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What's New?
What's New?
Car Customizations
All News - Builder News
Written by Nicholas McClanahan   
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 15:01
How to change your car's configuration with NCS Expert

Don't like the seat belt warning chime?  Want a minute to roll up the windows after the keys are removed?  Maybe you'd like the remote key to unlock all doors on the first push?

You can use NCS Expert with the Car Kracker 3 to customize each module in your car, here's how;

Links and downloads

Advanced Diagnostics
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Written by Nicholas McClanahan   
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 13:05
Advanced diagnostics with the Car Kracker 3

You can use the Car Kracker 3 to read advanced diagnostics in your car - you can read and clear detailed error logs for every device in the car, actuate solenoids and valves, and read real-time data  Here's a demo of INPA, one of the more popular tools;

Other programs are available, as well.  Here's how to do it;

Set up the Car Kracker

In the Kustomizer, begin by setting the default boot mode to 'Diagnostics'


Connect to your car

The trunk connection lets you connect to most computers on the car, but not the engine or transmission. If you need to connect to the Engine or Transmission, you'll need to connect to the On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) port.

There are 3 bus connections on the Car Kracker, they're marked on the circuit board D (Data), + (Power) and - (Ground);

With some spare wire, connect these to your car's OBD port.  Older cars have a DLC (Pac-Man) style connector under the hood.  Cars made after 2001 have an OBD port under the steering wheel, above the driver's feet.  Here are the connections;

(Click to Enlarge)

Again, it's only necessary to connect to the OBD port for Engine / Transmission diagnostics.  You'll also need your computer to connect to the Kracker;


Hardware setup is all done.  Now on to your software choices;

Software Options


NavCoder is designed mostly for setting / reading accessory options (Radio, A/C, Lights) — you'll use it while connected to the trunk.  It's not as powerful as other programs, but it's very easy to use, especially for setting Radio/Nav options and other customizations.


INPA is my favorite, it's an internal program used by BMW to do vehicle production testing, and has a simple, fast interface.  INPA also includes NCSexpert, which we'll use to set car customizations later on.

To set up INPA, begin by downloading it (600MB) and unpacking the zip to a new folder.  Start setup by double clicking on Programminstallation\setup.exe. 

If you're using Windows 7, before you run setup.exe, select Properties >> Compatibility and set 'Run this program in compatibility mode' >> 'Windows XP SP 3';


You want to set the hardware interface to STD:OBD, the only other setup question you need to pay attention to is the port settings;

inpa1Select the Car Kracker's Com port, and check ''USB-to-serial adapter'.  Once the setup completes, reboot your computer.

After your computer reboots, run  \Referenz.2005\INSTALL\Instprog.exe.  This will update your installation with the necessary scripts for your car.  NOTE: Instprog.exe can't be within a folder that has a space in its name.  c:\users\John Doe\INPA won't work.  Copy the referenz.2005 directory to a folder without spaces, like c:\users\docs\INPA.

On the first screen, just click 'OK', and select English as the install language.


Select BMW Group Recertification Programs UK and click OK;


Finally, select Update / Complete on each item;


All done!  Plug your Car Kracker into your car and open INPA(_.IPO). default install; C:\EC-APPS\INPA\BIN\INPALOAD.exe. Your ignition has to be on to read Transmission / Engine data. 

Music Mode
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Written by Nicholas McClanahan   
Tuesday, 09 October 2012 09:53

Tips on using Music Mode with the Car Kracker 3

The Car Kracker 3 emulates a CD changer, and can play audio files stored on a µSD card, or enable Aux-in.  There's also an optional connection for DSP support.  Here are some tips on using music mode.


In the Kustomizer, set the default boot mode to 'Music Player';


In the Music tab, you can remap the CD change buttons on the radio to do other things;

I usually remap CD1 and CD2 to switch between CD's.  This also lets you have more than six albums.  If you only want to use the Kracker for Aux-in, set the default audio source to 'Just open Aux-in'.  If you have a DSP, set the default audio output to 'DSP'.  With analog audio, I suggest setting the volume to '2'.

Using Bluetooth Audio

Here's a video walkthrough on setting up Bluetooth Audio;

Any Bluetooth Audio adapter should work, I've been using this one, but there are many choices.  In the Kustomizer, set your audio source to 'Just open Aux-in'.

The Car Kracker 3 also offers 5V power to keep the Audio Adapter powered up.  All the adapters I've found use 5V to charge — look for one that comes with a USB 'charging cable'.

Playing audio from the SD card

You can also play audio files directly from any microSD / SDHC card.  44kHz and 48kHz wav files are supported, which is CD quality, although MP3, AAC, and WMA files will need to be converted.  Audacity is my preferred program for conversion and it's free.  Here's how to convert files;

You can use the buttons on your radio to move between albums and tracks, be sure to map them in the Kustomizer. Albums are grouped by filename, your SD card should look something like this;

and so on...

Put everything on the root of the card, no need to use directories.  Most radios support 99 tracks per album.  My radio supports several dozen albums, although the display doesn't count past 9.

Video Beats
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Written by Nicholas McClanahan   
Tuesday, 08 May 2012 11:13
Make your own Hardware-based music visualizer!

Video Beats is a music visualizer - it uses a microcontroller to read audio input and generate a visualization, and it displays it on any standard TV set.  Here's a little demo (skip to 27 seconds to see the visualization);

The principle of using an analog signal to change a video display can be used for all kinds of projects, too - I'll give you some ideas on how to customize it in this tutorial.

What You'll Need;

I built Video Beats because I saw a similar project in Make Magazine and thought I could improve on the concept.  It was also a fun exercise in converting analog signals into digital values.  Continue to the next step and I'll answer a few questions, then I'll show you how to make your own!
Coming Soon: Quick Player
All News - Builder News
Written by Jeff Ledger   
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 18:08

Propeller gaming with a modern controller.

We've be revealing the new line up of boards for the Quickstart arriving soon at Gadget Gangster.

Here's another product we'll be stocking.    

The Quick Player offers easy propeller gaming for the Quickstart!



  • Propeller Video 12,13,14
  • Propeller Audio 11
  • Wii interface: 22,23
  • Access to 0,1,2,3 (for use with the GG SD adapter)

The Quick Player is designed to plug "off-set" into the Quickstart providing you access to the QS Touchbuttons or LEDS.   Quick Player combines well with the  Quick Servo/Sensor board.

We expect all of these new products to be in stock sometime next week.

El Jugador Module Sale!
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Written by Jeff Ledger   
Saturday, 28 January 2012 09:44

El Jugador Module on sale for a limited time.

If you haven't added an El' Jugador to your GG collection yet, now is a great time!
Featuring Video, Audio, and two NES connectors.  El' Jugador is a steal at $14.95.
Propeller Platform Arduino Shield Adapter
All News - Builder News
Written by Jeff Ledger   
Sunday, 01 January 2012 22:13

Use your Arduino shields with your Propeller Platform.

ppasa_frontGot a few Arduino shields sitting around?  The Arduino Shield Adapter makes them compatible with the Propeller Platform.  This adapter does much more than simply change the plug configuration.

Check out this list of features:

• Compatible with 5v and 3.3v shields.
• Propeller pins 0 through 13 connect to Arduino compatible pins 0 through 13.
• Propeller pins 14 through 19 optionally connect to Arduino compatible pins A0 through A5.
• An MC3208 provides styandard 6 channels of 12-bit analog to digital conversion.
• Solder points for two extra AD converter channels.
• All digital channels from the 3.3v Propeller are protected by 2.2K ohm current-limiting resistors.
• Solder pads are provided on the underside to bypass the current-limiting resistors for 3.3v shields.

Grab one of these from MGH Designs for only $19.95.

Another Funtendo Lives!
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Written by Jeff Ledger   
Wednesday, 21 December 2011 19:49

Gadget Gangster member takes on the Funtendo as a gift.

Recently we posted the Funtendo project, a Propeller Platform based retro controller/gaming platform for the PC which connects the Wii Classic Controller, Original NES controller, and the N64 Controller.  SeanDanger (GG Forums) created his own version of the Funtendo, adding SNES controller support, button additions to N64 code, and a snazzy color changing LED hub.  Sean plans to donate his to the Reddit Gift Exchange.  Awesome work!  (forum link)

Propeller Platform Quick Connect
All News - Builder News
Written by Jeff Ledger   
Tuesday, 20 December 2011 11:22

Adding (spring terminals) for rugged quick connect to the Propeller Platform


@jodlecki (Parallax forums) has come up with a fantastic addon for the bottom of the Propeller Platform for those who use their board for multiple projects. He has added Spring loaded quick connect terminals that have a push button to open the terminals.   A great idea!  Details can be found here.

3D Printed Propeller Platform Base
All News - Builder News
Written by Jeff Ledger   
Saturday, 12 November 2011 09:42

3D Printing I can believe in.


3D printing has made "big" news in 2011.  Honestly, I'm usually not impressed with the happy meal toys that are typically cranked out.  Yingster (Parallax forums) has come up with printed base for the Propeller Platform USB, keeping the pins off the table .   Useful & Awesome!

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