Car Computer

There are actually two in car computers in the EVGT. The battery monitoring system is a Blue Window system which is based on the Paralax Propeller chip. It monitors the pack voltage and current and outputs the readings to the video screen. Since it is an embedded processor and takes very little energy, it is on all the time and serves as the “fuel gauge” for the car. The second computer is a MP3 Intel based PC in car computer. This is connected to the video screen as well and can be accessed with the push of a button.

The in car PC is running a version of Ubuntu Linux with OpenIce, nGhost, and ZillaConfig.

LinuxICE Main screen

ZillaConfig Skinned running in LinuxICE

This page documents this setup and how to get it up and running.

The first thing to do is on a PC download the OpenIce ISO.
The home page for the OpenIce project is here.
You can download the ISO here.

Once you have the ISO downloaded you can burn it to a CD, but I recommend putting it on a thumbdrive. My in car system doesn’t have a CD in it so this was easier. Here is a link to a great little utility to make a bootable thumb drive.

To setup your system with OpenIce, just put the thumb drive in a USB port and reboot your computer. (Make sure that booting to USB is setup in your Bios.) The system will load from the USB drive and come up in OpenIce. You can play with the system a littl e bit and see how you like it. Once you are ready to actually install OpenIce on your system click on Apps, then find Setup and install. It will ask you a few questions about your system and then install the operating system on your hard drive.

The next step is to setup the touchscreen. I am using a Liliput 7″ Touchscreen which uses the eGalax driver. The OpenIce distro comes with a setup for this as part of the distro. Go to Apps, then click on Setup and select Icetouch. This will install the drivers. You will have to reboot and then run Icetouch again. The second time it will launch the touchscreen utilities. Use this program to calibrate your touchscreen.

There are two main parts to OpenIce:

  • icepanel – This is the bar at the very top and very bottom that are always on the screen.  Kind of like the start bar in Windows.  It launches the keyboard, the player, and navigates through nghost screens.
  • nghost – This is the main interface that is in the middle.  This is your desktop and how you navigate to programs.

OpenIce files

The files that control how OpenIce looks and behaves are located in these folders:

/usr/share/nghost –  This is where the skins for the program are loaded.  The default skin that comes in the OpenIce distro is “vistique”.  If you want to make your own skin, I would suggest making a copy of this skin and then customizing it.  That is how I made the EVGT skin.

/usr/share/icepanel – This is where the skins for icepanel exsist.  The default skin is “visitique-ice”.   Again I would make a copy of this to make your own skin.

/usr/share/themes/trueice – This directory contains the skin for the main interface which other non-nghost programs run in.  You might want to edit the images in the matchbox directory of trueice.

/etc/nghost – This is where the nghost “conf” configuration files reside.  Make a copy of these files before you change any of them.  The main file is nghost.conf, this file is used to configure the interface.  If you want to point to a new skin file, this is where you would do it.  There are also settings for where your music and videos files are located.  By default this is your music and video folders, but they could be somewhere else.

/etc/icepanel – This directory contains the icepanel.conf which is where you setup icepanel.  You use this to change the size of the panel at the bottom and what skin it uses.

/use/share/pixmaps- these are some of the icons that show up on icepanel

Setting up ZillaConfig

ZillaConfig is a great little program written by John Lussmyer in Java that reads the output from the Zilla motor controller and allows your to build guages that are easily readble. Luckely John wrote the program in Java, so it is cross platform and will easily run on Linux. You can access Johns website and download the program here. Be sure to Paypal him a donation if you use the program. Download the zip file and open up the files onto a thumb drive so you can access them.

To get ZillaConfig running on Linux you will need to get the Java runtime files. From OpenIce, go to Apps, then to Package Manager then Synaptic Package Manager. Do a search for Openjdk-6-jre select it to be installed. Run the installs.

Another program that is good to install while you are in the Synaptic Package Manager is gkterm (GTK+ Serial Port Terminal) a simple serial port terminal program which will allow you to quickly access the Zilla’s menus and error code directly should you need to.

In OpenIce click on the folder on the bottom menu and open up your Desktop. Put the thumb drive in and copy over the ZillaConfig files.

Here is the carbon fiber background for ZillaConfig.

Carbon Fiber Background for ZillaConfig

Go back to apps and go to Terminal. Open up a terminal window. The terminal window is your friend in Linux and aspecially OpenIce because it is the only way to configure a lot of things since the interface is really stripped down.

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