I'm not usually one to revisit a project after I've finished it, but I made an exception because the problems with the original design were making this device unpleasant to use. For those of you just now viewing this project, it is the second iteration of an iPod information screen I made for my girlfriend a little over a year ago (see http://www.instructables.com/id/iPod-Information-Screen/). While she liked the first iteration, it left much to be desired in terms of functionality and appearance. This iteration addresses some of the biggest issues and makes for a better and more pleasant to use device.

This has been tested and works with the following iDevices. And I suspect it will work with any earlier generations also:
  • iPod Touch 1st, 3rd,  4th generation
  • iPhone 3GS

A quick introduction to what exactly this is:
My girlfriend, a huge music buff, asked me to come up with a better way for her to look at the track information of the current song playing on her iPod touch while she was using it in the car. Those of you that have or have had an iPod touch know that it's not the easiest thing to read while driving. To see the song information you have to double tap the home button and then still the text is extremely small. Also, controlling playback is difficult as the iPod touch has no tactile buttons so it requires the user to look at the screen to find the location of the soft buttons.

My solution was to construct a device that would interface with the iPod and take the song information and then display it on a screen somewhere within easy view of the driver. After quite a bit of work and research I finally arrived at the product you see here. My iPod information screen displays the song title, artist, album, song time, and play/pause symbol. It provides skip back, skip forward, and play/pause playback control as well as charges the iPod.

The video is from the first revision, but it still shows the functionality.

Step 1: New Design Considerations

For me, updating this project was a great study in design. I learned a lot not only about how to make this better, but also knowledge I can apply to future projects. In this step I'm going to go through major design goals and my reasoning behind them.

1. Make Main Unit Smaller
The main unit is the assembly that houses the screen, buttons, and Arduino. The original design used female headers that added significant thickness to the assembly and the board layout made the the assembly unnecessarily tall.

2.  Better Main Unit Enclosure Aesthetics
I'll admit it, the first iteration of this project was ugly. The black box was unattractive and the holes had uneven edges and weren't the right size. Also, I had an old windshield suction cup mount that I hacked together something to make it stay on the windshield. It involved a lot of velcro and didn't work very well. This time I wanted to make sure the unit attached directly to the mount.

3. Power Switch
The first iteration had no power switch. You turned it on and off by plugging and unplugging the USB cable that provided power. This is a hassle to a user who wishes to leave the device plugged up, yet still wants to turn it off.

4. Better Connection to iPod
The iPod connector breakout I used originally was large and it was difficult to make look nice with all the wires going to it. Another problem was that all the wires I used to connect the connector to the interface board were solid core and very rigid. Wrapping them in electrical take was another mistake. It was hard to put the iPod where you wanted it.

Note: A lot of people have mentioned that some sort of volume control would be good to add. As it turns out when the iPod is controlled through the method used in this instructable, volume control is disabled. I suspect this is because this mode is meant to be used with some other device controlling all playback functionality remotely and so volume would be controlled with the device. In this case, volume is controlled with the car stereo's volume control.
if i want to use an iphone 5, i just have to use a lightning to 30-pin adapter? or i will have to change the project?
Very interesting and useful project! I have a slightly different problem for the medical device, called accommodometer in which I want to use the iPod to display images. Can you, as a person who has experience in managing iPod, say it is possible to control the display of pictures to my iPod nano?
I love what you've done here! Just another idea...is it possible to plug in your iPod into the top of the display? Or isn't there enough room to put the electronics? Then have one cable running to the car's power?
Sorry if I don't quite understand how you have the cords all set up, but I'm assuming the most simple setup for this would be one cable running from the iPod to the display and then an AUX cable and a 12V DC (cigarette lighter) power cord from the device to the car.<br/>Once again I apologize if this is basically what your setup is, I'm just trying to figure it all out from your pic.
That's more or less what's going on. Instead of all the cables going straight to the display, I have a smaller enclosure that connects with a cable to the display. That enclosure houses a PCB that has a 3.5mm audio jack and a mini USB port for power. (I had a cigarette lighter converter that provides 5V via USB). The iPod also connects to that board. My reasoning behind connecting everything like that is I wanted to have just have one cable running to the screen that's mounted on the windshield and all the other cables connect away from the dash board eliminating clutter and distraction. Does that make sense?
cool ible
Great works.

About This Instructable


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Bio: A materials scientist gone electrical engineer my hobbies include experimenting with electronics and making fun and interesting things. I rarely know what I'm doing ... More »
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