projects: route66: updates
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Save Anders' Savings!
here you will find the latest software info on my route66 project. newest stuff at the top.

march 28, 2001: quick update: right now i'm working on some simple statistics stuff to get ready for the much harder task of inteligent prediction of what song to play next based on what you have listened to reciently and what the prefrence settings are. that's going to take me some time. other areas needing codeing are implimentation of the playlist stuff, abstracting the player and display all the way out of the main route66 script and designing and rolling out an install script. the intention is to move all the route66 perl modules to names like route66::Database and route66::Display and install them properly. other miscelaneous features missing, such as the genre selection code, are still out there. everything is really pending a working public cvs tree...

february 4, 2001: i threw together some docs on my experiences with getting linux up and running on a gct-allwell 1030n set-top box for use as a home route66 player.

january 18, 2001: i have added two perl scripts that can be used to fix up those messy mp3 file names. you can download them from the source directory. mp3rename will do general fixup of all the files in the current directory. mp3lc will lowercase all files and directories from the current location and all subdirectories. use with caution.

december 24, 2000: people getting problems should recompile splay for their libraries. a rough-hewn version of splay (you'll have to change some paths by hand) is what you should look at.

december 24, 2000: michael kidd posted some info on an external shutdown circuit that you can build. check it out.

october 26, 2000: yet another route66 video (33.1M mpg) has been released. this was made for "maximumlinux tv" as a short segment released for comdex 2000 in las vegas.

october 16, 2000: pete peterson has added title scrolling to route66 with a little help from michael kidd. i will be posting this update shortly. in other news, michael released a video of his hardware / software setup (69.3M mpg) featuring title scrolling. my thanks to them for all the time they have spent on this project!

august 27, 2000: route66-0.5.3 is released! download it now. the big addition to route66 this time around is a web front-end called "webedit" for route66 databases. it lets you insert music through a much more convenient interface. it also supports ID3 tag reading to make things quicker. comments? questions? hit the route66 email list.

august 19, 2000: after a bit of time away including two trips to europe, we're back at it. after all the clamoring about how bad the input tools were, i finally have some alpha code hacked together representing the beginnings of the new input system for files. it reads id3 tags and just makes picking things faster in general. in the src directory, you will find a tar called webedit.tgz. grab that and unpack it in a directory that is served via a webserver such as apache. next, delete the link (unless it's pointed correctly) and set that up properly. (ln -s /whatever/your/path/is/ next, download the newer version of also in the src directory and replace the one in your route66 distribution. (don't worry, it won't break route66.) now, download and install the MP3::Info perl module from cpan. lastly, hit the directory on your web server (or index.cgi) with a javascript capable web browser and check it out. (note, only the insert stuff is there and working. i'm not done with the edit screens yet.) any comments or questions are welcome.

may 9, 2000: i took a few pictures of the lcd and vfd displays running version 0.5.1 of the software. they aren't terribly organized, but some of the lcd ones came out quite good.

may 9, 2000: route66-0.5.2 is released! download it now. significant improvements submitted by michael kidd have been rolled into the code. now you don't need to purchase a serial display in order to get route66 to work. set $display_type = "console" in (all settings are now rolled into this file) other features include the ability to skip backwards in the play screen as well as bring up a list of the selected tracks during playback so you can jump to somthing else. my thanks go out to michael kidd for all the time he put into the project!

april 11, 2000: route66-0.5.1 is released! download it now. very important: this release includes heavy database changes. don't just untar and run this package against a database version other than 0.6.0. if when you start the application, the display says anything other than 0.6.0, you will screw up your database. you have been warned! features include an almost total rewrite of the schema to deal with sequences correctly and to add hinting to the database so querries go even faster. several fixes in the module as a result of seperatly releasing to Matrix-Orbital. (mostly handy programming things)

april 1, 2000: the route66 mail list is now set up. it is an unmoderated list for general discussion. i will make all announcements through it as well. to subscribe, send a blank email to and reply to the confirmation. to post messages to the list, compose a message to and to unsubscribe, send an email to

march 21, 2000: so i got paul dubois' book "mysql" which i have been chewing on for some time now. it's obvious as day that i need to completely overhaul the schema once again. probably won't be released for another 2 weeks or so. my database skills took a wild jump from really awefull to semi-ok. there are many places where i can hint to the database to make my select calls much more efficient as well as the "right" way to do sequences. i'll also be doing some data type optimizations. anybody want to work on a database dump application that would throw everything into a text file to be re-imported into a newer revision of the schema? i think it is becomming painfully necessary.

march 16, 2000: version 0.5 released! didn't exactly expect it to be so soon, but here it is! download route66-0.5.tar.gz. the most major change is the "building a playlist" screen. it's now a few orders of magnitude faster! if you have installed a previous version of route66, you will need to re-install the schema from this version and re-inject your music into the database. (this package includes version 0.5 of the schema) other changes in this rev include support for preference information and historical information.

march 16, 2000: i'm looking for some help with this project. if you know perl and have at least some familiarity with databases, i could use some help fleshing out the "music insert" programs. i'd like to throw out what exists and build a completely robust set of input tools. its an area that i probably won't get to for some time, yet everyone is complaning about it. if you can help, please email me.

march 15, 2000: too many other things to do last weekend has pushed the route66 new release off. hopefully i'll be able to get to it this weekend. i've also added some links to the exact hardware i purchased because there seems to be some confusion. see the faq below.

march 4, 2000: i'm getting ready to release a new fairly major revision of the software next weekend. improvements include an order of magnitude increase in database performance when building a playlist as well as major schema revisions and numerous user interface tweeks. for the complete list, read the CHANGES file when the package releases. because of the schema revisions, wait for the new software instead of running the old code. (believe me, it's MUCH better!)

february 27, 2000: i left out a critical step in the README in the 0.4.2 and earlier packages. the software tries to open the database called "route66" as user "route66" useing password "route66". (confused yet?) in the setup instructions, i neglected to talk the user through adding the password to the database. to add it, do this in mysql:

mysql> update user set password=password('route66') where user='route66';
mysql> flush priviliges;

february 19, 2000: route66 0.4.2 released! changes include added support for lcd versions of the Matrix Orbital displays, a halt option on exit and a per track volume setting.

february 15, 2000: below are a few of the common questions i get. please read through them to see if your question is answered here before emailing me.

> Also, what is the minimum speed for the procesor to
> be able to decode mp3's in linux.  I heard that either a 386 or a 486
> could do it.  If it can, can't you use a sub-pentium chip to run this
> box which will produce less heat? 

i don't think a 386 will cut it. it would probably be able to hack the mp3
decode, but nothing else, and if you use the front end i made for this
thing and the database, you're not going to have enough juice. maybe a 486
would do it. i guess you could test it. the reason i went pentium was
because that was the slowest chip i could get on a modern board. there are
a number of embedded 486/pentium boxes, but i decided to go stock
equipment so i would have options down the road. (no pun intended)

> Are you using the fused heavy duty capacitor or the unfused
> adapter?

unfused because the power supply is fused. but it wouldn't hurt to go
fused. however, when this thing is mounted permanently, i'm going to
hard-wire the thing and forget the cigarette lighter adapter.

> from radioshack's noise kit or just the big cap

well, it's really just a big cap.

> which one?

catalog number 270-051B
10 amp heavy duty automotive electrical noise filter

> What has been your dealing with that project? (mobile mp3)

well, pretty much everything. i speced out the hardware, built it and
wrote most of the software.

> Im curious enought to try it. However i have no dealings with linux. I
> do hundreds of hours in pc hardware and so forth.  Knowing this, should
> I even think about attempting? 

well, not really unless you have some access to a linux guru. it's a
really steep learning curve. there is another windows based project that
you could apply the same hardware to. it doesn't seem that they have
updated much lately, and i haven't heard back from them on a few requests
i made, but you might want to check out

> You really got me stoked up about the MP3 car player so now I am looking
> for parts and well I think you might want to take a look at this site
> they have a 1U rack case that
> is atx and they sell it with an 810 motherboard with Ethernet
> Soundblaster 128 and Video all in one. Do you think it will work with
> Linux? 

looks like a good box and it would probably run linux just fine, but
unless you are going to run with a 120ac power inverter, i don't think it
comes with a 12 volt dc supply. that's the big problem. idealy i would
want to go with a 12 volt dc to dc atx supply but they don't seem to

> Anders, I am intrigued by the possibilities of 2 weeks of non stop tunes
> ( I regularly "commute" 8 hours)  But being a bit of a computer neophyte
> I have to ask, how do you load the tunes? 

well, i'm working on a wireless solution where you park your car "near"
some other wireless capable computer of yours and uploads happen
automatically. but for the time being, i just stick an ethernet card in
there and scp or rsync the tunes in. you could install a cdrom or pull the
hard drive and copy things that way.

> How do you resolve power off's? Do you have to shut down the box from the
> LCD menu or have you provided some sort of automagic function in Linux that
> renders it immune to having everything yanked out from under it while it's
> running?

well, i never like to just yank the power... :) actually, for speed on
power-ups i mount the mp3 directory as read only so you could actually
just yank that volume offline without any damage, but yes, when you go to
"exit" from the main menu, the program optionally invokes a "sync; halt"
on the system. however i'm looking into some delayed power kill systems
that would signal the machine to shut down 10 minutes or so after you
pulled the key. honestly though, it's a ways off because i'm working on
other features in the selection system now.

> The display system, could you let
> me know exactly what parts on
> are needed please?
> I've seen several vfd's and want to
> make sure I'm buying the right parts.

20x4 VFD Keypad Module(VK204-25V) however unless you are handy around a
machine shop, you might want to pick up the bay insert so you have a few
more install options. HOWEVER the bay insert version of the VFD does not
come with a keypad interface. you'll want to get the vfd seperate. i don't
know if linux central sells them seperate though. i'm on my third display
unit now. i ended up stuck with one without keypad interface. i learned
the hard way!

> - Why a normal, 3.5 hard-drive? Wouldn't it be safer to use a 2.5 laptop
> harddrive?

i suppose, but the 2.5 drives are harder to come by and more expensive.
also i really don't care about the space because i have more than enough
in the box. but i guess you can always get more 2.5 drives in there than
3.5. just watch out for power consumption limitations on the power supply.

- The system you describe is a full Linux instalation with
> databases, Perl, etc, and all the complexities involved in it.  It would
> take a while to boot, start up it's daemons, etc. Wouldn't something
> simpler (If a little cruder) be better.  Have you tried setting up this
> thing with one of the (much) smaller linux distros (like the Linux
> router one : a floppy) and just the bare bones? 

well, yes i have fooled with these, but if you have a tiny read/write
partition for linux and you hacked away all the unnecessary daemons, and
you mounted your mp3 directory read only so it doesn't have to fsck the
volume, things actually happen fairly fast. and with a 10 minute powerdown
delay that i'm working on, just stopping to drop somthing off for five
minutes won't incurr the wait time. (if you do alot of that sort of
in-and-out of your car.)

>     - Instead of the display - link a Palm pilot or PPC as your control
> device. (I am not a programmer and know almost nothing about using Linux
> so this may be impossible) 

a friend of mine has been working on a front end through the palm pilot. i
think it's a great idea, but progress is slow because time is

> There are different products on the arisecomputer website... they all look
> like the one you used.. could you specify the exact product on the website
> of arise ? The exact URL ?
P5-5060LV would probably be most usefull, but i got a P5-5060.

> Could you do the same for the LCD display?

it's better to use a vfd (vaccuum florescent display) because it's easier
to see in direct sunlight.
but i just hacked in support for the lcd version.
> So we place the rack under our seat but how and where do you control it?
four button keypad mounted however you want under the display. (keys are
up, down, forward and back)

> Do you have a photo of an installed product with the keypad and lcd
> implemented?
no, i actually don't have this permanently installed in my car yet because
i use the box to develop.

> I don't know how to install the keypad in my car on a
> nice way?

a pro car audio shop will be able to help out with that.