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Ask Slashdot: Hackable Portable Music Player For Helicopters?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the everyone-should-just-learn-to-hum dept.

Music 158

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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don't forget another important requirement (3, Insightful)

sabri (584428) | about 2 years ago | (#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?

RF interference - another crucial requirement (2)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#41271637)

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

RF interference - assisted on multiple fronts (5, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | about 2 years ago | (#41271823)

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.

Re:don't forget another important requirement (1)

adolf (21054) | about 2 years ago | (#41271713)

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:don't forget another important requirement (2, Interesting)

mumblestheclown (569987) | about 2 years ago | (#41271717)

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 talking to ATC.

To make a long story short...

here are basically three legal solutions: an portable intercom with a music input (say via 3.5mm jack) OR something installed by an avionics shop. if the latter option is anything other than installing a 3.5" input jack onto the panel into which an ipod can be plugged, then it will end up costing far more than $1000, though, given the exorbitant shop rates of avionics shops, even the installation of this $1 item will probably cost at least a few hundred bucks.

Re:don't forget another important requirement (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 2 years ago | (#41272553)

That is what the intercom system does.

Re:don't forget another important requirement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272783)

The intercom / audio interface already does that. When PTT is pushed music is cut off.

This is the wrong forum for that... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271605)

Anytime you plug something to an airframe you have to have certification.

Even if the device is "portable".

Start with a list of already certified devices...

Re:This is the wrong forum for that... (5, Insightful)

mumblestheclown (569987) | about 2 years ago | (#41271723)

what utter nonsense. neither portable GPS nor intercoms nor timing devices nor "PCATD-lite" things nor any of the other portable gadgets that go in an aircraft have to be "certified" by the FAA.

/ 20 year flight instructor, owner of an aviation company / terrible slashdot karma for routinely calling out BS that others mark "insightful"

Re:This is the wrong forum for that... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271931)

You seem to have missed the "remote control" attachment and "...plug those into the aux input in the intercom system.. "

Otherwise, the pilot should just say "turn the F* off".

And plugging into the intercom could just short it out, causing other unknown power issues (though likely just a blown fuse).

Re:This is the wrong forum for that... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272111)

what utter nonsense. neither portable GPS nor intercoms nor timing devices nor "PCATD-lite" things nor any of the other portable gadgets that go in an aircraft have to be "certified" by the FAA.

/ 20 year flight instructor, owner of an aviation company / terrible slashdot karma for routinely calling out BS that others mark "insightful"

I'm not trying to call you out as wrong here (20 year commercial flight passenger, a.k.a. cattle), but it sure seems to me that based on the requirements to connect this "portable" device directly into the damn flight control "button and toggle switches" for the specific purpose of the pilot being allowed to fly the plane properly and not interfere with communications (voice interrrupt/overrride, reasonable volume limiters, etc.), it would need to be certified or regulated to some extent. If not, then you won't mind if I suggest they also install a 500-watt amp and a pair of 12" woofers in a sub box underneath the pilots seat. I hear some of them like the boom-boom, and I'm sure that the passengers and ATC will get used to it after a while.

(Sorry, you're probably right in your analysis and the general FCC guidelines for Class B devices, but lack of certification/regulation in this case seems just silly.)

Re:This is the wrong forum for that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272203)

Your absolutely right, utter BS original post.

Re:This is the wrong forum for that... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272409)

what utter nonsense. neither portable GPS nor intercoms nor timing devices nor "PCATD-lite" things nor any of the other portable gadgets that go in an aircraft have to be "certified" by the FAA.

/ 20 year flight instructor, owner of an aviation company / terrible slashdot karma for routinely calling out BS that others mark "insightful"

Well you would appear to have misread the summary as he clearly states that fixed devices are required to be certified, which is why he's looking for something portable.

Re:This is the wrong forum for that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272423)

Well you would appear to have misread the summary as he clearly states that fixed devices are required to be certified, which is why he's looking for something portable.

That's exactly what the guy you're replying to said. Maybe you meant to reply to the guy he replied to that said the original post was a lie and portable things that plug in have to be certified?

Re:This is the wrong forum for that... (3, Interesting)

Yoda222 (943886) | about 2 years ago | (#41271915)

Last time I was in a plane as a passenger I plugged my regular earphone to the IFE. I'm almost certain that they are not specificaly certified.

Re:This is the wrong forum for that... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271917)

This is essentially correct. If the device interfaces with the aircraft interphone system (or any other aircraft system), it must be certified for use on YOUR aircraft model. On the other hand if the aircraft has a utility bus with a 115 volt AC outlet, you can more or less plug in anything within the limits of the associated circuit breaker's current rating. As an example, some airline crews are now using iPads and laptops within the flight deck.

You may be able to engineer in a system separate from aircraft systems that is accessible to the flight crew. Such a system would still require approval of your local FAA inspector, but would not require the TSO approval (http://www.faa.gov/aircraft/air_cert/design_approvals/tso/) of an off the shelf system purchased from your friendly avionics vendor.

I would suggest discussing your desires with your local FAA inspector assigned to your operations. They will be able to point you down the right path.

 

Valhalla (2)

Penurious Penguin (2687307) | about 2 years ago | (#41271615)

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.

how would that be legal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271619)

If you need to mount something to the control of the pilot, like tge remote, wouldn't that require faa aproval?

The current controls are already sufficient. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271873)

There are controls on the heli for the current (craptastic) system for playing music and controlling the player. These can be used for controlling the player and piping the music around correctly.

Since these controls are already there, they don't need reapproval.

An AUX jack is already isolated so anything added to that is not part of the system. And similarly (I hope, if not the engineers will have to build a shim and get that certified once) with the control panel connecting the stick media controls to the current media player. Just plug your jig into the isolated side of the control box and it too doesn't need recertification.

As long as it doesn't have WiFi enabled.

... Don't? (3, Insightful)

Ford Prefect (8777) | about 2 years ago | (#41271627)

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? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271667)

Good sightseeing companies should be providing quality ANR headsets a la lightspeed zulu or bose a20 (yes, I know bose sucks, but they make a pretty damn good aviation headset.) Both provide a headphone jack for music and at least one provides bluetooth.

Then you just need to run wire from your music player of choice.

Re:... Don't? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41271777)

...or not have music.

Re:... Don't? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272843)

No, they most certainly should provife.good ANr headsets to protect the guests hearing. Alsoo, some if them provide nararation, which is valuable.

Re:... Don't? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272003)

Absoutely agree - I don't understand why the Youtube Generation thinks that there needs to be music constanly in the background of *everything*.

If I was a tourist on this helicopter I would be leaning forward and asking the pilot to turn-off the irrelevant noise. I'm paying to enjoy the scenery, not some geek's choice of music.

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

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#41272071)

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.

Time equals money (2, Insightful)

CaptQuark (2706165) | about 2 years ago | (#41271635)

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

Re:Time equals money (4, Informative)

jamesh (87723) | about 2 years ago | (#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"

Re:Time equals money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272177)

The guy wants something open-source. Don't overlook that requirement! It means he can deploy the solution on as many aircraft as he like - or even sell such solutions - without further licencing. Future costs will only be in hardware...

Re:Time equals money (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 2 years ago | (#41272727)

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

portable speakers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271651)

bose

just buy a tablet? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#41271657)

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

Re:just buy a tablet? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41271781)

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.

Re:just buy a tablet? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271891)

"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."

Nobody mentioned music, you moron. This is for the sightseeing record, so that people know what to look for.

Re:just buy a tablet? (4, Informative)

another random user (2645241) | about 2 years ago | (#41272103)

Really? Nobody mentioned music? Let me check in the summary:

We have a problem with our onboard music players

and

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.

Maybe I'm mistaken, but I'm pretty sure that music was indeed mentioned.

Re:just buy a tablet? (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about 2 years ago | (#41272391)

Nobody mentioned music, you moron. This is for the sightseeing record, so that people know what to look for.

I'm not sure what a "sightseeing record" is but music was definitely mentioned.

People would know what to look for because the pilot has a voice.

Re:just buy a tablet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272161)

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.

So just say you don't want music then. It is a helicopter, there won't be many on board. Chances are good they turn the music off when guest don't want it - and on for guests who cannot live without.

Apple isn't anti-open source (4, Informative)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Apple isn't anti-open source (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271691)

Yeah, the pope is also not anti-condome, that was ripped completely out of context, damn you fox news.

Re:Apple isn't anti-open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271721)

Also, they don't need to do any hacking to control the iDevices. They just need to built an interface the same way a car maker would. Plug in the iPod/iPhone, control via the helicopter audio controls.

Re:Apple isn't anti-open source (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Apple isn't anti-open source (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#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.

It's not about software (4, Interesting)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:It's not about software (2)

quetwo (1203948) | about 2 years ago | (#41272527)

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]

Re:Apple isn't anti-open source (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 2 years ago | (#41271981)

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

Re:Apple isn't anti-open source (1)

zill (1690130) | about 2 years ago | (#41272247)

$99 per year.

Re:Apple isn't anti-open source (1)

Ptur (866963) | about 2 years ago | (#41272287)

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.

Re:Apple isn't anti-open source (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 2 years ago | (#41272321)

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.

Re:Apple isn't anti-open source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272719)

Well, I don't know what you can do with a $99 developer licence, but we're talking about open-source, so it's beside the point.
What I know is that they are going to great length to prevent anyone from putting songs on an ipod, they even encrypt their f* database. If that doesn't count as anti-open-source, I don't know what you need.

Re:Apple isn't anti-open source (2)

dissy (172727) | about 2 years ago | (#41272961)

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 radio to talk to your controller or whatnot. But some relays controlled by the same micro controller above should be able to handle that.

Give Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271697)

Small world, I encountered the same project with our PA44 and Kingair fleet and we couldn't find a solution like what you were describing. Your requirements require mounting things inside the cockpit which require approval and also causes TEM issues, however, I don't operate under FAA jurisdiction. You may find in-line players attached to headsets to be more compliant.

How about repurposed Android smartphones? (3, Informative)

The Brother Grim (1851070) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:How about repurposed Android smartphones? (1)

mimicoctopus (2701643) | about 2 years ago | (#41271821)

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!

Re:How about repurposed Android smartphones? (1)

bananaquackmoo (1204116) | about 2 years ago | (#41272123)

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.

hands up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271707)

hands up anyone who goes on a helicopter to listen to music. I'm sure they want to impart some sort of emotional response by giving others their interpretation of what the flight experience should be, but please.

Re:hands up (2)

mrbester (200927) | about 2 years ago | (#41272013)

Only if they play Wagner exclusively and require you to bring a surfboard.

Pandora (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Pandora (1)

aglider (2435074) | about 2 years ago | (#41271963)

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!

Cowon X7 (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271725)

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

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

Re:Cowon X7 (1)

In hydraulis (1318473) | about 2 years ago | (#41271919)

Seconded.

All in favour?

The line between added components and added wire.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271767)

You are allowed to add wire / connectors / relays (without recertification), but not equipment?

Incorrectly added wiring can bring down an aircraft.

Relays can arc, producing RFI.

Loose connectors can cause deafening hum if not worse.

You should think of this as 2 problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271787)

No. 1 being the music player: Chose a decent android tablet (of the 5-7" flavour), throwing in some extension battery if necessary. This will cost you close to nothing, and it's upgradeable in software, later upgradeable by cheap replacement.

No 2. being the remote control: I strongly suggest you create an USB keyboard emulation - either by taking apart a physical keyboard or by using something like an Arduino. This needs to be done only once, as it needs much more (and more professional) work - emulate the media keys from a typical keyboard and chances are, most things will work out of the box. If not, see 1. - you can do everything else in software on the device, without touching the helicopter.

Re:You should think of this as 2 problems (1)

blackest_k (761565) | about 2 years ago | (#41271857)

There are interesting possibilities with Android, with a archos tablet i can remote control it with my samsung phone (with wifi). There are a number of options for a full remote option but most require rooted devices. It all depends what needs controlling bluetooth controls are possible its not like distance would be a problem in a helicopter.

There are loads of dlna player and controller programs around for android too. your phone is the controller the other android device source and player.

Pebble: E-Paper Watch (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271791)

A while ago a friend found this: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/597507018/pebble-e-paper-watch-for-iphone-and-android
I don't know where they are at in their development. It connects to the device of your choice via Bluetooth, which would mean that the actual player could be whatever. Battery life is listed as 7+days. And I do imagine that you could attach a watch to a lot of things besides your wrist.
The other specs are listed in the kickstarter project.

rasPi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271799)

get raspberry pi, attach some little display (kent displays?), install mpd and some ncurses client, program your keys with use of gpio.

You cannot be remotely serious? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271801)

Can you please post for us what helicopter company you work for, so we can know to never, in our fucking lives, ever fucking ride in one of your helicopters?

I'm sorry, but "hacker friendly" and "hacked together" systems have no business in a vehicle which, when it malfunctions, will likely kill or severely maim all of its occupants.

If your company is too fucking cheap to buy properly certified gear - do without a music system. This "We need something portable to get around regulations" bullshit smacks of corner-cutting, and I have to wonder what other things you do to get around regulations. When the safety of your pilots, and your customers, is at stake, cutting corners is both foolish, and unfortunately for you, illegal.

Re:You cannot be remotely serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271825)

Re:You cannot be remotely serious? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272023)

I'm sorry, but "hacker friendly" and "hacked together" systems have no business in a vehicle which, when it malfunctions, will likely kill or severely maim all of its occupants.

Are you sorry for making up quotes or for selectively choosing definitions to suite an argument?

If your company is too fucking cheap to buy properly certified gear

That's not how it works. The reason something is certified is so it can be directly connected to the aircraft systems. Separating the equipment when possible is the safest method.

Re:You cannot be remotely serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272045)

What you need is the Heli Linux distro with the Linux MP3 player for helicopters!

Re:You cannot be remotely serious? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#41272079)

I'm sorry, but "hacker friendly" and "hacked together" systems have no business in a vehicle which, when it malfunctions, will likely kill or severely maim all of its occupants.

What, you mean like an automobile?

Re:You cannot be remotely serious? (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 2 years ago | (#41272099)

Who the fuck modded the poster insightful?

It is safe and entirely *legal* to fly all sorts of hacked together stuff on a helicopter.

The whole point is so that you don't gave to get every fart certified by the FAA, since otherwise it would kill pretty much anything except using helicopters for banal transportation tasks.

I have, in fact, flown custom instrumentation mounted on a helicopter with custom mounts powered with a hacked up collection of marine lead-acid batteries and a Linux laptop. All legal and safe. It would have been imnpossible to get it certified within the budget.

But heck, that's what those "not installed" rulkes are for.

Re:You cannot be remotely serious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272243)

No, you are wrong I think.

The equiptment directly connected to the aircraft control system has to be certified as a malfunction could crash the aircraft.
Now the equiptment only needs to be certified until the audio jack.

This is a safer approach as the system runs on it's own battery and only sends music to the audio input. Whatever goes wrong with it cannot cause problems, as you can just unplug the cable.

Open source doesn't mean stable (1)

Grayhand (2610049) | about 2 years ago | (#41271815)

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?

Open source doesn't mean unstable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271933)

Open standards remain the same because you don't have to change it by planned obsalescence. The USB Mass Storage Device standard is the same for Linux for the last however long the standard was written.

iPad covers don't fit iPad2.

Apple refuse to tell anyone what the next connector is going to be (therefore how can it be the same as the previous connector?).

And the streaming service is ALREADY AVAILABLE if you get your FOSS-derived device.

Why are you so certain Apple's *current* standard will remain for 10 years? How long did the current dock connector last?

Re:Open source doesn't mean stable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272517)

umm.. it's open source.. so Android will probably exist long after Apple's walled garden suffocates/changes.

After all... Apple gave up on IOS9 and went with OpenBSD and a bunch of Gnu code, webkit, cups (then bought it) and other open source... the open source stuff is sticking around... and saved Apple's butt.

How about a Raspberry PI running XBMC... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271829)

and build a custom control set of buttons (programmable via Python) going through the GPIO port. Take a look at the following:

http://www.raspbmc.com/about/

Re:How about a Raspberry PI running XBMC... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272021)

That's a good idea.
But, how about a piece of cardboard with gum stuck to it?

I wonder if you could modify... (2)

jimicus (737525) | about 2 years ago | (#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...

Several suggestions (1)

subreality (157447) | about 2 years ago | (#41271929)

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 instead of trying to figure out a control API.

Alternatively, use an Android netbook, phone, or tablet. Cheap, easy to customize the firmware to your needs, USB ports so you can control it either by emulating a keyboard or using a serial dongle (you may have to hack the media player software), no Apple tax. 9h battery life is tough, but if you can get a DC port of some sort on the aircraft then you can use a DC-DC converter to run it as much as you need.

Battery life? (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 2 years ago | (#41271949)

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 HUMVs don't come with battery chargers?

Nokia N900 would be perfect (1)

loosescrews (1916996) | about 2 years ago | (#41271961)

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.

Rockbox. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41271965)

Rockbox, the open source MP3 player firmware, and one of its supported devices.

Cowon audio players also come with a remote, I believe. But why bother with a remote? If you're prepared to wire something in, make a small wiring harness for the device (connecting wires to the button contacts), slather the solder points on the device in hot glue for some stability, and plug it in before takeoff. You're plugging the 1/8 inch jack in anyway, right?

But I like another commenter's suggestion: just skip the music. I find it annoying and distracting, if I recognize it's there at all (and I'd prefer to not recognize it at all).

try cowon (1)

hpsandwich (1750300) | about 2 years ago | (#41272015)

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 and carry on my marry way. i never have to look at the screen, i just put it in my lap and when something needs changing i hit a button. i never have to look most of the products have 32gb versions, though the x7 has a 160gb hard drive in it. only word of warning is there interfaces are known to be quirky, but you get used to them. give them time to... settle down, then they become as dependable as dogs.

Tab (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272053)

Buy a Tablet PC, attach a hardware keyboard (which is easy to wire) and customize the software for your needs. Remove the wireless modules from the Tab to be on the safe side.

Please test it first (1)

fa2k (881632) | about 2 years ago | (#41272075)

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 (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272105)

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

Infrared (1)

Teun (17872) | about 2 years ago | (#41272157)

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.

MP3/wav playback systems (1)

Daa (9883) | about 2 years ago | (#41272185)

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 (5, Interesting)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Raspberry Pi (1)

networkz (27842) | about 2 years ago | (#41272213)

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!

Re:Raspberry Pi (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#41272479)

Ha, ninja'd!

As below, so above, I agree with this.

Power (1)

bigtrike (904535) | about 2 years ago | (#41272749)

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.

Ditch the intercomm (1)

zill (1690130) | about 2 years ago | (#41272265)

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.

Re:Ditch the intercomm (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 2 years ago | (#41272567)

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

Could you adapt an in-car module? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41272311)

Would something like http://dx.com/p/mp3-player-module-with-remote-controller-fm-usb-sd-106197 be adaptable? The music would be transported on an SD card; the IR remote could be wired into the existing buttons on the controls.

(Sorry this is posting as AC; once I start writing the post I can no longer see any option to log in. Peet McKimmie here...)

Raspberry Pi (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#41272473)

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.

Best Buy (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#41272537)

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.

maybe this could help (1)

AMLinc (2725669) | about 2 years ago | (#41272633)

I have been working on a wireless router solution for Satcoms. These are a carry-on solution this way you do not have to go through the certification requirements with permanently installed devices. We can loaded songs and media of your choice. We have been looking at the router as a carry-on low cost IFE system as well. Your application would not need the Satcom interface but we can help you if you are interested. http://www.aviationmodificationleaders.com/advrouter.php [aviationmo...eaders.com] Email me if you are interested. Mark

While you're at it... (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 2 years ago | (#41272823)

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.)

Try Archos (1)

Coeurderoy (717228) | about 2 years ago | (#41272847)

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.

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