2008/11/18

Control Winamp with a Palm TX via Wi-Fi

The latest and earlier versions of Winamp player can be remote controled with a Palm TX via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Actually what can be controled from the Palm is the current playlist that Winamp happens to load when it is launched. This way, from the Palm you can adjust the volume, go to the next or previous track, select shuffle playback and get the title of the current track displayed in your PDA screen, and of course, you can switch to another application in your palm while you don't need to adjust any of those controls and the desktop will continue to play your playlist.

What you need to install in your palm is a program called BTAmp. Although the author has open sourced this program some months ago, the application can only be found online as shareware for which a license can no longer be purchase anywhere. So the author of the blog La PDA de Tungsteno kindly provides this link to download a patched version which does not nag the user for a license once in a while.

Anyway, you need to download the latest shareware version of BTAmp from here because the archive includes Bemused, the server that listens to BTAmp's commands. This does not require installation; just copy Bemused exe into some folder and run it from there. If you want it to run when Windows starts, put a link to the exe into the Startup folder in Windows' Start menu.

I am using BTAmp via Wi-Fi (linked through a wireless access point), but you may consider connecting to your PC directly via Bluetooth since this approach needs less hardware, link power and the connection is more persistent.

Now for the setup:

+ Install the latest Winamp and open it:
-- save a playlist (containing all your music files randomized)
-- load this playlist into the current playlist window and exit Winamp; this is the playlist you want Winamp to play the next time you connect to it from your Palm.
+ Run Bemuse and configure:
-- default app = winamp 2
-- handles file types: mp3;mp2;wav;wma;ogg;flac
-- listen on internet socket (for wifi control)
-- start server minimised
-- Exit Bemuse to have this setup saved and run it again.

How to connect:
+ Via Wi-Fi, connect BTAmp to Winamp using the LAN IP of the server PC (Your connection > Status > Details).

Bemused officially supports Winamp 2, Wimap 3 and Windows Media Player 7, but it can work with newer versions of these apps, with the following pros and cons.

Using Winamp 5.5, as configured above:
+ Pros:
-- volume control
-- song title display
-- no delay to load playlist
+ Cons:
-- Playlist content is not displayed
-- Unable to forward song

Using Winamp 2:
+ Pros:
-- Playlist content is displayed
+ Cons:
-- Unable to forward song
-- Takes several seconds to load a big playlist
-- Less file types supported

Using Windows Media Player 11:
+ Cons:
-- unable to adjust volume
-- Less file types supported
-- Unable to forward song