A.M.P - Advanced Music Player

What We Will Do

If you collected all the parts that were discribed in the Basics-Section we are ready to go.

* Get the PC running. All we need is a plain Win95 Installation. Best is Win95A or earlier, these types don't start Scandisk automatically when shutting down the system incorrectly.
Install Winamp.
Put Winamp into the Autostart-Group. If you're an experienced Winamp-user than use the crossfader-plugin, this makes the player work more cool by crossfading any title at any time into the next one. You can get the plugin at the same adress as winamp itself.

* Open up your keyboard and check how it works. There are some different types. They are all supplied with a small chip that has a lot of contact-plates. These can be connected to a foilage. Others have 2 foilages or a just big plane were the buttons are soldered onto. What ever your type is, we need the chip only. You don't have to desolder it, but at least cut away the foilage or whatever is around the chip and makes it bigger than necessary. On a Mitsumi Cherry Keyboard for example you would throw away the foilages and keep a small handy chip, soldered onto a little plate. All of the chips work the same way. The chip has a lot of "feet". Concerning wich "foot" is connected to wich other "foot", the chip creates the letter that is assigned to this combination. Winamp is controlled by these buttons:
Play = "x"
Pause = "c"
Stop = "v"
Next Title = "b"
Previous Title = "z"
Volume Up = "Keypad Up"
Volume Down = "Keypad Down"
Your turn is to check out wich "foot-connection" creates these letters. This is hard work. It's done best with a windows-notepad opended. Connect the chip to the PC (you haven't removed the cable, haven't you ?), take a small cable and try all possible connections. Don't forget to write down every combination you found and recheck them later !
Now it's time to think about what buttons you want to use. Choose some good design. The work of these buttons is to replace the keys on the keyboard that control winamp. For example: Let's say foot Nr.12 and foot Nr.23 connected together would create the letter "b" wich is "Next Title" in winamp. You would take your new button and connect (solder) it to the foot Nr.12 and the foot Nr.23. To test the button, open up the Windows-Notepad and every time you hit your button the letter "b" should show up. Another way is to start Winamp, every time you hit the button the player should jump to the next title.
That's how the whole stuff works. Your work is to get the other buttons working so you can completely control Winmap by your new buttons that are connected (soldered) to the chip.
These are the first 7 buttons, but they are not enough as you can't shut down Windows or Winamp with them. For this reason we need 7 more. At this time you can think about where in the car to put the buttons. They should be easy to reach, good looking, and visible at night. In the PICS-section you can take a look at mine.
Back to the 7 other buttons. As a CD-R full with MP3s, contains about 180 titles you'll need some kind of "navigation" to select different files on the CD. I choose to make 4 shortcuts on the desktop, named ONE, TWO, THREE and FOUR. When you rightclick a shortcut on the Desktop you select "properties". In the properties section you can name a key that will execute the shortcut. As keys I selected F6 for ONE, F7 for TWO, F8 for THREE and F9 for FOUR. Other keys are not available as single keys and F6 to F9 are the only F-keys that have no other function. (F2 for example stands for "rename file" so it's not usefull choosing it for your shortcuts). At a test, everytime you hit F7 the shortcut TWO must be executed. Same goes for the others. Your turn is, again, to find these buttons on the chip, just like before.

* The three other buttons will be used to control "power/on/off", switching to Audio-CD mode and the Shutdown of Windows just like Winamp.
Switching to Audio-Mode is simple. As Winamp is capable of playing Audio-CDs, everything we need is another shortcut. The shortcut has to point to the CD-ROM-letter. When you insert an Audio-CD and execute the shortcut, Winamp will jump to Audio-CD mode. Now you can listen and navigate through the CD with the standard player-buttons: Next title, volume, etc.. . For to execute the shortcut you should select the F11-key. (And find it on the chip, for rewiring)
If an MP3-CD is inserted you just need to press one of the playlist-buttons to make Winamp change back to MP3-mode.

* The Power:On/off switch is very simple. All you need is an impulse-relais. These relais work just like most of the light switches in a house. Once you press them, the light goes on, the next time you press them the light goes off. All you need is to get +12 Volts on the button and connect it to the relais. (I told you, you would need some electronic skills !!)
When you press the power-button, the relais goes "click" and connects your power-converter to the car-battery. As a result, the computer will start up and boot, etc..
Of course there is no need to use a relais, you can also use a simple switch. (I wanted to use 14 identical buttons so I couldn't use a switch instead)

* The shutdown-switch: I used a quite complicated way to shut down the PC and winamp, but there's a much more simple way.
Get a Freeware program (at www.freeware.com) that can create a macro of the shutdown of Winamp and Windows and connect this macro to a single key on the keyboard. So install that program, create the macro, assign it to one single key on the keyboard, find that single key on the chip an rewire it to your little "control-unit".
So any time you hit the shutdown-key the macro is executed and as a result, Winamp is shut down, followed by windows itself.
If you're searching for a better way, let me tell you 2 things:
1. Winamp MUST be shut down correctly, otherwise you will always start at the first entry of your playlist. Only with winamp shutdown correctly, the player saves the last position of the loaded playlist !
2. There is no existing switch that can be used with the winamp.exe to shut winamp down.
If you found a better solution anyway, tell me.

* A few words about the CDs you can use on the player. You'll have to burn them yourself and there are no directories allowed ! This is because Winamp has Problems with the file-paths in a playlist when calling different playlists one after the other. So all the files on the CD have to be in the same directory.
You can have a maximum of 4 playlists on the CD. (You have only 4 Shortcuts linked to buttons, remember) These four lists must always be named the same way, so the shortcuts will work. For example: You made four shortcuts, named them ONE, TWO, THREE and FOUR. The shortcut ONE points on a file named ONE.m3u (the first playlist on CD) on the CD-ROM. TWO points on TWO.m3u and so on. Now you can put any files onto the CD-R as long as you have them all stored in one directory and the the four playlists (whatever they contain) have the right names, the names the shortcuts point to.

* The rest should be no problem. Install all the parts that were listed in the basic-section as they're meant to be (connect the soundcard-output to the amplifier, the power converter to the PC, etc..) , inside your car and hit the road !