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Parrot Asteroid SMART 2DIN Head Unit

Discussion in 'Roadster: Technical' started by markwj, Apr 18, 2013.

  1. markwj

    markwj Moderator, Asia Pacific

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    #1 markwj, Apr 18, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2013
    Parrot Asteroid SMART 2DIN Head Unit (any song, any time)

    As with most here, I've been disappointed with the Alpine 2DIN head unit. It is ok, pretty _meh_, with lots of niggling annoyances.

    I've been tracking the Asteroid SMART project for almost two years now. It was 'launched' a year ago, but has only just become available. I ordered one and have been playing with it on the bench for just 24 hours.

    Parrot_Asteroid_Smart_06_Home__.jpg

    It is Android based, about US$500, and has wifi connectivity as well as a bunch of USB ports (for cellular dongles, iPods, USB keys with music, etc). It is no 17" touchscreen, but it is incredible programmable (as an example see http://www.atomic-cactus.com/images/parkonator/installed.JPG - taking the reversing camera image and superimposing ultrasonic distance sensors). The bluetooth is solid (Parrot makes most of the bluetooth modules for vehicles nowadays anyway, and this is the most up-to-date I've seen).

    Having OVMS running on this will be incredibly cool. With bluetooth and 3 USB ports, I don't see any problem getting CAN bus data into the unit. I actually side-loaded the OVMS Android App on to the unit - apart from lack of landscape support (fixable), it runs just fine.

    Mini-review wise, the unit seems pretty good. It comes with iGO navigation, but others have loaded TomTom just fine. Rooting can get you google maps, and others. I side-loaded Waze (which I love), and that is probably what I'll end up using. Music sounds ok (I don't care about that) and iPhone integration and great (via either USB or bluetooth). The user interface is very responsive and really nice to use - the screen feels small, but is the same as the Alpine (although higher resolution). So far it has been rock-solid reliable. As it is Android based, it is very customisable. The hardware itself seems fine, although the wifi reception seems weak (internal antenna, I guess - I'm still trying to work out why). Anyway, it is going to stay on my bench for at least another week before I think about ripping out my daily driver Alpine.

    Working out how to get it into my roadster, I found a couple of hurdles:

    1. Wiring harness - it is ISO standard, but needs car-side. I still have to check what the roadster side looks like.
    2. Reversing camera. The SMART supports a standard RCA video in (it actually has 2 of them), but the roadster is Alpine 5 wire custom (HCE-C107D). I've seen adaptor boxes (picture below) for the newer HCE-C115 model (that may work with the camera I have). I really don't want to have to change the camera and run new wire.

    Other than that, the install seems to be very straightforward. No steering wheel controls to worry about.

    I'll use this thread to document progress and the final result.

    493_1lg.jpg
     
  2. Alan

    Alan Member

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    Please keep us updated with your progress. I have a single din & use the o-car / iphone solution but this might tempt me to upgrade!

    Alan
     
  3. PRJIM

    PRJIM Member

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    Very exciting! Will an Asteroid specific app be available?
     
  4. markwj

    markwj Moderator, Asia Pacific

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    If it ends up in my car, there will definitely be an OVMS App for it (under the 'scratch my own itch' rule). Probably the existing OVMS Android App with minor tweaks.

    I'm now 99.9% sure that this is the unit for me. I updated then rooted it last night. Put on a new App launcher, better voice control, and installed a bunch of Apps from Google Play. Pretty standard Android stuff, and google maps + navigation works well.

    The only standard Android Apps I've had trouble with are those locked in portrait mode and one that needed a newer Android version.

    The factory standard Asteroid Smart is fine - just their store is limited at the moment. I guess it will improve in time, so for the moment standard Android Apps have to go on.
     
  5. 7racer

    7racer Member

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    subscribed....

    awesome....keep posting your thoughts!
     
  6. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    Awesome. How would the OVMS app on the head unit work (since you are already in the car)? Looks like there might finally be a good alternative to the Alpine unit.
     
  7. markwj

    markwj Moderator, Asia Pacific

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    The Parrot Asteroid Smart has three options for connectivity:

    1) Built-in wifi
    2) USB 3G/4G/whateverG dongle
    3) Cellphone tethering (USB, Bluetooth or Wifi)

    Very flexible.

    OVMS running on the Asteroid would piggy back on that connectivity. Useful for the more advanced stuff we are now doing (advanced charge control, logging, etc).

    There is a discussion, ongoing, regarding a OVMS++ hardware module for the car - with 3G, wifi and Bluetooth connectivity. Breadboard prototypes and some requirements costing discussion stage only at the moment, If (big 'if') that ever appears, then the OVMS App would also be able to Bluetooth to the module in the car (for setup, usual OVMS functions, as well as advanced real-time displays).
     
  8. 7racer

    7racer Member

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  9. PRJIM

    PRJIM Member

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    Biggest problem for me is no native sat radio support. I travel sometimes to the boonies where there is no cell phone reception. I would hope that a USB based sat radio adapter becomes available.
     
  10. markwj

    markwj Moderator, Asia Pacific

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    #10 markwj, Apr 20, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2013
    The biggest negative I've heard about the unit is audio quality - but no hard figures either way. I don't think this will be suitable for audiophiles. For me, it sounds fine - I mostly listen to podcasts anyway and music in the noisy roadster is never going to be an amazing experience.

    Torque: Yep. That's the sort of stuff I want to do with real-time OVMS.
    Motion sensor for boot-up: Seems to work well. It does speed-up boot-up (30 seconds down to 10 seconds). If Parrot ever sort out deep-sleep mode, this will get even better.
    Volume: There are a bunch of gesture apps available. That said, Parrot really should have physical volume up/down buttons.
    HD Radio: More on this below.

    Another user on this forum posted a wish list of features he wanted in a head-unit, and one of those is speed-aware volume. It is a good example of how flexible the Parrot Asteroid approach is. The unit, as standard, doesn't have that. But, install "Smart Volume Control+" (or any of several other apps) and the feature is there (and very configurable).

    I tested power usage.
    Booting: 700mA
    Running (spotify wifi streaming, no gps): 1A
    Sleep (ignition off): 550mA - 700mA
    Off: 0A

    Much better than the stock Alpine.

    If you turn the ignition off, it says "Goodbye", then takes a couple of seconds to go to sleep#1 mode (700mA consumption). From there it takes less than a second to wake up.
    After 20 seconds in sleep#1 mode, it goes to a deeper sleep#2 mode (550mA consumption). From this sleep #2 mode, it takes about 5 seconds to wake up.
    After 10 mins in sleep #2 mode, it turns itself completely off (0A consumption).
    From'powered off', it takes about 30 seconds to power up completely.

    It has a vibration sensor. In power off mode, it detects car movement and comes up to sleep #1 mode. After 2 minutes with no ignition on, it goes back to 'power off'. The screen stays off during this (but little power led does come on).
    I tested the vibration sensor by tapping the unit, waiting 35 seconds, then turning on the ignition. It took about 10 seconds to wake up.

    P.S. I thought about wiring the +12V ignition signal line to the +12V accessory socket (rather than ignition), that would mean the Asteroid would stay on for 5 mins after the car was locked, but would then automatically turn off. It would also mean that the Asteroid would also come on during charging. But, it would also mean that the Asteroid would start to come on when you unlocked the car (or pressed door handle). However, the vibration sensor makes these thoughts unnecessary - it works very well.

    Not a problem for me - no sat radio here :-(

    I think the Asteroid approach is to use apps to provide such functionality (and there is a Sirius App). But, you would need cellular connectivity.

    The Parrot Asteroid SMART is not going to be for everyone. But, if you are a techy, it seems to be an amazing base onto which to build. Imagine that Model S 17" touchscreen was fully programmable.

    Software setup on my Asteroid is now done. I'm moving it into my car's passenger seat to have a play with GPS and ensure that is fine. If OK, next step is to rip out the Alpine (which is where things get really interesting).
     
  11. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    Finally something with promise. I will be watching with much interest.
     
  12. 7racer

    7racer Member

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    Mark,
    awesome last post! Thanks for the continued feedback.

    On the install, is there a plug and play wiring harness (like what they sell at Crutchfield) or are you splicing your own?
     
  13. markwj

    markwj Moderator, Asia Pacific

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    #13 markwj, Apr 21, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2013
    In the car (sort of)

    OK. Time for some blurry-cam...

    Stock Parrot Asteroid SMART (US version). Updated to v2.0.1, then rooted (framaroot), SU'd (SuperSU), and googled (google framework, play framework, play appstore). A bunch of stuff side loaded.

    parrot001.jpg
    I made a small wiring harness board that just gets 12V and puts it into the correct places (including a switch for ignition on/off). Plugs into cigarette lighter port at the moment, and handbrake wire is grounded (so I'm always parked - I never liked nannies anyway). This will let me try the unit for real in the car. No audio, but GPS and tethering are the main things remaining that concern me.

    parrot002.jpg
    I'm using a couple of apps from Google Play to clean up the experience. ADW Launcher Ex as my launcher (very theme-able and modern - ADWElegant at the moment). Backgrounds HD wallpapers. Rebooter (fast reboot). Google Voice Search and Utter (beta) for speech recognition. PullOpenSettings (as an overlay for quick access to settings). Smart Volume Control+ for speed-aware volume and location-aware configurations.

    parrot003.jpg
    Spotify comes from the Asteroid Market (the Google Play one appears to be portrait only). Apologies for the song choice - my kids are in control of selection.

    parrot005.jpg
    After jailbreak, there are a few hoops to go through to get Google Play installed. But, once in place it seems to work ok. I'm still side-loading apps until I get round to changing the device ID.

    parrot006.jpg
    Youtube was easy once the Google Play framework was in place. I can login and it gets my playlists, etc. It will be nice to have something to watch while I wait for my kids to get out of ballet class. VLC is also there (Asteroid marketplace) should I need it, as is Solitaire.

    parrot007.jpg
    Hong Kong flight information, as an example of the sort of custom stuff that can go on. Useful for those airport runs (picking up people with small bags).

    parrot004.jpg
    Google Maps (with navigation) - nice. I've also got Waze running from the Google Play store (I really like waze). There are offline maps with iGO navigation built in (maps on SD card), but no Hong Kong maps (yet). TomTom iOS has Hong Kong, but not under Android (yet).

    Seems to work well, and I'll put in some time with it on the road this week. I'm really not in a hurry to get this into the dash, as I want to be 100% sure this is perfect before I rip out all that Alpine stuff.

    The Asteroid comes with an ISO-standard wiring harness plug, but no idea what the Roadster has, yet. If the roadster end won't mate, I'll probably just get the cheapest ISO-car (whatever car) harness I can find, snip off the car side, and splice, or just use plugs. From what I can see, there only appear to be four wires used anyway (+12V constant, +12V ignition, +12V Reversing, Ground) - there is also a parking line (ground if parked), but that will be permanently grounded on my installation.
     
  14. markwj

    markwj Moderator, Asia Pacific

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    It is in. It is amazing. Photos to follow (when I have some daylight).
     
  15. 7racer

    7racer Member

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    damn! you have me stoked for this! waiting (im)patiently! :p
     
  16. felixtb

    felixtb RsEU502,Sp+14274,XpEUSig4

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    mark, this is great!! will you be able to be a helping guide to technical idiots as myself when I want to do the same transformation.....? :)
     
  17. PRJIM

    PRJIM Member

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    Maybe this could be offered with the OVMS as a configured bundle deal. I think a custom no cut harness that works with the existing alpine harness would also be helpful.

    The OVMS becomes a lot more attractive to Roadster owners when paired with this unit (Model S type functionality with a much larger selection of useful applications)
     
  18. felixtb

    felixtb RsEU502,Sp+14274,XpEUSig4

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    I agree 100% but that would be almost to good to be true........ here is for hoping. :)
     
  19. PRJIM

    PRJIM Member

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    I wonder if this unit could replace the VDS in the Roadster. For example if the PRND buttons could be relocated to the steering wheel, perhaps a new center console could be designed that allows for multiple integrated USB ports as well as more useful in-cabin storage space.
     
  20. felixtb

    felixtb RsEU502,Sp+14274,XpEUSig4

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    now you are pushing it.....!!
     

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