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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi All!

So I have been busy at work, and posting NONE of it! Ha! Well, anyways, I added some things to my rig, which include lift, tires, rails, and some other stuff. Now, since this is the electronics forum, I thought I would give you all a rundown of my carputer install! First, here is a pic of my rig NOW! With LIFT and TIRES! Finally!



Now, AFAIK, I am the first to do an actual car pc. Others have added laptops, GPS units, in dash units, etc. but this is an actual computer in the car, completely dependent on the vehicle electronics, and not removable for use outside the vehicle. If other have done a carpc, POST UP! I'd like to see other installs also. I'm not trying to take credit, but I have not seen other posts I can remember.

Now, just a little...little....background about me. I am a computer builder by trade, but I work in a little different field. I build driving simulators, very large cab systems with full driving simulation for teen drivers, elderly, refresher courses, and various corporate clients that want additional training for their employees. Take a look at our site if you like: Virtual Driver Interactive

Now, this will start as a teaser thread, so CHILL, I'll get more pics VERY SOON! :lol: Tomorrow, or maybe a day later. Right now the pc is fully installed and I run media on each commute daily, as well as GPS, so I just have to get outside and snap some pics tomorrow so you all can see the install.

We'll start with the computer itself. I'm sure there will be questions, and I am fully capable of answering them, and certified also :) Ask away if you have questions, but I will reserve the next few posts for future pics and info.

Here is the new PC:



Now, this is a Micro-itx form factor case and MB. I actually had this pc in another car over a year ago, so the parts are a 'little' outdated (not much, but there is much better stuff available now). I'm using a Jetaway board, and when I did this all they had was Via C3 and C7 chips (No AMD or Intel CPU's, on Via), but now they have MB's that will run quad core Intel chips! That's some serious small power! Here is a link to the board:

Logic Supply - Leaders in Mini-ITX & Small Form Factor Solutions

I am using 1 GB of ram, a 160 gig laptop SATA HDD, A slim laptop DVD-RW drive, and an M2-ATX power supply.

About power: This is not a normal PC power supply. This is a power supply made specifically for the automotive environment, with built in startup and shutdown controllers, deep discharge protection, cranking amp survival, and MORE! You can checkout some of the power supplies on the market here:

Mp3Car Custom Car Computers!

I can cover this MUCH more for those interested, but it's much better if you just get friendly with the mecca of ALL carpc sites in existance: MP3Car.com - Your source for mobile computing solutions! - Home! Go there. You will LEARN!

Now, more pics of the install. Let's take a look inside the case:



You can see I have a sound card in there in the pics, but it turns out the MB I use cannot run the sound card well, so I am running sound off of the MB sound ports now, and I will for a while. The idea of a PC in the car is to run 5.1 sound, and you can do that through the front, rear, etc channels on the MB or sound card, and then run each channel to an amp, and amp each speaker. Sound like alot, but it's really relative to the install of the PC. It's easier than one thinks.

The case is a tight fit, to say the least. This case is nice in that the M2-ATX actually fits in it and bolts to the same spot that the case power supply originally bolts to. When you go up alot in power supply, you go up alot in size. However, I was also able to get some measurements and I can fit an Opus or DSATX in this case as well, but mounting it will be different. (see the power supply link above for info on these two power supplies)

The case measures 11.6 x 11.6 x 2.5! That's less than 1 foot square and it fits under the front driver's seat. There is actually more room under the driver seat than the passenger, but where it's mounted is very convenient! I can just reach under the seat to pop in a DVD or the like.

Here is a pic of the OLD wiring that I used parts of for the new install. The power supply gets hooked up just like any other auto component...positive, negative, and switched.



Now, one thing of note is that I not only power the PC with the power supply (it's regulated, remember, not just a random computer power supply), but I also power the monitor with the PC PS. The monitor will come on and off with the PC, and I never worry about turning anything off. I just walk away.

Here are some of the wiring pics of the 1/0 cable I use for the amp, with the PC power connection included.



Switched power is taken right from the deck, just like the amp. Blue wire.



So far, so good....

Ok, a little more in this post. I ran the wiring up through the firewall in the large cluster on the driver's side. You know how hard it is to run a 1/0 cable through that rubber grommet ALONE! Arg! But it came out ok, with no air leaking that I can tell.



And the battery connection (I have it disconnected right now while installing. It's always fun to get everything wired then go to the battery thinking: 'Ok, Here we go, Watch for smoke....watch for smoke....)



Grounded to the Ebrake bracket bolts, zipped down to keep it out of moving parts. Not a single issue yet with this setup. And I also double checked, and so will you, in future pics! it's been in the car for about 3 weeks so far.



I love how it turned out as far as the wiring went, it could have been alot harder, but the great thing about an FJ is the ROOOOOOOOM! LOL! It's great to have so much space to work with! The last install was in an 88 MR2, which is just a little small.

So here is what the case looks like under the seat. I used no velcro, no bolts, nothing. It fits PERFECT! I was able to run the wiring up and under the plastic trim at the front of the seat (where all the airbag wiring runs through the floor), and then feed up to the battery/deck (for power). The rest of the wiring went up through the center console....there is a large bundle under there now, which you all will see soon. What I really like was how clean the wires went through the door sill and firewall. That was a bear, to say the least, and I did modify the plastic parts on the FJ a little to get it installed, but you would never know. I pride myself on installs that you can't see (NOTE: I AM NOT, NOR CLAIM TO BE A PROFESSIONAL. I AM HAVING F-U-N. I AM NOT COMPARING MY INSTALLS TO COMPETITION CRAP.) Another note: I never removed the seat to install this pc! lol! it just fits that well.

So these are the last pics you get so far! What is looks like under the seat, placed for install.

Here is the seat all the way forward and tilted forward to expose all I could while working on it:





And cooling is VERY important! Think about it...where did I place this thing? RIGHT over the AC vent! this is the coolest running pc I have ever installed, simply because it's in the ideal location, the air flow is perfect (note the exhaust fan location in the next pic), and the bottom of the PC is like an icebox, super cooling the CPU! It really worked out well, and if it starts to heat up, I just run some AC and it's fine. (in winter, you wouldn't need to run the AC. it doesn't get that hot. you might actually want to run the heater to keep it warm. PC's like room temps)



More to come soon!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
So we move on to the next post....

The computer is fully installed, and I use it daily. I run media and GPS, both of which I can show you all tonight. But first, let's take a look at the install once complete. I just went out and took these pics, so they are exactly how the computer is installed, and I haven't changed anything. Here is a look with the seat in it's normal position for driving:



Here you can see a little more of the PC, but you really have to get down there to see most of it. The wires are just zipped together and run up into the center console via the crack between the floor and the console. I have to get more pics of the wiring once I get a chance in daylight, it was too dark to get any good pics tonight. I'll update this weekend with some much better wiring pics and detail shots.



This next pic is with the seat folded forward, and slid all the way forward as well.



Here is a pic of the front. I put it facing forward because it's very easy to reach under there to slide in a DVD or CD, and because the DVD-RW is a slot loading drive, it pushes out almost 1/2 of the disk. It's very easy to use this way, much better than other options I had tried with another case, and different mounting solutions.



Now for the monitor! I am using a Dynamix 7" wide touchscreen for my monitor. Other brands that are nice are Lilliput, Tview, and Xenarc. Lilliput is the middle end, Dynamix is a ripoff Xenarc, and Xenarcs are the best (from my various forum reading). I had a lilliput before this, and I liked that one alot. This one is nice, but the touchscreen of the lilliput is very responsive without being too sensitive, where the Dynamix is almost too sensitive. Sensitivity is one of the things that is not easy to change, and I prefer the tactile feel of the lilliput better. However, the Dynamix has better sunlight readability, and better color overall. it's a very nice monitor.

The wires for the monitor are three pieces: USB for touch, Power/Aux. Video in, and VGA. I ran these up through the center console, then out the passenger side, and I placed the monitor just in front of the switch panel under the radio trim. I used the standard monitor bracket that comes with most of these monitors (a really crappy bracket, but it does the job....and quite well in this install, actually....even though I hate the bracket.) The bracket is a 1/2 circle, made to be adjustable, with a standard 'slide and tighten' mount on it. You can see the bracket much better in this pic:

Mp3Car Custom Car Computers!

All the little monitors have them, and they suck. However, it's designed to allow you to customize it, or to take it off and use a gooseneck instead. It also allows you to rotate the screen in almost any direction. the problem is that it's very easy for these monitors to flop around on those brackets, and goosenecks, unless you really secure it and keep it super tight.

I have some very dynamic plans for other mounting solutions, and you'll see those soon enough. This is just installed, not built.

Here is a pic with the PC up and running, just at the desktop (I don't boot top my front end....although I will after the PC get a revision....soon).



Here are a few pics to give you an idea of the distances and the bracket used to mount it. I slid part of the bracket under the dash trim, and the exposed side has some double sided tape sticking it down. It hasn't moved much at all.





Here is some detail of the wiring at present. Now the plan, the more I think about it, was first to leave it like this. but I have a much better idea! I am planning to route the wires up through the back of the switch panel, and out one of the blanks, hiding the wires behind the dash and monitor really well. I'll maybe work on that over the weekend. I'd also like to change that bracket to a gooseneck, or another alternative solution, and get rid of the floppy bracket. It doesn't move much, but it will, and I don't like it presently.





And now some full frame shots, to give you an idea of what the complete setup looks like, even from the driver's seat. I was sitting in the seat for most of the pics. It's easy to touch the screen, I can still press the buttons behind it if needed, and it does not interfere with the transfer case shifter at all, as I thought it would. the only thing I lost here was the ability to use that cupholder for anything other than a soda sized drink, but it works great for the cell phone!









And finally, the front end!

What is a front end? A front end is software that controls all of the functions you want it to, and some you don't. It gives you a very complete and concise way of controlling the functions of the PC, without having to go outside the software to get to the media you want. Also, with the touchscreen, the frontend is designed to work with large, easy to read buttons that are easy to see, and easy to press. I'll get into more detail later, or you can surf over to MP3car.com and checkout the forum....there are complete forums dedicated to ONLY single frontends....from ready to buy, to free, to program yourself.

Things I can control with Mobile Impact are:
- GPS
- Music
- Media (I love AMV's....Anime Music Videos....it's something for passengers to watch, and me to listen to! Check out Anime Music Videos .Org - Home for more)
- Ipod (I hate crackpods, I use a PSP.)
- Game emulator, with full function built in for all N64, Sega, etc.
- Internet Browser - MI's own
- DVD
- BURN DVD's
- Live Traffic
- Applications
- LOTS more....I can't remember everything. Other front ends offer even more too!

So, now some pics! This one is hard to see



Media section, this one for music



Album selection



Full screen



Change the color, I like this one best



Ok, that's enough for tonight! More on the way, and soon to come:

- GPS wire routing and setup
- monitor mounting changes/mods
- Backup cam
- 5.1 surround from BOTH the deck, and the PC
- PS2? Maybe....
- MORE! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I'm reserving this one too! HA! Mods, I hope this is ok. It's just to keep the main info and pics together, so people don't have to thread search.


FREE ROBOT SEX FOR ALL WHILE YOU WAIT!

 

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Looking forward to see this all finished. I was planning on doing one of these as well but plans have changed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Looking forward to see this all finished. I was planning on doing one of these as well but plans have changed.
Well, the plus side is it's already done, just not complete. I have it installed, working, and I run media, GPS, etc. but I plan to add more features, monitors, maybe change a MB and upgrade to dual core processor. but I'll get more pics very soon. Right now it's just at 'installed' phase....not 'built' yet. :cheers:
 

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But what screen are you using of going to use and where are you going to mount it and how much fab work will be needed for the screen mount? When I was looking at doing this the screen was my hang up I couldn't find a good spot for it with out having to lots of work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
But what screen are you using of going to use and where are you going to mount it and how much fab work will be needed for the screen mount? When I was looking at doing this the screen was my hang up I couldn't find a good spot for it with out having to lots of work.
I used a Dynamix 7" wide touchsceen that I had laying around, although I like the lilliput monitors a little better. However, the Dynamix is a very high quality monitor with excellent backlight and a fully aluminum housing. Good stuff.\

For now, I have it mounted basically over my front most cupholder, just on a stand. I didn't fab anything for the install, and it's a pretty good location so far.,

I'll get pics of it soon. The plan was to run a 10" + touchscreen on the passenger side of the dash, just slightly angled toward me. Very much like Air2air did his tablet pc install, except I would have a remote computer with touchscreen, no mouse/kb. Then I also planned to run another monitor for GPS/media/ or other. The true plan was to install 2+ PC's in the car, the first powerful enough to run media and the like, the other for GPS/internet/etc.

Have you seen how small a Pico -itx board is? HA! 11 x 11 CENTIMETERS! (whoops...I was wrong...Nano-itx is 12x12 cm, Pico-itx is 10.2 x 7 CM!!)

LOOK: Logic Supply - Leaders in Mini-ITX & Small Form Factor Solutions

It's the size of a PEN! A complete pc! Awesome!

So yea, that was the plan...but like you, plans are changing....but it still works great, and I am going wheeling for the 4th, so I'll get all the benefits of having it for that trip. That was the target for the install...80% of the pc was in a box for the last year. I just bought a new case and HDD.

I also want to run a normal in dash deck. I want to wire everything to be 5.1 surround on either the deck, OR the pc. I would accomplish this by amping all speakers, and running 2 RCA's to each channel, with a Y connection reversed to get sound from either the deck, the PC, or both. I just don;t know if it will work like I planned it, but we'll see.

Like I said...Installed, Not BUILT!
 

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That is so small!

I had/have a lilliput media/carpc single din size computer and a 8" wide screen Dynamix touch screen The problem I had was I couldn't find enough room for ether one in a location I like. I then scraped the lilliput pc and was going to mount a 3u server rack in my custom drawers and box I made for the back of the FJ. Then the screen I was going to mount in the location of the rear view mirror kind of like how UPHILL has his GPS mounted. Then I figured why not get a bigger screen and do a fold down version. That is were I left my plans and now have no plans for a pc in the FJ. O well maybe one day I will do it but not right now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
That is so small!

I had/have a lilliput media/carpc single din size computer and a 8" wide screen Dynamix touch screen The problem I had was I couldn't find enough room for ether one in a location I like. I then scraped the lilliput pc and was going to mount a 3u server rack in my custom drawers and box I made for the back of the FJ. Then the screen I was going to mount in the location of the rear view mirror kind of like how UPHILL has his GPS mounted. Then I figured why not get a bigger screen and do a fold down version. That is were I left my plans and now have no plans for a pc in the FJ. O well maybe one day I will do it but not right now.
Those are great ideas! Remember too, there are many ways to mount a screen in the vehicle that are non-invasive, and many more that require some fab with fiberglass or other medium. Goosenecks, RAM mounts, suction cups, etc. could all be used, and they make the monitor removable.

I take the FJ to the airport sometimes, so I wanted the screen removable should I need to leave it somewhere I don't like. With the placement I have, it's only slightly in the way, it's out of my line of sight (which actually sucks...I like it better when I can look at both it AND the road....I don't have to look down), and it's easy to remove if needed.

I am actually thinking of using a gooseneck routed through one of the switch blanks, so the gooseneck part is hidden. You'll see once I get some pics of the screen now. It's not ideal, but it works.
 

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I hope this is really detailed, this is a dream of mine and I want you to make me think that its possible :)
Its totally possible and what Mrcat88 is doing is only one way to do it. :D

I hope you start one soon as well.





And thanks Mrcat88 for the props I wish I was still going forward with it sometimes, it was going to lots of fun trying to figure it all out and get it how I wanted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Its totally possible and what Mrcat88 is doing is only one way to do it. :D

I hope you start one soon as well.





And thanks Mrcat88 for the props I wish I was still going forward with it sometimes, it was going to lots of fun trying to figure it all out and get it how I wanted.

What he said! I am only the tip of the iceberg, and it's much easier than you think. I think the biggest question you should ask yourself is:

1. What do I want to do with the computer?
2. will an in-dash unit (kenwood, pioneer, etc.) satisfy all my needs instead?
3. Do I want the bling factor? will I accept the work required to achieve that?

Most of what my PC can do can be done with a simple in dash unit, and cheaper too, but what you don't get is the ability to run ANY GPS software, Internet with a normal browser, Ipod/MP3/PSP connection, DVD of course (some dash units don;t have that) - but also BURN dvd's on the fly, in mycar.

There are other advantages too, I will cover those as it progresses. Pics on the way, lunchtime will give me pic time, I hope!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Great thread, I'll be keeping my eye on it.

What frontend are you using?
Thanks! Presently, I am using Mobile Impact. I'd like to go to a really complete front end, but they are pricey.

For all, here's the link - it's a free one that a very nice enthusiast created for the community. Support those that give you free stuff!

Mobile Impact - MP3Car.com
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I'm curious where you are going to mount your screen. If you're doing the full software for cars and mount it in your double din or going tou mount it separate than your stereo.

I always wanted to rework the front glove box and have an internet browser there with a pop up screen.
Ask and ye shall receive! Post #2 has just been updated! :jester:
 

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Super Deluxe Impressive........Should be interesting to see how this developes. O figure within half a dozen years we will all have some version of this in a vehicle. We will be able to say " Remember when that MrCat guy had that old school PC in his FJ???"
 

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Nice update. Not bad for a screen location but me personally would prefer it closer to eye level.

Glad to see you do this though so others can see what can be done through a CarPC, I think more people would like to go this route if they new.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Nice update. Not bad for a screen location but me personally would prefer it closer to eye level.

Glad to see you do this though so others can see what can be done through a CarPC, I think more people would like to go this route if they new.
Although I agree, I would like to have it closer to eye level, it's actually a very good spot now that I have used it a while. I use it as secondary, so most times I choose a playlist and it just plays. When I really need to mess with it, I pull over. There are not too many spots around eye level that work well, and the kicker is that it's illegal to have it at eye level, especially if there is a video playing (at least in CA. Other states may not have this law, but I think they do.) IE: Popo can't see it!

I want to play around with other mounting locations, and I would actually like to get a 10" screen like I have mentioned. I'll test out a few things as money permits, and it will evolve into a great setup. I have a solid plan, this is only the first 10-20% of the complete project.

Also, I want more ideas, so if anyone else has mounted a monitor, post up!

that looks ridiculously unsafe and distracting... how do you keep the passengers from mashing their feet into all the computer cables?
What cables? Last I checked, my passengers don't shove their feet into my transfer case shifter....and I dare say if they did, they would promptly be ejected from my vehicle, hopefully on the freeway :lol:

But really, that mounting was just the beginning. I mentioned previously that I plan to run the wires up through the switch blanks, at least for now, and I'll get some pics of that once done.

As far as distractions, it is illegal to operate video in view of the driver while the vehicle is in motion. Hence the reason all the fancy new decks with the large screens have an Ebrake lockout. Most people just bypass the lockout, but it is required on all decks sold, I think.

Now, as for visual distractions, it's not bad at all. I get more glare from the GPS device I have in the left of the windshield (you can see it in the pics). It's not mine, it's works, so I just run it all the time for fun (I use it alot too, it's nice to have more than 1 GPS. One will tell you things another will not.)

It doesn't bother me at night at all, and durring the day it's nothing. Once you learn the controls, just like a aftermarket deck, it's alot easier. But, most of the time it would be passenger controlled, and of course, I pull over to make large changes that can;t be done with a couple touches.

I would say this is less distracting than any of the kenwood or pioneer products that have a 6"+ screen. They are more in your line of sight than this is.

Remember too, this is a automotive designed software made to control the computer that I use. It has dimming, playlists, large easy to see 'buttons', etc. It's not bad at all! :)
 
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