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?"
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