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2006 Infiniti M35 Sport Carputer

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  • 2006 Infiniti M35 Sport Carputer



    This is my 06 M35 Sport, stock. I just have tinted the windows; Iíll update the pictures later, when the car is again clean.

    So after setting up my home network with one media server and two HTPCs, I asked myself: why not bringing up the media to the car? I was tired of burning MP3 cds and losing track of what was in which. My growing music library was the biggest incentive.
    I have circa 155 GB of music on my HD, mostly MP3 (usually 256 Kbps and up) and some FLAC (lossless compressed music files). I had to bring this library to the car!

    Of course that soon afterwards I discovered that I wanted everything in it but the kitchen sink, I think one canít help it really! Fortunately, I donít need the apparently uber-buggy Bluetooth phone support, since the car already comes with it stock. But now I need navigation, HD radio, XM turner (mostly for news, since the sound quality is horrible), Video/Movies, OBD-II, in car CAM, baby cam, etc. I already have the new XM Mini turner cartridge with a Home Dock kit in my Home Theater Receiver, so I will wait until someone develops a cable for that. XM can wait; itís not top priority for me.

    I already tested the computer basic functions (MP3 player/GPS functions), but there is still a lot to do. I discovered that it is very hard to configure many things inside the car, so I am bench testing again (with my second XP install) at my office. Back to the beginning!

    Iím going to use a mATX board with a shuttle style case, but even though that is the smallest mATX you can find (that can accept full height PCI cards); it is still a tad big. My next step will be to build a custom case for the computer.

    Search words: work log how to Infiniti M35 Sport carputer LCD aftermarket touch screen
    Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
    Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

    07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

  • #2
    This is what I’m using in detail:

    Motherboard Gigabyte GA-MA69GM-S2H (AMD 690G Chipset) mATX

    Integrated ATI Radeon X1250 graphic with DVI/HDMI HDCP support
    Integrated ALC 889A 108 dB signal to noise 8 Channel audio (supports Blue Ray playback)
    VGA/S-Video/Composite (YPbPr) interface
    SPDIF in/out
    1 Serial port only.
    10 USB 2.0/2 Firewire support

    AMD Athlon X2 4600 EE (65W) 2.4 GHz Max temp 72C (55C) step F2

    2Gb Memory: 2x 512MB Corsair CM2X512-5400 C4 DDR2 4-4-4-12 675MHz XMS2-5402 v7.2 & 2x512MB Patriot PS2D21G667K PC2-5300 CL5

    320 GB Western Digital Caviar 7200 rpm 16 MB cache SATA 3GB/s
    WD Caviar SE 16 5VDC 0.65A 12VDC=0.9A WD3200KS – 00PFB0 LBA 625142448 26 jul 2006

    Airlink AWLH3028 802.11g Cheap Wi-Fi PCI card

    Xenarc 7” 700 TSV

    Provisionally, I’m using the LG 5 ľ DVD-RW drive (SWA 4446b), but this is temporary, it’s just for installing apps and making HD clones. I won’t need a DVD writer in the trunk, I guess.

    DSATX 230W DC-DC PSU with serial controller

    Case: Antec Aria NSK-1300

    Accessories:
    Garmin GPS 18 (I bought years ago, was unused since my other car has stock nav and I used an aftermarket Mio 380 (for sale) on this M.)

    Space Navigator with these drivers.


    Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Roadie 5.1 USB soundcard (optional, don’t know if I should use it)

    OBDPRos OBD II Scan tool USB w/ right angle connector


    I nlited an XP Professional SP3 (nLite 1.4.1), not so much to keep it small as I have plenty of space and memory to deal with XP, but to try to make it boot and run faster. I changed the boot screen to this one and I’ll later start my front end as a shell and will try to use minLogon to speed up boot times.

    At first I tried to hack the connections between the AV Unit (Nav Unit with those with Navigation) and the stock 7” LCD screen. I have already installed the 4PDT relay in place to allow me to remotely switch between the stock data and my computer display. The problem is of course to emulate the RGB+sync signals the car display is expecting to get. This is the thread.

    There are some products in the market that use Composite inputs as source (TV and nav to go, PAC, Gnet, AvElectronic), but although these might be good enough for DVD playing, it is far from good enough for a computer display. The stock 7” widescreen LCD has 16 bit depth color and (as I can see in my FX35 with nav) can display the small font on the navigation maps reasonably good.
    We have to find a way to convert the computer’s 30KHz VGA (RGB with separate Horizontal and Vertical Sync) output into Arcade/CGA style 15KHz RGB+combined sync inputs required by the stock screen. I have tried the Australian made Converters.tv VGA to CGA Converter, with not much success. I also tried the ArcadeVGA from the Ultimarc, from Britain. It also failed to deliver.

    As I noted at the last post on the thread mentioned above: “It seems that indeed my car is unique in that the display does require a rage of .4 to -.4Volts for the video signal. This also goes for the 2008 G37s, and the 2007 G35: it also requires this unique negative signal level. Idem for the 2006 G35. […] The 2005 G35, though, wants RGB signal level between 0 and .8. I also checked the 2007 FX35 service manual and, although externally the screen looks about the same, the signal levels are much more standard, 0 to 1 Volt. So the 2005 Gs and the FXs all share the same screen, but for some reason Infiniti "upgraded" the others.”
    Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
    Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

    07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

    Comment


    • #3
      Right now I’m benchtesting Centrafuse, it looks the most staut front end out there, but it has some fatal flaws.

      It seems that it is impossible to import playlists from Winamp (m3u) or Windows Media Player (.wpl). In fact, it is impossible to import any playlist at all (apart from this, but I can’t get hold of this plugin)! How so? After years of development, why this feature is not implemented beats me. One has to create their playlists in the car “by hand”! (Can you imagine navigating through 20.000+/ 150 GB files with a 7” screen?). It makes no freaking sense, IMHO, especially when one already have dozens of playlists that play in at least 3 computers and a laptop without a hitch.
      Also, Centrafuse does not support HD radio (apparently it is promised for the 1.5 version, which is also long due, judging by the forum).
      Streetdeck, I don’t know much, but it apparently ceased to be developed. The idea of a proprietary Bluetooth connection also scares me a little. But if it at least was available it would be a good sign, but it has been years (?) already in development. It’s a dead front end apparently.


      Road Runner: What can I say, it works. I’m trying Carwings, LSXVoid 3.0 and the IPhone skins. The thing is, as far as I can tell, I have to develop my own skin just to learn how to modify the ones that really look good so that they can work right! Heh.

      Right now I just can’t seem to make the traffic cam plug in to work in the BMW skin, which should be as basic as it gets. I have a lot to learn.
      The problem is, my PhD is in the humanities department. I have no clue how to write Java, C++ and Visual Basic etc. I love building computers, but the last thing (besides 80' BASIC) I wrote was Assembler 6502/Z-80 some 20+ years ago. I wonder why nobody uses (32 bit) Assembly anymore …imagine an assembly front end, just for music/video file playing/GPS/data display, how fast would it be loading a 25Gb playlist? And more importantly, stable? Somebody remember the 1988 VDE word processor? You can’t beat 100% Assembly (with 100% reliability)/ end of rant.


      FreeIce: super good looking, but will it grow steadily? No HD radio, no playlist import, but you can’t beat the price! So I can’t wait to see!


      I am too tired to try the Frodo Front End. Am I missing something big?
      Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
      Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

      07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

      Comment


      • #4
        First as I said above, I tried to use the stock screen to display. Since I wanted convert the VGA interface to the car's native RGBs, to no avail:

        These were the best I could do with the ConverterTV thingy:



        And with the ArcadeVGA:


        It was lots of fun dismantling the dash, reading the service manual, and playing with the wires:



        But in the end the work didn't payed off.

        At first I thought about alternative places to put an aftermarket screen. The overhead sunglass holder is one alternative, but it is kind of small, and probably lots of fabrication would be involved. And it would block the rear view mirror to boot.

        I thought also on top of the stock screen, maybe with some lifting mechanism when in use:






        My plan was then to put a stock Xenarc 7" screen in place of the OEM screen and relocate the stock one someplace else. But where?

        What about where the stock cupholders were?










        And more, no fabrication, bondo, plastic soldering (I have no talent for these things) were necessary. I didn't have to try different primer/sanding techniques, nor did I have to look for color matching paint, etc. I simply dissassembled the cupholders, and using the same mouting points, I fixed the stock OEM screen there:




        Since it is not touchscreen, and it is a very high quality screen, you can indeed see the display in broad daylight (It's a Hitachi panel). The problem is, of course, that you have to take your eyes off of the road to actually see it. But it is not terribly worse than many lower level screens I've seen before and, although the stock head unit radio/mp3 changer still works, the display will be used mostly to monitor the car status, like the air conditioning, tire pressure, fuel economy, etc. All these things I can do easily at the traffic lights.

        I also put high density foam tape around the edges of the screen (like the ones used for insulating windows, bought at HomeDepot), so that if somebody spill liquids over the screen it does not pour into the electronics below it.

        So in the end I think it was a good compromise. Of course I also lost two cup holders, and I'm still looking for aftermarket solutions. I know BMW's and European cars in general have similar problems (their in dash cup holders are often flimsy, and very expensive to repair, so I know there is a market for that), so I'm open for suggestions.

        Now I had an opening for an aftermarket screen, right where the OEM screen was. That's when I ordered the Xenarc 700 TSV.
        Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
        Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

        07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

        Comment


        • #5
          SpaceNavigator mount on the center console

          Next, I tried to figure out a way to mount the Space Navigator into my console. This is the first version. I still have all the hardware ready to put this version on the car again, it is not difficult.

          As I've been doing all the time so far, I try to figure out a way to bolt on everything. I have no talent to fabricate anything really, plus, Infiniti car parts are very expensive. The stock LCD plastic shroud is almost $300.00, the whole ashtray/shiftgear assembly is around $400.00. Unless I can get my hands on ebay used parts, I won't experiment with bondo/plastic soldering with parts like these.

          So here we are. First version: I got some snip set, Radio shack's project boxes, some hot glue and velvet:



          This would replace the OEM stock cigarette lighter with ashtray box:



          Now they're about the same size. And then I bolted the project boxes into the OEM mounting points like this:
          Attached Files
          Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
          Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

          07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

          Comment


          • #6
            And I fixed the Space Navigator with heavy duty velcro:





            I didn't like this solution very much because:

            1. The Space Nav is too heavy, 1.01 Lbs. In case of an accident, what will happen to it? I doubt the velcro is going to do much to hold it in place. I may be wrong on that, but I don't know.

            2. I think that the Space Nav rested too high up there, in comparison to the shift gear assembly. I tried to mount without the base, but it would lose the "solidity" feel to it. Didn't like it. The base looks very nice anyway, it fits my shift gear assembly nicely. It is just a question of figuring out the right height. But by then, I tried to use plywood, and that's what's in the car now.
            Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
            Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

            07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

            Comment


            • #7
              I also added a few buttons to control the computer from the cabin. They are located right below the space nav, hidden from view, on the hole besides the controls for the heated/cooled seats. They are different for tactile feedback. The light on the LCD power on/off are supposed to be on only with the monitor off. The buttons are:

              1. To bypass the ACC wire to the DSATX, useful for valet parking, or to leave the computer for service, etc.

              2. To turn off the monitor only, this one is disconnected right no, I'm scared of introducing noise into the image with this switch. The idea is to leave the computer running for some reason, with nobody in the car, so that I can not only save some battery but also hide the computer workings (say I'm recording with the CAM, etc).

              3. Reset button.

              Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
              Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

              07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

              Comment


              • #8
                Preparing the Monitor mount

                First I had to extend the cables to run the OEM monitor from its stock location to the new placement where the stock cupholders were. First, the connector to the monitor:




                Lots of soldering involved. Boy, this can take a long time. This is where the wires originally ended. Have to take care when soldering close to the dash. Protect everthing from spills, etc.

                I used a 22 shielded cable, 25AWG wire I bought at fry's for 6.99. Worked wonderfully, no sign of image degradation whatsoever. This is where I also splitted the cable from the stock rear view camera.



                This is so that I don't have to look down to see the rear view camera. The image is good, however:



                The idea was that I would have BOTH monitors displaying the rear view image: the stock one (no reason to change anything there), AND the Xenarc. All was working well, untill I upgraded my motherboard from the ECS, VGA out only, to a Gigabyte 690 G with DVI, VGA, S-Video, etc. With this newboard, apparently, when the Xenarc 700 TSV displays the rear camera image (with the computer running), the onboard video interprets this as a disconnected monitor, and defaults to the DVI out (standard output). So after disengaging the reverse, I got a blank monitor, and then the Xenarc turns itself off. So the computer is still running, thinking there is nothing connected to the VGA. GRRR.

                There is no BIOS setting that makes the VGA the new default. The DVI output is DVI-D only, so no easy way to connect the Xenarc there.

                There is no settings in Windows that I know off that can remedy the situation
                . Maybe its drivers settings in the windows register? It's frustrating. And I want to like this new board since it is so much more stable...and with a lot of external outputs to boot, for future expansions (rear monitors).

                Here is the Xenarc connections: USB for the touchscreen, 12V from the DSATX (red and black wires) and the yellow connector with the rear view camera signal.

                Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
                Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

                07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Case

                  I bought a Antec NKS 1300 very cheap at Fry's ($65 minus $40 mail-in rebate). I figured, why not? Well, it's the smallest mATX case you can buy, but it is still too tall.

                  I run a 4 gauge Moster cable from the battery to the trunk.



                  This is the solution I found, suspended under the rear deck. I removed the stock AC power supply, put the DC-DC DSATX there, and also mounted a 120mm 3 speed Antec fan.








                  The advantage is that I can carry my water bottles in there, since I live in earthquake domain, California, so I always have to be prepared.

                  It is rock stable as it is, and it leaves plenty of room for a stroller and a golf club bag. It also leaves room for the spare and for a future subwoofer.

                  All in all, it works. It's not perfect, but I'm happy, my first boot was good, it works!!!
                  Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
                  Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

                  07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Nice install! I have a G37 with no PC yet. I am thinking I will mount the screen at the bottom center in front of the gear shift. That curved silver part is removable, so if I cut off the doored ash tray and cut slots in the side rails I should be able to have a touch screen go from the shift-boot lip up to the dash above the curved part. I was then going to use a dual-monitor set up with video-out to the stock screen (non-nav has a/v inputs).

                    That's the plan, I'm still waiting to get the OEM interior part that includes the shift boot, ash-tray, and that silver curved part (since I'm leasing).
                    Attached Files
                    -InfinitiPC

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Good work so far, and good logging, as well! I'm interested to see this, since I will eventually upgrade my G35 to a G37 or something, and since so much is integrated into the stock monitor, you have to keep it. I never thought about relocating it, though. Nice!
                      2005 Infiniti G35 6MT Coupe Black/Black
                      Core Duo CarPC
                      CarDomain page

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by InfinitiPC View Post
                        Nice install! I have a G37 with no PC yet. I am thinking I will mount the screen at the bottom center in front of the gear shift. That curved silver part is removable, so if I cut off the doored ash tray and cut slots in the side rails I should be able to have a touch screen go from the shift-boot lip up to the dash above the curved part. I was then going to use a dual-monitor set up with video-out to the stock screen (non-nav has a/v inputs).

                        That's the plan, I'm still waiting to get the OEM interior part that includes the shift boot, ash-tray, and that silver curved part (since I'm leasing).
                        Oh, that would be great project to see, the first G37 that I know of.

                        Keep in mind though that the location you're thinking off probably will reflect a lot of sunlight, specially if you have sufroof. So a transflective screen might be the ticket. You should test the location with a small monitor (mobile/mp3 player) to see if it gets a lot of glare in that position (the correct angle/position makes a lot of difference, so wait untill you dismantle the dash to reach the right spot). If not, then you're safe with a regular monitor.
                        Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
                        Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

                        07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Caelric View Post
                          Good work so far, and good logging, as well! I'm interested to see this, since I will eventually upgrade my G35 to a G37 or something, and since so much is integrated into the stock monitor, you have to keep it. I never thought about relocating it, though. Nice!
                          Thanks! It was scary at first, but it's working wonderfully now. It never gave me any problems, it's actually the smoothes mod of my whole install. I can't say the same for the Xenarc, though. THis auto on/off switch sucks big time. I'd love to get hold of the service menu and disable all that stuff.
                          Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
                          Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

                          07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            HD Radio unit

                            Installation is actually quite easy. It needs steady 12v, plus ACC and ground for power. I hooked it to the LINE IN in the computer, and then there is the antenna problem.

                            Nobody sells and antenna adapter for the M35. No aftermarket solution for that. There is two in-glass antenna in the M35, one of them is powered, so I'd have to check on the service manual which wire is it and use a relay to power it instead whenever the HD radio is powered.

                            So I bought a brand new powered Hirschmann antenna for $11.00, see details on this post: http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/1205030-post19.html. It is due to arrive from Germany mid May, of course I'll post the results as soon as I can.




                            Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
                            Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

                            07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Trendnet 7dBi omnidirectional wi-fi antenna

                              This is the Trendnet 7dBi gain Wi-Fi antenna, to catch all the wireless network signal out there, stronger, and faster than my stock antenna. It has to stay on the vertical, and it's fairly big, shouldn't be around metal ideally, although it works inside the trunk.

                              As I said before, everytime I park the car in the garage, I can hit SYNC and it synchronizes the media folder contents from my home network. But I have 10min for that, before the computer shuts itself off. So the faster the connection the better. I can also use "remote desktop" feature from my office, and I avoid to work on the car as soon as possible. If I leave the ignition on, I can keep the computer on for hours...the DSATX PSU I use will turn off the computer as soon as it reaches 10volts (8 volts is enough to start the car).

                              The problem with this is that is too much convenient: yesterday, when the computer turned off, I forgot to go back to the garage and turn the ignition off, so this afternoon the battery was dead! Stupid me.

                              Anyway, here is the Trendnet antenna. It got good reviews, if you know what to expect from an Omnidirectional antenna, which is what you need in a car environment. It not pretty though, and it's velcroed in there. Easy to remove if I want to. But it did improve reception, and that is what matter for now.








                              It does look dirty and soiled. The flash just made things worse (maybe just more real! . It is probably hastly applied Lexol leather care. Have to do a better job next time...The little square marks below are from the base of a baby cam. It didn't work as I expected, too sensitive to day light. But I figured out a better solution, I post it later.






                              Worklogs: 08 Sequoia Platinum Carputer (In Progress!)
                              Skin: MetroSex on the Beach preview

                              07 Infiniti Fx35 (done!) & 06 Infiniti M35 (gone...)

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