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5 July 2009

Mazdaspeed 3 Project - Custom Screens for Alpine Head Units

[Part of my Mazdaspeed 3 project series]

Custom Backgrounds for Alpine Head Units

One cool thing about the Alpine head units, like the IDA-X100 I have, is that you can load custom backgrounds onto their full-color LCD displays. Its a small screen, but when its one of the few things in the dash its nice to have it match the color/logo scheme, especially when there's a Car PC involved.

Alpine has a pretty mediocre web tool, i-Personalize, where you can download new backgrounds for your head unit. Once you've got an APN file (some kind of non-standard image and metadata encoding), you put it on the root of a USB mass storage device, plug it into the head unit, then select the custom background option via the head unit's interface. What's not immediately clear, though, is how to create your own APN files based on your own images. I came across this great tool, which does the basic conversion from image files of various formats to the APN container format, and then lets you download it (nice work, Josh). It works for at least this family of head unit, not sure about others.

So again, the process goes like this:

  1. Make a PNG or JPG image in whatever image editor you want (the images get sized to 320 x 200 eventually)
  2. Use Riot's tool to create the proprietary APN file format out of your image
  3. Put the resulting APN file on the root of a USB drive
  4. Plug the USB drive into the head unit
  5. Start a custom background download from the head unit's setup screens (interface options)

Mazda Interior-Specific Backgrounds

I made a few backgrounds for Alpine units that loosely match the amber Mazda interior, based off of some of the logo and background assets I've used for general skinning and customization of my own car pc setup. Feel free to grab the images, or the APN files themselves.

Black on red

Black on red, glow
  PNG source image
  APN background file (save link as...)
  PNG source image
  APN background file (save link as...)

Have Fun

Hopefully this helps, good luck with your customization efforts. Let me know how it goes or if you discover anything else useful.

tagged: car