Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Music Hardware Hacking Open Source Build Hardware Technology

Ask Slashdot: Hackable Portable Music Player For Helicopters? 158

Posted by timothy
from the everyone-should-just-learn-to-hum dept.
First time accepted submitter mrhelio writes "I work for a medium-sized helicopter company; we mainly fly tourists around on sightseeing flights. My company needs help finding a hacker-friendly portable music player for our helicopters. We have a problem with our onboard music players — mostly because it is an obsolete terrible design. The manufacturer has made an updated model, but it's basically the same obsolete design with the same terrible software and user interface. We are worried about spending $1000 per unit on these because the manufacturer will eventually stop making replacement units and then we will be force to buy upgrades for our entire fleet again and get everything recertified. (Any piece of equipment hard mounted in a commercial aircraft has to be certified by the FAA and it takes a lot of paper work, time and money for that to happen.) So we have a new plan: get portable music players like iPods, and plug those into the aux input in the intercom system. We need something that has nine hours of battery life, can hold at least three hours of music, and has remote control options for start, stop, volume, and selecting tracks and playlists, and a display that is visible in bright and sunny as well as dark conditions. The remote control option is the toughest part to find. The pilots need to be able to control the music without taking their hands off the flight controls for safety reasons. There are buttons and toggle switches already designed into the flight controls for these kind of purposes and we have mechanics/ engineers that can wire it all together, but the music player has to support the remote interface in the first place. Our first choice would be to give each pilot an iPod, but Apple is notoriously anti-hacking and anti-open source, plus you have to pay them ridiculous licensing fees to get access to their USB interface. So we are looking for a manufacturer that is open source / hacker friendly and makes something that meets our needs. Do you know of anything that would work for us? Maybe something that runs Rockbox? Should we just break down and design something from scratch like the Butterfly MP3 player?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Ask Slashdot: Hackable Portable Music Player For Helicopters?

Comments Filter:
  • by sabri (584428) * on Saturday September 08, 2012 @02:39AM (#41271589)
    Don't forget this requirement: whenever the airman presses the push-to-talk button, you want the music to stop. I'm pretty sure the ATC controller will not be interested in your playlist...

    Other than that: why don't you just use the auxiliary input of the 4-way intercom?
    • We are talking about a helicopter - something that flies

      It's important that whatever that gets played on board does not interfere with the RF sensitive equipment on board of the chopper

      Nowadays airplanes from Boeing and Airbus have re-designed their planes to better shield themselves from whatever interfering RF that may emit from consumer electronics - from cellphones to laptops to tablets

      I do not know if the choppers are similarly shielded from RF interference, though

      • by Firethorn (177587) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @03:45AM (#41271823) Homepage Journal

        One thing that I'd like to point out is that the RF problem has diminished by the user devices themselves. When you go from 12V switching to under 1V, you're looking at a lot less RF interference coming from the device anyways. Go from kilohertz to mega/gigahertz and you up the interference frequencies; lowering the range they can travel and the odds they'll interfere with the much slower switching electronics in the craft.

        Basically, at this point it's hard to tell the average portable consumer device from background noise, as long as it's not intentionally transmitting.

      • by sabri (584428) *

        We are talking about a helicopter - something that flies

        Would it help if I'd let you know that I am in the proud possession of an Airman Certificate as well?

        The most important flight instruments are based on air pressure (speed, altitude, vertical speed) and gyroscopic systems (heading indicator, attitude indicator, artificial horizon). The only "RF sensitive equipment" on board of a chopper is limited to either a VOR/DME or a GPS receiver. None if which will be used for a sightseeing flight, since there is no fun sightseeing if you're flying IFR. And if you'r

        • by JWSmythe (446288)

          You should be aware, the FAA does care an awful lot about anything that might be installed on an aircraft. Commercial aircraft? Very very concerned.

          You missed the obvious "RF" equipment. The radio and transponder.

          But, it's not just RF. What if the installer of the uncertified equipment were to make a subtle mistake? Like run an unfused wire from the battery, put through a hole that has no grommet? Or it uses a power connector that isn't FAA approved.. In case you can't see where I'm going, think dead

          • by sabri (584428) *

            You missed the obvious "RF" equipment. The radio and transponder.

            Good point. In theory, an MP3 player could disturb the radio and transponder. My counterarguments would be that first of all chances of that happening are very low, and second of all, issues with radio and/or transponder are easier to detect than minor GPS/VOR-DME interference.

            But, it's not just RF. What if the installer of the uncertified equipment were to make a subtle mistake? Like run an unfused wire from the battery, put through a hole that has no grommet? Or it uses a power connector that isn't FAA approved.. In case you can't see where I'm going, think dead short and electrical fire mid-flight.

            This would apply to any installation of chassis-mounted equipment. I don't think this would apply to a plugged-in Ipod.

            (but yes, you are right, an electrical fire would be nasty)

    • by adolf (21054)

      Don't forget this requirement: whenever the airman presses the push-to-talk button, you want the music to stop. I'm pretty sure the ATC controller will not be interested in your playlist...

      If this is important (and I'm not sure that it is), it is solved with a singular relay, perhaps with a diode across the coil.

      There's no reason for something such as a "hackable portable music player" to even be a part of this happening, let alone be relied upon...

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      Sabri, honestly, do you think ANYBODY would be stupid enough to install this otherwise? Please, if you have nothing intelligent to say, please don't say it!

      Or, to put it another way - when you are flying an airplane with 4 people say and the pilot pushes the PTT--does ATC hear the conversation of the other three? Of course not. The source pushing the PTT is isolated, obviously. Many panels also have an ISO (Isolate) setting so that the pilot doesnt hear the other chatter in the aircraft when he's talki

      • by sabri (584428) *

        Or, to put it another way - when you are flying an airplane with 4 people say and the pilot pushes the PTT--does ATC hear the conversation of the other three? Of course not.

        Not always true, especially on older systems. Especially on aircraft that are also used for flight training, and that comes from experience.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      That is what the intercom system does.

  • by Penurious Penguin (2687307) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @02:48AM (#41271615) Homepage Journal
    I'm no audio expert or pilot, but it seems an adequate setup [youtube.com] was designed in the 1970's. I could see this schema working well in cases of mechanical malfunction or unusually feisty tourists, though I suspect you could always choose a different act for more conventional flights.
  • ... Don't? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ford Prefect (8777) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @02:50AM (#41271627) Homepage

    As a tourist who's been on one [flickr.com] or two [flickr.com] small, sightseeing aircraft - can I suggest going without the music?

    Especially on a helicopter where the background noise is already quite phenomenal, going without some barely-audible music warbling away over the headset is hardly going to impair my experience. I'd much rather be looking out the windows (or absence thereof [flickr.com]) and listening to what the pilot has to say...

    • Re:... Don't? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @05:14AM (#41272071) Homepage
      Yeah, well, you'd be surprised. People out there get bitchy and moany when they have to go two seconds without listening to Nickelback or Maroon 5. I remember a sightseeing tour by car through magical China, stopping at hilltop monasteries and having tea at amazing teahouses with breathtaking views. Real Kung Fu movie stuff, live and in the flesh. My two co-tourists couldn't believe that the car didn't have any music other than a couple of crappy Chinese dance music CDs and didn't have a USB port to accept input from their music players. I was like, uh, these are amazing views and we're doing amazing things today, is it OK if we go without music for eight hours? You'd have thought I suggested we drink out of a bucket of warm spit, to judge by the disgusted reactions on their faces to this unwelcome suggestion. Seriously, I'm pretty sure it ruined the trip for them. I had an awesome time.
      • Same experience here. I took a *long* day trip to a remote village in Rajathstan, India, and as soon as we stepped out of the car, about two hundred villagers started this ridiculous choreographed dance to some over produced pop music heavy with violins. And so I was like, "Please, I'm here to see poor people and squalor, not for some absurd Vegas musical", and so they stopped and went back to being poor and squaloring until we left, at which time I'm sure they restarted that musical tomfoolery.

    • by Seumas (6865) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @05:56AM (#41272167)

      WRONG. The Airwolf theme song would be PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE. :D

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIoSPevvsds [youtube.com]

  • Time equals money (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CaptQuark (2706165)
    If you spend more than 20 hours to engineer something yourself, the $1000 starts to look like a bargain.
    • Re:Time equals money (Score:5, Informative)

      by jamesh (87723) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @03:28AM (#41271765)

      If you spend more than 20 hours to engineer something yourself, the $1000 starts to look like a bargain.

      Depends on if a "medium sized helicopter company" has 5 helicopters or 50... and also if, after your 20 hours, you end up with something better than "terrible"

    • Makes you wonder how much this company is scrimping on maintenance too.

    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Seriously, this post is the very definition of "penny-wise, pound foolish".

      $1000 is, what, like one flight's worth of fuel? It's like... maybe half of one month of one employee's health benefits? It's nothing.

      Your time is worth far, far more.

      • Seriously, this post is the very definition of "penny-wise, pound foolish".

        $1000 is, what, like one flight's worth of fuel? It's like... maybe half of one month of one employee's health benefits? It's nothing.

        Your time is worth far, far more.

        $1000 per helicopter is more than nothing. But it's not just a money thing. You're also overlooking the time and paperwork to install it, plus any FAA paperwork (and time required for it) for certification in their operation. Once they have it, fixing/replacing it in the future requires all the hoops of a certified system. For that trouble they get a crappy, out of date product.

        He's looking for an alternative. There may not be a simple one out there. But if he happens to find one that meets his criteria, od

  • and mount it somewhere. instantly superior to commercial airline entertainment systems. and cheaper.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      If I'm a tourist going on a charter helicopter flight the last thing I want is an in flight entertainment system.

      No, I don't even want music.

    • I think there was news some time ago that ipads were certified by FAA as replacements of plane manuals. Why not use them as MP3 players ?

  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @03:04AM (#41271673)
    I don't know where you got this from. Apple has no problems putting open source software on the App Store, for example. Some open source software developers however have a problem with that.

    To put your own code onto an iPod Touch, what you need is a Mac, $99 for a developer account, and you can install any software you write on up to 200 iOS devices of your choice. No need for hacking at all. No restrictions on what your code does.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2012 @03:28AM (#41271763)

      This is a great example of the distinction between Open Source and Free (as in Freedom) Software

      Sure Apple has Open Source embraces from time to time, but they will never embrace Free Software because that would mean offering liberty to their products, er, consumers.

      Oh and only $99 US dollars to be able to put your code onto something you own? HOW GENEROUS OF THEM
      *pukes*

      Free Software allows people from ALL walks of life to do as they want with the code (run, learn, modify, redistribute) regardless of their status in life, not just those who can pay money in order to buy a Apple dev-'indulgence' that can purify/wash themselves clean of their ignorance.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2012 @05:48AM (#41272143)

        Either an iOS device is the best solution or it isn't. If it is, and $99 will stop you from doing it, or running your own code isn't free enough for you, then you're letting your idealism get in the way of the best solution.

        Solve the right problem. The insistence on solving problems we want to solve rather than problems we're asked to solve is one reason IT is seen as a thorn rather than an asset.

    • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @03:32AM (#41271775)

      It is not about software, but about hardware. Apple requires you to buy a chip from them to "identify" your accessory as "runs with iphone" if you want it to do anything more than plain audio out. That is what the OP is talking about.

      Considering this, I'd be looking for some iphone/ipod dock that has all the buttons you want and is certified. Rip that out of it's enclosure, connect your own buttons to it and you'll have your interface. No need to reinvent the wheel here, just adjust the packaging to your needs.

      • by quetwo (1203948)

        Only if you sell the device in the market place. If you are looking to interface your own equipment to an iOS device, you can use a Redpark TTL cable. These are designed for hobbyists, and are designed to connect to Arduinos (among other prototype boards). They had them at MakerFaire for $50 -- http://www.makershed.com/Redpark_TTL_Cable_for_iOS_p/msrp03.htm [makershed.com]

        • by dissy (172727)

          Nice find, I'll have to add that link to my collection!

          I've been using the dock breakout board [sparkfun.com] to get access to the serial port as well as audio/video outputs and the ability to charge the device.

          The serial accessory protocol [adriangame.co.uk] is well documented, for use with either of these products.

    • Apparently, you stopped reading before you got to the remote custom hardware interface hardwired into the flight controls part.

    • by zill (1690130)
      $99 per year.
    • by Ptur (866963)
      On the other hand, Apple went into extreme efforts to encrypt the ipod so that it becomes near impossible to have it run your own firmware. Apple will allow you to write apps, as long as they agree with your app and it doesn't duplicate functionality. Try writing a replacement music player app for your ipod. Good luck.
      • On the other hand, Apple went into extreme efforts to encrypt the ipod so that it becomes near impossible to have it run your own firmware. Apple will allow you to write apps, as long as they agree with your app and it doesn't duplicate functionality. Try writing a replacement music player app for your ipod. Good luck.

        Only a madman would want to create their own firmware for an iPod. And $99 for the developer license gives you complete freedom to put any code you want on up to 200 iDevices. Apple doesn't look at it whatsoever. So if the guy wants to write a replacement music player app for 200 iPods there is nothing and nobody stopping him.

    • by dissy (172727)

      You don't even need a developer account or software on the iPod to do this.

      Buy a dock connector breakout board: https://www.sparkfun.com/products/8295 [sparkfun.com]?

      Wire up a micro controller to the serial port. Use it to send Apple Accessory commands: http://www.adriangame.co.uk/ipod-acc-pro.html [adriangame.co.uk]

      No license or developer account needed.

      Some other posts have brought up a few good points not in the summary, which if actually needed might require additional hardware, such as to ensure the audio is cut off while using the

    • by mjwx (966435)

      To put your own code onto an iPod Touch, what you need is a Mac, $99 for a developer account

      Let me get this straight,

      In order to put my own code onto my own device I need to buy a A$2,000 machine as well as $99 per year (yep, you forgot it was a yearly fee) just to put it on a device I already own.

      Say I buy that for a second, what if I wanted to put the same code onto my sister's Iphone or my boss's Ipad? Lets assume we can guarantee the code will not pass Apple's censors (duplication of functionality... but adds a bit more functionality Apple never bothered to include). How do I do that?

      That is w

      • In order to put my own code onto my own device I need to buy a A$2,000 machine as well as $99 per year (yep, you forgot it was a yearly fee) just to put it on a device I already own.

        This gets boring. You can get a Mac for under A$1,000, and then you can't just develop code for iDevices, you also have a Mac. If you get upset about $99 per year, are we adults here? Metrowerks Codewarrior would have killed you (usually 3 release per year, $400 each).

  • by The Brother Grim (1851070) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @03:10AM (#41271705)
    Grab a few old Android devices--maybe N1s--turn off their cellular and wifi radios, load them up with music, and use 3.5 mm audio cable converted to whatever your aux input is on your existing system. Some 3.5mm audio cable can be purchased with/cobbled together to include built-in play, pause, and track skip buttons... Also, there's the rooting factor for most Android devices as well as the fact that most non-Apple smartphones use some variant of microUSB for charging and syncing.
    • I was just going to post this myself.

      Since it'd be fully programmable, right down to the Linux kernel, and there's now a USB Host API (Android API 12+) you could easily integrate the phone with whatever control system you like.

      The sky's the limit!

      • by Adriax (746043)

        Or a raspberry pi with a custom case, lithium ion battery pack, and a small usb touchscreen (LCD or e-ink)? Seems another really hacker friendly option, very low power and printing a custom case means you could theme it anyway you want.
        Instead of a touchscreen you could use a LED alphanum display off the usb and hardware buttons off the gpio header. Only really needs a video display when it needs the audio/playlist changed, and a led display is much more visible in light than an LCD.

    • It doesn't even have to be Android smartphones. There are other options (tablets, car stereos, desktops / laptops...). As far as the controls go, you hack the wires of a USB controller and remap the buttons in software if needed.
      • Hell, why not use a Rasberry Pi? It has most of what's needed and sure as hell should be able to meet FAA Certification of the hardware for replacement of your built in players.

    • I'm using my Nokia N900 for in car entertainment, aka podcasts while I drive. Since the radio uses bluetooth I'm using its buttons to control it, but I also used to use a bluetooth mouse I use while on a walk to control it. The mouse could be solder up someway to trigger the three mouse buttons and scroll wheel to send inputs over bluetooth. I don't use a display while driving, and the daylight readable would be a problem for most portable players and cell phone systems. Still since I have it working th
  • Pandora (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2012 @03:14AM (#41271719)

    Why don't you use Pandoras?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_pandora

    They have great battery life, are very hacker-friendly, and great audio.

    • by aglider (2435074)

      This seems to be the very first post to give a meaningful answer to the original question: which device?
      Everyone seems to be discussing about anything else!
      I don't have any mod points left to mod you up!

    • Why don't you use Pandoras?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_pandora

      They have great battery life, are very hacker-friendly, and great audio.

      Or he could even go with any Android tablet he wants. Don't like the music app available? Write your own. You could even get a Bluetooth remote for it.

  • Cowon X7 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2012 @03:15AM (#41271725)

    Large library size (160gbs), loooong battery life and very friendly to RockBox

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowon#MP3_players

    • Seconded.

      All in favour?
    • Large library size (160gbs), ...

      We are talking about a device used by a legitimate company, so I would assume that all music would be properly licensed and paid for. I wouldn't think for one second that they would want to pay for 160 GB of music.

    • by malakai (136531)

      This.

      List of Supported Models [rockbox.org]
      I still have an old Toshiba Gigabeat, that has easily over 9 hours of life when just playing music. It also has a cable ( in-line headphone jack ) remote that supports volume, mute, next/prev track, pause, and play. Image of headphone remote [images-amazon.com]. Also, the gigabeat dock has it's own USB host, power, and other things. The dock would be the only thing you need to certify, as it's the only thing mounted. The gigabeats you'd just bring with you and clip in each flight.

      Rockbox has open s

  • Potentially open source/hackable standards change faster than established ones. The iTouch/iTunes format seems pretty stable and there's talk of a streaming service. The units are a couple of a hundred each and easy to upgrade. There's a limit to the number of devices that can fall under the same content but it still seems like an easy solution. You can go with an Android solution to fight the Apple standard but name one that will exist ten years from now with any certainty?
  • by jimicus (737525) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @04:10AM (#41271907)

    I wonder if you could modify something originally intended for a car?

    Newer aftermarket stereos often have aux input, a USB port for flash sticks and sometimes you'll find they've already paid Apple for iPod connectivity so you wouldn't have to. You can even find models with remote control support, though if you want to use existing remote controls I think you'll have to reverse engineer how the manufacturer's done it and make your own adaptor. This should be perfectly doable, however, as there's an existing industry that does exactly this so the steering-wheel remote controls you find built into many modern cars can be adapted to function with the aftermarket head unit. You might even be able to find a company that'll work with you to do the job just for the fun of it.

    They're dead easy to wire in - they come with a fairly straightforward loom already there and there's a range of plugs on the market so you could build your own loom, fit a standard plug to it and when the manufacturer discontinues the stereo, put in another one that's close enough with minimal extra modification. They're already in a steel case so I don't imagine shielding will be a big deal.

    They're also cheap enough that you should be able to pick something suitable up for a fifth, maybe even a tenth of the obsolete units you don't like.

    The only thing I'm not sure about is getting FAA certification...

  • You can control a smartphone over Bluetooth. Search for "a2dp receiver". First hit on ebay: http://www.ebay.com/itm/STEREO-BLUETOOTH-HEADSET-HEADPHONE-A2DP-MOBILE-WIRELESS-CORDLESS-/350596896980?pt=PDA_Accessories&hash=item51a13418d4 [ebay.com] They're cheap and readily available, and they have hardware buttons for pause/play/next/prev. Anyone who knows which end of the soldering iron to hold can tap into the buttons.

    Or just get a MP3 player that has actual hardware buttons; again just solder yourself in instea

  • The kind of device you';re talking about surely doesn't need any more juice than a common MP3 player. I keep a cigarette lighter to USB adapter in my car, and it supplies my phone with more power than it needs indefinitely. I don't suppose helicopters have cigarette lighters, but you must have some equivalent.

    Or maybe not. A little while back I watched Generation Kill, in which Recon Marines invading Iraq are always running short of batteries for their night vision goggles. Can anyone explain to me why HUMV

    • by russotto (537200)

      The kind of device you';re talking about surely doesn't need any more juice than a common MP3 player. I keep a cigarette lighter to USB adapter in my car, and it supplies my phone with more power than it needs indefinitely. I don't suppose helicopters have cigarette lighters, but you must have some equivalent.

      I'd suggest just powering the music player itself from internal battery; avoids issues with ground loops and noise coming in the power system.

      • by wiedzmin (1269816)

        I have been patiently scrolling through this thread for the name of a device that has a 9 hour battery life, while playing music.

  • I would recommend a Nokia N900. Availability would be the tough part, but it will do everything you need. It has a nice transflective screen that is legible in direct sunlight, and it is one of the most hackable devices around. Being a phone, it has several radios in it, but those can be disabled through software.

    The N9 would most likely also work, and those are still in production as far as I know. The screen is also legible in direct sunlight, but I think the N900 would suit your needs better.

  • from personal experience i can vouch for a company named cowon. there media players have the best quality sound output on the market. the x7 and x9 have a week of battery life and there android variants can obviously use bluetooth remote technology. i own an x7, and you can set them to actually be a remote in themselves, when you lock the screen you can set the volume controls to be the skip track buttons, and the enter button becomes the pause button. when i drive i just set a playlist im in the mood for
  • So we have a new plan: get portable music players like iPods, and plug those into the aux input in the intercom system.

    If you haven't already, please check that you get decent sound quality through the intercom.

  • Wagner (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 08, 2012 @05:32AM (#41272105)

    Put giant speakers outside the helo (by the rocket pods) and blast Ride of the Valkries

  • by Teun (17872)
    The helicopters (mainly Eurocopters) I use often have a single player with an IR output, the passengers have headsets with an IR receiver.

    One advantage is that it's easy to inject the pilots messages into the system.

  • look at the Gilderfluke (https://www.gilderfluke.com) playback systems. they are designed for this type of application. the SD-10 may be enough if your requirements are simple enough or the SD-25 can handle almost any requirement. designed to run on 12-24 V power , use SD cards for storage, 2 external switch inputs, line level audio outs.
  • An easy solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ctrl-alt-canc (977108) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @06:06AM (#41272207)
    1) Find three more helicopters
    2) Learn to play alltogether this [wikipedia.org]
    3) ? ? ?
    4) Profit!

    Those who are curious to hear the piece can find it here [thespace.org]. Please don't play it over my home, thanks.
  • How about a Raspberry Pi?

    Buy:

    - a Pi. (http://www.raspberrypi.org/)
    - Plastic Pi case (https://www.modmypi.com/shop/)
    - 32gb SD card
    - HDMI touchscreen (http://www.chinavasion.com/china/wholesale/Home_Audio_Video/LCD_Monitors_TV/8_Inch_LCD_Touchscreen_Monitor_AV_VGA_HDMI_Car_Kit)

    Install Xbian, a XMBC media player based Linux os (http://xbian.org/) and you've got everything you need.

    Cheap too!

    • Ha, ninja'd!

      As below, so above, I agree with this.
    • Power for the HDMI touchscreen (9-15V) can be provided from a 4 cell LiPO RC battery. A standard cigarette lighter to USB adapter can likely be used to drop the 14.8V down to 5V for the raspberry pi.

  • Why bother with the intercom at all? Just get a dozen cheap MP3 players and give each passenger one. Everyone pick their own song. The sound quality is better because they're all listening from the earphone instead of the intercom. Less distraction to the pilot as well.
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Because the pilot is also the guide and people may want to talk to one another.

  • If you've got engineers who are happy running wires around and have a basic knowledge of a *NIX OS then go for a Raspberry Pi. Power it from the aircraft's aux supply, USB for remote, SD card/s for your music storage, set playlists etc on the ground by plugging in a monitor, mouse and keyboard. No lock-in, entirely open source, easy to integrate with the systems however you like and no wireless signal for the FAA/CAA etc to worry about.
  • What, you can't just put an automotive music player in a helicopter?

    I would think that would be kind of cool, some big bazooka speakers and a subwoofer. Blast you some Li'l Wayne until the windows shake. Get some grape incense. People would line up to fly with you.

    • by FlyingGuy (989135)

      You can't just "install" something in an aircraft. If it is your own private personal aircraft all you have to do is update your weight and balance and more then likely you will get away with it.

      This is not anyone's personal private helicopter. This is a helicopter operating under part 135 (?) rules. EVERYTHING that gets installed has to be approved, logged, certified, etc. etc.

      An mp3 device like he is talking about does not get "installed" it just gets plugged into the intercom and that you cannot get di

      • by PopeRatzo (965947)

        An mp3 device like he is talking about does not get "installed" it just gets plugged into the intercom

        So it's better to have an iPod bouncing around the cockpit than something installed in the panel?

    • by PPH (736903)

      More on this idea: Your odds of finding a commercial unit for which some certification paperwork exists are better. Its possible that someone has gotten approval to install something like this in a private or charter aircraft. See what others are doing on some of the aviation bulletin boards.

  • Find a way to quiet the noise of the rotors so your passengers can hear the music. I'm sure the people and animals on the ground would appreciate it too.

    (Don't say it can't be done, Seal team 6 has some pretty quiet helicopters.)

  • They have decent music players, are reasonably "pro hacker", they used to have a version of angstroem linux for the Gen7 Archos48 player
    (with a 500Gb disk and reasonable vibration resistance, obviously to be checked on an helicopter)

    the current models run Android ICS.

  • The remote is going to be the difficult part, especially if you want to choose playlists.

    I've recently bought an iPod nano 6G and found it unusable in my car: the touch screen means you have to look at the device to operate it, and I'm not going to do that while driving.
    So I bought an iJet Nav [buyijet.com] remote with physical buttons for pause, next track, and previous track (also volume up and down, but those are not necessary in my setup). This gives me enough control for the things I want to do while driving, and the pysical buttons mean that I can operate them without looking.

    The Nano 6G will operate with the iJet Nav attached for about 5 hours on battery power.

    Choosing a different playlist is going to be way too distracting however you set it up. The only acceptable option I've seen is an iPod linked to a car stereo through the CD changer input. Dension (I think) makes a device that will do this, and it will map 6 playlists to the Disc 1-6 buttons on the car stereo, so choosing a new playlist is a matter of pressing one button.

    I think you'll have to plan ahead and have an appropriate playlist cued up before you take off.

  • by Rozzin (9910) on Saturday September 08, 2012 @11:02AM (#41273789) Homepage

    Have a look at Qi Hardware's NanoNote [nanonote.cc]. It seems like it it fit the bill pretty well, especially if you pair it with TuxBrain's Universal Breakout Board [qi-hardware.com] (a small breakout board that plugs into the NanoNote's MicroSD port).

    I've bought two NanoNotes for use as portable music players (one for me, one for my wife). We've been running MPD + ncmpc [freecode.com] on them (which makes it convenient to either browse or search for songs), along with smart auto-DJ [hackerposse.com] (which means that you can just pick a song to start with, and it'll automatically keep the play-queue filled with appropriate-sounding songs), for the past two years or so.

    Running just on the commodity battery [qi-hardware.com] that fits inside, we've found that they'll run for at least 8 hours; but they also support the addition of small external battery [flickr.com] that'll get you another ~30 hours.

  • "Our first choice would be to give each pilot an iPod, but Apple is notoriously anti-hacking and anti-open source, plus you have to pay them ridiculous licensing fees to get access to their USB interface."

    If your first choice would otherwise be an iPod but you can't hack their USB... don't. You don't need to.

    Every time I ride my motorcycle, I control my iPhone playlists just fine without anything USB driven. The bike headset uses bluetooth and gives me play, pause, skipping in both directions, volume, controls.

    I'm guessing what's already on your flight controls is no more than that. So find someone else who's already done the work and piggyback off it. All you need to do is wire your controls to the controls

  • IANAP just googler but I guess the idea is that you don't buy a $1000-2500 unit like those from PS Engineering or Sarasota Avionics.
    http://www.gulfcoastavionics.com/products/537-pcd-7100.aspx [gulfcoastavionics.com]
    http://www.ps-engineering.com/pav80.shtml [ps-engineering.com]
    http://sarasotaavionics.com/category/entertainment/cd_mp3_dvd-players [sarasotaavionics.com]
    http://sarasotaavionics.com/avionics/fdsdx6 [sarasotaavionics.com] (a $2800 unit that takes six 1GB sd cards, this is overkill but an example of what is out there.)

    Anyway I cannot be of much help but you should get something that doe

  • iPod Touch + external battery + dock with remote

    Problem solved.

    You could actually wire the dock connector into the onboard power, or just use a standard inverter/charger.

    The universal dock has a remote, and you can get an IR blaster or something to wire into your helicopter. The codes for the universal dock are out there, or you could just embed the remote that comes with the UD.

    You can put the text you want as the album art, and make sure the iPod Touch doesn't sleep. You now have a big 3" screen that's pl

  • You will not get.

  • Galaxy Nexus, bluetooth.
    What is described sounds exactly what I have mounted in my truck: A 2012 model JVC stereo/bluetooth DVD deck, and my Galaxy Nexus.
    All this discussion of docking is irrelevant. Use Bluetooth.

The trouble with opportunity is that it always comes disguised as hard work. -- Herbert V. Prochnow

Working...