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Truck Audio/Data Network   -   2007/04/27Viewed 155 times this month, last update: 2007/04/27


My Truck has two power networks, one installed by the factory, an additional power distribution network installed by me, and now I'm working on an audio/data network. The idea is to interconnect all of the audio and added data-aware devices with a system of USB soundcards and serial adapters. In that way, all audio and data devices will be accessible from a built-in computer or, until that's installed, a laptop via a single USB cable:



Once all the devices are connected to the computer, I'll need a way to utilize the devices in some convenient manor. (As opposed to writing a single monolithic custom application) In order to do this, I've found a good collection of software:

With this collection of software, plus a couple of blocks I'll write custom in GNU Radio (A VOX block, and a block to interface to the radio control CAT protocol), I'll be able to easily connect almost anything to anything else, with the possibilities I'm currently interested in:

  • Using KPSK to do PSK31 work, with VOX and CAT GNU Radio blocks to trigger PTT
  • Using JACK, GNU Radio and the VOX module to patch voice between my HAM radio and my Globalstar satellite phone
  • Using the GPS, and CAT to tune in local HAM relays from a database, as I drive around.
  • Using my truck's stereo system to play music from the computer, but interrupt when a signal comes over the HAM radio
  • Gateway APRS packets from the 2 meter frequency to the HF frequencies.
  • Gateway APRS packets from radio to the internet via the satellite phone
  • Using GNU Radio to play with odd, new and custom modulation schemes.

The hard parts are getting the audio circuits matched properly, and wiring/mounting everything in a clean way. Today I managed to transmit my voice from an FRS handheld, through my FT-817 HAM radio, through my Globalstar phone, and to my cell phone! The reverse direction is more difficult, as I need to get/build an amplifier circuit and the VOX module for GNU radio. I need to figure out JACK too, but with those pieces, I'll also have a fully functional PSK31 setup. Neat!

Comments:
Hosscat (2007-05-28): This is going to be an amazing set-up! I'd like to talk to you if you had some time to spare. I'm in the process of designing (at least trying to) a power distribution network. Nothing fancy basically run an air compressor, CB (haven't taken my HAM test yet -- still studying) lights, Digital Scanner, GPS, and a 400 watt power inverter. Keep up the good work!

Erik (2007-05-29): Feel free to comment here or email me at erik@erikburrows.com. I found using a fuse box from a junked jeep works well, but you need to be careful about getting the right setup. The one I used had some funky fuses, which made my setup more complex.

Hosscat (2007-05-29): Thanks. OK the vehicle is a '94 Suburban, UAV (Ultimate Allterrain Vehicle)So the first thing that sticks out in my mind is running wires clear to the back of the vehicle. It's roughly 10'-12' from the front batterie(s) to the compartment that I'm currently welding to cover the air compressor and soon to be fuse box. I was thinking of using 16ga wire for that far of a run - what's your take on it? Secondly, not all the acc (CB, Digital Scanner, Air Compressor, GPS, 2 Hella 55w Lights, 4 small "cat eye" lights, and a 400w power inverter) will be running at once on this circut, but I would like to make it capable of doing so if need be. The only thing different that I'm planning on doing is eventually mounting a 12"x12" solar panel on the front of the roof rack to charge the batteries - I do a lot of hunting, fishing, hiking, camping, etc.. and sometimes I won't turn the vehicle on for a day or two during that time though I'll run the CB, scanner or maybe the power inverter, basically trying to make the rig as self sufficient as possible aside from fuel. With all that in mind what are your intial thoughts? also I'd like to see pics of your Adio/Data network when your done. I'm curious to see it. keep up the good work.

Erik (2007-05-30): Hosscat, if you're going to run a wire from your batteries to a power distribution point (as apposed to connecting all loads directly to the battery), 16ga wire will not be sufficient. Check out this page for wire-amp capacity: http://www.powerstream.com/Wire_Size.htm

You'll want to estimate your total amp draw by adding up all the toys you'll want to plug in. The air compressor especially will draw a lot of power.

My application didn't draw too much power normally, but I also wanted to be able to put in extra batteries in the back, on a battery switch, so I ran a 00 gauge wire from the front two batteries through an 80 amp breaker, to the distribution block . I have some pictures of my whole setup here.

Hosscat (2007-05-30): Alright Erik, roughly without the air compressor it'll be around 70 amps - that's including the power inverter. I'm going to hold off on the air compressor and probably mount it under the hood directly to the batteries. Now do you think fuse relays are really needed. I've ran some light in the past without fuse relays but I'm slowly coming around to them. Once again thanks again for help.

Erik (2007-05-30): Well, for 70 amps, I'd think a 8 or 7 gauge positive wire should be sufficient. You should definitely fuse it at the battery end, in case something rubs through the insulation, and use at least an 8ga ground wire, bolted to the chassis somewhere protected from the elements. Fuses from there will protect the equipment, and with the fuse at the battery end your alternator and batteries will be protected. I use a circuit breaker instead of a fuse, even though it's more expensive, so I don't have to carry around spare 80 amp fuses. (Never had it blow anyway.) I got my breaker from an RV dealership.

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