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Carputer

As the name suggests, a computer in a car. We are not talking KITT here, well not yet anyway, but a computer in the car to up the ante in mobile entertainment. But that's not all, my install is only the tip of the iceberg of what can be done and I am always looking for more things to incorporate.

Song now playing





The begining

Well, where did it all start?
For me it was while at school, this is many years ago, when computers where still big black boxes running Z80 processors with as much memory as 64K. The original plan was to get a nice estate car (stationwagon), rip out the back seats and set up a PC, TVscreen/monitor in their place. So the car, I had decided on a Volvo 245DL as they seemed to have the squarest back and would provide the most room. The PC was going to be a Research Machines 380Z or a later model 480Z. However nothing happened in this direction as there was no real purpose for a PC in a car at that time. Then along came MP3's, a reason for putting a PC in a car. :)

PC in the boot Inverter (Ignore First aid box etc.) PC in the boot Inverter (Ignore First aid box etc.)




First Attempt

A PC in a car to play MP3's, how was that going to be done?
Using winamp to play MP3s did not need a PC with much power so therefore something like a pentium 100MHz-160MHz would be fine. And as it was a mobile device a small laptop would be ideal. Step forward a second hand Toshiba Satellite Pro 460CDT Pentium 166Mhz, 32Mb memory quickly upgraded to 96Mb. A port replica was obtained, this could be mounted in the boot and the laptop slid in and out.
Ok, time to test it, the laptop took a 15vdc adapter, but plugging it direct to the 12vdc of the car (well 14.4Vdc) and it worked, excellent, no messy adapters required. Connected the laptop headphone output through a linein in the head unit, played fine, sound quality excellent, no engine noise, now to start thinking about a permanent connection solution.

Wait a minute, get a GPS mouse and have GPS Navigation?
OK GPS mouse obtained, Route 66 is the navigation software, lets give it a go.
Dropped some friends off at the airport, had the laptop on the passenger seat, GPS engaged and had us spotted. Ok lets drive home, 4 miles later, where the hell are we? The GPS was a 1.5 miles behind, the laptop could just not refresh the screen quick enough, looks like more power was required.

PC in the boot Inverter (Ignore First aid box etc.)




First Install

After the poor results from the navigation test it was decided more power was required. This time a Compaq EN SFF was acquired. This gave us a P3 running at 1.0GHz with 512Mb of memory and a 30GB harddrive, that should do it. As this didn't have it's own screen a Pioneer WD6010 TV screen was obtained, this had the benefit of being quick release, so it could be removed quickly when getting in and out of the car.
A PCI Graphics card with TV out was used instead of the on-board VGA to work with the Pioneer screen. To power the PC off 12V a Voltage Inverter was used, this provids the 240V the PC required but is a tad inefficient. To control the PC a trackball mouse is fitted into the centre ashtray and a USB wireless keyboard is kept in the glove box. To be able turn the PC on and off an OEM momentary switch was run from the boot to the front.

PC in the boot Inverter (Ignore First aid box etc.) Power Button MediaCar Menu Music Player






Navigation Software GPS Mouse Keyboard Cloaked Mouse Uncloaked Mouse




First Upgrade

OK all was working well?
Well yes and no. The PC was working fine, the music via wianmp was good, in fact used the pioneer skin which matched the head unit, the GPS navigation was working fine, I could even play DVD's in the DVD drive with PowerDVD.
However because it was a TV screen and not a proper computer monitor (VGA) it wasn't very clear, especially the words.
An upgrade was required, well if we are going to get a VGA screen, why not get a touchscreen one? While I was at it, I decide to give the whole install a more OEM look, so the HU was moved to the glove box, the climate control was moved to the sunglass compartment and the screen put into the centre console.





A new Bezel, still in development, and new a new frontend with an iDrive look skin.





Cop out time, not happy with my own skills, coupled with the offer of a Bezel from a pro I now have yet another new bezel.




Provided by srcstc

http://www.mybimmer.net/

http://www.mybimmer.net/e36carpclcd.htm




And the car it's all in. BMW 328i 1997




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