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Computer Tips

More FAQs on our MP3 Jukebox Player

By Peter Smith

Using A Bigger LCD

Q. Great project. The MP3 player is just what I have been looking for since I set up my dedicated MP-3 machine about 10 months ago. I have been using an LCD driver I downloaded from the net, which is working well, but having a full keyboard around has been a nuisance. So the remote control will be well received around the family!

What I would like to know is can the software be easily adapted for a 4-line by 20-column display? I have considered having a go myself but my programming experience is limited to VBA (Excel) and I have no experience with microcontrollers so why not ask the experts!

Rob Walls, via email.

A. The IR Remote software could be modified without too much trouble to work with a 20x4 display. All fields of the ID3v1 tag are read and stored and available for use by the LCD output routines. You will need a copy of VB6 Pro (or know someone that does) in order to modify/recompile the code, though. As mentioned in the January 2002 edition (page 21), you can download the source code from the SILICON CHIP website.

The microcontroller code would also be quite easy to modify for the larger display size but you will need to know your way around the Atmel AVR chips.

Sorry, but we can't give you actual examples of how to do this right here - we would have to spend quite a bit of time making the changes and testing them and as you can imagine, we're hard at work on projects for upcoming issues!

Download Failed On Remote Interface

Q. I just recently constructed an MP3
Remote Interface kit which I purchased from Altronics. When the hardware was completed, I went to your website to download all the appropriate software (IRRLCD.ZIP) + (IRR10.EXE). After the download, I went to the Hyperterminal as instructed and attempted to download the new file IRREE.EEP. The file was sent to the Interface and a second or so later, a message "Download failed!" appeared on the LCD panel.

Can you help? I tried to download the software again with no results and tried using other clone PCs. Apart from that, I noticed that the remote control couldn't control many functions; eg, forward track or shut-down but I believe that this was a result of the download failure.

Kwan Lee, via email.

A. It's unclear from your message why you have tried to reprogram the microcontroller's EEPROM.

As detailed in the article, this step is only required if you wish to change a number of default start-up parameters (which are documented in IRREE.ASM). In order to modify these parameters, you will need at least a basic familiarity with the internal workings of the Atmel 90S series microcontrollers.

The microcontroller you received with your kit should already have both the program (FLASH) and data (EEPROM) memory pre-programmed. This means that you do not have to reprogram it unless you wish to make changes as indicated above.

Assuming that you really do want to reprogram the EEPROM, then the first step is to make sure that everything is working correctly before making any changes.

The "Download failed" problem you describe below could be caused by a number of factors. First, verify that the port settings in Hyperterminal are correct (see the September 2001 issue, page 31) and that characters you type in appear correctly on the LCD as detailed in the article.

Next, when attempting to download the EEPROM file, make sure to select "Send Text File" (not "Send File") in Hyperterminal.

If the above doesn't help, then suspect a problem with hardware handshaking. This could be caused by a wiring error - check that the "READY" signal from the IR Receiver & LCD Module goes to pin 8 of the female D-9 connector.

The remote control should be able to control all functions mentioned in the magazine article, assuming you have successfully assigned each function to a key (see October 2001, page 30). The contents of the EEPROM do not affect the operation of the remote control.


Q. I know you don't offer support on the software at your site but just a quick question you might be able to help me with: the MP3 jukebox kit software IRR10.exe doesn't seem to minimise once initialised. It says READY, READY then just stays on the desktop without minimising to system tray. I can't see the system tray icon at all. I've tried reinstalling it three times. I'm using a freshly installed Windows Milllenium computer. Any help would be appreciated.

Clinton C, via email.

A. IR Remote won't minimise to
the system tray if any kind of problem occurs during initialisation. You'll need to scroll up in the list of messages in the little status window in order to determine where the problem lies.

Problems With Winamp

Q. I recently purchased the MP3 JukeBox kit from Altronics, as detailed in your September and October 2001 issues. I put the kit together and got everything working. Then I downloaded the plugin for Winamp and was less then impressed.

I think a more elaborate plugin is needed or an alternative one. Although it seems to work, what is needed is support for a large playlist to just run normally with the remote control support. None of this metalist nonsense.

The Plugin works fine but the thing that ruins it is its inability to play random. I tried several playlist files of varying sizes. Also I tried a metalist following strictly the instructions given but instead of detailing the whole playlist in the Winamp playlist window I notice it only displays the current song being played. This also makes this song play over and over again, unless I press next song on my remote control.

I have the exact universal remote control detailed in the instructions (AIFA AV8E). I am really anxious to resolve my Winamp plugin problems and use my jukebox. I originally intended to purchase one device, get it up and running then purchase several more but this great device is being held back by a heavily limited plugin for Winamp.

G. Bulloch, via email.

A. Firstly, we should mention that the IRRemote software was not designed as a true Winamp plugin and was not presented as such in the magazine. The intention is to control Winamp without the graphical interface, which is why the playlist does not appear in Winamp's window.

We put a lot of work into the metalist implementation, so we obviously don't think it is nonsense. As it is, a single playlist supports up to 199 tracks, which in our opinion isn't too shabby anyway.

We've had no other reports of the random (shuffle) play function not working. As detailed in the article, when you've enabled shuffle play, a small "S" symbol should appear on the LCD. Note that it's important that you do not also click on the "Shuffle" button in the Winamp window, as this function is designed to be controlled by IRRemote.

MP3 power supply

Q. You have the MP3 Jukebox powered from a 12V rail but you are using only a 5V regulated supply. Is there any obscure reason why I should not run it from the 5V computer supply and leave the 7805 regulator out?

I have had a look through the code for the microcontroller. You have done an excellent job.

Brian Stephenson, via email.

A. The MP3 player is powered via a regulator instead of the PC's +5V rail for three reasons. First, it allows those using it in a remote housing to power it from a plugpack. Secondly, it eliminates the problem that can occur with the LCD module's viewing angle varying as a result of slight variations in power supply voltage. Finally, it allowed us to fit a series polarity protection diode!

There's no reason why you can't run it without the diode and regulator but leave the filter capacitors in place.

Winamp Playlist Not Displayed

Q. I'm having trouble with my MP3 Jukebox. I have a Duron 750 with 768MB RAM, 20GB hard disk, running Windows 98 and Winamp 2.75. The problem is that the irremote program loads the playlist but only loads the first song and not the others.

I only have 40 songs in the playlist and the playlist is in the same directory as my MP3. If I add songs after the playlist loads, the title info stays on the display but the song length changes. Can help me with this problem?

Warren Anderson, via email.

A. Only one track is ever displayed in Winamp's playlist - the track currently loaded by IR Remote (and displayed on the LCD). This is as we intended -remember, the Jukebox software was designed to be used without the Windows graphical interface.

However, you should be able to move to any track in your playlist using your remote and the instructions detailed in the article. If not, then examine the information displayed in IR Remote's status window (use the up arrow to scroll back) for possible problems loading/scanning the playlist file.

It's not possible to manually add tracks to Winamp's list while IR Remote is running. It is also important not to click on the "Shuffle" or "Repeat" buttons in Winamp, as this will confuse IR Remote.

Possible Atmel Chip Substitution

Q. I'd like to build the MP3 player which uses an Atmel AT90- S2313 chip for my PC. My question is, can I use an AT89*2051** chip instead with a 12MHz crystal? The pinouts are almost identical.

Michael Girton, via email.

A. You must use the AT90S2313-
4 (or AT90S2313-10) with a 4MHz crystal as specified. Although it's not obvious from the pinouts, the AT89 chips are entirely different internally.

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