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[APP][2.10+] PodEmu - connect Android to 30pin iPod docking station or car

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By rp9, Member on 27th October 2015, 11:39 PM
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This thread is a spin-off of the original thread by spadival. As the original thread is mostly related to original spadival's application called PodMode, I created separate thread to discuss my implementation of the same idea which is called PodEmu.

About
PodEmu is Android application that allows you to connect your Android device to iPod docking station or your car audio system. PodEmu supports both AiR (Advanced) and Simple modes so you can control your Android music app directly from docking station or from your cars steering wheel. PodEmu uses serial protocol to communicate with iPod docking station so it will work only with "old" 30-pin iPod connectors. Lightning interface is not supported.

This application is very similar to PodMode application that already exists out there. So why build new application? There are 3 (well, maybe 4) simple reasons:
  1. PodMode didn't work with my car
  2. PodMode is not open source (at least it was not when I started the development. Later Spadival published source code though)
  3. for fun...


Requirements
  1. Android device with USB host support (USB host support not required if you are using FT311D or FT312D chips)
  2. DIY cable. Unfortunately there are no ready to use cables available on the market so you need some soldering skills to assemble your own cable. All details on how to do that could be found on original thread by spadival in the second post.
Features
  • No root required
  • Display track/time information for currently playing song on your docking station or car audio system display.
  • Control your favourite Android music app (eg. Spotify) directly from car's steering wheel or docking station remote control
  • Download docking station color image to android device. Car audios usually have this feature.
  • wide variaty of serial devices are supported (see detailed list below).
  • easy to use debug information gathering. If for some reason you car is not supported it is not a problem - using 2 clicks gather all necessary debug information and send it to the developer.
  • Entirely Open Source You can modify and redistribute as long as you comply with GPLv3.

Download
The application is available on the Market or for manual installation from the GitHub here: https://github.com/xtensa/PodEmu/blo...pp-release.apk.

Source Code
This application is Open Source. Source code is available on GitHub: https://github.com/xtensa/PodEmu/

Screenshots





Supported serial interfaces (for DIY cable)
  • FTDI: FT232R, FT231X, FT311D, FT312D
  • Prolific: PL2303
  • SiLabs: CP2102, CP2105, CP2108, CP2110
  • Any Bluetooth device that supports SPP, eg.: HC-05, RN52, etc...

PodEmu was tested with FT312D, PL2303, FT232R, CP2102 and HC-05. Other chips should also work (as claimed by driver developer), but were never tested with PodEmu.

Update 2017-07-23:
Version 2.00 was published. This is major application update. What changed:
  • Source code refactoring which resulted in better stability and extendability
  • Better iPod protocol support
  • Permission request handling added
  • Preparation for Bluetooth support that will be out soon
  • New feature: auto switch to controlled app setting added
  • New feature: force simple mode setting added
Update 2017-08-31:
Version 2.10 was published. This version introduces Bluetooth support and several stability fixes.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth setup was tested with HC-05 as serial interface device and XS3868 to stream audio. Connection diagram that was used is the following:


Important notes:
  • do not short audio ground (pin 2) with power ground (pins 15 and 16). If you do it, significant noise will appear.
  • voltage is set to 3,6V and not to 3,3V. 3,6V is within acceptable range for both modules. However, XS3868 is designed to work with battery and if voltage is dropped below ~3,5V it produces audible warning.
  • before using HC-05 it need to be configured. You need to change Baud Rate to 57600 (or whatever rate is required by your car/dock station)
    AT+UART=57600,0,0
    For details about configuring HC-05 please refer to [this manual](https://www.itead.cc/wiki/Serial_Por...e%29_%3A_HC-05)
  • changing device name is not required, because you can choose the device from paired devices list from the application
  • after BT module is configured, you need to manually pair with it. Once paired, start PodEmu, go to settings and select your device from the list of paired devices. Then PodEmu will connect automatically.
  • serial interface cable has higher priority to connect, so if it is attached, BT will not connect. Detach the cable first and then restart the app.

Known glitches
  • both bluetooth modules (HC-05 and XS3868) are getting randomly disconnected. This happened to me every 3 hours on average. Not sure where is the reason. I simply waited 10-15 seconds and modules were reconnected.
  • volume level produced by XS3868 is low (around 60%) comparing to direct audio connection.
  • sometimes application cannot connect to HC-05, even though it is paired. I noticed (maybe I am wrong) HC-05 is visible for other devices only for some period of time after power up and only during this time the connection could be established. Therefore reset switch was added to HC-05 to simplify the process, otherwise it was required to cycle the power for HC-05 every time the app was restarted.
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28th October 2015, 12:07 AM |#2  
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If I can help you test out things, just let me now. Still have to build the cable tho.

Also if it would be possible to build a Bluetooth-only adapter (like Tune2Air), I would be really interested in!

BTW, I'm owning a 2009 BMW 3-series, with iDrive and USB/iPod-Connection (Serial+Analog).
28th October 2015, 12:19 AM |#3  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iCstyle

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If I can help you test out things, just let me now. Still have to build the cable tho.

Also if it would be possible to build a Bluetooth-only adapter (like Tune2Air), I would be really interested in!

BTW, I'm owning a 2009 BMW 3-series, with iDrive and USB/iPod-Connection (Serial+Analog).

Great! As soon as you have the cable and do the first tests, please let me know the result. Any help with testing is appreciated!

About BT adapter - this should not be a problem, but BT sound quality sucks so I didn't consider it. However, there are ready to use adapters on the market like this one: http://www.iphonejd.com/iphone_jd/20...kboss-air.html. Before starting this project I ordered one of them (not dockBoss but some other chineese copy) and it didn't work with my car. Maybe you will have more luck.
28th October 2015, 12:31 AM |#4  
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I will

I don't think BT audio is that bad. I almost don't hear any difference between Tune2Air and AUX (if source media is good quality). And I'm really into good sound quality. Then there's still the option of using a BT module with apt-x codec, which should be good enough

Does dockboss air support AVRCP with id3tags? But even if it does, it will never support browsing playlists I think? And it's boring to use a device which already exists to buy :P

I know a lot of people who would be interested in such a (Bluetooth) solution, and if it would support of browsing playlists/songs from apps like Google Music, Spotify, etc., that would be so awesome!!! I don't know of any other App which does this...
28th October 2015, 01:02 AM |#5  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iCstyle

And it's boring to use a device which already exists to buy :P

Haha, I liked this part of your post the best!

Quote:
Originally Posted by iCstyle

Does dockboss air support AVRCP with id3tags? But even if it does, it will never support browsing playlists I think? And it's boring to use a device which already exists to buy :P

As far as I remember - yes, it supports AVRCP.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iCstyle

I know a lot of people who would be interested in such a (Bluetooth) solution, and if it would support of browsing playlists/songs from apps like Google Music, Spotify, etc., that would be so awesome!!! I don't know of any other App which does this...

We can consider building such BT solution as the next step. For now I would like to focus on polishing PodEmu .
28th October 2015, 06:09 AM |#6  
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I DL'd from the market a few days ago. PodMode didn't quite work for me either, but in all fairness I didn't troubleshoot.

Besides the one problem I posted in the other thread, the display doesn't often update.
If I change the song on the tablet the display continues showing whatever song was playing previously. Changing the track with the car buttons changes the display as it should.
My car is a cheap POS electronic wise so I'm only looking to utilize the display as only the track buttons works.
28th October 2015, 08:32 AM |#7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fr4nk1yn

I DL'd from the market a few days ago. PodMode didn't quite work for me either, but in all fairness I didn't troubleshoot.

Now I am confused. Are you talking about PodMode or PodEmu?
28th October 2015, 08:53 AM |#8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rp9

Now I am confused. Are you talking about PodMode or PodEmu?

PodEmu* is the one not always displaying the correct track.

*Just stating I tried both apps.
28th October 2015, 09:08 AM |#9  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fr4nk1yn

PodEmu* is the one not always displaying the correct track.

*Just stating I tried both apps.

Ok. PodEmu is not pushing song info by itself when it is changed. This behavior is consistent with what real iPod do. Whenever real ipod is connected to the car it's screen is blocked and you cannot control music from ipod, only from car. Anyway I noticed that my car detects song change and "asks" about song details itself. Your car apparently don't. This is why I need more testing on different cars / docks . I'll try to add this feature in the next build.
29th October 2015, 02:01 AM |#10  
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I just ordered the parts I need for the cable, hope to get them till saturday, then I can start testing

Btw, where are you from?
29th October 2015, 06:17 AM |#11  
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Bought one of these :http://goo.gl/RNoQop, soldered on a USB cable, reverse the data cables, the app now works great with no configuration.

One note is on my tablet when the serial adapter is first plugged in the on screen prompt has had to be accepted for PodEmu or it doesn't recognize the adapter.
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