Right – before we start hacking into the dashboard and cutting holes in the carpet, there’s a few things we need to sort out first:
- First Cut functionality
- Build and Testing
- Mounting the unit
Obviously the internet is a great resource for gathering information about this project. In a lot of ways it’s better than the book I bought, mainly due to the nature of communities and the user generated content they produce. In saying this, I’ve had to be careful to research the contributors where distention occurs so I can (hopefully) pick the right side of any disagreements in approach which inevitably crop up.
The best community I’ve found thus far is the one at MP3Car.com which has a Wiki, Forums, Galleries of installations to drool over and of course a shop. So my primary resource will be those listed below – but I’ll update this post as any new sources prove their worth.
I bought the gear about 9 months ago as we were hoping to be able to prototype something, then the business priorities changed at work and it’s been sitting (mostly) unopened in a box since then. This said, the list isn’t the flashest that’s avalible currently, and if I was to repurchase now, I’d probably go for something a bit different – like an ‘ebox‘.
My current hardware list is as follows:
- Case: Ampie
- Motherboard: VIA EPIA SP13000 Mini-ITX
- RAM: Ultra Low Profile 512MB DDR
- HDD: 60GB 5400rpm 2.5″ Hard Drive
- PSU: M1-ATX
- Monitor: Lilliput 7″ Touchscreen
- Micro Shutdown Controller
- GPS Reciever: USGlobalSat BU-353
- Bluetooth: Linksys USB Bluetooth
- Wireless: Linksys USB 802.11g
While I’d love to go with a linux build for speed, stability and security, I’m going to start with Windows XP due to it’s ease of install and hardware support. That said, open source carputer sites such as FreeDrive look promising for an ‘alternate build’ (hmm RFID tags on keyrings and dual boot XP for Wife *nix for me?)
Building & Testing
For powering the unit on your testbench, here’s a link on how to modify a standard ATX PSU to take the place of your car battery
Mounting the Unit
Here’s a couple of photos of the space I have to work with…
Full Dashboard – You can see from this shot that there are a few options for placing the 7″. Also not the position of the passenger side airbar, precluding putting the PC unit itself in the dash (also helps protect it from the heat – so that’s an upside).
Center Console – This shot shows a little more detail, my issue is I kind of want to have a ‘normal’ head unit in place for drivers who choose not to use the PC. This then severely limits my mounting options as one of the 2-DIN spots will have a head unit sitting in it as there’s nowhere else to place the 1 DIN Radio/CD player I have. I’m currently thinking it’d be best to mount the touchscreen higher up, probably as a mount extending out from behind the bezel holding the clock. While this would obstruct the vents and some buttons, I think it’s the least impact/most practical place to mount the screen.
As a side note – I registered at MP3Car.com today and am gradually building a community of links to other Kiwis who are doing Carputer projects such as this guy (sweeeet ride!)
Google Searches (I’ll pretty this up and put it in context later):