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Creating a playlist on a USB drive to play in my F10

54231 Views 60 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  denutter
Does anyone know how to create a playlist on a USB drive to be recognized on a 550 USB port? I can put the music in folders on the USB drive and play the music, but I would like to put them in a playlist, so I can change the order. Thanks.
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mine doesn't work correctly either. I have about 50 folders on the usb stick. one playlist in each folder (each folder is for an artist and each playlist is all the tracks for that artist). after some indexing about 8 playlists appear but that still leaves about 42 missing playlists. I created all playlists with a perl program so they have the correct syntax and the 8 so far displayed work fine.

It's impossible to know if the car is still indexing, has given up with an error or what, since there is no indication that it is doing indexing and how far through the usb stick the indexing is. The USB stick has been in the car about three weeks now so you would think it would have done the indexing by now!
Here are the images to access your playlist after inserting the memory stick into your USB slot. Remember the USB drive has to be formatted to Fat.

Hope this helps.
but I think in the screenshots you are not choosing a PLAYLIST since the cursor is on the search (magnifying glass) and the playlist option is the one below that. what did you choose after magnifying glass? search by folder?

You are not playing a playlist but playing all the tracks in a folder. and this is the reason the names of the files becomes important.

playlist - is a text file which contains a list of tracks to play. the i-drive plays the tracks in the order they are in the text file. the order of music files in the directory (name of the files) makes no difference at all when you use a playlist.
I've had a lot of trouble with the car recognizing playlists, finally i worked out what is going wrong. The scanning of USB sticks is a three stage process

A) discover all directories and files
B) read each file and extract the tag information from each file
C) read playlists (m3u files)

Only once stage B is started can you search by artist/album. Until then you can search by folder only. The manual explains this point although does not distinguish between the phases.

I have a USB stick with about 15,000 tracks on it and it was stuck in phase A. I know this because I have directory structure artist/album and then tracks for each album in one folder. Via search by folder I could see that at the start of the alphabet the album directories were visible but halfway through artist "Putumayo" the album subdirectories didn't appear. Phase A stuck at this stage for over a week. Nothing alphabetically after this point showed album subdirectories. If I deleted the album the indexing stopped at then the next album (alphabetically) would be indexed but then it stopped after that one. So it was a limit on the number of tracks, not some bad characters in one particular filename or length of a filename.

The answer to the car sticking at stage A lay in the explanation in the manual about USB sticks

Information from up to four USB devices or for approx. 36,000 tracks can be stored in the vehicle.
If a fifth device is connected or if more than 36,000 tracks are stored, information on existing music tracks may be deleted.
With my USB stick the amount of files (15,000) was supposedly well under the 36,000 limit but this wasn't the first time I'd tried to play music. So I suspected the other stored USB data was using up some of the possible 36,000 track memory and reading of the 15,000 tracks stopped when the maximum limit (36,000) was reached.
To test this I got some other USB sticks with one track on each and put them in one by one, allowing the player to start playing the first and only track. Then I put the problematic 15,000 track USB stick back in. Almost immediately I could see that more album directories were being recognized in the stage A where it had stuck before. After half an hour driving it was on to stage B and soon all artists were listed if you search by artist.

So it seems that if your car already knows one USB stick with say 26,000 tracks on it, then if you swap to another USB stick with 15,000 tracks, then it will stick at the 10,000 track mark (total has reached 36,000) and will ignore the directories and tracks after that point. It will never successfully index your new stick of 15,000 tracks. You need to make it forget the original 26,000 USB stick. Since the car doesn't tell you what is going on it could even be that you buy a used car and your first USB stick doesn't work because of what the previous owner did!
I did some more investigation on this since my USB stick had 15,000 tracks on it and although all the tracks were recognized (and tags read in to allow search by artisut and album) the playlists didn't all load. It stuck after about 15 playlists.

It seems that in addition to the limit on total number of tracks (spread across 4 usb sticks) there is a maximum limit on playlist length and if any playlist reaches this length then the car doesn't recognize playlists after that. The car stuck on one playlist which had 3000 tracks in it. It didn't show any playlists after that (there are about 50 playlists (m3u files) in total on the usb stick). I deleted the playlist with 3000 tracks and the car then read the rest of the playlists.
I put all the playlists in one directory (called playlists) and this worked better than the playlists spread across different folders (one playlist in each artist album. the USB stick being organized by one folder per artist and inside there one folder per album).
I wanted one playlist per artist so can choose an artist and the car goes through all the tracks for that artist.
When the car started on the playlist phase of discovery it went through alphabetically and stuck at "H" (the playlist with 3000 tracks). After many days there, deleting that one playlist has seen it advance much further down the list.

It might be that the car cannot be interrupted while processing any single playlist. so if a 3000 track playlist takes 2h to process (playlist processing is much slower than track/tag discovery) then if you never drive more than 45mins in one go then it never finishes and always resets to process that playlist again. But that is only a theory (since I haven't driven longer than 1h recently). it could be that no matter how long I drive the car for it won't process that 3000 track playlist.

BMW could have designed the system much better. with a screen showing the four positions for USB sticks and the status of them (how many tracks, what phase the processing is at).
A status update: after three weeks of troubleshooting and waiting for the USB stick to read and working out why the car sticks at some point, it finally found all the tracks and playlists.

The USB stick is 128G. It has 15,000 tracks (30G of data) and they are grouped into 60 playlists (one playlist per album). The maximum playlist length I have is 1186 tracks. I had to delete two of the playlists since the car would not read them and stick reading that playlist. It's unclear if driving the car longer would eventually read them or there is some physical limit. I'll split the really big ones into smaller playlists.

This is only part of my music library though. Now I know how to get things to work I will try with my complete library of 40k tracks and 88G of data. It should still fit easily on the 128G USB stick.

As mentioned earlier the clearing of the four USB memories was essential to get this to work. Without it the car would not recognize all the tracks (let alone start to process the playlists).
I had all kinds of problems if I changed the playlist after the car had recognized it. the playlist would not be updated and when I chose it, the car would say "unable to play track". I gave up ever trying to get this to work and if I need to change things I just clear out the USB memory and make the car read the usb stick right from the start again but don't dare update the contents or change anything on the usb stick.
folders containing the actual tracks kept in iTunes playlist order
So basically you choose play by folder and play the tracks in each folder?

I did try that but it wasn't that nice to use. I want all the tracks for one artist in the same folder but want to hear them in album order (certainly not album 1 track 1, album 2 track 1 etc and then eventually album 1 track 2).
So for this to work you need the album name in the filename (since when playing by folder it plays based on filename).

But that's not nice since when going through the list of tracks you can't always see the trackname. My first screenshot shows this issue. The tracks are named artist'album'track and you can't see the track names when searching by folder.

So that's the reason for using playlists. That you then see the trackname only (second screenshot).

Using playlists also lets me highlight the album names since if you had just a playlist of tracks you would see only track names and so not the album name (in my example I have tracks from all beatles albums in one folder. the playlist will play the tracks in album order). Sometimes I don't want to start at the first track but jump into the middle at some specific album.
To make this easier I have some extra tracks which are actually wma files with 1 second of silence. These are named AAA== and the album name.
Since these are put into the playlist at the right place (marking the start of each album) they make navigating the playlist really easy if you want to jump to a specific album.
Since they are 1 second of silence it doesn't matter that the car does actually play them back while listening. It's only 1 second of silence.
Picture 3 shows this on the instrument panel also - you can scroll up and down the track lists, including seeing the album name (this information is also on the heads up display)

It sounds complicated but I wrote a perl program to go through any USB stick and from the tracks it finds it extracts the album name. This script then automatically creates a 1 second silence file named appropriately. It also creates the playlists (one per artist) with real tracks + album marker tracks in it.


achieve this simply by selecting the desired artist or album
I think by selecting the artist the car will not play the tracks in album order. I hate the album 1 track 1, album 2 track 1, album 3 track 1 type of ordering.

By selecting the album it only plays that one album. most of the time i'd like to select an artist and go through all albums I have for that artist for the next few days of commuting. I don't want to choose the next album when the current one finishes
I wrote a guide to summarize my findings with USB sticks with lots of tracks and playlists:
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