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LCD Newbie needs advice

neamerjell

New member
I was in the process of building an MP3 player out of some old parts I got a hold of and recently thought of putting an LCD screen on a custom case to display track name, time playing, visualization, etc. I have found that my best bet would be to run Windows and Winamp since it has many plugins for LCDs.

My problem is this: I have been suffering from information overload while looking at plugins, different LCDs available, reviews and how-to's. I would like to hear from people who have done similar projects, what LCDs, drivers, and plugins they used and which ones they have had the most success with.

Also, what size of LCD would best suit my needs? 2 lines? 4 lines? How many characters wide would I need to adequately display both title and artist and playing time on another line?

Would I be able to browse my MP3 collection, select a song and play it using just a keyboard and output provided by the LCD?

I've noticed that most of the software and plugins are designed around LCDs that run on parallel ports. Are the serial port models easier to work with or does it make a difference?

Any info would be very helpful. Thanks in advance.
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CF Mark

Administrator
I was in the process of building an MP3 player out of some old parts I got a hold of and recently thought of putting an LCD screen on a custom case to display track name, time playing, visualization, etc. I have found that my best bet would be to run Windows and Winamp since it has many plugins for LCDs.
Not sure i would agree with that... yeh windows/winamp would work, but its just not well suited to being a dedicated media box.
Linux would be a much better choice. It would be harder to setup but once its working would be a lot better system than a windows box. The main advantage of using a Linux box would be that you wouldnt need a monitor/mouse and even a keyboard connected.

Also, what size of LCD would best suit my needs? 2 lines? 4 lines? How many characters wide would I need to adequately display both title and artist and playing time on another line?
Easy... the biggest you can afford.
Really for displaying a decent amount of information, 2 lines isnt enough.
A 20x4 would be good... a 40x4 even better.

Would I be able to browse my MP3 collection, select a song and play it using just a keyboard and output provided by the LCD?
Depends on the software you use.

I've noticed that most of the software and plugins are designed around LCDs that run on parallel ports. Are the serial port models easier to work with or does it make a difference?
The LCDs that run on printer/parallel ports use a controller/type called the "HD44780". Nearly every bit of LCD software for a PC will work with it. But, they are hard to setup as some fairly good soldering skills are needed to make the cable required to hook the LCD up to the PC.

With serial modules no soldering should be involved... simply plug it in.
But you have to make sure that the software you want to use supports that particular serial LCD.
 

neamerjell

New member
Thanks for the info - and the quick reply! Never expected to see anything the next morning :)

While I don't disagree that Linux would be the best choice, are there many MP3 players with built in or plug in LCD support available for it?

I've never really used Linux much, I installed Mandrake 8.? on a 200MHz and I saw it freeze up - it wouldn't accept input from the keyboard. Linux actually crashed! I installed a text only Linux (GreyCat) and never found much use for it since I was so deep into the Dos/Windows way of thinking.

Oh, by the way, the specs of the machine I'm using right now is:

Intel Pentium 200MHz
Micronics Twister AT motherboard
256MB PC133 memory (yes that old AT board had 2 DIMM slots!)
16x Mitsumi CD-ROM
Sound Blaster AWE64 Gold sound card

It does a great job running windows and winamp. I have also thought of making Winamp the shell program instead of explorer:

System.ini
shell=c:\progra~1\winamp\winamp.exe

I found that trick on a website using windows and winamp for a standalone box. However, using this method, I wouldn't be able to use your awesome software, Crystal Control.

I should have downloaded that first and then asked questions! I love the LCD simulator - it displays all the info I need on a 20x2:

scrolling the playlist position, trackname, and track time on one line just like winamp does, and centering the playing time and bitrate on the second.

I have also found a program that allows me to control Winamp via the internet: SnowCrash (http://mp3pirate.com/snowcrash/)

It's a plugin that turns Winamp into a shrunk down http server. It looks very promising.
 
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