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Carputer


blue_rolla

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Some of you know about my carputer, but for those who don't:

I have been toying with the idea of installing some sort of multimedia centre in my car for some time. I researched all your typical touchscreen foldout dvd units, but none of them included all the features i ideally wanted in a car. And so when i started carrying my laptop around in the car and using it for music when my headunit was out of action, i thought about putting a PC in the car with a little touchscreen. I came across a book called "geek my ride" and found a few websites. This practice of installing a carPC in a car is becoming quite popular in the US, and i decided to give it a shot.

The screen is a little rough, but i'm working on making up a fiberglass bezel to make it look stock, or at least like it it supposed to be there.

Here's a whole lot of pics of my install and an explanation of the pics:

1. Carputer

This is the actual case of the carputer. Inside the case is a miniITX MII-100000 motherboard and a 1ghz processor (i think). 512mb RAM. 40gb laptop hard drive. Slot-Load DVD Drive. and a 150w m2-atx car power supply, with startup and shutdown controllers which get my PC going and shut it down when i turn the car on. All this is being run through a 7" lin-itx vga touchscreen.

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2. Front-End program

To run windows on a 7" screen, means everything is very small. its extremely hard to read the tiny words and push the tiny buttons when you're driving in traffic. So the need for a front-end program with touchscreen friendly buttons comes along. Here's a few pics under different sub-headings for the different uses:

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2a. Media

This is the media centre for the carputer. You can play music in mp3 and wma format, view photo albums (but its pretty crap), and watch video clips. Its all very well set-up to make it easy to change tracks while you're driving.

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2b. GPS

This was one of my main reasons for buying a carputer over your typical dvd unit. most of the units i checked out didnt have gps built in, or they had a unit you could buy for like a thousand bucks. I have a holux USB GPS unit mounted on my parcel shelf, just behind the rear window. I get pretty good satellite coverage there - usually about 6 full lock satellites in sydney.

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2c. Phone Control

You can connect your mobile to the carputer through bluetooth and this program allows you to receive and take phonecalls trhough the PC as long as you have a mic. or you can use a bluetooth headset. SMS messages come up on the screen too.

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2d. OBD-II

This is one of my favourite things about this carputer. You can get a USB unit to plug into your OBD-II socket in the car, and upload data in real time to the carputer. As you can see in the picture, you can get all sorts or speeds, pressures and temperatures from all over the place. As well as diagnose engine codes for when a problem arises. There are plenty of guages and skins you can get from the internet too for OBD-II interface, so that will be fun to play with for a while.

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2e. Mixer

All of the audio controls (except volume) are in this "mixer" section of the program.

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2d. Internet

With the use of a wireless card, the carputer can connect to any wireless network in range of the car. Have a look at the pic - TOCAU IN THE CAR!!!

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3. Peripherals

So far, I haven't bought too many plug ins for the carputer, but theres an unlimited amount of things i can buy... I am going to mount my USB hub where it is in that pic, nice and clean. You can see my mini keyboard there too. Its about 20cm wide and less than 1cm thick.

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Ok that took me ages to write - so let me know what you think and let me know any suggestions of what i should add to it to make it the ultimate car multimedia system!!!

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First of all, I'd like to say well done and congratulations... I think you may have been the first person Corolla owner in Australia to have a carputer installed in their car :)

I've always fondled with the idea of installing a carputer, simply for the GPS option... but my laptop takes over that job now. Are you using Mapmonkey or Freedrive? How you finding it?

Where abouts did you mount your computer case?

I can't really think of any suggestions as you've pretty much got it all covered I'd say. Maybe upgrade to an Audigy sound card one day. I've heard one in a car with a carputer and it sounds mighty damn good. It's also a good cheap way to have up to 7.1 channel processing too. Of course, the possiblities are endless when it comes to a computer doesn't it? ;) That's the great thing about them.

That is a mighty fine job, well done. Let this be a great foundation for anyone who is thinking of installing a carputer (looks at negatron). :D

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haha please dont tell eggbert!!!!!!!!!! he'll put one in his car and become much much more of a post whore!

hehehe ..

you know ive already given up on this mod ...

looks tops though ...

esp that new switch you put in ... good work !!

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how much it was dosnt matter .. .

tom spent what seems like months and months just getting this thing the way he wants it ...

soldering points 2 mm apart at 4 in the morning !!!!!!

blowing power supplies .. heheheh ...

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yeah nice work tom, i'm very impressed. now u have an excuse to have a slow 1ZZ, all the extra weight! hehe just kidding.

but no, i'd love to see it all in operation, if we do end up going to the track, please keep it in there lol.

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the unit actually doesn't weigh that much as it's in a micro box and all fits under his passenger side seat.

Tom, this thing is awesome and once I get all the 'go fast' bits done on my car, the ICE time will come...

Love it!!!

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Hats off to you man!

bigbum and i have talked about a project like this for ages and ages but its great to see that someone has done it and done it well.

A chrome award of modding for this man!

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Talk about stepping it up!!! :D Thumbs up! Now you can go Warring and get free downloads!! hehehe :D Keep up the great work

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thanks guys, i feel so special i have received chrome award :P

i paid about $950 for the whole computer, screen, gps unit, fm radio (which i STILL cant get to work :(), and a night vision camera... and then i paid $20 for my keyboard, and $30 for my wifi card, and $20 for my USB hub, and another $50 or so for all the extension cables, and about $100000000 in time making the friggen thing work... THEN i blew up a power supply, which cost me another $120 to get from america...

so i've spent about $1100-1200 on this computer... it's all very fiddly and ive broken a fwe things and fixed them with alot of trial and error...

the screen is mounted inside the stock head unit case... i wanted to make a casing that would bolt into the car, and i could think of any way to do that, so i just totally removed every component from the stock HU and using a few bolts, i managed to get the screen solid in the car.. that was lots of fun <_<

if i ever go down the 1/4 mile this thing is staying with me... it would be interesting to see what sort of readings i get on the OBD-II... it weighs very little too.. maybe 2-3 kgs, if that...

one day ill upgrade my alternator and put a second battery in and get an xbox in the car too :D a long with a few extra screens...

first things first though, i need a 5.1 sound card...

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blue_rolla,

This is truely and awesome effort! I'm very impressed.

Personally i've thought about doing this but was unable to commit the time or the funds.

If this all gets worked out and you have the whole thing finished and running, i'd love to see it running.

I'd like to do something like this.

Is every component hidden? (except for the LCD of course)

Also, how do you get your car speakers to run from the sound card of the PC?

Final question: Figuratively speaking, what if you were in the situation where you have to format the Carputer. Does the setup allow you to switch the car off and run an extension cord into the car that will run the PC while you sit in your garage etc and perform the work. Or would it be easier to disconnect the unit and take it inside to connect like a regular PC?

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blue_rolla,

This is truely and awesome effort! I'm very impressed.

Personally i've thought about doing this but was unable to commit the time or the funds.

If this all gets worked out and you have the whole thing finished and running, i'd love to see it running.

I'd like to do something like this.

Is every component hidden? (except for the LCD of course)

Also, how do you get your car speakers to run from the sound card of the PC?

Final question: Figuratively speaking, what if you were in the situation where you have to format the Carputer. Does the setup allow you to switch the car off and run an extension cord into the car that will run the PC while you sit in your garage etc and perform the work. Or would it be easier to disconnect the unit and take it inside to connect like a regular PC?

ok

1. yes, if the passenger seat is back enough, you cant see the PC at all. I will be getting some carpet to lay over the top of it at some point, just to make it more stealth - the fans are on the side so cooling won't be a problem with carpet on top of the case. the LCD will also be hidden too.. seeing as i have ripped apart the stock head unit, i have the faceplate lying around. im going to dremel off the edges and stick some magnets or velcro on the edges so when i leave the car i can stick the faceplate over the screen and make it look like a stock system :)

2. this is the biggest problem i have faced... its hard to replicate a 12V powersupply that puts out enough amps to run it from the house... i tried using a normal PC powersupply, and that didnt work, not sure why... the only way i know how to run from 240v is to get one of those transformer things, that outputs a 10amp 12V power source... but they cost like $120, and i dont have that sort of money lying around... it doesnt draw HEAPS of power and i managed to format the whole PC and reinstall windows and all my media and programs from the car without turning it on... it only just made crank, but it was on for a good 2-3 hours without the car running...

3. to answer your question kelvin, im not running off an inverter. if i was, that would make things easier to run from the house... instead im using a 12V DC-DC power supply... it uses alot less power apparently, and it takes up less room... there is a 4ga wire running from my battery to the back of the car, which is then split into my amp, and into the PC...

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First of all, what an amazing set up!!

Something I've always wanted to try, but never had the time or money...

However, when I was thinking about it, I was considering using a mini mac with a fold out screen. Its small enough to mount in the dash like a head unit, as its the size of one, and the fold out screen would mount on top giving it a very clean look with no gaps.

Also the mini mac is very good with multimedia and plug ins...

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