Getting it together

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:

  • Research
  • Hardware
  • Software
  • First Cut functionality
  • Build and Testing
  • Mounting the unit

Research

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.

Hardware

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:

Software

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 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 ConsoleCenter 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.

References:

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):

http://www.philhord.com/phord/carputer-installing-in-my-honda-odyssey-minivan/

http://www.philhord.com/gallery/carputer/P0011159

http://philhord.com/phord/carputer-rear-lcd-flip-down-monitor/

http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=85503

http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/

http://guino.home.insightbb.com/roadrunner.html

http://www.litepc.com/xplite.html

http://kiwicarpc.blogspot.com/

http://www.stevieg.org/carpc/

http://www.gizmodo.com/gadgets/gadgets/imobile-atlas-car-pc-does-gps-high-speed-data-and-windows-219115.php

http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=48657

Yet another WoW Podcast launches

Well, this week my RSS reader finally picked up the first show from ‘The Epic‘, this isn’t a news and views shows like my favorite WoW podcast audiocast ‘The Instance‘, but probably worth a listen to as their intention is to cover more in-game strategies. Their first show sounds… well, like a first show, the presenters talk over each other, the show lacks structure and their site is REALLY hard to find as the site doesn’t appear to have any form of search engine optimisation done on it, so good luck if Googling – you may be better off following the link in this post 🙂

If you’re a PvPer then you may enjoy the long discussion about the new honour system, they discuss mods (or the lack of them) and chat about the new patch – in their special first show fragmented kind of way. I think I’ll perservere with listening, at least for a few more shows and hopefully in that time they’ll find their feet and the presenters will lose their uncontrollable urge to make comments and talk over each other (blah blah blah Sophia blah blah blah me me me…).

Anyway, a good first effort – I can’t really complain too much as I’ve not got off my a$$ to do an audiocast which may or may not be better, so good on the crew from The Epic – I await your next show with great expectation.

Edit 18/02/2008: Still waiting… mind you, I’m no better, I’m transitioning my WoW blog which never really happened back to my main blog location.

For those who are interested, here are the RSS feedlinks for WoW Audiocasts I listen to:

Oh – and for my fellow guildies RDiva, Cyd and the other ladies of the guild… be sure to check out Women of Warcraft

Pimping MY Ride…

This isn’t a “we’re gonna lower this down, drop in some 20″ rims with some spinner action going on - and bling out the soundz” post, this is a “How do I maintain some semblance of respectability now that lifes events have conspired to force the purchase of a 7-seater vehicle?” post…

A few weekends ago my beloved 1994 Toyota Hilux Surf died, after 10 years of faithful service it was time to retire Sherman (as in the tank) to the scrapheap or a backyard machanics garage.  Either way, it was time to buy a new vehicle and through spousal intervention, my dreams of replacing the sluggish 4×4 with a zippier Toyota Caldina Station wagon were dashed… I’d inherit the Mazda Lantis and my beloved wife would get herself a 7-Seater… so we’ve got room for the in-laws and a new baby (don’t get excited, no announcments on that front yet…).

We ended up buying a 1998 Honda Odyssey last weekend (2nd December 2006, for the sake of the historical archive)  and though some deft negotiation (using the sad puppy dog look until she felt sorry for me, or just got sick of ‘the look’ I don’t know) I managed to secure rights to be the primary driver of the newer vehicle.  The primary reason for my success on this front may have even been my logical argument that because Amanda would be travelling the furtherst and I do most of the in-week transporting of the kids. YAY! But BOO!! I’d now be driving a 7-seater and facing the taunts of my peers.

 

1998 Honda Odyssey (VTEC)

 

Carputer – My functionality wishlist:

  • Audio
  • GPS
  • Radio
  • Independant power (flatten PC battery supply, not main vehicle)
  • Email store/forward on the road (when waiting to pickup people etc)
  • Web

If it’s possible / Phase II 

  • Sync media on board to media servers in home (WiFi link when parked in range) 
  • Additional Screen for rear seat viewing
  • Engine Managment interface
  • Storage of appointments / Directions (sync)

And now, off to Google and MP3Car.com to do my research…

Update: 11/12/2006

Dave has suggested that I add these to my wish list… YEAH! (oh, not a 4×4… meh nvm)