Project Carcade

About a year ago I bought a car that I have been eyeing ever since I first saw it. The 2006 Honda Civic hatchback with the space shuttle facelift that relaunched the Civic in Europe. It’s an astonishingly cool car, and I was very lucky. The one I found was in mint condition, and loaded up with extras. I have affectionately named it Blackbird.

Despite not being born with it the previous owner had even had it retrofitted with an Android based headunit. That served me well in the beginning, and I managed to get Carplay working on it using a CarLinkIt dongle and the AutoKit app. But it was a very cheap unit, likely bought for next to nothing from China. It crashed often – becoming so unresponsive I would need to pull over to, turn off the car, and restart the car to get the unit to reboot. So … it was not long for this world.

About two months ago I installed a Sony XAV-AX3250. This is a midrange unit. With my tinnitus high audio quality is kinda wasted on me, but I did want something that was going to be stable. And this unit had gotten some pretty reviews.

There is absolutely nothing amazing about this device. Which is exactly how I want it.

There was one thing that caught my eye … the back of this unit has a minijack A/V port, also known as a TRRS port. This is a port that carries stereo audio and a composite video signal over minijack. Composite resolution is 576i which, let’s be honest, is paltry.

However! 576i is perfect for old consoles. It’s the resolution of old CRT tv’s, after all.

I do have a couple of spare Raspberry Pi’s kicking about the place, and they have a TRRS connector, too. And they a low power enough that they can easily run off of a USB charger in the car (and in the future, with a bit luck, through a hardwired connection).

Then I could take that RasPi, and drop something like RetroPie on it … and presto, mobile gaming with all the old classics.

So here’s the plan

First up, I need to make sure this is even feasible. So step 1 is gonna grab all the stuff I already have and just kinda prototype it; meaning boot the RasPi in the car, and get some sort of signal up on the head unit.

Already have most of what I need, including some SNES style USB controllers, cables, patches, and more.

If that works, then I need to wire everything up … that means grabbing a fuse patch and hardwiring the power connector.

I hope this works. It’ll make the breaks on the long road trips and the waits at ferries a lot more fun.