Thread: Car PC
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#8: 01-15-2007, 08:47 AM
darkfox1's Avatar
Title: That crazy guy..
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Location: Douglasville, GA
Car: 2010 GMC Sierra All Terrain
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awesome collection of links and info. I'll see if I can't add a few things.

As a mention of hardware specifics..

The carPC/carputer/mp3car market has improved quite a bit in the last 3-4 years. As such theres a lot of stuff thats a TON easier now than before.

The two biggest factors in having a carputer would be heat and power.. Of course if you live in the south you know the interior of your car can get pretty warm in the summer months..

Because of these 2 factors, the miniITX motherboard platform is probablly your best bet with this kind of applciation. It is for the most part a normal motherboard, the I being that its an integrated CPU. This keeps heat and power down from other boards such as Matx that I have seen some other people use.

Another advantage would be that mITX boards are very small (about a 6"x6" square) and can be fit about anywhere if you have the proper airflow.

The easist thing to do obviously is to use an mITX case however (I'll dig through my bookmarks and link to this stuff in a sec) such as the "ampie" that mp3car sells (its also sold by another name elsewhere but I cant locate the website) This case, like most of the mITX cases is made of machined aluminum and has a very easy slide in/out design for the component board.

Ok.. I guess thats all I have on systemboards..


You CAN run a simple a/c DV converter and run a small psu or laptop if you want.. but.. this is kind of the old way of doing things.. the best way to get clean power to your carputer obviously is to run a direct DC/DC psu. I run an M1-ATX. It offers standard power on/off like a caraudio amp, but also has a jumper setting on the psu itself to soft power your system in 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 30 minutes, and on up.. I was disappointed it did not have a 15 minutes because Ithought that would be best.. but 30 works fine too.

The M1-ATX is only about 90w, but when you use an mITX form factor motherboard, its generally more than enough power. The exception being if you run a 3.5" harddrive, cdrom, and lots of usb options, you may need to go with something larger.. or a usb hub thats powered to take the load off the psu.

I wired mine through a relay switch directly to the battery with accessroy on the ignition. Baiscally, if the relay is on, when the car starts the pc will boot. Once you turn the ignition off, the pc will keep running until the preset jumper time, then soft power the system down. The 5v rail will continue to run so usb devices will still have lights and whatnot on them, but the PC will not be on. The power consumption on just the 5v rail is relativley low and isn't a problem for long stays, but its best to power the system down yourself and hit the relay before going in at night or any time the car will sit for days just to make sure you can leave when it comes time to do so.

When talknig about wiring the legacy.. theres no real easy way to get wiring into the cabin.. the grommets are all ill placed it seems for under hood and cabin routing. What I wound up doing for my direct battery run was running through the grommet thats about... 8-10" above the turbo on the passenger side. This comes through behind the a/c system.. but fishing it in with a coat hanger proved that it would eventually show itself in the floorboard. I then routed it under the carpet into the kick panel and down the door jamb like any other wiring.

Some of this is redundant.. especially considering the kind of person to do this kind of thing generally knows this already, having done their own audio installs n whatnot in the past, but if this is going to be a complete post, then I figured I'd add what I can.


You saw in the links in the 1st post some legacy installs and some PC placement ideas. I originally had mine mounted to the back of the center fold down armrest trunk thing.. it was the perfect size for the carputer and made working on it very easy. The bad thing about it was short of screwing into the arm rest.. there was no easy way to mount it.. using velcro proved to.. well.. beat my harddrive to death.. I later moved it in place of the spare tire well foam tool bag thing.. I traced the foam tool cup on some ply wood, and went over it with the saw, belt sander etc. until it fit. I then put some wood on the sides of it so that it would support the floor. I drilled holes in it, ran screws in from the bottom and put peices of rubber hose between the computer and the board on the screws for shock mounting. This.. plus the spare tire.. seems to hold it well in the hole. I had planned to paint mine but I got carried away and before I knew it it was in the trunk working heh. The good thing about this is.. no trunk space wasted! no visible carputer to steal! it snot under the seat so detailers and the dealer wont bump it with a vaccume or passengers kick it. the bad thing about it is its a small enclosed space that can easily turn into stale air.. and that the mufflers are on either side of the well, making it hotter than the rest of the trunk. I compensated this by getting 2 small fans from they each do about 11cfm and make no audible noise when the car is running. (small vibrating noise when the cars off)

Dash and Screen..

Ah yes, by far the most frustrating difficult and important peice of your carputer.. the part that makes the difference between "uh.. you did that yourself didnt you?" and "WOW! you did that yourself?!" unfortunatley.. with the perhaps permanent hiatus of my project for a bolt in solution for this.. as far as I know there are currently no projects going on for any buyable drop in kits for the screen. This leaves you with a few options:

1. fiberglass. If you're good at fiberglass, you already know you can make anything with enough time and patience. The easiest way to do fiberglassing would be to start with the factory non-navi cubby trim. This is because theres less cutting to do (just 1 small bar in the gap) and theres alerady a botom lip. You may find it best to build up the other lips in this bezel to sit the screen back some for visibility. Also, all the bezels position things at a very slight angle towards the driver, so.. that should work out well too.

2. Navi bezel and custom brackets. This is what I was trying to do.. an unmodified navigation bezel with a drop in bracket kit that fits your aftermarket screen. You'd just take apart your 700ts/tsv, drop itin, and assemble it then push it in your dash.. But.. we wont go into that. Using the navi bezel you quickly learn things are tight behind the cubby and between the a/c vents for your 7" screen. The benefits of the factory navi bezel is that its already formed, theres no paint matching or excessive fiberglassing work, this is really a better choice for those of you who dont want to go the fiberglass'd look. Benefits aside however, there is a slight disadvantage in that the factory navi bezel is ~6.5x3.75 and the screens viewable area generally is 6.5x4. This means you have a small amount of vertical cutoff that is the exact size of the taskbar in windwos XP @ 800x600 on a Xenarc 700tsv. this means if you watch anime or something thats sub'd, you will only get half the words, you may not know how much health you have in doom etc. But.. you can adjust this of course within your touchscreen software (such as roadrunner.. adjust your skin.ini to fit the new visible area) and you're on your way.

The biggest impact on your install about this viewable area however is not just what you can see.. its how you mount the screen. In our first design of the drop in kit, we basically burned out one of the screens touch controllers. If you put pressure in a rectangle around the touchable areas of the screen, it overwhelms the touch controller and smokes it. so. if you plan to use this method it is MANDATORY that the screen only have pressure in the mounting brackets on the outer edges of the screen where xenarc held it in their case. You can probablly just build a shelf.. and stand the screen off with small rubber bumpers on each of the 4 corners so your pressure comes from the housing and not the bezel.

3. fold out screen. I have seen this done in a few places.. I didn't really like the idea because of having to cut your cubby support bracket to clear a deep radio, and the look of the dash winds up looking like you have 2 radios. This method does work probablly the easiest out of the 3 however. As it is my understanding, you buy the cubby to din converter, chop out the supoprt bar in the back of the cubby, put in your brackets and buy a simple fold out VGA touchscreen (mp3car has one) and there ya go.. This is imo the easiest.. but least custom route to go.

theres other ways of doing this I'm sure, if you're doing a carputer project imo you already have some creative juices flowing and we'd all love to see what you come up with.


I thought I should have a whole section to this.

You'll read a lot of opinions and information on mp3car about screens, but basically there are 2 major brands.. Xenarc and Liliput.

Some people have argued that Xenarc has a better picture functions and are more reliable, but the overall conclusion I have come to is that they are about equal in reliability. I went with Xenarc on my project and was designing the drop in kit based on one just.. because.. I didn't really have a reason other than I already had one, and it seemed most other people did too heh.

The Xenarc screens currently are not transreflective. This means that you wont be able to see it very well during the day.. you can compensate for this by offsetting the screen into the dash deeper whenyou do your install, window tint.. keepnig the moonroof cover closed, and using light colors in your daytime interface skin... Liliput does not make a transreflective screen either, however mp3car does.. The screen they use is based off of a liliput 627 (iirc, this is w/o looking) and is slightly larger than the xenarc in its physical dimensions. The transreflective upgrade makes a CONSIDERABLE difference (check out their store and watch the video) during the day for visibility. One of the things I really wanted to do was switch to a transreflective screen in my car.

The Xenarc screens run about $400 new for the TSV, I think 350? for the TS. The Liliputs dont seem to go as high, hovering around the $350 range. The transreflective screen.. is $679.. its considerablly more expensive, for considerablly more visibility.. I should warn you now that this carputer project can VERY quickly eat money if you dont keep a tight leash on your imagination and "gottahaveit" factor.

OK, link time mentioned several times.. an endless knowledge base of anything and everything you may want to do with your carputer from the practical to the outrageous, you wont ever need to post in the forums there if you are good with your search parameters (and they dont like to reply to repeats.. speaking from experience :P) A great looking place with some cool ITX parts, motherboards, cases, looks like from visiting the site just now they're actually selling LCD boards now too. Link to the Roadrunner faq in mp3car. This will contain the download links and any question you may have about the software. Theres other software including mediacar, but iirc roadrunner is open source and therefore a lot more customizeable.

I think thats all I can add, I'm out of links..

oh yea.. heres one more sells the information center relocation bracket.If you have non-navi and you're going carputer, you need this. In 05s you also need a wire harness fix (I'm sorry, we're sold out of them!!! ) as the 05s have an extra 2 wires that power the airbag light. Without the wires the airbag light stays on in your dash.. we're not clear on what it'd do in an accident. 06s.. you dont need to worry about the harness.

The info center relocation bracket is designed for RHD cars, so you will need to take a dremel to it It's fairly easy to do, just line it up,I used a whiteout pen to make markings where I needed to dermel to and just went to town, the whole process only took about 30 minutes.

One last thing.. part # 66060AG07A this is the 06 navigation trim bezel. part # 66060AG05A is the 05/06 cubby bezel. Both of them include the a/c vents.

Hope this helps, happy modding!

"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." - Plato