CAVE MP3 Player (1999-2002)

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CAVE (Compressed Audio for Vehicle Entertainment) is an MP3 music player that dates back to the days before the Apple iPod, and before smart phones existed.  CAVE was primarily intended as a music source for the car.  The system consists of a removable player about the size of a small paperback book, a head unit with a color touchscreen display, and a player dock typically mounted in the trunk or under a seat.

Features included:

  • 2.5″ laptop IDE hard disk for music storage
  • USB 2.0 with USB Mass Storage drivers for music loading via direct connection to PC
  • Compact Flash for solid-state storage of a small library of music, to be used at times when environmental factors did not allow hard disk use
  • PCMCIA Wi-Fi card for remote music download and control
  • Balanced analog audio outputs for noise immunity
  • Digital SPDIF audio output
  • Temperature sensor and battery-backed real-time clock on board
  • Optional 240×64 pixel color LCD with touchscreen for user interface
  • Optional CD changer emulation dock for BMW E46 3-series and Volkswagen Passat

CAVE was based around the following technologies:

  • Cypress EZ-USB FX2 8051-based USB microcontroller (main processor)
  • Cypress CPLDs for bus management (PCMCIA, CF, IDE, etc.) and glue logic
  • ST Microelectronics STA013 MP3 decoder chip
  • 6-layer PCB design

This is only a very basic overview, and I hope to fill more detail as time permits.

CAVE was the main focus of my free time for several years, and it benefited greatly from collaborative contributions from my friends Bill Groves, Yeasah Pell, and Dave Ritchie.