Saturday, July 3, 2010

Android Touch Screen Netbook

It's been quite a few weeks since my last post and move to the new place. Not much has happened on the actual physical part of the build but I've made a number of developments with purchases and decisions of the direction of the project.

A while back on my the honeymoon I bought a Google Nexus One android mobile phone (much like the HTC Desire, but more developer orientated). I've been tinkering writing software for this and I've decided to move the development of the mostly completed dash software over to this platform. No I wont be using a mobile phone for my dash, instead I will be using a newly purchased MSi Wind U130 netbook. Some of the reasons for this is that the system is designed from the ground up to be driven by touch input (so menus and user input are already handled for me), it's lightweight and performs well and will allow android tablet's to be used for instrument clusters in other cars...

I recently came across the Android-x86 Project which is a port of the Android operating system to Intel x86 hardware (i.e. desktop/laptop computers). I slightly modified the system and installed it onto my new shiny netbook. It still needs some work to get the wifi and a few other things working, but thats just a matter of time and coding. This netbook will eventually be butchered and turned into my instrument cluster along with a touch interface. Here is a photo of it running.

To give me the touch interface I need to add a touch screen so a quick search on ebay turned up a $80 resistive (i.e. single touch) panel that fits in the netbook. I  received the panel yesterday and set about installing it last night, goodbye warranty!

The new touch panel and usb controller.

The netbook with the screen and bottom cover removed.
The screen with the touch panel in place.
And with the screen bezel back in place, just like new.
The bottom of the netbook showing the new usb controller and wires.
The usb controller sitting in the ram expansion slot. I probably wont need more than 1gb of ram for an android install anyways, kinda overkill already.
All back together...

Funny thing is, in Windows 7 I had to install drivers to get the screen working, whereas in both Ubuntu Linux and Android Linux it worked right out of the box! Although it needed calibration :-)

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