I've been a Mac fan since I bought my first Mac Classic II in college. I've been an FJ fan since I saw one on a road trip to Chicago in '06 and bought mine that June. What could be better than combining the two?
Alpine Loop 2006:
The FJ at American Basin, July 2006.
First step: the Mac. Apple's Mac Mini
is the perfect size for a car computer. I put mine in the glove box and used an H-Squared Mini Mount to secure it to the inside. The 'bottom' of the glove box raises up towards the front (where the latch is) so I put a small peice of wood towards the back of the glove box to even out the height. The Mini has an internal fan that sucks air from holes around it's base and throws it out the back. The H-Squared mount is small enough around to allow air entry through the bottom. It holds the mini snugly, preventing any movement except towards the glove box opening (which faces up when the glove box is closed).
All of the Mini's ports are in the rear of the unit. To provide access I cut a rectangular hole in the back of the glove box. This also vent's hot air from the Mini's fan.
Power: Carnetix P1900 Power Supply with Mac-Pak cables.
The Mini does have to be opened to put a Y-cable between the mother board and the power button, this is used by the P1900 to 'Sleep' the Mini (keeping power consumption low) while the ignition is off. It will also 'Wake' the computer after ignition. The P1900 comes stock with the ability to power both the Mini and a Monitor. I chose to have the second output power my USB hub. This gives me a few extra USB ports (the Mini has 4) and prevents USB devices from waking the computer while the ignition is off. The P1900 is Velcro'd under up under the passenger's footwell, and behind the plastic foot area to prevent inadvertent kicks.
Carnetix P1900 Power Supply.
The Screen: Xenarc MDT-X7000 with 7" touchscreen.
I really wanted a double-din screen, but I'm not a fabricating kind of guy, so for my first install I decided to go with a single-din fold out screen. The Xenarc has three inputs, one of which is DVI - perfect for the Mini which offers DVI out (and a little crisper than VGA). Pairing the two up involved nothing more than installing the supplied Mac drivers. The Xenarc also has a built-in AM/FM radio with what is possibly the worst interface in the world.
Mac OS X running NeonBoombox (with support for everything in your iTunes Library and XM radio)
Steering wheel controls
were maintained by using a PAC-SWI steering wheel to IR interface to control
volume, station and mode on the Xenarc.
XM Radio: XM PCR
(off eBay). The XM PCR is connected to the USB hub for power and tuning control. It's audio out is fed into the audio in on the Mac and pushed back out to the Xenarc (this setup also allows voice prompted navigation via the Mac). The XM PCR is tucked up inside to the right of the passenger's footwell.
XM Radio Antenna
Positioning: USGlobalSat BU-353.
Provides NMEA output to the Mac via USB. It's mounted on the front passenger side. It's USB cable is short, so I had to use an extender.
Griffin USB iMic with Griffin Stereo Microphone.
Pyle Rear View Night Vision Camera. Hooked up to the Xenarc. This particular Xenarc does not auto tune to the CCD input when power is applied. Some models do, making the back-up camera hand free. I need to switch modes to see the image and lose audio form my Mac in the process. In the future I would like to plug the camera into the Mac.
Internet: Kyocera KR-1 Router
with Verizon PC card. This provides internet connectivity on the road. It's also been modified to accept NMEA position data over it's diagnostic port. A 5hz Garmin GPS provides position data and the KR-1 roll and then hosts a .kml position file which can be accessed over the internet (my iPhone). The KR-1 is connected to the Mac via Ethernet, but also provides a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot for our iPhones or so my wife can bring her work laptop on trips. The KR-1 is Velcro'd to the underside of the rear storage box. I ran 12v power back there for it and the Garmin GPS antenna. There's also a spare 12v plug tucked in there for our cooler.
Cell antenna in the window.
The side of the upside-down KR-1 is just visible.
To control the Mac while driving I prefer to use the Griffin Powermate rotary controller
so I can keep my eyes on the road. While I'm parked I've got an Apple Bluetooth Keyboard
which fits in the glove box, right on top of the Mini. A Logitech trackball works a bit better than a mouse in this environment.
The rotary controller cable goes down into the shift well. The Keyboard and trackball are stowed for normal use. The white cables power the Mini from a wall outlet while the car is in my garage. This allows me to work on the software remotely from a laptop in my living room while not using the FJ's battery.
Software: Bringing it all together.
Here's where the Mac is lacking... there is currently no integrated Mac-car solution on the Mac side. I use NeonBoombox
to play music, podcasts and movies/videos from iTunes and control the XM PCR. For navigation I use primarily use RouteBuddy
, which has turn-by-turn voice prompts. I also use Google Earth (this is where the always-on internet connection comes in handy). Syncopation provides the ability for me to maintain individual driving iTunes playlists on both my and my wife's Macs and sync those particular playlists when the FJ is in Wi-Fi range of the house. (The Mac is configured to look for my house's Wi-Fi first, if it can't find it then it will use the KR-1's internet connection). Lot's of good info over at the Mac forums on MP3Car.com
What's next: Our annual road trip to Lake City, CO and the Alpine Loop
next week. My wife's family has been going there for about 40 years and this is my (and the FJ's) third trip and the first for the Mac
Hopefully we'll see the folks from the big gathering there!