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TH8581GA Hardware Specs

by on Apr.29, 2013, under Computers, Linux

The generic double-DIN Android head unit I purchased is a TH8581GA.  Sometimes branded as an Ouku, the unit appears to be a close cousin to the Ca-Fi 621000.

Specs

Platform Freescale MX53
CPU ARM Cortex-A8 (ARMv7 rev5); 1GHz
RAM 512MB; 334 MB available to Linux
Storage Onboard 7.39 GiB (per Linux; mmcblk0)
Front Panel MicroSD slot (mmc1)
Display and Input WVGA (800×480) 6.2″ display
Resistive touch screen
USB Rear panel, USB Type A receptacle, corded, host port.
Front panel, USB Mini-B receptacle, OTG port.
Rear A/V 3x RCA – AUX In (Left, Right, Composite Video)
2x RCA – Rear Monitors (Composite Video)
1x RCA – Rear Camera (Composite Video)
5x RCA – Line Out (FR, FL, RR, RL, Sub)
DIN – IPod connector
Power, Signal, and Speaker
(wire)
2x CanBus (Tx/Rx)
8x Speaker (Front R/L +/-, Rear R/L +/-)
1x Parking break
1x Reverse
1x Ground
1x Battery +
1x Accessory Power
1x Illumination
1x Amplifier Signal input
1x Auto radio Antenna
2x Steering Wheel Control
Antenna 1x Motorola antenna (for AM/FM radio)
1x DVB antenna (for TV tuner)
1x SMA? antenna (for GPS receiver)

Notes and observations

Bluetooth:  The radio does have built-in Bluetooth, but it is not managed by Android.  Pairing with the radio allows for interacting with the Phone application on the radio (handsfree), as well as passing through A2DP audio.  However, it is not possible to use the built-in Bluetooth for pairing with other devices through Android, such as a OBDII bridge.

Booting:  The radio takes about 40 seconds from power-on to Android, another 10 seconds before the internal and external storage is mounted, and in my case, about 10 more seconds for the on-boot apps to finish loading.  The radio does not appear to have much of a concept of sleep – when power is removed, the radio is off and requires a reboot.  I have noticed in my install that if I power off the vehicle and immediately put it into accessory mode, the radio display will go dark, and come back in several seconds without a reboot.  I’m not sure of the exact scenario, but I suspect this is more of my vehicle maintaining accessory power for a short while, as opposed to the radio sleeping.

Sensors:  I’m used to android devices (e.g., phones) being loaded with an excessive number of awesome sensors, such as compasses, accelerometers, orientation, etc.  Unfortunately, this device does not have any of that.  So much for having an artificial horizon in my car.  It does, however, have an integrated GPS receiver with external antenna (provided).

Other Info:  Internal Pictures

Coming up soon… Installation.

 

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Android Car Radio

by on Apr.28, 2013, under Computers, Linux, Radio

Background

While shopping for my 2011 Toyota RAV4, I tried out vehicles that both had and did not have the factory navigation package. I decided that I basically didn’t like it. The one I purchased did not have the navigation package, but did have the “JBL” audio package and Bluetooth hands-free support, which seemed to work well.  After having some annoyance in mounting my aging Garmin nuvi (and having it stick properly), problems with the factory radio sometimes not working, and probably some pent up desire for a “project”, I embarked on finding a alternative.

Alternatives

I gave up on any cellphone-only solution since I needed to replace the factory radio anyway, and did not wanted a solution that appeared integrated (e.g., did not involve something with a windshield or bean-bag mount).

One set of options are the new head units that tether to your cell phone, allowing you to control your cell phone through the in-dash unit.  These generally involve HDMI output from your phone and use a Bluetooth connection for communicating touch screen interactions.  An example is the AppRadio series from Pioneer.  In researching this, it appears that the functionality is somewhat crippled out of the box, and that with a 3rd party app (ARLiberator).  I do think this notion has promise (and it did finally push me over the edge to buying the Slimport to HDMI adapter that works with my Nexus 4), but if I had to plug in my phone for each use, it mostly would be left undone except for extended trips.  This just did not seem to be the right answer.

The next option was a head unit that natively runs Android.  There brand name in this field seems to be Ca-Fi.  There are a number of knock-offs of this brand, the most common of which is being actively discussed on xda-developers.  I chose to get one of these units, and I will detail that adventure in upcoming articles.

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root array, dracut, and block IDs

by on Sep.03, 2012, under Linux

This cost me too much time yesterday and today, so I’ll share it with the world in case I happen to save someone time.

I have been migrating hard drives within my Fedora 16-based server over the past months (yes, it’s taking way too long).  A project this weekend was to migrate the root file system from one drive to another.  The initial and final states are mdraid mirrors, but in the interim there are two degraded mdraid mirrors – one for the old, one for the new.  In attempting to boot from the new device, the boot would fail in dracut rescue mode.  I could proceed with mdadm -As ; exit but no matter what I looked at or tried, I could not get the process to proceed on its own.  In desperation, I tried adding mdadm -As into a custom dracut module or as part of the stock mdraid module – no luck. Eventually, after turning on and wading through all dracut debugging I could find, which didn’t really help other than making me read the dracut mdraid scripts, the obvious error was revealed. The format of the UUID field that dracut uses is matched against the output of mdadm --examine, and I had copied-and-pasted the output of blkid instead. Only after lining them up did I realize that although the identifiers are the same, the format is different:

blkid: c72b5415-c310-9955-c694-43f9004a021b
mdadm: c72b5415:c3109955:c69443f9:004a021b

The particular kernel line fragment is now: root=UUID=69c0f668-d395-4d45-b3df-5835240a0986 rd.md.uuid=c72b5415:c3109955:c69443f9:004a021b

So… if you’re setting rd.md.uuid in order for dracut to assemble your root array and it’s not working, make sure the parameter is formatted in mdadm style, and not blkid style!

Another tip on the subject: Always make GRUB2 changes using /etc/sysconfig/grub and/or /etc/default/grub and then re-build the grub.cfg file using grub2-mkconfig. Also, don’t use a symlink as a parameter for grub2-mkconfig -o. This will remove the symlink and write a new file at the location of the symlink, not the target. And hence, your changes won’t have happened.

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Upgrade Fedora 15 to Fedora 16

by on Dec.29, 2011, under Linux

The desktop upgrade from Fedora 15 to Fedora 16 was about on par with the upgrade from 14 to 15.  Instead of the disaster that is Gnome 3, we’re instead greeted with GRUB 2 and new systemd quirks.

The main portion of the upgrade itself went smoothly.  No unexpected surprises from anaconda until the notice that the bootloader didn’t install right.

GRUB 2

So apparently Fedora 16 incorporates GRUB 2.  While its error messages seem far friendlier than GRUB classic, I really did not delve into all of its supposed benefits.  One downside is that when built with RAID support (which I seem to need since my /boot partition is mirrored), the core.img file ends up >32KiB, and thus does not fit in the post-MBR gap present on my drives.

To address this, I used a gparted live CD and resized and moved the first partition of each drive (which happen to be NTFS drives for my Windows 7 install, one of which was the system volume).  This provided a 2MiB gap between the MBR and first partition.  Booting back into the Fedora 16 rescue mode and using grub2-install on both drives successfully installed GRUB2 and, following a reboot, allowed Fedora 16 to load.

Unfortunately, these partition table and file system hijinks left Windows 7 with a bit of a problem, seeing as it would not boot.  The recommended method of using the Windows 7 installer’s “Startup Repair” feature was unsuccessful.  The “bootrec /fixboot” would not fix it, giving an “unsupported filesystem” error.  Using diskpart to set the Windows partition to active appears to resolve this, and the fixboot succeeds.  Naturally, I ran fixmbr at some point, which wiped out GRUB again, and thus it had to be reinstalled.  Success with booting both Windows 7 and Fedora 16 was then achieved.

NFS mount

The machine has one NFS share mounted via /etc/fstab.  After the upgrade, this would fail to mount during boot, but would have no difficulty being manually mounted after boot.  After researching a variety of wrong paths with various systemctl changes, the one I found to resolve this was “systemctl enable NetworkManager-wait-online.service”.

Update 1/8:

The upgrade of my HTPC wasn’t too painful.  Mucked with partitions to make room for GRUB2 ahead of time, had to change my lirc init script to not confuse systemd, disable screensaver in gnome 3 (yes, shouldn’t be using gnome to run mythtv – need to add that to the list), re-enabling services that weren’t automatically figured out from existing init scripts, switched mounts from /dev/md* to UUID-based to get the ordering right in the new boot sequence, mythtv ownership changes, etc, etc.

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Fedora 9 to 12 – Disk Partitions Issue?

by on Dec.06, 2009, under Linux

Fedora 9 to 12

Over the past few days I’ve been upgrading my file/media server from Fedora 9 to Fedora 12.  I did this with yum, upgrading from 9 to 10, 10 to 11, and 11 to 12 incrementally, removing conflicts as necessary.  This actually went surprisingly well, and at the end, with just one reboot, I had gone from 9 to 12.

It may have booted, but there were a number of things I had to fix afterwards:

  • The kernel video mode setting had to be disabled to not break the NVIDIA binary driver (“blacklist nouveau” somewhere in /etc/modprobe.d/).  Apparently this is supposed to be handled by installing rpmfusion’s kmod package, but that wasn’t the case for me.
  • The X server would crash immediately upon a login.  I eventually figured this out to be a missing gnome-session-xsession package.  I’m not sure if this is something I had removed for dependency reasons earlier, or if it was split from another package at some point and yum missed it.  Either way, it was a real pain to debug, but easy to fix.
  • The kernel would not recognize the partitions on three of my disks.  This was a major pain, and the main focus of this article.
  • I don’t like MythTV 0.22’s new video gallery

Fedora 12 (2.6.31.6-145.fc12.x86_64) Disk Partitions Issue?

So… sdb, sdc, and sde each have a single partition on them, but the kernel (per /proc/partitions and other means) would only report block devices for sdb, sdc, and sde not sdb1, sdc1, and sde1 as should have additionally existed.  Naturally, the first thing to consult would be dmesg:

sda: sda1 sda2 sda3
sdb:
sdc: sdb1
sdc1
sdd:
sde:
sdd1 sdd2 sdd3
sde1
sdf:
sdf1

At first glance, this looks really, really bad.  sdb1 existing on sdc?  That’s not supposed to happen.  But after looking at it further, and having had some experience debugging multi-threaded things, I became convinced this was the mangled output of multiple parallel partition discovery processes.  If that were the case, it looked like it should have been successful, but was not.

So, is this what happened?  Googling turned up a bit on the so-called “fastboot” patches to the Linux kernel, at least portions of which have been accepted into recent mainline kernels.  Supposedly these would only be enabled with the “fastboot” kernel parameter, but searching the source and docs for the latest kernel didn’t turn up this option.  The async libata device discovery does indeed appear to be in 2.6.31 mainline, and I was unable to find a knob to turn it off.  There were also references to this interfering with partition discovery.  I started the process of rebuilding the kernel to disable this, to see if it fixed the problem, but gave up in favor of a workaround.  I’m not fond of maintaining custom kernels – I think the last I did this was to support a boca card.

The workaround.  I had noticed that the kernel could be instructed to reread the partition tables (partprobe, for instance) and the missing partitions would appear.  I threw in a quick init script to do this and assemble the array early in the startup process:

mdadm --stop /dev/md2
sleep 1
partprobe
sleep 2
mdadm --assemble --scan /dev/md2
vgchange -ay
mount /storage

So… if I have time, I should complete that kernel rebuild and report this somewhere.  In the meantime, I’m posting this for the benefit of others.  Lucky for me the partitions affected did not contain my root partition, or this could have been less-work-aroundable.

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