Upgrading Audio in a 2010 Honda Fit Without Replacing the Factory Radio – Part 2: Kindle Fire and CarPlay

2019 Kindle Fire HD 7 running CarPlay

In my last post I talked about trying to make my 11 year old car stereo a little more modern, without tearing out the center section of the dash. I used an Amazon Echo Auto for a while.

Then I fell into an interesting idea of using an Android tablet to run Apple CarPlay.

Companies make these little boxes. They allow you to hook up your iPhone (wired or wirelessly, depending on what you want to spend) and the box works with an app on the tablet, and shows the CarPlay content. Near as I can tell, it’s fully functional.

Obviously, there are some weird things. When I first loaded things up, the orientation of the table was portrait, so Car Play showed as portrait, even in landscape position. I had to power down the tablet completely to fix that. But it was fixed. Might be other stuff later.

So, here’ the list of what you need. I will link to a couple of things I bought, but similar ones may work as well. I’m not an Amazon affiliate, so these are not affiliate links. Just plain links.

CarPlay Adapter. I bought a wired version of the CarLinKit adapter. Be aware, there are clones of these, but the often brick when you update the firmware, or so the internet says. Download the free app onto your tablet. $40.

Android Tablet. They say any Android table running 4.4.2 will run the app. I suggest one that can charge wirelessly, for reasons I will explain later. I happen to be shopping during the 6th birthday for Alexa or something, so I got Kindle Fire HD 8 Plus for $55. They are normally $110. I thought $55 for a wireless charging, Android capable device was a steal. Unless you plan to go find a Chinese tablet on eBay or hope to catch a used one on FB Marketplace, you will probably be spending at least that.

OTG cable. I didn’t know what an OTG cable was. I still don’t know what the acronym is. But these are bales that let you use peripherals with devices like tablets, game systems, multimedia players, etc… In it’s most basic form, it converts a USB A plug from the CarPlay adapter into whatever you need to plug into your tablet. The Kindle Fire 7 is Micro USB, The Kindle Fire 8 is USB C. There are tons of these. Just search for a USB A to whatever-connection-you-need OTG cable. I got a 3 pack for about $9.

Tablet Car Mount. This is actually pretty important. Depending on the size of your tablet, you may need a pretty heft one. There are lots of $10-15 ones available, but the reviews are not great for real world use. I wanted amount that used my CD slot. Choose the one that will work the best for your car. I settled on this one, spent about $20. It seems to work OK for now, on regular streets.

AUX Input on the Radio. You need a way to get audio into the factory stereo system. The Fit has a mini plug. I imagine you could use bluetooth as well. You will be taking the audio from the valet into the stereo.

That’s technically all you need to make things work. $124. Not bad to get Apple CarPlay into your car without replacing the factory radio.

CarPlay Installed in the Honda Fit. Kindle Fire 7.

So here’s my experience. I started out using a 2019 Kindle Fire HD 7. Mainly because I had it available. The problem is that I don’t use the battery well on this device. It drains little, sits in standby and the gets thrown onto charge. These are cheap Amazon tablets. They work well, but my battery does not last long.

Here’s how the car mount works. There are these paddle things that slip into the CD slot a bit, then you tighten a bolt to make them spread apart and hold in place. It seems pretty tight. I am more worried about the swivel tablet mount moving that the CD slot part.

Once I have things completely finalized, I plan to manage the cables, and velcro the CarLinKit box to the mount.

I started out with the Fire 7. It is a good size. I actual bought a different case for it. My only complaint was battery life. My 7 inch Fire was 3 years old and I have not been “training” the battery to last a long time. I was unsure what to expect with the battery life and use the adapter.

I used the tablet in the morning for about an hour. Then again, briefly at lunch. I left the tablet on stand by in between. By 5 pm it has drained the battery entirely. Not great for a long trip.

So that took me down the rabbit hole of how to charge through the same micro USB port that you are sending data through. You can plug in the adapter, use it while you want. And then plug in a charger. That defeats the whole purpose of the box.

I spent a lot of time search and looking for information about this. I looked at a lot of OTG cables that claimed they could do both, or at least not drain the battery when in use. People were talking about soldering wires and stuff. After a couple of hours, I gave up. The Kindle Fire HD 7 does not seem to be able to charge and use the data functions at the same time- through the Micro USB port.

Now what?

Enter wireless charging. I used to have a couple of these laying around, the wireless charging pads seem to work even if the USB port is passing stats. The Amazon Fire HD 8 Plus allows for wireless charging. So, I snagged one, and am eager to test it out.

In the mean time, I have tested the general charging state of the new HD 8 Plus. So far it seems to have about twice as much battery life as my 7 inch version. Which means I can probably get a day and a quarter out of one charge.

Advertisement

How To produce a Quick-Turn Highlight Video

You’ve got 24 hours to shoot and edit a video to show people what happened at an event. What do you do?

It could happen in any business, but this tight deadline, quick-turn video project pops up in church media quite a bit. There’s an event during the weekend, and you need to show the congregation what happened on Sunday. Or maybe you’re at a conference, and you want to show the highlights from the last few days in the last session? How can you do it, and do it well?

Pre production is the key to success. Just like any video you produce, taking the time to work the pre production process will make your video better. In this case, it’s crucial to your success. You won’t have a lot of time during the event, so you need to do as much as you can before the event starts. Pick music, decide on a style and look for the video. Gather the gear you need, double check your camera settings. Scout the location, find out if you can set up anything early, if needed. Pick an interview location. Gather/build your graphics. Check the schedule, is there anything you have to capture? Try to schedule interviews early in the event. Plan your time. Know what you want the final video to be, and get ready to create that video. This is the time to be creative.

Shoot what you need. Don’t shoot twelve hours of footage. You know what you need to finish the video, shoot those pieces. Make sure you have enough, but don’t shoot 5 minutes of the same repetitive action. Capture the basic wide angles to show the viewer what’s happening, maybe a couple of interesting angles, and then focus on faces. People want to see people. There is a reason people call these “happy face” videos.

Edit during the event. Once you’ve captured the start of the event, and hopefully any main interviews you need for the video, break away and lay down the base for the final project. Take half an hour or more to cut down the basic foundation for the video. If you have footage of someone thanking those who participated, lay that down on the timeline over the music you’ve already selected. Leave space for any special shots. That should give you a rough idea of the length of the video, and what you need to shoot next. You’ve seen the footage you already have, now go back out and shoot the rest of what you need. Depending on how long the event is, you may want to dump footage and sort it a few times.

You do not have time to catalog every clip. Place the clips logically on your timeline, and when you are assembling the final edit, pull from those blocks of clips. I recently shot a quick-turn project that had an interview, a special event, and two locations. I wanted to show the entire process of the event, and let people see the work being done. My time line had chunks of clips from each location, and each event. Plus I had set up a time-lapse to show the start of the event. I didn’t log every clip, I just scanned them to see what I had and dropped them onto the timeline.

Finalize the edit. By the time the event is over you should have a basic outline of the final video. Drop in the rest of the clips. Focus on tight action and faces. Keep things moving quickly. Once the basic edit is down, drop in the graphics and do any color correction. Hopefully, since you double checked your camera settings, you won’t need to adjust much. Do a quick audio mix, and get ready to render and export. Do not try to reinvent the project at this point. Work the original plan.

This will not be your finest work. But the audience will love it. If you need to, later you can go back in and do a more thorough edit, correction and mix.

What if you need to turn something in under an hour? Don’t panic. It can be done, within limitations.

One year for a Christmas production I shot video interviews of attendees waiting for the presentation to start, then edited and showed those clips to the same crowd before the event began. Crazy, but do able. First, you have to build a template. (It’s also a good idea to have a completed video from a previous presentation on stand by, just in case of catastrophe. I captured one of cast members for the first night, and then kept the one from each previous presentation loaded, just in case.) I shot for 30 minutes and then imported footage and cut for 15 minutes. I edited and rendered on the same computer we were using to play the video back. You need to really watch your levels when recording because there’s no time for fixing anything. Drop the clip into the template, render and be ready for playback. I sometimes cheated and kept the funnier or sweeter moments from previous nights in the current video, but I always used some clips of people from that same presentation.

Crazy quick-turns can be done, but you must plan ahead. these will never match the quality of projects you have lots of time on, but occasionally, it’s worth it to show something quickly.

How to Shoot a Short Film in 3 Hours

BRKN logoOn Saturday we shot my short film “BRKN”. It took right about 3 hours to shoot, not counting set up and tear down. I had thought it could have taken as long as 6 hours, hoped it would take about 4.

Just a couple of weeks ago I was planning to shoot a large project, over 2 days with a bigger cast and crew, with practical effects that would require equipment. I had gear and props, but I lacked people. Plus the abnormally heavy rains here in East TX would have made these outdoor shoots more difficult.

So, I pulled back. Quickly developed a new, simpler idea. on that I could shoot with less people, in a controlled environment. Even though it was a short script, I was surprised how well the shoot went. Not every shoot goes smoothly.

How did we shoot in 3 hours? I’m still learning how to be a good filmmaker. But these are some things that helped me for this shoot.

Pre Production

I didn’t have a lot of time. I needed a script that I could shoot with 2 actors and a one man crew. I use the Celtx online studio to help with all aspects of preproduction. I write, then do the break down, shot list, schedule and it automatically generates reports for each day of shooting.

Every minute you spend in preproduction saves many more in production and post. In this case, because I was shooting at my own home, I could really focus in on the shots. I still didn’t do storyboards, but I did walk every angle.

I have been on shoots without preproduction. The ones where you show up and there’s no gear. Where you desperately need lights or something, but you have nothing. The ones where the schedule is way too ambitious. Do yourself a favor. Do the work in preproduction.

Controlled Environment

I could walk the angles because I controlled the environment. I didn’t just scout the location, I was able to set up lights the day before and do tests. I didn’t have a big crew. In fact, the entire crew was me. I had to be in a controlled space. Because I had that access and control, this shoot didn’t have any surprises.

That’s not always possible. And that’s OK. You need to shoot where you need to shoot. But be aware of the location and make your plans. Knowing the location can keep unpleasant surprises from throwing off your schedule.

Good Actors

The two actors in “BRKN”, Anna Walker and Derek Henning, are really great. They didn’t just agree to do the movie for no money, they learned their lines and even got together and rehearsed before showing up on set. They had read the script, thought about it, and prepared for the shoot. Having the right people in your cast can make or break your shoot.

I wish I could say I have always had actors as good as these on set. I’ve had actors show up who obviously hadn’t looked at the script more than once. There are people who aren’t serious about it, or are just too busy. I’ve only had a couple of actors bail on a shoot completely, but that required major rewrites of a script at the last minute.

When you have actors who are not as good as they might be, you can adapt and overcome. You can feed the lines to them. you can adapt and overcome. But it takes time.

I am so grateful for Anna and Derek’s work on this project. Their professionalism was a big part of a this shoot’s success.

We were able to capture everything we needed fairly smoothly. There is no way to keep every problem from every set. Things will go wrong. Be flexible and solution focused. Get your project shot.

Now I need to get into Post production on “BRKN”. That will take longer than 3 hours.

Considering New Cameras: Canon EOS M3, 70D, Sony a6000

old videoI’ve got a jones for a new camera.

It all started when I was blindsided by the Europe/Asia release of the new Canon EOS M3. It’s not being released in the US, so I didn’t know it was out until a few overseas posts began slipping into my feeds. I own the EOS M, which is still the cheapest and easiest way to get into an HD camera system with great lenses.

Used, the bodies are selling for $180 now. $250 for one with the very nice 22mm f 2.0 for the EF-M mount. It shoots basic HD video resolutions with a great image quality. You can get some great depth of field and basically learn everything you need to know about lamming with this little camera.

And, besides the Canon lens eco system, because it is mirrorless, you can adapt a lot of older manual lenses to it. I came from a Pentax background, so I know some of the great old glass out there for cheap. I use a Pentax 35-70mm F4 and a Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm F3.5 (both in K mount) all the time. I could never afford glass this good if it was modern Canon EF or EFS mount.

And mirrorless cameras are small. I can slide the EOS M with the 22mm lens into a loose pocket and forget it’s there. A DSLR can’t be handled that way. So the EOS M3 was very attractive, on paper at least. You can get them online from overseas places. It offers a lot of upgrades from the EOS M. They have updated almost everything except the basic video resolutions available. So that got me in the mood to swap cameras. If you remember, I changed up my camera strategy a while back.

Then I read a review from someone who had actually used the M3 to shoot video. Focus peaking, EVF, AF and more are in. But video quality has apparently taken a dive. So I looked to the Canon 70D. Again. I had decided not to get one before, but now?

It’s an APS-C DSLR with usable autofocus in video. They have come down quite a bit in price. Used ones can be had for $800. But I still don’t want to go there. The new build of Magic Lantern allows you to shoot RAW on the 70D. You can use Pentax K Mounts on these as well, with adapter. Turns out, I like the small mirrorless cameras.

2 of these little guys are regarded very highly in the world of indie filmmaking.;The Panasonic GH4 for image quality and features and the Sony A7S for low light capability. Still these bad boys will set you back quite a bit of cash. GH4- $1500, A7S- $2500 (new). All well and good, but at that price (for the A7S), I’m not far from a “real” video camera, with built in pro audio, ND filters, etc…

Then I stumbled onto the Sony a6000. It has all the features the EOS M3 has, plus better video quality and options. And can be bought for about the same price. Of course this means leaving Canon for the Sony E Mount. And those lenses are not cheap. But you can still adapt all that great old glass to it. And the built in AF looks very good.

Oh, man. I’ve already rounded up a bunch of old tech and gadgets to sell. I’m definitely going to do something. And It seems like I want to stay with a small camera. There are so many with great features now.

Amazon Intant Video, CreateSpace, Aggregators and Episodic Content

{Update: You should now look into Amazon Video Direct. Fixes a lot of issues with Amazon instant Video.}

handy videoI’ve been looking for ways to get the episodes of Peculiar onto streaming sites. There are a few aggregators out there, but many require you to fork over several hundred dollars in order to have the content submitted. Then there is a chance it won’t be accepted.

One place that will take anything you submit is Amazon. If you send it, they take it. And Createspace offers a simple way to get your content online.

But it’s not perfect. The workflow of the Createspace submission is: Create a project, burn a DVD (!) and mail it to them. They rip it. They place it online and share the sales with you. Sorry, no Amazon Prime access for your content. That’s right, you must make a standard definition DVD of your video project and they will rip their file from that compressed mpeg2 file. There is no way to upload your content, and no way to sell HD content through Createspace.

But it is free and fairly simple.

If I had a movie I would probably have already just sent it in. But I have 10 episodes of a show.

When I asked about sending episodic content in, I was told they no longer allow that.

That seemed odd, since there are tons of TV shows grouped together as seasons on Amazon Instant Video. And from that phasing, Createspace used to allow indie producers to group their content together as well. So I asked why.

In true major company help desk fashion I had to ask three times. Every time I asked why they don’t allow indie producers to group episodes, I was told what they allowed. They said, that’s right, we don’t allow it. On the fourth try I finally got an answer.

It seems that some users ruined it for the rest of us. A few people were uploading movies broken into multiple parts, and asking customers to buy multiple installments. Customers complained. The hammer dropped. I personally think it’s a bit of overkill for what had to be a small problem, but it’s their company.

I was preparing to submit each semester of the show (6 episodes for the 1st, 4 episodes for the 2nd) as a separate movie, when I ran across a new aggregator. This one is called Kinonation. I’m still researching them, and waiting to hear back if they allow episodic content, but on the surface it seems like a good thing. no upfront fees, just a split on the backside. For a project that may not see huge sales to recoup lots of submission fees, this seems like a good deal. Oh, and the submissions are eligible for Amazon Prime.

So, I’m waiting to hear back, and ready to move toward online distribution of the show.

First eBook Submitted for Publishing

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 10.08.26 AM
This morning I submitted my first eBook to Kindle for publishing!

14,502 words, 12 chapters, about how I took Peculiar from concept to worldwide broadcast. I cover everything from the Christian TV market, to writing and producing the show, to getting it on the air for free.

Find out more info at www.peculiarprogramming.com.

The book is in review right now, but will be available on Kindle in the next couple of days.

PP Book Cover

I found another Christian TV Sitcom… from 2005

sitcomFrom 2005-2008 a Christian sitcom called Pastor Greg filmed 39 episodes.

Created by Greg Robbins, who played the lead, and produced by Uplifting Entertainment, Robbins’ production company, the show as broadcast on Cornerstone Television and TBN. From what I can find, it looks like Cornerstone put up the money for production as well. The cost of first 26 episodes was expected to push Cornerstone $150,000 past their normal operating budget. Apparently Cornerstone stopped producing all other shows, and focused only on this sitcom. Several articles said they filled their airtime with infomercials while in production. According to CBN, the target audience was men and women, 24-54.

By any account, that was not a lot of money to film a sitcom. Under $6000 an episode back in 2005. (Now, that’s a guess. I don’t know what they actually spent. $150k divided by 26 is under $6k.) The big chunk of the budget went to buy 2 HD cameras for the studio. Things have come a long way in video production. According to the reviews on the show’s IMDB page, the show wasn’t well received. I’d wager that they could do a lot better with $6000 per episode today.

The show did have a definite 80’s feel to it, the clips I could watch anyway. I know in my head that it was just taped a few years ago, but it felt like an 80’s comedy. Maybe it was the VO track. The opening was definitely that sort of feel. Some people described it as slapstick.

You can watch full episodes at www.cinevee.com, these are the “Lost Episodes” of the show. You can also order DVDs from this website: http://www.pastorgregsitcom.com

I found a short clip from the pilot on Youtube. I’m pretty sure this isn’t an official posting, so… Don’t now how long it will remain:

October 4th Apple Event: My Prediction.

So, every time Apple holds a major event, I like to try to guess what they will announce based on rumors and my guess. This worked great back when Apple announced the iPad (even though I guessed it would be the iSlate) and not so good when I missed most of the stuff about the iPad 2. I don’t have any sources, just like to read the different posts about tech and possibilities from rumor sites. Although not official yet, the date of October 4th is out there. [Edit: Guess it’s Official Oct 4th is on.] If there are any hang ups, things could get put off a bit, but we have been hearing about the Fall announcement for some time. What will Apple Announce?

iOS5: This one is a no brainer. It’s supposed to release in Fall. October is Fall. The interwebz say that the Gold Master of the mobile software is supposed to drop this week. I’d be shocked in iOS5 wasn’t rolled out with this announcement. [Edit: Still no Gold Master of iOS5. There has been some recent comments about some new voice control features. Could be very nice.]

iPhone: This is where the major speculation has been. Since Verizon got the iPhone 4 back in January the “normal” release pattern for new phone handsets has been out of whack. Releasing a new iPhone in the Fall will allow that to coincide with the past iPod release schedule. Just in time for Christmas!

But what will the new iPhone be? There are two threads of rumors. One is a “4S” with minimal design changes, and the other is the iPhone 5, with larger screen, curved back and other improvements.

I think that the most likely scenario is an iPhone 4S release this year. Lots of rumor posts are talking about the lack of parts of the iPhone 5. Normally by now we would have seen China-made-cases-in-every-color made to fit the new body style. There would be blurry pictures floating around of random metals parts. I’ve only really seen a screen cover for a larger screen and larger Home button. There was a case prototype a while back showing a return to a curved back, but that’s about it.

The iPhone 4S on the other hand sounds like a definite. Same processor as the iPad 2, 8 megapixel camera, and probably going up to 64Gb on storage. Those features would also be available in any iPhone 5 model, but the 4S seems more likely. It would also fit the pattern of Apple: 3G to 3GS to 4 to 4S. It could include the ability to capture and edit 1080p video. That would be nice. Oh, and the antenna thing will be fixed.

Another reason you might just see a “slide-grade” rather than the full fledged upgrade to an iPhone 5 is that no Verizon customer will be anywhere close to the end of their contract period. Most would likely opt out of paying the early upgrade fees. If the upgrade is just to a “4S” that’s not as big of a deal because then next year (just a few months short of their January contract date) Apple rolls out the major reform that everyone must have. Everybody’s happy. Verizon might even do what AT&T has done in the past and allow people within a few months of contract end to upgrade without penalty.

So, iPhone 4S with iPad 2 processor, more storage available, and an 8 megapixel camera. iPhone 5 is a longshot.

iPod: It would be right in the cycle for the iPod line up to get a little refresh. The Classic might finally go away as flash storage prices are coming down. What if there were an iPod Classic with Flash memory? Imagine a 256 GB Flash iPod Classic? Pricey, but wow. We could see a 128 GB Touch. Maybe some storage size changes in the Nano and Shuffle.

But, what if that larger screen prototype with the curved back was the new iPod Touch? The current one has a slightly different screen than the iPhone 4. It’s not a lot different but it is different. Imagine a screen slightly larger than the iPhone, but the same Retina resolution, which we have been told by Apple is higher density of pixels than the human eye can see. Why not expand that size a little bit? Better for games and video. the larger size could accommodate larger flash storage as well.

Regardless, I’d love to see at least the current 5 megapixel camera, if not the same 8 megapixel camera come to the iPod Touch.

iCloud with iTunes Match: Now, I am running the beta for iOS5, but not iCloud or iTunes Match, so this is speculation. They will show off the integrated nature of Lion and iOS5 with iCloud. And then roll out the streaming-that’s-not-streaming feature of iTunes Match. Both will be available alongside iOS5.

iPad: I don’t think you will hear anything about the iPad, except bragging about how many iPad 2s have been sold, and maybe a slam or two on the rest of the tablet market.

One more thing… Apple TV? The Apple TV 2 software is ready for an upgrade. I expected Apple to announce that it would be moving toward a more app based OS when they rolled out iOS5. I’d love to see crackle, and other network apps launched. Stream for free with ads for a limited time (like Hulu), or purchase without ads and watch it forever, like you can now. I would expect at the very least the ability to “stream” from your iCloud. There is 8 GB of storage in the Apple TV, they could use it just like the new iTunes match sort-of streaming that has been talked about. I would not be surprised if they only allowed you to stream videos you purchased through iTunes, in order to appease the studios, but I’ve gotten quite a few digital copies off Blu rays, so that would be fine with me, as a start.

There might be more. None of these are big shockers. The Apple TV one may be a bit out there for today’s market. There has been some talk of an actual TV screen with a built in Apple TV. That would be interesting, but there has not been much chatter about it. The only thing that’s definite is the iOS5 rollout with iCloud and iTunes Match.

My Show

Did I mention I have a show idea, finally? One that I haven’t discarded within a week? I do. Plus I have a few characters lined out, and the pilot plot outline, as well as a start on the script. And even themes for the first 13 episodes.

It’s a sitcom, based on a college student. The idea sprung from a conversation with Eric Bramlett at this year’s Exponential conference. This was right after his parody of Rebecca Black’s song “Friday” had come out, and I had lamented the fact that Christians don’t believe in comedy. I know, some do, but the capital “C” church as a whole doesn’t seem to. Aside from kids shows, I can’t name one Christian comedy movie.

So after we chatted over a Coca Cola (That’s what I had anyway) I kept looking for a show idea. I just kept coming back to doing a comedy. I think that a reality show might be easier, not that any show would be easy. But a comedy has all the elements of a drama, but also has to be funny. I need actual actors and sets and scripts that are funny.

That’s the clincher. I can pretty much get people to watch anything, once (given enough advertising muscle). But it has to be good. And since i want non Christians to watch, has to be interesting to them and not cheesy. It has to be funny. So I’m working on it. I had a writer friend of mine look at some ideas. Once I get some more stuff fleshed out I may ask him and his writing partner to help me finish the first script.

Then I need to find some people who can catch the vision, some prayer warrior types. And I need some people with money. I was thinking about using Kickstarter. Of course, I need a budget, and actors, and a crew… and help. But one step at a time.

Target audience of 18-34 year olds who use social media. Delivery through the internet. Funny, compelling comedy that views characters from a biblical perspective. That’s the dream.