Computer Software & Setup

 

I’m using a basic Pentium III 500 MHz Compaq computer (worth about $10-$20) for the project. Some notes on the computer & software:

  • Operating System: Windows 2000
  • Windows Media Player 9 (newest version compatible with Win 2000)
  • ZenKEY keyboard macro/shortcut software

 

Key Requirements:

  • Computer must boot up when powered (BIOS setting)
  • Turn Scandisk off (Registry setting)
  • Computer logs in automatically (Remove password on single user account)
  • Media Player and ZenKEY load on startup (Batch file or Windows startup folder)
  • Media Player begins playing automatically (ZenKEY fires “play” macro 2 seconds after program launch)

 

 

List of Implemented Keypad Functions:

Key Function

Num 0-9 Playlist shortcuts (blues, oldies, all music, etc)
* Play/Pause
/ Shuffle
Previous Song
+ Next Song
9 (Num off) Skip Back 10 songs
6 (Num Off) Skip Forward 10 songs
Calc button Repeat
1 (Num off) Shutdown
2 (Num off) Restart

.

Search for new media (i.e. after CD rip)

 

 

 

Note on Speech Recognition:

In the future, I may implement speech recognition software into the project. Tazti is a custom speech recognition program which allows the user to create custom commands (i.e. open playlists, programs, etc). Unfortunately it isn’t compatible with Windows 2000, so I’ll save it for a future iteration.

 

 

 

Screenshots of Software and Setup:

Notes Photo
The size of the Compaq PC that I’ll be using is fairly compact compared to the size of a normal PC (The Compaq is the white computer in the photo on the far right).

One issue with most computers is the “soft” power button – in other words, I can’t simply leave the power switch “on.” Fortunately, there is a BIOS setting which forces the computer to boot up when it receives power.


This project would not have been possible without the free software ZenKEY. It has built in functionality which allows keyboard shortcuts to be integrated with Windows Media Player.

Windows Media Player opens maximized (and in the foreground) when the computer logs in. This is important because the custom keyboard macros are dependent on Media Player being active.
ZenKEY allows the creation of custom keyboard macros. Thus, I am able to create a “skip 10 songs” short key which is activated when I press num 6. In media player, the short key for “skip track” is Ctrl-F, so my keyboard macro for “skip 10 songs” is Ctrl-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F-F.
I created several playlists which I can open using windows keyboard shortcuts.
I also wanted to include a shutdown/restart short key in case something buggers up while the computer is running. ZenKEY has this functionality built in, but a batch file can also be used.
Windows Media player has settings which allow CDs to be ripped and saved automatically when a CD is inserted. This way I can feed in CDs and have them saved automatically, and the CD is ejected when completed.
F3 is a built in function in media player which opens the “Add to Media Library” prompt. I created a keyboard macro to do this: Pressing “.” scans and adds new media (i.e. from a CD rip) by replicating the following keystrokes:

  • F3 (open prompt)
  • Enter (begin search)
  • Wait 20 seconds
  • Enter (closes dialogue box to make Media Player active again)

Next Page

1. Introduction

2. Computer Software & Setup

3. Wiring & Hardware Installation

4. Powering FM Transmitter via USB / Other Sound Options

  1. September 18, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Michael,

    It would be great to see you integrate tazti into your project. Even though it isn’t “officially” supported on Win 2000, it should run as long as your system meets the other system requirements. We tested the early beta (but not later versions) on the Win2k platform.

    If you get it up and running, let us know. Send a link to a WMV or Youtube video of it in action.

    Regards,
    Michael
    team tazti

    • September 18, 2009 at 5:08 pm

      The bug I experienced in Win 2000 was that the program would sometimes shut down unexpectedly.

      I’m very keen on incorporating Tazti into version two of my car pc (where I will include an OS & media player upgrade). The voice recognition success rate was essentially 100% during the time I tried it (and I didn’t need to repeat words).

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