Picture of iPod Information Screen
My girlfriend, a 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 distracting 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 in the 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.

Edit: 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.

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ajayo24 months ago

You are a life saver...
i just want to know that will this work for iPhone 4 and does it matter which iOS is being used?

ajayo2 ajayo24 months ago

provided that the phone is jailbroken

rikki311 year ago
has anyone tested it with the ipod touch 2g
It's great to see that you can still connect something to an iPod without Apple license crap. I know this works for older iPods, but has anybody had success with an iPhone or an iPod touch? Which generation?
nerdtaco1 year ago
Well I finally finished recreating a variation of your project. I used a pod breakout mini because it has a backshell and all of the pins necessary. For the cable I used an old 24 AWG DVI cable which works great because it is shielded and has twisted pairs for audio out and serial. For an enclosure I used a 6x4x2 enclosure from Radioshack. It was the perfect size for everything. Rather than milling or etching a board I just used countersunk screws and risers for my Uno. For the discreet components I just used a prototype board with power rails I found at work and cut it to size. I also installed an On/Off switch because the AUX cable was putting ignition noise on the speakers  which got annoying and it was easier than unplugging the cigarette lighter every time I wasn't using it. Thanks for posting this, it was a lot of fun to make!

Pod Breakout Mini:

nerdtaco2 years ago
Can you please describe how all of this goes together? Your schematics aren't very intuitive. I'm trying to build this and I have no idea where everything is supposed to go. Thanks, and I'm really excited for this project!
cmonaco3 (author)  nerdtaco2 years ago
Hi. Sorry about the confusion. I've added some annotations to the schematics that hopefully clear things up. If not, let me know. I think I'll throw together a Fritzing drawing if I get a chance.
Thanks a lot, and if you could do a fritzing drawing then I would be eternally in your debt.
nerdtaco2 years ago
Did you mean pine 12 and 13?
cmonaco3 (author)  nerdtaco2 years ago
Where are you referring to?
I'm sorry, I meant pins 12 and 13 when you mention 18 and 19.
Shonswer2 years ago
Wow this is just awesome, i will consider make one. Does it is difficult to build? considering i'm very new to electronics?
cmonaco3 (author)  Shonswer2 years ago
Thanks! Sorry for such a late response, but I would say it's a moderate level of difficulty especially if you're new to electronics. But if you want to give it a try I'd be more than than happy to point you towards some resources and help you get the project underway.
Awesome instructable, the final project looks almost store bought, you did a convincing build! Do you think you'll ever incorporate Bluetooth into the screen? I'd pay good money for something like that.
cmonaco3 (author)  cgmalantonio2 years ago
Thank you! I'm not sure if I will, but it would be a great way to reduce the amount of wires.
abadfart2 years ago
very nice now if you could put the controls in the wheel and install a hud projector for the screen. might try this in my next car not much point in my current car seeing as how im not taking it with me when i move
cmonaco3 (author)  abadfart2 years ago
I was considering both of those but I couldn't think of an elegant way to incorporate controls into the steering wheel without more wires nor could I think of a way to have a HUD type display that worked in all lighting conditions. If you end up trying something like that please let me know!
This is great - Do you know if it will work with the Podcasting App?
Stretchie_2 years ago
Not had chance to read it yet but how easy would it be to add two extra buttons? Vol Up and Vol Down?

If you could do that and make it a bit smaller I'm sure you could make $$ / ££ making this for bikers.

As a biker this looks way better than other solutions I've tried, the wireless ones are flaky and the wired ones don't take thick gloved fingers in to consideration.

Well done mate,
cmonaco3 (author)  Stretchie_2 years ago
Hello and thanks! I don't see any issues with physically adding the buttons, however, from a software point of view I don't believe it's possible. If you take a look at the Apple Accessory Protocol Mode 4 (the mode required to get data from the iPod) there is not a command for adjusting the volume. My original plan was to have volume control buttons, but as I got further along in development i found that there wasn't a way to do this. I suspect the reason for this is that Apple designed this mode to be used with dock-type devices that had their own source of volume control. Volume seems to set at a certain level and for a car that's not a problem since the volume can be controlled by the radio's volume. It may be possible to build an external circuit to control the volume for the purpose you're suggesting.
Thank you very much for the replies, and sorry for the late response.

I will see if I can bribe a friends dad to knock one of these up for me

: )
Or, instead of trying to use the accessory port, you could use the headset port to control the volume, similar to how 3-button headphones do it.
Instead of having push buttons for volume control, you could use a rotary switch like what was used on old radios. All it is is a POT. That would eliminate the need for a complex circuit. Just leave the iPod on max and let the POT do the work.
macjedimatt2 years ago
Any idea if this would work with an iPhone 4S running iOS5?
cmonaco3 (author)  macjedimatt2 years ago
I only have an iPhone 3G with iOS5 and it works with it, so I wouldn't see why not. I'm not making any promises though.
I've just tested the simple remote mode with buttons on my bread board. Worked great. Next test will be to see if it works running the ATMega at 8Mhz on the internal clock.
sernatinger2 years ago
Fantastic! It will work "as is" with iPhones too (3GS, 4 , 4S)?
pourcirm2 years ago
I built something similar using David Findlay's Arduino library. I didn't use the screen as you did, but instead I went with the Wii Nunchuk controller so that I could just change songs and artists on the fly. It worked out great until I got a new car and didn't have any easily accessible space to install the control box.
gfo2 years ago
Very nice. What did this cost to build?
cmonaco3 (author)  gfo2 years ago
Thanks! I must apologize, but I don't have an exact number. The only substantial purchases I really made, however, were the LCD Screen (~$30), the Arduino Pro Mini (~$20), and the PodBreakout (~$15). The rest is just some cheap electronic components like resistors and buttons.
gaprilday2 years ago
Awesome instructible, but its location in some states would get you a ticket. Beware of where you mount it.
cmonaco3 (author)  gaprilday2 years ago
Thanks. I appreciate the concern. I'm in Georgia and as far as I can tell there aren't any laws restricting the placement of windshield mounted devices. Safety, of course, is a priority and that's actually why I placed in that corner. It may not be evident from the picture, but I've found that in this particular vehicle placing this in that location provides the least amount of visual obstruction.
Ismegordo2 years ago
What a great idea, my daughter would love one of these, so I am not sure I like it or not, as I am the one who has to build it for her.
But you have done a great job with clear instructions and when I am finished I will post a pic to show you.
Keep up the good work
astroboy9072 years ago
Gonna build something like this.... need it for mah car as well! :)
cmonaco3 (author)  astroboy9072 years ago
Excellent! If you do please post some pictures of how it comes out!
soul_eater2 years ago
It looks cool , first time i wanted to chenge my andoid for an ipod, Good Job
cmonaco3 (author)  soul_eater2 years ago
Thank you. I'm glad you like it!
fjordcarver2 years ago
cmonaco3 (author)  fjordcarver2 years ago