printed installation and setup instructions (Not photographed)
This is the CD-changer connector as taken from one of Daimler-Chrysler's the service manuals:
The connector from the Car2PC unit has 7 of the 10 pins populated: 1 (Audio-Right), 2 (GND), 4 (PCI Bus), 5 (Fused), 6 (Audio-Left), 7 (GND), and 10 (Always-On Power). The important thing here is the J1850 VPW (PCI) bus on pin 4. This is the bidirectional bus that the headunit uses to communicate with the Car2PC unit. I noticed the two grounds (2 and 7) are not shorted together.
Now, what's missing is PIN 8!! There's a special artist/title cable that is meant to be used with the Sirius Satellite option. On that cable, pin 8 is definitely wired up as the Artist display line!
Inside the Car2PC unit, we see that it's actually two boards:
The board interconnect is actually composed of three separate connectors: Two 14-pin (2x7) and one 8-pin (1x8) connectors.
On the main board, there's an Atmel AT89C4051 8051 microcontroller. It's a DIP package in a socket, so I'm guessing this is the beta hardware used for easy programming. I see a SMT footprint underneath the socket possibly for production purposes.
On the smaller board, there's a FTDI USB UART chip used to interface to the PC-side of things.
Enough of that. On to the test results.
2004 Dodge SRT-4
- RBK - Stock headunit (AM/FM/CD/CD-Changer Controls)
- Older RB1 - DVD Nav (AM/FM/CD-or-DVD/CD-Changer Controls)
- Newer RB1 - DVD Nav (AM/FM/CD-or-DVD/CD-Changer Controls)
In my SRT-4, I have replaced the stock radio (RBK) with an RB1 DVD-Navigation headunit in conjunction with the in-dash 6-disc CD Changer (82208938). The CD-changer will be useless because the Car2PC will emulate a CD-changer and the headunits are only able to support one changer.
I tried the Car2PC unit with my RB1 and two other headunits I had lying around. I have a few more, but didn't have enough time to try them all. The one on the left is the stock RBK unit that came with the car. The RB1 in the center is an older unit (56038629AD). The one on the right is the unit The RB1 on the right is the unit I'm currently using (I bought it as a 56038629AI, but it doesn't have a label).
Results for the RBK
All major functions work fine. The display shows the disc, track, and track time information. Tune forward and back fast forwards or rewinds current track. Seek forward and back changes tracks. And disc up and disc down changes playlists. I only noticed the following problems:
Results for the Newer RB1 (P56038629AI)
- pressing the "TIME" button should toggle the time display between the track time and the clock. When you press the button, you can see the display flicker for a bit (probably displaying the current time briefly) but the track time persists. See video here.
- Even after setting up all 6 playlists in the Winamp plug-in, I can only access 1 through 5... See video here.
- Pressing the power button, or mode button to switch modes will cause Winamp to stop. After pressing the power button again or returning to the CD-changer mode, Winamp will play again and resume where it left off. That's fine. However, this does NOT happen when the driver simply turns the ignition key to the off position. The radio turns off, but Winamp keeps on playing.
Uh-oh! Not very usable! Audio comes through okay, but not much else works! See the list below:
- Nothing is displayed in the CD-Changer screen! This is actually a GOOD thing, I think! Maybe the unit is looking for information on the Artist Display line on pin 8!!
- Volume UP (Turning knob clock-wise) does nothing! This does not work! You can not turn the volume up without switching modes first. However, volume DOWN (Turning knob counter-clock-wise) works okay and adjusts the volume down.
- In the NAV screen, the Disc, Track, and Track-time is displayed in the lower-right corner as normal! Works! How strange that it works here and not in the cd-changer screen.
to see the video of the above three items.
- Seek Up and Seek Down works in changing tracks!
- Tune Up works in fast-forwarding.
- Tune Down does NOT work. It does not rewind and does nothing!
- DISC UP and DISC DOWN does NOT work. They do nothing!
to see the video of the above items.
Results for the Older RB1 (P56038629AD)
- Pressing the SCAN button does nothing more than clear the track-time display briefly. See video here. Even with the SCAN->REPEAT option enabled, it does nothing. Repeat is not toggled.
- the RANDOM button can enable shuffle in winamp/WMP, but it does not toggle it off! If shuffle is off, pressing the RANDOM button can turn it on, but it will never be able to turn it off again!
- Same as above -- Pressing the power button, or mode button to switch modes will cause Winamp to stop. After pressing the power button again or returning to the CD-changer mode, Winamp will play again and resume where it left off. That's fine. However, this does NOT happen when the driver simply turns the ignition key to the off position. The radio turns off, but Winamp keeps on playing.
I've gotta say I was expecting the same results as the other RB1, but it sure wasn't. In fact, it's worse. All of the above problems exist here too, plus:
- SEEK UP and SEEK DOWN does NOT work at all!
- TUNE UP and TUNE DOWN does not work either!
You basically have NO control over anything!
Car2PC is extremely promising. It almost completely emulates the stock CD-Changer for the RBK, which is a great! I wish it would work better with the RB1.
The standard CD-changer protocol has been documented on the Internet, but not some of the newer devices. One thing that would be good to do is to use a protocol or logic analyzer and sniff the bus between the Sirius satellite radio option and the RB1 or the multiplexer (P5066202AC). By emulating the Sirius Satellite radio unit and using the multiplexer, we would be able to keep the exisitng CD-Changer AND display artist and title information like below:
I would be willing to give up the CD Changer if Car2PC worked well with the RB1 unit. Unfortunately, it doesn't so it doesn't do me much good. I may set up some equipment and do more testing. Too bad I don't have access to much test equipment outside of work.
I hope Car2PC will continue to develop this product and create a derivative version for the RB1 Navigation Headunit that emulates the Sirius option so that we can have artist/title information with the option of keeping our CD-Changers!