History of the mp3car project

The very beginning

Way back in 1999 I was given a CD with these wonderful things called mp3's on it, I had no idea what they where, what they did or how to work with them, I just knew I had some of them. A short browse later and I was equipped with an early version of winamp and a little education. At the time I had an old Isuzu Impulse with a CD player in it and I was content.

The CD couldn't handle mp3's so I was resigned to convert some of these mp3's to wavs and burn them onto CDR media, at this time I worked for an optical storage company, so the process was well known to me. This went on for a year or so, during this time I ripped and encoded all of the CD's I owned. I started searching for a better way.


As the new millenium dawned I found mp3car.com and started to develop ideas for the car project, at about this time, I switched jobs and cars, now I drove a Chevrolet Lumina. At this time the lumina.mp3 formed.

As time passed, I started working on the mp3 project in evenings and weekends, solving the technical difficulties and writing the software that the beast would run, and got to the point where I felt all I needed was a box to run it on. I had all the peices parts that went inside, but no case. So the next computer show that was in town I went and bought the cheapest ATX case I could find, a mid tower. I migrated all my software onto it and fired 'er up! and started the initial debugging.


In the early part of 2001, I got the bench debugging finished and set about installing it into the car, the final hardware configuration was an IDE flash drive to boot from, a 5gb SCSI hard drive for song storage, a silicone rubber keypad I managed to win as an engineering sample for input (via the parralel port) and a Scott Edwards BPP420L serial LCD with backlight display. The IO devices where mounted on a custom built (by me) front panel. All the wiring was tucked away under the door sills and it worked reasonably well. Initially the software was the biggest problem, with it crashing on occasion, but by april or so I had gotten all the kinks out and the remaining problem was ground loop noise and the fact that the inverter went into undervoltage every time I started the car, leading to the process of

  • Unlocking the trunk
  • Starting the car
  • Running around the back
  • Resetting the inverter
  • Climbing in
  • Driving away

Which was a huge pain! After about 3-4 weeks of this, I lost access to the Lumina due to personal issues, and the project was removed and went on hold.


After a two and a half year hiatus the project was restarted, as version 2. The project has come a long way since then, and this is what this site is all about. The challanges and processes I used when building the latest version of the mp3car project. An early beta of v2 was installed in a Mecury Sable, and it is currently in a Pontiac Grand Prix.