Auto-Play is a freeware software package for win32 based operating systems, developed in Visual Basic 6 to be used as an in-car PC based multimedia playback
software package. If the whole in-car/mp3car PC entertainment system idea seems a little strange then be sure to visit
mp3car.com, or my own mp3car/DivX system install at
http://magnetikonline.com/mp3swift/ to see why this is the only real way to go for serious
in-car multimedia entertainment.
The Auto-Play software is my attempt to create a software package that proves to be intuitive to use, looks good and provides total quick access to stored multimedia.
Approximately 6 months in the making, it is now at a stage where I feel confident to release it to the outside world to try and hopefully
find a few new fans along the way. Its main abilities/features include -
- High quality mp3 audio playback provided by winamp 2.90
- DivX video/movie playback support (requires a DivX codec to be installed)
- Supports either IRman or keyboard for software control
- Nested audio playlisting capabilities with the distinction between Albums/Playlists
- MP3 audio on-screen playback effects through the use of the Sexy Attached Analysers winamp visualisation plugin
- Full graphical interface, designed for lower-res 320x240 composite TFT incar video displays
- Smooth scrolling intro/outro effects to help give a 'touch of class'
- Ability to skin Autoplay to suit the listener and/or vehicle
Please note that at this stage I have decided that source code for the program will NOT be made publicly available. In addition no guarantee is made against the quality/reliability/etc of the
product - therefore it is at the users own risk that is software is downloaded, installed and executed.
Auto-Play is still very much in development, I am very open to ideas from other interested people as to what they would like to see from the software. If you happen to encounter
bugs/glitches/errors in either the application or this webpage please be sure to pass them on. Finally if you find Auto-Play useful and decide to implement it within your own
incar PC setup - be sure to let me know about it!
Feel free to contact me for all Auto-Play related feedback.
Before attempting to download the Auto-Play software and giving it a go for yourself, it might be a good idea to go over this checklist of the basic requirements.
Keep in mind that the Auto-Play software has been developed with my wish-list in mind - so in no way can it possibly suit the likes/dislikes of everyone - sorry!
- A Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP based operating system. Has been executed successfully with Windows 98 running 98-Lite
and Windows XP SP-1.
- Visual Basic 6 Runtime library. Can be downloaded from
- DirectX 7 runtime library or greater.
- 450Mhz or greater CPU for effective DivX video playback.
- Sufficient RAM. Has been tested with a minimum of 128MB.
- Suitable screen display. The default Auto-Play screen resolution is 640x480, but can be adjusted to suit the OS video/TV out mode. It has been designed to be easy to read on in-car composite 5.6Inch TFT color displays
(typically with an effective 320x240 resolution).
- Auto-Play was designed to use an IRman receiver control device installed on serial port #1,
or alternately can work with a standard keyboard/keypad instead - this should also allow the usage of programs like Girder as a
bridge between your 'control device' and Auto-Play
- Correctly installed DivX video codecs - if requiring video playback abilities. In addition, if running Windows 95/98 ensure that 'Direct Media / Active Movie' is installed.
- A little patience setting up the software and your media catalogue of mp3s and DivX's.
Click the link below to download the version 1.41 build of Auto-Play. Remember that this software is provided 'as-is' with no guarantees to its success and/or failure with your
hardware/software configuration. But hey, don't let that scare you!
Released : 13-Apr-2003
Size : (688KB)
- Added some checks to playlistbuild.exe to ensure the playlistbuild.ini specified 'playlistfolder' parameter is not a sub/child folder of the 'mp3folder' parameter.
- When playlistfolder/mp3folder are on different drive letters, generated .m3u's will now specify the full drive/path to each mp3 file.
- MP3 playlists can now be nested to a virtually unlimited depth. This will allow for Artist/Album/Year/Genere style catalogues of music and provide greater flexibility when setting up MP3 audio media. A new
folder icon (foldericon.bmp) is now required in addition - of course included with the default skin.
- Ability to rescale the Autoplay screen size to practically any desired width/height. This will be of most use where a TV-out video cards offer better screen compatibility/coverage at a higher resolution
and/or users of Windows XP (which by default typically cannot achieve a 640x480 screen mode). NOTE : Autoplay internally still works at 640x480 - the final GFX buffer is simply rescaled to suit the configured
dimensions. Therefore a greater screen size will not result in a higher resolution Autoplay.
- The current playback volume is now saved switching between MP3/Video playback modes.
- Tweaked default skin colors slightly.
- Packaged the latest Winamp 2.90 (cut down version).
- Rewrote the entire GFX system to use DirectDraw as apposed to Bitblt for a huge speed increase. Also means that AutoPlay now nice and smooth on the highly popular EPIA 800 motherboards.
- Implemented a very basic skin system, allowing for better management and selection of custom skins through the new 'skinfolder=' parameter in autoplay.ini, 'skins' folder and skin.ini file(s). Should be easy enough to work out.
Added some code to ensure that both the menu/mp3player and videoplayer sections of Auto-Play always forces/retains their focus. This has proven to be a problem with some
people, particularly when winamp starts mp3 audio playback and it 'steals' focus, making the control of the Auto-Play window impossible. Hopefully with this release the problem
is solved once and for all.
A big thanks must go to CarComp for his
help and source code contribution to solve this issue.
- Ability to re-define keyboard control keys via the new 'keyboardsetup.exe' utility.
- Added a 'Loading...' message to the start of the video playback routine when playback takes some time to startup.
- Fixed small upper/lower case track/video title sorting problems.
- Initial startup volume can now be defined through a 'startupvolumestep' parameter in 'autoplay.ini'.
- Video player now loads .mpg and .mpeg video files along with .avi files.
- The 'irmansetup.exe' utility can now load a previous 'irman.bin' config file.
- Up/down item select movements can now be set to jump onto prev/next item pages if desired through a 'listpagechangemode' parameter.
- Re-built the program control function list (used in the control config utils) to make more sense.
Minor bugfixes/improvements suggested from program feedback -
- All file read/write routines now use native VB6 calls, eliminating the need for 'scrrun.dll'.
- Improved folder/file checking routines which should eliminate some possible file access issues.
- Generated playlists no longer uses drive letter specific mp3 file paths. This works better where you organize your mp3 media and execute playlistbuild.exe on
a PC different from your mp3car PC and the drive letter mappings are different.
- Removed the need for 'mscomctl.ocx' with playlistbuild.exe, which should fix most peoples problems trying to
get this to run.
- mp3s that cannot have their time info successfully calculated by playlistbuild.exe are now added to the playlist with a zero time length, instead of halting the program.
I am still on the lookout for some more reliable mp3 time reading source code to solve this issue.
- The IRMan keypress config file is now saved/loaded as irman.bin and must now be present in the same folder as autoplay.exe.
- Winamp now shuts down automatically on program exit.
- Leaving blank/omitting the videopath parameter in autoplay.ini will disable the DivX playback ability.
- A few other minor bug fixes/improvements.
I make no claims at to the 'ease of setup' of Auto-Play at this time, so please - read and follow these instructions when your first trying to install the software. You will be
glad you did. If you still continue to have troubles, please by all means drop me a message.
- Download and extract (with folder names) the Auto-Play software to a new folder on your harddrive. Note that winamp 2.90 and the Sexy Attached Analyser 1.61 plugin will already be present
in the decompressed folder, along with several .exe's, .ini files and an Auto-Play bitmap (.bmp) image folder. The supplied copy of winamp 2.90 (and more importantly the winamp.ini file) is
already configured to run hidden with Sexy Attached Analyser in the correct popup location upon visualisation startup.
- Next step is to register the supplied mscomm32.ocx run-time library - used for serial port IRman access within your operating system. This can be achieved through one of two supplied batch
files, install_lib9x.bat for windows 95/98/ME and install_libNT.bat for windows NT/2000/XP. If the batch file(s) fail, you may need to edit their command syntax to work with
your target machine.
Also if not already present on your system, grab a copy of the Visual Basic 6 runtime files from Microsoft to install at this time.
- Collate a sample of mp3 audio and/or DivX video media to be used by Auto-Play. A few albums/playlists will do at this time to get the hang of the system. All audio playlists/albums need
to be grouped into folders under a common mp3 folder. Folders that contain an .m3u file will be treated as an album and will have its tracks played in that order, whilst folders without
an .m3u will be treated as a playlist and will be played in random order jukebox style.
The explorer screen snapshot to the right should give a better idea as to the
required mp3 audio file structure. Folders Album 1, Album 2 and Album 3 would all contain an .m3u along with its mp3 files to define the track playback order,
whilst the other folders (eg. Hard Rock Tracks, etc) would just contain mixed mp3s. Note that as of version 1.40, mp3 folders can now be nested - as displayed in the image to the right.
Video/DivX/MPEG movies should all be placed in a single folder.
- Open the playlistbuild.ini config file in your favourite text editor (notepad will be fine) to change the mp3folder and playlistfolder entries to appropriate drives/paths.
The mp3folder parameter will point to the drive/folder that contains your grouped mp3 albums/playlists (in the explorer example screenshot that would be 'c:\mp3audio\'), whilst playlistfolder
should point to a new empty folder where your soon to be created .m3u playlists will be saved - forming in effect your database of mp3 music to be loaded by Auto-Play on startup. This new
playlist folder needs to be on the same drive letter as your mp3 audio tracks. An example playlistbuild.ini might contain -
mp3folder = c:\mp3audio\
playlistfolder = c:\playlists\
- Next run playlistbuild.exe, which if successful will scan your mp3 audio folders and create a series of playlists to be stored in your playlistfolder defined
in the above step. Track times are also calculated at this point for each mp3 file, information which is stored in the created winamp compatible .m3u playlist files. As the process runs you
will notice that folders with a contained .m3u will have the prefix [ALBUM] placed against their folder name in the status listing.
- Now configure your desired control device method -
- IRMAN : With your IRman unit connected to serial port #1 run irmansetup.exe. Click 'Init IRMan' to
switch on your IRMan. By clicking between the various control functions in the scroll box and sending an IR signal keypress from your desired remote control unit the software will 'learn'
the keypresses from your remote control unit. The currently function assigned/received IR keypress will be shown as a six digit code at the bottom of the IR config utility. Once happy with
the assigned IR keypress codes click the 'Save IR Config' button which will save the captured IR data to a irman.bin file that will be used by Auto-Play. This file must be present in the same folder as
autoplay.exe to be loaded successfully.
- KEYBOARD : Run keyboardsetup.exe. Click between the various control functions and press the desired key on the keyboard to assign it to that function. When happy with choices click
'Save Keyboard Config' to save settings to keyboard.bin, which must be present in the same folder as autoplay.exe to be loaded successfully.
- Finally open autoplay.ini to modify desired parameters, as described below -
||will be either 'keyboard' or 'irman'
||delay between attempting to read from the selected control device. If things seem to sensitive increasing this value may help
||time/speed of scrolling items/mp3 track titles/etc
||delay before the initial scrolling of a track title/item
||controls what happens when the item select bar goes off the top/bottom of a page of list items - can be either '1' or '2'. Option 1 (default)
causes the item select bar to flip to the top/bottom of the current page, whilst option 2 will jump to the prev/next page of items automatically.
||defines the volume step jumps. all values must be between 0-255 and must be comma delimited. For example this option may prove handy where you want smaller
volume increments/decrements at lower volumes comapared to upper end of the volume scale.
||when Auto-Play starts, this will be the default volume step. Must be in the range of 1-[volumesteps] or an error will result.
||points to the drive/path location where the .m3u playlists created by playlistbuild.exe were saved.
||the drive/path to your DivX/MPEG video files. Leaving this parameter blank will disable Auto-Play video playback.
||the full drive/path to the Winamp 2.90 winamp.exe file supplied in the Auto-Play software folder.
||Defines the current skin to be used by autoplay. All skins need to be placed in their own folder under the "skins" folder.
||Sets the desired Autoplay GUI screen width/height. Values can be any positive integer, but typically standard VGA full screen resolutions will be desired (e.g. 800x600, 1024x768).
NOTE : Autoplay internally still works at 640x480 - the final GFX buffer is simply rescaled to suit the configured dimensions. Therefore a greater screen size will not
result in a higher resolution Autoplay.
An example autoplay.ini config file might contain -
controldevice = irman
controllerdebounce = 20
scrolldelay = 8
scrolldelayfirst = 12
listpagechangemode = 1
volumesteps = 0,10,20,30,40,50,60,70,80,90,100,110,120,130,140,150,160,170,180,190,200,210,220,230,240,255
startupvolumestep = 5
playlistpath = c:\playlists\
videopath = c:\divx\
winampexe = winamp\winamp.exe
skinfolder = autoplay
screenwidth = 640
screenheight = 480
- If you have reached this point you should be ready to startup Auto-Play. Just run the autoplay.exe executable and you should be greeted with the
initial welcome screen. Of course within your incar OS environment you may wish to run autoplay.exe upon startup, either in your Start Menu/Programs/Startup folder, or better still make Auto-Play
the windows shell avoiding the loading of the default explorer.exe.
- If all is working - great! Have a play around with the autoplay.ini file - most settings should be quite easy to figure out. Also try changing the bitmaps in the
images folder if you like. Just remember that filenames must remain the same, image format must be 'windows bitmap' (no jpg/gif/etc at this time) and retain identical pixel width/height sizes.
Controls if using an IRman unit are of course up to you, but if using a keyboard for Auto-Play control the following keys are the default (all on the standard numeric keypad).
- KEYPAD UP - Move item selector up
- KEYPAD DOWN - Move item selector down
- KEYPAD LEFT - Previous list page/Previous Track/Previous Video scene
- KEYPAD RIGHT - Next list page/Next Track/Next Video scene
- KEYPAD [*] - Play item/select item/change playback video aspect ratio
- KEYPAD [/] - Stop item/previous menu screen/cycle between mp3 & DivX video selection (at playlist selection screen)
- KEYPAD [+] - Volume up
- KEYPAD [-] - Volume down
- KEYPAD [.] - Mute volume output
- ESC - Quit Autoplay
As you can tell the Auto-Play software and webpage are a little rough around the edges at the moment but I really wanted to get a copy of the software out for people
to try out and gauge a level of interest in the project. From here I hope to develop things as I see a need, weed out software errors and maybe solve the problem
for a few people of obtaining a suitable mp3car application for their incar entertainment needs. Enjoy!